{ 1,015 comments… read them below }

  1. Anony Shark*

    When we have one person settling the dining bill and arrange for everyone else to pay back their share, I noticed my friend “Sally” doesn’t pay people back. The first time she didn’t reimburse me I decided to forget about it, since it wasn’t a big deal. Then I realised it wasn’t a one off occurrence. She only pays if she is reminded. Also, she never offers to pay for the bill while everyone else in our social circle takes turns.

    Sally is a highly successful lawyer (if you google her name she has a long list of media appearances). Her husband is a VP of a large, well-known corporate. I doubt she’s struggling financially.

    I’m annoyed that she has to be reminded to pay people back particularly when she’s well off and frequently travels business class on her own dime. I don’t think she’s deliberately thinking, “ooh, I’ll save myself some money by ripping off my friends.” I’m guessing she’s just carelss. But I still judge her for her carelessness about paying people back for small amounts.

    1. Mommy-MD*

      She’s not clueless. She knows dinner costs money. If it’s a small party ask for separate checks. If it’s all on one bill say to her “your portion is $45” very casually each and every time. Don’t pay for her anymore. If she owes you say “can we settle up on that $60 ?” She knows what she is doing. I had a relative just like this. After you do this the first time it gets much easier. She’s being a mooch.

    2. General von Klinkerhoffen*

      If she’s comfortable then it won’t be nagging at her like it does for other people. Don’t be afraid to nag.

    3. MistOrMister*

      On the one hand, you never can make assumptions about people’s finances. I have known people that have a nice house, nice cars, go on frequent trips, etc and it turns out they were in debt up to their eyeballs. Living paycheck to paycheck and charging the trips to end up further in debt. Or they seemed to live comfortably but were still stuck with student loans.

      That being said, unless there is reason to believe Sally is under financial hardship, it does sound like she’s a mooch. Is there a reason everyone can’t get separate checks? Many restaurants are able to accommodate that even for larger parties, as long as you tell them at the beginning. I don’t mind paying for someone here and there but I would not be ok always covering someone who was willing to take advantage of everyone else’s generosity. And there is no way Sally is actually forgetting to pay anyone back. Even if she has no financial issues…some people just prefer to live life on other people’s dimes whenever they can. Which is a shame.

      1. Anony Shark*

        Even if she were in debt I would still judge her for pulling this crap. A lot of people have to budget and pay off loans but the answer to financial difficulties shouldn’t be to mooch off other people. There is a massive difference between asking for help to pay essential bills vs not paying people back for your own meal while still travelling business and buying new clothes and jewellery every month.

        1. Anon Here*

          Exactly. If she can afford that stuff, she can also forgo some of it to pay for a meal. And if she’s mature enough and intelligent enough to be so successful, she is also up to the task of conversing with her friends, apologizing for not paying, and explaining what her situation is.

          Maybe there IS an explanation. Maybe the expensive stuff is essential to her professional image and she’s struggling to afford it, or going into debt, or someone else is buying it for her. Maybe she has a medical condition that comes with enormous bills. Stuff isn’t always what it looks like.

          But if she has the ability to maintain this kind of career and lifestyle, she can also figure out how to handle her desire to eat meals with friends but not pay her share. She has options. She can find a way to afford it. She can skip the meals. She can talk to the organizer directly and explain that she wants to attend but can’t pay.

          In light of that, this looks like entitled behavior. She’s abusing her power. She’s used to the idea that people want to be seen with her because she’s successful and that, accordingly, she can walk all over them. I would be distancing myself because people with that kind of attitude tend to create problems for themselves down the line and you don’t want her reputation to rub off on you.

      2. JediSquirrel*

        frequently travels business class on her own dime

        Nah, she’s rich and cheap. Let’s not give her a pass on this boorish behavior.

      3. LilySparrow*

        If you can’t afford to go out to dinner (including a decent tip), then don’t go.

        This isn’t the emergency room. It’s a social event.

        Plus, she is agreeing to the arrangement of paying back, and then not doing it unless they specifically remind her personally. Financial issues are no excuse for stiffing your friends.

        1. Elizabeth West*

          I know separate checks are a pain in the arse for servers, but if I had someone like Sally in my social circle, I’d probably be more comfortable getting my own.

    4. PharmaCat*

      Start using venmo, or some other instant transfer app. That way when you front for Sally, request a venmo at the same time.

        1. Randomity*

          I’m in the UK and I use Splitwise to keep track of costs for our son with my ex husband. Is that an option?

        2. Short Time Lurker Komo*

          PayPal also has the ability to send money to Friends and Family. This is a fee-less transaction with that option. If that’s not an option, look at other apps like whatever phone pay app is on her phone (Apple Pay or Samsung Pay, etc). There should be SOMETHING she can use to immediately send cash to folks if she doesn’t have the legit cash in hand.

          Of course, I’d not be against going ‘Let’s swing by the closest ATM, so we don’t forget to pay this until next time!’

    5. pcake*

      She’s not careless and she doesn’t forget – she’s a successful lawyer. She’s just cheap. Some of the more wealthy people I know do this for some reason.

      1. Marthooh*

        Yep. This kind of behavior is very common at the corner of Cheap Street and Wishful Thinking Boulevard. She’s saying to herself “It’s not that big a deal—if Anony Shark really wanted the money, they’d tell me so!”

    6. Nee Attitude*

      Any reason why Sally keeps getting invited to the party? Someone with her habits probably needs to dine alone for a moment, or at least until she learns that payment for dinners out with acquaintances is as non-negotiable as payments for luxury flights. I’m not so sure that it’s the best choice to expect her to pay after the bill’s already been settled. I know (and avoid) people like her and, aside from public shaming, they rarely (if ever) remember to pay.

      1. JediSquirrel*

        This was my thought as well. If someone were in some other way unacceptable (racist, sexist, homophobic, etc.) and didn’t have problems making that known, I’d quit inviting them. Sally is a mooch, and she doesn’t care that you know (and she knows you know because you’ve got the bill), and she should quit getting invites.

        Either that, or get the money before hand. “Sally, we’re making reservations for six. Please send me $XX to hold your place by tomorrow at four, or we’ll just make reservations for five.”

    7. Fikly*

      You might be surprised at the number of “well off” people who are super reluctant to spend any money. It’s part of how they stay wealthy. But in this case, it’s incredibly unfair to everyone around her.

    8. Not So NewReader*

      I think sometimes people get so caught in their own busyness that they don’t even think about money. I owed a lawyer money, several hundred dollars so not pocket change. I called for a bill. And I called again. And again. At the six month mark, I went to the office and plunked down in the waiting room. “I am not leaving until you give me a bill and I pay it.” I probably sat there for a couple hours.

      Some people are just careless with financial transactions.

      You will need to be direct. “Sally, I still don’t have your money from the last dinner. When can we settle up on this?” When you finally collect the money you can say, “Sally you are the only person in the group who has to be asked twice for their share. Perhaps it would just be easier for you to pay in the moment so you do not have to worry about forgetting.”

      I can almost assure you that as a lawyer she has probably had FAR worse things said to her. Clearly stating the problem should be enough for her to rope in the problem. If it’s not then address it again with firmer words.

      OTH, ask for separate bills and everyone pays their own. If the place will not do separate checks consider looking for a new place.

    9. Anon Here*

      I would stop being her friend. Or, at minimum, distance myself and keep an eye out for other red flags.

      1. Filosofickle*

        If someone has a habit of weaseling out of their share or blithely saying “let’s just split it” when they order twice as much, it’s a deal breaker for me. It’s a matter of trust and integrity.

        1. Anon Here*

          Right. Most of us have had trouble paying for things at times, but how you deal with that makes all the difference. You ask nicely, and you offer something in return. You don’t just mooch and act like it doesn’t matter.

        2. TechWorker*

          I cannot *stand* the ‘lets just split it’ people – I’m totally fine to split it if everyone is in similar financial circumstances and had similar menu items… but if half the group had 3 courses and alcohol and others had 2 courses and water, it’s clearly not fair.

          I have a strong memory of having garlic pizza bread to save money (much cheaper than an actual pizza) at a restaurant when I was about 15 and broke and a friends boyfriend making a huge deal about splitting the bill… I didn’t deliberately have the cheapest food so I could pay for yours… and we were 15!! Ridiculous

    10. !*

      Yeah, I think one person paying the tab (and then being reimbursed) should stop, and everyone needs to be on the same page when dining out that the check will be split. I’m thinking Sally’s perception of money is different than other people, when you have lots of it it matters less than when you don’t.

      1. Parenthetically*

        “when you have lots of it it matters less than when you don’t.”

        Yes! #notallrichpeople, but there’s a whole Rich Person subtype: “oh, it’s only $100, I’ll get to it later.” It wouldn’t matter to them to be out a hundred bucks or whatever, so they don’t have a mental category for it mattering to anyone else.

    11. Seeking Second Childhood*

      Next time “Sally grab your wallet, it’s your turname to play virtual teller.”

      1. Seeking Second Childhood*

        One other thought. Is it at all possible that Sally is the only woman in a group of male friends? I know people who never quite get out of the idea that men buy mesls & drinks for women. Not just dating, I’ve seen it among friends and co-workers as well as on dates & happy hours. Drives me nuts! Yes, Jon just brought me (femsle) a drink, but he also got one for Gary….and Gary got the appetizers & I got the first round.

        1. Not a cat*

          I knew someone like this. It went on for years. When (as a group) we said something to her about it, she reacted by crying and shouting (full-on tantrum). It bordered on the frightening. It turns out she had some money issues but didn’t want to miss out and it “wasn’t fair!”……..whatever….

    12. Digley Doowap*

      I had a rich friend just like that and after I asked him about him not paying, he confided in me that he always liked to use other people’s money as much as possible and it was one of the key pieces of advice he got from his rich parents.

      Most people don’t know it, but the richer you are, more often you get stuff for free that other people have to pay for and he was just accustomed to not opening his wallet.

      He didn’t think this was wrong, but just how you do it. Think taxes and how the system is setup for the poor to subsidize the rich and you’ll understand how he was raised.

      1. Batgirl*

        I know people like this too and they just consider money to be a sort of gaming chip that the clever are able to win from the stupid. She has no more guilt than if she took some points from OP in Scrabble.

        Top tip for spotting this type of hobbyist: they have social and political views which are based upon very competitive ideas and prosperity is based upon the need for a sucker to do the shit jobs and generally go without.

        Buuuut …. sometimes someone just learns the game without the wider philosophy, so not always.

        1. What the What*

          I think cheapskates and selfish people come from all walks of life, regardless of where they sit on the political spectrum.

          1. LilySparrow*

            Yup. I’ve heard every type of philosophy twisted to justify being a mooch. Because self-centered people don’t actually care about understanding a philosphy or applying it correctly – they only care about what works to get what they want.

          2. Batgirl*

            I actually didn’t mean that in a ‘left’ or ‘right’ kind of way. It’s an attitude that’s way deeper than politics, but it sometimes expresses itself in the way people talk about their politics.
            For example, I know people across the spectrum who just genuinely believe their position is the best solution for all people.

  2. Her name is Anne she has no other*

    I was single for years before meeting my very recent current bf (we’ve only been seeing each other since early Oct). It’s not been long but it feels right.

    The trouble is he is here (UK) on a visa that runs out in a few months and…Well I don’t know. Right now neither of us want to marry the other because it would be clearly for visa purposes but I am overwhelmed at what happens or what could happen. He comes from NZ so it’s really about as far away from the UK as you can possibly get. Do I pack up my life to move there? How do you do – or can you do- such long distance and still be “together”? Do we try and move somewhere else in the world together? Who would I go to to try and understand visas? Anything else I should think of?

    1. Mommy-MD*

      Don’t rush into anything. Don’t get married or relocate soon into a relationship for a Visa. My friend did that. Did not work out.

    2. Bilateralrope*

      Do some research into living in NZ. Try to figure out if you’d be happy living here even if you break up with him.

    3. Director of Alpaca Exams*

      First of all, if you have visa questions, talk to an immigration lawyer. There may be free legal aid clinics that can advise you on the basics.

      Do not get married if you aren’t certain this is someone you want to be married to. (Even if you become certain… wait a year to be sure you’re REALLY certain.) I fell madly in love with my partner pretty much upon first sight and we’ve been together 15 years—half of that across 3000 miles—so I’m not knocking your “it feels right”; sometimes you just know. However, we didn’t get legally married until we’d been living together for three years, because you can love someone to tiny little pieces and still not be the kind of people for whom that step makes sense.

      Long-distance relationships have existed for as long as relationships have existed. They’re easier now than they’ve ever been. Thanks to video calls (free in Skype if you both have accounts!) you can talk for hours, watch a movie together, hang out companionably while one of you cooks dinner and the other cooks breakfast, whatever makes you happy. International postcard stamps are cheap; so are postcards. It’s easy to ring up your partner’s local florist, give them your credit card number, and get flowers delivered for special occasions or on a whim.

      In my experience, one two-week visit a year and a lot of online interaction in between can be enough to sustain a relationship for a very long time. But you won’t be each other’s world the way you might be if you were local to each other, so don’t go in expecting that. It also helps immensely if you’re in an online community together so you can see each other in passing in some way, without all your interactions being direct and personal.

      Some long-distance relationships work best as open relationships, others really do not… that depends on what makes the most emotional sense for the two of you. LDRs make you think long and hard about what matters most to you in a relationship and whether you can get it from a distance. Is phone/video sex enough sex for you? Do you really value being jointly part of a community, and will online community suffice? How can you best find equivalents to the parts of being life-entangled that you enjoy the most, whether it’s reading newspapers together over breakfast or trading off chores? Take some time to talk seriously about this and see where your relationship values and pleasures overlap.

      Good luck! This is hard stuff. But if the two of you do share that precious This Is It link, a few thousand miles won’t be enough to break it.

      1. Parenthetically*

        This is all great advice.

        My now-husband is Australian and I live in the US. We definitely spent more time together than 2 weeks a year while we were dating — between his 4 weeks of paid leave and more or less unlimited unpaid leave, and my 3 months off teaching in the summer, we saw each other for longer stretches (3+ weeks) a couple times a year.

        Some people definitely find ways to make long-term long-distance work, but our goal was always to close the gap. When we started dating, our parameters were that we were either going to end up NOT together, or one of us would be moving to another continent, and I think both of us being on the same page about that was CRITICAL. It’s hard to move forward in a relationship if one of you is content with the status quo and the other is aiming at a major change, you know? So getting in sync about that is important, IMO.

    4. MistOrMister*

      I think the most important thing to do is to talk to your bf, if you haven’t already. It sounds like you are open to relocating, whether to NZ or elsewhere, but he might not be. If that’s the case and it’s where he wants to live, you should definitely visit and learn all you can about the culture to make sure you would be able to be comfortable there.

      Also, in addition to possible free clinics and immigration lawyers, your bf might have some insight into the visa process as he’s dealing with it currently.

      I would just say take your time. You don’t know how you’ll feel in a couple of months. Your relationship is so new that you’re in the honeymoon phase right now and things could change. But, when time comes for him to leave, if you still want to be together, there are so many modes of electronic communication that you can utilize and you can visit each other as often as circumstances permit. Whatever you decide, good luck!

    5. only acting normal*

      Getting married does *not* automatically mean he gets to stay in the UK. Don’t do it for that reason.

        1. only acting normal*

          An even better reason not to!
          But essentially it’s not a solution to your immediate problem so no need to consider it further.

      1. Courageous cat*

        Really? Why is that? I’m just curious because like, how could they send someone back to their home country away from their spouse? Also I would love to emigrate that way one day haha

        1. Seeking Second Childhood*

          It’s all how a country’s laws are written and enforced. Not all countries automatically grant residency to a new spouse. (US makes it very hard for a new spouse to get a green card–friends had to pretty much send in their wedding albums along with paperwork. And if the new spouse’s visa was invalid at the time of the marriage, well, those families are being split up after decades.)
          A related nightmare is the babies who have NO citizenship–ie the ones born in a country that only gives citizenship to children of citizens and their parents are refugees from countries that have expelled them so there’s no citizenship from there either.

          1. Filosofickle*

            I recently met someone whose American son married an English woman two years ago. And the son just got permission to move there as a resident. It took that long to legally join her after being married. They’ve been long distance this whole time.

            1. Blackcat*

              Yeah, my US friend who married a Scottsman has spent like 4000 pounds and YEARS to secure her residency. She’s educated and works a niche technical job FOR THE GOVERNMENT, and it was still stupidly hard.

              1. Filosofickle*

                I was told the son had to pre-pay five years worth of health care contributions, which amounted to thousands of dollars! So they could be sure he wouldn’t be a drain on their system, presumably.

        2. Miss Pantalones En Fuego*

          The UK in particular has had increasingly hostile immigration laws recently and there will be significant financial bars that you will have to meet before your non-UK spouse would be allowed to settle in the UK. I was lucky to move here under previous rules that were less stringent, but I still had to wait several years, go through multiple types of visa, and spend thousands for the privilege. People often have the idea that marriage is a quick route to being able to live in a particular place but it is not always true. I have known of people with legitimate marriages whose spouses were refused UK visas and basically told that they could go live in the other person’s country. I’d research the visa options thoroughly before you commit to anything.

      2. Amey*

        I just want to say that this is absolutely true. I’m a UK immigration adviser and the financial requirements for a spouse visa are incredibly high and complex. To the person who said, what are the going to do, send your spouse away? Yes, they absolutely will. The human rights side of this particular immigration law is appalling and I don’t see how it still exists, to be honest, but aside from the fact that you really don’t sound ready to make that commitment, it wouldn’t solve the visa issue anyway.

        I’m not originally a UK citizen and my husband is and we did get married earlier than we might have because of visa restrictions (the visa rules were much more generous then). But we had lived together for 3 years and we knew we wanted to be together and to make our lives in the UK together and what we wanted from that life was aligned.

    6. Anony Shark*

      If this gives you any hope, my friend recently got married after a decade of long distance (Australia and Canada). They talked and messaged each other daily and had at least two visits a year.

    7. Anon attorney*

      I suggest that before doing anything else you consult an immigration advisor at Citizens Advice to find out what your boyfriend’s visa options might be and how they would involve you. Don’t assume you have to marry or relocate until you know what all the legal options are.

    8. Not So NewReader*

      You are wise to think this one through. I do like the idea that the two of you pick a third country to move to, but that may not be your thing.

      I would like to point out two things:
      When there is external pressure on a relationship that pressure can elevate feelings of attachment. If this guy did not have to leave would that change anything?

      The second thing I thought of is to pretend there is no problem with the visa and everything is fine. What’s left? You STILL have a guy from NZ. Does he see himself moving back there and eventually living out the rest of his life there? What about you, where do you see yourself spending the next couple of decades? How do the answers to these types of questions weigh in with you right now?

      I know I have gone through points in my life where I am ready for a big adventure, I want to do something BOLD. (Or at least bold to me.) Then there are other points in my life where I have wanted to maintain the status quo. I do believe that these waves of motivation and lulls in activity happen for reasons. Since you are asking “Do I move?” I am tending to think the answer is NO. It’s okay to trust your gut. Sometimes we take things in on a subconscious level and it registers as “Use caution here!”. And that is what we should do.

      Please note, if you are reading this and your heart fell to your feet and your brain is screaming NO! WRONG, NSNR ! then that is a huge clue about how you feel about this guy. ;)

    9. StellaBella*

      Since the UK is not in the Schengen visa area, is there a way he could go to the EU for a bit, then re-enter the UK as Kiwis (per UKVI) get a 6 month visa as a tourist?

    10. Dan*

      Based on what I’ve read, I think you should let this one go. You’ll get responses along the lines of “it worked for me/a friend of mine” and “it didn’t work for me/a friend of mine”. None of which is going to help you make a decision about your present circumstance.

      It’s a new relationship, and you’re not committed to it. Most of your responses are along the “meh” lines which leads me to believe that there’s just not enough there to keep pushing this one.

      1. AcademiaNut*

        I’m kind of inclined to agree. This sort of thing happens a lot in my field, a very international branch of academics. People meet in grad school or on postdocs, and the contract ends, and they’re on other sides of the planet.

        Honestly, you’re on ultra hard mode here. You’ve got a promising relationship, but it’s early enough that you’re still in the new relationship rush and on your best behaviour, you haven’t reached the point where you’re committed to the relationship. Once he moves, it’s going to be really hard to get to that point. You aren’t in each other’s day to day lives, and you’ll be spending limited vacation time together – UK to NZ is a *long* way, which means expensive and exhausting travel.

        There’s also the future. The only way for you two to be together and to really get to know each other in person is for one or both of you to move to another country, and the options to do so are limited.

        It’s not to say a situation like this can’t ever work, but I will say that every relationship I’ve seen that started in this way (short duration relationship going permanent long distance) ended within a year or two. Going open ended long distance is really hard even in committed, long term relationships, and ending up in the same place usually involves sacrifices (and a marriage certificate).

        So – I’d say either break up now, or enjoy the rest his time in the UK, knowing the relationship will end. If you do stay in touch, don’t make promises – leave each other open to pursuing new relationships, with the idea that if you did end up in the same place, you might restart things if you both want to.

    11. Anon Phd*

      My 2 cents…you also might not have enough information to make the decision…saying this based on what I learned after my last break-up, which was amicable, but he moved across the country and I did not want to go that city, for many reasons. Have you met his parents/family/friends? Has he met your family and friends? Do your values align? Whether you want to get married or just decide to be in a committed relationship together, those things are also part of the deciding factor. Best of luck and hugs to you.

      1. valentine*

        Have you met his parents/family/friends? Has he met your family and friends? Do your values align?
        In addition to all this, there is the limbo of long-distance, where you put off difficult or serious conversations and the sort of fantasy life you get into. Until you’re in the same place, you won’t know if he’s willing to work or expects you to fund his dreams, and where he can work and what he can both do and be happy doing are probably going to be the biggest pieces. He could have tried for a work visa or have researched and made contingency plans. He chose not to. If he has suggested a fake/illegal marriage is an option, I would run. Whatever you do, don’t marry him, and don’t go to NZ unless that’s long been a dream of yours, you’d be happy un(der)employed and poor, or you’re a happy-go-lucky seat-of-your-pants type who can make anything work.

        I think the newness won’t allow you to really move forward, if you try to weather the distance, that it would keep you in this nascent state, so that, when you’re in the same place, you’re back at square one.

    12. Autumn leaves*

      Something seriously important to consider is your life after marriage with them. I am American and married to a European. We did the long distance, come together fairy tale ending (at least to observers). It was sooooo hard. But the hardest thing we have faced was the extended family and trying to balance visiting them with the couples needs ( holidays are a source of conflict especially with children if involved not to mention how expensive that travel can be).

    13. Batgirl*

      I think a lot depends on what’s going on in your UK life right now. If you’re enmeshed in it – then it’s a lot to give up for such a new relationship. If you’re more “Actually, I could take something of a break from things right now” then possibly you could do some travelling together if you really want to pursue this and see where it goes. I had friends in this boat who decided to work in Dubai for a while – sure it was to give themselves a decent courtship period but they were also genuinely excited about the personal opportunities there and to do some tax free saving.
      I think that excitement and self interest is key before you make any moves. You’re a young single person and your only commitment is to yourself. However much you like someone. Certainly don’t get married or move across the globe unless you actually want to do those things.

  3. AlmondMilkLatte*

    Maybe some advice, maybe this is just a vent.

    Sometime in early 2020, my wife and our exchange student from Europe would like to take a trip out west and end in Los Angeles where my childhood best friend “Sara” and her family now live. She’s basically my sister and I would be so happy to see her! I would also love to catch up with her parents; I was close with her whole family and even called her mom the foreign language word for “mom” that Sara used, as a teenager. So, I sort of jokingly call them Not-Mom and Not-Dad, and we talk a few times a year if I call Sara and they’re around.

    They’ve encouraged me to contact them and stay with them if I come out west, since Sara doesn’t have room and hotels can be very expensive there. All good, right?

    But my wife and I are a same sex couple, now caring for an (albeit older) child. Not-Parents know I am queer, but have never talked about it with me. And I don’t mean to paint any cultures with a broad brush, but this entire second family of mine are first generation Muslim immigrants, though pretty liberal in that respect (no pork, no drinking, pray but sometimes get busy and don’t do it at the exact time, no hijabs).

    So I just worry about cultural differences and how I could be perceived/what might happen when I am able to FINALLY see my sister and Not-Parents face to face after maybe seven years? (I have briefly seen Sara since, and we’re cool). I wasn’t married then. The good thing is that all of these people care deeply for me- I had some difficult times as a teenager and I really do not think I would be here writing this comment without them.

    …Also, I am already a bit worried about pulling over in the middle of nowhere for gas and ending up like Matthew Shepherd.

    1. Jemima Bond*

      Could you have a chat with Sara? And basically say, hey we’d love to stay with your family but how are they going to be about our “non-traditional” relationship? Because if they’re not comfortable we won’t be either.
      I’m not at all suggesting you should hide your true selves and not “be gay at them” but if your dilemma is that you’re not sure how they’ll react, it strikes me that trying to find that out might reassure you.

      1. MistOrMister*

        Yes, this makes the most sense to me. I am assuming Sara’s parents already know OP is in a same-sex marriage. But since OP is concerned, talking to Sara about it could be very helpful.

        Re the fears about pulling over, plenty of women travel together and aren’t couples. I would imagine that most people you meet wouldn’t care, but if you’re really concerned, I would suggest no PDA in public. Many women travel together and aren’t couples so that could work in your favor. It is sad that this is still something people have to worry about in this day and age.

        1. Fikly*

          My sister road tripped across the country with a friend of hers from New York to LA to help him move his car when he moved. He’s gay, and not to stereotype, but acts in a way that tends to be associated with being gay by many people.

          They were careful in some places. And likely leaned into the fact that although they were friends, they were a man and a woman, so people might assume they were in a relationship. But they were fine! Even when they got stuck on an interstate overnight because there was an inch of snow and it was New Mexico. And this was back in 2006.

          1. Saddesklunch*

            For what it’s worth, New Mexico has had legal protections for queer and trans people as part of state law since 2003, which is the same year similar protections were enacted in New York, though New York did not enact protections for trans people until 2019.

            1. Fikly*

              Oh, for sure. But having legal protections doesn’t mean the violence doesn’t exist, and not having legal protections doesn’t mean it isn’t safer. Also, the people on the interstate in the middle of the night in New Mexico were not majority from New Mexico, it was pretty much all long haul truckers and just a few cars. I would feel unsafe just being a woman in that situation, regardless of orientation.

              New York state laws can be weird, because the legislature typically ends up Republican, because once you get out of the metro area, most of the state is majority Republican. So the state laws don’t tend to reflect culture in NYC, for example.

              Which is one reason there’s traditionally so much conflict between the state and the mayor of NYC, beyond just a power struggle.

          2. Ra94*

            I (female) went on a rural road trip this year with my gay male friend, who is pretty out and proud, and we had no issues whatsoever. People constantly assumed we were a couple, to our endless amusement.

    2. Aurora Leigh*

      Honestly, I don’t think 2 women and a teenager (I’m guessing the student is high school aged?) are going to attract much attention traveling unless you were like I don’t know . . . literally making out with your wife at the hypothetical gas station in the middle of nowhere.

      It’s very common for women to avoid traveling alone, and female friends traveling together is very common. I bet the default assumption would be a single mom and her good friend/sister.

      My boyfriend and I were in New Mexico last year and browsing a souvenir shop. The owner asked if we were on spring break from college (no a handful of years out of college). Honeymoon? (no) Ah, she said, you must be brother and sister!

      So, yeah people can be really bad at guessing relationships, even with straight couples!

      1. Lemonish*

        My son has red hair, and so does my brother. Every time I go somewhere with the two of them, everyone assumes my brother is my husband/my kid’s father. My brother and I are both vegan, and my son is a dedicated carnivore. Waitstaff find it hilarious when they think the parents are vegans, and the kid says “Please, bring me a big platter of meat on bones.”

    3. Saddesklunch*

      As a cis queer woman in a relationship with a trans woman, I definitely understand the nervousness about cross-country travel, which we felt especially strongly when my partner was earlier in her transition – now that part is much more of a non-issue, though we still keep our guard up. At least once a year we drive in between major cities in Texas and New Mexico, and there are for sure some little towns where we’re more careful than we might be otherwise, though we’ve never actually had a problem (it felt especially stressful the year the potential bathroom bill nonsense was in full swing) . Keeping things polite, relatively brief, and not having any pda in places we don’t feel all the way comfortable has served us well, and I agree with other commenters that you’ll almost definitely get fewer looks as two gay women traveling together than you would as two gay men. I also agree with others here that having an honest conversation with her friends about her parents’ comfort level will be illuminating. I’ve been loved and supported by my Muslim friends in my identity, but if seeing you wife act like a couple will make them uncomfortable you should know that going in and make your housing arrangements according to what feels best for everyone. I hope you’re able to make the trip and that you have a fantastic time!

    4. Seven hobbits are highly effective, people*

      One thing you might consider if you don’t think your “not-parents” are aware of your marriage and family situation is to send them a “Christmas letter” type letter, with a nice family photo and some light commentary about your year and how everything is going. (Maybe a “New Years” letter rather than a Christmas letter since they’re Muslim and I have no idea about your religious beliefs or lack thereof, but you’d have a better guess at the specific dynamics there than I would. Or just a general “hey, I’d like to be in better touch with you again” letter.)

      This would be a way to catch them up with the specifics of your important relationships, and would give them a chance to have any poor reactions in private and asynchronously. It’s also a nice, friendly gesture that may help you reconnect with them more generally, which seems like a good idea in advance of a visit even without these worries.

      1. AlmondMilkLatte*

        Thanks! They know my family situation, since our friend group from school (five women), all got married in the past five consecutive years! Sara first, myself second, then bam, our other friends (that’s when I’ve seen Sara, she comes back to our home state to attend these weddings).

        According to her there was some conversation with Not-Mom that went something like, wow, all of your friends are getting married! Who are they all with? Sara just said, oh, A is with B, and C is with D, and [AlmondMilkLatte] is with Obviously Female Name.

        But I think an email (as we have already sent out Christmas letters which Sara and her husband get- but her family doesn’t like Christmas like she does. Apparently when you’re 4, move countries, and are suddenly told about a man who brings you gifts, you go all in for secular Christmas), would be an idea.

        1. valentine*

          [AlmondMilkLatte] is with Obviously Female Name
          This isn’t enough. Your family deserves safe space and you can’t rock up on their doorstep without assurance this fam will be that for you.

          Start with Sara, first, and then you, talking to them. Do they support you and gay rights? If you keep in touch, are you comfortable saying “my wife” to them? Would they definitely let you share a room? Will they be comfortable with PDA? Save in case you need to stay at a hotel. The trip isn’t worth being stuck acting like roommates or feeling so uncomfortable, you do need to leave and it’ll be more expensive.

        2. Seven hobbits are highly effective, people*

          I just want to flag that if they’re from another culture, and your wife’s Obviously Female Name isn’t from their home culture, they may be unaware that it’s a girls-only name. (If they have strong heterosexual-marriges-only blinders on, they may just assume it’s a name that could work for either gender.) This is where including a nice photo of your family is a good way to be sure they’re up to speed.

    5. JJ Bittenbinder*

      Regarding your safety concerns, my nephew had similar fears when driving from Seattle to Washington, D.C. by himself. He downloaded the GeoSure app, which has safety scores based on the user’s personal profile, including sexual orientation and gender identity or presentation. (I am not affiliated with the app.In any way and don’t know much more than what I’ve written here).

    6. Out in the Wilderness*

      Regarding your road trip concerns, FWIW, I am also a woman in a same-sex relationship and I’ve made numerous road trips with my partner over the years with no incidents. I used to live in the Midwest; my then-partner and I made multiple road trips west to the rural mountain state in which her parents lived. This was in the late 1990s (I think the first such trip was maybe 1997 or 1998) when the world was a much more hostile place for gay and lesbian people.

      Later, we moved to that state — granted, a very “blue” city within a very “red” state and lived there for many years.

      More recently, I now live in the Seattle area, but my partner and I have many friends back in that rural state and we visit regularly, normally by car. We also like camping and hiking in wild places, so we routinely take summer trips where the *goal* is to get to the “middle of nowhere” and enjoy nature…Some of these trips have been to somewhat isolated areas of Wyoming, where we camp on off the grid on public land and again, I can’t think of any times when we felt particularly unsafe. Those trips are typically with friends, so we ARE in a bit of a bigger group, but still.

      I remember several years ago taking a break by a waterfall during a hike in Glacier National Park (which is gorgeous, but far to popular and crowded to be considered the middle of nowhere, alas). Started chatting with some other hikers, who apparently decided we were on a “ladies trip” and thought it was so cool that we’d leave our husbands behind to go camping in a national park. People make assumptions when they see women traveling together! (The same group was just *amazed* that we were able to drive our trailers/campers on our own!)

    1. Another mom*

      I have a 3.5 month old. Things get slightly better after the first month or two. But I also do not know how anyone has more than one.

      1. Moms*

        How was yours at 3 months? I go back to work when baby is 12 weeks. I’m scared of getting little sleep. Also scared of baby getting sick at daycare.

        1. Bubbles McPherson*

          They will get sick at daycare no matter the age when first entering. It’s inevitable and there’s no way around it.

          1. Lilo*

            I will say I may have been lucky, but we only had a few sniffles and a mild cough. The stories about constant illness from daycare didn’t happen for my kid.

          2. Moms*

            I’ll just feel so bad for my baby since he can’t even blow his nose! How do you deal with a sick Baby? I imagine it’s hard for them to sleep

            1. Stephanie*

              Bulb syringe, cool mist humidifier, and raise the baby’s head slightly (a rolled towel under the mattress worked for us). However, I had babies two decades ago, and advice may have changed since. Pediatricians (and the nurses in the peds office) are great resources for these kinds of things.

            2. LilySparrow*

              One decade ago we used saline spray and a few drops of Olbas oil (like mentholyptus) on a cotton ball under the crib mattress. The fumes really help, but you do NOT want to get that stuff on baby skin or eyes. It’s strong.

        2. Lilo*

          3 months is better, 4 months really turned a corner for me. I started doing gentle sleep training at 5 months and that was huge.

          The biggest favor you can do yourself right now is, when the baby cries, wait a couple minutes (some parenting books call this “the pause”). Sometimes babies settle themselves, sometimes they don’t but we can actually interfere with their sleep by grabbing them right away.

          Around 6 weeks babies get way more interactive (smiling) and it be more rewarding.

        3. Another mom*

          By 3 months, he slept 6-8 hours a night. Every baby is different, but this started around 2 months for us and I think that is often a turning point for sleep. No one told me though, that even if the baby sleeps more than 6 hours, 6 may be the limit you can go before pumping (assuming breastfeeding).

          I haven’t gone back to work yet either. I’m going back just one day a week in about a month. He probably will get sick in daycare, but some pediatricians say that is a positive and will help him have a healthy immune system.

    2. MommaCat*

      Because (my kids at least) became pliant and easy at around a year to 18 months, and you start thinking, “hey, this isn’t so hard,” and then terrible twos strike while you’re pregnant with the next one. Then it happens again. But I’m done now (I have a 7 month old third kid). How do my husband and I do it? We put one foot in front of the other, try to have a sense of humor, and lean on our parents for breaks.

    3. Bubbles McPherson*

      We adopted twins a year ago and my GOD I thought we were going to lose our minds but it is survivable!! It’s a cliche to say “one day at a time,” but that is indeed how to do it. You plan and prepare as much as you can – meal prepping is vital – but just recognize that your time is not yours now, and be OK with that. Also if friends or relatives offer to come over and watch the baby for an hour or so SAY YES and run upstairs and take a nap.

    4. Director of Alpaca Exams*

      It is so, so hard. Lean on every support you have—partner(s), friends, family, community, doctors, services, whatever’s out there. Don’t be afraid to ask for what you need. If you are feeling really sad or crying a lot or thinking bad things about yourself or the baby, get help and support. But it’s better to get help and support before that happens, to stave it off if possible and be right on hand if necessary.

      Mine’s four years old and I think having another child would destroy me. Friends of mine have a toddler and a newborn and I’m very fond of them and also that sounds like my nightmare. But it works for them! Apparently!

    5. Ezera*

      I have a 16 month old, so I’m a little over a year in the future. Right now you’re really in the trenches. It gets easier with time, or the challenges change- I don’t have to hold my girl every moment, and we can go a couple of hours between diaper changes (or even all night!).

      From other parent friends it seems like you just kinda do it. There are hard parts, but it gets easier with time (I think?). I’m at the point where I’d like to try for another one, once we can pay for daycare#2.

      And re: little sleep and work and daycare sickness, daycare sickness is real. For us we were all sick for the first couple of months. Now it’s much less. She does still get a lot of runny noses/coughs but it’s rarer for her to be sick enough to stay home, and also rarer for us to get sick.

      Tiredness is also real, but you just kinda push through. My girl is teething right now, with a bunch of wakeups. We try to go to bed as early as we can. But it also gets easier with time (fewer wakeups).

      You will get through this! When I went back to work in January 2019, things were hard, and I put a reminder on my work calendar in June to reevaluate my work situation. By the time I reached the reminder, we were fine, in a routine. It probably took 2-3 months of working to get there. Hang in there.

    6. Anony Shark*

      I hear you. I used to think if I has twins I would have lost my sanity.

      At one month you’re still recovering physically and emotionally from pregnancy and childbirth. Plus you’re still getting used to having this new human in your home and having your entire world turn upside down. All of this while struggling on broken sleep. New parenting is the hardest thing most people go through.

      It does make a difference when baby is a few weeks older. But be kind to yourself and remember you’re in survival mode for awhile. So forget about having a tidy house or playing perfect host to visitors.


    7. Also a mom*

      It is hard. It’s okay to find it difficult. I have an 18 month old and that’s a lot easier. She understands me a bit now and can talk some herstelf, that helps a lot.

      I don’t know how people have more than one. I’m not sure if I want to go through the baby phase again.

    8. Call me St. Vincent*

      Well no one can imagine having more than one at one month! The one month mark is tough. I have two but didn’t start thinking about it until my first was 18 months old or so. It does get easier, I promise! Hang in there!

    9. Not enough coffee*

      Omg. I have 3 kids (none twins, mercifully). It gets harder in different ways. My youngest is 1.5 and just started saying “mama, I love you.” And burying me in (boogery) kisses, so that helps.

    10. Cambridge Comma*

      I have a 1 and 2 year old who are 11 months apart (planned).
      It gets a little easier every day. You’ll get there.

      1. Erin*

        Not sure if you’ll see this, but if you do and you’re open to sharing, I would love to hear more about your decision making process and your experience of having kids this close together. My wife and I have a 6 week old (I carried) and plan for her to carry the next one, and are right now leaning toward having them close together (maybe trying for 15-18 months apart). I would love to hear more about your experience!

        1. Cambridge Comma*

          We did the same and has one each. The small gap has been 100% positive! I wish there was a way we could pm!

        2. Director of Alpaca Exams*

          Friends of mine did this; their kids are six months apart (currently 4.5 and about to turn 5), and absolutely inseparable. Quasi-twins.

        3. OtterB*

          My two are 18 months apart (now 25 and 27, so it’s been a while). I had trouble getting pregnant with the first so thought if we were going to have a second we should start trying as soon as I could bear to think about it, which turned out to be at about 7 months. The second one didn’t take nearly as long. :-)

          The advice we got that sticks with me is that having them close together is harder when they are babies because of all the reasons everyone else is saying, but easier when they get a little older because the same sort of family activities (board games, hiking, museums, vacation spots, etc.) are age appropriate for both.

          My younger one has special needs and that threw a monkey wrench into everything, but it still seems like good advice to me.

    11. The pest, Ramona*

      It will get easier, humankind would not be here otherwise. There’s a lot of good advice in this group, I hope it works out for you.
      However, I would add: if it does not start getting easier as time goes by please go to your doctor to get checked for post partum depression.

    12. LilySparrow*

      They are less work (or a different kind of work) when they can walk, communicate, sleep, and put food in their own mouths.

      Also, your capacity/skills level up and you can play “zone defense” instead of man-to-man, as some comedian rightly said.

      You are in absolutely the hardest part right now. Hang in there! It really does get easier.

      Virtual hugs if wanted. Do you have anyone who can come over and hold the baby while you nap? Call them ASAP if so. That is gold.

    13. Fellow Traveler*

      Hugs! The first year is huge! There’s adjusting and self-doubt and sleep deprivation and a tiny human who’s main form of communication is screaming at the top of their lungs. I have a 12 week old and also a 2.5 year old and a 7 year old. (The seven year old is by far the most difficult. But it’s not physically exhausting, just mentally hard.) There are many days when I am living ten minutes at a time- I just think what do I need to do in the next ten minutes. And often the answer is “hold the baby.” Sometimes the answer is also, “put the baby down and go scream into my pillow.”
      Also- it is absolutely ok to just have one kid. There is no universal answer.

    14. Courageous cat*

      My best friend said the same thing when her kid was that young. My friend was crying daily, fantasizing about ways to leave her husband and the baby, regretting it all deeply, etc. Now the kid is 3, and she’s been thinking about another for 2 years now. She would tell you: it gets better. It gets so much better. Hang in there, and don’t wait to get professional help if you feel yourself spiraling.

    15. Stephanie*

      Oh, that first year is hard! My kids are now 18 and 21 years old, and I still remember how overwhelmed I felt with my oldest at times. It really, truly does get easier. I found that things that were overwhelming with my first baby were just no big deal with my second. All of the brand new baby stuff that is so unfamiliar and maybe kind of scary is stuff that you have already figured out by the time your next kid comes along.
      Hang in there. You’re really in the middle of the topsy-turvy, life is all upside down thick of things. You’ll find your new normal and find your footing.
      If you find you’re really struggling, reach out–to your OB, your pediatrician, or anyone you can talk to.

    16. J.B.*

      It’s tough. It will get easier. The newborn stage of the second child was also really difficult, but by then you are more relaxed about all the rules. You would also think I would have learned after the first child not to put a seemingly not-mobile baby down on the bed to see them fall off of it but alas I did not.

      1. J.B.*

        On a purely practical level – arrange your life to get as much sleep as possible. You laugh I know but if you can get one five hour stretch a night and then as much broken sleep as possible the rest of the night you will function much better. I know this isn’t applicable for everyone, but either having a partner do the first feeding of the night or (if formula feeding) alternating nights is huge. Nap whenever you can.

    17. Blackcat*

      I am going to say the least reassuring thing possible. It might get worse before it gets better. 6-8 weeks was a real low point. From there, it slowly got better. Around 5 months, when we sleep trained (seriously, consider it! I said I’d never do that to my kid, but it was life changing and I was such a better parent for it).
      But now I have a 2yo and can think about having another. The really hard phase is short in the grand scheme of things. And if you’re super sleep deprived, you don’t remember it so well…. so there’s that?

    18. I don’t post often*

      I can’t speak to having two children. I only have one currently (waiting to adopt a second!). BUT! That whole first year was hard. This little person must have everything done for them. And then they start crawling and put bugs and dog hair and everything else in their mouth. But by four, they don’t put things in their mouth, they can put on their own shoes, they SLEEP at night. It’s just easier.

    19. Double A*

      I have a 14 month old and looking back at those first months, I wish I had watched more TV. I know that sounds like a stupid thing to say, but I really think it would have made it a bit more bearable. It’s lonely and you’re so tired but also so tense and worried you’ll somehow fry their brain if you have the TV on but… You won’t. They’re basically unaware. They can just nap on you. So lounge and relax and watch as much TV as you want. You also really and truly will barely remember these months. Going back to work is horrible, but maybe if you just expect that and know you won’t be your best employee this year, it’ll be easier to just be kind to yourself. (I found out 2 weeks before I was going back from mat leave that my job was being eliminated… It’s a long story but job hunting with an infant is… ugh. It’s been a really hard year).

      That being said! My daughter is now THE BEST! Once they get head control, things start looking up. And they are just like…ALIVE to the world, it is so cool to see.

      I honestly dont feel like I totally bonded with her until she was less of a blob, so that made the early months extra hard. (And I did eventually go on antidepressants and it was a big help, esp. with sleep).

      I really want a second but I don’t know if my husband would be willing to go through babyhood with another one. Also I started thinking the best time to start trying again would be this summer and was like… wait that’s so soon! Honestly infants are kind of traumatizing. But they are also not newborns for long, and screw all those people who tell you to treasure this early days. There’s not a lot to treasure. Take pictures, then later you can get sentimental if you want.

      But that baby will truly become someone awesome in like 3 months or less and then they will just keep getting better!

    20. Cambridge Comma*

      Also the second baby is sooo much easier because you don’t think, you just do. Also you work out what’s important and what’s not. I didn’t bake my own salt-free bread for no. 2.

  4. I have been to London!*

    On the way to the airport for the return trip. Will post a report when we are in the terminal.

    1. Jemima Bond*

      I’m waving you off! I hope you had fun and didn’t get too soggy (lots of rain here of late).

    2. I have been to London!*

      The London Report.
      We had a splendid time! Thank you commentator who gave the advice on the car service from the airport to Cambridge. Best money ever spent.
      First things first. It rained the entire time with the one clear day was one I had a business meeting.
      I packed perfectly- Drew short boots for walking, Birkenstock short boots for warmer days (it it hit 50 a few days) Airbirds for casual. Basic black layers, Eileen Fisher jacket for business. Packed for 5 days. Did laundry when we got to our VRBO.
      VRBO was perfect. One room bedroom apt on Kensington Highstreet. One block from the tube. We got our oyster cards right away. People were very friendly pointing us to the right platform. Kings Crossing was fabulous and seeing all the Harry Potter stuff was a treat.
      Chronic pain report- good days and bad days and one really bad day. Learned to pace my self. Even accessible tub stops required lots of walking. Quite a few were not “stepless” therefore lots of stairs. One surprise was the number of cuff crutches that I saw- in the States I am usually the only one using one where ever I go. Perhaps the national health service provides them. People were very nice giving up their seats on the subway and busses without me asking. We made sure to travel after and before rush hours.
      It was easy to over-do. Think that we could visit one more site that day. Learned that early on. I could do one big thing a day.
      The highlights-
      The House of Illustration Fair. Professional illustrators displaying their work- cards, posters, scarves, prints, chapbooks, zines. I was in heaven. Meeting the creators. There was a popup fair right next door. AND at the House of Illustration an exhibit W.E.B. Du Bois: Charting Black Lives a reproduction of the Worlds Fair exhibit with archival materials and Designed in Cuba: Cold War Graphics: An unprecedented exhibition of original Cuban propaganda posters and magazines.

      We went to Dick Whittington and his Cat at the Hackney Empire. I am still thinking about it. Thank you to the commentator who recommended reading up on Windrush generation.
      Besides being laugh-out-loud funny, politically timely, this Panto production was a checklist of classic British pantomime that I had longed to see since my first reading of Ballet Shoes.
      At the Barbacan we enjoyed the 50th anniversary concert of Steeleye Span. Maddy Prior was in great form. Best? Picked up a Black cab right out front right after the concert that whisked us home to Kensington.

      We of course visited many bookstores and my first purchases were a paperback reprint of Ballet Shoes, an exquisite edition of The Boy, The Mole, The Fox and the Horse by Charlie Mackesy, the new Tomi Adeyemi- Children of Virtue and Vengence, and new to me, recommended by the bookseller, Naomi Novik Spinning Silver.
      The food was wonderful. The husband got to have his many plates of fish and chips. The recommendations were all on the nose and we ended up in only one tourist trap dinner (underwhelming and overpriced)
      Dishoom was as terrific and we ended up having 4 meals there because of convenience and the excellence of their food and service.
      Coincidentally the British Library had its first children’s materials exhibit AND there was a curator’s talk that we were able to attend. The design, the selections, and the interpretations were accessible for a range of ages. We were there with lots of families and it was delightful to see the kids reading, writing and drawing.
      The most unexpected, surprising, and enlightening was The Wellcome Collection is a museum and library at 183 Euston Road, London. Their exhibit on play and child development and environment, and the history of teaching and learning was thoughtful and engaging. If you are in London, do not miss it. Also they had one of the best gift shops I had ever been in. Oh, and the library! Open to the public, beautifully designed.
      As noted I did have one stay-in-bed day while the husband went to the Tate. I reread Ballet Shoes and then watched Star Trek Discovery. Turns out Netflix has it in England and I am too cheap and resentful to pay for CBS streaming in the States.
      Went to the V&A to see Beatrix Potter, stayed for the really amazing soup-to-nuts multimedia exhibit on performing arts. Do you want to know about scripts, costume design, lighting, collaboration, artistic process etc etc? We spent over 3 hours there with majority in that one section.
      Natural Museum drew our interest especially for the Museum of Moon- (google it) we hosted this installation at our own and wanted to experience it in another setting.
      Those were the highlights.

      1. Jenny*

        Wonderful! So glad you had a good time despite the weather, and that you got to do so many exciting things.

    3. I have been to London!*

      Hope this doesn’t post twice. My comment disappeared.
      The Report.
      Great trip. Packed just right. Rained everyday except the one that I was in an all day meeting.
      On the disability front. Learned to pace myself. Turns out I could only do one big thing a day.
      Food was great. Loved Dishoom for the food, the convenient location to our VRBO and great service and atmosphere. We ate there 4 times two breakfasts, one really late lunch, and dinner. Shopped at the Whole Foods, an open market, and Marks and Spenser. The Whole Foods had restaurants inside including a fabulous ramen joint, Bone Daddies. The husband had many plates of fish and chips.


      Bookstores etc. I picked up a reprint of Ballet Shoes, a well made edition of The Boy,t he Mole,t he Fox and the Horse by Charlie Mackesy, the new Tomi Adeyemi, Children of Virtue and Vengence, and a book recommended by the bookseller, Spinning Silver by Naomi Novik.
      Dick Whittington and His Cat at the Hackney Empire – a retelling of the classic tale in classic British format with vaudevillian slapstick and topical humor. Thank you to the commenter who advised reading up on the Windrush Generation. Everything about the production was outstanding.

      50th anniversary concert Steeleye Span. A magical evening at the Barbican made better by the Black cab that whisked us back to our VRBO on Kensington Highsmith.

      The House of Illustrators’ fair was a wonderment of original art, tea towels, cards and prints. Right next door was their building housing. On display was W.E.B. Du Bois: Charting Black Lives a reproduction of a worlds fair exhibit with original artifacts and Designed in Cuba: Cold War Graphics as well as a gallery devoted to Quentin Blake.

      At the Victoria and Albert was Beatrix Potter original drawings and watercolors. An unexpected surprise was the process of theatrical performance from soup to nuts. The a multimedia production of the creative process including manuscript, costumes, props, lighting and scenery.

      If you are in or visiting London, The Welcome Collection Museum and Library was amazing. Don’t miss the play exhibit.We spent almost the whole day there. The Play exhibit examined child development, learning, and play. We had lunch in their cafe which was delicious and affordable. I rested and caught up with my emails in their open to the public library that is beautifully designed and very comfortable.

      The British Library had their first ever children’s book and manuscript exhibit. Accessibly designed, perfect for children and their adults. We enjoyed watching children and their families interact with the exhibits, write, draw and read . There was a manuscript page from Matilda, original art from Lauren Child, and rare editions.
      We were also able to attend a curator’s talk about the making of the exhibit.

      Getting around
      Not unexpected, it was rainy and 40 degrees for all of our visit.
      Thank you for the advice to take a car from the airport to Cambridge. Worth every penny.
      Our apartment was 2 blocks from the tube. We became practiced predicting my ability to walk and stand. Taking the tube out on adventures and taking a taxi back to home base. We travelled after and before rush hours.
      People were incredibly nice giving up their seats on busses and trains.
      (unusual observation, usually I am the only person using a cuff crutch, many people using them in England, fewer canes.)
      Had one bad day that I staying in bed while the husband went to the Tate.
      I reread Ballet Shoes and then watched the whole first season of Star Trek Discovery. It is available on Netflix there and I am too cheap to give money to CBS to stream.

      Thank you everyone who allayed my fears and walked me through the anxiety. Looking forward to going again. If there is a next time I will make it to Oxford and Seven Stories.

  5. Bilateralrope*

    Have you seen any interesting Christmas decorations ?

    From my work (night shifts) I can see one house that has what I’d describe as a demonic red glow. It’s too far away to make out any more detail on its decorations, but this is the third Christmas in a row it has glowed like this.

    1. Lena Clare*

      I have nice non-trad deccies: a white xmas tree with green,white, and red lights on only, and a big black tree with cerise pink decorations and lights on it. I’ll try to post pictures.

          1. Lena Clare*

            Thank you so much! It was a while ago, but I think I got it from my local supermarket, Sainsburys. Failing that, it would have been somewhere like Argos or something.

    2. OliveTreeDecor*

      We have a light display in my city, lights around town in the main shopping area and some lighted trees. My personal tree is my olive tree in my kitchen – I put some lights and a few decorations on it. Not interesting per se, but my spin on the holiday as I can’t actually buy and move a tree into. my small place.

      1. Ain’t Miss Behavin’*

        You have an olive tree in your kitchen? That’s so great, and I love that you have decorations on it! How big is it!

    3. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      I have a dinosaur on my porch with a Santa hat on.

      He originally came as a Christmas/Santa dino. Around February the first year I had him up, my husband was like “ok, we’re not gonna be the jackholes who leave the Christmas decorations up all year.” So now he gets re-dressed about every 4-6 weeks to be seasonally appropriate; my favorite is his turkey costume at Thanksgiving and his Easter bunny suit. But right now he’s back to his Santa hat.

        1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

          The way I usually tell the story is this:
          Him, in late February: “We’re not going to leave the Christmas decorations up year round. Time to take care of Rex”
          Me: “Where the heck are we going to put a dinosaur?”
          Him: “You probably should have thought about that before you bought it.”
          Me: “… what if he’s not a CHRISTMAS dinosaur?”
          Him: “Well, I guess that would be okay…?”
          Me: *comes home from that weekend’s grocery runs and hands him a green tinsel top hat* “Go put that on Rex instead of his Santa hat.”

          And that’s how he ended up redecorating Holidaysaurus Rex on a regular basis.

          Rex has his own wardrobe tote in the garage. We do St Pats and Easter, he spends most of the summer in a grilling apron with tongs in one hand and a cheeseburger in his mouth, we add a checkered flag for race weekend (we’re in Indy), Fourth of July, back to school, he has a Yoda costume for Halloween, and the turkey beak and tail feathers for thanksgiving. He also wore a mortarboard and had a “diploma” when I finished grad school :)

          1. KarenTheLibrarian*

            That’s amazing! A way cooler version of the cement duck on the porch that people dress up. I bet everyone in your neighborhood gets a laugh–I know I would!

          2. Fikly*

            Does Rex’s wardrobe tote take up less space in the garage than Rex would? Not that Rex should be put in the garage, of course!

            1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

              Rex’s wardrobe absolutely does not take up less space than he would. :) flawless victory!

      1. Holiday decorating*

        That is awesome! We did a smaller version of this this year. We had put paper bats on our windows for Halloween. My son liked them so much we kept them up and made a paper Santa hat and some reindeer antlers to add to them. So the front of our house has Christmas bats on them. Very traditional.

          1. valentine*

            I love him!

            Bilateralrope: You know you have to gather a Scooby gang and investigate the demonic red glow, right? (Unless it’s a compound called Heaven’s Gate.)

      2. Elizabeth West*

        When I have a house again, I’m gonna do something like this, lol. I love that it’s a dino.

    4. Aurora Leigh*

      The movie theater has Christmas Yoda (with a Santa hat and holding a present and a light up stormtrooper around their Christmas tree.

          1. Bilateralrope*

            I’ve heard enough about it that I don’t think Star Wars should have any involvement with Christmas.

    5. Queer Earthling*

      Not this year, but a previous year my spouse and I were out driving and looking at Christmas lights, and we found a house that had done a beautiful bat signal out of yellow Christmas lights on their roof, with absolutely no other decoration.

    6. university minion*

      One house in my ‘hood set up their Hobie Cat in the front yard, decked out with lights, along with two decorated kayaks. It’s a testament to the neighborliness of my ‘hood that those haven’t walked yet. It all looks really cool. There’s another house where it looks like Christmas exploded all over the yard, and the owner is a real-bearded Santa who, if he doesn’t have a gig that night, sets up in the front yard for neighborhood kids/dogs/kids at heart to come by for a picture.

    7. M&M*

      The city I live in has a lot of old fancy/ornate houses (bordering on what I would call mansions). I passed by one the other day that had tasteful lights outside and in the windows….and then also had the Christmas Story leg lamp prominently displayed in the front window

    8. Seeking Second Childhood*

      Weather interfered with my plans to rub lights along my gutters this year, but I got some up on the porch. And then realized that the temporary location for my houseplant shelving means the red&blue plant light glitters through the door’s window beautifully. Makes the oval pressed glass window totally beautiful.

    9. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      Also, in my house, I don’t have a tree this year (because my husband’s cat is a stoner who every year steals my ornaments and drowns them in the water bowl for not being stuffed with catnip), we put up a garland around the living room and hung the ornaments from that instead. Then I was like “the hell am I going to put the presents?” So now the 5 foot tall teddy bear who usually sits in the corner of the living room is also wearing a blinky Santa hat with antlers and surrounded by presents in his lap and around his chair. (Year round, he has a Nerf shotgun and a boffer sword. He represents my constitutional right to keep and arm bears. I enjoy being the eccentric one.)

      1. PB*

        There’s actually a science fiction collection call The Right to Arm Bears (I will post a link in a follow-up comment). Sadly, the title and cover art were the best part of that book.

    10. Tris Prior*

      Down the street from us in someone’s front yard is some sort of animatronic teddy bear in a Santa hat. It is considerably larger than a human being. Its arms close suddenly in a hug, and then open again. I find it terrifying and hilarious. “COME HERE CHILDREN LET ME CRUSH YOU TO DEATH”

    11. Arts Akimbo*

      My neighbor has an inflatable Yoda lightsaber-battling an inflatable Darth Vader! Both have Santa hats, so who knows which one is bringing the presents! I guess it depends on whether you’ve been naughty or nice?

    12. Garland Not Andrews*

      One house in my area has HO and a tiny three above the O (for HO cubed) on the end of their garage. Love it!

  6. Yazeep*

    This happened to me recently. I was in Dubai with my husband and decided to get a massage in the spa of the hotel. I love massages and get them all the time.
    We started the massage and the lady who was doing it kept lifting my hand in weird positions and asking me to keep still. No problem. But I think my arms would move a bit snd she would get angry, mutter and snap rudely “I can’t work if you keep moving,” over and over. Halfway through I got so stressed, I told her that I have a neurological problem that makes me have involuntary movements. These movements were in my hands (tremors) my head (head nodding) and some fidgeting in my upper body. These tremors are very subtle and are only a problem if I need to be perfectly still. Let’s say if I need to take a photo, my hand would move a bit and the photo would be blurry. But it never causes a problem at any other time. Especially a massage, where being perfectly still is not an issue!
    Anyway after I told her, she became very apologetic and did not say anything again. But by that point, I was very sad and wasn’t enjoying the massage at all.
    I think she felt like she crossed a line because she followed me into the dressing room after we were done and told me I’m beautiful. ok?
    I didn’t saying anything to management and paid the very expensive fee (it was a five star hotel). She’s from the Phillipines and I was worried if I complained they would fire her. But I get so upset every time I think about it. I wish I said something!

    1. Director of Alpaca Exams*

      That sounds like a really unpleasant experience! And it’s rough that you’re still carrying it with you. Massage is such an intimate thing, and when it goes badly it can be very distressing. Her following you into the dressing room also sounds quite intrusive, especially if you went in there to recover.

      I hope you can find some way to work through your sadness and think about what would let you put this episode in the past and feel settled and safe. A therapist might be able to help.

    2. Got Cats?*

      I’m so sorry that happened to you. And it sounds like she was rude and it shouldn’t have mattered whether or not you had a neurological problem. I understand not wanting her to be fired, but she probably does need to have something said to her. She ruined your whole experience and made you feel sad. It made me sad to read it.

    3. Anonyme*

      I’d be wary of saying something in terms of the potentially outsized effect it could have on her employment or immigration status. Dubai doesn’t have a reputation for treating Filipino workers well.

      However, I think she treated you awfully and am upset on your behalf. I just don’t know if it’s possible to get a resolution at the level you want?

    4. WellRed*

      I been always been asked upfront about health conditions. Maybe it’s a US thing. I think, though, she should have ignored any involuntary movements, etc and certainly been nicer.

    5. LilySparrow*

      I’m sorry your massage got ruined when it should have been a lovely special treat. I think it was very kind of you to think of her situation, and not want to have her suffer disproportionately.

      It sounds like she realized that she needs to change her thinking, which hopefully should benefit other customers. Because really, in what planet is it necessary or helpful to keep perfectly still during a massage? That isn’t relaxing for anyone!

    6. Anon PhD*

      Aww, same as others, I feel for you. I love my regular massages and even when the massage therapist talks more than I prefer, I get annoyed. I like to talk things out during massages, esp with a massage therapist that I have known for a while, but some know how to strike that balance well, some don’t, so I cannot imagine how hella annoyed I would have been after being told to keep perfectly still, and the following into the dressing room, jeez. Good on you for keeping in mind her immigration status. Treat yourself to a great massage in your home towm, it may help you forget this experience.

    7. J.B.*

      I’m sorry. I too have been yelled at during a massage and it wasn’t a fun experience. You do you and you know your own body. It was kind of you to be concerned about her employment. I hope that she learns from this experience, or else she probably will lose her employment.

    8. Miranda Priestly's Assistant*

      I’ve been to Dubai a few times. Service work there is typically not good, though it’s not entirely the fault of the workers themselves. They are typically exploited poor immigrants who are working reduced wages to make a living, and they aren’t trained well. Businesses take advantage of this by selling what seems like very affordable services to foreign tourists. I generally avoid getting any haircuts, styling, facials, etc. when I’m in that region, or anywhere in South Asia as well.

  7. Anon woman with breast cancer*

    Good morning AAMers! I have a short update, the tumour has indeed shrunk and I will get a mammogram in late January to see by how much. The side effects after this last round of chemo have been mild but … the most interesting one I want to share (with some chagrin as I was a biology major even!)…chemo kills fast growing cells. Like hair follicles, cancer cells, and mouth cells, etc. Guess what other fast growing cells it kills? Ovaries! So, you have chemo-induced menopause (it is fine for me as I am 50+ in any case and childfree). But when I was asking the onco about the hot flashes we discussed this and I was like …. ‘duh…’. So hot flashes, etc. Yeehaw. Anyway onwards to the lighter drug of taxol and scans and removal surgery in 2020 and will have less frequent updates then, probably once a month only – and at the end of this chapter when I am healed. I again wish to thank everyone here for solidarity and support. For anyone else going through this: you can do it. It is tough, but be strong, you are tougher.

    In other news, happy holidays and end of 2019 to everyone. I will be watching Die Hard this week, reflecting on the year, reading, sleeping, trying to write and send out a few cards to family and friends, and will try to get outside for a few short walks. Wishing all of you a calm and pleasant weekend.

    1. MistOrMister*

      I don’t usually follow the open thread posts, so I don’t know the res t of what you’ve shared but this update sounds like things are looking up for you, and that is wonderful! Here’s hoping 2020 is smooth sailing!!

      If you’re willing to share, do you mind my asking what you do to combat chemo-related nausea? I was given zofran – for recurring bouts of nausea, not chemo related. For me, it doesn’t work consistently and sometimes is makes things worse by stopping the vomiting but keeping my stomach roiling until it wears off (at which point I erupt like Mt Vesuvius, unfortunately). Promethazine works great but also knocks me out for 12 hours so it isn’t an option during the work week. I’ve been experimenting with ginger tea but am always looking for other remedies.

      1. Anon woman with breast cancer*

        Hi, not at all can ask me anything about treatments and such. Here goes:
        Nausea: at each chemo treatment by pill (and for two days after, same pill): Emend and if needed, Primperan and Kytril. (Chemical names are: Aprepitant, Metoclopramide, and Granisetron). The emend worked best immediately for the days after chemo – but gave me hiccups once for a. full day which was annoying. The Primperan I took now and again for a few days maybe. Never have used the strong Kytril.

        Also since I got only a bit of nausea, and it was generally kind of like mild indigestion, I would take a teaspoon of baking soda (bicarbonate) in a full glass of warm water to drink to balance out the acid. I do drink a lot ofginger tea yes, and also use ginger candy (crystalised ginger with some sugar coating) as well, ginger cookies from ikea, too. As well, I use at night CBD oil before bed. I use mint tea too. And in some papers on the topic, I read that, “Other herbs that can provide symptomatic relief in cases of nausea include Zingiber (ginger), Mentha piperita (peppermint), Matricaria (chamomile), Ballota nigra (black horehound) and Filipendula (meadowsweet).”

        Hope this helps! And good luck getting rid of it. It is definitely not a good feeling.

        1. MistOrMister*

          Thanks!! I might have been given Metoclopramide but I’m not sure. Haven’t heard about the others. I will have to discuss with my doctor at my next appointment. A friend sugfested baking soda in water but I have to say, the idea kind of freaks me out. Because baking soda toothpaste is so nasty. Haha. Maybe I can make myself try it. I will have to get some ginger chews. I love the Chimes ones but only get them once in a while for a candy treat, I never thought to use them to help nausea.

          It really is such a horrible feeling!! A friend was telling me they’ve suddenly started having nausea issues and I peddled ginger tea so quickly you’d think I was a ginger salesperson working on commission :)

      2. Not a cat*

        I don’t know where you live or if this is over-the-line for you, but weed worked miracles for me.

        Happy to hear things are going well! Wishing you continued wellness!

        1. Anon woman with breast cancer*

          In fact it is legal where I live. I do use CBD oil, and sometimes will have edibles but am out currently. After the holidays will be able to manage this situation better.

      3. Kuododi*

        I can tell you from a personal basis, I do take Zofran prn for nausea/vomiting. My GI specialist I consulted with added Ranitidine 2x/day. I found it so helpful I’ve actually taken a chance on the occasional spicy dish without disaster!!! It’s certainly worth a couple of phone calls to see what your particular MD recommends. Best wishes… Kuododi

    2. Anonymatic Yo-Yo*

      You are coming through neo-adjuvant chemo with surgery and radiation to come yet? Or no radiation required?

      I also have bc and they had to put me into chemical menopause in November for my drug regimen and its been surprisingly.. ok? I get more cold flashes than hot, but the hot flashes seem to come at very specific points in the day, and thankfully at times when Im not likely to be in public! :)

      Best of luck with the remainder of your treatments and hope the taxol treats you well.

      1. Anon woman with breast cancer*

        Yes, exactly. I will do Taxol next, then surgery, then some radiation zaps, then anti hormone therapy. On the hot flashes, another breast cancer patient friend of mine said this on timing too – mine come randomly as far as I can tell. :) You are lucky! And good luck to you too with your treatments and a good new year to you in 2020 for health and progress.

        1. AnnielivinginUSA*

          I also went through chemically induced menopause at 39 with chemo for Breast Cancer. All I can say is make the fridge/freezer your best friend. I would just stick my head in to try to cool off. I found coffee triggered hot flashes so out it went. Tea was ok. Sometimes when I had a hot flash I would go stand outside in the cold with no jacket just to cool my body down. I used to have perspiration dripping off my face it was so bad. I am so happy to hear your good news.

          1. Anon woman with breast cancer*

            Congrats on being a survivor! And, thank you.

            Yeah – the bald heat sweating thing is …. odd. I honestly don’t know how all my bald male friends deal with sweaty heads. It is just so weird.

      1. Anon woman with breast cancer*

        Thanks so much for the kind words – peace to you too in the new year and a good end of 2019 to you!

    3. fposte*

      Oh, I’d heard about chemo-induced menopause but never knew the mechanism. Well, at least you’ll be warm in winter :-). Glad the tumor has shrunk and I’m glad you’re looking forward to more things happening in your life.

      1. Anon woman with breast cancer*

        Hi fposte – indeed – this was a bit of a surprise, I think mainly because there is so much going on right now, and my brain is not fully functioning.

        Have a good end of 2019 and a prosperous year ahead!

    4. Kuododi*

      Oooh!!! Happy Snoopy Dance! I’m thrilled to hear the good news. Have a peaceful Christmas and do all of your favorite things!!! Blessings!!!

    5. Rebecca*

      I am so happy to hear this, and so glad for positive news for you! I’m sending good thoughts for healing and health your way :)

    6. NoLongerYoung*

      Great update, and so glad that it is going as well as it can…wishing you a pleasant and calm week as well. I’ve been quietly following and rooting for you….

      1. Anon woman with breast cancer*

        Thanks so much NoLongerYoung, and here’s to a better year ahead for all of us!

  8. Lena Clare*

    Is anyone doing Dream Mapping or anything different for their new year’s ‘resolutions’?

    I always break resolutions, so last year decided to do dream mapping (can’t remember the name of the life coach who recommends it). You think of how you want to feel, work out what you need to do to feel it, then make a dream board of pictures and key words.
    E.g. I want to feel strong and healthy and athletic, rather than “I want to lose weight!”
    It was fun and I enjoyed it. It seemed to work more, than just making a list of stuff to do.

    1. Director of Alpaca Exams*

      That’s a nice concept!

      I don’t bother with resolutions, beyond a general one to do more of what works and less of what doesn’t, but on Rosh Hashanah I pick a phrase to meditate on through the High Holidays and carry with me through the year, and I really recommend that as a practice if it’s your sort of thing.

      1. fposte*

        I tried to do 10Q this year (which I think I heard about here) and unfortunately failed at it after a few days, but I like the idea of the guided reflections to look back on. That works better for me than resolutions.

    2. Nervous Nellie*

      Cool! I didn’t know what Dream Mapping is, so I just looked it up. Inspiring ideas, thanks!

      I do something sort of similar, and have had great success with it. Each month I pick an inspiring theme word and only one goal, and focus on them for just the month. It’s easier than committing to doing something for an entire year, and I find that at the end of the month, the goal has often become a habit, and as such, continues on anyway into the next month when it comes along with its new word and different goal. That said, since 2020 is the end of a very tough decade for me, and since ’20/20′ also refers to good eyesight/vision, I am considering adding an overarching theme of vision, in all the ways that could mean.

      When I was a kid in the 70s, I was always thrilled by the opening moments of Sesame Street, when they would say, “today is brought to you by the letter ‘a'”. Well, my months are brought to me by the theme words I choose. For December, my plan is “Celebration” – find daily ways to celebrate & reflect on all the good things in life, and my theme word is “Contentment’, which reminds me that I already have so much, and has already saved me a fortune in the shops!

      1. Lena Clare*

        Oh that’s so cool! That’s right up my street :)
        I just checked with my friend and I got the name of it wrong – it’s called Desire Mapping, by Danielle La Porte, but the concept is all the same.
        Happy New Year!

        1. Nervous Nellie*

          Oh, neat! A Google of Desire Mapping gave me lots of ideas for my year. Thank you, Lena Clare!

          Yeah, knowing that the month’s challenge is time-limited made it way less daunting for me than a whole year’s plan. Sometimes I go for really concrete goals (ie. cook down the pantry stores, brush up on advanced techniques in Excel), and sometimes, like this month, they are broader. December really lends itself to nebulous goals about gratitude, with its year end accounting and thoughts about the coming year. I also make a point not to select the word or the goal until a couple of days before the month begins, because I find that allows me to address things that are timely & currently matter. I also put the two words up on a dry-erase board on my fridge. It’s a fun ritual to write & then embellish/decorate them to reflect on all month.

    3. All Hail Queen Sally*

      This is wonderful information; I will look into it. I always set goals. Some I reach, some I don’t. I have already decided that something I want to do this year is to really look into why I don’t seem to accomplish some of them (year after year); to basically figure out the root cause of my inaction. I have recently realized that I was pressuring myself to do some things I really no longer wish to do, so I will be analyzing everything.

  9. Nee Attitude*

    I just got my bathroom renovated and the difference is like night and day. I plan to do my kitchen and dining room in 2021, as well as some other needed repairs in between. What plans do you have for the new year for your homes?

    1. Aurora Leigh*

      After a little over a year of kitchen remodeling (DIY) the bathroom is next! We are gonna have to figure out some kind of 2nd bathroom situation first though. That is the downside to a one bathroom house. Pretty sure there is rot in the wall behind the shower.

      1. Stephanie*

        I feel you on the one bathroom problem. We just downsized from a 2300 square foot, 4 bedroom, 3 1/2 bath house to a 1500 square foot, 3 bedroom, one bath house. We love the house, but definitely are feeling the pinch with one bathroom. We plan to add a second bath in the partially finished basement early next year.
        I would absolutely love to redo the kitchen, too, but it’s not in the cards right now.

    2. Damn it, Hardison!*

      I’m going to have to get our bathroom renovated (issue with leaky shower that can’t be fixed because of old pipes/fixtures). Hoping to build a large patio in the back yard as well, but that’s a nice to have so we’ll wait and see.

    3. Detective Rosa Diaz*

      I am sprucing up my bathroom too! I’m not doing a full reno, so it is a challenge. Upgrading the window: check (window company found and signed on). Training in less awful colors: also check (just gonna do it myself).
      Now I am looking to change the furniture (cupboard, mirror, washbasin) and also change the splashback tiles. A plumber can’t do all of it and contractors won’t take it on because it is too small a job :’) yay.

      If the foster care screening works out, I will have to childproof the house. Stair safety is the big one.

      1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        If you’re in the US, check Angie’s List or your local Nextdoor for handyman services? I’ve had a lot of success with that for jobs that are just bigger than my guys want to try, but not big enough to make sense for a full on contractor. This past fall I had some rotten boards in my deck and railing replaced by a handyman service and they did a great job.

    4. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      I just finished the last of the big things this year; replaced all the windows and the slider, deck repairs, and new water heater this year, new furnace and garage door last year, kitchen remodel the year before that. At this point, it’s just little stuff.

      Right now we’re experimenting with better ways to light the stairs so my Elder Statesdog can see well enough to be comfortable going up and down without help; we put in an LED strip along the baseboard with a motion sensor yesterday but the motion sensor is so sensitive that it picks up me moving on the other side of the living room, so figuring out how to position it so it’s not going on constantly is going to be a thing. I’m wondering if maybe mounting it to the bottom of the handrail and pointing the sensor’s “cone” mostly straight down will be a better option.

    5. fposte*

      Next year is likely the planning and saving year and the action the year after, but I want to redo a bathroom, a chunk of the kitchen, and my front entrance. I’m most excited about the front entrance–I love my house and I don’t think the front entrance does it justice, so I really want to zhuzh it up.

    6. Millennial Lizard Person*

      New windows!! Our bedroom (2 walls of windows) is about 5 degrees colder than the rest of the house. The sliding door to our deck has a gap between the door and the track (plus we want a screen door). I’ve stuffed a rolled-up towel in the gap for now. We’re pretty sure these are the original 20-year old windows, and we don’t want to have another winter with them.

      1. Nee Attitude*

        My place was built in the 50s, so one of the very first things I had to do was install brand new windows. The old ones were the wood and single pane of glass variety that, over time, got so warped and deteriorated that the glass was exposed every time I tried to open the window. So I definitely understand the excitement about the new windows!

    7. LilySparrow*

      I was on garden spending restriction this year. I’m starting 2020 with a giant load of mulch!

      It will be glorious.

    8. Auntie Social*

      Well, I didn’t have **plans**it-but my oven died, and it’s older, and the new ones are wider, so I’d need to remodel one wall of the kitchen. Which sucks, because I have a nice cabinet-front fridge I’d like to keep. At the same time, the flooring in the kit/great room is giving up the ghost and can’t keep up with the elderly incontinent dogs. Blind schnauzer now afraid of the pet door, he tries to use pee pads but sometimes. . . . So suddenly I have plans.

    9. YouwantmetodoWHAT?!*

      I’m getting a dedicated office/craft room! So far I’ve got the room emptied out and all the fixtures and such down. I need to do some repairs, clean the walls and paint. I can NOT wait!
      Today the hubs & I are moving the majority of our storage to a new place. And purging. I have a tendency to box things when I’m overwhelmed, and I was avoiding the fact that I was really sick for about 5 years. That stuff is generally easy to go through, lol. I’m leaving all the sewing/craft & office stuff at the old storage unit – it doesn’t have to be emptied for a few more weeks. So I’m hoping to get the room ready and that stuff can just come home. :-)

    10. Reba*

      Redoing the kitchen! I’m so excited. No big big changes but hoping to recover a little more space, and mainly to have cabinets that don’t suck and an oven that isn’t coming apart.
      Planning to splurge and get an induction range. :D

      And, uh, finally finish hanging pictures and decorating (moved in July).

    11. Seeking Second Childhood*

      Not fun: New roof, new storage shed.
      Fun: Set up our woodworking tools in the garage for now and move them to the shed when complete.

    12. MOAS*

      We have so many things we’d love to do—the floor upstairs Is a little creaky. New windows for our bedroom. Having a radiator in the bathroom & kitchen, turn our front area in to a driveway.

      One day I’d love to redesign my kitchen. Until then there’s so many basic repairs/construction needed and not enough funds sadly.

    13. Ali G*

      We just wrapped up a big reno of our living room, dining, room and master bedroom (including all new furniture), so hopefully nothing big next year! We are going to save up for a few years to do the guest bath and our master bath/closet next.

    14. Miss Pantalones En Fuego*

      I’m hoping that after 12 years of owning this house, I will finally be able to replace the crummy old bathtub.

    15. Seven hobbits are highly effective, people*

      I’m part of an organization that has a yearly picnic/barbecue, which we usually rent a picnic area at a park for, and I’ve offered to host it at my house instead this coming August. This should motivate me to get rid of that tiny, stupid, plastic scum vat of a pond the previous owner installed (I’m going to replace it with a patio/barbecue area) and fix the dry rot in the open-sided outdoor kitchen/cabana thing that she ignored. My backyard is plenty big enough to host the number of people we usually get, and I have the money to fix up the yard, so this should be the motivator I need to actually get it done.

    16. nonprofit director*

      We completed a bathroom renovation in November and are in the middle of a significant kitchen renovation. We’re updating a 1950s or 1960s kitchen that was becoming disfunctional and frustrating to cook in. Little did we know it also had significant safety hazards hidden behind the oven that had a cabinet around it, so we’re very thankful nothing bad happened!

      As part of the work, we upgraded from a 50A electrical panel to a 200A panel and replaced the drain plumbing for the entire house, including the main sewer line. While doing the plumbing work, we discovered the other bathroom has had a leak in the shower for quite some time and much of the wood floor is rotted away. Evaluating whether to do that now, or wait until later in the year.

      With all the big stuff described above, the rest seems easy: We need to refresh the paint in our main rooms and hallways and I want to replace some lighting fixtures. In the near future, after this year, I am sure, we are going to evaluate options for updating our HVAC.

  10. Fikly*

    It’s been over a month of anaphylaxis and my body has just had enough. My reserves are empty. My muscles are incredibly tense and I’m getting random muscles spasms, and besides that being not fun, I’m concerned I’m going to injure myself.

    So I talked with my amazing PT, and we thought about trying a super low dose muscle relaxant. I talked with my GP yesterday morning, and before bed I tried half of the lowest dose of flexeril. So far no terrible side effects, and I think I feel slightly less bad? Trying not to jinx myself, but any improvement take I will.

    1. The Other Dawn*

      In my experience, muscle relaxers take a little time to start working, maybe a few days or so. If you don’t notice any difference soon, can you increase the dose by 1/4? Feel better!

      1. Fikly*

        I am feeling slightly better already on the pain front! Encouraged by the thought that I may feel even better in a few days, thanks.

    2. CindyC*

      Did you talk about taking a supplement of magnesium, too? Because it helps sending nerve messages through your body and it can help with muscle tremors. Good luck with it all.

      1. CindyC*

        By the way, feel free not to take my advice, I don’t know anything about anaphylaxis but magnesium is the first thing my pharmacy suggests for muscle tremor and spasmes.

        1. Fikly*

          I have not added magnesium, but I too have heard about it for muscle cramps, etc. Probably worth a shot! I am already heavily supplementing potassium to counteract all the steroids, which make your body dump it. But I’d forgotten the magnesium angle, thanks!

          1. CindyC*

            You’re welcome! Just be aware that if you start taking several different kinds of medicine, supplements, etc. at the same time, you can’t know for sure which one of them is having the effect on you. Might be an idea to wait a little before you start something new besides the relaxer and potassium and steroids. But speak to your GP, s/he should know :)

            1. Fikly*

              Oh, yes, I am an extremely firm believer in one variable at a time if at all possible. I’ll wait a minimum of a week before changing anything else, if not longer.

    3. DarthVelma*

      I am also on a low dose muscle relaxant just before bedtime. I take mine for a completely different reason (it keeps minor knee pains from waking me up repeatedly during the night), but it has been a life saver. I sleep so much better. I don’t think I realized before how lack of sleep was making other issues so much worse. It really impacts your immune system and just general physical and mental functioning. I hope it works as well for you as it has for me.

  11. The Other Dawn*

    Any good stocking stuffer ideas (for myself)? (We do small gifts in the stockings rather than candy.) My husband asked, and I’m struggling to think of things. So far it’s small silver earrings to replace the ones I lost last weekend. Yankee Candle votives, and liquid hand soaps from Bath & Body Works. I’m a crazy cat lady and told him a kitten would fit in a stocking, but it was a joke (kind of…).

    1. Loopy*

      A ton of people hate the idea of gift cards but I like getting really specific ones- if theres a place you love that you wouldn’t think has a gift card- call and ask. I got my husband a gift ard to a super eccentric local antique store because finding the thing to buy is almost all the fun- so it really made sense to give him hours of wandering through this place rather than buy the thing myself. Same goes for any experiences or services you enjoy (or dont want to do yourself! Things from dinner out to car detailing!

      1. JJ Bittenbinder*

        I, too, love gift cards. It’s encouragement to go shopping, and my family has a “rule” (unenforceable but well-meant) that they’re not to be used to buy anything for others.

        Like I said, unenforceable, but it’s nice to remember that I should use the target gift card for cute socks or a comfy sweater rather than children’s Motrin or trash bags.

    2. Lcsa99*

      Keychains, tea, gloves, maybe a scarf will fit, paperback books, cds. If you don’t do much else you can fit a bottle of wine or whiskey. Gift cards. A negligee, tickets to a show. Anything small like that works. I tend to like edibles so a stocking full of chocolate and wine would be my favorite :)

    3. Aurora Leigh*

      I like fun childhood favorites (or things you missed out on a a kid). Over the year my fiance has mentioned that he never had Sea Monkeys. And ge saw a video about those little rubber balls you can make from kits (with the crystals and warm water) and was so impressed. So that’s what he’s getting!

      Maybe paper dolls or coloring books and new crayons or card games or jacks or something else nostalgic for you would be a good addition.

    4. Cambridge Comma*

      I did all my shopping 3 days ago from the Buzzfeed gift lists. I got my parents’ gifts from the ‘grandparents’ list because I’m too old to be reading Buzzfeed. They have a lot if unusual and interesting ideas.

        1. Nervous Nellie*

          Useless? They are not useless! This year Archie McPhee has neon green tardigrades as a kind of squishy stress ball. Super useful and hilarious. I bought four for myself and have named them all, LOL. Everyone I know is getting one. I am making hanging ornaments and gift bag embellishments from them, and may even do a centerpiece with a Santa sleigh, with them replacing all the reindeer. Of course, the lead reindeer, Rudigrade, will have a red nose pinned on. LOL! I love the holidays. And Archie. :)

    5. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      Caveat: I usually end up spending a lot on stockings, but no individual item is over $10 and most of them are $2-5. So all my suggestions are in that price range.

      For my husband who occasionally travels for work, I put in a packet of rubberized cable ties and a cord winder/travel charging dock for his Apple Watch. Last year, both my guys got a keychain charge cable. In previous years I’ve done the little lipstick charge packs. (They both spend a lot of time on their phones :-P ) I usually throw in a $10 gift card to the iTunes Store (or whatever the android equivalent might be, as applicable), another for their favorite fast food place or the local ice cream shop. Paperback books, DVDs? Every year we go as a family trip to World Market and all load up on stocking stuffers for each other, but that’s mostly food-related. Or flavored coffees, mini flavor syrups, cocoa mix packets, ditto. But it’s all stuff we don’t usually see elsewhere, so.

      Do you have crafty hobbies that have small bits? Like, a knitter night ask for a set of nice stitch markers, or someone who enjoys coloring books a new set of colored pencils. Little desk knick-knacks are fun, if you like them – funko pop vinyls, small LEGO sets (I have a tiny AT-AT walker on my desk that I pose like a cat or dog), the “desktop zen garden” or whatnot that comes in a little 3” box from any bookstore. Cute office supplies? My scotch tape dispenser is shaped like a cat and my post-its are doled out by a ninja. A pack of fine point pens, if you’ve been wanting to try bullet journaling.

      1. JJ Bittenbinder*

        Every year we go as a family trip to World Market and all load up on stocking stuffers for each other, but that’s mostly food-related. Or flavored coffees, mini flavor syrups, cocoa mix packets, ditto.

        Bottles of hot sauce are perfect stocking stuffer size!

        1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

          We did our trip this morning, and yep, both boys got small hot sauce bottles of varying flavors!

    6. Not So NewReader*

      We used it as a way to get stuff we were too cheap to buy during the year but really needed replacing. A new stapler, socks, water bottles, travel mugs, you know the kind of stuff that nickels and dimes ya to death all year.
      I ended up really liking these practical items, it was refreshing to have gifts that I was actually using instead of putting on a shelf or in a closet.

      1. Seeking Second Childhood*

        Someone who gets my family! My husband thinks it’s awful so I don’t do it, but mom always gave my dad Alka Seltzer and the like. I always suspected it was permission to have too much champagne on New Year’s Eve.

    7. Golden*

      My mom got me a very small ‘board game” called Cat Stax a few stockings ago. It’s kind of like tetris but the “blocks” are cats! It’s fun, not a space killer, and you can pick it up and put it away whenever.

      1. Sprechen Sie Talk?*

        We got this too! Its great to pull out during cocktail hour because you can do a person at a time while the other ‘helps’ and its easy to put away when its time to eat. Just challenging enough and so cute!

    8. StellaBella*

      If you have a cat – and want cat toys for them – haha – look on the web for PootiePads – they are based in Oregon I think, and have Purrmuda triangle toys too. I got some for my cat and she loves them.

      Now, for you, how about massage gift certificates, movie tickets, sailing lesson gift cert, BnB reservation to a place nearby for a night, new keyring and set of all house and life keys for spare, and maybe other experience things you can do as a couple?

    9. Digley Doowap*

      I really just love it each year when I empty my Christmas stocking to find US Grants inside! They are always appreciated.

      1. fposte*

        I’m guessing this is the dollar coin? My mind first went to federal funding, which would be hard to fit into a stocking.

        1. Digley Doowap*

          $50 bill has President U.S. Grant as the main image. Benjamin’s also easily fit into a stocking and are also really appreciated!

    10. Ranon*

      Good wool socks or new gloves can be good if you need them

      My dad always got us scissors on the principle that someday the house would have enough scissors

      Fun post it notes or character Band-Aids are fun little things

      1. Aurora Leigh*

        I love the scissors idea! Totally stealing it next year. There a never enough scissors and only the two of us here . . .

    11. HBJ*

      What are your hobbies? I suggest to my husband small things linked to what I like. I typically suggest small kitchen tools I don’t have and sewing stuff like embroidery scissors or more bobbins.

      1. The Other Dawn*

        Well, I’m a crazy cat lady, love reading (on my phone, no paper books anymore), and love Def Leppard. I used to like cross stitch, but with my back issues it’s just too hard to sit for that long to enjoy it anymore.

    12. Stephanie*

      I love small kitchen gadgets and things like “good” scissors (when my daughter moved to her own apartment, I found SIX pairs of scissors in her closet!). Fancy soaps are nice, as are nice pencils and pens. And I love new socks, too.

    13. Seeking Second Childhood*

      For anyone who likes flavor syrups for coffee or sodas, look at the Lorann flavors. Some are available at Michaels, more & more sizes online.
      Fancy spices for a cook. Reusable straws with a tiny brush. A power brick for someone who forgets to charge their phone.

    14. Seeking Second Childhood*

      Reflective or lightup gear for jogging or walking in dark? Battery operated wall lamp for your exercise shed in case you’re out there when the power goes out?

    15. acmx*

      Kitchen items? Like silicone baking cups, nut cracker, new measuring spoons, one-use gadget you’d like, spices, cloth napkins

      Any workout items for your gym you don’t have yet? Resistance bands, HIIT timer, good athletic socks, electrolyte tablets/powder, headbands (to keep hair out of your face), art -whether Def Leppard band photo :) or motivational sayings or workout tops with sayings or cats, KT tape (I’d go with pro), workout journal/planner, SPRI exercise dice

      Eye mask, crossword/word search/sudoku, small jigsaw puzzle, buff, ear warmer headband thing

    16. Chaordic One*

      In my Irish Catholic family (well actually, we’re more of a Heinz 57 family, but we do have an Irish surname) we have a gag tradition of putting potatoes in the Christmas stockings.

      Seriously, though, lip balm, small bottles of cologne or aftershave (a certain family member loves a kind of cologne that comes in a rub-on stick that looks like chap stick), pencils and/or pens, post-its.

    17. Miss Pantalones En Fuego*

      We tend to get things like hand cream or other toiletries, fancy pens or pencils, chocolate coins, notebooks, socks, novelty items like those tiny joke books, stuff like that. In years past my parents used to put a carton of cigarettes in my stocking but my smoking days are long gone!

    18. The Other Dawn*

      Thanks, everyone! Lots of great ideas here, many of which I hadn’t thought of. Now that I have some ideas, hopefully he’s brave enough to hit the store and deal with the crowds! I need to do the same today.

      When I was a kid, stockings were mostly for piles and piles of candy with the toe of the stocking being filled with popcorn balls (I was always disappointed in those, especially when “Santa” put in three instead of two–that meant less candy!) and maybe one little gift, like Christmas earrings (costume, not gold). In my friend’s house it was toothbrushes and underwear (I remember that totally blowing my mind back then that a kid would actually get underwear in their stocking). My husband’s house it was small, practical gifts. So when we first got married it was candy and gifts, but over the years I’ve gradually accepted that my husband just isn’t a candy-eater (what is WRONG with him??) and I really shouldn’t be eating the candy anymore, so gifts it is. We normally have no problem thinking of things for each other, but are stumped this year for some reason.

    19. Professor Plum*

      Look on amazon for “Two Pack Premium Grade Spiky Massage Ball”. Still time for delivery before Christmas. One for each stocking. It’s so soothing!

      1. Orbit*

        We do new toothbrushes every year. This is because when my oldest (now 15) was 5 she said that the worst present you could ever get was a toothbrush.
        It’s become a challenge to find fun funky ones that suit everyone’s personality or current obsession.

    20. NB*

      These are ideas that I use for my teen daughters, so I’m not sure how well they work for you.
      –Non-sweet snacks (nuts, popcorn, jerkey, etc.)
      –silly/fun band-aids
      –toiletries–lotion, fancy bath gel, etc.
      –silly soap
      –Christmas tree ornaments
      –deck of cards or other small games
      –craft supplies (embroidery floss, good quality drawing pencils, etc.)
      –notebooks or sketchbooks
      –hair accessories (scrunchies are back)
      –nail polish
      –lip balm
      –office supplies (especially cute or pretty ones)
      –hot hands (we live in a cold climate)

      1. NB*




  12. Retail not Retail*

    This is not strictly work related but i am dealing with a very whiny hip from a four year old accident. The pain will go away for MONTHS and then reappear. This year was great – my job is super active and I started going to classes at the Y. I even did a 5am yoga class one day before work.

    A week later my hip pain came back with a vengeance. It always returns a smidge worse. The first bout of it it hurt to sit and really hurt to get up. Now doing active things can hurt too.

    It’s my hip flexor and i have pretty good range of motion so at work I can kneel to weed/cut grass by hand (the weed whacker threw the grass into the reflecting pool d’oh) and hop fences but I shouldn’t. Of course any activity that hurts still pales next to sitting and getting up as our 90 minute town hall meeting showed this week. And driving? Yikes! This is the most I’ve ever had to drive and it suuuucks.

    It’s just tiring but at least walking the dog doesn’t hurt that much.

    This post brought to you by waking up in pain. A new ortho prescribed a steroid course and I start PT again in 2 weeks (the last PT said they couldn’t help because i was too inflamed and this doctor says that’s ridiculous) so… onward and upward?

    1. Fikly*

      My hip flexors were messed up on both sides following five days of Cipro. The only thing that helped long term for me was Alexander Technique. It can help with long term postural changes, so it both helps the current issue, and then helps to prevent recurrence. YMMV, and it depends on having a good teacher, of course.

      And I also sat on a pillow for six months. Everywhere. I dragged it with me on trains, planes, automobiles, to concerts…

      1. Retail not Retail*

        Mine gets mad at a 90 degree or smaller angle so a pillow is worth less than a slouch and sprawl. I used to just stand whenever I could get away with it.

    2. b*

      Has your orthopedist done an xray lately? Do you know if you have arthritis in your joint? Steroids can really relieve joint pain but also mask and or contribute to joint degeneration. Not a doctor but had similar issues and two years down the road of muscling through pain fractured my femur and needed hip replacement. This can happen to relatively young and fit people.

      1. Retail not Retail*

        Yup xray was clear on Monday. 2 therapists ago said get an MRI if it returns and you have good insurance to pay for it but I guess we start with PT before doing more tests.

        I had a hematoma on the flexor from going over my handlebars and it apparently did not go away as quickly as it appeared and put pressure on it for a year.

        My job at the time of the injury was grocery clerk so no sitting so i made it. Until grad school which was way too hard but I had free PT. Now I’m doing super active but low paying work and any job that pays more will hurt even more because I know sitting is a reliable trigger. Raking, walking, weeding – maybe maybe not. Sitting for a whole day?

    3. JediSquirrel*

      I know someone who got a great deal of relief from acupuncture. Unfortunately, not all medical insurances cover it. (Because medial insurance in the US is a dumpster fire.)

    4. Ranon*

      Has anyone evaluated your glute activation? I’ve had similar hip issues and it’s almost always because my glutes have gotten lazy and my hip flexor is making up for them

    5. Seeking Second Childhood*

      I has a minor torn rotator cuff that morphed into a frozen shoulder. Swimming was the thing that helped, something about being in the water took enough weight off to let me do the stretches that I couldn’t do on land.

    6. Double A*

      So, everyone is so different with injuries, but I dealt with hip flexor problems through most of my 20s, and I found yoga was generally a bad thing. In fact, it was a yoga class that finally aggravated the injury badly enough for me to go into PT for the first time. A big problem was that I was flexible but not strong, so I would overextend myself in yoga. Pilates is a much more effective exercise for me because of the focus on building core and stabilizing muscles.

      What really seemed to fix it for me was backpacking, because walking on uneven ground works all those little stabilizing muscles, and the pack works your core.

      But I undertook both these activities after lots and lots of PT, and seeing which exercises helped me the most and realizing the Pilates and backpacking both embodied a lot of those exercises.

      1. Retail not Retail*

        I did only try the yoga once mostly to say ha! I went to yoga at 5am on the first day of my work week, look at me. I think it may have been the zumba class bc it featured a twisting lift step in addition to… doing too much?

        At work, I’ve noticed that the vibration and pressure of the backpack leaf blower is pleasant even as the noise is less so. Driving the golf cart is nice because I can dangle my leg beyond 90 degrees and just look so cool.

        My first PT was in 2 parts with strengthening exercises at the student gym 3 times a week. I improved enough to take a stab at 5ks but it didn’t take long before the pain got enough that I worried I couldn’t make it through my masters comprehensive exams because I’d be sitting.

        Four annoying years of back and forth and varying activities and activity levels.

  13. home improvements*

    I need to have some work done in my apartment, a lot of it in the bedroom and kitchen but then some throughout the apartment, like repainting the ceiling. This feels very overwhelming to me, so I kind of want to hire someone for one thing, then do another thing, but is that the best way for the work? Should I tell the person that I have plans a, b and c but let’s start with a and see how that goes? Or just say here is plan a. Then only bring up b when a is done. There is a person who does a lot of work in my building so I was thinking of going with them. Also I have 2 cats. What do you do with your animals for these kinds of work that will probably last more than one day? I don’t think they’d enjoy being locked in the bathroom or their carriers for a whole day (or even a crate, which I could get).

    1. General von Klinkerhoffen*

      I would be tempted to board them for a few days tbh. Even if they’re away from the work they’ll be unsettled by the noise, so taking them away to a purpose-built facility could be much less stressful.

      That said, we’re spoilt for good catteries here and you may not be as confident in local provision.

    2. Aurora Leigh*

      I think you are perfectly fine just start with project a, pay for that, and then a few months later, call them back about project b.

      It wouldn’t be okay to hire them for project a and then ask them to do b and c also, and hold their pay or make them rearrange their schedule to squeeze you in, but I don’t think you were suggesting that.

      As for the cats, I would consider a crate or shutting them in the bedroom. You don’t want the contractor to worry about the cats escaping outside while you’re not home (and you don’t want that worry either). I wouldn’t shut them in the bathroom because if it’s a several hour job, your contractor may need to use the bathroom.

    3. Not So NewReader*

      I’d stay as close to the truth as possible but just touch on your concern of being overwhelmed, briefly. A good handy-person already knows the home owner/occupant is overwhelmed so you don’t have to really explain that.

      “Painter Person, I have a lot of work that I would like done in my apartment. But it’s easier for me to just go one small project at a time. Would you be able to paint my ceiling in the kitchen for me?” He says yes. “Well, I have two cats, are you comfortable with having the cats loose in the house or will I need to make some type of arrangement to take care of them?”

      My concern with my pets is that they would escape. I put pet gates by the doors and that helped. The cat hid from my friend (painter.repair person) and the dog followed him around. It turned out that he LOVED the dog and he was totally okay with that. It made his day interesting he said. (Sometimes people are so gracious it slays me.)

      I had a ton of work done here.

      I ended up going one room at a time. And this was because of the tear down and reset was going to kill me. I would take one room apart, give it what it needed, put everything back and go on to the next room. To give myself additional space, I broke down the bed in the guest room and put it up against the wall. Likewise I broke down the dining room table (it’s very old and comes apart easily) and put the table up against the wall. This gave me space to put things that needed to come out of the room targeted for work.

      It was daunting and the tear down and reset were Not Fun. However, I used the opportunity to quickly sort through my stuff. Anything that I had to ponder about I kept. But some stuff was easy, it’s junk I should toss it OR I want to donate this item. I worked with two bags one for junk and one for donations as I emptied each room. This did help when it came time to put stuff back.

      In talking with your painter you may find that he expects you to move very few items. I knew a person who, not only did NOT move anything, they also did not even bother with drop cloths. They were amazing, not a single drop of paint anywhere. That is so NOT me. Find out what he actually needs you to do. If you have heavy items that are too much for you, ask if he will help you move them.

      The first room is the hardest because the two of you are learning how to work best together, subsequent rooms go quicker and quicker. This is because you are used to each other and you have developed a workable plan on how to handle where to put things.

      You did not ask, but I found some real steals on paint on the clearance table at various chain stores. I was able to reduce my expense for paint by usually 66% sometimes even more. I picked up a 5 gallon bucket of paint for $30 regularly $211. It was The Best Paint, we both loved it. The only kicker was my willingness to like the colors I found on the clearance table. I am pretty happy with almost all of them. The paints are already tinted and someone did not like the color, that is usually all that is wrong. Sometimes there is a dent in the can.

      It’s a lot of work, but that is temporary. You end up with fresh walls/ceilings and you get to enjoy that for a long time.

      1. Miss Pantalones En Fuego*

        My sister always chooses paint colours based on what is on the “oops” table. She’s done two houses this way and still managed to get colours she liked. It can be a fun way to navigate the overwhelming number of choices, too!

    4. Llellayena*

      Make a list of everything in order of priority and bring the whole list to the contractor. Explain that you don’t want to do everything at once and get their recommendation on how to spread it out. They can talk you through things that should be done at specific times of year or that will need prep from you. They can also give you contract options, either monthly invoices to cover the whole job or job by job invoices. The right contractor can be your advocate through the process. It does mean you need to be very diligent about selecting one. Use recommendations, reviews, speak directly with people who worked with them. No advice on the cats though, the solution there might depend on which job/room is being worked on.

      1. Seeking Second Childhood*

        Some things have a logical order too — a former landlord ignored that and redid the floors BEFORE painting walls THEN ceilings. (Lots of spatter on otherwise brand new surfaces, alas.)

  14. Loopy*

    Whats the best Christmas gift (material or non material) you have ever given yourself?

    This year I am just struggling all around this season and am already looking forward to January. I’ve decided to give myself the gift of no commitment January. I am going to say no to things. I am going to force myself to have free, unplanned time. I am going to go to the gym only if I want to, bake only if I want to and mainly just give myself an entire month of being allowed to turn things down without feeling bad.

    What have others done for themselves?

    1. LilySparrow*

      My best is probably a tie between the year(s) I was heavily pregnant in the winter and we decided not to bother travelling cross-country to see family, and the year we got a gym membership.

    2. C Average*

      I went on a ski trip to Colorado by myself one year. Despite a decent amount of experience, I’m an awful skier–I’m uncoordinated and afraid of going too fast–and when I’ve gone with partners or friends, they’ve gotten impatient with me or laughed at me or been convinced that they need to coach me. I suck and I don’t care! I like to ski! I spent four days carving slow, perfect telemark turns on the blue runs, and I had the BEST time.

    3. Seeking Second Childhood*

      Hands down, the year I bought myself a Robovac. It was a small house so it seemed decadent, but it did one job while I puttered around tidying up and decluttering.

    4. Lost in the Woods*

      I am giving myself the thrilling gift of no longer bothering to play nice with my dad’s horrible relatives. No more gritted teeth Christmas breakfasts with veiled unkind comments about my religion! No more horrible food! No more being loomed over (I’m the shortest by six inches). No more being treated like an infant (none of them seem to realize that being short does not mean lack of maturity). I have prior commitments galore, both real and invented, and I am so relieved. It’s amazing how liberating it feels to not have to work myself up to deal with them.

    5. Big time introvert*

      Not a Christmas gift, but for a long ago birthday, I gave myself the gift of no longer going to parties. I realised that I hated parties because they just drained me of energy and made me feel very awkward and anxious. I still prioritise spending time with friends, but only a few at a time – not a whole horde of them mixed in with strangers.

      My husband wasn’t thrilled with my decision, but I told him he could go to any party he wanted, stay out all night, even get a hotel room near the party and come home the next day. I would never begrudge his going to parties; it’s just something I didn’t want to do myself. He actually found parties were more fun without me, since he didn’t have to worry I wasn’t enjoying myself, and I’d always wanted to go home much earlier than he did.

      It’s been nearly 15 years, and I don’t regret the decision. It did cause a little awkwardness at one job where the holiday party was a Big Deal but I was polite about it, and I was a high-performer so it wasn’t really held against me. I know the Big Boss was really invested in getting everyone to go to the party, but to me, it was less anxiety and hassle to skip it and deal with the minimal fallout. (Especially because the party was always far from where we live and a shared company-provided hotel room was part of the deal)

      I do make an exception for weddings. And we subsequently had a kid, so when the kid was young enough that parental attendance was required for parties, I sucked it up and went to a handful of kid parties, which were actually fun.

    6. Loopy*

      Y’all, I *failed* at my gift to myself the same day!

      A close friend of my husband’s asked if I could do his kid’s birthday cake. I misremembered the birthday being in Feb and agreed,but it’s late Jan. Dangit.

  15. DanaScully*

    We have new neighbours upstairs, and they are noisy! Their grandchild appears to be here quite a lot, and seems to run around constantly, including first thing in the morning. I get that kids run everywhere, but we live in one bedroom apartments they are supposed to be for people aged over 25 only. They’re also turning on their washing machine late at night and that’s disturbing us also.

    I know I need to ask them to be more considerate, and I’m aware they might not even know that the sound is reaching us, but I’m struggling with wording. Should I speak to them or drop a note in their letterbox? Any help would be much appreciated.

    1. fposte*

      This is a common apartment thing. I think it helps to remember the real villain here is the architect, not your neighbors. I’d speak to them, and I’d focus on the building insufficiencies as the cause (“Because of the vent system, washing machines are very loud in neighboring apartments–could you aim not to wash during quiet hours [usually those are stated somewhere]?”). Re the kid, I’d ask them if they could put a rug down rather than tackling the 25 and up thing and save that for if things don’t improve or get really bad.

    2. T. Boone Pickens*

      Oooh I sympathize with you completely! I too, have noisy upstairs neighbors that occasionally drive me nuts. Does your apartment complex have defined quiet hours by chance? I know the complex I live in has a rule about no washing machines after 9 pm. If your neighbors are violating those quiet hours I’d honestly just go to your property manager and let them handle it as this is what you pay rent for. While I understand the desire to send a note/speak to them, I think there is a non zero chance your neighbors could take it badly. This could result in a tough situation for you as they could make life difficult being your upstairs neighbors. Good luck with whatever you decide!

    3. CoastEast*

      first of all, love the name.
      Second, HOW do you find a 25+ apartment? That sounds great.
      Third: we also have noisy upstairs neighbors. We play Rainy Mood (or any other noise app) on both sides of the bed when we sleep, which helps drown out most of the elephants. I also swear by Soft Ear Plugs (like Myers brand) as I can only sleep when I’m wearing those underway. Furniture also helps absorb noise, if you want to hang up drapes or place a big, noise muffling bookcase near the “loudest wall.”

      1. Double A*

        The 25+ thing actually sounds illegal to me because it discriminates against families. But I’m not sure if that’s a federal or state law (or if they op is in the US). 55+ communities have some carve out to allow that.

        1. Natalie*

          You’re correct assuming this is the US – the federal Fair Housing Act prohibits discrimination on the basis of family status, which includes prohibiting children except in designated senior communities.

    4. 653-CXK*

      Have you tried noise machines like Dohm, or clock radios from Homedics that play white noise and other sounds?
      I’ve used those for many years, and where I also use a CPAP machine, it helps immensely to temper the ambient noise.

    5. Reba*

      Agree fully with fposte. You could take them some form of snack to be extra friendly with your request.

      I think the washing machine change is achievable, but the child is… a child. And apartment living is apartment living.

      Also consider a white noise machine for nights. It’s not a substitute for soundproofing but it can make a really big difference in kind of smoothing over noises.

      Finally, this might not work for everyone, but I actually used to visualize silly things being the cause of the noises I heard, and it helped me be less grumpy about it! (for example, there is meme-y video online of a caique parrot stomping around — a giant parrot in a bad mood!)

      (This doesn’t work when your neighbors are fighting… we eventually just moved out of there)

  16. General von Klinkerhoffen*

    Can’t believe nobody else has posted along similar lines yet, but …

    I’m on my way to watch the new Star Wars film! Me, spouse, and our (school-age) children, kicking off the school holidays with a proper expedition.

    No spoilers *stern face*.

    Oh but the cost though. The tickets would have been £70 (for 5) before he found a discount code to take it down to £30, and one can easily spend the same again on snacks and drinks. It makes me cross when people blithely suggest the cinema as a suitable activity for young teenagers – it costs several weeks’ pocket money and only lasts one afternoon, so what are they supposed to do for the rest of the month?!

    Anyone who can’t think of a suitable gift for a young person – maybe a gift card to the cinema near them!

    I’ll let you know how we enjoy it. Anyone else going this weekend? It’s expected to break even Endgame’s box office record so there must be some AAM commenters interested!

    1. Fikly*

      Are cheap weekday matinee movie tickets a thing in the UK? It was how I saw movies when I was a broke college student.

      Have fun! (There was a spoiler in a scrolling headline on a tv that’s mainly to display train schedules at my local mass transit station yesterday!)

    2. Aurora Leigh*

      I’m several movies behind, but I think my fiance will go see it with friends.

      We are very luck to have a cheap movie theater in my town. Tickets are $5, Small drink and small popcorn and ticket are $8. Medium drink, medium popcorn, and ticket are $10. Any showtime any day. We go to lots more movies now! They don’t have all the amneties the “fancy” theater across town has (no alchohol, no chicken strip baskets or other meals, only a handful of recliners and mostly normal seating) but it’s fun to have the option!

    3. Cheesesteak in Paradise*

      Don’t buy drinks and snacks. Everyone knows that they are a ripoff at theaters and it’s only 2 hours anyway. If you really need something, bring in a water bottle and a packaged snack in your purse.

      1. General von Klinkerhoffen*

        I don’t, but Spouse loves the whole experience of it. Snacks distract me from the full immersion and drinks make me miss the film to visit the ladies’ ;-)

        It’s how the cinemas make their money, though. Even though tickets are £££ nearly all of it goes to the distributors and studios. So I feel like it’s a realistic part of the cost of entry.

    4. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      We’re going with friends tomorrow as my birthday “party” – I’ve gone with this same batch of folks to see the last several, as they have tended to do releases the weekend between my birthday and Christmas. I did the same thing with the LOTR/Hobbit movies when those were coming out :)

    5. Sorcha*

      I saw the film on Thursday night.

      At the cinema I go to (Vue) tickets are less than £6 each so it’s pretty affordable. I also use their feedback site every item to get a free popcorn on my next visit, so I usually just buy a drink and get the free popcorn for snacks,

      1. General von Klinkerhoffen*

        Ugh, that’s rude.

        I was late to see a Bond film a few years ago, and put on Facebook that I was grateful to everyone for not spoiling it for me. FIL commented “oh, you mean the bit where (character) died?” and didn’t really understand why I deleted his comment. The film was still on in cinemas!

        1. Elizabeth West*

          My friends and I like to throw fake spoilers at each other, like “Yeah, I loved that part where Harry Potter took the ring to Mordor and found out Darth Vader was his father.”

          1. Lemonish*

            I skimmed so many fake spoilers on Twitter for The Rise of Skywalker. The most impressive ones were mocked up screenshots of Rotten Tomatoes. I did not know what to believe (and managed to avoid any real spoilers).

      2. Fikly*

        The sport I am passionate about following is tennis, and I get so mad when my phone spoils big matches (I am usually watching tape delayed) in my notifications! I cannot figure out how to turn it off, as I never told it to do them in the first place.

        1. Elizabeth West*

          If they’re coming through an app, you’ll probably have to turn them off in the app itself.

          1. Fikly*

            It’s a google alert – I have a Pixel. It doesn’t seem to be an app, I don’t have any tennis or sports apps on my phone.

            1. fhqwhgads*

              Are you sure it’s not just the baked-in news feed? From what you describe I suspect it might be. If so long press an empty spot on the home screen, hit home settings, and disable “Display Google App”. Alternately go into the Google Now app which probably came preinstalled on your phone and disable notifications from there. If you don’t see Google Now you might also see an app called Google News (since it’s an Android phone it might look like it’s just called “News”), try disabling notifications for that.

              1. Fikly*

                Thanks! I was able to follow your first instructions and disable the google app.

                I was getting the notifications in the pull down bar at the top, not the screen that you get if you swipe left, but hopefully this will take care of both!

    6. Max Kitty*

      We went on Thursday first show, then my DH went back later that night for the 3D show.

      Our nearest theater has converted to large lounge recliners, which are so much more comfortable (and reservable in advance, so no more lining up early!), but which probably total less than half the number of previous seats. Given the extra comfort and convenience, I don’t begrudge them their higher ticket costs.

    7. Bilateralrope*

      The theater near me charges $12 per ticket. Add in fuel costs, the cost of a meal out and the annoyance of having to work around the theaters schedule and I find theaters are rarely worth it. If a movie doesn’t have some big visual spectacle, I’m just going to wait until I can stream the it at a time and place of my choosing.

      If I ever get into VR gaming, then I can easily see theater losing even on visual spectacle. Those screens in a VR headset will take up a larger portion of my vision than a theater screen, which is what really matters when you’re talking screen size.

    8. Anono-me*

      I hope you have a wonderful time at the movies.

      In the US, you can get discount passes to the movies at places like Costco or Sam’s Club. Is that something that’s an option for you?

      1. General von Klinkerhoffen*

        It’s a good suggestion – the discount came by signing up for a family pass. Paid for itself today and lasts months/a year. You can’t use it for certain premium showings. I can also get discounted tickets as a reward from my mobile phone contract … but again not on all five tickets, on a Saturday.

      2. Kuododi*

        Fandango is also a good option to get free/ reduced tickets as well as other goodies. The only issue is one has to be an active member for a certain amount of time (I’m blanking on that specific detail) before the discounts and other goodies begin. (example:. DH and I have been members long enough to get to see movies as private screening early release for Fandango members.). Have a wonderful Holiday season. Blessings!!!

    9. ThatGirl*

      We went Thursday night. My husband is a lifelong massive fan. There’s been a fair bit of critical backlash but we both enjoyed it very much (we also liked Last Jedi a lot FTR).

    10. Elizabeth West*

      I saw it yesterday and really liked it.

      I do wish the Alamo Drafthouse would open here, though; it’s been “Coming Soon” for freaking ever. At least the cinema close to where I’m staying has full recliners but I’m stuck with ads, people talking, and the same old junky overpriced movie food. If I do get something at a regular cinema, it’s the little kid combo tray. It comes with a smaller drink and a little pack of fruit snacks, and is just the amount of popcorn I can actually finish. I don’t end up wasting anything.

    11. Kuododi*

      DH and I saw it last night withext another couple we’ve become friends with. I don’t know enough superlatives so I will go with “Fantastic!”.

      The next day DH went back to see the movie with a bunch of pediatric cancer pts who were well enough to travel. The powers that be rented a theater and turned the thing into a big Star Wars party. Great fun was had by all!!!

      Have fun at the theater!

    12. Ron McDon*

      If there’s a Vue near you they charge about £6 per ticket all day every day. I don’t go to any other cinema chain now.

      1. General von Klinkerhoffen*

        That sounds great. I’m in a backwater so our options are very limited after the excellent independent closed.

    1. Yes Anastasia*

      I used to have neighbors who got together and celebrated an all-night feast – they cooked until dawn, or as long as they could stay awake. I never participated, but I always loved the idea!

    2. Reba*

      We have been talking about wanting to start a new tradition for the season! We are non religious, raised Christian. Although no tree,we got a lots of greenery and festooned the apartment with it, which I’m enjoying a lot. Might light a special candle for New year’s.

      1. Reba*

        I have done a bonfire party for solstice in the past, and it was a blast. We played Kate Bush and danced around the flames :)

    3. Queer Earthling*

      We usually tidy up the altar and light some candles. Sometimes we make a special feast but this year we’re just doing mundane food, I think. We’re super casual pagans who forget what day it is a lot, so we’re very proud of ourselves when we actually remember our celebrations haha.

    4. Seeking Second Childhood*

      Ironically, it always seems to be the day we put up the Christmas tree. Back to basics??
      I’ve always wanted to do an Earthsea style “Long Night” bonfire party, but haven’t had others interested. Maybe next year an all night inside fire in the fireplace instead.

    5. Epiphyta*

      I stay up until dawn, thank the Sun for coming back, and then go to bed. :-D It was more involved when my son was small.

  17. Signal*

    Seeking input:
    My Jewish kids go to public school. Yesterday at their weekly school sing-along, they sang a prayer/excerpt from from Christian Mass. This makes me very uncomfortable!
    It was a harmless sentiment (“Dona Nobis Pacem,” or “Grant us peace”), and they don’t know what it means, but it’s part of a prayer to a god we don’t worship. I feel like my children were duped into saying a prayer that is not in our faith tradition.
    How would you all suggest I talk with school administration about this? What points would you being up? I expect that they’ll tell me that it’s part of a multicultural education. I’m so unhappy about this!

    1. Laura H.*

      Apologies for my nitpick, but “Mass” refers specifically and only to a Catholic service and it’s a “Mass” only if a certain, specific action is being performed by certain types of clergyman. The correct term for what was used would be a “Mass part”- it’s a portion of the liturgy used in the Mass itself.

      I am so sorry this happened to y’all and can understand the upset caused. I think calmness is going to go a long way here when you talk with the people in charge, but might I suggest starting with the person who set the program up and saw it through before you go to administration or in conjunction with it?

      Granted admin probably had to approve it, but someone proposed the content and could simply be unaware that this was problematic for some participants.

      Happy Hanukkah to you and yours.

      1. Signal*

        Thanks for the clarification! I will remain calm and positive when discussing this; I think tone contributes strongly to outcome of this type of conversation.
        Perhaps my central request will be that parents be made aware when students are asked to participate in parts of prayers or other aspects of holy rituals so that families can opt out. My children are 5 & 6, so not old enough to do that for themselves.

      2. Observer*

        There is no way any person who is versed in this music could have NOT know that this could be problematic for some people unless they think that “everyone” is REALLY some variant of Christian regardless of what their religion actually is. I mean this is a part of the some of the most integral Christian services (the specifics vary with the denomination) and when you look at the whole piece that this phrase is taken from, it uses some very Christian imagery (ie not “Father in Heaven” or “Our Lord” etc. which can be used in more than one religion)

        Also, the minute you’re getting to Latin, that should be a big red flag, because the only place that Latin actually gets used is in Christian liturgy.

        So, while I agree that being calm and trying to approach it without being unduly accusatory is a good idea, I do think it’s just not credible that one had the ability to recognize the potential problem here.

    2. fposte*

      Hmm. I think that could be a tough one–Dona Nobis Pacem has become so detached in many people’s minds from the Agnus Dei and the canon has been both a crunchy-granola standard alongside Kumbayah and a go-to for junior choral stuff. I’m not saying you’ve no reason to object–I’m just saying this might be even harder than “Christmas trees are Christian” as a line of argument.

      Is there existing policy about Christian music in general? Do they permit Christmas carols? If they don’t, that’s the place to point to, I think–that this one is slipping by despite its being a Christian prayer, and that excerpting it to remove Jesus isn’t really a solution.

      1. Signal*

        Thanks for your response! I didn’t know that this was a common choral song. I haven’t heard Christmas carols in the school (it’s a very socially conscious school that strives for DEI.) I’ll keep in mind that many don’t connect it with the Agnus Dei when I talk with people at the school. I super appreciate your considered response, fposte.

        1. fposte*

          It’s super, super common to sing–like, when I was in a good adult choir a couple of years ago it was a standard to throw in during a warmup or something without music because so many people knew it. It’s kind of the “Row, Row, Row Your Boat” of choral music. (The choir was secular, btw, with many non-Christian members, but the Christian influences are hard to avoid unless you go glee or barbershop.)

          1. AvonLady Barksdale*

            This is very true. I’m Jewish and a lifelong choral singer, and some of my favorite pieces are settings of the Dona Nobis Pacem. Which is not to say I don’t sympathize with your frustration (I sing about Jesus all the time, but I’m an adult!), but I agree with fposte here.

            1. Nita*

              I’ve run into it too in a random place. This melody was in my sixth-grade recorder notes. I still think of it as easy music for beginner learners rather than a piece of a Mass.

          2. Observer*

            There is no excuse for a choir director to not be aware of this, though. I mean a 2 second google brings it up. And the fact that it’s in Latin is also a good clue that there might be an issue here.

            And while it’s true that it’s hard to avoid Christian influences, this is a public school where there is an affirmative obligation to avoid this kind of thing.

      2. Reba*

        I agree with fposte, that reflects my experience of the tune, too. (I mean kumbayah is also a prayer technically so this is all complicated!)

        I am speaking as a member of the privileged majority here as non believing but culturally Christian, but I also want to note that if your child pursues participation in music lessons or choir or whatever, they will definitely be asked to perform works with words from other faiths, that they and you don’t believe.

        Just as something to be thinking about, echoing some of what Fikly says, because this may come up again.

        I am a choral singer and since I left the church I’ve performed a zillion works with religious lyrics, without praying at all.

        I do see that it is different to do that in a voluntary group than in an all school assembly where it’s more mandatory.

        Worth a conversation with the administration and your kids!

      3. Lilo*

        I was in a choir in college that provided music for our college’s chapel but the choir itself wasn’t religious (you got college credit for being in any choir, this one was popular because the conductor was well liked). If we were in the choir loft (which we usually were) we were allowed to do homework or read during the non-singing portions of the service. There’s a tradition of singers divorcing the religious aspects from songs.

        I assume they were doing that three part round version? I get the frustration but given that the only works are “Dona Nobis Pacem” and it doesn’t go into the rest of the Agnus Dei, I think it isn’t really recognizably religious.

        It can actually be quite difficult to find completely secular music as a lot of the children’s classics use either tunes or words from older stuff. Finlandia, for instance is commonly turned into a peace song, but of course has political implications.

    3. Fikly*

      So I don’t pray, so I cannot comment from that perspective, but my understanding is that part of prayer is intent? So was it prayer if your children didn’t intend it as such?

      But agreed, it’s a tricky gray area. A lot of music for centuries was heavily intertwined with the Church, partly because it was easier if it was be church approved, and partly because they were the ones (outside of royals) who would pay for music, and partly because church services were one of the huge areas where music was performed, so it just made sense to compose for it.

      I might draw the line between a quoted phrase, versus an entire sung psalm. I don’t really know why, or if there’s any legal difference, but that’s kind of my personal feeling. How do you feel about the song Broken Hallejulah? I wouldn’t call that song religious in nature, or Christian pop or whatever, but Hallejulah is completely religious in context, in my understanding.

      But as to what argument to use, separation of church and state. Do your children speak the entire pledge of allegiance, line about god included? Or does that work because what religion the god is from is not specified, although given the founding of our country, I’m guessing it’s the Christian god.

      1. Signal*

        Tha is for your response! In my religion, one aspect of prayer is intent. Another aspect of prayer is merely repeating the words. They’re considered different forms of prayer, with different uses, advantages and meanings (sometimes praying with intent is too hard. At those times, we fall back on the words of our prayers: we repeat the prayers, even when we don’t feel their meaning. That’s one reason why we have formulaic prayers.)
        One of my issues here is that there’s a history of converting Jewish children to Christianity by many terrible means, including kidnapping, threats of violence, and death threats. Schools and other institutions are not innocent historically, and any public institution teaching Jewish kids Christian prayers will raise my hackles. My grandparents were forced to learn and repeat Christian prayers during the years leading up to the Holocaust. They still feel repercussions from that.

        Broken Hallelujah: are you referring to Leonard Cohen’s Hallelujah? If so, he was Jewish, and if you assumed the song is Christian because everything in the US must be Christian, well… that’s a problem.

        1. Fikly*

          Yeah, it’s a terrible history. And not isolated to Jewish populations, see the efforts to make Native Americans “civilized” via their children.

          Yes, Leonard’s Cohen’s Hallelujah. I didn’t assume the song was Christian. I mentioned it because it uses a religious term in what I understand to be a non-religious context. I don’t think the song is any kind of religion, personally. I thought it was relevant to the discussion at hand. I am aware that Christianity and Judaism share some texts, and thus terms. So how would you feel if your kids were of a different faith, and singing that song?

          1. Homo neanderthalensis*

            Uh- Hallelujah, at least the OG lyrics is an *incredibly* Jewish song. It’s been covered by Christian singers however who added explicitly Jesus-y lyrics. BUT It’s also a pop/folk ditty not a religious prayer sung at Catholic Mass. Apples and oranges.

            1. StellaBella*

              My favourite version of Hallelujah is by Jon Bon Jovi – it is on youtube. It is what I will play now, thank you for the reminder. He is a practicing Catholic btw.

          2. curly sue*

            Hallelujah as written by Cohen is a very religious and deeply Jewish song – the core theme is the complexity of the Jewish relationship with God. My favourite version other than the original is the Yiddish translation by Daniel Kahn. It’s stunning:


      2. LilySparrow*

        This is an interesting point, because it is part of Protestant Christian belief that intent is 100 percent of what makes a prayer valid. Merely repeating words without understanding or investing your will does not hold any spiritual meaning. (I don’t know if that holds true for Catholic tradition).

        That doesn’t mean OPs concerns aren’t valid, but if the admin and/or choir director are unconsciously working from this perspective (which can be absorbed culturally without specific belief), then that may be blinding them to the issue.

        1. Laura H.*

          Catholic here, and yes about intention. It matters.

          Inclusion matters also- sometimes that means excluding certain things/ going with a more universal, or less specific presentation of the same idea. “Peace on Earth” is more inclusive, while “Dona Nobis Pacem” slants very way Roman Catholic.

          1. Jackalope*

            Not sure about that. I’m Protestant and have sung Dona Nobis Pacem many times in non-Catholic settings. Until this thread I had no idea that it even had Catholic ties, to be honest.

        2. Catholic School*

          I attended Catholic high school in the 80’s…. as a non-Catholic. Our school had apprx. 25% non-Catholic attendance, and was fine with it (same tuition rates either way). I spent four years saying either the “Our father” prayer or “Hail Mary” every morning at school. For years I had them memorized but no longer.

      3. LilySparrow*

        I assure you, if you listen to the lyrics of Cohen’s Hallelujah, it is not a Christian religious song in the slightest. My extremely religious inlaws were horrified (and extremely pissed at me) when I read them the real lyrics and spoiled it for them.

        I didn’t take pleasure in spoiling it, but I thought they’d want to know what it’s actually about (a dysfunctional romance).

        Gorgeous song. I love it. But hearing people cover it as worship music -especially little kids – seriously gives me the creeps.

        1. Homo neanderthalensis*

          Yup. It’s about a dysfunctional romance using King David and Samson/Delilah as metaphors in a Jewish context. All the talk about the “name” etc is about the name of g-d in our faith. So it’s more Jewish stories as metaphors/cultural context. Leonard Cohen was good at that sort of thing. Christian worship music that song IS NOT.

          1. LilySparrow*

            TBH, the original has more deep & poignant things to say about the human condition than most of the contemporary worship music I hear.

            It ticks me off that some people think you can take a real piece of art, cut out the erotic references, slap a “Yes, Lord” on it, and call it a church song.

            It’s a cheap shot. And both the artist and, well, Jesus, deserve better than cheap shots.

    4. Llellayena*

      I think part of the difficulty is that Christian choral music has such a large volume of available material that avoiding it is nearly impossible. Some of it is widely recognized as excellent examples of choral music, not because of the message but because of the composition. Handel’s Messiah is a key example and the Hallelujah Chorus is widely used by public school choirs. Avoiding it may not be possible, but you could suggest to also include music written in Hebrew to balance the program. I remember singing “Haneroh Halalu” (not sure if I got the spelling right) in grade school. I think the interest at that level is more in the beauty of the music and the exposure to varied languages (Latin, Hebrew, Italian, German…) than the message of the song.

    5. Anon Here*

      I think the lack of disclosure would be one place to start.

      It’s fair to ask that schools let kids know when an assigned work has religious significance. One of many reasons for that is so that kids can opt out for religious reasons. There may be laws supporting that, which you could look up and reference as needed.

      Ask about the school’s policy on the above. If it sounds like one teacher violated their policy, ask them to remind the teachers of it, and start by assuming that it was a mistake. Because teaching is an extremely demanding and under-paid job, so oversights can happen due to time-constraints and the inherent chaos involved.

      Secondly, ask if the kids are learning about religious works from other cultures and other religions. It should be an “all or nothing,” sort of thing, with religion being left out or many religions being represented.

      If you’re really friendly and frame it as constructive feedback, they should be receptive to answering questions and talking about it.

      I completely understand if you’re angry and don’t feel like being friendly and constructive. That’s 100% fair. This advice is just about how to approach school officials initially in order to get results. If they’re not receptive, by all means, express your true thoughts and feelings.

      This is an issue that I care about. I respect and fully support your interest in taking action.

      1. Fikly*

        I think, practically speaking, the best you can aim for is all the religions of the children attending the school represented. Because there are so many religions worldwide that they would be singing hundreds, thousands of songs. And by limiting it to what the religions are of the children attending school, you avoid having to classify what is an “important” religion.

        1. Anon Here*

          Yeah, I didn’t mean literally all religions. Just enough to be reasonably representative and inclusive.

        2. Signal*

          AAM community, thank you for your kind and respectful responses. I’m learning a lot from you all. I have no background in choral music – my voice is harsher than a dying rooster’s crow – and I hadn’t factored in the strong influence of Christianity on choral music, nor had I considered the challenges music teachers face. Those are really important factors in this situation!

          You folks helped me focus on the bigger picture and provided valuable input into how people in our society perceive ritualized words and prayer. I think I’ll request disclosure and an opt-out of any future prayer excerpts, aiming for a respectful tone which acknowledges the value and challenges of public music education.

    6. fhqwhgads*

      In my experience as Jewish kid in a public school, when the chorus sang Christian songs (which they did occasionally, but not frequently), the gist of the school’s take was that I was welcome to opt out of the piece in question. I’m not saying that’s a good policy, but throwing it out there as I would not be shocked if the school’s response were something along those lines. It doesn’t at all address the “duped” factor, but I recommend being prepared for them to take a position that that’s not on them.

      1. MatKnifeNinja*

        My nieces goes to school in a huge multicultural, zillion religions from mega churches, Muslims, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Wiccans, atheists …LDS, I can’t think of a main stream religious variation that isn’t there-district.

        What district does is you are considered “out” until you opt in. So, your kids would have came home with a permission slip. Sometimes you could check off “Frosty the Snowman” is okay, but Handel’s “Messiah” is not. So, your kid could do set managing or some other non singing thing. Some people say none of it is appropriate for their children, and they can keep them home that day.

        The one thing district does not allow, is parents making the teachers change the programs. The programs are submitted to the principal, then to the district. If district green lights it, parents have no say in the content. But parents have the right to choose how much their child will participate.

        I know for middle/high school, for things like show choir, glee club, any performance group you must try out for, you have to be be able to participate in the whole program/show.

        The only opt out classes are ones any student can take. Concert choir is open to anyone. Your kid could then opt out of the Winter Program.

        I would look over your district hand book to see what your rights are before doing anything. You should have the right to opt out. You should have the right to know what your kids will be performing. Whether you have any sway in changing content to a whole other story.

        This district has had everyone and their dog lawyer up get rid of Winter Concerts, mention of something religious they find offensive (Halloween/Valentine’s Day/Spring Concert..), and all have lost, because the school district is very accommodating. They don’t sing “Away in the Manger”, but the high school students will be doing Handel’s “Messiah”.

        Student/district handbook, the ask around on the down low before you show your hand. No reason to go in loaded for bear, if you know you can only opt out, and legally district know they don’t have to change squat.

      2. DrTheLiz*

        Same. Or, why I was “in choir” for two years, give or take, without attending practices or performing at all. The music teacher tried to tell me it was okay that she was asking me to sing “Ave Verum Corpus” because “she was Jewish too” :/.

    7. Morning Reader*

      I think it depends on how it became part of the curriculum. Are they getting a good musical education? If so, they will certainly be exposed to “sacred” music at some point. Just as you can’t study art history without seeing a lot of Madonnas, saints, etc., you can’t really study music (especially choral music) without getting some of that stuff in the mix. If your own religious practices forbid you or your children from participating in this… just as some religions don’t allow for the Pledge of allegiance for instance…. you could ask they be excused from music from other faiths. If it seems to be part of a good mix of music types and sources, I would let it go (with the schools) and just talk to your kids about it. From my perspective, it’s no worse than seeing commercials from Exxon or any consumer propaganda like that. Kids today will need to learn to be savvy media consumers so evaluate as you would any other. It’s good to regularly have conversations with kids about the books/shows/songs/advertising they see, such as What is the source, what is the agenda, how does it make you feel, what do the words mean, are those people really ecstatic that they now have the right beer/tampon/laundry detergent/god, etc.

      As for those specific lyrics, they are about as innocuous as a “prayer” can get. Luceat eis! Light us up, sky dude! Unless you object to any references to a deity, or any material sourced from other religion traditions, this one is not too bad. Even the notorious Kumbaya has more explicitly religious lyrics.

    8. university minion*

      It’s a way to introduce singing in the round/canon that’s a bit more interesting than “Row, Row, Row Your Boat” and it’s definitely one that’s jumped to “folk song” status rather than religious. ‘Arirang’ is the only secular, non-nursery rhyme example I can think of off the top of my head.

      For what it’s worth, I grew up in the Christian church *and* am a musician and never encountered Dona Nobis Pacem in church. I ran into it as an arrangement for a college band I played with in high school and as a solo arrangement for trombone. The tune has been set to other, more overly Christian lyrics and if one of those settings was being used, I’d raise hell. Otherwise, I’d talk with your kids about it as a touchpoint in their choral education, particularly if they intend to pursue music in any way but otherwise leave it alone. If they continue singing, even though you and their schools are doing all they can to avoid religious programming, they will encounter secular lyrics set to hymn tunes (ie, America/My Country ‘Tis of Thee). Of course, there are also the well known lyrics set to drinking songs (To Anacreon in Heaven/Star Spangled Banner) that make up a whole other genre of choral music :-)

    9. HannahS*

      Think about what you’d like the outcome to be. In my experience (Jew, was public educated, studied music) is that it’s extraordinarily difficult to get music teachers and administrators to understand your concerns, and as I’m sure you know, people tend to get stupidly defensive over stuff like this. I would lay it out like this: Our family is Jewish. We don’t want the children to sing songs that are from Christian prayer services, even if there isn’t an explicit reference to Jesus. I don’t object to them studying these pieces from a historical perspective, but from our religious perspective, repeating words of another religion’s prayers is not appropriate. I’m disappointed that I wasn’t informed and that my children weren’t given the option of sitting out these pieces.

      DO NOT get sucked into a conversation about how it’s universal, blah blah blah. Repeat: it is from a Catholic service. As Jews, we do not say prayers from non-Jewish sources.

      1. Signal*

        This is brilliant, absolutely spot on. Thank you so much.
        I don’t object to them singing about other holidays and religions, but I do object to them singing prayers or excerpts of prayers from other religions, so your wording is perfect for me.

    10. Fellow Traveler*

      If the school is indeed doing it as part of a multicultural experience, could you suggest pieces from your faith/culture that they could also use in the concert? I would have no problems with my child singing a prayer or hymn from another culture/religion because I do think musical traditions are a great way to foster cultural exchange. My child’s school does a Lunar New Year celebration, and while at first I thought it weird that there were a bunch of Caucasian children running around in Asian dress singing traditional Chinese songs (my parents are from Taiwan), I do appreciate that there is an attempt to educate other kids about a festival that is important to my family.

    11. OyHiOh*

      My Jewish kids also go to public school. Mine are a little older – 7, 10, 12 – and old enough that they vocally express their beliefs and experiences as a counter to the overwhelming Christmas sentiment at this time of year.

      Ironically, I have more of an issue with secular Christmas music (White Christmas, I’ll Be Home for Christmas, and so forth) than I do with classical Christmas/”Christian” repetoire. Most choral music is Christian to one extent or another because choir tradition developed in the church and Judaism just doesn’t have the same kind of choral service. So as a parent with a background in classical musicianship, I’m ok with my kids singing *that* because of what they learn musically from the exercise. It helps that my kids have a very good music teacher who is very clear in her goals and aims when she teaches specific pieces. The sentimental “everyone gathered around the Christmas tree” music bothers me much, much more.

      I do think that it is a part of multi cultural education (I’m very egalitarian and ecumenical as well), to know what your peers celebrate as well as sharing what you do. And as a parent, I try to find common or universal themes in culture, belief, and practice. The wish for peace is near universal. The desire to light up the darkness is universal. These are themes I emphasize when I talk with my kids and when I talk with their teachers about what we’re ok with vs no.

      A note one of my daughter’s teachers got this week specificed that the mug my daughter get in a mug exchange be either plain colored or have “neutral” graphics, defined as “no santa, elves, reindeer, trees, or Christmas messages; lights, snowflakes, and snowmen are fine.”

    12. Green Kangaroo*

      As someone who is extremely Catholic (Catholic school though graduate school, married husband from the same background, kids all go to Catholic grade school/high school/university and I work for a Catholic organization), I have really appreciated the education this discussion has given me and the wonderfully respectful way this has all been communicated. All the best to everyone this season and always.

    13. Observer*

      They will probably tell you that it’s part of multi-cultural education. But you can point out that they don’t actually have to pray / sing the prayers of other religions to LEARN about those religions. Yes, it’s an innocuous sentiment *IF* you strip it fo the context which makes it relevant to this time of year” In other words, it would be bad enough if this were done at any time. But when it’s being done in such proximity to Christmas (or Easter for that matter), it’s hard to argue that this doesn’t read like a backdoor to “appropriate” religious expression of the season.

      And requiring that kind of thing is likely to be a problem for the school. No doubt that if ANYONE (parent, former student, someone else) sues over religious discrimination, this is going to be used as “proof” of religious discrimination.

      I wouldn’t bring that up as the first line, and even when I did I wouldn’t bring it up as “I’m going to sue” But “*I* would NEVER do such a thing, but you know this is such a sensitive area and people can really get heated up and you never know what someone will do and why would we want to the school to be vulnerable.”

  18. Aurora Leigh*

    Y’all — depending on how our meet greet goes tomorrow — we might be bringing home a new doggo!

    His name is Cloud and he is about 2 1/2 years old. He’s a white German Shepherd mix. Our pupper is a black German Shepherd mix and about the same age now. We have been wanting a play buddy for him for a while and have been eyeing Cloud on Petfinder.

    Cloud spent most of his life before the shelter on a chain. He’s still very mouthy like a puppy and they told us to set firm boundaries with him at the beginning (he has been returned once for issues related to being dominant). Apparently he responds like a cat to a squirt bottle.

    We met him yesterday and checked out how he behaved around the shelter test cat (we have 3 kitties so passing the cat test was non negotiable). He passed that with flying colors and was so eager for love from both of us. We’re bringing pupper tomorrow and if the two boys get on well, we’ll have a new member of the family!

    I hate to leave him in the shelter over Christmas but we are traveling that day, so the 26th is the earliest we’d bring him home.

    Any advice or stories about adding a 2nd dog to the mix?

        1. Aurora Leigh*

          So dangerous! I’m going to have delete the app if this works out — 2 big dogs and 3 cats, plus 2 humans with hobbies is a bit much for a 1000 sq ft 2 bedroom house lol

    1. Approval is optional*

      No advice on the dogs, but I had to laugh at the Christmas comment. Yesterday I told my daughter that her dog didn’t actually celebrate Christmas, so he wouldn’t care any more than usual if she was away for the day: I am now officially Grandma Grinch apparently!!

      1. Aurora Leigh*

        Lol I know you are right! We brought pupper home the same day we first went to see him, but then it was a mad dash to puppy proof the house. I want to be calm and prepared this time so I can just focus on helping them acclimate (not wrapping and baking and dow have enough gifts, etc.)

      2. Fikly*

        I was cat sitting for a friend over Thanksgiving, and she had a variety pack of food flavors for them. I discovered the day after Thanksgiving that one of the flavors was turkey and felt so bad that I didn’t give it to them on Thanksgiving.

        But I don’t think they cared that they got it on Friday rather than Thursday.

    2. Three owls in a trench coat*

      How exciting! I hope everything goes well and you’re able to give Cloud a forever home.

      My family only ever had one dog at a time, but if a relative’s dog was visiting we’d try to introduce them in a “neutral” space like the park or out walking in the neighborhood. Our lab loved meeting new people and was usually fine with other dogs, he just wasn’t too keen on other dogs in “his” house. Introducing them outside helped with that. Most of the time he quickly warmed up to the other dogs and was even willing to share toys!

    3. Natalie*

      We got a puppy when our older dog was 3 1/2. Not completely the same since your prospective dog is the same age, but some stuff will apply.

      First off, since you mentioned dominance – if you haven’t already, read up a bit on how dominance actually functions in dogs.* It’s almost entirely a function of resource access and thus very situational and temporary, and resources can be people or comfy chairs just as easily as bones and food. You should be very familiar with what resource guarding looks like and how to deal with it, since approaching it in a punitive way will completely backfire and make the issue worse. (I’ll put some links in a reply.) Even dogs that get along well can get into a scrap about some new, high value item, so keep an eye on them and have a plan for breaking it up. We also didn’t leave our dogs alone together for a long time, mainly because the puppy needed to be crated for house-training, but a secondary benefit was no fighting while they were getting comfortable with each other.

      They will learn from each other, no matter what. That can be really good – our puppy was much easier to housebreak because he followed the adult dog’s lead – and bad stuff – he also learned to climb up on the cat tree and eat the cat’s food.

      For specific obedience training, using separate commands for each dog is useful, and you can also teach group commands.

      *The permanent alpha-beta position stuff was never well supported (primary study was based on captive wolf populations that were rescued individuals, not existing packs) and IIRC the paper has been retracted. It’s not even applicable to wild wolves, much less domestic dogs in a home.

      1. Reba*

        Thank you for this! The different commands is a great tip. Now if I could only call my dogs by their correct names…

        1. Natalie*

          I do that all the time. We are also expecting our first kid in the spring so I’m sure it will just get worse when I have three names to confuse.

          I think I got the separate commands thing from Patricia McConnell. I didn’t do it for everything because I legitimately couldn’t think of enough commands, but they have different words for recall, releasing from stay, and going to their mat/place, and then a group command for releasing from stay.

      2. Aurora Leigh*

        Thank you so much for all the tips! That is good know about about the resource guarding — that makes so much sense given his background and even in a shelter scenario. I will read the links when they come through.

        The issue he was returned over involved a couple where the wife set boundaries with Cloud and disciplined him but the husband never told him no. Apparently it got to the point where Cloud nipped at the husband when he tried to put his arm around the wife.

        When we met Cloud he was equally affectionate with us both, so I don’t think he dislikes men in general. And of course there’s no way to say for sure what the whole story in that scenario was.

        1. Not So NewReader*

          You never know what the story actually is. I had a cat who squirmed so bad when you went to set her down that it was way too easy to drop her. She just started struggling the minute you lowered her. Once we noticed this, we worked with her on it and she was okay. HOWEVER, when we got her we were told a child in the house was allergic to her and the parents gave the cat up. We saw enough behaviors with the cat that we suspected the child was throwing the cat and the parents could not get a handle on that. We gave the cat plenty of space and we were super careful about setting her down when we were done holding her. It did not take long for the hard struggling to end and then a little while later, she did not struggle at all.

          My suggestion is to hug each other IN the adoption place IN FRONT of the dog before you go home. So the dog sees this while you are on neutral territory. Then hug each other or put an arm around each other frequently as part of acclimating the dog. I suspect when your other dog does not react, the dog will step back from that behavior also.

          I am a big fan of teaching dogs, “Look”, so I can give them a visual explanation. I am also a big fan of teaching them the multi-purpose phrase “It’s okay”. So I might say, “Look”, hug my spouse, and say “It’s okay” while we are hugging. My dog got upset over garbage bags that were placed on the far side of a neighbor’s garage. The bags did not belong there in my dog’s mind. My husband did the look- action-it’s- okay sequence. He called to the dog , “look!” he picked up a garbage bag and said, “It’s okay!”. The dog never barked/got upset with random garbage bags again.
          It could be the breed, but my dog was part shepherd. Any time something was different than usual he noticed. Every single time. We had to watch this and make sure he knew we had decided things were okay. My current dog does NONE of this. Ever. sigh.

          Added bonus, people outside our household could tell him something was okay and he would let go of his issue for them also.

        2. Natalie*

          (Sorry for the delay, we ended up doing early Christmas stuff with my family all day.)

          So, it’s obviously hard to tell without having been there, but that actually could have been resource guarding. Dogs can guard people as a resource, it’s more common than people realize. Also, some dogs will react to certain gestures for unclear reasons (one of our dogs barks when we hug, it’s weird). What I can tell you it was definitely *not* was the dog trying to challenge the husband for some kind of permanent alpha position, because that is not really a thing that exists.

          The late Sophia Yin is a great resource, here are a couple of her articles on resource guarding:


          I also like Victoria Stillwell: https://positively.com/dog-behavior/aggression/resource-guarding/

          Both of those sites will have tons of other articles for any other issues you come across. I also found the dog training subreddit (r/dogtraining) super helpful. They can be a bit of a terse crowd, but even if you don’t want to post they have a great wiki with tons of resources (blogs, videos, and books).

          Just generally with nipping, it’s a step on the dog behavior continuum before biting, so it will be helpful to learn about dog body language so you can see if the dog is over it’s emotional threshold before it gets that upset. I also found learning canine body language helpful because our dogs play by rough, they love to wrestle and bite each other’s faces. They also vocalize a lot when they play, so I really had to learn the difference between play growls and angry growls so I wasn’t freaked out all the time.

          All that said I love having two dogs. They really like each other and get bummed when one goes to daycare without the other or whatever. It’s super fun to watch them play and then nap piled on top of each other. And they keep each other tired out so we don’t have to do as much!

    4. Anon Here*

      No advice on adding a second dog, but I can give advice about bringing home a new rescue dog. This applies to ALL newly rescued medium to large dogs, regardless of breed or background.

      Keep the new dog on a leash for the first 24 hours and introduce him to the house and its inhabitants slowly. One room at a time. This is less stressful for them, and safer for all involved. Dogs can get overwhelmed and lose their manners if introduced to a new place too quickly. This is a huge, shocking change for the dog. There’s a chance he’ll do something he knows not to do, such as peeing indoors or chewing on things. Remind him of the rules while being patient about the adjustment. You might want to offer him extra special treats and lots of toys to assure him that this is a good place to be.

      Second, give him LOTS of exercise. And intellectual challenges (walks in interesting places, puzzle toys, etc). First thing in the morning, ideally. When he’s had his workout and is feeling mellow, work on training. The exercise plus consistent training should help with dominance issues.

      Third, give him a daily routine. Most dogs thrive on routines and structure. Moreso than most people. They have an excellent internal clock and they want to do the same thing at the same time every day. You can use this to your advantage with training.

      Fourth, give him lots of love! My dog recognizes when I go out of my way to make him happy, like when I cook meat for him. He shows his appreciation by being more respectful of my wishes. They are very smart. They’re not robots, despite what is implied by some of the training advice out there.

      Congrats on your new friend and I hope it all goes well!

      1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        Daily routine, Jiminy Christmas, yes. The Junior Ambassador gets super grizzly if we don’t get out of bed by 6:45, go straight to the working chair, and eat breakfast promptly as soon as the coffee machine bubbles at 8am. (Saturdays are not her favorite, and heaven forbid I actually have an on-site work day.)

        Elder Statesdog is less fussy about her mornings, but she starts huffing and puffing and looking pointedly up the stairs toward the bedroom at 8:30 on the nose. (I usually go to bed around 845 and read in bed for an hour each night.)

        1. Aurora Leigh*

          Yes! Pupper loves his routines. I always let him out for his last potty trip of the night right before we go to bed. One night the 3 of us had gone for a late walk and we got ready to go to bed maybe 15 minutes after we came inside . . . Pupper still wanted to go out one last time!

      2. tangerineRose*

        “LOTS of exercise. And intellectual challenges (walks in interesting places, puzzle toys, etc). ” This! Especially for GSD mixes. But you probably already know that.

      3. Not So NewReader*

        A double YES! on the exercise. My friend got a young adult dog. Because it had moved around so much in it’s early life it was very hyper/nervous. She ended up having to rehome the dog because of the hyper behaviors. The home she found has a super large area for the dog to run and run. The new dogparent lets the dog just run for hours and has NONE of the behavior problems my friend had. Burning off steam is a huge thing.

        I totally agree on limiting their movement about the house at first. It’s all new and it is too much stimulation. Picture a kid in a candy store. This is more of that same excessive stimulation.

        I teach all my animals the phrase “bed time”. It does help them to wind down and settle into a night’s rest. This is how I get peace in the house.

    5. Vincaminor*

      Congratulations! I hope you get to bring Cloud home soon!

      Adding dogs: make sure everyone has their own place to sleep. Mine each get their food bowl put in a specific area, they know when it’s their turn/bowl. Watch out for/ask about food aggression — shelters are usually good about making sure adoptees don’t mind people touching the food, but another dog may be another story. The dogs are going to have to work out who’s in charge — if they’re wrestling and everyone is having fun (you’ll know by the sound), don’t intervene, let them get on with it.

      You may notice your dog’s behavior changes a bit: when I had only one dog, he liked belly rubs. When I brought home a second dog, the original one no longer rolled over for rubs — he was Dog In Charge, and DIC doesn’t roll over in front of the juniors! I’ve noticed this with others as they worked out dynamics.

      Make sure both dogs get attention, you’re not just focused on Cloud!

      Really, all my family expansions have gone pretty smoothly. I hope yours does too!

      1. Aurora Leigh*

        That would be hilarious! Sadly no, we have a flower name, a Downton Abbey name, and a name from an Elizabeth Barrett Browning poem.

    6. KR*

      So when we added a second dog, we have always had them meet at a not-house place. Dog park, fenced in yard at shelter, one time when neither was available we took two dogs on a short walk together to see if they could get along, then let them play/snif on a long leash. Lots of treats. Lots of praise. If things get too tense or wild in the house, take them on a short walk together, then try again. A tired dog is a happy dog.

    7. MinotJ*

      We just made a very similar addition to our household a few months ago. Our older dog is a playful 2.5-year old shepherd mix and we brought home an 8-month-old shepherd mix. I hope yours get along as well as ours do! They play for hours and then come in and collapse.

      The only advice I have is to give it time. I’m a worrywart, and our dogs took a few weeks to completely adjust. There were a few days where *something* happened and I texted my boyfriend in tears because they weren’t friends anymore and the older dog was going to hate the puppy forever and we’d made a horrible mistake. And each time, they got over it in a few hours or a day. Watching them lick each other’s mouths and chomp each other’s faces with love is my favorite thing right now.

    8. Lemonish*

      When we brought home second dogs, we’ve always had them meet again on “neutral” territory, usually within a reasonable walk from our home. Then, we walk both dogs home and into the house like it’s a totally normal thing to do. Your original dog might be a bit “WTF is he doing here?” about it.

      We’ve done this three times. The first time, the original dog was much more dominant and bigger than the second dog and accepted him pretty much straight away. The second time, the original dog was smaller and older than the second dog and spend a lot of time growling and avoiding until they worked things out. I think it took about two weeks – but they were only ever “civil” to each other. They were never besties. And this last time, the original dog was younger and smaller than the second dog and spent the first evening growling under the dining room table, but then they’ve been absolute best friends ever since.

      Try to remember to heap love and attention on original dog as well as new dog, and it should hopefully eventually be a great thing for everyone.

    9. MechanicalPencil*

      If possible, see if you can introduce your dogs before your bring Cloud home from the shelter. Most shelters will let you do this and should have staff trained on dog introductions.

      So far as once you get home, start how you mean to live your life. By that I mean if dinner is always at 7 p.m., that’s what it should be. If Cloud’s bowls are going to be in the kitchen under the window, that’s where they need to start out. For feeding and so forth, I would put bowls on opposite sides of the room. Yes, it’s cute if they eat side by side, but until both dogs know one another and are accustomed to each other, better safe than sorry. Both dogs need their own version of whatever. Both dogs need equal amounts of attention, at least until you figure out their individual needs.

      I’ve heard the equation that it takes 3 days to stop feeling overwhelmed. After about 3 weeks should be generally settled in. In roughly 3 months it feels like home. With my three (hah) rescues, I’ve seen this to be true. The dog I’ve rescued is much more confident than the one I initially brought home.

      If you don’t know anything about dog body language, start watching videos on it now. You can learn a lot about how a dog is going to react by their ears, tails, and lips. No dog bite comes out of the blue. There’s mouthing for play (my pit mix does this with me) and grinning (my little dude does that), and then there’s…not.

      Get Cloud in obedience classes. Hopefully the shelter can provide you with a recommended trainer (sometimes discounted/free!). Those help immeasurably. I’ve trained all of my dogs, but my pit mix has canine ADD. He wants to be all up in everyone else’s business. He’d already learned most of what we officially learned in class, but actually being IN a class meant he learned how to do it with distractions.

      There’s a Facebook group called Canine Enrichment, which is great for dogs with high drive, which is what I suspect your Cloud will have. Just lots of recommendations for puzzles and activities to keep your dogs engaged. Lots of it is simple, like feeding your dogs their meals in a towel rolled up like a burrito or scattering their kibble in the grass and making them use their noses. Some of it is more complex. It’s a pretty great community by and large.

  19. Call me St. Vincent*

    Well meaning people of the world, please stop telling people that their autoimmune diseases are all about “diet” when you have no idea what you are talking about. Actually, stop telling anyone with any disease how to treat it, unless you are that person’s treating physician. While some autoimmune diseases are indeed related to diet (e.g. celiac), many of them have zero to do with diet. Please leave the treatment to the doctors and don’t offer your unsolicited opinion (which is based on nothing or something you read online). My autoimmune diseases require IV medication every 6 weeks in the hospital, but maybe you’re right and my rheumatologist is wrong and I just need to cut out gluten/fish/eggs/sugar.

    1. fposte*

      Hahaha. But what about essential oils and yoga, St. V? Have you tried those? Because you could be fixed if you did.

      I’ll accept some input from somebody who’s dealing with the same thing–and I don’t mean another thing in the autoimmune family, I mean the same actual diagnosis, and I don’t mean a member of their family, I mean the speaker. It doesn’t completely rule out nonsense but at least they’re in the ring.

      1. Call me St. Vincent*

        Oh boy! I haven’t gotten the essential oils thing yet. Can’t wait to hear that one pulled out! I agree. there is actually someone at my work who has a related but not the same disease as one of mine and we do chat because the medications that treat our diseases are the same ones. That is actually helpful! She is not into essential oils though thankfully :)

    2. Jdc*

      Oh yes please. About any disease or health problem. “It’s in your head, just don’t think about it”. Oh wow hasn’t thought of that. If it worked I wouldn’t be here. Ughh

    3. Plus Ultra*

      People do this for mental illnesses as well. I’ve been told my bipolar II can be “cured” by wheatgrass, weed, yoga, essential oils, gluten-free, vegan, vegetarian, eating all-meat, intensive exercise, tanning, dairy-free, meditation, color therapy, and anything in between. Nope.

      1. Not a cat*

        My roommate is bipolar II (properly medicated) also and it is shocking how often she is told: “if you just meditated.” UGH! People!

      2. Call me St. Vincent*

        Ugh that’s terrible. I have heard the exercise one before. Why do people do this? I know they think they are being helpful, but like, just NO.

        1. JDC*

          I find it really the worst with mental health issues. Yes it is technically “in your head” but guess what?? It was in the persons head to think it was helpful or ok to say that. I don’t think any of us would not just change what we think if that were an option. And by any of us I mean every human mental illness or not.

    4. Golden*

      Even us celiacs get the diet comments too (“have you tried only eating organic?!?!”). It can be really frustrating – my online support group is filled with that kind of stuff. I don’t have much advice, just commiseration.

      And don’t even get me started on the people pushing MLMs.

      Hope you have good health and more considerate interactions in 2020!

      1. Call me St. Vincent*

        You as well! There are people pushing all kinds of diets on the online forum I use also. There are like ten different ones too. I am glad I have not encountered the MLMs….yet.

      1. Call me St. Vincent*

        Ha maybe you can carry around a portable jar! Hilarious! On a serious note though, I got my year end statement from my insurance company. They paid over $100k for my medication this year and I apparently shelled out $14k. The money is no joke.

        1. Fikly*

          I don’t even want to think about it. I know my out of pocket costs are more than 1.5 times my rent every month.

    5. Aly_b*

      Also my parents checking if “I’m still doing that”, like the celiacs (mine, not your hypothetical above) is likely to be fine in a few years.

    6. UbiCaritas*

      When people start telling me how to cure my husband’s cancer, I look at them and say, “oh, are you an oncologist?” But really, it’s tough enough right now.

      1. Call me St. Vincent*

        I’m so sorry. On top of everything, you have to deal with people’s unsolicited feedback. I wish you and your husband well in the New Year. Sending internet hugs.

      2. Observer*

        but, but … But don’t you WANT him to get better?!? Don’t you realize that the doctors don’t know everything? (And besides they are all in the pockets of Big Pharma!)

        It’s bad enough when the suggestion is essentially innocuous, but when they are suggesting something actively dangerous, I just have no words.

        1. Observer*

          In case it wasn’t obvious, I should clarify that the first paragraph was intense sarcasm and two things that were actually said to me.

    7. Bilateralrope*

      I’ve got a skin condition. The first three visits to a new hairdresser I got three different pieces of unsolicited advice on how to treat it. Including one suggesting I put oatmeal on it. Yeah, I’m going with what the dermatologist who has access to my medical records has prescribed me over a random hairdresser.

      I kept going back because they were cheap, didn’t require an appointment and clipper cuts are hard to screw up. The fourth and later visits didn’t have any unsolicited advice, so I think someone complained.

        1. Bilateralrope*

          Most of the people pushing alt med woo believe that it works. Thus they believe they are trying to help.

          The most annoying was when someone convinced my mum that a “magnetic ” bracelet would help. So she tried to convince me to wear it for a while.

          I put magnetic in quotes because I tested it with our fridge magnets and didn’t feel and magnetic force. Including with one strong magnet my dad took from a dead hard drive.

          1. Observer*

            It doesn’t really matter. By the time you’ve reached a certain point in life, you should know enough to know that unless you have the full story, you should stay out of things. The issue here is not even whether it’s scientifically sound or not, but that you are pushing treatments without full knowledge of all the circumstances.

        2. Scarlet Magnolias*

          I’ve posted before about having severe psoriasis (particularly on my hands). I constantly get people asking “What did you DOOOOO to yourself?” I usually reply that I ran into a burning building to rescue kittens, or I tell them it’s leprosy and contagious. Shuts it right down.

    8. Dan*

      Heh. I developed a heart condition uncharacteristic for my young-ish age and had to have an invasive procedure done awhile back that required a night in the hospital and my dad to fly out and stay with me.

      Leading up to that was nerve wracking to say the least. My parents have a friend with the same condition and had the same procedure done. His recovery was quite difficult and required a bit more time in the hospital. The thing with him though is that he’s 35 years older than me and has a whole host of other complicating medical problems. Him and me? Couldn’t be more different. Dad got the hint when I told him that their friend’s experience just isn’t relevant to me. I think I said something along the lines of, “If you want to talk about it, I’ll listen, but in terms of useful medical advice, I’m following my doc’s lead on this.”

      The worst thing though is that my mother has some pretty significant memory loss. Mom would bring up their friend every chance she got, having no idea she had already mentioned the subject. You can’t even tell mom to drop the subject, because she forgets even that.

      1. Call me St. Vincent*

        Oh man that sucks. I hope you are doing well after your procedure! Family is so hard sometimes.

    9. NeverNicky*

      Absolutely this.

      I don’t get comments often, but when I do, it’s all about paleo. Never mind that I haven’t eaten meat for 30 years, that paleo would mean excluding some of the foods that bring me joy and that there is no evidence base for this diet in the treatment of MS…

      Post diagnosis – after my own research and with support from my neuro – I went pescatarian and supplement with high levels of vitamin D. My MS remains stable and one of the most “benign” cases the neuro has on their lists, so *if* diet is a factor then what I have works for me, and if not then I’ve lucked out.

      1. Call me St. Vincent*

        I’m glad that the diet stuff is helping you–the diet stuff that makes most sense to YOU and your doc, not some random person commenting on your condition. I wish you good health in the coming year!

    10. Junimo the Hutt*

      Asking “Have you tried yoga?” in response to me mentioning my medical problems entitles me to a free shin-kick. That’s just the way it is.

      1. Call me St. Vincent*

        Haha! See I think yoga would actually help my stuff (one of my diseases is inflammatory arthritis) but it would be like one of those things that would be nice to do–it would definitely not cure what I have or treat it in any way, but would support the muscles around the joints that suck. I would definitely still need the IV medication though so no dice for the unsolicited feedback people! But I enjoy the thought of the free shin-kick immensely and I may deploy that in other situations :)

      1. Call me St. Vincent*

        I am actually on one of the Inspire communities online and I find it very helpful in a lot of ways, but there are tons of people on there pushing various diets. I’m glad your community is free from that stuff! I am not on facebook, so I am not sure if there is a community on there that would be better for me.

    11. LilySparrow*

      I got told this week that deep breathing and cold showers would fix mine.

      This from someone who a) admitted up front they didn’t know the difference between allergies and autoimmune disease, and b) didn’t know what autoimmune condition or symptoms I have.

      But apparently there’s a retired Olympic athlete somewhere on the Internet who claims that his regimen of meditation and cryotherapy cures everything – and he has affiliates to sell his video courses for him.

      1. Call me St. Vincent*

        Oh dear. This is exactly what I’m talking about. Everyone knows everything about everything, except of course you who has the disease. See it’s all so simple and straightforward–you were just WAITING for that person to tell you what to do so you would feel better! Hope you have a new year free of people being annoying :)

    12. Wishing You Well*

      Why can’t people just say,”I’m sorry you’re going through that. I hope things get better for you.” Or ask how you’re doing and listen with compassion.
      But, nope, whackadoodle advice, it is.

      1. Call me St. Vincent*

        Totally and the thing that set me off for this particular post was that I was being intentionally vague with the person who asked about my health saying “I am dealing with some autoimmune stuff” and without even knowing the type of autoimmune disease(s), the person said “autoimmune is all about diet.” Like WHAT? The person does NOT work in a healthcare field or anywhere close to it either.

  20. Anon with no name*

    Anyone have any recipe ideas for left over apple pie apples? These are already sliced with sugar, cinnamon and nutmeg on them. I have probably 3 or 4 cups worth… Somethings simple I could throw together on Monday with them once we’re back from my Aunt’s. Don’t want to throw them out! Thanks!

    1. Aurora Leigh*

      Apple crisp? Make a topping of oatmeal brown sugar and butter and then bake — yummy and easy!

    2. AvonLady Barksdale*

      You can also cook them down with a little extra liquid. A few minutes and you’ll have compote. Great on oatmeal, ice cream or yogurt.

    3. Mary Connell*

      Kitchn recently did an apple pie bake-off. Their conclusion for the Gordon Ramsay pie was to follow his directions for cooking the spiced apples in butter and then eat them plain rather than putting them into a crust. They described the caramelized apples as “divine.”

    4. Fikly*

      Throw them in the microwave until done, enjoy pie filling! This was a common low-work dessert for my family growing up. (Depending on your microwave 10-20 minutes.)

    5. PB*

      Roasted apple sauce! Just throw them in a pan as is (maybe a 9×9 or 9×13 pan), dot with 2 tablespoons of unsalted butter, cover the pan, and bake at 375 F for 15-30 minutes, until soft. Then, let them cool slightly, and mash with a fork.

      This is my favorite (and easiest!) applesauce. You can also freeze it once cooked and save it for an easy treat or apple cake later in the season, when apple’s aren’t as flavorful.

    6. Llellayena*

      Throw some in pancakes, eat others just as is with a spoon (extra apple pie filling doesn’t last long in my house), add an oatmeal based crisp topping, cook it with some ham…I’m getting hungry.

    7. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      Throw them in a crockpot for a couple hours with a splash of vanilla. Applesauce!

    8. Marzipan*

      Apple cake! Make up a sponge cake batter and then mix the apples through it – you want it so that when it goes into the tin, it looks like chunks of apple bound together with just a bit of batter, and then the cake part rises as it cooks so you end up with a really good ratio of cake to apple.

    9. Seeking Second Childhood*

      Get a pre-made pie crust and put it into ramikins or Pyrex pudding cups for mini deep dish pies…
      Or make the pie itself. I think that’s enough for at least a shallow pie isn’t it?

    10. Corky's Wife Bonnie*

      Cook them down on the stove with some butter. Get the frozen puff pastry shells and bake. Put the apples in the shells and top with vanilla or cinnamon ice cream and top with whipped cream and a drizzle of caramel. Totally calorie free!

  21. Can I get a Wahoo?*

    Once again, I am at the airport and through security 2.5 hours early. (No traffic and no lines. Holiday weekend who?)

    What are your favorite ways to kill time st an airport? I’d rather not break into my books or podcasts as I still have a long flight ahead of me, and aside from buying some expensive breakfast I’m not sure what to do. Creative suggestions welcome!!

    1. nep*

      Browsing books or magazines in a bookstore can be good to pass the time–then you’re reading but not breaking into your own books.
      I like to walk a lot in airports, but only if I’ve got appropriate shoes on.
      Is there a chapel/worship room/meditation space? Maybe just being still for a while would be energizing.
      Happy, safe travels.

    2. fposte*

      If my carryons aren’t heavy, I like exploring. Airports have weird and interesting spaces sometimes. Is there a children’s play area? A garden? A surprise restaurant? Is there an upstairs with observation windows? Those can all be interesting things to discover.

    3. PB*

      I like nep’s and fposte’s suggestions. A couple others: find an empty gate, camp out there, and watch the world pass. I’ve also on occasion bought a small notebook and pencil from a store at the airport and jot down ideas/sketches/whatever. Sometimes, airports have kiosk restaurants where you can just sit for a long time and order food and drink from a touch screen. I’ll enjoy a leisurely breakfast, coffee, and maybe even a Bloody Mary while taking advantage of the airport’s free WiFi. As a bonus, these restaurants also usually have outlets and USB ports built in, so I don’t have to drain my battery while browsing.

      1. Elizabeth West*

        Watch out for those USB ports; there was a recent spate of articles about malware and data hijacking from them. Snopes says juice-jacking is a real threat, though it’s not widespread. A plug-in charger is safer.

    4. OperaArt*

      San Francisco airport has a museum that puts up full displays in the terminals. The last one Zi saw there was about 1960s consumerism. Maybe your airport has a permanent display about the history of the airport or area.

      1. Elizabeth West*

        Yeah, I was gonna say, many airports have art exhibits, even small ones like the one in my former city.

    5. Dan*

      Depends on the airport. Hong Kong and Singapore are absolutely *great* to kill time in.

      In the US, I don’t get to the airport anywhere near that early. TSA Precheck is your friend. I use the same set of airports all the time, so I know how long it takes to get through the lines. If I’m not checking bags and don’t plan to eat, I aim to get to the airport 60 minutes before flight departure time. That usually leaves me with 10-15 minutes sitting at the gate.

    6. Seeking Second Childhood*

      Look for books by authors who steslth-sign during their own travels. I know Jenny Lawson and Neil Gsiman both do this.

    7. Observer*

      If the airport has free wifi, download some free content such as additional pod casts. I say free, because you probably don’t want to put any sensitive information onto the free wifi. So, no passwords or CC information to access restricted content.

    8. willow19*

      Not just an expensive breakfast, but also at a nice sit-down restaurant. I did that once for dinner and it was lovely not eating at a sticky table or in an uncomfy seat at the gate.

  22. WellRed*

    Oh guys. My friends planned my 50th for me, no questions allowed. Part of it was an escape room experience because for some reason they thought I wanted to try that. Not in a million years! So I went in being a good sport but hated it. It was not what any of us expected. There was also dinner and a sleepover but I just felt let down. Does nobody know me anymore? I’ve already felt a little outside the group for various reasons so that’s probably coloring this. I did tell them I loved that they planned all this for me.

    1. Reba*

      I’m younger than you and I would have hated all that too! I hate surprises and don’t like marking my birthday :)

      I think you’re doing the right thing by focusing on the kindness behind it. My read FWIW is that it is more about not knowing how to do celebration or hanging as a middle aged person, rather than not knowing *you.* And if you are outgrowing them, that is sad but ok too.

      1. fposte*

        It sounds like she loved *that* they planned, though, just not specifically what they planned, and it doesn’t sound like anybody rode over a no.

      2. WellRed*

        They honestly thought I had said I wanted to do this. Wires got crossed somewhere. They’ve all been texting back and forth about dinner. Etc for a month. We were on our way there when I realized what it was. No saying no at that point.

        1. Fikly*

          You can always say no. There will be consequences either way, and you can choose either option, but you can always say no.

          1. Not So NewReader*

            Agreed. I try not to upset people, but at the same time I refuse to put myself in extreme discomfort so THEY can think they did something for me. I would have probably alienated a person or two on this one.

            FWIW, I HATE surprises. Either tell me what we are doing before hand or I don’t go. I am amazed to find that most people understand and quickly accept that. I do tell friends early on in the friendship that surprises are not my bag, so I think that preemptive strike helps.

    2. Aurora Leigh*

      I’m sorry! It’s hard to feel like the one on the outside. I do think surprise parties have lots of ways to go wrong, so try to look at it from that angle.

      Some group outings will turn out to be a flop, but it sucks it was your birthday one. Is there something you would like to with these friends that you could suggest for the next outing? Maybe that would help get the bad taste out of your mouth.

      And to ward off potential new escape room trips, maybe say something like “It was interesting to do the escape room, I never would have thought of that on my own. But I think once was enough. [Specific detai] actually bothered me more than I thought it would. Dinner and sleepover were the best part of the day.

    3. Parenthetically*

      I mean, I’m more than 10 years younger than you and escape rooms are almost precisely my idea of hell. So sorry you had to endure that, and I totally resonate with the “WTF, do my friends not understand me AT ALL?!” feeling. I think it’s wise to just Anne of Green Gables it and pull the sweetness out of their intent while leaving the actual event behind, emotionally.

      Happy birthday! May the next one involve 100% fewer escape rooms.

    4. Elizabeth West*

      I had to work on mine and came in to a giant Grim Reaper birthday poster and a ton of confetti in my cube. >_<
      On the bright side, I did get an angel food cake, my favorite. :)

      1. Seeking Second Childhood*

        I had to work on mine and… no one remembered. I’d been there 15+ years. It wasn’t until I said something to someone about my husband’s plans to take me out fir dinner that people scrambled to get a car together for me, and the traditional over the hill prank prop.

        1. WellRed*

          I’ll be curious to see if my work remembers. Actual birthday is this Tuesday and I am out all week. They do know it’s my birthday but may not be aware it’s a milestone though I am friends with a few on FB who will notice. To be fair, we closed very early Friday due to no heat. Even better: I have started circulating a card for my boss’s birthday a week later ; )

  23. Cat-safe cleaning*

    Hello all! What products do you use to clean wood floors that are cat-safe? Floors are about 50 years old and have the original finish (neighbors mostly have the same floor/finish); it isn’t wax. No major stains, just daily foot traffic. Figured the AAM community would surely have ideas and/or experience – thanks!

    1. Aurora Leigh*

      My mom always did water and vinegar for the hardwood. I can’t remember the ratio though. Ours is all vinyl and I use a swiffer wet jet (when I mop which is not often enough)

    2. Ranon*

      Dish soap (diluted, of course) on a damp wash cloth on the end of a dry Swiffer is what I usually use when I damp mop, although I find if we keep up with the dusting/ dry mopping there’s not a ton of damp mopping to do

    3. Reba*

      I used to use a steam mop, which I enjoyed because something something sanitizing? But I was advised to stop because it can damage some floors. Probably not your old hardwoods, but newer wood products and finishes.

      I now use reusable microfiber cloths on a swiffer-like mop thing, plus Method floor cleaner solution. I do one pass with the solution, which you just squirt onto the floor, then another pass with a damp cloth alone. I’m really happy with this!

    4. Selmarie*

      We use the Bona hardwood cleaner mops when the floors need real cleaning. Supposedly safe for people and pets. Otherwise, frequent vacuuming and/swiffering. Also, no shoe-wearing in the house (my dad would be amazed that I now actually, regularly wear slippers — ha!).

    5. Anono-me*

      We have refinished hardwood floors. The man that refinished our floors suggested Bona but said Murphys was fine also. (He said he absolutely loved people who used steamers on their hardwood floors. They were paying for his new fishing boat.)

      We tend to use Murphy’s . Part of the reason is laziness, because you can use Murphy’s on almost everything in the house. The other part is we that are pretty comfortable with the reputation Murphy’s has for safety.

      In the interest of full disclosure, we are at canine, not a feline, household.

  24. Jaid*

    Turns out that the reason why my car has busted heat is because the head gasket is broken. It’ll cost under three grand to repair that and the timing belt. Cue me looking for another car. I can afford the car note…but dang, I was hoping to have more time to accumulate more cash.

    1. nep*

      Received the periodic email from local public radio station this morning, about donating a vehicle: ‘Is your car ready for hibernation?’
      Um, yes. But my bank account’s not ready for a new one, so…

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

      I might try to get a second opinion if the car is still operating enough for you to drive it. I’m not sure what the going rate is for a head gasket and timing belt, but I suspect it’s not 3K. Those are both major repairs, but 3K is almost new-transmission money.

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

        Though to be fair, prices vary very widely depending on the make and model of car.

        1. JDC*

          I have a Mercedes and it would be less. I would for sure look into it. For reference I have worked in the high end car business for 15 years so I have some idea

      2. Red Sky*

        This was almost the cost for replacing my head gasket and timing belt on an old Subaru a couple years ago, so not horribly unreasonable. I wound up buying a new used car and selling the Subaru as a mechanics special on Craigslist for $500. I got a ton of responses as soon as the ad went up, so probably could have got more.

    3. WellRed*

      I had a part break on my ac, would have cost $1k. Needless to say I’d suffer for the few times a year I’d need it but ya gotta have heat.

    4. university minion*

      If your car is in otherwise pretty good shape, I’d fix it. $3000 is what, a year or less of car payments and you’ll have a car that’s good to go for several years to come.

      1. Jaid*

        Ah, my car is a 2004. The car I’m looking at now would be around 7k after the down payment, so around $1400 a year for 5 years… I think that’s better for me.

        1. Not So NewReader*

          This does sound like a better plan for you. Cars get to a point where you drop 3k on this, 1k on that, 2k on something else and on and on. Pretty soon you have spent the same as what a newer car would have cost you.

      2. Observer*

        That’s not necessarily true. In fact often it’s not the case at all.

        The last car we replaced, the mechanic who would have done the repair for use told us to get a new car even though he’d be losing the job and our business for a couple of years (the time frame where stuff is covered under manufacturers warranty.)

  25. JediSquirrel*

    I bought an Instant Pot. And I downloaded the app, so the new year should bring some new culinary adventures.

    Also, I bought the Ninja Foodie for my parents. I can’t wait to give it to them. (Got a hell of a deal on it at Target. Woot!)

    1. Aurora Leigh*

      I LOVE my Instant Pot. I use it so much.(Frozen chicken breasts cooked in like 20 minutes is a real game changer!)

      One of our friends ended up with 3 as wedding gifts and the first thing my fiance said to them was “That’s not a bad thing at all! They are amazing!” And now he’s half hoping we end up with an extra lol

      1. JediSquirrel*

        I never thought I would like one, and now I’ve been cooking all weekend—while I’m supposed to be packing for next weekend’s move. I may just take my clothes, laptop, and Instant Pot and leave everything else behind, lol.

    2. YouwantmetodoWHAT?!*

      We just got one! It’s fab. Have you checked out Instapots online recipes? So.many!
      We made the minestrone with pasta and it was delicious. I did make changes – veg broth instead of meat (I don’t eat it), no celery (I’m allergic and the eldest hates it). I made the orzo seperatly because I haven’t found a tiny gf pasta yet. Oh, and switched the kidney beans to cannellini, because I had just made chili.
      Will definitely be making this again!

      1. JediSquirrel*

        I did download the app. I made black bean dip first thing this morning. It was amazing, but next time I’m going to add pickled jalapeños, because you know…pickled jalapaños!

    3. MuttIsMyCopilot*

      I love my Instant Pot! If I used it for nothing except easy-to-peel eggs and stock (made from all my veggie scraps) it would still be awesome. But it also makes perfect brown rice, fast beans, foolproof while chickens and pot roasts, and crazy tender ribs. It’s easily my most useful kitchen gadget.

      1. JediSquirrel*

        Yeah, it’s been a “let’s cook beans” weekend. They turn out really well!

        Now I have to figure out how to make boiled eggs in there. That sounds amazing! (Also, I’ll be able to get rid of my egg cooker.)

        1. buffty*

          It’s super easy and they peel like a dream! We have just recently gotten an IP and that’s been the main use so far. I’m ready to expand my horizons with it though!

          1. JediSquirrel*

            I googled it and it’s super simple! I’m donating my egg cooker to Goodwill. They come out perfect with no green on the yolk. Simply amazing!

    4. JDC*

      I love Pinterest for recipes. My favorite is the chicken noodle soup. That is made in our house quite often. I didn’t know there was an app. About to download that.

      We want the Ninja bad BUTTT the instant pot was a gift and technically we have other appliances that do the other things so it didn’t make sense. One day though.

      I could google this but do they make toaster ovens that are built into your kitchen? I am really wanting one but hate counter clutter, plus they take up A LOT of space.

      1. JediSquirrel*

        Ah, now I have a use for Pinterest. (Until now, I just used it for the dank Harry Potter memes.)

        I’m not sure about built-in toaster ovens, since they get pretty hot. But Ninja makes a stand up one. Just google “Ninja Foodi Digital Air Fry Oven SP101”. I want one, but they’re kind of pricey right now. I’m gonna wait until they go down in price a bit.

        The Instant Pot app is pretty cool (aside from having to create an account). It includes step-by-step instructions, timers, the option to favorite recipes or add comments. It’s my new “I have to wait three minutes, so I’m going to browse this app on my phone” app.

  26. Kali*

    I’m making a short RPG to propose to my boyfriend! He thinks the proposal will be in February, but it will actually be in January.:D He’s a big LOTR fan and in our first year of uni (we met in halls) we walked from Manchester (uni) to Birmingham (my hometown and a source of inspiration for Tolkien) over a week. It was about 80 miles. The game will be inspired by that – a journey of 5 days/big events. So far, I’ve done day 1. The two unnamed main characters fight (and lose to) Sour Ron. The male lead is cursed with memory loss and the female lead is cursed with the loss of her true form – she’s turned into a Rose. The main character picks a nickname – my choice are Wise Sam, Precious, Robin (inside joke), and Alan (BF’s grandad’s name), while the female lead goes by ‘Rose’, which, as well being a reference to Samwise and Rosie, is also the name I use at Starbucks so they don’t misspell it. The first town is based on Manchester – there’s the home of Elfeline Pankhurst, who fought for Elf Suffrage, a pub based on the one we used to go to in our halls, and a building based on halls, with rooms hinting at some of our early flatmates. For instance, one’s Korean and the Potion of Undong (movement) which lets the Rose walk around is found in his room. I’m working on the second of five segments today. That will involve staying in a big haunted mansion (we stayed at Air BnBs on our walk). In the night, each character will have a seperate adventure. One will talk to the host while the other is sent back in time and talks to someone who lived in the house years ago. The person in the past (unsure if they will be female or male yet) has been seeing visions of the future and writing letters to someone they have fallen in love with there. The host, in the present, has received those letters, but has no way of communicating with the past. Both parties want to know if they should try to find their love, however impossible it seems, or if they should give up. If both characters tell their person to keep hoping, they’ll be a cute cutscene and they’ll win some equipment. If not, they’ll just leave in the morning.

    I’m not yet sure what happens on the third or fourth segment, but I know the fifth segment will involve facing Sour Ron again. All through the game is meta commentary – characters becoming baffled at what they’re saying when they explain game mechanics, characters making jokes that work in our world but not theirs and then becoming confused, and so on. Sour Ron will hint at the fact that the meta commentary is intentional, and that the characters haven’t really lost their memory, they just think they have. The Rose will work it out. She’ll tell the male lead that she knows his true name, it’s my BF’s name, and that she knows her true form but he needs to close his eyes. That will just keep repeating on a black screen – “close your eyes”. Then, when his eyes are closed, I’ll slip an origami rose with “will you marry me?” written on each petal onto his desk. That rose is hidden in the back of my wardrobe atm.

    I’m very excited about this! Once it’s happened, I’ll put pictures of us and the rose at the end, rather than just leaving it on a black screen and then put the whole game on my blog or something. I love cute proposal videos but my BF doesn’t want to be filmed, so this is a neat compromise.

    1. Artistic Imitation*

      I made a text-based adventure game to propose to my husband with (since we enjoyed playing a couple adventure games together)! This sounds very cute and I am sure your boyfriend will love it.

    2. Seeking Second Childhood*

      Maybe an encounter with a pair of pilgrims partway through their journey?
      Very clever and a lot of fun.

  27. Curious about Cats*

    Anyone planning to go see the new “cats” movie? I purr rused a few reviews and it does sound disappointing, bizarre and overly sexualized, but I’m curious if you’ve seen it and if you give it a claw up or claw down. By the way I have not seen the Broadway musical.

    1. Selmarie*

      I finally saw the musical, and it was very well done — the actors/singers, set, etc. were all amazing. I went because I love cats and musicals, and it had been on Broadway for so long! I don’t know what I was expecting, but it wasn’t what it turned out to be in terms of the plot, etc. My experience might have been better if I’d read up a bit first. In the end, I was questioning its long-standing popularity, although some of the songs are now classics. I’m on the fence about seeing the movie, but might like to see the costumes, CGI effects, and Jennifer Hudson and others sing.

    2. Queer Earthling*

      I’m hoping to see it. It looks ridiculous and I love ridiculous. I’ve seen the musical (recorded, not live) and it’s also ridiculous.

      Oversexualized doesn’t bother me, I’m a sex blogger.

      1. Seeking Second Childhood*

        The sexuality is certainly on display in the original! I went onto youtube a while back because I never got to go and, well, stray cats do strut don’t they? Jello Cat had the most amazing legs. No wonder my somewhat repressed mother avoided taking me. (She was embarrassed enought by Chorus Line LOL!)

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

      It looks like one of those movies that’s going to be so jaw-droppingly bad that it ends up being good.

    4. General von Klinkerhoffen*

      I’ve seen the musical a couple of times. It makes sense in context – they use the entire theatre including aisles, so you’re very immersed and it’s easy to suspend your disbelief. The costumes are initially weird but you become accustomed to them very quickly. Crucially, the choreography and movement of the actors is very feline so again you accept that you’re watching cats.

      I will not be seeking out the new film. I watched the trailer in horror (and those were supposed to be the best bits). Partly the casting – I can’t bear James Corden at the best of times, and it feels too much like “let’s cast A-listers” rather than “let’s cast people who can convince us of this story” which is what the stage show achieves. But also the costumes and special effects are just too much.

      When it’s on tv and I don’t have to waste an evening and a tenner (see upthread), I’ll check it out, maybe just my favourite songs (Skimbleshanks, Macavity) to see how it deals with them.

    5. Mimmy*

      I’m on the fence. I love the musical – I’ve seen it 3 times – everything about it is beautiful: the dancing, the songs, the costumes, the story…

      I wanted to see the movie, but I’m hearing the reviews are terrible. Plus, I am just not a fan of Jennifer Hudson’s voice. Sigh, decisions, decisions… :)

    6. Junimo the Hutt*

      I enjoyed it thoroughly! I’ve seen the musical once at an outdoor theater in St. Louis heat in August and my friend had to explain the “plot” to me, so take that with however many grains of salt you need. To be crystal clear: it is a WEIRD movie, but it’s a weird musical. I feel like it’s completely true to the spirit of the source material. The issue being that the source material is bizarre as hell. But I decided to just embrace that and had a good a time.

      It’s bizarrely unfinished as they were still working on it until the very end. Some scenes need more work. Bits could be cut entirely. Beautiful Ghosts going up against a refrain of Memory did not do this new song ANY favors. James Corden and Rebel Wilson are barely tolerable.

      But I still had a blast.

    7. LilySparrow*

      I saw the stage musical back in the 90s. I really liked it, but there isn’t really a plot. It’s a collection of poems that have an emotional arc, but not a narrative in a strict sense.

      It’s an emotional and sensory experience, not a story. At the time, it was very edgy and thrilling to have the dancers entering from the seats and interacting with audience members, and it still is thrilling for kids or people who are new to live theater. The dancers realistically portraying cat movement is also a huge part of the wow factor.

      That physical presence is so fundamental to the show, I can’t imagine it would ever translate well to a screen. And frankly, Idris Elba and James Corden are very talented, but I just do not believe they have the kind of dancing chops to pull it off.

      I don’t see how a version of Cats with no live interaction *and* mediocre dancing could be anything but lame.

      I’d watch Judi Dench read the telephone book and like it, but Dame Judith in a fursuit is a bridge too far.

    8. Piano Girl*

      My daughter-in-law and I saw it yesterday, and we really enjoyed it! I think if you have watched the trailers and somewhat acclimatized yourself to what the cats will look like, you will enjoy it more. We were not fond of Rebel Wilson’s part, but we’re both impressed with Taylor Swift and Francesca Howard. We felt like it wasn’t too oversexualized, as cats rub up against each other all the time. The movie definitely had more of a story to it. And I didn’t mind Jennifer Hudson.

    9. MissDisplaced*

      I’m hesitant. I’ve loved the show but thought the previews of the film looked weird and odd.
      Still, I’d like the dancing snd choreography.

    10. Ladybugger*

      It was a major claw down but if you’re a person who likes to get high and watch terrible movies I cannot recommend it highly enough. (I was not high but I dearly wished I was.) It was deeply bizarre and horny. The reviews nailed it, and I will dine out on the story of watching it for months.

  28. Millennial Lizard Person*

    I feel so guilty — I forgot to get Christmas presents for my extended family. Even if I mailed a card today, I don’t think it’d get there in time. There’s not too many of them: 1 set of grandparents, 2 aunts, 2 cousins. But my cousins sent me a funny card for my birthday AND both of them have December birthdays and I COMPLETELY forgot. I got so caught up in planning to host Christmas for the first time ever (my nuclear family + inlaws) that I forgot about the out of state people :/ I’ll give everyone a phone call on Christmas… do you think belated presents make up for it? E

    1. Call me St. Vincent*

      You can still send email gift certificates to people! I have enjoyed getting those in the past and they are delivered instantly!

  29. Snickerdoodled*

    How do you trust people? I’ve been burned before and people use me, so I sort of shut down and withdraw. I have a few people that I see, don’t get me wrong, but would like more friends because it’s lonely.

      1. The Original K.*

        Agree. One of my goals next year is to put myself out there more because I want to make more friends (I’ve had friends move away in the last year) and date with the intention of finding a partner. There’s no way to do that without risking disappointment. You just have to do it inch by inch, I think.

        I heard Brene Brown say that without connection there’s always suffering, and I think that’s right. It’s scary to trust people but you do it gradually in service of forging connection.

        1. fposte*

          Right, vulnerability is necessary for connection. What’s most helpful, I think, is to realize your own resilience–that loss and injury hurt, but we survive.

    1. Not So NewReader*

      I like a multi-pronged approach for big stuff like this.

      Start by beefing up your own personal security. We all have something we can do better at. Buy a firesafe and use it. Change to stronger passwords. This is a foundation exercise, you have to know that you are working from a secure base at home. And turn this into a life habit where you keep your home and belongings safe.

      Next figure out your boundaries and be able to articulate your boundaries. This is going to sound stupid but I have boundaries such as, I do not loan coworkers money greater than the cost of a lunch. This rule protects me overall, but it also allows me to bail out an occasional hungry cohort who is broke. Another rule I have is “If I am angry then I have given too much.” Don’t wait until you are angry to say NO. Understand at what point giver’s fatigue sets in for you and stop before you reach that point.

      Now this next one is going to sound unrelated, so bear with me. Deliberately allow others to help you. It’s so easy to say, “No, thanks. I am good here.” Let other people offer and accept their offers from time to time. Of course, use good judgement. If I offer to help you repair your car that would be a Super Bad Plan. I don’t know much about cars. Use good judgement when accepting offers. If we routinely decline offers we end up just giving and never receiving. Don’t fall into this pit. It makes a relationship unbalanced as the other person has nothing they can give us in return. Expect people to give something in return and accept it when appropriate.

      Another thing to consider is not to skate by people’s smaller gestures, or gestures that seem smaller to you. This week, I got up early and snow-blowed my huge (shared) driveway. Gosh, I was pooped and I still had to go to work. So I skipped the hand-shoveling I needed to do, thinking I would do that when I got home. By the time I got home, I had recuperated from the morning snow removal operation and I was ready to do the hand-shoveling. I found a friend had stopped by to check on my elderly neighbor and me. He had shoveled the very areas I had planned to tackle. It was not a big deal to me in the moment. But I made myself stop and think, he drove from his house 20 minutes away just to shovel us out and he did not ask for one thin dime. Yeah, this is a big deal. If I had not felt better I would have been overjoyed to see this stuff done. I almost skated by this one with lesser appreciation.

      Last. Good people lead us to more good people. All you need is a few good friends. Go with them and meet their friends, you will probably meet more similar quality people.

      1. Anono-me*

        This is probably the best explanation of how to go about building trust with people that I have ever read.

        The only thing I would add is look at how people treat others.
        If they are trustworthy for other people, it is a small good sign. (There may be Consequences to being untrustworthy to that person that you are unaware of.). If they are untrustworthy for other people, that is a big red flag.

    2. The Gollux, Not a Mere Device*

      Maybe break it into parts: not whether you trust someone, but do you trust them for specific things:

      Will she be on time for things you’re doing together? Is she truthful, or does she lie to stay out of trouble? Could you call her in an emergency? Is her memory reliable, or does she remember, and tell you about, things that never happened? If you ask her not to do something, what happens? Does she pay you back for lunch?

      Those don’t necessarily go together: someone might reliably pay their share for meals, and remember that you’re allergic to peppers, but be no good in emergenciess.

    3. Miranda Priestly's Assistant*

      The key is to take things slowly. In my experience, the most untrustworthy people turned out to be the ones who seem to be very friendly and warm up to me soon after meeting them for the first time. At first, it seems like “Oh! This person is so nice!” But then I learn over time that they are actually disingenuous and/or unreliable (or we just don’t have that much in common). On the other hand, my best friendships have developed very gradually.

      That being said, don’t feel too bad about having been burned before. It has happened once or twice to pretty much everyone I know. One of the side effects of being kind is that some people will try to instrumentalize it. Keep your eyes wide open, but don’t let those experiences keep you from meeting new people!

  30. Foreign Octopus*

    Book thread!

    What’s everyone reading this week?

    I’ve just started my first Ursula K. Le Guin book The Dispossessed. I’m only a chapter in and intrigued. I really want to like her because I know that she wrote a huge catalogue of work, so I’m onboard with enjoying her.

    1. coffee cup*

      Oddly enough, I just bought my first of hers last week! I’ve never read any, but have wanted to for a while. I’m not sure it’s my usual jam, but she always sounded like a really cool woman, so I wanted to give it a go.

      I’m currently reading a Korean novel (translated, as I do not know any Korean), I’ll Go On. It’s really good. Published by a tiny indie press here.

    2. nep*

      Tell Them I Didn’t Cry by Jackie Spinner. Grabbed Bloodchild and Other Stores by Octavia E. Butler from a little free library a while back. Might pick that up this weekend.
      So many books I want to get to. I’m looking forward to house-sitting for a friend for January through March–I look around her lovely house and see all the reading I’ll be able to do there. Heaven.

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

      I randomly found a book in my library called The Miseducation of Henry Cane by Charles Brooks, and decided to take a shot on it. It’s a really interesting book because I think it’s trying to be a cross between Catcher in the Rye and Fifty Shades of Grey — a really, really odd combo — and is failing pretty spectacularly on both counts but is managing to be entertaining in the process.

      1. New Bee*

        I can’t believe this is actually a book! It’s also a plot point on Younger (I haven’t finished the season).

    4. Cruciatus*

      I just finished The Silent Patient which was just…so boring. I don’t read a lot of thrillers but I work at a library and it crossed my path and there were no holds so I figured I’d give it a try. It’s not bad, but it’s just not “thrilling”. I do not get the hype for that book.

      But this post reminds me that the library is holding book two of the Legacy of Orisha series for me so I should go pick that up today!

      And in my car I’ve had a constant rotation of Tamora Pierce books playing during my commute. A lot of people on this site recommended them and so far I’ve gone through Protector of the Small and now I’m on the last book in the Wild Magic series. I’ve become a huge fan of these books. Any recommendations for which of her other series to do next? I saw that her Tortall books are heading to TV so hopefully I have enough time to get through them all!

      1. Three owls in a trench coat*

        Wow, this brings back memories! I was a big fan of the Tortall books in middle school and a bit in high school but kind of forgot about them.

        Have you read the “Song of the Lioness” series? If I remember correctly that’s where the whole Tortall saga starts. After “Wild Magic” and “Protector of the Small” I think there was a book about Alanna’s daughter but I can’t remember what it was called.

        I recently finished “Dark Age”, the latest book in the Red Rising series by Pierce Brown. I’ve read one or two books since then but nothing that really stuck out at me. Right now the two books I’m most looking forward to reading are “The Conference of The Birds” by Ransom Riggs (coming out in January) and “The Secret Commonwealth” by Philip Pullman.

      2. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        Yes, song of the lioness! My younger dog is named Alannah after the heroine :)

      3. Sparrow*

        I am re-reading Tamora Pierce as well. I really like the Terrier/Bloodhound/Mastiff series and Trickster’s Choice/Trickster’s Queen. The collection “Tortall and other short stories” is excellent as well.
        Her other universe is the Circle of Magic ones- I just read Battle Magic for the first time, and plan to reread The Will of The Empress as well.
        Her books bring back so many good memories for me

      4. Seeking Second Childhood*

        If you haven’t looked for her work in a long time do go back — Numair’s getting a series. And HOW does she do it, making an engaging suspenseful prequel that manages to be new and unexpected.
        I’d suggest anyone read them in publication order, not story chronology.
        I’m so glad to find other fans.

    5. Lizabeth*

      Just finished one of Felix Francis newest from the library – he’s Dick Francis’ son and co-writer at the end. Unfortunately he’s not Dick Francis, there’s something different about Felix’s writing. It feels like something is missing and I haven’t put my finger on what yet. So will stick with the original author for the time being.

    6. TL -*

      Educated by Tara Westover. I’m a third of the way through it and a bunch of reviews said, “an astonishing number of accidents happen to the family.” But my take is, given the safety practices described, it’s an astonishingly low number of accidents – I grew up on a ranch and working with heavy machinery and I’ve never been so grateful for my dad’s adament “safety first” mindset!

      1. MMB*

        I devoured Jabob Pepper’s Warriors of the Gods last week as soon as it came out then started on James Islington’s The Light of all That Falls and…..meh. I remember reading the first three books in the series as fast as I could get my hands on them, but this one…..just seeems to be lacking something.

    7. Aurora Leigh*

      Starless Sea by Erin Morganstern. It has a dark and eerie vibe to it, but it’s hard to put down!

    8. Elizabeth West*

      I just finished reading Empty the Pews, a collection of essays on why people (mostly evangelicals but some Catholics, etc.) left church. I got a 99-cent Kindle Unlimited three-month special so I’m borrowing some books I don’t have the money to buy right now.

    9. Pam*

      Love The Dispossessed! Even better when you read it for the second (or more!) time.

      I’m doing an Aubrey/Maturin reread.

    10. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      I just started The Fact of a Body, which someone here recommended a week or two back. I was also partway through a biography of Freddie Mercury before my library ebook expired, so I have to wait for it to come round again to finish it, and I just finished a book about Chernobyl. (I’m now pondering a week’s trial of HBO to watch the recent miniseries about it? Any good?)

      I also got books about medical history and the space program for my birthday, so those are on deck too once I get through the library books.

    11. Seeking Second Childhood*

      The Wizard of Earthsea is where everything began for me as far as science fiction/fantasy. The other books I read and enjoyed but Earthsea…. someone read it to us a chapter at a time at summer camp, and camp ended before the boo did so the impact was magnified by th time I git out to get a copy.

      1. Seeking Second Childhood*

        Oh and my own reading list this week has been Christmas short stories. Connect Willis “Inn” and ‘Epiphany” and “just like the ones we used to know” (out of The Winds of Marble Arch.
        For pure fun, ‘Santa Genie’ by my friend Jamie K. Schmidt.
        After supper tonight I’m going to pull the family in front of the fire for Janet Kagan’s ‘Christmas Wingding’. I haven’t decided yet if I’m giving myself her last story yet or not….no spoilers, I have owned the Nutcracker Coup for years but never read it.

    12. Anon and alone*

      I got a bookstore gift card from a friend and bought Mercedes Lackey’s “The Bartered Brides” (nearly finished) and the latest Valdemar anthology “Seasons”. Actually, I’m looking for a little help.
      *Cue fake bewilderment*
      There’s a character that reminds me of someone but I can’t quite put my finger on who. A description follows.
      [“…old Don, what runs th’ Splendid ‘otel in Cheapside… (he) wore an ill-fitting suit that had never seen the hand of a tailor over a body that bulged beneath it and strained it at the seams, a tie in school colors he had no right to wear… He was clearly half-bald, but had contorted his remaining hair into a bizarre pompadour, so stiff with pomade it looked like an arrangement of brass wire… He had teeth like a horse, a voice like a mule, and to top it all off, his skin was a strange shade of orange… not a man of intellect. He was barely a man who knew how to put two sentences together… his undersized hand.”]
      I hope you can help me figure this out.
      *End fake bewilderment*
      (I don’t really need help, I know who the inspiration was for this character. It made me snicker, I’m hoping it at least gives you a “heh”.)

      1. Elizabeth West*


        As soon as I got to “contorted his remaining hair” I started laughing. :)

    13. M&M*

      I just finished Catch & Kill by Ronan Farrow, about how the reporting surrounding Harvey Weinstein played out. It was probably my favorite book I read this year!

    14. Anono-me*

      I am reading so much this week. It is wonderful
      I am working on the biography of Josephine Baker and for lighter reading, a series by Lindsey Buroker. Both are recommendations from people here.
      Thank you.

      One of my other favorite science fiction authors has released a serial. They also reduce the price on two of their ebooks. So of course I needed to get the e-book that I didn’t have and reread it. (Ilona Andrews)

    15. Ra94*

      I just finished Miracle Creek by Angie Kim, and I was pretty disappointed. It was a fun read as far as murder mysteries/courtroom dramas go, but the reviews I read portrayed it as a hard-hitting literary work, and I thought the writing and characterization was fairly cliche and obvious.

  31. First Name*

    I’m sitting here feeling sad and sorry for myself and since I can’t tell anyone IRL I’m just looking for a little support here.

    The short version is that I have a crush on a friend, I’m too scared/nervous to tell her, and think it would be a bad idea for a number of reasons, and she just told me she can’t hang out today as we previously planned because she has a date.

    Feeling jealous and sad, but too embarrassed to tell anyone how I feel. I know it’s my fault for not trying to let her know how I feel. I just can’t…deep down I know she doesn’t feel the same way, even though we’ve never talked about it.

    It doesn’t really help that a number of other things in my life aren’t going well, my family is awful and I have to see them for the holidays, and I’m just so done with everything. I’m feeling so unhappy and hopeless, but I feel like I can’t tell anyone. My best friend (different friend) is going through something herself and isn’t really the best listener even on a good day. I’ve mostly drifted away from my other friends.

    I don’t really need any solutions, just some good vibes.

    1. nep*

      Sending good vibes your way. Sorry you’re going through this. That sense of rejection, even if it’s not truly that, really stings.
      I’ll just put this line here, for whatever it might be worth, from a recent story on The Moth:
      ‘This is what I know: In the deepest, blackest night of despair and anxiety, it only takes a pinhole of light…and all of grace can come in.’
      I wish you peace and resolution. Be kind to yourself over the holidays.

    2. Reba*

      At times like these, I always like to reread a good book (like spending time with an old friend) and just feel those feelings. Sending you good vibes and hopes that you can do something that makes you feel good this weekend.

    3. Not So NewReader*

      The holidays are so hard because we are kind of forced to take stock of our relationships we have. I hope these days pass quickly for you and January brings some relief even if it’s just “the holidays are finally done”.
      Good vibes to you.

    4. ..Kat..*

      Sending good vibes and sympathy.

      I know you didn’t ask for advice, but, do you really have to see family? Often, we don’t really have to. I used to feel this way, but I stopped seeing them. It was difficult at first, but so freeing. See Captain Awkward blog for good advice if you want to try stopping or cutting back. Also advice for how to deal with difficult family if you do go.

      Again, good vibes and sympathy.

      1. valentine*

        do you really have to see family?
        What if you say you can’t make it and spend the hols doing stuff you enjoy?

  32. OyHiOh*

    Tidbits of narratives and dialogues this week.

    Last Saturday started with a friend at synagogue looking at Neptune’s book after services. He flipped to the back to read the author bio, realized that the “my friend Neptune” I’ve been referring to for weeks within the context of the book coming out is “oh, your boyfriend Neptune, who came with you to the [Rosh Hashanah] dinner.”
    “Well, not my boyfriend but . . . I mean, we are seeing each other but boyfriend’s not really a good word to describe it.”
    “Oh, well, that doesn’t matter. Good for you.”

    (Neptune’s actual name is a common name that’s shared by three or four men active in the congregation and was one of the top 20 names for boys during the decade Neptune was born in. Having only met the man once previously, it’s not terribly surprising that the friend looking at the book didn’t immediately place Common Name as Neptune.)

    Overheard two women catching up, at a coffee shop I write in frequently. One telling the other about her daughter, who is 5’10, dating a guy who is 6’2″ and daughter telling mom “I can wear heels when I go out with him!”
    Instinctive reaction: “oh honey, height doesn’t matter! Wear heels if you want to!!”

    Neptune ordered me a journal through the Brooklyn Art Library’s Sketchbook Project!!!!! I am SO EXCITED about this! When he sent me the e gift card, I literally started jumping up and down and clapping. I had mentioned to Mr Oy at least the past two years that I wanted to participate in the project. He didn’t get me one as a gift and I never prioritized it for myself. So it’s not just the participating in a public art project that makes me so happy. It’s also that when I casually mentioned the Sketchbook Project on social media a week or so ago, Neptone recognized something that would mean a lot to me.

    I have a little dreidel
    I made it out of clay
    And when it’s dry and ready
    My dreidel I shall play

    I made it out of clay
    Where the river’s edge begins
    My dreidel I shall play
    But not to dance and spin

    Hebrew School Director: What happened to our sweet little song?!
    Me: I just noticed some linguistic similarities and decided to play.
    By linguistic similarities, I mean between the lyrics of the song and the way stories about the Golem of Prague begin. The rest of the poem makes the comparison pretty clear. Not sure I love the poem – it feels heavy handed and clunky to me – but it was a fun thought exercise!

    “I sent my child to public school because I can’t teach him. Apparently, public school can’t teach him either.”
    And also
    “I’m calling an end to this meeting. When you all figure out how to educate my child, send me an email. I can’t do this anymore today.”
    That meeting was a fun way to end the semester! IEP issues, high drama, and misdemeanors. I’m spending our winter school break investigating charter school options for a child who literally does not fit any existing public school boxes. I *can’t* homeschool him – he has too many specialized learning needs and requires regular social interaction – but traditional public school is failing him faster than he can fail within the system.

    Went to a holiday themed tea concert with Neptune. It’s really amazing how beautiful and intimate a simple event like that can be. Forced my inner music critic to put a lid on it and shut up and just enjoy a very good violinist and pianist do their thing. I’m classically trained on multiple instruments including piano and violin, and both of my parents are classically trained as well. Getting my brain to shut up and just enjoy well played music takes a considerable amount of mindfulness!

    1. Elizabeth West*

      Nice stories!
      I feel you on the music thing. As a trained singer, I notice breathing, when people aren’t phrasing correctly, etc. But sometimes playing music is just about enjoying what you’re doing and not performing. Not everyone is going to do it the way I was taught to do it. That doesn’t mean it’s wrong. :)

      1. OyHiOh*

        My dad was the worst possible role model! Every single music event we went to or participated in, he took us out for desert afterwards and spent 45 minutes criticizing every single thing. No praise or positives. It’s been a hard road as an adult to unlearn that habit.

    2. Aurora Leigh*

      The heels story made me laugh! My fiance’s sister was visiting the other day and told us to stand next to each other. She said, “Aurora Leigh you are almost an inch shorter than my brother
      You can wear heels to the wedding!”

      To which a slightly unladylike snort escaped me and I replied that I could, but I would rather not trip and fall down the aisle. I don’t wear heels because I think they’re uncomfortable, not because he and I are very close in height.

      I’ve never understood why the woman being older or taller than the man is such a taboo thing lol

      1. OyHiOh*

        I’m 5’9″ Neptune is 5’8″ ish. I wear 2 1/2 inch heels all the time. I think if a person is comfortable wearing heels, they should go for it.

        My heart breaks a tiny bit for people who think they have to or can’t because of some arbitrary social restriction.

      2. JDC*

        I never cared about a man’s height and I always wear very tall shoes. I was dating a man who was maybe an inch shorter than me. One day I was choosing shoes and he was watching me get dressed and I said “oh do you want me to wear flats?” I honestly didn’t care that day and just asked. His response was my favorite ever!! “Heck no, I love when you wear heels and are taller than me. I feel like a rock star walking in with a model”. I loved his attitude toward it.

    3. NoLongerYoung*

      Always enjoy your updates. And it is so cool that Neptune “gets” you. Very pleased. And understand about the school… hoping for a better option for your dragon.

  33. Anon*

    I had mentioned getting ring splints, and I wanted to report back after wearing them for a month:

    I’m shocked at how much they helped. So many fewer subluxes in my fingers and also my wrists (didn’t expect that!). My hands are much stronger for having a bit of an exoskeleton, and I feel like I’m doing less damage to my hands.

    People have noticed, but on the whole have been very kind/mildly interested/complimentary of the wonders of modern bracing devices. I’ve found that if people want to talk about it, they lead with complimenting my “jewelry” which gives me a chance to say “thanks! It’s actually bracing for my hands” and go from there.

    I know that I could choose to pretend it’s jewelry, but I work with a lot of teenagers and I feel like I have a good opportunity to educate them now, so that the next time they encounter this (like maybe with a coworker!) they will recognize what they are. Also, it gives an opportunity to clue them in to the fact that I do have a disability.

    The ring splints were expensive, and I was hesitant to purchase them. But they have been very helpful and I am happy to answer any questions anyone wants to ask!

    1. Fikly*

      What joints do you have splinted? My physical therapist has been talking about one for my thumbs, but the joint that subluxes is at the base, where it meets the palm, and I’ve heard those aren’t as successful.

      1. LilySparrow*

        IIRC from prior comments, it was a chronic health condition. A former coworker of mine has them for rheumatoid arthritis.

    2. Elizabeth West*

      The last time this came up in the comments, I googled those. I know they have a medical purpose, but it’s kinda neat that a lot of them also look like badass fantasy warrior / wizard adornments. :)

      1. Anono-me*

        I remember reading a few years ago about someone (I think it was on this site) who had bejeweled her ring splints. They sounded absolutely fantastic looking and she said she found them much more enjoyable to wear.

  34. Queer Earthling*

    So my metamour’s work had a potluck this week and apparently, multiple people brought ham, as well as pork sandwiches, pork loin, etc. for like fifteen people. So naturally, this reminded me of the terrible rudeness of bringing cheap ass rolls when someone is bringing Hawaiian rolls, which is clearly a bigger issue than several pigs’ worth of meat. I told him about it.

    “Nobody brought any rolls at all to this one,” he said, sadly, “unless they already had pork in them.”

    1. Three owls in a trench coat*

      Did you at least have some other side dishes or was it literally just pork? I suppose rolls with pork in them is better than no rolls at all.

      1. Queer Earthling*

        Oh, I didn’t attend, he just told us about it after the fact. They did have side dishes as well and he brought our shared partner’s excellent potato salad, but there was a truly staggering amount of pork. Life in SC, I guess.

    2. Gourmet Imposter Syndrome*

      Last weekend I wrote in asking for opinions about buying something to keep food warm for a potluck. My sister offered to let me borrow her slow cooker and I was going to do so. This was for a work holiday party potluck. It turned out that I didn’t have to bring anything because I was the only person in my work group who signed up to bring anything. The rest of the group decided to order pizza instead, so that’s what we did.

      My work group is kind of bunch of party poops. The other work groups had all ridiculously overdecorated their work areas for the holidays, but in my area, nothing. I finally broke down and spent about $20 at the the dollar store and bought and put up some cheap ass decorations. (Mostly snowmen, but also a single Santa Claus and a couple of small decorated Christmas trees.)

    3. Seeking Second Childhood*

      I told fmy 13yo the Hawaiian rolls story and after appreciating the absurdity, she said she has a friend allergic to pineapple. So cheap-ass rolls are safe for her to eat.

  35. Courageous cat*

    Ok, on the opposite angle of what someone upthread was saying…
    Anyone doing an anti-inflammatory diet? Haha.

    I have a variety of skin issues that started since I turned 30 (I’m 32 now) including an autoimmune-esque type of alopecia and a lot of random eczema in spots. I don’t know what’s going on to make my skin turn on me like this but I’m worried it’s my absolute shit diet, and I need to try something new.

    If anyone is on a restrictive diet (maybe low-fodmap would also help with this? I’m not sure) and has resources for things/meals/recipes to eat or sample meal plans, please share!

    1. Sutemi*

      I did a very strict elimination diet several years ago. It took almost 2 weeks for my system to clear out until I knew that there was a dietary trigger to my migraines. I added 3-4 new foods a week and eventually found out that I’m triggered by nightshade vegetables. While adding foods, I kept a notebook of what was allowed since it was opening up every few days. If you live/eat with a partner or family please also make plans for how they will eat. It was very difficult some days to watch my husband eat foods that I wasn’t yet allowed; cooking them would have been torture those days.

      Doing the elimination is very hard, especially in the early phases when you are most restricted. I suggest waiting until after the holidays for a time when you can eat home-cooked food entirely. You are right to plan out several recipes, I started with a very, very short list of approved foods and quickly became tired of them. What foods trigger our issues can be very individual so until you know your triggers it is difficult to suggest recipes.

      Take vitamins & minerals to supplement! I became anemic and didn’t realize it.

    2. LilySparrow*

      I tried some extremely restrictive diets for my chronic autoimmune/inflammation and got some relief.

      But in the long run, I found that the stress and behavioral impact of extreme restriction was counterproductive. It set me up for cycles of craving/bingeing “forbidden” foods, which gave me terrible flareups, worse than my ordinary “before” state.

      What worked a lot better was to

      a) overall significantly reduce / avoid processed foods – especially added sugar.

      b) cook most of my meals from scratch – plain “mom” cooking, not fancy gourmet stuff.

      c) eat a lot more fruits & veg – preferably 2 or 3 at every meal.

      This plan is a lot easier to stick to long-term. It’s not magical transformation in a week, but it adds up to lots more good days and lots less bad days over months and years.

    3. Hrovitnir*

      My only contribution here is that low FODMAP is highly unlikely to be relevant to eczema or similar. The evidence for low-FODMAP diets being helpful is patchy, but more importantly here, the concept behind it is the idea that some people may have difficulty breaking down a bunch of short-chain sugars the same way people who under-produce lactase cannot digest large amounts of lactose, leading to giving your gut flora a huge glut of food with which to produce gas (and hurt you!)

      If you’re wanting to try an elimination diet in response to possibly immune-mediated inflammation FODMAPs aren’t really the right place to look. Bearing in mind that stress is a well established contributor to systemic inflammation (ironic since it also increases cortisol production, which is anti-inflammatory… I don’t really know the mechanism): not that that’s easy to address!

      If you really want to try looking at your diet, I’d recommend analysing what you currently eat, and look at changing one thing (adding or subtracting) at a time. It generally takes 4-8 weeks to see if it’s helping when it’s a clearcut case of a food allergy, so it’s not something to rush; and sustainable changes take time to get used to anyway.

      I don’t know if that was in any way useful to you, but have my 2c. It’s very frustrating when you have nebulous health issues! Good luck.

  36. Curious about Cats*

    What’s everyone having for breakfast?

    I’m getting hungry and I can’t decide between eggs Benedict, from scratch banana pancakes or leftover lemon squares.

    1. Jdc*

      Have eggs Benedict for me! I’ve been craving it. I’ve been wanting a big burrito for weeks so that’ll be lunch today.

      1. Curious about Cats*

        I like your style! Currently munching on a lemon square while I look at my ingredients in the fridge. Hmm…

    2. Nicole76*

      I just fried an egg in olive oil instead of butter for the first time ever and was surprised how good it was!

      1. Elizabeth West*

        I never liked fried eggs cooked in butter or bacon grease because I don’t like it when they get crunchy. Then I tried frying them in a tiny bit of coconut oil and it worked so much better.

    3. bunniferous*

      Scrambled eggs with cut up cubes of ham and a crapload of cheese. Would have put in onions but hubby hates them. *burp*

    4. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      I had cereal and then an early lunch of fried shrimp and a baked potato, but if I had lemon squares all bets would have been off.

    5. Elizabeth West*

      I had what I usually have, plain Greek yogurt with honey, strawberries, and almonds. Another go-to is oatmeal with blueberries and almonds and a little milk and brown sugar. I feel better about buying the yogurt (it’s in plastic tubs) since this town at least has recycling and Relative does recycle.

    6. Forrest Rhodes*

      Fritatta: eggs; Spam cubes; brown onion; and fresh garlic, scallions, tomato, and yellow bell pepper.

    7. MinotJ*

      My favorite: leftovers in scrambled eggs. Last night I roasted new potatoes with crushed coriander, and delicata squash with rosemary and Asiago. This morning I chopped some leftovers, fried them a bit, then scrambled eggs into them. I’m nibbling on it at every work break.

  37. Ice Bear*

    This year I’ve gone through a major health crisis, and while I’m still in the midst of it, some things seem to be slowly improving somewhat. Because of this, I can’t help but get angry at people for having what are (now) to me petty complaints. Oh no, a car cut you off? Who cares? If you’re healthy you should be overjoyed and appreciate it! I know this isn’t very logical. After all, I once was that same person posting to FB about my own petty little grievances. I know it’s likely I’ll do it again someday if I make a full recovery too because things will go back to “normal”.

    I don’t even know what I’m trying to say here. Maybe looking for some commiseration that I’m not a terrible person for feeling angry and resentful that the worst thing that happened to someone today was someone was rude to them at the store when I’m struggling to feel like a person again. I’ve been unwell most of the year and have missed enjoying all the major holidays and am struggling to find light at the end of the tunnel. I never realized just HOW unfair life really is and really hate how much my eyes have been opened to the suffering that many people endure. It has not helped my anxiety or depression at all. I wish I could unlearn all the terrible things …

    1. Fikly*

      When you develop a major health situation, and your life is changed in the long term, or forever, there’s a grieving process. Anger is part of that.

        1. Fikly*

          Different approaches, same message!

          I have found it extremely helpful to recognize that grieving is both valid and very important for things other than death. When your future changes from what you thought it would be, you grieve the future self you had imagined. Parents who learn their child has a disability go through this as well, they grieve the future they had imagined for their child.

    2. Anon woman with breast cancer*

      You are “not a terrible person for feeling angry and resentful that the worst thing that happened to someone today was someone was rude to them at the store when I’m struggling to feel like a person again.”

      You are a person, with emotions and has gone thru and is going thru a major health crisis, and you are uncertain when you will recover fully. You are facing this with strength, and you may have had the same kind of reactions I have had – since I was diagnosed with breast cancer this year. These reactions may have included facing your own mortality, family issues related to that, and what really matters. Jackholes in traffic are omnipresent (thru-out the multi-verse I am sure), and people who have these reactions to them so much so that they complain on social media …. well …. one day they might have bigger things to worry about, too. Many of our lives are comfortable enough to afford us time to complain about jackholes in traffic on FB – until they aren’t.

      Others of us, many of whom are commenters here too, have been gifted with a more ‘immediate’ sense of reality and, again, what matters, to us as people – people with friends and families and pets and lives that we aren’t ready to give up on, even with this new ‘bump in the road’ health issue.

      The anger is (or was, in my case after my diagnosis, YMMV) partially related to fear, partially related to a sense that things are not fair, and partially related to wondering if there is enough strength inside of one’s self to say “F.U.” to the health issue and, ‘I will win this thing, you lumpy bastard.’ After that tho – you manage. A day at a time. A night at a time. You cope with counselling and medicine for the anxiety and depression (I hope you can access these!). You are getting thru this. You have made progress this year. You are in fact, looking forward to griping about a jackhole in traffic – that is a good thing! – and the fact is, that yes, this is not something that happened to you – it is a gift to make you realise others’ suffering too, and that there are much bigger things out there for us to tackle, than the jackhole in traffic. :)

      Look, I have not had depression formally diagnosed, personally. I have had a lot of dark days and frustrations and a lot of anxiety in my life that I have learned how to manage (cognitive behavioural therapy and drugs and exercise and nature). I don’t know you, but you can try to turn this around – you have the motivation to unlearn these things you mention and you also have a chance now to decide you will be different – because you are strong, because you have had to deal with this sh!t this year, and because you sound like a genuinely decent human asking tough questions based. on a new perspective.

      In the past few months I have had a couple of pretty low points dealing with breast cancer. My counsellor and I talk about this and one thing she said to me at the start of this was (in summary): ‘You have to focus on you now. Your healing. Your health. Your needs. Your strength. Your boundaries. Plans don’t matter for next year, yet. You will have some friends and family that step up to the plate and are kind and un-intrusive. You will have others you will have to limit and set boundaries with – they have their own baggage around health, around cancer, around mortality, etc. Take this time to reflect, read, learn, meditate, and if need be, give no F’s about stupid stuff.’

      I have learned in the past few month who the good people are around me, who are the people who stress me out too much, and who are the ones who are negtitve and do nothing but complain about ….jackholes in traffic, etc. The ones I cherish now are the ones who are kind, do not push, text and chat, and can laugh with me about the now-smaller (yay chemo!) lumpy bastard in my boob and how my bald head is apparently quite round and ‘normal’. I appreciate my friends and family that pray for me (I am an atheist), it is their faith and yes, to me, their caring for me thru prayer does make a difference to me. I appreciate the walks I can do when it is nice out, and the small things like the sunshine on the walk to the local grocery.

      You are not terrible, you are not bad for being angry with petty people. It is a natural reaction coming from your point of view and the gift of having a more immediate perspective on what really matters. Be kind to yourself, limit your social media (unfollow people, add social accounts that bring you joy – here are a few I love: ‘Thoughts of Dog’, ‘UPS Dogs’ (more than just dogs), any travel or beach account that shows bright blue water, palms, etc.)…and read for pleasure if you can.

      I wish you much light, kindness, and genuine empathy – and a better 2020 and that you can get thru these last 10 days of 2019 with calm and the knowledge that you are a warrior. And there is a lot in your life, I imagine, that is worth fighting for.

    3. TL -*

      Sometimes you’re not in a place to listen to complaints about something and that’s okay.
      My best friend has her first child while I was working at a cancer hospital. I didn’t work with patients but I walked by the children’s ward a lot. One day she was panicking about her child’s cold and I read the text at the exact same moment I walked by an infant undergoing chemo being comforted by their parents. And I just couldn’t that day so I didn’t respond until I could.

      She was a new mom and deserved sympathy for her kid’s sickness and a space to panic and freak out, but right then I just couldn’t be that person.

      She’s since said sometimes I’m not the person to talk to when she’s panicking parenting stuff and I’m like, yup that is fair. I mentioned the above story as an example of a time when I was not good about parenting stuff and her response was “well the doctor said if it was any worse he’d have to go to the hospital.” The story I got at the time was that the doctor said, “normal baby sickness” and after friend (who has a habit of going to worse case scenario) asked, doctor said “worse case scenario he has to go to hospital for treatment but very unlikely” – but baby got no medical intervention and the cold got significantly better by the next day.

      My friend has a habit of taking stories where everything turned out okay and rewriting them so it’s “we were one step away from complete disaster” to justify how anxious she feels/felt (she’s in treatment for anxiety now because it’s gotten a lot worse with kids.)

      Normally that doesn’t bother me, but sometimes I just can’t be supportive when she has two healthy, happy kiddos and she’s panicking about minor illnesses – but she still deserves to get upset and panic about her children! So best solution has been for her to talk to her mom friends about some parenting stuff.

      Point being, sometimes you just can’t, and that’s fine. They can find someone who can (and it’s fine to take a break from social media if it helps!)

    4. Anon Phd*

      Aww, you know what, I am in generally good health and also get mad at people having petty crises over irrelevant crap…i.e. a coworker who’s making a huge problem and getting overwhelmed about of the fact that the CAD drawings for her custom diamond necklace came with errors (I wish I was making this up…). Fikly put it well in their comment about anger, it sounds accurate to me. I wish you all the best in your ongoing recovery and that you in the near future get to be angry about a car cutting you off.

    5. Anonymatic Yo-Yo*

      I hear you. I was a few days out of diagnosis when a coworker came up complaining she didn’t want to present part of something we did together because she ‘doesnt like presenting.’ I remember thinking gee, you want to hear my complaint? I was angry and upset for a good few weeks, trying to find the bottom of the bad news that just kept coming. I remember in the midst of all this I was walking somewhere with my partner who was getting upset, yet again, at people bumping into him or looking at their phones on the sidewalk. I completely lost my shit at him and told him in no uncertain terms was that stupid stress ever allowed into our house again. That there were bigger things to worry about now.

      I spent a lot of time grieving my old life, and when acceptance of my situation started to come, things have been easier. A month after diagnosis my pelvis fractured – I got sent to the hospital for monitoring and there was a wardmate in a much, much worse position, and it made my (completely valid) concerns and anxieties seem trivial. I had nothing else to do for four days but reflect and I realized I was grieving not only for the loss of my future, but also for the loss of that last bit of innocence and being unfairly faced with truth about mortality and the end of life facts, way before time. Its almost like being invisibly marked. Acceptance has brought comfort, however, and I’ve finally learned to let things roll off my back, take care of myself first, and focus on the now – no need to borrow worry from the future.

      It IS ok to have a bad day, and to struggle too, and to feel like nothing will ever be better again, especially when health problems have been going on a while. I still can’t walk without crutches which means I haven’t been able to engage much with the holiday season and have to rely on partner to do a lot of things. Some days it gets me down and I cry over the frustration. But I also look at how far I’ve come since the hospital, since the treatment was done, and remind myself that tomorrow is another day that could be completely different to today, with moments of joy or new physical milestones to be proud of. Is there someone in your life who can remind you of milestones you’ve passed? Or how much strength youve shown this year?

      1. Anon woman with breast cancer*

        +1 to this especially: “Acceptance has brought comfort, however, and I’ve finally learned to let things roll off my back, take care of myself first, and focus on the now – no need to borrow worry from the future.”

        Much light and healing and strength to you, too, Anonymatic Yo-Yo. Well stated. Wishing you many milestones passed as we head into 2020, and much luck.

    6. NoLongerYoung*

      You have commiseration. Many great points above, so I will only let you know that I have a lot of empathy. As a caregiver for someone who died of cancer, as the survivor of very hard things personally, and as somoe also working to recover from the complete betrayal of trust… some days it is hard to listen to family whine about the “problems” of an active grandchild (when I will never have one) or how hard it is to get spouse to listen (when mine is in ashes).

      Grief is for so much more than just death. A big ah-ha for me was realizing how much grief all the losses added up to. Sending hug.

    7. Not So NewReader*

      OP, slide over and I will sit down and cry with you. You are exactly correct, there are so many people out there who are really suffering.

      You know that the suffering of others is a “worry about later thing”, right? Once we see this we never forget, so you won’t forget. Since you are really suffering, your top priority now is staying safe and working on your urgent matters here. When you get to a bit better place THEN you can dig to the next layer of this and turn to help people in the ways you can.

      There are two things that jump at me here.
      As others have mentioned this is grief, this is what grief looks like. Anger, depression, sadness, ugh, it’s all over the map. And other people can seem extra annoying for many reasons. There’s some really good books on grief out there, OP. It’s just a good investment of time to read one or two. Learn the stages of grief (you can be in more than one stage at the same time); learn the symptoms of grief (irregular heart beats, too much sleep, can’t sleep, etc.) and learn how grief manifests. Anger is a stage of grief. If the doc lets ya, put up a punching bag if you need to. Because you ARE correct, life IS unfair, life HURTS, people can be OBLIVIOUS… I could go on here but you already know this stuff.

      The only thing I have ever come up with in regard to “the car cut me off” people, is that not everyone is articulate in explaining what is going on. Sometimes, “I am losing my house, my parent is dying, my boss put me on PIP” comes out as “a car cut me off today”. We don’t know what is just below this very tame “problem”. We can sometimes think that life is a piece of cake for someone but we don’t always know the real truth. That car cutting them off could have been their last straw for the day or for the month.

      So from a practical stand point, all you see is them talking about a car cutting them off. You do not have to console them. You do not even have to acknowledge the concern. Nor should you. We have lots of people on this planet and it is definitely okay to let someone else handle these types of things with that person or anyone else.

      What you do need to do is look at your grieving process. You are carrying enough of an emotional load right now, it is not reasonable to expect that you would be able to help someone else carry theirs. As you read through these grief books you find handy-to-know stuff. For example, crying creates a chemical reaction in the brain that helps the brain to stay healthy. My friend was just commenting she had a good solid cry the other day over a long-running family matter and the next day she felt better. I could see she felt better in what she thought of to say, she was indeed doing better. I talked with my friend about how we have tears for a reason and it’s okay to allow tears to help us through things.

      You are definitely not a terrible person. AT ALL!!! Matter of fact, you are a pretty normal human being. When we face struggles on a day-to-day level, our emotions change, our empathy changes, everything changes. And all this IS necessary to help us stay focused and SURVIVE. You are still you. And in some ways you are setting the course for being an even better you. Trust that your mind and your focus are set to protect you through these times here. (Yes, survival mode. It happens.) Try not to be too hard yourself about the “car-cut-me-off” people, meaning, try not to dwell on them. Allow these thoughts to go through your head and just tell yourself, “Yep. That is true, bad drivers happen but it’s not a major thing on my plate right now.” Acknowledge your thought/feeling and let it glide on. Instead of stopping your process, allow it to move forward and use simple acknowledgements to help. Trust that your thoughts/perceptions/concerns are there for a reason even if that reason is not clear to you ATM.

      1. StrikingFalcon*

        It’s helpful to remind yourself that the worst thing in their life might not be the car cutting them off. I’ve lived with chronic pain for 15 years now, and yeah, when I’m in pain I get a lot more irritated by the little things. But I don’t talk about the big things – the pain, the worry about the future with a progressive and incurable disease, the difficulty in coping with daily life, how fucking unfairly difficult life can be – with acquaintances. But I might complain about the car. And maybe that car cutting me off sent me into a panic attack because I was in a horrible, life changing accident several years ago. I likely wouldn’t mention that either. Sometimes I just want to vent a bit about the one thing that’s socially acceptable to be annoyed about in public. You can’t know, and when you’re feeling angry about the bigger problems in life, it can sometimes help to remind yourself that maybe they have big, terrible things in their lives too. Even if it’s not true, it can help you can keep a little compassion, and get through the interaction without snapping.

        I hope you recover fully soon, and things get better for you. It’s okay to be angry.

  38. Tis the season*

    Whenever we get together for the holidays, my older sister seems to enjoy embarrassing me in front of family and friends. She randomly brings up stories from the past and makes remarks about me. For example, she often tells people about the time I left the front door open and the cat got out or how I accidentally forgot to open the flue on the fireplace. How do I handle this? I’m caught off guard by all of this so I just ignore her comments and stories, but that doesn’t seem to help the situation. I don’t want to stoop to her level either or insult her back. What is a tactful way to put an end to her stories and comments?

    1. fposte*

      You may not be able to; changing somebody else completely if they don’t want to change is hard. You can reframe her comments: “Bless, Jane, you are really good at remembering childhood minutiae. Let’s talk about something more recent–how are the kids/school/whatever?” It is highly likely that people listening to her think she is weirdly invested in a kid leaving a damper shut. People leave dampers shut all the time.

      If you think she’d listen, talk to her outside of the dinner. “For the last few dinners, it seems like you’ve wanted to make a point of telling stories about errors from my childhood. Can you give that a rest? Or, alternatively, talk to me about what’s really bothering you?”

    2. General von Klinkerhoffen*

      She isn’t telling a story about you. She’s telling a story about remembered-child-Tis.

      Although the stories might be tiresome to you, she may be doing it as a form of showing affection and kinship. Is she generally more affectionate and sisterly than mean?

      “Ugh, knock it off, Sister. We’ve heard this story ten times before. So how ’bout that subject change?”

      Maybe a review of Captain Awkward’s back catalogue on faaaaaaaaamily might help you with scripts and perspectives to make you feel less uncomfortable and picked on.

      1. Anon Phd*

        I wish I could give your advice after I’ve witnessed a similar scenario to what OP described, at a family friends’ home where their adult children do this to one of the siblings…uggh.
        (Aside – love your reference to Allo Allo in your nickname)

    3. Parenthetically*

      Well, the great news is you’re not caught off guard by them this time, you’re anticipating her weirdness and can be ready for it!

      I don’t know about ending the stories and comments, but you can certainly reframe them, both for yourself and for others — interrupt her and say in the most bored tone possible, “Yes, sis, I left the front door open and the cat got out when I was twelve, isn’t that hilarious,” or “Yes, imagine forgetting to open the flue, what a classic family anecdote to be repeated at every gathering,” followed by a subject change — isn’t the ham delicious this year; do tell us all about Nephew’s college campus visits, Aunt Didi, isn’t out-of-state tuition just unbelievable these days; pass the mashed potatoes, Dad. Because really, it IS boring. Who on earth is just dying for a recitation of anyone’s mundane mistakes?

      You could also, if you’re comfortable, laugh indulgently and say, “It’s so weird that you bring that story up every single time we get together!” or “Oh, there you go with that silly cat story again! Pretty sure everyone has it memorized by now as many times as you’ve repeated it!” The tone you’re going for here is “bless your heart, what a funny quirk of yours!” Bottom line is that you can return the awkwardness to sender. Your sister is being weird, repetitive, and boring, and you can definitely underline that rather than feeling like it’s making YOU look weird.

      Good luck!

    4. Nicole76*

      Remember: this is about HER, not you, even though the stories revolve around you. I’m guessing there’s a few reasons this happens every holiday:

      1) It’s her weird way of showing kinship like General von Klinkerhoffen said. If she is otherwise kind and caring toward you, I would assume this and frame it that way so it doesn’t bother you.

      2) She feels insecure and tells these stories to make herself feel better.

      3) She has some unresolved anger toward you letting the cat out and this is how it’s expressed.

      In any scenario, it’s really not about you at all. This is hard to remember, trust me, as I struggle with the same thing when it comes to my family, but maybe if you remember this, it will reduce the aggravation a bit.

      Also, and this is me being a bit petty, you could just go along with it and laugh and act like you enjoy the stories, which, if she’s trying to bother you, will just aggravate her! Haha. Don’t do this…. or maybe do this. ;)

    5. Sherm*

      How is your relationship with her in general? If it’s warm and positive, consider the possibility that her aim is good-natured teasing. If you still don’t like it at all, tell her discreetly. Someone who is understanding should knock it off.

      If, however, there is more of a toxic bullying situation going on…well, let me tell you: I tried to deal with a family bully for years and years, and I tried sooooo many things. Telling bully to stop? Didn’t work. Appealing to bully’s empathy? Didn’t work. Try to act bored and disinterested? Didn’t work. The ONLY thing that worked, after countless years and countless attempts, is to hit (figuratively) back. “Hey Sherm, remember the time you let the cat out?” Response: “Hey Bully, remember the time you stepped in dog poo and tracked it all over the house?” Bully haaaaates it and collapses like a house of cards in a tornado. It’s not the nicest thing, but really, does bully deserve any better?

    6. C Average*

      Have you asked her to stop?

      My mom used to do this, and I finally said something to her like, “I’m sure you don’t realize it, but I find it super uncomfortable to hear awkward kid stories starring me on a regular basis when I’m with you. It happens often enough that I start to wonder if you think I haven’t done anything interesting since I was ten and put doll clothes on the cat. Can you do me a favor and not tell embarrassing kid stories about me, at least when I’m around? I’d really appreciate it.”

      My mother is not always the most reasonable person in the world, but when I asked her to stop, she actually stopped. Maybe you’ve already tried this; if not, it’s worth a shot.

    7. Blue Eagle*

      My friend’s sister used to tell stories on her that drove my friend nuts. So when I was there I would always add to the stories – – – “hey sis, you didn’t tell what happened next.” Then I would make something up that was offbeat, odd, way over the top, etc. Her sister would always give me an odd look but would shut up. Finally my friend started doing the same thing and her sister stopped telling stories. The point is that instead of being nice and trying to redirect, trying to get the sister to stop telling the stories, etc my friend said something more outrageous – and obviously untrue – so people just kind of ignored what the sister said too. Well, YMMV but this worked for her.

    8. Not So NewReader*

      Agreeing with the examples others have given here.

      I had a family member who used to scream out the word “EMBARRASSING” when I had a bad moment. I do mean scream, too. Since she did it enough times, I was able to figure out a plan to handle it. So sure enough the day came where I dropped my hot chocolate or whatever stupid thing and she screamed, “EMBARRASSING!” I turned to her and in a very calm voice said, “The only thing embarrassing here is you screaming “embarrassing” at the top of your lungs. Everyone else seems to be aware that spills happen so they just clean them up without screaming. You are the only person screaming here.”
      And that was the end of that.(We were kids, but we were old enough to know how to hand stuff.)

      When people have repeated poor behaviors they give us an opportunity to plan how to handle that behavior. Practice in front of the mirror if that helps. PLAN that she will say something at some point. And then deliver your line.
      I know I went through stuff with this family member. I would get her away from one habit and she’d start a new one. So I had to figure out how to handle that new one.

    9. Auntie Social*

      Screw tactful, I’d call her out in front of everyone. “You tell the cat story or the flue story every year, so what do you want to say? Really want to say?? Because this is the last time you bring up ANY of those stories. We all have stories like that. I have enough class not to do that to you but you don’t, so what do you want to say? ‘Cause it’s every year.”

  39. The Original K.*

    I’m going to be deep in the last-minute Christmas shopping chaos this afternoon. I need wrapping paper, to buy food for the holiday meal, and to pick up one more gift. Cross your fingers that it goes smoothly and fast!

    1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      I got in and out of the mall in under an hour this afternoon! And with only two extra unplanned presents to boot! Luck!

    2. nep*

      Good luck. I did a Shipt shop at Meijer then grabbed a few of my own things at Target this afternoon. It was crowded, but not too bad. A lot of smiles exchanged with shoppers and store staff alike, so that was nice.

      1. The Original K.*

        I actually had a lovely chat with a man in line in front of me who spent the whole time bragging on his grown kids and his grandkids. He was so proud! It was really nice.

  40. Lost in the Woods*

    I’ve been thinking about this patient sine Wednesday, and I can’t get him out of my head, so a sort-of PSA: If you or a friend or family member has diabetes, PLEASE try to get an annual dilated eye exam, or encourage them to get one, even a cursory one at a local health fair. We had a young patient this week who had really really bad diabetic retinopathy (proliferative, with edema, which is basically when fluid leaks out of all these malformed blood vessels, lifts up the retina and causes vision loss). This kid just sat there shaking while the doctor told him very kindly but firmly that yes, there are treatments and we would do everything we could, but that there is a significant possibility that he will loose vision or go blind. He hadn’t had an eye exam in 3 years due to expense. It probably could have been prevented by closer monitoring (if the retinopathy had been caught before it went proliferative, if it had been caught before fluid buildup started and he started to have vision changes). Our medical system is so messed up and broken, and it has such horrible human cost. It makes me sick.

    1. General von Klinkerhoffen*

      Oh, that’s heartbreaking. When you consider that preventative medicine is usually cheaper than curative, too.

      1. Fikly*

        And there is the inherent problem in having many many health insurance plans/companies in one system. Because while preventative care is almost always cheaper, in the long run, when these insurances can expect that you will no longer be covered by them by the time the expensive long term consequences arrive, they have no economic incentive to cover preventative care.

        1. valentine*

          What might help here is to create a pay-it-forward fund so that your patients who have money can pay for the exams of those who don’t. Or if you show the patients how to apply for aid or even fill out paperwork for them. Because if there is no money, then there is no money, regardless of the importance of prevention, and the eye doctors in my area want payment on the day. One of them wants to have a card on file or to charge a card before the exam, when they don’t even know what it’ll cost.

    2. WellRed*

      I do get regular exams and this is the first year a tiny bit of concern cropped up. It’s scary stuff! In general not just to me.

    3. nep*

      That is heartbreaking. People need to hear more about this on-the-ground, in-the-trenches agony that goes on–and what patients and caregivers go through–because of how messed up our medical care system is.
      Thanks for what you do, and thanks for the PSA.

    4. Aurora Leigh*

      I feel so bad for that boy! And also his parents — diabetes can be so expensive (the cost of insulin can be absolutely crippling even with insurance). They probably though skipping the vision test would be okay since he wasn’t having any vision trouble. I can’t imagine how much guilt I would feel in that scenario.

      Something has to change regarding healthcare here. It is broken on so many levels.

    5. NeverNicky*

      That’s awful.

      Out of interest, how much is an eye exam?

      Eye tests here (UK) are about £20 at the major chains and include retinal photo etc so they are relatively affordable for many people. And people with diabetes are entitled to free tests (as are certain other groups of people).

      I guess under the NHS prevention absolutely makes sense but in a profit based system there’s less motivation.

      1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        they actually can be had for reasonable prices, in my experience. but also a lot of people just don’t go to the eye doctor if they’re not having eye problems. I go yearly because I’ve had glasses since I was 5 and my mom has a genetic eye condition that’s autosomal dominant and tends to pop up around the early 40s (and I just turned 39), but if those two things weren’t the case, I could totally see it not being on my radar.

      2. Natalie*

        Around here you can get one with dilation for about $100. That’s a lot of money to many people on its own, never mind if they are going broke paying for insulin. Plus, there’s a psychological barrier to getting preventive screening if you feel like you won’t be able to afford to fix anything they find – why find out about bad stuff you can’t do anything about?

        Finally, I’ve noticed a lot of Americans don’t think of dental or eye as “medical care” even though there’s no inherent reason they should be separate. Because of how our dumb insurance system developed, though, they are, so it’s not always in someone’s mind as a routine screening exam they should get. (I think you could even make an argument that they’re more useful than an annual physical for asymptomatic people, shrug.)

        1. Lost in the Woods*

          Yeah, about $100 self-pay. The coding is really screwy, because things can go through either medical or routine vision insurance. If you don’t have a medical complaint, then it will basically have to go through vision (or self pay), since refractive codes like myopia (nearsightedness) or hyperopia (farsightedness) aren’t billable under medical insurance. If you have a medical issue and it requires imaging of any kind (for example, if you’re a glaucoma suspect due to suspicious optic nerves and family history and thus need an OCT of the optic nerve to determine if your tissue is thinning), then it has to got through medical insurance. If you do have a medical complaint and a refractive code but you don’t have imaging, then it can be run through either.

          One unfortunate aspect of this is that this particular patient might need to be on anti-VEGF injections for a significant amount of time in addition to needing laser and possibly a vitrectomy, which is going to mean that he’ll need to see a retina specialist for the rest of his life. This will ultimately cost a huge amount more than routine screenings with an optometrist ever would, but the psychological barrier and the non-upfront nature of that cost meant that that was definitely not apparent to him.

    6. Wishing You Well*

      I am very sorry and, yes, the U.S. health system is VERY broken.
      The top cause of adult-onset blindness is diabetes. Also, feet of diabetic patients should be inspected every year. (My diabetic friend’s feet are numb. So she needs to inspect her feet for problems.)
      I am sorry.

  41. BuildMeUp*

    **Warning for pet death**

    I had to say goodbye to my cat last night. He had cancer and developed an infection and nothing was working. He stopped eating and drinking and was clearly in pain, so I called an in-home euthanasia service. I know I made the right decision, but I’m having a really hard time dealing with it. I need to get through a work event this afternoon, and then I’m going home for Christmas tomorrow, so at least I can get out of the apartment for a while.

    I don’t know. He was only nine, and just got diagnosed a few weeks ago. I really thought we would have more time.

    1. Selmarie*

      I’m so sorry for your loss. I still miss the three cats I’ve had to say goodbye to. It only hurts this much because you love him that much. I recommend writing him a letter about all of the cute and quirky things he did, all the stories you shared, like when he first came to live with you, etc. Anyway, that’s what’s helped me feel a slight bit better; it’s both a memorial and a way of not forgetting and when you re-read it later, happy remembering. Take care of yourself, and hang out with people who understand.

    2. nep*

      So deeply sorry for your loss. That pain is deep and stinging indeed. Great that you were able to do an at-home service. Holding you in thoughts. Wishing you peace.

    3. NoLongerYoung*

      Sending a hug. Looking back, the goodbyes for the doggo I thought I’d have much longer, was the hardest. I’m so very sorry. Life cut short.

    4. Sam I Am*

      So sorry to hear about your loss. It sucks when making the right decision is still making what feels like a crappy move, but you did well by your friend.

  42. NeverNicky*

    UK civil partners… can you share about your ceremony experiences?

    It’s now legal in the UK for non-same sex couples to be joined as civil partners rather than be married. And same sex partners can be married or civilly partnered. Still some way to go on religious gay marriages until full parity so two cheers, I guess.

    I was never going to have a religious marriage and even a civil marriage was problematic and somewhat loaded with baggage.

    So I’m delighted to have this option to have my commitment to Mr NN (and his to me) recognised in law, and to ensure stuff like inheritance and pension rights and all the dull but vital stuff is made a bit easier.

    But I’ve never been to a civil partnership ceremony so I have no clue as to what they are like. What happens? I understand there’s elements you can personalise but we’ve been thinking that the less we make it like a traditional wedding the more we’d like it – how feasible is that?

    And for those who had a civil partnership, did it feel “real” or did it feel sevond class in some way – did you have a marriage ceremony when that became legal?

    (And do feel free to add soppy love story bits, we need all the love we can in the UK at the moment)

    1. Jenny*

      A good friend had a civil partnership – to be honest, I’d say it was like a wedding. Wedding venue outdoors in a lovely garden, brides walked up the aisle accompanied by bridesmaids, ceremony conducted by celebrant, readings from members of the party, kiss, photos, big party.
      I got married in a registry office and I wonder if that’s more what you’re after? We walked in together, about 10 guests, had the ceremony which lasts about 10 mins, and left. No kiss, no readings, no speech or sermon – just the legal ceremony and a meal afterwards. Ultimately, you do have to do the legal ceremony as per the law, so you might be better doing that separately and then celebrating with a personal event.

      1. Jenny*

        Oh, and my friends had the marriage afterwards when that became legal, but did what I did – registry office and a meal.

        I’m afraid I couldn’t tell you any romantic stories – the marriages were followed by the normal level of difficulty, sadness and struggles that happen in life. One couple got through it and one didn’t, and the weddings now feel pretty irrelevant.

  43. Hamster*

    Hi everyone,

    I posted last week about freaking out and stressing over my pregnancy. Everyone had great advice, as usual, so thank you!

    This week was a bit easier. I hit 7w. I saw the maternal fetal medicine specialist/high risk dr., and he was able to alleviate a lot of my concerns. We did an ultrasound first and they found the heartbeat. The tech turned on the speaker and I was actually able to hear it for the first time. It was such a beautiful sound. The Dr talked with me for about an hour, which is more than any Dr has ever spent with me. He ordered like 12 bottles worth of bloodwork from me bc he wanted to rule out any other reason for my prior 3 losses. NO DOCTOR HAS EVER DONE THAT. They always dismissed me as overweight/uncontrolled diabetes… no one ever questioned that there may be something else. When I asked about the low heart rate (106-116 at 6w) he said don’t get caught up in that..heartbeat or no heartbeat. He asked me to come back in one month which I’m told by friends who went there that it’s a good sign he doesn’t need me to come in sooner.

    He did say coffee, limited soda exercise and travel are OK so I have my trip to look forward to.

    I’m trying to take it day by day and not have any negative feelings,

    1. Parenthetically*

      I am SO GLAD you found a doctor to listen to you, and huge congrats on hearing a heartbeat — that’s always my favorite part. And yep, it’s “normal” to have those first few early OB visits monthly, and I’d also definitely find it reassuring that he sees things as “normal” enough to keep you on that kind of schedule! :)

    2. The German Chick*

      I’ve been thinking of you. It’s a scary couple of weeks.
      I’m sure many readers here root for you as well. Hope you and the baby will be okay.

    3. Marzipan*

      That is a great update and I’m glad the doctor was so reassuring and helpful. Thinking of you and wishing you a peaceful and healthy pregnancy.

  44. Randomity*

    Anyone else excited about the final Mr Robot double episode?? Only 32 or so hours to go at the time of me writing…

  45. I'm A Little Teapot*

    I got a new kitty!!!! Her name is Jill, she’s 8.5 years old, black and white. She’s quite shy and timid, so it’s not surprising that she’s camped out in the box I closed up and cut holes in the side. Other kitty Arwen saw her being brought in, and approached quite cautiously to sniff, but there was no hissing or growling.

    I’m home for 2 weeks on holiday/PTO, so hopefully can get Jill settled in and comfortable and start introductions between the two. But we’ll see how Jill does.

    1. Creapy Arms*

      I just got a new kitty 4 days ago. She runs thru the house but won’t come to me. She hides all day but does come out for can food. And she meows really loud at 4 to 6 in the morning. Please give me some advice. She is using her litter box. I haven’t had a cat in 40 yrs. so I’m new to this. Her name is Missy and she is just over a yr. old. The person she was living with had to go into a home.

      1. Red Sky*

        My most recent foster cat took about 2-3 weeks before he became comfortable enough to hang out in the same room as me. For this particular kitty, it was finding a favorite toy that I could play with him with that seemed to do the trick. He gained confidence in his hunting abilities and started to associate me with fun activities, not just getting medicine and having to go in the crate to the vet. He really likes the laser dot (which I use sparingly) and a wand squeaker toy. He still wont let me pick him up, but he’ll come up for a cuddle on the couch when everything is still and quiet.

      2. I'm A Little Teapot*

        First, don’t respond when she’s talking in the morning (yes, I know that’s hard, but think toddler. Any attention is better than none.)

        I would close off parts of the house. She’s not comfortable yet, that’s why she’s hiding. Make her world smaller so she can get comfortable, then start expanding it piece by piece. If possible, the room that she lives in should be your bedroom. This is because a sleeping human is about as nonthreatening as you can get which will give you a head start on her getting to like you. As she gets comfortable in the space, open up more spaces until she’s got full run of the house.

        You also need to just hang out with her. Sit and read a book or whatever you normally would do. Offer her treats – start near her, then slowly put them closer to you. You’re trying to convince her that you’re safe and she can bond with you, and she’s going to be quite skeptical. You have to earn it. This takes time.

        Realistically, she’ll probably be comfortable in the house before she is with you. That’s ok, you’re in it for the long haul. The key is to be consistent – you’re feeding her, you’re playing with her, you’re petting her, and not being scary or hurting her, etc. You will win her over.

  46. Sparrow*

    I’m in the middle of my holiday/Christmas/New Year’s card writing today. This is the first year I’m doing my own cards and I am really enjoying the process. I’m finding that it’s helping me feel and express gratitude for each connection I have in my life, from the people I haven’t spoken to in a while (college friends who live across the country) to the people I see often. In an age where so much communication is digital and yet it’s so easy to feel lonely and disconnected, especially for young single people, I hope this is a tradition that I can maintain for years to come. Is anyone else working on holiday cards today? How do you feel about them?

    1. Aurora Leigh*

      I love Christmas cards! I did my own for 2 years, but the last 2 years I have not, so much life stuff has been going on. But I want to send them again for Christmas 2020. It seems like fewer people do them every year ($0.50/stamp may be part of it). So far we’ve only rec’d one this year.

  47. Dating help needed anon*

    Now…the other matter is the matter of cute coworker Jeff. The timing btw the Dan thing and the Jeff thing is well, overlapping haha. I had lunch at work with Jeff on Tues, that was also the day I sent Dan the breakup text and finally blocked him. On Wed, Jeff asked me, over tea at work, if I’d be interested in going out some time after xmas. I was GIDDY when he did, I answered YES right away with zero hesitation. I’m definitely attracted to him, he is nice and cute and well dressed. I’m not 100% sure if he is slightly self-absorbed or not, I got maybe a hint of that over lunch (he doesn’t seem to be asking that many questions about me…), but I guess that’s what a date is for, right, to find out? However, a few hours after agreeing to the date I was freaking out inside…I’m still on the job hunt and possibly looking at jobs in a city several hours away (though those particular jobs might take a while to even get an interview, I’m targeting some fed govt positions, but I’m also looking locally in my big city), I am figuring out what new hobbies to try, focusing on my personal life and health after a long period of studying and working at the same time. I was debating (internally) if maybe a date, a few weeks Dan nonsense is maybe too soon? And I keep thinking…am I ready for a relationship?? But at the same time, I don’t know the guy well enough to even decide that, and I would like to go on this date. The fact that he’s a co-worker, may be at play in this emotional back and forth. Our workplace and the atmosphere of constant pressure are enough to make me batty on a regular day (very non-solid future at this place and at times, reorgs, restructuring you name it), never mind adding dating to that. His living with his mom at the age of 32 still may also be a factor (don’t know all the circumstances with this living situation but I intend to find out), his friendships at work that have connections to my boss may also be a factor(though he’s been gently making a point that he’s not really that close friends with those guys). Jeff seems sweet, he already tentatively planned an activity for our date, even emailed me with links for me to choose from (sooo sweet!), he’s brought me tea to have with my lunch. I’ll add that this week was tough on me energy-wise – every single day after a full work day I had either a career-related appointment or coffee or a doctor’s appt, which was me trying to cram too much into a week; I was anxious about this week even a week before. I am still recovering after what my doc calls being “wiped out”, having been through finishing grad school while working this year. I am overcoming residual anxiety from that experience, which still results in bouts of IBS too..these symptoms vanish when I take vacations, but given student debt that I also have, the vacations cannot be frequent. I have a new therapist (who’s on vacation, but this one seems to finally ‘get’ what I need), and a good exercise program (which, if I don’t do regularly, my anxiety increases), so I think I am well covered. Have any of you been through this…this “oh boy what if” about a date, without a super clear reason for it? Or is all that I listed above adding to the reasons? I didn’t realize I can write this much and here we are…Thanks for reading if you do.

    1. Dating help needed anon*

      So, it seems I accidentally deleted what was supposed to be the first part of the comment. In summary, for those kind souls helped me out last week, I ended things with Dan, who after three dates, kept acting like we had a long term relationship and kept pressuring me via txt to have one last coffee with him so he can have closure. He even said that our separation was giving him an anxiety attack and that he was on some behavior-altering meds…good heavens, he is out of my life. So up above I am asking for insight / advice about cute Jeff and my fretting.

      1. valentine*

        Yay to 86ing Dan.

        Yay to Jeff asking you out.

        Try not to put Jeff on a pedestal or give him a ton of points for basic courtesy like giving you a choice (see the thread above about the escape room). Go on the date with the sole goal of having fun. If it’s great and he asks, say you’d like to go out again. If it’s anything but great, say you’ll get back to him because I think you are one who likes to deliberate, yeah? Also, Jeff may be self-absorbed and a great or good date. You don’t need to pledge your lives to each other. Just look to have a good time.

        Conduct your job search as if there’s no Jeff (because he has not earned status as a factor in your life events). You can have various threads happening: job search, dating, other stuff without having to connect them.

        I hope you have a good time with Jeff.

        1. Dating help needed anon*

          Hi, wow, thanks so very much for replying in the wee hours of the morning :) :) :). It’s a good and healthy reminder not to put Jeff on a pedestal, thanks for that, it gives me good perspective.

          Yup, you are intuitive and insightful..I am totally one who likes to deliberate, which never helps my anxiety..in fact it makes it worse..hence the therapist, exercise regimen, the bouts of ibs etc. I had a short crappy marriage that ended about 8yrs ago and sometimes I fear poor dating decision making (literally zero proof of that in my dating past btw..except for the relationship that led to the shitty marriage, but anxiety works how it works), hence the fretting. All that to say is that despite the fretting, I remain hopeful for my future. Thx for the reminder about having multiple threads going on in my life…you’re totally right. Have a great week and Happy Holidays. Thanks again :)

    2. Alex*

      I think you’re getting ahead of yourself, and possibly trying to lay this out objectively so that you can assure yourself you are acting logically.

      Relationships and feelings aren’t objective. You can’t logic yourself into liking someone (or logic yourself out) or deciding they are Right For You. You can’t find out the right thing to do before you feel the feelings about them. Go on the date. Have your goal be “See if I enjoy spending time with Jeff enough to agree to do it again should he also want that.” Agreeing to go on a date isn’t promising that you are ready for a relationship, or want one, or promise you will date a guy who lives with his mom, or anything else. It is only “I agree to spend some time with you for a few hours and/or until I don’t want to be spending time with you anymore.” It isn’t a commitment to be open to other things.

      It also sounds like you could just a whole day to yourself to curl up and read/watch TV/knit/draw or whatever kind of thing is low-key for you. Good luck. Don’t forget to have fun.

      1. Dating help needed anon*

        Thanks so much for your super thoughtful response, it addressed all the angst in my post. You made a lot of good points. I really appreciate the healthy perspective on how to approach this date and dating in general, . The fact that you picked up me trying to “logic myself” into or out of liking someone so much makes sense, I work in STEM and so I love logic and rules and predictability a lot, but alas, dating doesn’t work that way. Dating makes me fret sometimes, I am trying to do less fretting, take it one step at a time, I am optimistic that I can do that eventually.

        And omg, yes, I look forward to a few low key days, curled up on my couch, with tea, a book, and maybe some closet organization (that also relaxes me haha). These holidays could not have come fast enough.

        Thank you again. I hope you have a great rest of the weekend and a relaxing and healthy holiday season.

  48. C Average*

    What other advice columns do you guys read? From time to time I see a familiar screen name or a reference to AAMin another column’s comments, and it always makes me wonder how many of you are fellow advice junkies.

    1. Jaid*

      Well, I love me the gang at the Washington Post, but I also read Prudence at Slate, and some of the folks at the New York Times (Social Ques, the Ethical Columnist(?), etc.)

    2. Parenthetically*

      I used to be a faithful Hax reader, but all of her columns are now exclusive at WaPo and I can’t justify a subscription right now! I always read Captain Awkward as well, and occasionally will read Dear Prudence.

        1. Dan*

          I thought they locked down chats to paid subscribers long before they de-syndicated Hax’s online stuff. Did they relent?

          1. ThatGirl*

            You do need to log in to view the chats, but you can use google or twitter, and you don’t have to be a subscriber. I read them weekly and have never subscribed.

          2. Seeking Second Childhood*

            Coming back to correct my comment. There were comments on Hax live for last Friday. No idea if they’re just occasionally there, or if it was a problem with my device or a firewall, but they’re not gone as I thought they were.

      1. Seeking Second Childhood*

        FWIW: WaPo at least used to offer free subscriptions to people with email addresses ending in .gov, .mil, or .edu.
        And there’s an “I own both” subscription discount for Amazon Prime members.

    3. Anon PhD*

      Corporette..though that is more of a blog and advice column, Captain Awkward, sometimes Dear Prudence. My main addiction is still AAM though :)

    4. Penguin*

      I’m a big fan of Captain Awkward, and Han And Matt Know It All (which ended in June) is/was pretty good.

    5. MOAS*

      I don’t read other advice columns but I did find AAM mentioned on primetimer/previously Tv/TelevisionWithoutPity on a discussion board for a Tv show and the poster said they might write in to AAM. I thought that was neat

    6. Blarg*

      Everything on Slate, NYT, WaPo … and Savage Love. Which is very NSFW. He’s been teaching me things for more than 20 years and was my introduction to advice columns. DTMFA is a mantra for all manner of things.

    7. Lives in a Shoe*

      Dear Wendy, Abby, Amy and Prudence. No idea why. I just randomly started doing it about a year and a half ago. The Moneyist is another, but new letters sometimes don’t show up for weeks.

    8. Courageous cat*

      Dear Prudence is good but Nicole Cliffe at Care and Feeding is way way better (all the other writers at C+F currently are not so good). I’m not even a parent nor do I plan to be but her advice is just spot on.

  49. Sweater Jacket*

    I’m super excited… I am publishing my first book! It won’t come out for about a year. However… I’m really anxious about one thing.

    I grew up in an abusive narcissistic environment. I got out about three years ago — I am 31 now but I realized then that I needed to make no contact. I changed my phone number and moved away.

    They never stop trying to get me. It’s been several months now since I’ve heard anything but they were still trying to get into my email and get to me by acquaintances who would then message me and say, somebody asked me if I knew you. I’m not even on social media anymore at all.

    I know that publishing is one field that you can be anonymous, but I don’t really want to be. I want my picture to be on the back. I want a bio. I want to have a website where people can contact me. I want this to be able to be part of my career so that I can consult.

    But I am so terrified that they’re going to come after me. I can’t go to court about it because the lawyers told me if they’re not threatening to physically hurt me there’s nothing that the court will do. I went to a therapist to try to relieve some of my anxiety but he said that he wouldn’t help me because there’s a legitimate threat so there’s nothing he can do to make me feel better.

    So I don’t know what to do! On one hand, this is the start of my dream. On the other, I don’t know how I would even do a book reading without a panic attack that comes from publicly sharing my location where anyone, including day, could see it.

    I know that I need help but I don’t know what kind of help to ask for because both lawyers and the therapist were basically like sorry I can’t help you. It feels like I’m wasting my life if I’m letting them control me but it’s also the reality of the situation. It’s not just like “haters” who don’t like my work. I feel like they’re the type of people who would sue me just so they could spend time with me.

    What can I do?

    1. Dating help needed anon*

      So I don’t know anything about the publishing world, but I know about finding therapists. Find another one and see if that one can help you. A competent therapist will not tell you “sorry, no can do, good luck with your problems”. At a minimum they will refer you to someone else with different expertise. If you’re in the US or Canada, try the Psychology Today therapist directory.

      And…does the book writing / publishing world have an advice column or online forum, like AAM? If so, maybe post about your issue there? I am sure there are other writers who have dealt with something at least similar to your situation. Best of luck!

      1. valentine*

        A therapist should at least be giving you tools to reduce your anxiety and think about how you can react in hypothetical stalking scenarios. The lawyers are full of it. Sure, your family may have to bombard your writing email (harassment) or show up at your signings (harassment) before police will act, but you’re not helpless until then. Insist on venues with security or that the publisher has hired their own. What if you hired an aide who would warn you and take you to a private space while security bounced your stalkers? Use your name and photo, but look into your options around filtering and blocking, including hiring an admin to screen email for you.

    2. MissGirl*

      Write under an assumed name. You can still do a website and social media under that name. Use a photo that gives people an idea what you look like but not a big close up. Find a better therapist who allows you the space to work through these emotions. Most writers write under some sort of pen name. Doing so allows you to genre jump.

      Enjoy your success.

    3. Wicked Witch of the Wesr*

      If you haven’t already, get a post office box. At the real post office, not one of those mailbox services. Use that for any “fan mail”. The real post office will not reveal your physical address short of a court order. Set up a separate email for all writing related email.

    4. LilySparrow*

      You can use a pen name and invest in that persona. Choose one that’s meaningful to you. You can even use a real picture of yourself, just not one they already have copies of.

      As an author, there are loads of people who know me IRL and I haven’t cut off, who still don’t know I write. Unless your book is a one-in-a-million blockbuster, you aren’t going to become instafamous. As long as your marketing and your pen name don’t have an info trail back to you, it’s unlikely they will ever know about your book.

      I write under my real name, but there are a lot of ways that my “author selling my books” persona is very different from my real life. Using a pen name wouldn’t be as big a leap as I thought it was before I was published.

      If you have an agent, talk to them about your concerns. You aren’t alone in this, and they probably have some good advice.

      1. Sweater Jacket*


        My book is nonfiction and I hope it will help me get other gigs (I’m trying to avoid words that will flag this comment for being in the wrong forum), so I really *want* to use my real name. Part of this is building my personal brand as an expert so I don’t think a pen name is going to work for me.

        1. LilySparrow*

          Well, how do you market yourself for gigs now? If you are already creating a public web presence, the book isn’t going to make it easier to find you. Google is already taking care of that.

          I find it bizarre that a therapist would say there’s nothing they can do to help you manage a legitimately anxious situation. People get counseling for real, stressful situations all the time – illness, grief, divorce, job loss, you name it.

          There are therapists out there who aren’t morons. It’s probably worth trying again.

  50. Sweater Jacket*

    I posted a comment and it was not posted, I think because I used a work-related word… but my comment was not really about that! How long does it take for comments to go through moderation?

    1. Dating help needed anon*

      This happened to me today too lol; my comment includes stuff about a co-worker, but it’s not really about work. It also happened to me two weeks ago…it look about 6hrs before I saw my comment. It did get released. We both have time for ppl to see it, since thread is up throughout tomorrow.

    2. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      Alison has to release them manually, and there’s not always any real rhyme or reason as to what the filter grabs. It’ll come out eventually :)

  51. Molly Brown*

    I’ve been watching the show Making It. I really love it, it’s like the great British bake off but with crafts.

    I’m pretty late to the game because I just found it on Hulu. I’m on the second season right now. I’m so surprised they kept the judges! There’s like no real rubric they follow, and the judge from Etsy just talks about if things are on trend or not. I feel like people might’ve already said this kind of thing because again, I’m really late to this, but any hope in a third season? And maybe some alterations to the way they do it?

    1. Fikly*

      I love Making It! I was super excited it came back for a second season, as there was a long gap between season one and two. I feel like Nick and Amy really hit their stride in season two.

      The Etsy person really drives me nuts, because she seems like she’s just constantly dropping Etsy into every sentence. I mean, if you just want to say something is on trend, that’s a fair comment, but don’t say there are 75k items that match this trend on Etsy. That’s just obvious.

      Hoping it comes back for another season!

  52. Anony Mouse*

    We brought home our Siberian kitten today! He’s in his safe room.

    1. He’s purring like a motorboat nonstop and breathing a tad fast—is this normal? (Litterbox habits good so far, he lets me give him belly rubs, let me touch his paws, and da bird toy he enjoyed a lot.)
    2. When was the right time to let a cat explore the house? He’s 3.5 months old.

    1. Ali G*

      Sometimes purring is self-soothing. He’s probably a little stressed. Do you have any Feliway or other calming stuff? I would just keep things quiet and calm. He should be fine.
      You can let him explore small areas with supervision. You want to make sure he’s using the litterbox 100% and that he won’t hide in a dangerous place or door dash before giving him free reign.

      1. Anony Mouse*

        Thanks; we sprayed Feliway already in the room. He spent the past few seconds grooming and licking my toes (lollll) and is now snacking on some freeze-dried healthy treats.

        A lot of Xmas parties today but decided to spend kitty’s day 1 first few hours home with him.

  53. pillowTalk*

    I’m a side-sleeper and female, and lately regular pillows seem to be too high, which hurts my neck and sometimes my back. I found some “flat” pillows that I saved for no reason, and now they’re too high too! I don’t know if I’m sleeping differently somehow (doesn’t feel different) or if I’ve suddenly gotten more sensitive. Either way, I’m using a blanket folded over several times for a pillow, and it’s driving me crazy because although the height is about right, it’s not as soft as a pillow. Any suggestions?

    1. Alex*

      Maybe go to the store and get a really soft pillow that will smoosh down enough for you? I say “go to the store” so that you can see and feel the pillows, rather than order online. Maybe a pillow made for stomach sleepers would be good.

      1. Filosofickle*

        Yes, “stomach sleeper” is a good label to look for if you want a really thin pillow. I’ve been weirdly sensitive to pillows the last few years — I have these nights where everything hurts my head and I don’t understand why!

    2. Reader in ND*

      Maybe try a pillow designed for a couch and not really a bed, a travel pillow or get a pillow comprised of foam pieces or stuffing and then cut it open and remove some or most of the stuffing and then sew it back up. Ideally you could sew it up with a zipper so you could experiment with different levels of stuffing.

    3. Seeking Second Childhood*

      Try s twin sized feather pillow in a queen sized case… it’ll flatten out really far, and on nights when you want more height, shake the pillow down to one side and fold the case over.
      I have two pillows of different thickness because my frozen shoulder still occasionally flares back up. If I roll on my stomach while trying to get to sleep, I use neither.

    4. Lyudie*

      I recently got a chopped memory foam pillow…it’s sort of like old chopped up foam ones but the foam pieces are memory foam, so if you squish it into a position it pretty much stays there. Something like that might work for you…if it was too thick you could maybe pull out some of the foam.

  54. Anony Health*

    My jaw started aching last week when there was a steep temperature drop, 50 down to 18 degrees in 48 hours. I took Tylenol yesterday but I can feel a bit of throbbing/tension today. I’ve tried hot showers, scarves, Tylenol. I wore a mouth guard last night in case it was from grinding my teeth. My dentist says sudden weather changes do crazy sinus things.

    Any remedies? Trying to avoid Neti pot since I had a nosebleed 2 days ago from dry air.

    1. Not So NewReader*

      I have excellent luck with willow bark on sinus stuff. I won’t use anything else now. You can get in a health food store.

    2. LilySparrow*

      Keep up with the Tylenol, drink lots of fluids, preferably hot like tea. An expectorant like mucinex or possibly an OTC antihistamine can help move the gunk out.

    3. Nita*

      Do you have fillings? A couple of my fillings apparently reacted oddly to fast temperature changes last winter. I had several teeth get sensitive on one side of my jaw, and then the whole jaw got tense. Nothing showed up on the dental exam, and the dentist thought it was just the weather. It was a really big cold snap. We haven’t had one of those yet this year, but I think when we get one I will try wearing scarves that I can stick my face into to warm up.

    4. Natalie*

      For what it’s worth I’ve also been advised to add saline when I am getting dryness related nosebleeds, which is basically all the neti pot it. You might try it or those saline mist bottles at the drug store just to get some relief from the dryness.

    5. Anony Health*

      Thanks all..I do have a filling on one side and my jaw gets achy when I’m in the sharp cold without a scarf. It’s flaring up again while I’m on the couch so I’m drinking tea…