weekend free-for-all – January 18-19, 2020

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

Book recommendation of the week: The View From Penthouse B, by Elinor Lipman. Two sisters, one recently widowed and one recently bankrupted by Bernie Madoff, move in together and try to figure out what’s next … as complications arise in the form of a young boarder and a paroled ex.  I keep seeing Elinor Lipman called a modern Jane Austen, and I don’t think that’s far off; she writes wonderful comedies of manners. This one is warm and cozy and funny.

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

{ 1,370 comments… read them below }

  1. Friendless*

    My husband and I are really struggling to make new friends after a cross country move (not necessarily couples friends, even individual friends). I’m struggling to even find people to make friends with.

    The culture is very different here from whenst we came, so that’s tough as is.

    We are early 30s and child free by choice – it feels like everyone our age is either hitting up bars pretty actively to find a man, or only wants baby playdates.

    Everyone I work with is 50+ men, not that I should really be finding my friends at work.

    I don’t have any hobbies that translate well into social meetups. I work hard long hours at my job. Then I go to the gym (powerlift), make food, and watch TV. It’s hard to go out to eat or drink with people because I am very health conscious. In an effort to meet more people, I tried CrossFit for a while, but turns out it was mostly guys and it triggered an adrenal fatigue episode for me so that was a bust…

    I joined a professional networking group, but I don’t really know how to say this kindly…. The majority of people who were in it seemed to be turning to a group like that for a reason. Or best case scenario, were more interested in using me to get into my company.

    I know I sound like kind of a bad/judgemental/nonfriendly person. I swear I had a great group of friends before we moved. But I’d rather have fewer, closer, friends and I just genuinely haven’t met anyone I click with yet. And it’s been THREE years. It’s frustrating for me because I love my job and house and don’t really want to move, but this is a huge source of disatisfaction in my life.

    1. CTT*

      Have you tried Bumble BFF? I was in a very similar place to you (everyone was already married/had babies, not a lot of hobbies that translate well to meeting people) and I gave that a shot, and I have gotten one really great friend out of it. I know one doesn’t sound like a ton, but I’ve met some good people through her and gotten to be really good friends with her husband.

      1. Boldly Go*

        I (F59)was in similar situation. Basically born in the US, lived elsewhere for most of my life, and moved “back” a few years ago (mid 50s).

        I joined a gym and go to gym classes. Made a few friends that way. I joined a few Meetup groups that were my kind of fun. Made some more friends. Did some volunteer work/board member for one of these groups. Met more people.

        Not unlike you,, many people my age are in a different stage in life (retired/retiring , grandchildren, can afford expensive things,etc). I’m not there but it doesn’t mean I can’t be friends with them.

        Start slow. Ask someone at your gym if they have time for coffee. Go to lunch with a co worker. Invite a neighbor over for dinner. Keep it light (helps to weed out the weirdos) but start the momentum.

    2. The Messy Headed Momma*

      For what it’s worth, my hubby & I are in the exact same place. We had a small group of tight knit friends & now we have no one. And it’s been 3 years. And I work long hard hours at my job.
      Our best friends are the bartenders & we’re trying to cut waaaaay back on that.
      You don’t sound “bad/judgemental/nonfriendly”, trust me.
      I’ll be watching this thread too!!!

      1. Friendless*

        Sorry to hear you’re in the same place, but it is oddly comforting to know I’m not the only one. Thanks for sharing.

      2. bleh*

        It was around year 4 for us before we clicked with anyone. Same cross country move. Also child free, but older than you. It was very painful to leave a tight knit group and then… nothing for a good while. It does get better.

    3. Dreama Stringerpppp*

      I’m sorry you’re going through this. I have pretty much the same problem, and I’m 63! I’ve lived in the same place for 40+ years, and am at the point where all my friends have died or moved somewhere better. But back to you, I just wanted to point out that this seems to be a common problem when people graduate college and move on to careers, when people have their first child, and even when people stay in one town for their careers but everyone else moves away. I have no solutions to offer, only my empathy. They say the more you go out and try, the more successful you’ll be, but really, it all depends on a hundred conditions. Is there any chance you could work toward moving to a place more suited to your interests? That’s all I’ve got. I wish you the best.

      1. Friendless*

        Thanks for the empathy.

        Part of what I probably need to get over is that I’m feeling the cost-benefit ratio weighing against me pretty heavily. I find it emotionally exhausting to go out after work and interact with large crowds of new people (I’m a bit of an introvert, in that I find social/networking situations like that draining) and repeatedly investing my time in opportunities to meet people, only to have it not work out, is hard for me. But I took a break over the holidays and maybe I’m ready to try again.

        We have talked about moving back to our hometown, but not for 5 more years. There’s a lot of reasons it doesn’t make career or financial sense right now. When we move back to our hometown, none of our friends will still be there. But we at least will feel we fit in better culturally. And things we never could have predicted would be different, like how bad the gyms are here, really weigh on my day to day happiness. I spend 10 hours a week at the gym and where it used to be my destress place, now I have to fight off people doing bicep curls in the ONE squat rack just so I can get a set in.

        1. Not So NewReader*

          I am with you on the large groups of people. I get a lot more out of small groups where I learn people’s names and learn something/anything about them.

          Where this goes is that large Sunday services don’t connect for me, but small group bible studies are my therapy group. I started volunteering at the library because not a lot of people do that here, so again, no big crowds and I can talk one-on-one with people.

          I made it a point to learn my neighbor’s names and wave or nod every time I saw them. This sounds too simple to add to life but it does. I found random reasons to interact with them. I’d ask how they were doing after a big storm. Or I’d grab their dog that took off on them. I have jump started cars (and they have started mine). Notice how each of these interactions has some given common, such as a bad storm. Wishing people happy new year becomes a small way to connect. Because of work, it took years to begin to feel connected to my neighborhood, they were gone all day and so was I. This is a crockpot suggestion, it takes time. At year number 3 I definitely did not feel connected to my neighbors. Looking back, it was probably too soon given that none of us was ever home, we were all working.

          If your community has a neighborhood forum that is well done, please be sure to join it. (Bad forums are no different than bad FB groups and really not that helpful for connecting and building relationships.)

          Cruise the internet and locate interesting local groups that offer an email newsletter on their activities. Sign up for the newsletter so you can see what is going on. We have annual events where groups do roadside clean up or clean up one of our many cemeteries. The work itself becomes the conversation starter.

          A couple take-aways I found:

          I basically had NO time. In order to gain some time, I gave up tv. There was nothing else I could give up. Like you say, I try to eat healthy. If I don’t then I can get in trouble FAST. So food prep time and meals were not optional. I could not change work hours or drive time. This left me with giving up tv.

          I started spending more time reading about what is going on in the community. Which leads me to my second take-away.

          I figured out I pretty much have to go where they are. If everyone is interested in X, then that is where I am going to find people. Here the big interests are the fire company, rescue squad and kids groups. Okay, well I prefer smaller groups so what is left? And that is when I started making decisions on what smaller activities I would like to do of what was available in my immediate location.

          Last take-away. I was surprised by how many people are doing the same thing. They join these groups so they can have interactions and build relationships. If you get lucky you get a best friend or two. But for the most part you get enjoyable, but not too deep, relationships with good people. I had to think about what friendship looks like and what I valued in people. This was also helpful.

          It’s hard, no doubt about it. It got easier in my 40s and each decade since then has gotten easier and easier. Hang in there. Right now is probably the toughest it will be. Keep switching up what you are doing and something will change.

          1. Friendless*

            Thanks for the helpful post! I actually have dived into my neighborhood quite a bit. I’m on the board of our housing association now. Unfortunately I’m finding out that a lot of the other members are super catty and love the drama, kind of like those toxic town Facebook pages you mentioned. So I think that’s actually turned me off of my neighborhood quite a bit. Which isn’t really fair, there’s lots of lovely people who aren’t involved with the board, maybe specifically because of the drama. So I should try to branch out more. That said, most people in our neighborhood are retirement age (which is super bizarre given the location and starter home nature of the houses available, it took us by complete surprise when we moved in) so I’m still really struggling to meet people my age.

      2. Aly_b*

        Oh I just started powerlifting! It’s awesome! Can we be friends?

        Anyways I’ve gone through some similar moves and it sucks. Best I’ve got for you is try to set up standing internet hangouts. Video games or rpgs are great for this, but even just like a FaceTime catch up with friends back home or elsewhere that happens more or less regularly. I honestly took up playing video games so I could join in a weekly gaming call some pals had. It’s not quite the same as in person but I also don’t have as many barriers where I’m having to change out of sweatpants and leave my house and stuff. It’s definitely some connection, anyhow. Hope it gets better soon!

        1. Friendless*

          Hi internet friend! If you’re just getting started, 100% check out Starting Strength! Great beginners guide with an app that works well for tracking/planning. Plus they have bootcamps all over the place to help with form.

          1. Aly_b*

            That’s what I’m using! I’m doing the 5×5 linear progression thing with the app, and the resources are great.

    4. Jean (just Jean)*

      It’s possible to meet people without consuming food together. Would you be interested in learning something musical or art-/craft-related? Do you have any causes or candidates for whom you could volunteer, canvass, or campaign? This doesn’t have to be Political in the sense of Partisan. Meeting regularly with like-minded people to weed out non-native plants, trap-neuter-release and feed feral cats, plan and put on the annual local folk music festival, monitor progress of pending state legislation on [insert issue of concern], etc. gives you a chance to bond because you get to see at least some of these folks routinely. It may not happen all at once and/or you might befriend people whose ages/life stages don’t completely match your own. Some individuals will not respond to your outreach because of their own temperaments or life circumstances (example: someone else working long, hard hours, or someone who is a full-time family caregiver except for this once-a-week outing.) Basically, go out and connect with people doing something you find interesting, and see what happens.

      Look online but also read every free pamphlet and flyer at the library, grocery store, food co-op, and so forth. Think like an anthropologist: What opportunities for human connection are available in this community?

      There’s always shopping for and eventually joining a congregation, if that would be a good fit for you. I’m not trying to push this if it’s not your interest (and I saved this idea for last because you did not say anything such as “we wish we could replace the wonderful place in our previous location where we were members”).

      Good wishes.

      1. Friendless*

        Thanks. I think what I’m struggling with is how disingenuous it feels to take up a hobby just so I can meet people through it. Truly, I am not a crafty person and would never find joy in knitting or what have you.

        Political action causes might be a good way to suss out like minded people who are in the minority here.

        It’s funny you mentioned church. I was raised Baptist (we are very much Not Church People anymore though) and was complaining to my husband the other day that there’s no non-religious version of a church where people in a community can come together for support once a week. There are so many connections you miss out on when you dont have a place like that.

        1. londonedit*

          For me, that’s parkrun. Or going to the football. But those options might not work for you (though if there’s a parkrun near you, you don’t have to be a runner – you can walk or jog or just volunteer to marshal or tail walk or scan barcodes at the finish and join the community that way).

        2. Lady Jay*

          (For what it’s worth, those connections don’t always happen in church, either. I’ve been in some version of church all my life and there’s nowhere I feel more alone. Church tends to be exclusionary towards people who don’t fit its ideal – usu. married couple with kids, though that varies by denomination.)

          1. Friendless*

            I mean, thats basically where we’re at now. When I was a kid/teen it was a great place to meet people.
            But actually, the closest friends we’ve met here were at the dog park, but they are very religious, and I always leave our dog park meet ups feeling very stressed out because I can’t really be myself without feeling judged. Or not even judged, they’re good people, but just like I’m not free to be myself.

            1. Lady Jay*

              Aw, I’m sorry! Being non-religious among a bunch of religious people is tough. I hope something good comes for y’all soon.

            2. Seeking Second Childhood*

              Would your dog like agility classes? The handlers can get quite a workout, and from what I’ve seen so far, it’s a friendly bunch.

        3. Jean (just Jean)*

          >there’s no non-religious version of a church where people in a community can come together for support once a week
          Is there a Unitarian-Universalist Church or branch of Ethical Humanism/Ethical Culture within a reasonable-for-your-life distance? Both seem to me as an onlooker (I’m Jewish) to welcome people who want to share spiritual seeking & general community-building without a rigid, brooks-no-questions, condemns-all-doubters stance. Both also attract people who have grown up with other traditions.
          (For the record, you can find anything in Judaism from rigidly traditional to Humanistic Judaism, which does not include a belief in G-d. Not suggesting you convert! However, most Jewish communities would welcome you if you ever choose that path. If you want to join one of the more deeply traditional branches, you would have to follow 99% of the official way of doing things. But enough. It’s not Jewish to evangelize. Sorry if I’ve inserted feet in mouth.)

          1. Friendless*

            Haha, no, I appreciate it! There’s no way to say this without sounding… -ist, but “a lot of my friends in my old town were Jewish.” We just seem to have more world views in common.

            But it feels to me just as disingenuous as pretending to like knitting just to meet friends, to feign interest in a religion for the same reason. Not trying to turn this into a religious thread, but I’m basically as agnostic as they come. I have no idea what God(s) do or do not exist, or what the meaning of life is, and I genuinely do not care to spend my time guessing about it.

            1. Ada*

              Definitely seconding the Unitarian Universalist church. I’m agnostic too, and it’s exactly what I was looking for, and from what you wrote, it sounds like what you’re looking for, too. Don’t let the label of religion fool you. Their whole thing is “deeds, not creeds”. You’ll likely even find some atheists in attendance. At least look into it.

              1. Old Woman in Purple*

                Unitarian atheist here! Indeed, I found the local UU fellowship to provide the positives of a church congregation without the negatives; as Ada said, “Deeds, not creeds” (social interactions and community support, without the various incarnations of ‘fire & brimstone’).

                Have you tried simply googling “Meetups near me”? I get several dozen different ‘suggestions’, tho, admittedly, I live in the suburbs near a major US city. There would likely be fewer available in more rural areas, tho still worth taking a minute to find out… could result in pleasantly surprising options.

                Wishing you the best.

        4. YouwantmetodoWHAT?!*

          Check out the local UU Church! I’m not really religious and have pagan leanings, my hubby is Episcopal and we both felt very welcome. And they have quite a few groups that you can check out.

        5. Ace in the Hole*

          On the non-religious support group side… there might be something sort of like that, but not well-advertised! One example would be a weekly meditation/mindfulness/walking/etc group. There might also be a program in your area to connect lonely seniors with younger people, or a group appealing to a subset of the community that you could join (for example I joined a queer women’s hiking group – you might also find alumni associations, political groups, neighborhood associations, etc). Or if you’re comfortable with a less “churchy” church, you could look into religious groups that are particularly open to different mindsets – some examples that spring to mind are unitarians, quakers, episcopalians, many buddhists, and many pagan groups.

          I second the volunteering/political action as a good way to meet like-minded people, plus if you don’t meet anyone it won’t feel like an utter waste.

          You could also give another go at physical hobbies. Crossfit has a bit of a reputation for being unhealthily intense. Other sports might click better and not wreck your body. Personally I’ve had a good time finding athletic community with martial arts (you have to search a bit for a good dojo culture fit) and roller derby.

        6. tired and wired*

          I think what I’m struggling with is how disingenuous it feels to take up a hobby just so I can meet people through it.

          Most people aren’t going to hate you if you join a hobby group with the sole intention of making friends. The only people who would clutch their pearls over it are the type of people who clutch their pearls over every tiny thing that doesn’t fit their rigid code of morality.

          I’ve gone to a lot of different meetup groups and people joining who aren’t gung-ho about the subject matter, but just want to meet people, are common. As long as you’re not judging or sneering at the hobby group you’re at, no one is going to care that you’re there to meet people and not enthuse about books or knitting or what have you.

          1. Not So NewReader*

            Actually, I tend to agree with the idea that it seems fake to take up a hobby just to meet people. And I add, I hate spending the money on the hobby to facilitate friendships that may never happen.

            My suggestion here is be true to who you are. Left to your own devices what interests do you chose? So far I see exercise and eating healthy. You are also a dedicated employee, as you spend a lot of time at work. So these are three areas that may/may not have opportunities for you. Branching out a bit, perhaps you also add that you like books, pets and let’s say, plants. Okay so there are three more areas to look for opportunities.

            I have a friend who LOVES dogs. She started training dogs to be service animals for people. (I am very proud of my friend, she has had all five of her dogs placed.My friend is awesome.)

            Another friend loves books. She started volunteering at the library.

            Yet other friends are interested in healthy food and healthy living so they joined groups- food production groups, environmental groups etc.

            Take things that are already a part of your life and look for activities tangent to those things.

          2. Ktelzbeth*

            I’m in the middle. Taking up a hobby that you have no interest in just in order to meet people seems disingenuous to me, too, but doing more of something you have even the slightest bit of interest in further exploring doesn’t. When I went away to medical school and could no longer stand only knowing other medical students, I looked at MeetUp for local groups that sounded interesting. I landed on board games as sounding the most potentially interesting and gave it a shot. I love them now!

            1. Ra94*

              I think it depends on the kind of hobby, too. It would be weird to start a hobby that requires investment or considerable skills (like sewing or chamber music) just to meet people, but a book club or walking group will be full of people who may not adore walking for its own sake, but just want to meet some people.

          3. The Other Dawn*

            I agree. I see nothing wrong with trying out a new hobby in order to meet people. How else will you know whether or not you like something unless you try it? Obviously if you know you’d hate knitting, don’t try that particular thing. But try to be open to trying other things. And as tired and wired says, don’t be judgmental about it when you’re there if it turns out you hate it.

        7. Elizabeth West*

          For me, that was my sangha. We met once a week to meditate and discuss Buddhist texts. Nobody had to be Buddhist; you just had to be interested, and you could drop in and out as you saw fit. Most of the regulars were more into the teachings part of it, but quite a few people just came to learn to meditate or to meditate with the group. Then we went to coffee afterward and talked about the texts and other things as well.

          I liked it because it helped me learn something that was useful to me and gave me something to do once a week, as well as people to hang out with. I really dislike going to a coffee shop and sitting alone for no reason.

          1. Keymaster of Gozer*

            I’m not the original question asked but that is a fantastic idea that I’m now googling to see if there is anything available in my local area (town in the UK so I’m guessing not without driving).

            One of the fellow patients at the pain management clinic does this and your experience has reminded me of how she said it gave her mind a different focus to the ‘omg pain pain why me pain’ cycle in our heads.

        8. bunniferous*

          I was coming here to mention politics. No matter what your political views there should be a party and or group that fits you. Especially since you said you are not church people, that is the only other venue I could think of that would help you find friends that are likeminded. I personally prefer not to be in politics but we were involved for a while because my husband was in a political group, and I did get to know some really great people that way.

        9. Cat*

          Honestly I think this is why God invented book clubs. Nobody really expects anyone to care about the book per se and there’s a lot of opportunity for conversation to get to know people.

        10. Hound Fan*

          Have you tried yoga? I was raised in a standard denomination but felt disconnected from it and left. But, a lot of our social interactions were there. I took up yoga and it gives you a chance to be quiet and serene but at the end of class people hang out and some go to the coffee house downstairs. It took me a couple of years to find the right class (two years!) but I have found some casual friends through it.

        11. Vicky Austin*

          There’s always the Unitarian Church. It’s like Christian churches and other religious temples or synagogues or mosques, but no creeds. You’re allowed to believe or not believe in whatever deity you want to. Unitarians meet once a week and are big into social justice.

      2. Politico*

        Do you have any causes or candidates for whom you could volunteer, canvass, or campaign? This doesn’t have to be Political in the sense of Partisan

        I don’t want to derail too much, but the short answer is: yes, it does. Volunteering for candidates is almost always a partisan activity in the US.

        Yes, there’s a longer answer: occasionally you find non-partisan races, such as for school board. But that’s a non-partisan veneer. Beneath it, there’s partisanship. Right-wingers run for non-partisan “school board” positions all the time. Ditto with most interest groups, as the Planned Parenthood stuff shows. Yes, campaigns will get a short-term kick out of the Republican who volunteers for a Democrat “because I’m crossing over for this one.” But if you want to get REALLY involved, at the level where you’re a super-volunteer spending enough time there to make friends/social capital, they’ll find that weird in most cases.

        1. Fikly*

          Causes can be non-partisan. I mean, helping the feral cat population is not typically a conservative versus liberal issue, at least I’ve not heard it described that way myself.

        2. Dancing Otter*

          The League of Women Voters is usually not all that partisan. Current climate, maybe … But generally, they’re more about informing and encouraging people to vote, regardless for whom they vote.

    5. Tomselleck*

      Maybe volunteer for a cause you care about that attracts other younger people? For example, you can meet lots of cool people through refugee resettlement organizations, your local botanical gardens, animal shelter, NICU cuddling facility, soup kitchens…

    6. Keymaster of Gozer*

      Child free, married and in our 40s here so I well know where you’re coming from. My husband is autistic and finds personal relationships v difficult and I’m physically disabled so I am limited to what I’ve got the spoons for (our cat doesn’t care of course, you got food? He loves you!)

      The majority of our friends are people we met via online technical forums (we’re both professional geeks). Some live nearby so we’ve got lucky there.

    7. Reba*

      When we were in this kind of spot, we did hiking meetups and table top game meetups. The latter met regularly once a month, with dedicated members, so we did see the same people repeatedly, which helps.

      Maybe a cooking class? Another form of fitness class?

    8. Maya Elena*

      Hey! So I struggle with a similar thing, though I do have kids. And I think some advice which helps for dating or kids also helps for adults. Basically it’s a numbers game. Before you can have close friends, you have to meet people; which means going out to different places – meetups, athletic activity groups, cultural groups, whatever – getting numbers, and proactively inviting people out, showing up if they invite you, making yourself available to meet with them. (Like, if they are available Sunday, clear your schedule for Sunday, even if it interferes with your routine.) Eventually that gets you invited to things like barbecues, house-warming parties, birthday parties (do people still have those?) and dinner parties, where you can meet more people. As for Close Friendship: someone you can gossip with and talk about current events is enough to start with; closer gets better, or you just don’t click and go your own separate ways.

      Also: some of us with kids aren’t entirely focused on them; we just need to be in the vague vicinity in case they do something especially dumb. If you’re willing to hang out at a playground and just talk (rather than go to a museum or some other adult-only entertainment), I, for one, am quite happy to sit and shoot the shit for two hours while my little rapscallion goes crazy on the jungle gyms. I’ve done this with a gracious childless friend and it’s really nice.

    9. Not A Manager*

      This is a real conundrum. I wonder if it might be beneficial *to you* to find some other interest or activity outside of exercise and TV, regardless of whether you make friends doing it? If you can think of something you’d genuinely like to learn, or to do, or to be involved in, maybe it will broaden your experience so that you don’t feel so lonely anyway. AND it won’t feel disingenuous to be doing it, AND if you make friends that’s great.

      I also wish there were a non-religious equivalent of worship communities, because I also value the community and connection that you can find in them. But what about yoga or meditation, what about volunteering, what about doing some outdoor exercise like hiking or biking (or skiing or snowshoeing)? Any of those might be fun for you to do with or without your husband, and once you start doing them, there might be a bit of a community that also does them.

      1. Friendless*

        Thanks, these are all good tips. I think it might be easier for me to make time in my life for a new thing I care about, than for a new thing I’m doing to maybe make friends.

        1. Green Kangaroo*

          How about offering to mentor/train someone who’s interested in powerlifting? I for one would enjoy trying it but would be too intimidated to find a trainer. Others might like having a social component to it.

          1. Friendless*

            Ooh, you’ve reignited my interest in getting my nutrition coach cert. I’d thought about doing it as a side gig for a long time, less as a way to make money and more because it’s something I’m passionate about. Of course, it’s hard to make friends through a client relationship but…

    10. CrazyPlantLady*

      As someone’s who has moved a lot, I empathize completely with your struggles. It’s not easy. I’ve found that the best way to form friendships is to join activities that meet on a regular basis. As I see the same people week after week or month after month, I’ve become friends with some of those people. For me those activities are the community garden, book clubs (even if you don’t really read, you can find book clubs that are more like social clubs where no one’s read the book), and a cookbook club. Maybe peruse through Meet Up and see if there are any groups that you could see yourself going to? The key is consistency. I find it very difficult to meet someone once and then have to ask them on friend “dates” to get to know them. It’s much easier to see people regularly and have it turn into a friendship over time.

      Good luck and know that you’re not alone!

    11. AnonLurkerAppa*

      Seconding Not a Manager for this “I wonder if it might be beneficial *to you* to find some other interest or activity outside of exercise and TV, regardless of whether you make friends doing it? If you can think of something you’d genuinely like to learn, or to do, or to be involved in, maybe it will broaden your experience so that you don’t feel so lonely anyway. AND it won’t feel disingenuous to be doing it, AND if you make friends that’s great.”

      Have you checked out MeetUp? I would start from a point of exploring a thing that might interest /you/, point blank. MeetUp might be an interesting way to just browse or brainstorm some sort of thing you might like to check out or try. It could be something completely new or a maybe a tangentially related to powerlifting/working out. If you happen to make friends, cool. If the thing you tried isn’t for you, you at least went to a new place and tried something you hadn’t done before. I find that to be satisfying in itself.

    12. Washi*

      Community college class? I took one recently with no expectation of making friends, and met some cool people I otherwise would never have run across! I’ve found the same to be true of social dance like swing or contra in the past also. (I know you’re short on time, but I think you might need to be willing to invest some time in the friend project thing for a while.)

      The other thing, which may not work for everyone, is to lower/adjust your standards for a while. Not in the sense of tolerating people who are rude or racist or treat you badly, but if someone seems to be a nice person who appears to be friendly towards you, maybe give it a shot even if you wouldn’t have in your old city. The purpose of this is two fold 1. Even if you don’t become close, having even a loose set of acquaintances you see every once in a while will start to make this city feel more like home and 2. the more people you know, the more people they can introduce you to. Plus 3., you may end up with an unexpected friendship when you don’t expect it.

      There’s a guy who was in my community college class who is much older than me (I’m a woman in my 20s) and a bit of an odd duck, but since we walked home the same way each evening, we developed a rapport and have actually stayed in touch! We’re never going to be really close or anything, but it’s a fun connection that I’m happy to have given a chance.

      1. Cascadia*

        Yes definitely to lowering standards. When I was new in town I was hanging out with some work people that would normally not be much of a my jam, but I needed some social life. But through them I met some other people I really liked. Now I’m friends on my own with the other people, and don’t see the original people very often anymore. Also, variety is the spice of life!

        1. Not So NewReader*

          Good people do lead us to more good people. OP, the secret here is you only need a couple good people to find a ton more good people. They will bring you to those people.

    13. Miranda Priestly's Assistant*

      You’re not the only one with this problem. I’ve seen a lot of people deal with this, including my parents. If you live in the suburbs, I think the issue is most of the people you meet is by circumstance – neighbors, parents of your child’s playmates, etc. It’s a matter of luck if you click with them or not. My parents never found people in our hometown they really got along with, although they settled on inviting a few acquaintances for dinner every now and again. Some people were also straight up rude or tried to take advantage of the in some way.

      It’s funny because I’m sort of dealing with the inverse problem – trying to find someone to date – but the result is the same. In order to find a potential date, I have to meet new people, but my life isn’t set up for that to happen, so I have to find a way.

    14. RagingADHD*

      From your followup comments, I think part of what’s holding you back is this idea that Meeting People or Trying New Things are somehow not legitimate goals in their own right.

      They are.

      Most of the people in any given book group, hobby group, etc are there to meet people or try something new. Social connections and curiosity are fundamental human needs, and there’s nothing disingenuous about pursuing them.

      Have you checked out your local public library? Ours sponsors a variety of activities, including tabletop games and classes or workshops on all kinds of topics, ranging from beekeeping to mental health, to travel, cooking, history, or poetry.

      1. Cascadia*

        Yes to this! One of the book clubs I am in was specifically formed for people to meet new friends. The books are just a fun bonus, but really the point of the group is to get together, once a month, to discuss life, work, family, books, society, etc.

    15. Cascadia*

      I’m so sorry, I’ve been in this spot before. It’s really hard to make friends as an adult! I enjoyed reading the book MWF seeking BFF – it’s problematic in points, but it’s about a young woman who wants to make more friends and she sets out to go on one friend date a week for a year looking for a new best friend. So give it a read, you might be inspired!
      My other idea for you is to try and find a book club. I’m in two and it has been a wonderful thing. We gather once a month, and I’ve gained some amazing friends through the book club. It’s a great way to get to know new people, and there’s always new people entering the group. My friend in another city formed one on Meetup and it was all strangers and now they’re all super close. Mine are both situations where I knew one other person and then got invited it. If you’re looking for more female friends, you may ask around if any of your male coworkers have wives that have book clubs or other ideas. We’ve had people join my book club that are married to male coworkers and the partner made the connection for us. However you can get in!
      For the crossfit, I also do it and my gym is mostly female. You might try out a few different gyms in the area before you find one you connect with. Also, it took me a few years to make some friends through the gym but now I have them.
      Finally, I have seen a number of people come into my city who knew one of my friends and tried to be incorporated into our friend group. The most successful people are those who say “yes” to everything, are very friendly and outgoing, and directly asked people if they could have their number, and if they wanted to do a specific activity. One woman introduced herself to me, and at the end of a gathering at a climbing gym asked if she could have my number, heard that I really liked hiking, and invited me to go hiking that weekend. I was very impressed with her ability to put herself out there, but she was determined to make friends and you really have to do that. Another woman who was friends with a friend, came to a few events, we exchanged numbers, but she never followed up, rarely comes to things, didn’t respond to my texts when I reached out, and was generally more aloof. Even if it’s uncomfortable, still push yourself.
      Good luck, and please know it’s really hard, and a lot of people feel this way.

    16. Not A Manager*

      ALSO… When my kids were little, some of their best relationships, and some of my best friendships, were with people who didn’t have kids. (Actually, this was true when I was little, too.) If you like kids at all, you can easily become the Cool Neighbor Down The Block Who Occasionally Has Us Over For Tea.

      If you want to go this route, smile and say hi to your neighbors with kids. Chat with the kid directly. After you’ve established a bit of a connection, it’s pretty easy to offer something low-impact like coming over for an hour on Saturday afternoon. It’s absolutely true that at first these outings will be mostly about the child, but you can also chat with the parent and get to know them. Many parents would welcome a nearby friend who occasionally says, “hey, leave the kid with Partner and come over for a cup of coffee.”

      And if you like kids at all, it can be very rewarding in its own right to realize that you’ve become a mildly interesting and important ongoing adult figure in their lives. Kids are funny – the interaction doesn’t need to be often, but it does need to be genuine.

      But I’m mostly suggesting this as an entree into making adult friends.

      1. Meepmeep*

        I was about to suggest something like that. Parents of small kids can feel very socially isolated, and would jump on any opportunity to hang out with someone over the age of 3. Also, parenting small kids is hard and any help is welcome. All of this can deepen a friendship.

        One of my closest friends became a close friend this way. After she stepped in a few times to babysit when no one else was available, I was ready to do anything for her.

      2. Name of Requirement*

        Also- kids go to bed early and need routines. If you’re the friend that comes over and chats or cooks in the kitchen with one parent while the other one wrangles- that can work well.

    17. Lulubell*

      A few people mentioned Meet Up, and I think that’s a good suggestion, though I’ll go a step further and suggest you create your own group on Meet Up for things you like to do. That may be bringing your own healthy snack/drink for a walk in the park, or meeting for non-alcoholic drinks at a smoothie/juice place, or taking a healthy cooking class together. I’m on meetup mainly for hiking, but also in a few sobriety groups and it’s amazing how many activities people suggest that have nothing to do with bars, restaurants, etc.

    18. Owler*

      I’m at a different stage of life (40s, married, with an almost-teen), but I also struggle with feeling like I don’t have many friendships. I think it’s just hard as an adult to find (a) people you click with and (b) time to spend with them. Doubly so if you’re an introvert like me.

      Along the lines of food and exercise, you might look into a cooking class or if you have a good outdoors store in your town, see if they organize any outings or classes that look interesting. (I’m going to look for a hiking or kayaking group.)

    19. Laure001*

      I would absolutely recommend boardgames. My husband and I play a lot, it got us an endless stream of great interesting friends. Look around to see if there are “games bar” (that might not be the name) or games clubs that would initiate you to your first board games, then you’ll be invited to game nights… Or, if you want to kick-start the process, organise your own. Once a month or so will be enough for you to be invited back, etc. Also, I feel like people who like games are often particularly interesting but obviously that is subjective!

    20. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      How about a recreational team? Lots of rec centers have dodgeball and softball leagues. My partner played softball and made a lot of good friends. Or bowling if you want even more lowkey.

      It ties in your desire for fitness and activity as a focus.

      I feel for you. I’ve been here 3 years and only met people via work and only goes so far. But I’m a hermit so it’s all on me.

      You can also find your local Facebook groups to meet people as well. And stay aware of the community events.

    21. MeepMeep*

      Narrow-focus hobby groups are good for that sort of thing. If you can find the right group of nerds who are into something that you can see yourself enjoying, some good friends can come from that. My best friend is someone I met at a ragtime-music function.

      BTW, I was not into ragtime at all before I started coming to the meetings of the local ragtime appreciation group. I came to the first meeting of the group knowing pretty much nothing about ragtime, and really only wanting to get out of the house and meet some new people. No one minded that. They gave me plenty of sheetmusic to learn, unloaded their considerable historical and musical knowledge on me, and as I came to more and more meetings, I got into it myself.

      All this is to say that you shouldn’t feel terribly guilty if you’re coming to some sort of hobby group without being into that hobby. You are allowed to check out new things, and you are allowed to come to these things to meet people and make friends. If it’s the kind of hobby that attracts friendly nerds, you’ll make a ton of friends.

    22. Keener*

      Making friends is hard. Ive moved cities/ countries a few times. When I moved to big city I never mamaged to establish a social circle. So happy that in my current mid size city I managed to make some friends through a very casual knitting group. Now these people are knitting/hiking/brunch buddies. You have my sympathy!

    23. Another JD*

      Can you tolerate kids for a bit, or is that a no go? Our childless friends seem to have a lot more flexibility in their schedules, so we host dinner at our house. My almost 2-year-old joins us for the meal, then goes to bed at 8 and we have drinks/board games/conversation the rest of the night.

    24. Dancing Otter*

      Not adopting a fake hobby, but do you have any interest in art as a viewer if not an artist yourself? The suburb where I grew up had a local art center (still does, but I don’t live there now), where most of the members and volunteers simply supported art and art education, rather than being artists themselves.
      They had occasional lectures and gallery walks, organized an annual art fair, had classes for children and hobbyists. Is there anything similar near you?

      Another idea is adult education through the local school district, library, or recreation department. It’s not a huge investment of time or money, so if something sounds as though it only might be interesting, you don’t stand to lose much if it isn’t. Class sizes are usually small, so there’s more interaction with other students, plus you might discover an interest to pursue further with either the teacher or other class members.
      For example, my parents were friends for years with people they met through a Spanish class, even though they learned precious little Spanish. I was just bored when I signed up for a quilting class, and now I belong to a quilting guild and three quilting bees. (Yes, I actually do make quilts.)

    25. Mama Bear*

      Perhaps try Meet Up with the goal of finding a new hobby and hopefully friends from that. What are your interests? Rock climbing? Painting?

      I’m in kind of the opposite boat – a lot of my close friends have moved. I’m thinking of re-joining Meet Up (or similar) to find new friends. I’ve also been doing more volunteer work – it supports things I’m passionate about and it introduces me to likeminded people.

  2. Jean (just Jean)*

    At first glance I thought that Wallace has two heads. No disrespect intended, and I promise not to contact any tabloids!
    More seriously, I’ll be the early-onset commenter thanking Alison for making this forum available every weekend. It’s been a hard week. Lurking on this site has been one of my coping mechanisms.

  3. SIL-liness*

    I’m asking y’all for help with a script. My sister-in-law just today sent me a “MERRY CHRISTMAS!!!!” instant message. She knows I’m Jewish but is a firm believer that Xmas is for eeeeeeeveryoooooone. I’d like to send a reply communicating that I know it comes from a good place but 1. I don’t like it and 2. it’s weirdly insensitive – she couldn’t wish me a happy new year? Or Chanukah?

    Given that she’s a teacher in an area with a fair number of Muslim and Sikh families I want to try to be a bit broader than just “I, personally, prefer something else unless it’s the day of.” Saying “you may think that it’s for everybody but your enthusiasm comes uncomfortably close to forcing it onto people who don’t want it, which is kind of microaggressive” is true but harsh for the first time I’ve brought it up.

      1. The Cosmic Avenger*

        Same. You’re apparently wishing each other the holiday you celebrate, how can she object?

        I mean, of course she can, and she might, but that’s good, as it would force her to think about it and put it into words, which might make her realize how condescending and insensitive it is to assume that Xmess is for everyone.

        1. Flyleaf*

          OP could respond with a holiday greeting for a holiday that neither of them celebrate. Happy Kwanzaa! Merry Festivus. A joyous groundhog day!

          1. The Cosmic Avenger*

            True, I know that would be tempting, but the idea is that the SIL can’t get mad if SIL-iness does exactly what SIL is doing, sending wishes about her own holiday to someone she knows doesn’t celebrate it.

            I mean, of course she can get mad, but it would look utterly ridiculous and be a very defenseless position to take.

      1. SIL-liness*

        My sister-in-law, who was responding to something I’d said in November. She’s just really, really slow about IM responses.

        1. NewReadingGlasses*

          Missing the “I” part of “IM” then. She should go with “Season’s Greetings”

        2. MatKnifeNinja*

          Let it go. Is that the rat hole you want to dive into today?

          Yes, she’s a twit. I don’t know if she’s clueless or specifically wants to rattle your bars today, but what’s they pay off for you?

          I have a Catholic relative who sends me rosaries, prayer cards whatever…they know I’m not Catholic. Jesus is not my Lord. Not one little bit. I’ve told them this. They still do it.

          I could scorch Earth them, but what’s in it for me? Putting a 70 year old on full bore blast has no pay off unless I never see them again. This is their one stupid blind spot that is never going to change.

          People like your SIL, I give one heart to heart, then ignore them when the crazy train come out.

          Life is too short to deal with ignorant people.

          1. Anonymous Celebrity*

            I agree with you. Just delete it. And don’t sweat it. Some people in my life I consider “write-offs,” as in “I’ve written you off, but I’ll be polite if we meet face-to-face.” I invest zero emotional energy in those people, and dealing with their written communications is like doing housework. Just get it done. Just throw out the junk and move on to something you enjoy.

            I think the mistake many people make is believing that family is different somehow. It’s not. Family is a random assignment. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t. If it doesn’t, admit that to yourself, be polite, and quit investing your time and energy in the relationship. Delete it when it’s email, text or vm’s, and be prolite and brief if it’s face-to-face (that you can’t avoid – it’s fine to avoid that if you can).

      1. SIL-liness*

        I really think that it’s obliviousness – Xmas is the most important thing on her winter calendar, she hasn’t directly communicated since November, therefore dispense missed seasonal greeting! She’s also pretty direct when she wants to pick a fight :p

        1. valentine*

          Have the fight. Tell her it’s anti-Semitic and you hope she’s not forcing her BS on her students. Address her as Torquemada and block her for a month or three at a time until she cuts it out.

    1. 653-CXK*

      I’d go cool (as in cool your jets) with your overly excited sister-in-law: “This is odd…Christmas was last month, but I don’t celebrate Christmas. Why did feel you had to send it to me now?” When she responds, say, “I would prefer you not to send those greetings. Again, I do not celebrate Christmas.”

      1. SIL-liness*

        +1
        If it wasn’t Spouse’s sister (and somebody I’m going to have to talk to for the next few decades) I’d be super tempter to just respond “nope xD”.

    2. Blue Eagle*

      I had a friend from college who was Jewish. After college he would send me a Rosh Hashanah card and I would send him a Christmas card. Neither of us took offense and both enjoyed receiving the card and a quick update. Maybe try this and see her reaction and maybe don’t be so quirky at taking offense? Sorry, I got nothing else.

      1. Ramona Q*

        Maybe consider that for a lot of Jews (including me), it’s hard being constantly in the throes of a majoritarian religion and the holidays it celebrates! We can be offended as we please.

        1. Maya Elena*

          I disagree with that approach. (I’ve said it here before… But.) It always seemed weirdly adversarial. I’m a Jew; for us, unless we are in Israel, it’s almost part of our cultural identity that we are the minority. Moreover, being like “how dare the dominant thing most people do rear its head and remind us of its dominance and cause me any inconvenience!!!”, Especially for minor stuff like bring wished Merry Christmas, creates hostility, for what? Someone wishing me Merry Christmas is most likely not wishing me ill will or harboring Nazi sympathies… So why act like they are?

      2. Observer*

        Maybe don’t be so quick to tell people who don’t want Christmas shoved at them that they are too quick to take offense?

    3. Jean (just Jean)*

      Could she belong to one of the Orthodox churches (Greek, Russian, …?) that celebrate Christmas “later” –I think because they never switched to the Gregorian calendar?

        1. Jean (just Jean)*

          Sorry! Next time I’ll do some online research before posting. I hope your Christmas was a happy one.

          1. Greek #2*

            There are more than a adult of Greek Orthodox Christians who follow the old (Julian) calendar.

            Even according to the Julian calendar and the stereotype of Greeks not being on time for anything….yeah, it merits a sideye%

            1. Jean (just Jean)*

              Sorry to elicit the side eye, although I’ve never heard of the stereotype of Greeks not being on time for anything. I was merely thinking about calendars. I found it fascinating that some branches of Christianity observe Christmas on a date other than Dec. 25. It’s sort of like having Jews say, “XYZ holiday came early (or late) this year.” This happens when you have a lunar calendar superimposed on the Gregorian (?) basic secular calendar, with adjustments via a leap month every so often.

          2. Femme d'Afrique*

            On the other hand, Jean (just Jean), Ethiopian Orthodox Christians celebrate Christmas on January 7th… Just throwing that out there.

        2. Russian Orthodox*

          There’s no misconception at all. In the Russian Orthodox Church we celebrate on January 7th.

    4. sequined histories*

      “I don’t celebrate Christmas, but I hope yours was lovely!”
      When/if she does it again; “Oh, I don’t celebrate Christmas, remember?”
      Frankly someone who commits this faux pas intentionally is very unlikely to have a change of heart due to a conversation in which the word “microaggression” is used, so you have little to lose by responding as if she just hasn’t been informed of the facts or has let them slip her mind.

      1. Washi*

        Yeah, I would treat this as an innocent mistake she would definitely want brought to her attention (even if you think that’s probably not true.)

      2. BoiChaplain*

        I would go with this script as well.
        That said – I am sorry that your sister-in-law is doing that because it does sound passive aggressive to me.

      3. El Al flier*

        Rarely will anyone have a change of heart due to a conversation in which the word “microaggression” is used.

    5. Lena Clare*

      “Oh I don’t celebrate christmas (I’m Jewish- remember?) but I hope you enjoyed it last month. Love, etc”

    6. Snarflepants*

      “I think you intended to text someone else. It’s January and you know that we don’t celebrate Christmas. Happy New Year though!”

    7. LibbyG*

      Blargle!

      Maybe there’s some kind of chipper “there lots of wonderful holidays in winter!” response that could fit the situation.

      You don’t seem well placed to educate her (and it’s not your job) (and it’s not a job for IM anyway), but maybe there’s a space for a reminder that lots of religions have their high points of reflection and celebration.

    8. RagingADHD*

      How about, “Didn’t celebrate Christmas this year as usual. Hope yours was great. Happy New Year!”

      I don’t think you really need to take on the job of fixing your sister in law’s potential interactions with her students. There are plenty of other people -like her employer or the students’ parents – who are in charge of that.

      You can just deal with your own relationship, that’s enough of a job on its own, sounds like.

    9. I wouldn’t do this (but I’d be tempted)*

      You could reply with, “Oh, is it Christmas already? It just sneaks up on me every year.”

    10. Come On Eileen*

      How about keep it simple and say “hope your holidays were great! How is January treating you?” I don’t think you’ll change weirdly insensitive people and you really won’t do it over IM.

    11. Owler*

      I’d reply with “Gong hei fat choy!” since the Chinese New Year is celebrated next weekend. Be sure to add that it’s the Year of the Rat.

    12. Book Lover*

      Wishing you a meaningful MLK day? I mean, it is ridiculous, so I would probably ignore her. If it takes her two months to respond to a message from you it probably isn’t worth the bother of answering or thinking about it?

    13. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      These people never change and live for your discomfort at their in your face discrimination.

      She doesn’t mean well. She’s like the missionaries who only are there to convert for their own heaven brownie points with their version of God.

      I say this as a Christian who doesn’t accept their disregard for free will.

      The best thing is to roll your eyes and keep your distance to keep the peace between your spouse and their sister. But also your spouse should be protecting you from their bigoted family members. They chose you, you’re their first priority and not a sibling or parent.

    14. Mama Bear*

      You specified SIL so I’d ask your spouse for their take on their sister’s holiday greetings. It does seem weird that it’s an IM being sent so late – doesn’t even have the excuse of a misdirected card. Since you know she’s always a day late and a dollar short, I’d ignore it and say something pre-emptively before the next round of holidays. Or get your spouse to.

  4. Snowed in*

    I am snowed in by the Upper Midwest blizzard. Netflix, Prime, On demand suggestions welcome.
    Would love to stream a series while doing house work and knitting.
    I love Grace and Frankie and that is first up but it is looking to be a long weekend.
    I also like Bosch.
    What’s new that you are loving?

    1. Friendless*

      I’m in love with The Magicians, it gets better every season. And I’m not even a fantasy show liker normally.
      Also Blacklist, Madam Secretary, Veronica Mars (there’s a new season out thats good! On Hulu).
      For lighter (read: stupid but charming) shows, Young & Hungry, Hart of Dixie, Limitless (the show),

      1. Keymaster of Gozer*

        Is The Magicians the kind of show that you can put the brain in neutral and enjoy or does it require close attention to the plot? I’m adding it to my Amazon queue either way though :)

    2. CTT*

      There was a thread about it last week but I will happily talk about it again: Cheer on Netflix, a docuseries about competitive cheerleading, is EXCELLENT.

      I haven’t dove in yet, but the new season of Sex Education dropped yesterday; I would recommend the first season if you haven’t seen it and like Grace and Frankie (they’re not the same, but similar humor sensibilities)

    3. Parenthetically*

      Not brand new, but Fleabag if you haven’t seen that. 100% worth settling in to binge in its entirety — an absolutely incredible, hilarious, deeply moving and profoundly human story that unfolds and develops in the *most satisfying* way. One of the best shows I’ve seen in years.

    4. Keymaster of Gozer*

      Trying to think of stuff we get here in the (UK) Netflix that is also available in your snowy climes…

      I’m watching the entire Star Trek back catalogue on Netflix at the moment. I’m up to series 4 of Next Generation. But in terms of new stuff I’ve had Evangelion going almost constantly on Netflix.

      1. General von Klinkerhoffen*

        Um ok but did you know that Picard is about to start on Prime (UK, other providers elsewhere)?

        I am twitching with excitement.

        1. Keymaster of Gozer*

          Oh sweet Cthulhu! Now the husband unit is wondering why I’m clapping my hands in glee :) :)

          (Sort of related; I met Patrick Stewart once and he joined the ‘unbelievably nice guy’ ranks alongside Antony Stewart Head and Stephen Fry as people who I’ve encountered ‘in the wild’ as it were)

      2. Snowed in*

        Sadly I Was in England about a month ago and saw the first season of the new Star Trek. Its paid CBC in the US and I pay enough for cable and others to add another service.

        1. Keymaster of Gozer*

          I’m embarrassed to say I’ve not seen any of it yet! I know it’s a prequel but I’ve promised myself I’ll watch TNG, DS9 and maybe Voyager first. (I never saw the latter two…which is probably a minus score on my Trekkie card now :p )

    5. Lady Jay*

      Seconding Fleabag, which I’ve watched three times and fall more in love with each time (the second season is especially good, but it won’t make sense without the first).

      I’m watching Paul Rudd’s Living With Yourself (Netflix) right now. It’s bizarre, but also worthwhile – moves at a good clip, interesting characters, mildly funny.

    6. Enter_the_Dragonfly*

      The problem with all these suggestions is that they’re way too absorbing! I at least could never do housework whilst trying to watch them lol.
      Something where it’s ok if you miss bits is good, so maybe Great British Baking Show, Happy, Gilmore Girls, The Twilight Zone (assuming you’ve already seen a lot of the episodes so they’re not too new), the Dick Van Dyke Show, Dr Quinn Medicine Woman. Ok, that’s the lowest stakes stuff I could think of off the top of my head, hope it helps!

      1. Keymaster of Gozer*

        Seconding the great British bake-off. Alongside QI it’s a regular for my embroidery sessions where you don’t have to watch the screen the whole time.

    7. Reader in ND*

      Norsemen, Virgin River, After Life, Raising Dion, Derry Girls, Dead to Me, Tabula Rasa, The bodyguard, I’m sorry, The sinner, Kim’s Convenience, Schitt’s Creek, Atypical, Big mouth and Russian Doll are all great on Netflix. And I swear I do work, sleep and read and don’t only watch Netflix. : )

      1. Dreama*

        Agreed. Schitts Creek is Way cooler than I thought it would be. Also, if you like dark & dangerous, Ozarks is awesome.

    8. Bluebell*

      Trying not to binge G&F all in one week, but it’s a challenge. For shorter shows, I loved Derry Girls, and am hoping there will eventually be Season 4 of Kim’s Convenience. The Last OG is also fun. On Hulu, am loving Emergence— an ABC show with Alison Tolman. I’d watch her in anything, but it’s a great show.

    9. T. Boone Pickens*

      To actually watch:

      Dirty John
      New Aaron Hernandez documentary

      For background noise while doing housework/knitting:

      Any 30 minute sitcom

    10. Pippa K*

      If you’re looking to binge, Prime has all the seasons (I think) of Corner Gas – gentle and genuinely funny Canadian sitcom set in Saskatchewan. Free if you can put up with commercials.

    11. Atchafalaya*

      Good Girls, You, Dexter, The Office (US version), Breaking Bad, The Walking Dead, Blue Bloods, Cheer, Hart of Dixie, Parks & Rec, iZombie, New Girl — All on Netflix

      Friends, Frazier — these were on Netflix but don’t know where they’ve gone

      Will and Grace (Hulu)

      Sex and the City, Jack Ryan, The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel (All on Amazon)

    12. PX*

      I’ve been meaning to rec This Way Up for a while so here you go. Its on Hulu in the US I think.

      Funny and sweet but also painful and heartbreaking in some places (if you google the synopsis of the show you should get an idea of why it can be heartbreaking), but so so good.

      In my head, I’ve classed it as a nicer, kinder version of Fleabag (even though thats wildly innaccurate and also I never got past like…2 episodes of Fleabag).

        1. PX*

          I really want to re watch it but…The last episode made me cry and I don’t know if I’m ready for that again right now!

          I definitely will at some point though :)

      1. Ra94*

        Ha, this is funny to me- I liked This Way Up, but adored Fleabag, and thought This Way Up was a bit of a bland imitation. I guess the sharpness is exactly what I enjoyed!

    13. OperaArt*

      If you can get it on demand, the new series “Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist.” Only one episode shown so far

    14. NoLongerYoung*

      I am almost done with the Midsomer murder mysteries (months, not binging). You have to pay attention, though. They are twisty. I started from the beginning (there are more than 20 seasons now), and watch them free on roku with ads. (I use that time for stretching lol).

    15. Lady Alys*

      It’s not new, but a friend recently forced her set of “Slings &Arrows” DVDs on us and they were very funny & touching. I believe you can see them on YouTube. (It’s 18 episodes taking place at a fictionalized Stratford [Ontario] Shakespeare Festival, and it takes an interesting turn right away.)

      1. curly sue*

        I love this show so much! It was written, produced and acted by people who spent many seasons at Stratford and similar festivals, and the jokes are so pointed they’d be illegal to carry in many provinces. Also, Paul Gross is national treasure.

        1. MysteryFan*

          Seconding Slings and Arrows! I learned to actually love Shakespeare watching the characters get so involved in their work.. plus Paul Gross! I found the first two seasons on Britbox I think.. but not the third.. strange.

    16. Seeking Second Childhood*

      Hoping to watch Troop Zero on Amazon tomorrow (To paraphrase my grandmother, “Good Lord willing and the electricity don’t go out!”) I just found the trailers & the “Best Interview Ever” with its 13yo main actress, and it looks like fun. (If nothing else watch McKenna Grace’s interview for the kitten cameo.)

      1. Seeking Second Childhood*

        AAAH Troop Zero was an extremely satisfying movie to watch! A little over-the-top, and in all the right places.

    17. YouwantmetodoWHAT?!*

      I am THOROUGHLY enjoying The Witcher, tho I am taking my time with it to make it last. I just found out that season two will not come out until 20freaking21 grrr! They are apparently filming now.
      I’ve never seen anything with Henry Cavill, before but I will watch more now.
      Because his voice. Oh.my.goddess, his VOICE!

    18. selenejmr*

      Limitless (tv show), The Magicians, Lost in Space (new), Dracula, The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina.

    19. Nott the Brave*

      I really liked the Witcher! It’s not a great show but super fun to watch if you don’t mind fantasy violence.

    20. Ra94*

      Not entirely new, but if you’ve not seen Barry on HBO yet, I recommend it to everyone! It’s so funny, smart, beautifully acted, poignant. There are two seasons out currently, with more on the way.

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

    Running thread (or maybe non-running thread?)

    I’ve been wondering for awhile what would happen if I went a year without running any races. I’m really weighing if this is going to be the year.

    The thing is… races have gotten expensive for what they are. They generally require me to wake up really early on a weekend, when in a perfect world, I’d rather sleep in with my wife and go out and run later. Then lots of standing around, often in cold or rain. Being barked at by race staff. That’s not to mention dealing with porta-potties and the increasingly obnoxious security procedures at larger races. I am a solitary runner and don’t really socialize at races, so that aspect of it doesn’t factor, either.

    I’m also not very competitive–really only competitive against myself–and am not even a mid-pack runner anymore. I feel like I have better things to spend money on at this point. I kind of felt the same way about heavy metal concerts after a few years of being a metalhead– I’m really going to pay for the privilege of being crammed in a room with a thousand sweaty people and be called “motherf–ker” for three hours?

    So why do I feel strange about not racing? In spite of what I wrote, I’ve run at least four or five races a year every year for the past fifteen years or more.

    For those of you who do have races on your calendars this year, I hope you achieve your goals!

    1. Lady Jay*

      For what it’s worth, I’ve found trail races to be superior to road races. I ran one in November – showed up in the middle of nowhere, at 6.00 o’clock in the morning, with forty other people. But nobody was blaring music, there was a fire going in the shelter to keep us warm while we waited for the race to start, and when I did get to racing, the point is more to get out and enjoy the woods than the win any particular award (many trail races don’t even do awards).

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

        Interesting – thank you. I do like the smaller races better than the larger races. Unfortunately, there aren’t much to choose from in New York City. A few years ago, a small, upstart organization came around that put on really pleasant, small-scale races. Unfortunately, they’re now trying to out-NYRR the New York Road Runners. And good point with the music. That’s a trend that’s popped up in races over the past 5-7 years that I wish never happened. If I wanted blasting hip-hop and dance music, I’d go clubbing.

      2. Ktelzbeth*

        That sounds so much like a trail race I did in November, but I was doing the shortest distance, so only had to be there at 8. The 50kers were the only ones who arrived at 6. Regardless, fire in the shelter, enjoy the woods, chat at the aid station. . .

        1. Lady Jay*

          I ran 25K – 25 and 50K were the only two distances, and we all started together, so sadly, it wasn’t the same race. :) But my race was really one of the highlights of my year in running – beautiful day, great spot – and I hope yours was just as good.

          1. Ktelzbeth*

            I ran 20k, with the other options being 30k and 50k. It was one of the running highlights of the year. I’d done my first half marathon in the spring, which was my longest race ever, so it’s hard to pick a single highlight. It started out cold, but quickly became perfect for running and was gorgeous.

    2. Friendless*

      Hmm interesting. I guess I’m wondering what your “why” was when you started to race? What were you hoping to get out of it? Has it failed to fullfill those things, or has your why changed?

      Maybe something like Strava, where you compete against others but not physically in a race format, is a good option for you right now?

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

        That’s a really good question. When I first started to do races, they were (1) a thing for a quiet person without a big social life to do, (2) a way to run in places I wouldn’t ordinarily run, (3) a way for a beginner runner to challenge myself, and (4, if I’m going to be totally honest with everyone, I’m sorry to sound like a pig here) a longshot way to meet (or at least admire from afar) some really hot, athletic women.

        (1) and (2) still apply. I’m not positive (3) does, although I always look to challenge myself in different ways. Fortunately, (4) got canceled out when I met my wife — who, by the way, is extremely supportive of my running hobby and was disappointed to read this post.

        I’ve never thought about Strava or similar apps. I generally throw the clock out the window when I do my regular runs and just go as slow or fast (normally slow) as I feel, no competition whatsoever. But if deep down, I really am looking for a challenge, it’s something to think about.

        1. PX*

          Destination races? I know a few people who tie in weekends away with races. You get to run somewhere new but in a more low key way as the race isn’t the key focus but an added bonus of the trip.

          This assumes you like or want to travel in general though.

          1. Kiwi with laser beams*

            Not the OP, but both of the races I’ve signed up for this year are destination races – one out of town and one that’s still technically local but far enough away that it’s easier for me to stay the night near the start line. I need to vary my courses a lot or I get bored, so I do fewer races but make sure the ones I do do are ones I’m excited about.

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

            Destination races are definitely something I’ve thought about. They might happen at some point!

            1. A bit of a saga*

              I’ve done this several times, both for 1/2 marathons and for 10 kms. It becomes a nice weekend away and the running an added bonus.

        2. Friendless*

          I think it’s good to have a mix of both. Don’t time yourself every run if it stresses you out. But maybe if you feel a competitive itch come up, you could try throwing a run in strava and seeing if that scratches it. It’s also a good way to find new paths near you that you might not have thought of.

          Maybe this is a good opportunity to think up a new set of “why’s” – why is it that running has stuck for you? What do you want to keep getting out of it? And make some new goals associated with that.

    3. londonedit*

      I know what you mean. I have a couple of smaller local races that I still enter because I really enjoy doing them and they’re more low-key, but I really don’t do many races these days. I can’t afford it, and I’ve been burned too many times by short courses when I’ve trained my hardest for a PB. Cynically it seems that some events are happy to cash in on the popularity of running without actually caring about the runners’ experience on the day.

      I love doing parkrun on a Saturday morning, and I love a chatty Sunday 10-miler with friends, and I love my early morning weekday runs. Occasionally I’ll feel the need to test myself and try to get a PB, or at least to try to run faster than my current best pace (for example I have a plan to run a local 10-mile race in April at 9-minute mile pace – I’ve run faster than that for the first 10 miles of a half, but it would be a course PB and an achievement given where I am in my running right now) but generally running for me is about enjoyment these days. I’ve been running for 12 years now and I feel like I’ve moved beyond a lot of the PB chasing and the need to enter every race going that I used to do a few years ago. Not that there’s anything wrong with that! But it’s not where I am at the moment. I don’t feel the need to train for something every spring.

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

        That sounds about right. I actually do want to train for something — I really enjoy training for races. Arguably more so than the races themselves. But I think I’ve run basically everything in my area that I want to, and weirdly I don’t feel like undergoing the effort (or expense) to find things further away.

    4. Retail not Retail*

      I did a few races in 2017-2018 before my hip injury flared up too much. They were with friends and in the mountain west so full of “real” runners as well as walkers and hobbyists and that guy in a dinosaur costume.

      I then went back to volunteering at them bc you get a shirt and food anyway. The Elvis 5k even let us have the commemorative medal if we wanted it.

      What’s with serving beer after races? The st jude marathon does it and most of the ones in colorado did as well but they were at breweries.

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

        It’s funny, and this is probably going to make me sound like an awful person, but I’ve never wanted to volunteer at races. It seems like you get all of the negatives of the race experience (the early schedule and travel, the usually extreme weather, getting bossed around by race officials, and the crowds) without any of the positives (actually running the race) and in fact some more negatives (mainly, having to deal with stuck-up, super-competitive runners). Saying this makes me a terrible member of the running community, and I’ll accept that. (I have a sincere appreciation for those who do volunteer, I understand that races cannot function without them, and I always make sure I thank every volunteer I encounter at a running race.)

        1. Kiwi with laser beams*

          “Saying this makes me a terrible member of the running community, and I’ll accept that.”

          This looks a bit like an anxiety thing to me. I don’t want to volunteer at races either; would you call me a “terrible member of the community”?

          But yeah, it’s not my thing either. Races like the Auckland Marathon and Round the Bays get tens of thousands of participants – interacting with that many people in one day would knock me out even harder than being in the race itself!

        2. Retail not Retail*

          No, I’m the terrible person because I flaked on the Thanksgiving race I signed up for (run by the same org that did a race in april that was suuuper unprepared) and then I emailed and emailed but got no response and didn’t do St Jude. Part of it was standing in the cold is bad for my hip and part of it was I ain’t paying for parking!

          What got me into it was this inaugural 10k with a route right in front of my place. So I said better to be a part of the noise than grumble about it. I got a volunteer shirt, a pullover with the name on it, and they fed us breakfast and lunch.

          But this half marathon? They did not have enough shirts in the right sizes so some of us took one. It was bitter cold and we had to sort out the safety pins for the bibs. This was made tolerable by the knowledge that I could go home and go to sleep while they still ran!

          1. bleh*

            We did our own half marathon the week before a race we had intended to run. Too cold, too early, too expensive, and I don’t race well. My best times are always on training runs, not races (except the marathon itself, which weird).

            I love the idea of just not doing races. I don’t need to sign up to train.

        3. LGC*

          Eh, I don’t think it’s necessary to volunteer. And I don’t think it makes you “selfish” – I mean, after all, I think part of the reason NYRR does 9+1 (where you run 9 races, volunteer at 1, and then you get guaranteed entry to the next year’s NYC Marathon) is so they have volunteers!

          And I don’t think most people volunteer at races – I’ve been road running for seven years (two-three years more seriously), and this year was the first time I’ve done volunteer duties. (So, paced three races – which, okay, I’m still running the race, but I’m not racing it – and marshalled my club’s 4th of July race. And then I did the t-shirts and water for my club’s Thanksgiving race, which got disturbingly large turnout this year.) I definitely think people should volunteer to help out – I’ve enjoyed the times I’ve done it (even when it’s gone a bit sideways) – but it’s not a necessary thing you need to do to be a Good Runner.

    5. another Hero*

      I’m a swimmer, not a runner, and I’ve never enjoyed racing (even before paying to do it), so this all may not track, but: do you see it as a way to check in with where you’re at, do you use them to set specific goals, does running a different route make you aware of different things? If you feel weird about it and it turns out there’s something you think you’re missing, you might be able to replicate that in your own personal practice – find new trails some weekends or set goals outside races, which it sounds like you do already.

      But if it doesn’t do anything for you…are you involved in a running culture that really values racing? Do the people you interact with about running tend to measure their progress by races or assume anyone who cares about running wants to race? There’s not a ton you can do about that messaging, but it might help explain why you feel weird about not doing it.

      1. londonedit*

        This is such a good point. I love my running club, but sometimes it’s easy to start feeling inadequate when you’re seeing the amount of running some people do, the number of races some people are entering, etc. I like to remind myself that for the vast majority of people it’s not normal to get up on a Sunday morning and run 10 miles, so just the fact that I’m doing it is impressive on its own! Luckily my club is generally pretty relaxed, and I have a lovely group of friends who are all doing different things with their running, so there’s no pressure to run X miles or do Y pace or whatever. We just enjoy running together when our lives and training plans (or lack of) align.

      2. LGC*

        It could also be habit as well – he did say that he’s averaged four or five races a year, after all. I’m a creature of habit myself. There’s certain races that I just need to do because…well, I always do them. My town runs a 10k on Memorial Day and I’m going to run that every year (I haven’t missed a year yet…okay, in 2017 I ran the 5k instead, but I’m always out there).

        And I think that in the road running community (less so in trail running and ultra running, from what I understand), you hear a lot about racing and the clock just in passing. (I’m one of the biggest culprits, I’ll admit!) Last year and this year is a bit special in the US because of the Olympics, but I’ve been hit with a deluge of articles and podcasts about OTQs (Olympic Trials Qualifiers) and people’s quest for OTQs. Even in off years, you hear about people chasing down BQs (Boston Qualifiers). Even outside of the race time standards – and there are a lot in the marathon alone – you still have landmark times. You broke 20 in the 5k? Let’s go for 19. You ran a 4:05 in the marathon? Certainly you can break 4 hours. In some ways, it’s an amazing thing – you’ve always got a new goal to set, a new way to exceed yourself. (And if you’re Eliud Kipchoge or Kenenisa Bekele, a new way to make history.) But it’s also maddening at times, since there can always be this pressure to do better.

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

        These are all really good questions. Re: a running culture that really values racing, my family members who run are into races — my dad ran a couple per month in his heyday, and my older brother — who is not very competitive but does run casually on a regular basis — always approaches me about doing a race when he’s in town, which is a couple times per year. Otherwise, I don’t even have friends who run; I’m basically in it by myself. My dad was very competitive, but unfortunately hasn’t been able to run in about a decade. (He’s in his late seventies now.)

        To address both your comment and LGC’s comment below about specific goals… I kind of think that might be part of the reason why I’ve gradually become blase about races — the fact that I know that I can’t better my existing times without putting in a level of work that, quite honestly, I don’t want to put in, not with everything else going on in my life now. Ironically, if I were physically capable of doing it right now, I’d try to train for another full marathon — I loved the challenge of running those long distances. But there’s a very real chance that if I finished a marathon now, the first number on the clock would be a “5”, and I’ve got to say, that’s pretty humbling.

    6. LGC*

      I should have looked before I posted!

      So, I’m a race addict and I might try to do more races this year. I’m probably the polar opposite – when I found out one of the guys I know ran 2:35 at the NYC Marathon this year, my literal first thought was, “I can totally do that if I try hard enough.” (I’m disturbed, I know.) But I still think that maybe racing less can be a good thing – last year, I only competed in about 8 races, when the year previous I did closer to 15. I didn’t perform as well as I’d liked, but I felt a lot better about myself. At any rate, I’m all for taking a year off from races.

      Some unsolicited advice: you might have to find a balance that works for you, or races that work for you. As a fellow NYC area guy, you just nailed the big city races. When you get into the races by large organizations like NYRR or NYCRUNS, it’s a bit like going to the airport. (And both of those organizations pull in from the entire metropolitan area – so you’re getting not only New Yorkers, but people from Long Island, Connecticut, New Jersey, and further.) The suburban races, in my experience, are much more laid back for the most part. So you might just have to look for races on the smaller end, which tend to be a bit less strict. (Probably…1000 entrants at most.) Your problem is that you might have to go outside of the city, which is a bit less convenient.

      I’ve also found that some of my favorite races tend to be shorter events in the evening. So even if that’s outside of your comfort zone, it might be fun to switch things up a bit. Half and full marathons tend to be on the early side (for logistical reasons), so this works a bit less well for those. (That said, I will plug the Jersey Shore Half in October, which starts at 9 AM. Part of the reason they can do that is that it’s on Sandy Hook in the off-season.)

      But yeah, if you’re thinking about taking a year off…I’m all for it.

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

        It’s not unsolicited advice at all (and your running thread is very different from mine!). I love the airport analogy. It really works. I’ve considered doing races in places like Long Beach and Northport (both Long Island) and the Palisades… the advantages of those is that I’d get to run someplace I’ve never run before, and the disadvantage is, of course, getting to those places early in the morning on a weekend.

        Somehow I had never heard of the Jersey Shore Half. Sandy Hook is a gorgeous place to run. Thanks for sharing that.

        1. LGC*

          Jersey Shore is a small race – I paced it last year, and while I don’t think I’ll be able to do it this year (since it’s in October), it was pretty fun! (I talked to the other pacers, and they had 900 people last year – which was about double what they had the previous year.) It’s not an exciting course – it’s two loops of an out and back, and you’re on the road for most of it. But it’s pleasant! It was a bit gusty because it’s Sandy Hook (so you’re getting ocean winds), but it’s also flat.

          The Palisades half is…intense, from what I’ve heard. And from what I’ve experienced – I’m usually running along the New Jersey portion of the park, and it feels like it’s uphill both ways. But the good thing is that no one is really doing this for time anyway.

        2. Seeking Second Childhood*

          Hartford is lovely in October, and Amtrak comes in so public transportation is an option. ;)

    7. coffee cup*

      I am running one tomorrow! But I’m pretty relaxed about it. I only signed up so I’d keep running over Christmas. I have my period and I’m tired, so I don’t expect it to be my best effort, but it’s through some nice woodland and I’m going for lunch with friends after. I will probably enter a couple more at some point, because I do enjoy the atmosphere of the well-organised, fun ones. I’m not competitive at all, I just do it to do it, really.

    8. I edit everything*

      What about doing some of the virtual races? You can still compete against yourself, get the T-shirt, but not deal with the crowds, noise, etc., that you don’t like.

    9. Emily*

      If your heart isn’t in it, then maybe you should take a break from racing. I like what some others have suggested – try to think about why you race and see if you can get that from other sources or changes to your running practice. If you stop racing and realize that you miss it, you can always start signing up for races again! You might also make a few tweaks if you realize there are some things you do like about racing – for instance, if the crowds and expenses are what bother you most, you could look for smaller, lower-key races or only sign up for the one or two events that excite you.

      I’m a runner who likes racing occasionally (in the past few years, I’ve done two half marathons and one 5k). I used both half marathons as motivation to train for a long-to-me distance, and felt proud when I finished! The 5k was a month or so after the first half marathon, was a part of a cause I wanted to support (my local LGBTQIA+ pride celebration), and was fun because my half marathon training allowed me to crush my previous (incredibly unimpressive) 5k PR to bits. I’m hoping to run another half marathon this spring with better, more focused training for a faster time. But in all those cases, I had at least one reason for wanting to race (even if the reason was just that it made me feel accomplished). If you’re not feeling that way about your events, I definitely agree with you that it makes sense to reassess.

    10. Mid*

      I’m not sure what distances you run, but I know in my city and many others, there are more causal “races”. I do 5ks through Brewery Running Series. They’re a LOT smaller, unofficially timed, and emphasis fun more than anything else. I found timed competitions are overall unhealthy for me, as I get too stuck on my numbers rather than how I feel. But I like the races as a way to challenge myself, meet new people, and explore my state, without the semi-toxic environment that comes with trying to run in a state that trains a lot of olympians.

      For me, it’s a nice check-in with myself on my running ability, while also being a new challenge, and a lot more adorable. I spend $20/race instead of $100+ that a lot of unofficially timed races are charging.

      Also, there’s no shame in not doing races anymore. You can still run for yourself. Run with a group. Run solo. Run one race a year. Run zero. If you take a break and then miss races, start racing again.

    11. SINE*

      Last year was my year of no races. It was due to injury but I have to say…it was REALLY nice to not have to get up super early to just stand around. AND to save a bunch of $$$. It gave me time to think about what kind of races I want to do going forward and I’ve decided that I’m only going to run a few races a year, and only ones that are legitimately fun (Bend Beer Chase comes to mind).

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

        I think I’m kind of in the same place. I might be happy running one or two races a year that are places I don’t usually run and have some unique factor about it. Good luck coming back from injury!

    12. Hi there*

      I am not sure how much I’ll race in 2020. At the moment I have a 10K in Cape May in September (hard to find a Saturday 10K so I jumped on it) and a 5K for hunger-related groups in November that I help organize. For a while I was keying my training to races and kind of floundering in between. It turns out what I really like is training with the very occasional race to mix things up. So now I am in a monthly plan with an online coach. The Monday and Wednesday workouts change each month, as does the runner-specific strength moves. It is a heartrate plan, let me know if you would like more details. It has just enough variety to keep my interest without stressing me out.

  6. Lady Heather*

    Alison – do you read all the books you recommend? Because if so, I’ve got a lot of respect for your reading ethic!

      1. Retail not Retail*

        You read the Immortalists a couple years ago and I tried it (free copy!) but couldn’t stomach the anti-Rroma prejudice.

            1. Middle School Teacher*

              Well, I really enjoy being a critical thinker and reader who is able to analyse what I read and critique it.

        1. I'm A Little Teapot*

          You can enjoy something that is flawed while disapproving of the flaw. You can also not enjoy something because of a flaw. Free will is awesome.

      2. Courageous cat*

        Ok but this makes me curious because it’s something I struggle with. I loooove reading when I have a book I’m really into, but if I have one that I’m only so-so on, I read very very little and get in a rut for a few months. And the guilt at not having finished a book keeps me from reading something else, until I’m done. That seems to happen more often than not.

        Are you reading like, more than one book a week then? What happens when you don’t like a book, since you have a recommendation every week? Or are you just very good at judging what you’ll be into?

        I want to read more but the duds just kill me!

        1. Ask a Manager* Post author

          I average one a week, sometimes two, but there are often more that I started and stopped pretty quickly after realizing they weren’t for me (not recommended here, obviously). Kindle and Apple Books both let you download the start of a book for free (often about 30 pages or so), so I liberally download free samples and then read a bunch until I find one that grabs me. I am very quick to stop a book if I’m not into it. I think you should give yourself permission to just move on if you’re reading something you’re not into — move on to something you really like instead!

          But also, on weeks where I didn’t read much or didn’t find anything I liked, I’ll do an older favorite for the weekly recommendation here. I had decades of reading before I started doing recommendations here, so I can draw on all of those when I need to! (Also I read a ton when I took December off, so I have a bunch of recommendations stored up from that that I haven’t used here yet. Etc. Etc.)

          1. Elizabeth West*

            Seriously, the day I realized I didn’t have to finish a book I wasn’t into was a great day.

            1. Kate Daniels*

              Same! I actually calculated how many books I expect to be able to read before I die (based on my average number of books read in the past few years) and suddenly it made it so much easier to DNF because books are published much faster than I can keep up with them. Now, most of the books I finish end up being 4- or 5-star reads for me!

            2. Jackalope*

              At one point in time I had the sad realization that I will not be able to read all of the books I want to before I die. Since that moment I’ve felt much freer to let a dud go; these days the only time I finish a book I’ve been disliking is if I have an outside purpose (say, reading it for a book club).

            3. Keymaster of Gozer*

              …you mean I can delete unfinished books off my Kindle without apologising to them first?

              1. Mid*

                No, you still have to apologize. And probably try reading at least two more times. (Joking! Delete freely!)

              2. Seeking Second Childhood*

                Well, if you want you could go full-on Marie Kondo, and thank them for their contribution to your life, and all they taught you. Sometimes, that’s teaching you that you don’t like this kind of book. ;)

            4. Sparkly Lady*

              This isn’t related to your comment, but since you don’t have a post of your own this week, this seems the most relevant place to let you know that I’m in the middle of your book (literally at 50% according to my e-reader) and really enjoying it! It’s such an original concept!

              You also did a great job with the copyediting… I would never have guessed that you completely DIY’d the publication if I hadn’t been following you here.

            5. Minocho*

              I can’t leave a book unfinished. Well, nearly can’t. I’ve never finished two:

              The unabridged version of The Stand (I just didn’t . care . anymore), and Moby Dick.

              I inhale books. It’s a problem.

              1. lasslisa*

                Yesss. It removes the pressure and lets me decide if I’m enjoying it enough to read the rest.

          2. Courageous cat*

            I usually am a big fan of moving on in other aspects of life, but it’s so much harder with books for me, for some reason – partially because I already bought it, and partially because I always buy based on glowing reviews, so I always feel like, surely this book will get good once I power through these slow parts.

            I definitely think having a Kindle for those previews is a huge help too. Maybe I just need to spend more time at Barnes and Noble sitting down and actually reading the first few pages.

            1. Kate Daniels*

              I used to buy pretty much every book I read, which made it really hard to DNF finish them because it would feel like a waste of money, but in the past two years, I’ve challenged myself to get most of my books from the library, which has been really freeing because I can now DNF and return them without any guilt.

              I still need to get in the better habit of reading the sample before one-clicking a Kindle book that’s on sale, though!

              1. tangerineRose*

                I like to “test” books by checking them out from the library. Once I like an author’s books, then I buy them.

            2. LizB*

              I heard a tip somewhere that if you’re testing out a new book, make sure you read at least 15 pages in a sitting. (This also extends to, if you only have short bits of time to read the book, make sure you get 15 pages or more read in each one.) I’ve found that really does help me get into a book I’m unsure about. If I’m just doing a couple pages at a time, I don’t have enough momentum; 15 pages at a time gives the story more time to grab me.

          3. Pam*

            I also like the free samples to remind me of books that I might enjoy, but can’t afford at the moment.

          4. The Other Dawn*

            I used to read a book about every week and a half, but this last year or so it takes me at least three weeks. Due to the pain meds I take before bed, it’s not long before I’m dozing off while trying to read, so I can’t read as long as I used to. And I tend not to read during the day.

        2. Stephanie*

          I used to force myself to finish books, even if I really wasn’t enjoying them. The thing that helped me break out of the guilty mindset that I must finish eery single book I start was realizing that life is too damn short to waste precious reading time on something that I wasn’t actively enjoying. I love to read, so I really should be reading books that I really like.

          1. Courageous cat*

            Yes definitely, I agree with that on almost everything else, but with books it’s like – I already bought it, and also I have to account for the fact that a lot of books (especially classics sometimes) are kind of slow to get going, but well worth it once they do. But none of that matters if it’s making me stop reading for a long time, I guess. So I definitely see what you guys are saying, it’s just tough to put into practice!

            1. tangerineRose*

              You might also give the book a break and read something else for a while, find out if you want to get back to it.

              1. coffee cup*

                Yes, this! I have often started a book to realise that, no, this isn’t the right time for this one. I’ve genuinely left books unread for three years before picking them up again and loving them. Not every book is for every stage in your life or even in your month, and I think knowing that can really help. It’s always there to come back to.

              2. Pay No Attention To The Man Behind The Curtain*

                That’s a good idea if it’s just the wrong book at the wrong time. Sometimes I’ll start a serious book and hate it, because I really want something light and funny. If I think I’ll enjoy a serious book later, I’d hang on to it. Usually though I have to start over so I can get into the rhythm of the story.

            2. honey honey*

              The obvious solution to this seems to be the library! I read 100-120 books a year, so I get everything there. I walk over from work twice a week.

        3. BoiChaplain*

          My struggle is that I fall victim to starting a book and then grad classes start back up and I don’t read the book again. There have been some awesome books that I’ve done that to as well and I need to go back and re-start them because it’s been too long since I read the first part….

  7. Keymaster of Gozer*

    Always love the kitty pictures!

    Maybe one for it’s own open thread but I’m interested in knowing how people came up with their usernames here? (Obviously if it’s a personal/uncomfortable question ignore)

    (Mine’s just from when I was a wee geekling in IT and once signed a delivery of backup tapes as ‘Vince Clortho, Keymaster of Gozer’.)

    1. Lives in a Shoe*

      I often wonder about people’s user names too! Some are obvious references to pop culture, others not so much, but even when I get the reference I’m curious as to why they chose it. People are so creative! Mine is from the nursery rhyme and describes my work life pretty perfectly :)

      Gozer was from Ghost Busters, right?

        1. Sprechen Sie Talk?*

          Mine too. I just rewatched Ghosbusters and realised my work husband is a dead ringer for Egon :/

          1. Keymaster of Gozer*

            Does he collect spores, moulds and fungus? ;)

            (My mother still thinks Egon was the reason I did my BSc in virology and epidemiology. No mum, but it explains my freshman haircut..)

        2. Seeking Second Childhood*

          Do you know the back story for this summer’s Ghostbusters:Afterlife?
          It’s about his & Janet’s grandchildren… I am trying to rein in my hopes but it looks very promising!

      1. Kuododi*

        My username is the nickname my Dear Husband uses for me. It’s actually a two part name he created. “Kuo” is my name in the Mano dialect of Liberia West Africa. DH was there with the Peace Corps in the late 80’s. “Dodi” is Hebrew meaning “beloved.”. Best regards.

      1. Keymaster of Gozer*

        I worked in London for 3 years and did consider moving there but it’s a busy place – full appreciation for you doing a detailed job there :)

        1. londonedit*

          Ah I’ve been here 20 years now, it’s the only place I’ve ever wanted to live! It’s in my bones :)

          1. Keymaster of Gozer*

            I miss being able to just wander round the corner of the office onto Tottenham Court Road, or go to Covent Garden (favourite place to buy tea is there). Swindon is my home but it’s lacking in unique places like London has in droves!

    2. Marion Q*

      Mine is the name of a character in one of my favourite books. I decided to shorten the last name though.

    3. CastIrony*

      Mine is from the irony of being a cook’s assistant at a small restaurant and washing cast iron pans, and I don’t really even know how to cook!

    4. another Hero*

      Mine is odd because Hero is not my favorite character in Much Ado, it’s just that “another Hero” is an excellent username imo

    5. General von Klinkerhoffen*

      My previous username was my actual first name, and I decided I wanted a little more obscurity (even though it’s a common name). I also started skewing or obscuring irrelevant personal details – eg mentioning one pet but not another, or referring to somewhere I lived for a while as my hometown, or using gender-neutral terms instead of specifying. This is the kind of behaviour that’s recommended online to protect privacy (especially for those of us with a tendency to overshare!). I don’t obfuscate relevant information.

      So, with that in mind, I wanted to choose something sufficiently unusual that it would be easily found in a page search (I search “klink” and only ever find my own posts or replies to them).

      General von Klinkerhoffen is a character from a very silly 1980s BBC sitcom about WW2. His name is usually YELLED by a character called Helga. There are several catchphrases from the sitcom that people often use in responses to me here, including “listen very carefully: I shall say this only once”. If I’m describing a situation in a comment here I also have a set of themed names ready (Rene, Edith, Michelle, Mimi, etc).

        1. Nessun*

          Thank you for reminding me of Allo Allo! I need to track that down and rewatch Rene and the bunch.

      1. Keymaster of Gozer*

        So, so many happy memories of watching Allo Allo with my parents on a Sunday evening. It’s a fantastic name.

        (I’ve referred to my car as ‘my little tank’ a few times too)

    6. Grandma Mazur*

      Character from a series of books I read when younger. I’d like to be like her when I grow up!

    7. The Cosmic Avenger*

      I came up with mine many years ago, when I wanted to dive into the comments on sites where they were more raucous and impolite, so I thought about what I would call myself if I were arguing anonymously for a particular cause, and it just came to me. Now I use it anywhere that I want to remain anonymous (or my regular username that is derived from my real name)…or mostly anon, since a small group of friends knows about this alias.

      And my avatar is Eduardo, from Foster’s Home for Imaginary Friends.

    8. Filosofickle*

      Mine is “philosophical” pronounced silly. It comes from a conversation long ago about how when you’re drunk sometimes you think you’re having deep, profound thoughts, but later you realize it wasn’t deep at all. It was just silly.

    9. Forrest Rhodes*

      I’m Forrest Rhodes mostly because that’s where I’ve spent many of the happiest times of my life—walking, hiking, and/or living on forest roads.

    10. Penny Parker*

      My user name is a character in a book written by Mildred Wirt, who was an outstanding feminist, pilot, a reporter into her old age (96), and the author of the first thirteen or so original Nancy Drew mystery novels. The character is a young teen reporter fighting against the sexism of her era in order to do her job. While working as a reporter she also solved mysteries.

    11. Jaid*

      Mine is a Mary Sue for DC Comics Legion of Superheros, a 30th century crimefighting team. :-)

      Long Live the Legion!

      1. Arts Akimbo*

        I consider that comic to be my first-ever soap opera! So much teen drama!!! I had a huge crush on Mon-El but still wanted to see him and Shadow Lass live happily ever after! Oh and superheroing!!! :D Long Live the Legion! <3

    12. Llama Face!*

      I used to have a different username but changed it a while back to avoid being identified by people I know (since I mention this blog often). My current username is a reference from the movie The Emperor’s New Groove which I find absolutely hilarious. :)

        1. Llama Face!*

          My favourite part- okay fine I don’t have just *one*- my favourite grammar joke is this bit:
          [Chicha has managed to shut Yzma and Kronk in a closet by taking away the doorknob]
          Yzma: Alright, I’ve had enough of this! Tell us where the talking llama is, and we’ll burn your house to the ground!
          Kronk: Uh, don’t you mean “or”?
          Yzma: [sighs in exasperation] Tell us where the talking llama is, OR we’ll burn your house to the ground!
          Chaca: Well, which is it? That seems like a pretty crucial conjunction.

    13. Seven hobbits are highly effective, people*

      I wanted a username that I didn’t use elsewhere, since my “regular” username is something I’ve used for over 20 years in various places online, and is pretty easy to connect to my real name as a result.

      I didn’t want to just grab a character name from something I liked because I didn’t want to duplicate and I couldn’t decide how many old threads to search to make sure no one else was already using that particular name from that particular book/movie/tv show.

      I also wanted something with some sort of work/business reference in it if I could swing it, to match the site theme, since I was making up a name just for here.

      It just sort of came to me one day as a terrible pun after I’d defined the parameters, really. I feel like it does a good job of telegraphing my general sense of humor and broad fannish interests without being too closely linked to the rest of my online or real-life identity.

      1. WellRed*

        I’ve always loved your username. Some of my favorites here are once that have a bit of a business reference.

      2. Keymaster of Gozer*

        I love this one. It’s the kind of thing I would love to adapt to a geeky cross stitch pattern.

    14. The Gollux, Not a Mere Device*

      Mine is from a book by James Thurber: the Gollux is one of the supporting characters in The Thirteen Clocks, which is structurally a fairy tale but contains lines like “If you can touch the clocks and not start them, you can start the clocks and not touch them. That’s logic as I know and use it.”

      I picked that because local custom seems to be to use something that isn’t your own name; before that I posted for a while as “A Different Vicki.”

    15. Arts Akimbo*

      Mine’s the name of a villain from a relatively obscure cartoon from the 1990s– “Arms Akimbo” from Freakazoid. He was a protection racketeer who’d stand with his arms akimbo and knock stuff off shelves with his elbows until the business owner would relent and buy his “oops insurance.” But also I am an illustrator so I changed it to “Arts.” There’s lots of oops in art! :D

    16. Damn it, Hardison!*

      Mine is an oft-made comment in one of the best TV shows ever, Leverage. It is said by one character about another in almost every episode.

    17. Keyboard Cowboy*

      Mine’s from a line in the movie Hackers. I especially love it because there’s nothing “boy” about me ;)

    18. Not So NewReader*

      Mine comes from a lack of imagination or a creativity shortage.
      I am not good at coming up with names. I have trouble naming pets and I usually get friends to help.

      Initially, I thought I would make a few posts then change my name to something with some thinking behind it.
      yeah. right. It’s been years now. With posts like these, I start thinking again, “really should change that user name…”.

    19. Nicki Name*

      I specifically tried to pick a bland non-reference because I’m a fan of a lot of obscure stuff and I was afraid of making myself too recognizable. I only use this name here.

    20. Smol Book Wizard*

      Mine can be explained by the fact that I first de-lurked here to nerd enthusiastically about the Critical Role podcast. One of the CritRole player characters, Caleb Widogast, is a shy, earnest, autistic-coded wizard who looks for books everywhere (even on a pirate island) and occasionally surprises everyone (and himself) with eloquence under dire circumstances. Considering that since then I’ve also had a falling-out with/betrayal by my educational authorities, it’s even more pertinent, whoops.

      1. Crocheted familiar*

        Mine’s also Critical Role-related! Sort of. It’s more tangential to the fandom?

        Personally I see Caleb more having PTSD and major anxiety and well-justified paranoia than being Autistic, but I see Keyleth from campaign one as absolutely Autistic. I saw so much of the way I relate to the world and the way the world relates to me in her character.

    21. Admiral Thrawn Is Still Blue*

      Thrawn is the best antagonist in the Star Wars universe. And he’s gorgeous. I have no problem with blue skin.

      1. Seeking Second Childhood*

        As a fan of Xmen’s Mystique and Avatar’s Na’veen (all of them lol), I must say I agree!

    22. NoLongerYoung*

      Mine was “No Longer Young but Lots Wiser” but I shortened it. I’m not sure I’m wiser, and, I had to type it in on my phone browser several times, and got tired of the long version. So just… went with No Longer Young.

      1. RebeccaNoraBunch*

        +1 best TV show ever, miss it so. James Roday is a comedic genius, and he & Dule Hill make the best partnership.

    23. RebeccaNoraBunch*

      Mine is my favorite character on my favorite TV show, Crazy Ex-Girlfriend. You should all watch (it’s on Netflix!) if you haven’t. Monumental, incredible, revolutionary, hilarious, and full of depth and heart. <3

    24. Lena Clare*

      Mine’s a variation on my name and is my pen name.
      I sometimes use another name here depending on how anonymous I want to be.

      I’m kinda annoyed though because someone lower down has taken the name I used a couple of weeks ago to ask about something specific! It’s not me posting that – has that happened to others? I find it very strange. I mean, it’s not my name so I’m not attached to it, but it does feel weird.

      1. Pippa K*

        Sometimes this probably happens inadvertently – I lurked here for quite a while before choosing the username Pippa, which didn’t seem to be used by anyone else. Then one day there was a Pippa comment that wasn’t mine, and I realized it had been used sporadically in the past. So now I have a last initial.

        Weirdly, a couple of times in the recent past I’ve seen usernames that are very close, but not identical, to one used by a really visible commentator, but obviously not that person. I think Alison took them down, but it’s weird that anyone would do that.

    25. Nessun*

      Cones from my very favourite piece in the Puccini opera Turandot, Nessun Dorma. Paul Potts sang my very favourite version in his initial tv episode for Britain’s Got Talent, and it still gives me shivers.

    26. BoiChaplain*

      BoiChaplain is the name I apply to myself when I am doing ministry work. I’m not an ordained minister as of yet but I have enough training to call myself a chaplain.

    27. Granger Chase*

      Mine is the last names of two of my favorite book characters when I was growing up. Although I do still love the books now as well!

    28. WoodswomanWrites*

      Mine is the name of my blog. I’ve gone by the Woodswoman handle for many years in other settings, so the blog name grew out of that.

    29. Minocho*

      This is the name of the town I used to live in when I was teaching English in Japan. It doesn’t exist anymore – it was so small, it incorporated with two other nearby towns into a consolidated city.

    30. A Non E. Mouse*

      Blatantly anonymous because my real name and my Online Name are both too unique.

      I try not to cross streams, basically.

    31. Mama Bear*

      Mine actually came from my reaction to an early question where I felt all “mama bear” about the subject and it kind of just stuck. I love all the really creative names.

  8. Writing Thread*

    Finally down time to write what I want but I am doing everything but…
    How do I get my butt in the seat or do I just accept maybe I just don’t want to be writing?

    1. Keymaster of Gozer*

      One thing my sister does when she really has to get writing but can’t sit down and do it is a tiny notebook and pen, because she’ll think of multiple ‘oh I should include THAT’ moments during doing something else like cleaning up her sons lego. Then when she’s got a lot of notes she feels far more motivated to sit down and collate them all, which gets the writing done.

      For her, anyway. She’s even got a little bumbag (fanny pack in the US I think) to carry her notebooks. No idea where she learnt this technique, though I’m having no luck explaining to her why that doesn’t work for my programming :p

    2. Friendless*

      Make yourself sit down every single day and write 1000 words (or whatever is reasonable for you). No editing, not in order, not storyboarded, just word vomit.
      Do it for 21 days and then reassess whether it’s bringing you joy. The hard part might be getting started, or making it a hobby… Or the hard part might be that you enjoy crafting ideas but not actually writing. This will help you suss out which it is.

    3. another Hero*

      When I’m out of routine I find it super helpful to write longhand – fewer distractions. But idk maybe you always do that.

      Is there a different project you could work on? Is there something identifiable that’s making this project hard to work on, like something you haven’t figured out yet maybe?

    4. epi*

      I’ll give a medium recommendation for The Artist’s Way. It’s sort of a self help book about being creative. I found it cold be used for any solitary, personally meaningful project you want to be doing but never quite get down to. I used it to get back into my research and develop some new work habits after having to take a lot of time away for personal reasons.

      The morning pages activity she prescribes is brilliant– just an appointment every morning where you must write. The writing is not your main creative work– more like part journal, part exercise in proving to yourself that you actually can write even when you think you don’t really feel like it. I also found the reading deprivation exercise really helpful– I found myself doing creative writing I didn’t even know I had inside me or wanted to do. Mostly the book reoriented me to writing as a way to play, think out loud, and generally live my life, rather than a performance that can be strangled by anxiety. And encouraged me to just give my attention to what I want to be doing, without forcing myself to be the best all the time.

      You may need to adapt some exercises for your own goals (reading deprivation as described is incredibly difficult). And some people really have a problem with the way she talks about spirituality. Personally, I found that easy to ignore in exchange for some great advice about writing.

    5. Not So NewReader*

      How long do you make yourself sit there once you do finally sit down? If you turn this into punishment, it’s going to feel like punishment.

      I am not a writer, but I have found that this is applicable to most things in life. If I force myself to work on something for hours and hours then it is a long time before I pick it up again.

      Annnd, I have also learned to quit when I have figured out my next step OR when I have had success.
      Our tendency is to quit when we don’t know what to do next or quit when we hit failure.
      My rebuttal is to these problems is:
      Quit when I know what my next time consuming step is. Write the step down if I am worried about losing the train of thought.
      Don’t wait for failure to quit. Be more cognizant of having a successful moment, finish off that segment, plan the next step then quit for the day.

      I have used this method with job hunting, cleaning up the massive mess I call my file cabinet, training the pup and so on. I was helping a friend to get her driver’s license. I said, “Do something well, then GO HOME! Don’t wait for failure to call it a day.” It made a huge difference in her attitude which in turn helped her to grow her driving ability in leaps and bounds.

    6. tangerineRose*

      Can you outline what you want to write about? Or just tell yourself that it doesn’t matter if the first draft isn’t what you want – you just need to start writing?

    7. Owler*

      Set a timer for 15 minutes. Write. See how you feel, and then give yourself permission to continue or do something else without guilt.

  9. Grand Mouse*

    Finally went to the doctor about my hip pain and got diagnosed with bursitis. Never even heard of that before! Supposed to take anti-inflammatory meds and do some exercises

    In the same visit, I got prescribed gabapentin for fibromyalgia. I have bad anxiety too and seizures (mostly controlled) so that should help too.

    I’m curious if anyone else has experience with either of these?

    (An aside, lately I am obsessed with eating buffalo wings and anything hot-flavored but it is starting to murder my stomach. Oops. Wish I knew what was behind this craving. Usually my body has a reason)

    1. The Cosmic Avenger*

      A lot of hot sauces, particularly buffalo and Louisiana style, are vinegar based. I sometimes find myself craving vinegar, which often means hot sauce for me, but sometimes I use soy sauce and rice wine vinegar on things. Could that be it?

      1. Keymaster of Gozer*

        …you may have just solved the riddle of me drinking malt vinegar out of a shot glass…

    2. Bluebell*

      I had bursitis in my hip in my 30s but it eventually went away, thank goodness. In the past few months I got it in my shoulder so am doing icing, exercises and Advil. Doctor has offered to give me a cortisone shot but I don’t love the idea. Am thinking of trying some Alexander Technique lessons.

    3. Keymaster of Gozer*

      I was on gabapentin for my epilepsy for a while, but it caused my depression to get worse so they’ve switched me to lamotrigine. For managing pain levels (goddammit arthritis) they switched my antidepressants to a very old one called dosuliepin instead which has helped enormously.

      One thing I found with the seizure meds was they did change my eating habits. I now get intense (“gimme this now or else I’ll eat the car”) cravings for anything smoky flavoured. I down Lapsang tea like it’s water.

    4. Courageous cat*

      Loooove some gabapentin. I take it for anxiety and to just have a nice chill evening sometimes. Watch out though because tolerance is QUICK. I try to take it every other day for the full effect, but I believe it’s still perfectly therapeutic if you take it daily, you may not outwardly feel as intensely calm.

    5. Retail not Retail*

      Important issue with gabapentin aside from whether it works for you like it did me etc – its scheduling has changed in some states in response to the opioid crisis.

      I learned that the hard way moving from colorado to west virginia to tennessee. The first primary care doc i found here wouldn’t prescribe it OR wean me off it since she’s not a pain doc. Meanwhile pain specialists have like 3 month waiting periods.

      It all got sorted I only weaned myself for a week (oh man the pain) before getting a new doc.

      Keep in mind in 2015 i studied abroad with a 4 month supply with not word one from any security personnel.

    6. Stephanie*

      I had bursitis in my hip, about ten years ago. I found that strength exercises for the hips and thighs really helped long term, as well as the stretching. Good luck!

    7. The Gollux, Not a Mere Device*

      I got a bursitis diagnosis from an orthopedist who thought it was time for me to have a cortisone shot, after lots of PT. I think both helped some.

      I have also been on gabapentin for years with no noticeable side effects. I’m using it for neuropathic knee pain caused by MS, and am quite happy with it. Brain meds are complicated, as are off-label uses.

    8. Kuododi*

      I was on Gabapentin during ’18-’19 for carpal tunnel in both hands. As pain mgmt I found it to be very effective. My only issue with the medication was I wanted to eat everything but the paint on the walls!!! I don’t actually know how much I gained but it was rough. Thankfully the surgery gave almost instant relief and I was able to stop the meds. Best regards… Kuododi.

    9. Everdene*

      I took gababpetin for about 3-4 years for nerve pain. It made me tired, if I didn’t eat with each dose I vomited and my brain was a bit mushy. However it was great for the nerve pain. The doctors then moved me to pregabalin which was kinder to me in lots of ways but made me eat everything in sight – a friend told me it is well known for carb cravings which now explains why my attempts to cure hunger with ‘healthy foods’ always failed.

      A big warning is that missing a dose can cause seizures- even if you have never had one before. I certainly felt ‘weird’ the weekend I went away without enough to last me at my normal dose and had to eek it out. Be careful to always have enough with you unless the dr is transitioning you off them.

    10. Jedi Squirrel*

      What a coincidence–I had bursitis in my right hip earlier this week. It was terribly painful in the morning and got better throughout the day. Monday I could barely walk, now I’m almost back to normal.

      I had a lot of folks recommend cortisone injections, but I demurred–you only get so many chances with them before they lose effectiveness.

      Some also recommended Advil for the pain, but to be honest, I’ve never trusted that approach. I’m always afraid I’ll injure myself because my body won’t be able to send me the signals it should be sending. I like being able to trust my body. (Harder to do as I get older.)

      I did find that walking around really helped. It got better throughout the day, and throughout the week. A friend has recommended that I see a chiropractor to make sure nothing is out of alignment, and as that is not invasive or drug-based, I’m going to try that route in a few weeks.

    11. Sh’Dynasty*

      I’ve had diagnosed bursitis in my hip (both the outer and inner joint kind) since 17yrs old. Was diagnosed from imaging done after having a decline in mobility. I played sports competition throughout most of high school, and simple walking was when the pain was the most intense. I think that’s mainly because when I moved on the court I wasn’t focusing on anything but playing and the game.
      Classmates used to call me Igor because pain lessened when I would straighten out the leg. I chose to lean into the nickname :)
      It used to get so bad that I’d lay in bed at night thinking, “if my hip was shot out, would it be less pain than this?”. Heat helped a bit, but what solves it during high pain for me continues to be high dose of ibruprofen OR low dose muscle relaxers. I only take the muscle relaxers at night, though- absolutely ruins me the next day with how dragged down and tired I feel.
      Honestly? Physical therapy seriously changed my life for the better. Find a highly recommended center, and a communicative personnel who listens to your skill level. I’m highly mobile but with such weak joints on my hip. They’ll help strength your leg, give you stretches, etc. It takes a couple of months but one of the best things I’ve done for myself.
      Try getting help soon as you’re body will start finding ways to compensate in easing the pain, which then messes up other parts of the body. I started leaning on one side, which contorted my knee and back.
      Yoga that is more hatha/deep stretching has also helped.

    12. Fikly*

      I have bursitis in both my knees!

      I was researching treatment options, and worst case scenario is surgical removal of the bursa. Because I am a planner, I wanted to what the long term consequences of that are. Turns out they can grow back? Like, WTH, I am not a starfish!

      Regular applications of ice is really helping with my knees!

    13. pcake*

      I have bursitis in both hips, but it doesn’t bother me at all if I do hip abduction exercises daily, like clamshells. If I stop doing the exercises for several day, I start feeling the pain again.

    14. siri*

      Sometimes I think bursitis is code for “it hurts for some reason but we aren’t seeing any major signs for concern unless it doesn’t go away.” Fibromyalgia plus bursitis does seem interesting, though, so you might want to see a rheumatologist or physiatrist if you haven’t already just to rule out systemic things like Ehlers Danlos Syndrome or arthritis or that kind of thing. Physical therapy can be a good thing to try for this stuff too. In my experience, sometimes primary care doctors aren’t super up on the musculoskeletal stuff so if stuff doesn’t go away on it’s own, it can help to see these kinds of specialists to make sure people look at things from different perspectives.

    15. Sami*

      Be aware some people have really extreme reactions to Gabapentin. Hit up Google.
      I took it for several years for fibromyalgia. I don’t remember the dosage, but I did take it every day. It’s not a rescue med. Honestly I never really felt it worked well for me. I probably should have been on a much higher dose. A little over a year ago I ran out and slowly tapered off (if you are running out or want to stop taking it make sure you taper your dose). A few months later I noticed my rings were not fitting well and some of my pants were loose. I had gained quite a bit of weight on it, gradually of course, and didn’t quite notice. Since then I’ve lost over 50 pounds which is good. And I haven’t really ever noticed any changes in pain since then. I can’t imagine that I will ever take it again. I hope it works for you
      – good luck!

    16. Jaded Millenial*

      I got the same diagnoses for hip pain, although mine was coincident with Iliotibial band syndrome. I did PT for as long as I could afford the copays, but a change in job/shorter car commute seems to have mostly diminished the hip pain, but the bursitis just seems another symptom of the generalized inflammatory tenderness that I expect won’t go away without getting my body fat percentage down/activity level up.

  10. Kylie*

    Not sure if this should be considered a work or open thread question: Does anyone have advice on getting a puppy when you work 8 hour days? I don’t work in a dog friendly office unfortunately. My commute is about 15 minutes each way so I could go home during lunch, but the puppy (2-3 months old) would be alone for 4-5 hours in between. Should I take PTO for a few weeks? Or is it better to just adopt an older dog? I was planning on getting a shiba inu.

    One other option that I may have is working from home for part of the day for the first 2 or 3 months but I have to ask my manager if she’d be ok with that.

    1. Zephy*

      A <3mo puppy requires about the same level of supervision and care as a human infant. Coming home at lunch is a good start, but you'd probably want to have someone come by a few more times while you're at work, or better yet, just stick around and puppysit all day.

      If hiring a sitter (even if it's a responsible friend or relative) is out of the picture and you live alone, definitely get an older dog. Also, you didn't specify where you're planning to get this dog from, but please consider adopting from a shelter rather than purchasing from a breeder. If you insist on buying a dog, at least do your due diligence and find a licensed breeder that knows what they're doing, not just some rando whose dog got knocked up and who's looking to make a buck selling the puppies.

      1. Kylie*

        I would definitely only buy from a reputable breeder! I have a very narrow list of breeders I will consider buying from. I expect it to take 6 months to a year to actually get a puppy if at all.
        I’ve considered rescues for shibas as well, so I may be able to find an older one, especially if I can’t care for a young puppy with my job.

        1. Venus*

          You might also want to check with the breeders as some may also adopt out their dogs after they have had a few litters (many breeders will keep them and get them spayed, but it’s a reasonable question to ask!). Some breeds are hard to find in rescue (shelters, foster-based rescue, breed rescue) so if you want an adult then it’s probably best to try all your options. Also, some breeders have older dogs returned, and sometimes this is because the adopter did a crappy job of training them (which would not work well for you), but sometimes it’s because of life circumstances that are bad luck (loss of job, health, etc).

    2. Dame Judi Brunch*

      Puppies can’t hold their bladders as long, but I think if you take them out before work, then again during your lunch, that’ll be fine.
      We crate trained our dogs when they were puppies, it really helped with getting them to hold it vs. just peeing with abandon.
      Don’t use pee pads. You end up having to potty train your dogs twice. First to use the pad, second, to stop using pad.
      Good luck! New puppies are a lot of hard work at first, but it pays off!

      1. Puppy patrol*

        I presently have a geriatric rescue who cannot, will not go outside in less than freezing weather. Pee pads have saved us. She pees and poos right on the pad by the front door and barks to tell us the deed has been done.

        Yes to the crate training. Best book for this is Mother Knows Best.

        1. Dame Judi Brunch*

          Pee pads are wonderful for older dogs! I just meant they’re not good for potty training a puppy.

          1. Kuododi*

            DH purchased a massive package of pee pads not long after we brought home our second mini Daschund. The little stinker took one look at the weird new thing in the house, sniffed it a couple of times. Then he proceeded to take the pad and treated it as just another chewie toy. (Silly dufus) One Daschund in the house is great fun, two Daschunds are an invitation to chaos and destruction.

      2. Friendless*

        Our puppy naturally stopped using the pad and it was no big deal at all. The trick is to confine them to a space that’s small enough that they don’t *prefer* to use the pad so they learn to hold it, but big enough that it’s not cruel to the dog. We used a 4×4 pen for our toy dog.

        The breeder swore by puppy litter boxes because they’re less easy to confuse for a rug and an easier transition to outdoors, but she refused to use the thing so we gave up and switched to pads and it was fine. It might have prolonged potty training by a few weeks, but no big deal.

    3. Puppy patrol*

      I have wanted a puppy for years and am finally on the list with a reputable breeder. This is a long range plan. When the puppy arrives after being with its family of origin for 3 months, I will be taking time to stay home and bond for at least 2 weeks- I know that is a luxury but I can work-from home. I have vacation time saved up. There will be a day care situation set up for the next few months then a dog walker coming in afternoons. I will zip home around 11:00 am.

    4. Friendless*

      We just did this with our second puppy (with the first, who is 5 now, we worked opposite shifts so it was no big deal – but having a big brother is helping the pup with separation anxiety). We agonized over the decision for months but it ended up being perfectly fine and she is perfectly happy. We just buy her a lot of crate-safe bones (benebones mostly) and she is happy to sleep and chew away the day. Obviously some dogs are less cool about that, depending on breed.

      We considered getting a dog walker but $15 a day adds up.
      We ended up getting her a playpen, about 4×4, and putting potty pads in a corner opposite her food. She naturally went to the potty pads. By the time she was 6 months, we started coming home to find no messes on the pads. By 7 months she never messed so we picked them up. We’ve just gotten her fixed so we aren’t letting her out of the playpen yet, but after she’s healed she’ll
      be allowed run of the house with her brother.

      We make sure to give her lots of attention when we are home. Walks before and after work with pit stops to work on tricks. And something I’m a huge believer in since going through the puppy terrorist phase with out first dog, is doggie daycare. She goes twice a week and comes home so tired that she sleeps straight through the next day. It’s so so good for their socialization and coping skills to get them used to interacting with other dogs without you present. Plus a happy dog is a tired dog.

      We also got a Wyze camera to help keep an eye on her until I felt less guilty about leaving her, they’re like $20 on Amazon. And I did take a week to work from home when we first got her, so I could slowly ramp up time away.
      And one last tip- we waited until 12 weeks to get our puppies from the breeder and I think that extra bit of time really helped them be mature enough for more time alone right away.

    5. Bluebell*

      I think it’s great to consider an older dog, but am sharing our experience w puppies. In both cases we got ours from a breeder and the pups were over 3 months old. Puppy 1 I worked 15 mins away so for the first 3 months I went home almost every day for a midday walk. Then we got a walker. Puppy 2 was 4 months old and I took a week off when we brought her home. Then we got a midday walker, and child came home late afternoon and also took her out. Both dogs were crate trained. We’ve also fostered adult dogs — some crate trained, some were free in the house. Good luck, whatever you choose!

    6. ThatGirl*

      Definitely a little older dog. Ours was around 2 when we got him and he does great while we’re both at work.

    7. Seven hobbits are highly effective, people*

      I’ve always gotten older dogs rather than puppies, and I’ve gotten some great dogs that way over the years. Someone else already did the hard work of house training and leash training them, and you already know if they’ll “grow into their paws” or not (more of an issue with mutts – you don’t always know how big a given mixed breed puppy with end up being as an adult, particularly if the parentage isn’t known).

      If you’re considering this route and want a dog of a specific breed, you should see if there are any breed-specific rescues in your area for shiba inus. We’ve gotten 2 basset hounds through basset rescue groups over the years that way even though they’re not common in my area. These rescue groups are often more picky than the county dog shelter or some breeders about who they’ll adopt dogs out to, though, which can be an issue depending on your specific circumstances. For example, our local dachshund org is so ridiculously fussy that I have no interest in try to get a dog through them even though I’ve had a dachshund before and also probably meet their adoption criteria. They just come across like exhausting people to work with, and I care more about not dealing with them than I do about what specific breed of dog I get next. Most breed-specific rescues have a very clear idea of what kind of home situation they think that breed does well with, and also will offer you breed-specific advice about grooming needs and common breed issues as part of making sure you’re a good home for the dog, so if you match what they’re looking for they can be a good source of information as you get started with your dog, but it’s definitely a more involved process.

    8. Jess*

      I would err on the side of an older dog (I just adopted a 1 year old but have had many puppies, including 2 10-week old foster pups at the same time, yikes!) but if you’re able to go the partial work from home, I’d also make sure that you’re not spending the whole time you’re at home actually with them. You being there will help them in that you can take them out, but they need to work up to being alone for hours at a time emotionally, too.
      The other thing I would consider with a puppy is that, along with the attention during the day, it’s likely they’ll need to get up some in the middle of the night to go to the bathroom- the nighttime potty runs were what really did me in, Just another factor to think about for your schedule!

    9. Aurora Leigh*

      If you can get home for lunch, I honestly think you’ll be fine! Do try to think of a backup person you could relay on to come let the doggo out if something unexpected comes up (like maybe a retired neighbor?).

      Crate training was the best thing we ever did with our pupper. He’s 2 now and we mostly let him roam the house while we’re at work, but the crate is his safe space. Be prepared to deal with some accidents, but know it will get better. :)

      We brought Doggo #2 home shortly before Christmas. He’s an adult (2ish) and although he seems to have had pretty much zero training of any kind, we had very few accidents and we never have to take him out in the middle of the night, so that’s a plus.

      We only took a 3 day weekend off work for Pupper #1, but I had the Christmas to New Year’s stretch off work for Doggo #2. I would reccomend taking a week off if you can swing it, if only because it’s hard to focus on work when you have a new puppy at home! :)

    10. RebeccaNoraBunch*

      It’s doable and very rewarding but will require a little more work! I just adopted two poodle puppies who are now 4.5 months old (I adopted them at 8 weeks, they’re sisters). I got laid off in October, got them in November, so I’ve gotten to spend their formative months with them, bonding, training, getting the lay of the land and Learning How to Be Dogs. When I go back to work (which will be in the next couple weeks), I have a trusted dog walker who will come in every 4 hours to let them out and play with them. I have them in a large enclosed pen where they have their bed, water, food, toys, and a large pee pad so they can urinate if they need to. They’re not housebroken yet but they’re getting there. Puppies are similar to infants in many ways, but they grow and learn quickly – at 4 months, my girls have matured leaps and bounds over where they were 2 months ago, and that will only continue. Best of luck and congratulations! It’s the best, most rewarding relationship and journey you will ever take.

    11. Crazy Chicken Lady*

      Our pup is nearly 8 months old. He’s a rescue pup- his mom was found by the side of the road, wrapped up in some construction material and duct tape, in labor.

      We picked him up from the rescue group’s foster family at 8 weeks. Our past puppy raising experience was 25 years ago, so we’d forgotten a lot.

      Parvo, for example. Can’t take our dog anywhere without holding them off the ground until they are about four months old- so… yeah no doggie daycare until 4 months. Our pup will be pretty big, which means that we can’t really have him neutered until he’s a year. Doggie daycare kicks them out at 6 months (liability concerns of getting another dog pregnant.)

      So during those two months (4 to 6 months), our dog was able to go to doggy daycare on those days when we both had to be in the office. Dh works from home 4 days a week and I work from home the 5th day.

      Our pup couldn’t hold pee for more than a couple hours at a time- and potty training is incredibly important. He’s a house dog but he goes outside to pee. Since we don’t have a dog door, that requires a human.l to let him out. He’s great about letting us know he needs out.

      I work 15 minutes from home, but I can’t stop home 4 times a day. I wouldn’t kennel my pup at 8 weeks of age for four hours. I think the rule of thumb is an hour per month of age.

      Puppies have sharp teeth and like to chew everything. We have puppy proofed much more than we did for our kids when they were babies.

      On the plus side, with a puppy you will get to know all of his/her quirks. And you’ll be pretty much responsible for all of his/her behaviors, since you’re working to establish them. It’s an awesome job and utterly challenging. Our pup is lucky in that we are empty nesters and Dh is close to retirement. We have time and money to spend on a trainer.

      I really wanted to wait until Dh actually retired but in the end a year or two ahead of schedule isn’t so bad.

      I’d suggest PTO for a few weeks and then a day or two telecommuting, if you can swing it. There are lots of folks that you can hire to come by and check on your pup once or twice a day. Not cheap tho.

      We’ve adopted a rescue dog that was right about a year old. She was part of our life for 15 years, and allllll of her behaviors were established before she came to us. We couldn’t fix them, despite extensive training. We had to mitigate. For 15 years, anytime we had company, she was tucked away. She couldn’t go for a walk with just one person – you’d need pretty much the whole family to provide enough distraction so she wouldn’t try to kill anything that moved. She was an awesome family dog, despite her quirks.

      After adopting our current pup, I’m a big fan of fostering with a rescue. I think we will do that in the future when our pup is a few years old. You might consider that step instead of leaping right into adopting either a pup or an older dog. Worst case would be a foster fail (ie you find you want to adopt the foster pup.)

  11. Zephy*

    My best friend and her partner (they/them) are coming to visit next week! I’m so excited to see both of them, and to meet the partner. We’ve all played games online and spoken in voice chat together, but the partner lives overseas, so she and they will be meeting in person for the first time when they arrive tomorrow(!!!). Then they get to meet basically the rest of the important people in her life, starting with me and my own partner. I feel pretty special, ha. :)

    They are coming to visit her here for a couple of months, traveling around to various conventions together, before both of them head back across the pond to Partner’s city for another few months, to meet all of their important people and make art and generally be awesome. They’re both Patreon-funded artists, which has the distinct advantage of meaning they can basically work from anywhere. I really want to see my friend’s plans come to fruition – she seems so happy and so excited for these next steps that she’s taking, and I’m excited for her. Her partner also seems like a genuinely good human being, and watching their relationship develop has been Hallmark-movie-level heartwarming.

    1. Not A Manager*

      They’ve never met in person before? And now they’ll be traveling together for months in each one’s country?

      Keep us posted.

      1. Zephy*

        I do have my own concerns along those lines, but there’s no big flashing warning signs that I can see (realizing that I absolutely don’t have the full picture of their relationship). They’ve been an item for some time now, and they’re communicating more or less constantly whenever they’re both awake; if anything, the other person being physically present will just save their phone batteries, I imagine.

        I have no doubt that my friend can take care of herself, come hell or high water. Maybe she’ll run into more roadblocks than she’s anticipating, but she does have a safety net, and is also incredibly resourceful.

        1. Courageous cat*

          It’s not that they would have bad communication or there would be anything Bad in general necessarily – simply that chemistry/attraction can definitely be different in person vs online, so that’s a lot to bank on, having not experienced it yet.

          1. WellRed*

            Yes! So much this. No chemistry in person. Fingers crossed for your friend this works out! Are they staying with you?

            1. Mama Bear*

              This. I once flew out to meet someone as a friend but it was very clear that it was not going to level up because there was zero in-person chemistry. I hope better for these two.

    2. ..Kat..*

      Are they staying with you? If so, clarify whether they plan to share a bed.

      Hope you have a good visit with them.

    3. Agnes*

      You should go to the doctor. I had that happen to me once and it was ulcerative colitis, which can cause sepsis and even death. I had to be in the hospital a few days until it was healed.

  12. Vic tower*

    My husband and I lent our spare car to some friends for a month. They returned it yesterday- the car was almost empty of petrol and full of pine needles (one of the things they used it for was getting a Christmas tree).
    That’s pretty rude, right? But would you say anything? I’m inclined to let it go, just not lend to them again

    1. Zephy*

      Wow, rude. Rule 1 of borrowing a car is to bring it back with a full tank!

      I wouldn’t know where to begin with saying anything, though. Maybe just don’t lend to them again.

    2. fposte*

      I’m with you. Vacuum, sticky-tape the needles out, and consider them friends for emotional but not physical sharing. If they ask again, you can decide, based on the nature of friendship and communication, whether you’ll say “Sorry, that doesn’t work for us,” or “Dude, we love you, but it looks like we’re not on a return-condition wavelength” or something in between.

    3. Lives in a Shoe*

      I’d probably just stay quiet and not lend it to them again. I agree that it’s rude though, it should have been returned cleaner than they found it, with a full tank of gas and maybe even a fresh oil change after a month IMO.

    4. General von Klinkerhoffen*

      That is pretty rude. I doubt I’d say anything, but I would file it away for future reference, and I’d be disinclined to extend such a favour to them again.

    5. Not A Manager*

      My problem with not saying anything is that I lose friends that way. And as I get older, I have fewer friends to lose.

      What I mean is, if they’re not super close friends anyway, then sure, chalk it up and don’t lend them the car again. But if they are close friends, and you don’t say anything – at least if it were me, and I didn’t say anything – I would remember it forever and actually like them a lot less. They would just by definition no longer be close friends.

      So I’ve learned that while it’s very, very hard to do, sometimes it’s a favor TO ME to say something at the time, so that I am able to move on (whether I lend the car again or not). I’m not even looking for an apology or contrition. I just find that if I don’t say anything, I personally am done with the friendship for anything meaningful, whereas if I say something, at least maybe the friendship will survive.

      1. lasslisa*

        Yeah, once you’re at “write em off” I think it’s a good thing to say something. I have a lot of oblivious friends, young friends, and friends from different cultures, and not everyone’s parents taught them to bring something when they go to a house (sometimes people worry that would be rude, like you’re saying the hostess can’t host a good enough event without you, or just overthink themselves into paralysis), or to notice maintenance tasks and take care of stuff (for their own stuff even).

        I’d say it more as “hey, it would have been thoughtful to vacuum out the pine needles before bringing it back” though, rather than “it was really rude of you to…”.

    6. Ask a Manager* Post author

      Any reason not to just say, “Would you mind taking it back for an afternoon and cleaning out the pine needles and filling up the tank before it comes back to us permanently?”

      1. Keymaster of Gozer*

        I’m going to modify this wording to use on my sister who borrowed my car only to return it with the fuel warning light on and spilt milkshakes all over the passenger seat.

      2. Vic tower*

        Unfortunately, we got it back because we needed to use it straight away to help my sister move house. So we did all that ourselves! These are pretty close friends but the car arrangement was mostly between the two men. I doubt the wife realised about the petrol. What’s extra frustrating is that the other hubby told us he played a couple of hours golf prior to bringing us the car, so they definitely had time to do both the clean up and buy petrol!
        I think if it comes up (e.g. they mention using it again) I’ll say something but otherwise let it go. I definitely take Not a Manager’s point though that not talking about it can spoil the friendship more than bringing it up.

        1. valentine*

          These are pretty close friends
          If this is so, the relationship can weather this. Tell them you see you’re not on the same page, and you expected the car returned in the same condition. If they say sure thing, we’re all over that next time, give them another chance. Otherwise, I would think we don’t share values and I’d be cutting them loose and only having friends like the one in Not So NewReader’s post below.

    7. Not So NewReader*

      I remember my father chuckling one time. He loaned a tool to a neighbor. When the tool came back the tool had been sharpened to the point it was like new. The tank was full and the oil was full. My father said he’d loan anything to that neighbor anytime.

      As an adult, I see that this is probably a normal response to someone who has loaned something. Clean it up, replace any consumable parts- gas/oil/filters/whatever got used up. I borrowed my friend’s powerwasher. I think I used 2 measuring cups of gas. I filled the tank before returning the washer and I made sure the hose and wire were neatly coiled up. I can borrow it again, any time. This to me is what normal looks like.

      Borrowing a car for a month is a bfd. It’s okay not to loan your things to people who do not take very good care of them. And it’s okay to decide not to loan them anything else. While I don’t think of them as rude, I do think of them as thoughtless teetering on careless. I would see too big a risk in loaning them anything.

      1. gsa*

        “I remember my father chuckling one time. He loaned a tool to a neighbor. When the tool came back the tool had been sharpened to the point it was like new. The tank was full and the oil was full. My father said he’d loan anything to that neighbor anytime.“

        Yup!!!

    8. Frankie Bergstein*

      I think you can say something – Allison’s script is perfect – and just consider it garden-variety boundary-setting. You’re preserving the friendship by preventing resentment. I’m working on this in my own life :)

    9. YouwantmetodoWHAT?!*

      Yes, very rude. And they had it a whole month? That’s a .wow.
      I would have had it washed/vacummed AND filled the tank.
      I probably wouldn’t say anything, but I also wouldn’t lend them /anything/ again.
      And if they asked why, I would tell them – calmly and factually.

    10. Grapey*

      I’ve been in the same exact situation (except replace pine needles with sand) and when they asked to borrow the car again for another beach trip, I told them “The last time it was returned there was beach sand everywhere and the tank was almost empty. If I lend it again, can you get it back to me sand-free with a reasonably full tank?”

      She huffed and said something like ‘it wasn’t that bad’ and didn’t apologize for the gas, so I just said my car wasn’t available.

      If they ask again AND they’re apologetic and otherwise amenable to your conditions, I would lend it again and see what happens.

  13. Redd*

    Warning: a period question, kind of graphic.

    I’m a 50-year-old woman. Always had normal periods, but for the past 3 years or so… I don’t know how to put this, so I’ll just be blunt and say that it seems like I’m bleeding out of my butt. A lot. I’m sure this is not the case, but I have to stick a wad of toilet paper between my cheeks, otherwise I’ll leak through my clothes. (it’s happened!)
    Of course, I leaked sometimes when I was younger, but I never used to have to stick toilet paper back there! What’s going on, are my periods just changing as I get closer to menopause?

    1. fposte*

      Probably. Also your anatomy changes a bit. Are you sure, though, it really *isn’t* coming out of your butt? Because that’s a doctor’s visit if so. (BTW, long pads or liners can help with the problem, and you can place them farther back if need be.)

      1. Redd*

        Oh, I wear 2 pads so I’m covered in the back, but still leak sometimes so I have to use the toilet paper “plug” to be safe. I wonder, if it really was coming out if my butt, why would it only be during my period?

        1. fposte*

          It’s much less likely, but ulcerative colitis, for instance, can flare more during your period. Another thing to examine would be whether toilet contents/wiping show significant blood. Try a moist wipe before using the toilet to remove residual blood, wipe area by area afterwards starting in back (change TP as you move north). If you’re still seeing noticeable blood on TP after pooping when you just wiped up prior, that’s worth asking your doctor about.

          1. valentine*

            I would have an exam, just to be sure, and start using incontinence underwear (for heavy bleeding, add two long overnight pads both front and back) and jeans or something study that will hold them in place. Tuck when you pull them up, sleep on a pad or towel, and, when changing positions, tuck the towel, then slowly sit up and hold for a few seconds to let the blood resettle. If this works, you’ll be able to see what the pattern is as far as how much blood goes to the back and at what time of day.

        2. Zephy*

          I’m not a doctor or an expert, but the barrier between the vagina and the rectum is just a very thin membrane. A tear or a hole in that membrane could very well direct menstrual fluid out of the anus.

          1. fposte*

            I knew there was something else I was forgetting! Yes, you can get a fistula that means the flow flows through, as it were.

    2. Sir Freelancelot*

      Menopause is certainly a factor(periods are known to change sometimes before/after a major event), but you should go to the gynecologist and check with them!

    3. Zephy*

      Could be that your general anatomy’s changed shape and now your fluids are being funnelled places they oughtn’t be. Or, maybe you’re sitting differently these days. Probably worth at least a chat with your GP, or maybe bring it up at your next well-woman exam.

      NB: I’m 28 and I don’t menstruate anymore (thanks, Nexplanon!), but I had this problem occasionally when I did bleed. Just shaped funny, I guess. I’d either double up on pads to extend them further back or get the extra-long ones. My switching to a cup and my BC stopping my periods happened in quick succession so I don’t know if changing to a cup would help, but it’s also an option for you. I’d say if you’re using an internally-worn feminine hygiene product–whether tampon or reusable cup–and it’s still happening, you should talk to your doc.

      1. londonedit*

        Co-signing this. Before I started using a menstrual cup (15 years ago!) I used to have trouble with pads leaking at night because everything was going up the back and off the end of the pad. No idea why.

      2. university minion*

        It could also be your underwear! My current preferred brand of underwear orients the crotch gusset further back than what I’d been used to (more centered, I guess?). What that translated to was that I was placing a pad where I thought I’d always put it, but it was, in fact further back, causing leaking in front. Once I got that figured out, no more worries.

    4. Keymaster of Gozer*

      Mine started doing something similar about 5 years ago and the doctor reckons it’s a combination of my endometriosis and menopause. Not the most informative diagnosis in the world to be fair but I don’t have the spoons to challenge him.

      I have used nighttime menstrual pads during the day as they tend to be a lot longer and can catch the overruns better.

    5. Fake Old Converse Shoes (not in the US)*

      Are you having a rough time? Last year my period was out of control due to the stress of job hunting. I went to have an emergency room… And everything turned out to be normal. Unsurprisingly, I went back to my usual period schedule when I settled in my current job.

    6. Just a Thought*

      Yes, monthly flow can change as you get closer to menopause. I’m wondering if you perhaps have developed a vaginal fistula – a check-up is recommended.

    7. Not So NewReader*

      I noticed change in “back flows” with weight loss/gain. Most of my problems were from reclining and sleeping at night. But when I gained any substantial weight or loss any substantial weight, I had to change what I was doing.
      I should say that I was on my feet for most of my work day. So I think that was a major factor. If I had to sit I probably would have had more leakage.

      So with the weight fluctuations I would insist on using the same underwear, regardless of how well it fit, or did not fit. (Because I am CHEAP about buying things.) This caused pads to shift around in new and different ways.

      And yeah, I went through a ton of weird stuff pre-menopause. Heavy flows taking on a life of their own got to be my new normal.

      You know you best. If nothing here resonates with you, then checking iwth a doc might be a good idea. OTH, this could all fit well into your setting and you still might wanna check with a doc.

    8. HQB*

      One of the effects of age on the nether regions is that some of the fat is lost, so things that used to nestle tightly together now no longer do; this the probably what’s happened. Other commenters have mentioned fistulas – that’s extremely unlikely, as that would mean things leaked both ways – you would know if you had a fistula

    9. MissDisplaced*

      You’re probably not. During menopause years your period flow can become heavy and thick. It can make it seem like you’re bleeding from everywhere sometimes, and I think the pads can’t always absorb it quickly so it’ll leak. I’ve had that happen even with a tampon + pad and it pushed out the tampon! Gross I know. I’m glad it’s over now.

      You should still get checked out, but this is more of a common thing than you think.

  14. Crazy Broke Asian*

    Last week I asked for clothing advice for going to the ballet. I decided to ask the embassy, who is hosting the performance, first for the dress code. Well, they said that there was no fixed dress code, but they preferred best and … Smart casual.

    Cue panicked googling over what that meant.

    So, based on my admittedly limited understanding, my violet dress (which I’d be wearing with a pair of leggings) still fits their preference, although it is on the dressier end of smart casual. But I don’t know, should I just go with work trousers and a nice blouse?

    Another question: Which seats give the best view? The venue is small, around 450 persons capacity, with 50-75 of the seats on the balcony.

    Thanks in advance!

      1. Windchime*

        I think your dress should be fine! You could do some sparkly earrings and/or bracelet and it will be perfect. As far as seats go, closer is better (my opinion). I like to sit on the floor (versus balcony, not the *literal* floor) a few rows back. But in such a small venue, I’m sure you can’t go wrong.

      2. Elizabeth West*

        That dress is perfectly fine.

        With a small venue, you should be able to see okay as long as you’re not behind a pole or anything. If you’re in the balcony, I’d go with a lower tier.

      3. Llama Face!*

        I think that dress looks lovely and is definitely within the smart casual range! If you wanted to make it a little bit dressier I’d put a nice belt over the elastic/drawstring waistband (the only thing that reads as more casual to me). Enjoy your ballet!

      4. HQB*

        I posted last week, and had some reservations then, but that dress is gorgeous and you’ll look fabulous. Enjoy the ballet!

    1. Koala dreams*

      I would still wear the violet dress, just because I like dresses. I’m not sure of the seats question, it was too long ago for me.

    2. university minion*

      That dress is lovely. And perfect for the occasion.
      The best seat is the one behind someone a lot shorter than you :-)
      I’m partial to the front row of the balcony. About 10 rows back in the main orchestra seating is great, too. It sort of depends on what you prefer – big picture or a bit of detail.

    3. epi*

      I think the dress you plan to wear looks nice. Honestly I bet you will be surprised at the range of outfits you see when you get there.

      If you are really worried about it, one thing I do when I have no idea how nice to dress is try to find photos of the venue, then check out the people shown inside. If you’re getting just ultra formal pictures of the ballet that were taken at a benefit or something, you could also look at pictures of the restaurants nearby. But I bet your dress is fine. It sounds pretty!

    4. Not A Manager*

      That is a beautiful dress, and you are overthinking this. Wear whatever makes YOU feel pretty and confident. If that’s the dress, wear the dress. If that’s the pants, wear the pants. Either is well within the range of their dress code.

    5. Courageous cat*

      Agreed, you are overthinking this! Just wear something reasonably nice and call it a day. No one’s going to be critiquing you.

    6. AvonLady Barksdale*

      Without knowing the specific venue, it’s impossible to advise on the view. Every venue is different. If it’s an established venue that sells tickets regularly (as opposed to, say, an event space that occasionally hosts special performances), try their website and look for a seating chart.

    7. Ann Nonymous*

      My experience is from Europe, where there seem to be two sets of dresscodes at the opera/ballet/theatre: people who only go rarely and go more to “see and be seen” are more likely to dress up, and people who go a lot/are part of the cultural scene are more likely to dress more casually (like, men would wear dark jeans, a turtleneck and a blazer, and women would wear a ribbed knitted dress or jersey dress or dress pants and blouse).
      For ballet you have a better view closer to the stage, but then the noise from the shoes is louder and sometimes overpowers the music. Sometimes being farther away also leaves the “magic” intact more; the closer you are the more likely you are to see how hard the dancers are working.

    8. Policy wonk*

      I love the dress. It works. Re: ghe seating, a friend of mine who was a dancer told me to always sit in the balcony, because often the dancers are often making different patterns or formations, and you can’t see them if you are on the main floor. I’ve tried to get front row balcony ever since. Have fun!

    9. Elena Blackwood*

      I go to some embassy events, just based on the city I live in and for networking. I tend to err on the side of business casual or conservative clothes you’d wear to an evening party. This isn’t a hard and fast rule- people show up more casually, especially college students, but it works for pretty much every embassy occasion. The peach dress would be fine, depending on how the folds in the fabric come across. If it looks like it might be wrinkled, I’d avoid it if you’d prefer to be cautious, but if the folds come across as more deliberate, it should be fine.

    10. Anono-me*

      I think the dress will be lovely based on different events I’ve gone to. I do think you’ll probably want to wear some of your nicer jewelry with it and maybe if you wear a headscarf, go with one of your fancier ones. ( if you feel overdressed you can always took the jewelry under your clothes or take it off and put it in a purse or pocket.)

      The best seats in a venue can change from venue to venue and even from event to event. I would suggest checking online to see what will have a clear view of most of the front stage. If it’s a new venue for me, I will ask the box office for their recommendations.

      It’s a good idea to take a few throat lozenges, or some hard candies to suck on; in case you get a tickle in your throat. Please try to take the kind without noisy rappers.

      You may also want to bring along a small pair of birding binoculars or some opera glasses.

      Depending on your personality, you may also find it helpful to read a little bit about the ballet and the story that is being told. (I often find it easier to get lost in the enjoyment if I’m not trying to figure out the technical details.)

  15. Retail not Retail*

    Anyone play Pokemon Go?

    I live in a suburban neighborhood with one gym and 3 stops which is kinda meh. But I work in a place full of stops and gyms! And thanks to adventure sync, all that walking we do pays off.

    Last year when they changed the times and moved the community days around to Saturdays some months, I’d use a personal day for those 3 hours because I am an adult and our PTO is use it or lose it so… there.

    My other jobs since it came out have been grad student and museum intern in a tiny town full of churches and markers. I lived in a prison museum building that was itself a gym!

    I’ve found it really helpful for blue moods or writers block.

    1. Quiznakit*

      *waves* My problem is that I don’t know anyone offline to play with, so anything that requires interacting with other players is mostly a bust for me. I know there are other players locally but I have approximately zero idea how to go about interacting with them. Sometimes I get lucky on community days or during raid hour and am in the vicinity of a larger group, but mostly I’m on my own.

      I’m taking a trip out of town tomorrow for reasons that don’t need discussing here, and I’m not gonna lie, I’m looking forward to it for the opportunity to snag new pokemon.

      1. Clodagh*

        For finding local players try Facebook or Discord. I started joining raid hour groups about a year ago through Discord and I’ve really enjoyed it. Overall everyone’s welcoming and it’s nice to stare at your phone in the company of others rather than by yourself every now and then :D

        1. Quiznakit*

          …ah. Yes. I deleted Facebook years ago and still have no idea how Discord is supposed to even work. I suppose I should change that.

          1. Clodagh*

            Discord makes no sense at first but lurk for a few weeks and you’ll get it! I had to get a Discord invite from a Facebook group but hopefully you can get one another way.

      2. Caterpie*

        There may be a Pokemon Go discord or subreddit for your town! I’ve met a few people through there that will do raids together, but it hasn’t translated into true friendships. We send gifts back and forth though.

    2. Jules the 3rd*

      I still log in 2 – 3 times / week, but I’ve switched to Wizards Unite for daily play. But I’m lucky, I live in a town with several good walkable sites, including one between my house and the houses of my two friends who also play.

    3. Ey-not-Cy*

      I still play, but I am a bit fatigued with it. Slogging my way to level 40. 4,500,000 or so more experience points to go. I live in a small town, also. We have four gyms now, and 15 pokestops. There is a nice truce with the teams, for the most part, that shares the gyms so everyone gets the max coins for the day. You can always tell when “out of towners” come and take over, lol. I belong to our local discord and we get together to do the new legendary raids when they happen. It’s funny but we are mostly older. I’m probably the oldest at 54. :) My trainer code is 9936 1486 3152 (LiteraryMatcher)

      I have shifted and play Wizards Unite also, since they are both Niantic and use the same spots. But that one I play by myself, as my pokemon friends don’t like it as well. My friend code is 1387 8231 8609 (MyrtleReads)

      1. Retail not Retail*

        Request sent!

        My small town was not so peaceful and one evening when I was walking and kicking the reds and yellows out, it became clear a group of reds was following me and kicking me out! The audacity! It was funny – one night towards the end of the summer, the gym at my place was yellow and there was a car outside so I hopped in at the last second to the battle and yoinked it from them then waved out the window. They promptly kicked me out!

        I enjoy walking but I’d probably be fatigued if I had only my neighborhood. Being a grad student in a college town made me very spoiled.

      2. Sheila*

        I plan to send a request as well, if that’s okay! I love playing Pokemon Go, even though I’m in my 60’s. I love to play games and as my husband does not like to play games, Pokemon Go fills that need. I have found Discord to be so helpful. I have people with whom I could do the five-star raids, and I’m slowly getting to know them. I’m kinda shy, so it has taken some time, but there are some really great people who watch out for the newer players. My game name has “Eevee” in it…so that will be me. I just became “Best Friends” with an AAM player.

    4. Book Lover*

      Yes and we have traded numbers on here so I get friend eggs from Australia :). The first year I actually lost weight doing a lot of walking. I haven’t had as much time now but I have made new friends – nurse practitioners and kindergarten teachers and graphic designers – it is so fun to meet a variety or nice people :). We communicate on a Facebook group and get together for raids and community day. Piplup at the park today!

  16. Teapot Translator*

    Exercise thread?
    I’ve been overwhelmed by life and not exercising much so I haven’t been around much on week-end threads.
    But! This week, I was able to go swimming twice! And I think I’ve finally figured out a pace that I could use to work on my endurance.
    I’m still having pain from the plantar fasciitis, so the foot doctor and I decided to try a night foot brace and some other stuff. I haven’t been able to sleep the whole night with it (I hope I’ll get there) so I’m going to wear it during the day on weekends when I have to do stuff that requires a lot of sitting around.
    Have you been able to exercise lately?

    1. Anon woman with breast cancer*

      Yay for swimming, boo for the foot issue, sounds painful. Do you have access to CBD/THC cream for pain? If so and it is safe for you and ok with doc, I recommend it. In my world … I have been doing arm exercises and walking, but I think my arm stretches on the side where my port (for chemo) is may have popped a stitch or something. Going to the doctor Monday if they can fit me in, to look at it with xray as it is wonky.

      1. Teapot Translator*

        I have no idea if there’s CBD/THC cream for pain here. Probably? I’m in Canada so cannabis has been legalized but I think I’d prefer to wait a few years (and more medical research) before using the products.
        Walking is nice (not that I can do it), particularly in nature.
        I hope your doctor can fit you in!

    2. Zephy*

      My gym is routinely packed to the gills at 6:30 PM, which is when I’m able to go. Sometimes I can find a parking spot and grab a cardio machine, but I can rarely do much of anything else. I’m seriously considering switching to the new Planet Fitness that opened nearby. Pros – cheaper, slightly closer to home, significantly newer facility and equipment, 30-Minute Circuit is a good workout I don’t have to think about after working all day. Cons – PF’s strength-training equipment leaves much to be desired. My current gym used to be a Gold’s, acquired by a new boutique gym brand. Pros – regular barbells, proper squat racks and deadlift platforms, I’m locked in at the significantly-cheaper monthly rate that I got when I signed up. Cons – if I leave and decide to come back it’ll be an order of magnitude more expensive, the gym is badly in need of an update, it’s constantly crowded, it’s a mishmash of old equipment in various states of disrepair.

      1. Teapot Translator*

        Is it always packed or is this because of all the people who’ve decided to exercise as a new year resolution and most of them will probably stop going in February?
        If you can afford, maybe a good middle-ground would be to sign up for just a month to Planet Fitness (or maybe they have a promotion for newer members, like 30 days for a set amount), see if you like it and see if in the meantime, your regular gym gets less crowded?
        I go to the Y and I really like it. I don’t know how to explain it, but I feel like I belong. When I went to “regular” gyms, I felt out of place.

        1. Friendless*

          I definitely think every gym has a culture and it’s so good for the soul to find one where you fit in.

          And also, sometimes I think you just need a change of scenery. It’s not that planet fitness will be better or worse than your current gym. It’s that it will suck in different ways, so you can get a break from the suck you’re sick of for a while. Maybe keep both memberships since PF is so cheap, so that you can alternate locations based on the suck you feel most up to dealing with that day.
          Plus I agree, January at the gym is hell everywhere.

        2. Zephy*

          Oh, it’s always like this. 5:30-8:30 is peak busy time year-round for this particular gym. I think if the Planet Fitness had been open when I originally signed up at this gym I would have just gone there. I know PF will likely have similar crowding issues right now, but in my previous experience with PFs, they get significantly less busy in general around February-March. I wish I had a Y near me; all the gyms in town other than the brand-new Planet Fitness are little boutique outfits that have the bare minimum amount of old, scungy equipment, and charge you $150/month for the privilege of using it.

          1. Zephy*

            Edit to add: the friend I have coming to town next week has a PF black card membership. Gonna go as her guest and scope out the competition, as it were. If I’m being honest with myself, I haven’t so much as looked at a barbell in about 9 months, so PF not having squat racks isn’t going to critically derail my “routine,” such as it is.

    3. Friendless*

      Since moving to a new state, I’m super super depressed by the gym options. It used to be my happy place. Now I’ve been through all 4 gyms, all >$50 a month, all terrible. There’s ONE squat rack and there’s always someone doing bicep curls in it.

      I gave up and decided to try home workouts for a while. At first I was concerned that I wouldn’t be able to get a good workout without my sexy fancy barbells, but let me tell you was I ever wrong. I started with literally just one kettlebell and the BodyFitByAmy kettlebell playlist on YouTube. Then I got a second harder kettlebell for my second time through. Then I added an adjustable dumbbells set so I could do single leg deadlifts, pistol squats, and bench (I lay on a stepup box) that is closer to my preferred powerlifting routine.

      I’ve really come to enjoy these more frequent, brief 20 minute workouts. They’re much easier to fit into my busy life routine.

      Also, as someone who battled plantar fasciitis foreverrrrr, first of all, look at Altra zero drop “foot shaped” shoes. Game changer. Also, it turns out that the root cause of my issues was tight hips / weak glute medius pulling my knees which pulled on my calves which pulled on my feet. If you can work with a good PT to do a comprehensive body assessment and address the real root cause, not the symptom (foot pain) I 10000% recommend that. I now do foam rolling and glute activation before every workout and I haven’t had foot pain in over a year.

    4. The Cosmic Avenger*

      I slacked off a lot over the holidays, had gotten going again, but then took a few more days off, and now I feel like it’s harder to keep going. I’m trying to do 25 minutes of elliptical a day at a pace that gets my heart rate up, although sometimes I skip it on days I have yoga. The yoga is leaving me sore, though! But that’s good, we’re doing lots of core work, which I need to help stave off back problems. Although keeping the extra weight off is also helping with that. I do want to do more yoga at home, but I haven’t started that yet.

    5. Keymaster of Gozer*

      I *just* started trying swimming again for the first time in 25 years after my local pool initiated dedicated disabled swimming sessions. It’s sooo nice to have the weight off my arthritic limbs and my suffering spine for an hour twice a week.

      Also it’s helping strengthen my arms (I can only swim with one leg) which is making my walking aid usage a lot less painful.

      1. Seeking Second Childhood*

        That’s a great idea, and I need to figure out how to suggest it to our parks&rec. Maybe bundled with a seniors session to get the idea more support.
        Some of the lap swimmers are …too aggressive. It’s a 6-lane pool, and 13 people try to crowd in, without lane markers. Really rough on us who are no longer strong swimmers. (Me, it’s shoulder issued.)

    6. PX*

      First week back at krav maga and it was good to be back! We always start with general warm up/exercises before the technical stuff, and my core is still so sore from doing only 20 leg lifts :/

      I remember back when I could bust out 50 leg lifts like it was nothing, so the fact that this is so difficult definitely shows me that I’m out of shape :/

    7. Tara R.*

      Not really exercise per say, but I’ve been putting my new treadmill to work in hitting 10,000 steps a day. I typically get anywhere from 2k-5k during my regular day, and then I come home and turn on The Good Place and just walk until my fitbit tells me I’ve hit my goal. I know there’s nothing magical about the 10,000 number, but it feels good to see 12 days in a row with the little star icon beside them! Plus I’ve figured out that if I’m very careful and don’t go too fast, I can play a low-effort game on my Switch while walking.

      I also went to my first ever park run last week, and it was great! Was going to go again today, but then we had our annual “oh god it’s snow everyone panic” and I am scared of running with snow on the ground, so next week hopefully!

    8. Stephanie*

      December was really hit or miss for me, exercise-wise. I signed up for a New Year challenge at the gym, which officially starts Monday, and I was so excited to get back into it. And then I had an emergency appendectomy last Thursday, and my plans are derailed. No lifting, pushing or pulling more than 10 pounds, for 4-6 weeks. Ugh. So, I had to drop out of the challenge and put my gym membership on pause for a while. I’m really disappointed, because I’ve done several of these challenges, and I really love the camaraderie and accountability that comes with the challenges.
      But. Surgery went well, I’m doing okay, and it’s a short term restriction, and I’ll get back to it when I can.

      Plantar fasciitits is awful. I found that switching up my shoes (always making sure to wear appropriately supportive shoes, just not the same pair every day) and really really stretching my calves and feet helped a lot. I never had to use the foot brace, and I imagine it’s hard to get used to, especially for sleeping. I hope it helps!

      1. Seeking Second Childhood*

        Appendicitis is one of those things that makes me glad to be living in this medical century! I’m glad your surgery went well, good luck with recovery.

        1. Stephanie*

          Yes, me too–so glad to be living now, with all of the diagnostic tools we have (and live in an area with several good hospitals nearby). Thanks for the good wishes. I’m getting progressively better each day.

    9. LizB*

      Huzzah for finding the right pace! That’s so satisfying when you find that sweet spot where you can make progress.

      I’ve been shopping around different group exercise classes at my gym, and have discovered a cycling class, a tabata class, and a couple of strength training classes that I really like. My goal is to go to a couple of them each week, and I can vary which ones I choose based on my schedule. My cycling endurance has so far been limited by how long I can tolerate my butt & nearby anatomy being sore/numb from the seat, so I’m looking to try and resolve that limitation. I bought a pair of padded biking shorts (online + ship to store) that I need to go pick up, but we just got hit with a bunch of snow! Maybe I’ll go get them tomorrow.

      1. Friendless*

        I just wanted to give some tips re: butt pain. Bike seats are really saddles – they aren’t meant for resting 100% your weight on. While it does take 5 sessions or so to be able to ride a full hour without soreness, most of the time pain is actually due to improper seat adjustment or posture. You should be sitting on your sit bones, which means your pelvis is angled further forward than you might guess. In my experience most people set their handlebars too high, causing them to sit back more (road cyclists don’t ride like that just for aerodynamics, they do it for their butt lol). Or the seat is moved too far forward. Can you work with a spin coach for help setting up your bike properly? It might take some trial and error adjustment, but at least with spin bikes you can take note of the settings for next time.

        1. LizB*

          (You likely won’t see this response, but in case you do come back:) Thank you for these tips! I’ll talk to the class instructor and see if he has any suggestions. I have a bad habit of coming in a few minutes late when the lights are already dimmed, so that doesn’t help me get adjusted properly, but hopefully I can get in there early and get a minute to try and figure it out.

  17. Lady Jay*

    Anyone have advice on getting along, especially in groups, with a person who makes you feel small?

    There’s someone in my friend group who does this – unintentionally, I am certain. But regardless of their purpose, whenever I talk about our shared experiences, tell a story, etc., I wind up feeling made little; it’s as though this person clearly thinks that I’m going about things the wrong way, or that I have no idea what I’m doing. I’ve walked back how much I talk with this person, a lot, and I usually stick with banalities like movies or the weather. But because of the way my community is set up, interacting with this person (individually or in smaller groups) is inescapable.

    Mostly I’m just sharing this to vent – I have a thing coming up on Monday related to w*rk that will throw me into contact with this person, in the role of a learner, and I am dreaaadddingg it. But I’m also open to suggestions – have you known someone like this? how did you make it work when you couldn’t just write the person off?

    1. fposte*

      I think some of this depends on what the actual communications are–can you give any samples? The default could be just saying to yourself that this is a task-related rather than a relationship-related situation, which is quite probably how the other person is approaching it anyway, and letting the human-dynamics thoughts go. But if they’re being genuinely, even if unintentionally, rude there are things you might be able to say, too.

      1. Lady Jay*

        Thanks, approaching it as a task to get through (maybe with a reward on the other side) may help.

        As to examples, it’s hard to put my finger on, which is part of the reason I’m convinced this person doesn’t realize how I feel. But when I’ve shared an experience or asked for advice, they give me side-eye, like I’ve asked a strange and transgressive question and respond by brushing me off in a way that implies my experience is invalid, weird, or naive. For instance, I once mentioned that I’d had trouble getting use to the disorder and lack of upkeep in the area of the country where we live; this person kind of scoffed and said, “well, you wouldn’t want to live in [different state, where they come from]” – it gave me the distinct impression that they felt as though I didn’t really get how the world works.

        At the same time, they love to give advice and are surprised when people don’t take it. We’ve had conversations about the choices we’ve made for our lives (rent/buy; budgeting, etc.) and this person has essentially told me, “Oh, you shouldn’t do X. It’s costing you too much money” and acted shocked that I wanted to make a different decision, based on my own circumstances and preferences.

        For the most part, my day-to-day interactions don’t involve this person, and I’ve learned to approach our interactions in a way that shares very little of myself. But this w*rk meeting Monday is not one I can really skip – it’s important for my own professional plans. I’m just kind of . . . dreading it. :(

        1. bunniferous*

          This is a them problem not a you problem. They do not know how to interact politely with others. The solution is to remember they are not in authority over you nor are they automatically right. Try to be bemused at what they say.

          I am sorry you are having to deal with this though. It sounds annoying. Do they do it with others as well? Also it is quite ok for you to just tell them to knock it off, if it gets to that point.

        2. Not So NewReader*

          I know we are not supposed to diagnose here but I would describe this person as a “know-it-all”, in extreme cases the diagnosis would be “an fn know-it-all”.

          These people exist, but I am not sure how. It is my firm belief that one’s ability to listen to the advice of others is a quality of life issue. If a person cannot listen to nor accept well-chosen advice that person’s quality of life will deteriorate over time.

          For the immediate purposes, start watching how others react to this person. If you are like me, you are so focused on your interaction that you are missing other people’s reactions to this person. You can watch for eye-rolls, elongated sighs and other signs of annoyance. I have been able to catch winks that translate to mean, “There she goes, AGAIN!” Others are probably on to her gig.

          Internally, you can watch your own self-talk. Reassure yourself that you have made choices that you feel are best for you, these choices don’t have to appeal to everyone else.

          As far as work is concerned, you may actually find that she is okay to work with. I have seen this so often. There are people who are a pleasure to work with but I’d avoid them socially. Then there are people who I would hang out with no problem but working with them is misery.

          Last thought. We can let these social klutzes teach us. We can watch what they say and understand how it can be off-putting. We can make different choices in our own interactions.

    2. Keymaster of Gozer*

      I’m irreverent so I’ve dealt with people in my family doing that by randomly making fart noises when they put me down yet again. Definitely a case of know thine audience though!

      On a serious note if it’s work related though, I’ve developed a mental picture of myself holding a sword and doing a kind of Xena-esque pose that I boot into my brain when I feel I’m not being listened to or belittled. It somehow gives me a bit of hilarity but a lot of confidence so I can deal with those situations (I use it a lot in job interviews)

    3. LibbyG*

      Yeah! I’ve been network-tied to people who always made me feel like I had done something wrong somehow, and I couldn’t quite pinpoint what produced that feeling. Body language? Sighing? General sourness?

      It helped me to try to get some distance, like a detached observer. And as I’ve gotten older I’ve gotten a lot more confident. So now I’m more likely to find people merely tiresome rather than intimidating.

      1. Lady Jay*

        Oooo, yes, this is exactly my experience: I feel as though I’ve done something wrong and I can’t pinpoint what causes that feeling.

        Approaching interactions like a detached observer is probably a good idea – though I’ll need to engage somewhat, letting other people carry the bulk of the interaction will help.

    4. Wishing You Well*

      Maybe you can use a classic technique from public speaking. Imagine the person is naked or has some other silly condition that would decrease the amount of power you’re mentally assigning to them.
      You’re likely experiencing passive-aggressive behavior. Maybe they’re narcissistic. Whatever it is, I’d continue to avoid them as best you can. Their behavior is unlikely to change.
      You could also ask others in your social group if they’ve noticed the same behavior. If it’s just you who notices or gets this treatment, you might need to make a change of some kind.
      Best of Luck on Monday

      1. Lady Jay*

        I’m . . . pretty sure it’s just me, and that it’s the power dynamics of the group (this person and I are both a little older than the other people). Unfortunately, we’re likely to be network-tied for at least another 1-2 years. Sigh

        But thanks for the suggestion – I haven’t tried that yet – and the good wishes!

        1. only acting normal*

          Ahhh. They’re belittling you because you threaten their status as “elder sage” of the group. Even if you are both only a little older than the others, this person likes the status of being *the* wise and knowledgeable older friend. But there’s two of you, so to reassert their position they need to make you seem less knowledgeable.
          Maybe? Or they’re just an arse. ;)

    5. TexasRose*

      Congratulations! You have the interesting life challenge of trying to learn from a Toxic Feelings Gusher!

      You’re ahead of the game because you’re already identified her toxicity, and you can start to counteract it.
      First tip: The information diet. Whatever you say will be wrong, will be dismissed, will be dissed. Share as little as possible with her about your personal life and goals.

      Second tip: When you have to interact with her, imagine what she says is a geyser of un-aged compost that you must sort through to find the semi-rare coins hidden therein. Who knows, you might even find a few gold nuggets. Mentally armor yourself with rubber gloves, chopsticks, whatever you need to find the valuable bits of information carefully hidden amongst all that toxic manure.

      Third tip: Wash your hands afterwards (figuratively). Remind yourself SHE is the toxic one, the one who is putting you down. Treat yourself well, and rejoice that you don’t have to deal with her again that day.

      Good luck!

    6. Anono-me*

      I find it helps me to be at my best physical powerful self when I know that I am going to be dealing with people like that. By that I mean I am more diligent about getting a good night’s sleep, having a good meal, and a caffeinated beverage before interacting with them. I put my hair back in a braid. I put on dark red lipstick. I wear power clothes ( a suit if it’s a professional environment, or if it’s a project environment I wear clothes that look like I’ve been doing that sort of project for years. And I always always wear kickass boots.*

      You might also want to ask yourself “How much do I really value this person’s opinion?” If you wouldn’t trust their judgment enough to pick out a half decent wine to serve with dinner; why would you trust their evaluation of you as a human being?

      * never underestimate the power of of a good pair of kickass boots.

    7. Book Lover*

      I’ve been told other people can’t make you feel small that you let them make you feel that way but I don’t think that is true. There is one person at work who I have known twenty years now. Thankfully I don’t see her much now but she makes me feel like I am five years old – something about the way she looks at me, talks to me. I don’t do anything about it but relatively recently asked a friend about it and she doesn’t make the friend feel small but they do find her unpleasant. So maybe she makes people feel differently depending on their background but it isn’t just me that doesn’t care to be around her. I try to avoid her but he never possible. So that is my solution.

  18. A.N. O'Nyme*

    Writing thread! How’s everyone’s writing going?
    Not much for me this week as I’ve been sick and couldn’t really bring up the mental energy. Got a few paragraphs in my slice-of-life fanfic done, though.

    1. Troutwaxer*

      I’ve been very busy, so not much actual work has been done, but I feel like I’m now fully on top of the backstory issues. I’m starting to internalize the voice of my backstory viewpoint character, and I know how I want to handle the reveals. (I’m also very eager to get to the climax of the story, which is less than thirty-six hours away, in book time.)

    2. Liane*

      Surprised myself. I spent an evening last week and did 2 sets of creature stats for the gaming blog, 1 each for two different RPG rule sets. I haven’t felt like doing that much at one sitting in a long while. Plus one of the creatures I had been trying to figure out how to handle it mechanically for a month or so, and then suddenly it fell into place. This is often the hardest part for me, figuring out how to fit the character/creature concept to the game rules.
      Best yet–I am pumped to start a couple more.

      PS to A. N. O’Nyme: I hope you feel better soon.

    3. Elizabeth West*

      I am about to plunge into Sequel Revision. I was going through my notes the other night and kept finding places where I wrote bits like Maybe add / change this in Tunerville bc this. So I was making additional notes like, “NOPE CAN’T DO THAT, TOO LATE NOW!” haha. Luckily, none of it will affect this story. I think I dropped enough subtle leads in that it will make sense.

      New Book is still churning in my head, which bodes well for it not being a shitty idea.

      1. Troutwaxer*

        Maybe add / change this in Tunerville bc this.

        I am continually amazed at how much of this I’ve been doing!

    4. Jedi Squirrel*

      I’m finally done moving (mostly) and actually wrote a blog post about it after a long Sunday morning walk, reflecting on my new neighborhood, which is by far the best I’ve ever lived in. I managed to get some pictures uploaded to Instagram and added those to the post.

      I also worked a bit on my latent-for-too-long zine. Writing is definitely looking up for me.

  19. A.N. O'Nyme*

    Gaming thread! What’s everyone been playing this week?
    I got in a bit more Steins;Gate before I got sick, but seems like Rintaro is slowly starting to be less annoying so…Yay? Also got in a bit of Stardew Valley considering that game doesn’t require a lot of energy from me to play.

    1. Zephy*

      It wasn’t this week, but recently some friends and I started playing The Blackout Club. I’m a sucker for horror, so despite not being particularly good at videogames (ha), I found it enjoyable. It’s a mission-based, online, multiplayer…I guess RPG is the word, as you do have a character and play a role? You’re teens, working to uncover the mysterious and supernatural goings-on in your town, and the devs built in some really unique game mechanics to build the world and the lore. I would describe it as “WoW but make it Stranger Things.”

      I’ve also been tearing my hair out over BaBa Is You, a deceptively simple but nevertheless delightful puzzle game.

    2. Torrance*

      I’m pretty much only playing WoW at the moment; with a new main & a new patch, there’s so much to do that I don’t have time for anything else. But, with all the downtime this week, I’ve been hopping into Overwatch off-&-on. It’s not as fun as it was before they went all-in on the e-sports mentality & betrayed their PVE community, but I really missed the ‘verse so it’s been mostly enjoyable. (O2 is my second most-awaited game, after DA4.)

    3. Keymaster of Gozer*

      Trying to get every achievement in Skyrim and Fallout4 but dropping serious hints to the husband unit that I want a copy of ‘Outer Worlds’. If he can get off World of Warcraft long enough ;)

    4. Nicki Name*

      I’ve seen the Steins;Gate anime, and definitely one of the major themes of the story is Rintaro figuring out to be less of a jerk.

      I’ve been revisiting Thea: The Awakening this week. It’s a roguelike/civilization game hybrid where you play as one of the Slavic gods. I just learned that there’s a sequel, so I should probably get that.

      1. Keymaster of Gozer*

        I think I have Thea in my Steam library but never played it. I’m going to go install it I think..

    5. Smol Book Wizard*

      I finally finished my playthrough of Transistor! It was exquisitely beautiful and the combat was difficult enough to be challenging, but easy enough to be possible, for me as an inexperienced gamer. I’m so happy – now that I’m thinking about it, it’s the first story-based game that I’ve ever played to the finish, except for the browser version of A Dark Room…

    6. Seeking Second Childhood*

      Guild Wars 2…. my family’s pretty much addicted. My ranger’s working on Path of Fire mastery points to get a skimmer. And I also have a guardian nearing level 30. This time I know to do the storyline early enough to actually use the rewards.
      I love the guardian, but I really miss the ranger’s pets.
      Looking forward to checking out its Lunar New Year celebration tomorrow, this week was all about the skimmers.

      1. Nessun*

        I can’t wait for the next LW episode!! I am looking forward to Lunar New Year (though my favorite yearly will always be Mad King). Right now I’m traveling for work, so GW2 will have to wait….ah now I really wish I was home, on my rev, doing dailies.

    7. Arts Akimbo*

      I finally beat a Team Rocket Go boss! It was Sierra. And then that stupid task showed up where we have to beat all the bosses. So I finally managed to beat her a second time earlier today. Whew! No idea how I’m going to defeat Cliff with the Pokemon I have.

    8. Nessun*

      I brought my DS3 with me on a business trip, and I’ve been enjoying all my old game this week. Especially Theatrhythm and all the lovely lovely Uematsu music! Makes me kinda sad no one leaves it on for street passes anymore…LOL I probably just dated myself.

    9. Minocho*

      D&D! We leveled, and I got a cool new ability that was totally useless this session, but it’s still super cool! Also, new metal dice. Whee!

      We saved the archmage’s child without having to rob anybody, and we got the magical whatsis we were promised in return. Then we fought mean snake people on our way to the location of the next magical whatsis. The snake people were a very tough fight, but everyone lived! Yay!

      Also, my character got a riding panther the session before this. Best camping pillow EVER.

  20. Sir Freelancelot*

    Do men really find fat women that unattractive? Is fat really a major no-no when it comes to…ahem… intimacy? Like, does being fat justify telling someonee (and I quote)”Sorry, I can’t fathom the thought of touching your wobbly belly, but you’re otherwise a lovely person?”. Most importantly, when will this man stop screaming after you kick him out in the street under the rain?

    1. fposte*

      There are kajillions of happily partnered fat people in the world, so I’m going with a no. Sounds like you encountered a serious asshole. I’d discourage you, though, from thinking “Do men…” based on such a small dataset.

      And the answer to the last question is “Who cares?” That’s why there are headphones.

      1. Liane*

        “There are kajillions of happily partnered fat people in the world, so I’m going with a no.”
        In one of the happiest marriages (as much as could be told from the outside) I have seen, the wife was quite obese. Her husband was devoted to her and often called her “my love” or similar endearments in hearing of others. In a tone that made it quite obvious that was how he felt, not some fake show. When she developed a fairly rare cancer and passed away within a year or so of diagnosis, it broke his heart, although he has been doing well since.
        “a serious asshole” Seconded.

        (Note, Wife was a wonderful person, someone who helped my kids grow into the great people they are, someone I am glad to say of, “My life was much better because she was my friend & I miss her.”)

        1. valentine*

          You may want to read Big Big Love: A Sourcebook on Sex for People of Size and Those Who Love Them by Hanne Blank.

      2. StellaBella*

        Agree. with fposte on this. Sir Freelancealot, I am sorry you encountered this a$$hole. I am glad he got rained on.

        1. Anon Here*

          Yeah. “Do men…”/”Do women…” No. We’re all different. We all find different people attractive.

          But why did this come up? This person is in your house right now? Do you have to live with him?

    2. Chicago Anon*

      Anyone who doesn’t think he’s amazingly lucky to get to touch you needs to be kicked to the curb ASAP without a backward glance or any more of your energy, thought, or time. Next!

    3. Troutwaxer*

      As a male of late middle-age, I’d say that preference for a particular body-shape is very much a matter of taste, and it should certainly be possible for a woman with a large body to find a boyfriend/girlfriend/husband/wife, etc. For me, at least, finding a mate is a matter of trade-offs. Obviously I have a particular preferred aesthetic where women are concerned, but I’m also concerned that a mate be intelligent, creative, engaged with some kind of hobby or group that isn’t me/mine, and fun to be around.

      Being fat does not justify any kind of weight-shaming. Never at all, (except possibly if the doctor has told your spouse that losing weight is an urgent necessity for good health.)

      I’m sorry you’re going through this. The man will probably stop screaming in the rain after he gets cold enough, but meanwhile you can enjoy the sweet music of his regret, and joyfully meditate on how he is having an important learning experience with regard to his own imperfections. When next you encounter each other, give him the cut direct to drive the lesson home.

      1. Llama Face!*

        “When next you encounter each other, give him the cut direct to drive the lesson home.”

        Or alternatively just be pleasantly polite in a way that makes it clear you totally don’t remember who they are (because they are so unmemorable and inconsequential). ;)

      2. Vicky Austin*

        (except possibly if the doctor has told your spouse that losing weight is an urgent necessity for good health)

        And even then it’s not fat-shaming if it’s merely repeating medical advice from one’s doctor; as long as you don’t say it in a harsh tone or add something unkind like “you look disgusting.”

        1. Meepmeep*

          Medical advice shouldn’t include the phrase “You’re unattractive”.

          My wife is obese and trying to lose weight, and what I tell her is that I would love her and find her absolutely gorgeous at any weight, but that I want her to be healthy and to not get diabetes. Shaming is not really a good technique for any sort of problem.

      3. AnonoDoc*

        Sorry, unless individual has such severe cognitive impairment that they cannot choose their food themselves, doctor has no business telling spouse any such thing. And even if individual has asked spouse for help with weight loss, shame doesn’t work. Help with weight loss is stuff like “Ice cream is my kryptonite, please don’t bring it in the house”

    4. Filosofickle*

      Some do and some don’t. But saying that is never, ever okay.

      I didn’t date for a loooong time, for Working On Myself reasons but then for Too Fat To Date reasons. (That fear told me I definitely hadn’t worked on myself enough.) A few years beyond that, I’m in a relationship with a guy who loves my body. But not in a creepy fetish way. He just loves me.

    5. Keymaster of Gozer*

      Asked husband unit who is married to a fat, disabled and overly sarcastic woman (I.e. me) and he says only shallow muppets with no redeeming features will judge solely by appearance because appearances change in life!

      He’s had his own coworkers ask why an attractive guy like him ‘puts up with’ a woman like me and it always annoys him.

      Decent guys can sometimes feel like panning for gold in the sewage plant inlet but my life taught me it’s rare to encounter it all the time. Basically, you encountered a sewage flow worth of…well…sewage in human form. It does not mean there is anything wrong with YOU. Captain Awkward helped me realise I’m amazing and anyone who has issues with my weight should realise that’s *their* problem, not mine.

      TL:DR version: you’re perfect as the person you are. Recognise this rude, insignificant tosser for what they are.

        1. Keymaster of Gozer*

          One coworker of his, a younger woman, asked him for his number because she ‘deserved an attractive man more than fat people’. He told her that it was totally inappropriate. She didn’t last long at the firm.

          1. Observer*

            Well, considering her lack of filter, it’s not surprising she didn’t last.

            I’m impressed that your husband had the presence of mind to tell her that it was inappropriate.

      1. Troutwaxer*

        “….only shallow muppets with no redeeming features will judge solely by appearance because appearances change in life!”

        THIS! Says a guy who also married an overweight disabled woman. Maybe your husband and I can form a club?

      2. Texan In Exile*

        He’s had his own coworkers ask why an attractive guy like him ‘puts up with’ a woman like me and it always annoys him.

        I know I know I know violence at work is not justified but if your husband ever wanted to lightly bop someone in the nose for that, I Would See Nothing.

        1. Keymaster of Gozer*

          I offered to lend him one of my walking sticks for the purpose, but he’s far more even tempered than me. I then offered to design an artillery device for said walking stick delivery. He’s banned me from his lego collection now for fear of what I might build ;)

    6. Jules the 3rd*

      Friend of mine just explained that OkCupid is ‘wall of d*ks’ if I ever get back into dating, and she is not a small person, so there’s men out there that do not care.

      And he’ll stop screaming when he gets a brain, ie never.

    7. university minion*

      Boy, bye.
      I hope you didn’t give him time to collect his clothes before tossing his sorry ass out.
      Put Lizzo’s ‘Truth Hurts” & Miss Eaves’ “Thunder Thighs” on loop until his whining stops.
      That douche doesn’t deserve you.

      1. Frankie Bergstein*

        This! And read anything/everything by Lindy West and Roxane Gay, who explore what it’s like to live in the US in a large, femme body.

        1. Nessun*

          I absolutely loved Hunger, but I was not prepared for it in the least. It was a HARD read for me, and hit really close to home. I have it on my shelf to reread though, and I do recommend it.

    8. Not So NewReader*

      Them: ”Sorry, I can’t fathom the thought of touching your wobbly belly, but you’re otherwise a lovely person?”

      Me: “Well, that’s way more than I could ever say about you. BYE!”

      It was pointed out to me that rain tends to have a sobering effect. (I won’t explain why I was told this.) But apparently, according to professionals, leaving them out in the rain to collect their thoughts is the exact correct thing to do. Perhaps we have folks in the mental health field reading right now who can confirm this.

    9. Sleve McDichael*

      Different people are into different things. And for some weight matters and for some it doesn’t. I’m not into muscular men. Fat or skinny doesn’t matter, but I wouldn’t ever have entertained advances from a very muscular guy (wouldn’t lead him on at all either though, that’s rude). Some people care more about face shape or limb length, weight irrelevant. Nobody can help what they’re into. But nobody can help or should be shamed for not being somebody’s type, it’s just ridiculous. You met a ridiculous man. But not all men are ridiculous just like not all women are rail-thin. So long as you’re healthy and taking care of yourself you’ll be in the best place to find someone, no matter what you look like. Because when you love yourself you show the world how lovable you are. I wish you the best of luck!

    10. RagingADHD*

      People who say rude things about their date’s body should of course be sent packing immediately.

      But I don’t understand why anyone who rejected their date for any reason would stand around screaming in the rain? I mean, if you say no, the date is over, go home, right? What is there to scream about?

      This makes me concerned that this person has issues that make them not safe to know anyhow.

      1. Troutwaxer*

        Maybe the date didn’t drive themselves and faced a walk in the rain. Hopefully it will cause them to think.

        1. RagingADHD*

          Who goes to a date’s house with no intention of hooking up and no independent transportation?

          This person is much too wierd and stupid to be let out on their own, much less dating.

    11. BoiChaplain*

      As someone who is a larger female… I’ve been turned down on dates before because of my weight or body build even though in general I take care of myself and I carry myself well.

      So well that I am a seeing a nutritionist, eating relatively healthy (we all have our slips) and I probably see my medical professionals more often than most people. And people justify that and say that. In fact as someone who holds an undergrad, working on grad studies, and in general is a sapiosexual I get a lot of messages of

      “You seem like a fantastic, intelligent, person! But…. I’m only human and your body type is not my cup a tea. It sounds like you are working on yourself though so when you lose some weight call me.”

      No really… it happens.

      1. Meepmeep*

        The correct response to that one is “When you learn the manners you should have learned at the age of 5, call me.”

    12. Alexandra Lynch*

      I’ve never had trouble finding partners. And I’m in a relationship with both a man and a woman now, and we do just fine. I’m working on losing weight as my 2020 Big Project, but what they kink for is a powerful woman, and going to the gym will mean that the farmer’s daughter build underneath the fat will still flip their switches.

  21. Blue wall*

    Any recommendations for a decent plus-sized sports bra? The ones I try on all seem incredibly tight. What brands and styles have worked for you? I’ll be mostly doing strength-training workouts.

    1. Koala dreams*

      I like the kind of sports bra that has a clasp in the back and regular bra sizes, not S/M/L type.

    2. fposte*

      The descriptions of sports bras I’ve seen are that they operate either by compression or by encapsulation (or by combining the two). Compression ones are pretty inherently tight, IMHO, because that’s what they’re doing–smooshing everything into your ribcage to hold it still. I like those because they don’t use an underwire, and I want to just toss my sports bras into the regular wash cycle. But if that tightness is unpleasant for you you might want to look into the encapsulation style, which gives each boob its own little house :-). Those tend to be recommended for larger sizes, too.

      If you haven’t, look at specialist shops online like Bare Necessities and Title Nine for specifics and recommendations. There’s a nice page on Bare Necessities that I’ll link to in followup that gives the top popular sports bras for different body types–might be a place to start.

        1. Blue wall*

          This is a super helpful guide! I wear a 44-D and it’s nice to have the guidance to go with the encapsulation style. I think I had avoided that bc it felt silly to wear “fancy” bras as a sports bra. Lately I’ve been wearing bralettes which just make my neck and shoulders ache.

          1. spock*

            I was confused the first time a saleswoman brought out an “encapsulation” sports bra but it’s life-changing! It’s not the cute insta aesthetic but it works.

    3. Wormentude*

      I don’t know of it’s available in US but I really like the Panache sports bra. I run so like tight support to stop bouncing, but best feature is it can either be worn standard giving less support than I like or with the straps connected for firmer support. I find most sports bras tend to be tighter though to give the support

    4. Go for Bra Sized*

      I am plus size and large chested and a runner. I have tried a lot of sports bras and my favorite are by Glamorise. They have a ton of styles and they are bra sized (bands up to 50 and cups up to J). They are a little pricey, but worth it! Sometimes I get them from Bare Necessities and they often have sales or coupon codes available.

      1. Alex*

        Seconding Glamorise! I have a very large cup size (H) and jump rope as part of my exercise routine. Those babies are not going anywhere.

        The great thing about them is that they are shaped to hold you in, not just using compression, so you can still breathe. I like the double layer non-underwire ones.

      2. WS*

        Another rec for Glamorise! I first got them as a sports bra, but now I also wear them as a regular bra because they’re so comfortable.

      3. Epiphyta*

        Joining the recs for Glamorise! I wear a F and lift weights, and love that the stability panel looks like a cami if I’m wearing a v-neck top.

    5. Marzipan*

      I like my Enell one, but it works for me *because* it’s tight – it’s somewhat like a boob corset. If it wasn’t tight I can’t see how it would keep my ridiculous bosoms under any sort of control in jumping-up-and-down situations!

      1. Colette*

        Yes, I like the Enell, too. I have another brand and it’s not as good. The Enell are a pain to put on/off when they’re new, but they do get easier with time.

    6. Effie, who gets to be herself*

      Try Lynx sports bras – designed for marathon runners to feel comfortable and supported.
      Alternatively, Elomi.

    7. YouwantmetodoWHAT?!*

      I’m a big fan of Under Armour. They are very comfortable and the ONLY ones that passed my test – I put it on and jumped up and down. The boobs stayed in place, and there was no pain.
      They go up to 44 DDD.

    8. 2cents*

      I only buy Victoria’s Secret sports bras at this point. They have styles that are clasped in front to hold the ladies in, then a zipper for more protection. I always wait until they do a sale, as the price is around $65. (Sometimes the sale includes a sport pant, or sometimes it’s just the price cut.) However people feel about the brand, I do think that VS offers any size you need and their sport line is quality and very comfortable.

    9. DCR*

      I love brooks sports bras. They come in bra sizes, provide lots of support, and last forever. They are expensive, but I have bras I’ve used once a week or more for years and that don’t show any wear.

  22. Blue Eagle*

    Decluttering Update
    It has been 35 days since the beginning of my “year of decluttering”. The goal is to donate/recycle/toss at least 10 items per day so that at the end of the year there will be 3650 items gone from the house. I am not a hoarder but am kind of a packrat and acquired a bunch of boxes of stuff and extra furniture about 4 years ago that never have been gone through or put away and the house is messy to the point that I am embarrassed to have anyone over other than family.

    Thanks to NoLongerYound and Not So NewReader for your encouragement when I first posted about starting this process. Three things have definitely helped:
    – each day when 10 items are processed for removal a gold star is marked on the calendar (so yay! there has been a use for those new markers I received as a gift) – having a visual sign that something was accomplished that day has been very motivating,
    – the objective is to do a little bit every day to keep the process ongoing so there can be no more than one star marked on the calendar farther out than the current day for those days with major cleaning out of cupboards where more than 20 items are processed (usually for a day that is going to be busy so that I’m not stressed having to process anything that day), and
    – my spouse has been extremely supportive of the process and has helped when I wanted help and stayed out of it when I wanted to do it myself.

    As of today over 350 items have been removed and the house is already starting to look better. Yay! Wish me continued success!

    1. General von Klinkerhoffen*

      That’s amazing! Well done you!

      I’ve previously done a similar but shorter challenge where you remove a bag of stuff from your house every day (sometimes it’s emptying the kitchen bin, sometimes it’s unwanted clothes for the charity shop, etc) and I found it liberating and cleansing. A gold star would also have helped.

      I wish you all the best for continued success.

    2. Elizabeth West*

      Yay!

      This is not easy to do. For me, trying to pretend I was going to move did very little good. The Great Purge didn’t happen until I actually moved. When I have another place, the challenge will be not to replace every single thing I got rid of and to keep reminding myself that I don’t really need it.

      It sounds like you’ve found the right process for you!

    3. Kate Daniels*

      Good for you! I have also made a huge effort to downsize over the last two years, too. I have discovered that I now enjoy giving away things on Freecycle, donating books to a local Little Free Library, etc. just as much as I used to enjoy shopping.

      I really wish Netflix had blessed us with more Marie Kondo episodes this year. I’m so sad they didn’t.

      1. General von Klinkerhoffen*

        I KonMaried five people’s closets last year. We got rid of half our clothes and had twice as much to wear. Life changing.

    4. NoLongerYoung*

      So proud of you!!! I’ve been gone traveling and away over half the month, so not doing as much, but thank you for the encouragement.
      This inspires me to make a charity drop today. I’m in awe!!! (I have a stack in my staging area ready to go into the vehicle…)

      My latest addition is that if I put my hand on it, and I dont use it, need it, or I have better ones, and I think it “probably” needs to go….I just make the decision. That second. So the jeans that dont fit right, into the bag on the closet floor. The shoes that might injure my ankle? Into the bag (when bag is full, goes to the staging area). Bought a new, non-pilled cardigan? The old one comes off the hanger and into the bag.
      Slow but sure!
      I, too, am trying to use NSNR advice to give myself the first time of the day. I’m exhausted at night so that first decision making in the morning is so helpful. That’s when I’m getting stuff done.

    5. Parenthetically*

      This is awesome, and it motivated me to FINALLY put up the extra shelf in my front closet that I’ve been meaning to install for LITERAL MONTHS. Thanks!

    6. Not So NewReader*

      I thought of you the other day. I read an article that said the average person will buy 300,00o items. There was no additional surrounding context for that statistic.
      So 3650 items is actually 1%, if this is true. This should be pretty doable.

      Stay light, stay happy. You are doing this to feel better about life and about home. Do what you can each day and think of each day as a clean slate, the previous success/failure of yesterday does not matter. Showing up and trying is what matters.

      Keep in mind that there is hidden joy to be discovered by rehoming stuff with people who are appreciative. This can be rewarding also.

    7. Jean (just Jean)*

      Late to this thread but congratulations! May your hard work and success continue! Enjoy all of the decluttered cubic feet and inches (meters and centimeters?) in your home. I will try to follow your example.

  23. LGC*

    Let’s talk about running – it’s been a while! Although to be honest…in the northern hemisphere, it’s winter, and Australia has been on fire for the past month, so not a lot has been going on. (And seriously, Oz, my heart goes out to you. From what I’ve heard and seen in news reports, the fires have been horrific.)

    I’ll talk about myself again – I got a bit hurt last November, and…it is a lot harder to come back from injury than I thought. It’s not that I don’t know what to do – that I need to come back slowly, that I should expect that I’m not going to have the same fitness that I did pre-injury. It’s more ego, really – realizing that I can’t keep up with my friends, for example. On one hand, I’ve been trying to appreciate that I’m getting closer to my mileage pre-New York and that I can work out at that intensity, but on the other hand it kind of sucks when I get dropped on a long run that I wouldn’t normally get dropped on.

    1. londonedit*

      Hope your recovery continues going well!

      I can sympathise – I’ve never been injured (touch wood) but I certainly have had periods of laziness (I hate running in the summer, for example) and it’s frustrating to turn around in September and find myself less fit and less able to run with my usual running buddies. Even though it’s all my own doing! I guess the thing is that everyone has peaks and troughs in their running – I have people I used to run with who are now way faster than me, and people I used to run with who now can’t keep up with me. But sometimes my faster friends are on a recovery run, or sometimes my slower friends want someone to push them to run faster over 5k, and so we all get to run together at some point. I can imagine it must be harder if you’re one of the fastest guys in the group and all your friends are the same pace as you used to be, but as part of your recovery can you maybe try pacing someone slightly slower? They’d be absolutely delighted if you paced them to a PB or helped motivate them to run a bit faster, and you might feel a sense of achievement that isn’t about your own pace. I had a friend pace me to a massive parkrun PB before Christmas and he said to me this morning that he’s still dining out on the story!

    2. Parenthetically*

      My goal for this year is to get back to running. I probably need to talk to a PT, because the reason I had to stop before was injury-related, but hopefully with the right training I can get back to my casual running habit! I think I would like to do a race, but I’m not sure how to go about setting realistic goals. When I ran regularly years ago, I hit a wall at about 4.5 miles and couldn’t push past it without feeling like I was destroying my feet and ankles, and I also struggled to increase my speed.

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

      I can definitely sympathize about it being hard to come back from an injury! Just when I got back to 100% after having plantar fasciitis, my right knee crapped out. Now I’m starting to come back from that. I’m always tempted to start running or increase my intensity too quickly no matter how many times I get injured. I’m lucky that nothing that’s been thrown at me so far has been major.

      As for your “friends” dropping you repeatedly – F them and look out for yourself.

    4. Mid*

      I totally get that struggle. I climb and run. And it’s very frustrating to not be able to do things you “should” be able to do. I try to keep my focus on my post-injury PRs only. Best of luck!

  24. Myrin*

    A super interesting – albeit a little unsettling, although almost certainly not in the way any of you are imagining – experience I had recently:

    My sister is a member of two choirs, Choir V (“vee”, not “roman five”) and Choir M. She originally joined V because her good friend from school – a musical prodigy and member of an apparently up-and-coming band who’s already won a few national awards – took over the lead and invited her, and then the two members she quickly became closest to turned out to also be members of M and as such got my sister to join M as well. They’re Manny and Eva Cornermair, a married couple in their fifties whom I’ve known all my life because their daughter went to preschool and school with me; she also became one of my bullies in fifth grade, which my sister only found out about after she’d already become close with her parents, and now she’s all “okay fine I’ll sing a heartwrenching solo at your wedding but damn if I’m anything other than icily polite to you” which she really doesn’t have to do but you can’t change her mind. Oh well.

    In any case, before Christmas, V did a concert at my old school and its members organised a buffet where guests could get refreshments during break. My mum and I attended and during the kinda-awkward mingling phase that always happens in front of the buffet tables at these events, we ran into Manny and Eva (separately). And I found both conversations horribly awkward. For all that I’ve known them for so long, I don’t actually know them particularly well and really only got to know more about them when my sister started talking about them at home. So I felt like we were talking a little stiltedly about Old Times (i. e. when I was little) and singing and my sister and other members we also both know and.

    I mean.

    I’m a pretty gifted conversationalist. I like people and I like talking and I’m pretty effortlessly friendly. But both these talks honestly felt a little like pulling teeth to me. It didn’t feel like either of them really wanted to talk but did so because they’ve become parental figures to my sister and felt like they had to. Awkward pauses. Weird, snickering grunt-laughter. Misunderstandings. Stuttering. You name it!! I felt weirdly mortified after it was over, and once we were back at our seats, my mum let out a long sigh and confirmed that she’d felt the same. The concert continued.

    And the next day my sister – who had come home late because the choir members went out to eat after the concert – told us that the Cornermair family had been “so excited” to talk to us and had “so much fun” while doing so and “loved getting to know [us] better”. (And a note: it’s basically impossible that they weren’t truthful about that. They’re close with my sister and wouldn’t just lie to her about something like that, but also, sister stressed several times that they came across as enthusiastically genuine.)

    And I honestly felt like a had a little break with reality there. I am usually really good at reading the room. I can easily tell whether someone likes me or not. So far, whenever I’ve had a certain feeling about someone in whatever capacity, I’ve later turned out to be right. And yet, I completely misjudged these two conversations. I could’ve sworn that they were bored out of their minds and regretted ever speaking to us. I still can’t quite think about it too strongly or I feel like I’ve slipped into another dimension.

    But it was also really interesting, and that’s what I’d love to hear some thoughts on if anyone feels up for talking about this some more – it’s rare that you really get to see two sides of a situation where you’d normally only have access to one side. It’s like watching a movie where you get to look over all characters’ shoulders, only that one of the characters are you yourself.

    1. fposte*

      I think about this sometimes–how there’s a deeply ingrained human characteristic to assume other people feel the same way you do from the get-go, and we tend to read behaviors as meaning what they’d mean if *we* performed them. And I’ve started to believe that that only happens maybe 20% of the time. That’s why advice columnists and couples counselors have to keep going back to “Use your words” and “Tell them what you want.” And sometimes commenters focus on a reluctance to be direct as the source, and I think it’s true that that can be in there, but I think even deeper down is the tendency of the speaker to assume that the other person’s emotions and behavior reflect their own.

      (I’m remembering something similar years ago from a lackluster date, where I was too inexperienced to say “I don’t think we clicked, but thanks for a nice night”–he said maybe we could do something again, and I said “Sure, that would be nice,” and I got a report back via friends that I was thrilled with him.)

      1. Avasarala*

        I agree. I think we often misjudge ourselves, and also misjudge what people want out of a conversation. Myrin knows they can be happy and chatty and sees the difference in this awkward conversation, a 5 (out of 10). The others see a pleasant if awkward conversation and are satisfied with it, a 5 (out of 5). The lack of comparison and context may actually lead to different takeaways.

    2. Wishing You Well*

      Oy. Maybe this is simply how they act or they could have health problems that make them uncomfortable and it shows in their behavior. Note that they described the encounter to someone who wasn’t there and didn’t tell YOU or your mother how wonderfully it went. Maybe just a shrug is all it’s worth.
      Have a better 2020!

    3. Chris915NZ*

      One thought (which may be completely off beam) is that they might have appreciated the opportunity to reminisce a little. It can be surprisingly rewarding to talk to old neighbours, in terms of awaking memories one didn’t know one had.

    4. Nita*

      Maybe they were just having a bad day. When I’m sleep deprived and run into people I like, I can barely carry on a conversation and probably look like I can’t get away from them fast enough. And I know right then that this is how I’m coming across but… still can’t muster the energy to really dive into the conversation.

    5. RagingADHD*

      I have some friends who are possibly the most awkward conversationalists in the world. Every single interaction with them feels stilted and forced. I was convinced for quite some time after meeting them that they either disliked me, or had just had a terrible marital argument before arriving.

      Nope. They get along happily at home, and like me very much. They are just hella awkward humans.

    6. Something Blue*

      Maybe they enjoyed the conversation retroactively! I’m serious! :)

      Maybe you read the room correctly and then they went home and talked about meeting you. It brought back old memories, maybe good ones, and by the time they talked to you sister, they were remembering the whole thing in a positive way.

  25. DanaScully*

    I asked here a while ago for advice regarding my laparoscopy. Thank you to all who responded with great advice and for sharing your experiences.

    I had my laparoscopy on Monday and it was confirmed that I have stage 1-2 endometriosis. Whilst it’s bad news, I feel validated and so glad I didn’t just accept responses that “all women suffer from pain, it’s just one of those things, deal with it”.

    The procedure itself wasn’t too bad, although I did experience some pain afterwards, and I’m still swollen and experiencing some trapped gas now. I see my consultant again in six weeks time, where we will explore next steps.

    From my initial research, birth control is a bandaid approach, ablation doesn’t remove the “root” of the endo, and excision is the best route, although recovery can be rough and not all hospitals offer it. I’m not sure whether excision will be an option for me, or what decision I should make.

    Can anyone here chime in who has been through this? Thank you for any responses.

    1. Excised*

      I had an excision (and hysterectomy) a year ago. I don’t know how helpful this is since it’s not quite the same procedure. I’m not sure where you are because the “not all hospitals offer it” bit sounds not like what I experienced so we may have apples and oranges situations. The doctor who diagnosed me was also the surgeon, not a general surgeon, a specialist in endometriosis and only does surgeries related to that. So my surgery was at the hospital she has privileges at (I’m not sure if I’m using the completely right terminology there). I went in at 5am and was out by 5pm. It was all laproscopic and if that’s an option for you, I recommend it. The recovery was not at all rough for me. Recovering from an appendectomy was worse. One thing my doctor warned me about in advance was that it was difficult for her to set reasonable pain expectations for me because she’s observed with a lot of patients, they’re so accustomed to being in so much pain all the friggin time that their pain thresholds are way normal than the average person. So even though, sure, you might be in intense pain for a week after, it’s probably a very familiar pain and thus you might not think anything of it. I was only in serious pain (taking anything stronger than ibuprofen) for maybe 2 days after. The rest of the recovery time was more being easily exhausted, and generally uncomfortable, but not necessarily in pain all the time. Doing too much would bring the pain back so it’s a weird balance of staying active (“active” as defined by the surgeon, not your normal active but also not staying in bed all the time) and not doing too much to wipe you out. The guidance I got on that was super vague because it can vary so much from person to person.
      It was absolutely the right decision for me, but it very much helped that I had stellar health insurance at the time and didn’t need to worry about the cost. I also didn’t have any complications during, and of course there was a risk of a handful of things that could’ve made it harder. But given everything went smoothly, I’ve felt worse for longer with the flu or pneumonia than I did this.
      HTH.

    2. KoiFeeder*

      The safety of excision depends on where the endometriosis is. Mine’s in my intestinal walls- you can’t cut open the entire intestinal apparatus and cut out every little node, so they had to do what they could. But if your endo is in a more conventional place, excision is definitely the best way to go.

    3. Pippa*

      Endo specialist is a must. The cycle of surgeries and adhesions can cause secondary issues which a specialist/expert may be able to anticipate or treat when they occur. The scarring impacts other organs. Keep up on your screenings. If the specialist is far away try to work with a reg GYN and endo specialist who will communicate with each other and you on your treatment. Consider a notebook to track big events (major changes in symptoms, surgeries, drug changes). You are your best advocate. If symptoms change, pursue treatment and take a support person to the appt if you want. For some women, endo is a chronic, physically and emotionally painful disease. My diagnosis was 30 years ago; research and treatment continues to improve so you will have more and better options. Univ of Edinbg is having some exciting results in its research. Wishing you good support and improved health.

  26. N.L.*

    I want to make arroz caldo (Filipino chicken porridge), which I’ve never made before. My reading says it’s normally served as a snack but I was thinking of serving it for dinner. What would go well to serve with it as a side(s)?

    1. Elspeth Mcgillicuddy*

      Looks like it has plenty of protein and some carbs, so I’d add veggies. You can either search for some traditional Filipino veggie recipes, or just make whatever veggies you normally like. Broccoli goes good with chicken and rice. You might also want to add another carb, because that isn’t much rice.

      Also, if it’s made as a snack, the serving size may be smaller than you’d want for dinner. Consider increasing the recipe depending on the number of people who will be eating.

    2. Seeking Second Childhood*

      Well there’s a coincidence. Somebody tonight on Guild Wars chat was talking about dinner being Filipino chicken. They made me hungry and I’d already eaten.
      How did you like yours? Recipes appreciated if you’re up for sharing.

    3. Crylo Ren*

      Filipino here! Arroz caldo is a great choice for the winter months, it’s very comforting and warming. When my mom makes it she will serve it with plenty hard-boiled eggs, green onions, crispy fried garlic, and calamansi (Philippine limes, very tiny and tart!) to squeeze over the top as you please. I’ve actually never considered it as a snack; we usually enjoy it on its own.

  27. Llellayena*

    All ye with TMJ: dealing with jaw joint aches.

    Every time I go to the dentist, he asks if I clench my teeth when I sleep. As far as I can tell I don’t, but I do tend to ‘lock’ my jaw in a position with my teeth just slightly apart. Frequently enough that I’ve noticed it, I’ll wake up with the joint of my jaw aching. Since I don’t clench my teeth, it seems like the mouthguard wouldn’t help but is there anything that might? My big fear is that this is actually an indication that my 4 impacted wisdom teeth are trying to go somewhere…

    1. fposte*

      Have you tried massage? I’ve had friends with TMJ who’ve gotten good results. It’s likely the dentist would be able to see the difference between impacted wisdom teeth and other problems, btw; next time ask him what he’s seeing so you have a better idea.

      I don’t grind but I do various oral stress things; I clenched my teeth for a while and broke that habit but then did weird tongue things. Massage can be helpful for all of that.

      1. Llellayena*

        I’ve poked at it myself when it ached, but haven’t tried massage as a preventative thing. Huh.

        1. Lena Clare*

          I massage with lavender oil, and I do wear a mouth guard too at night, but the massage helps on its own.

    2. Friendless*

      I think it’s really hard to judge for yourself if you clench your teeth while you sleep. And the dentist might be asking because he sees signs of wear on your teeth. A mouthgaurd might be the simplest way to rule it out as an issue.

      I personally have found that my TMJ is just where my stress manifests itself – like how some people get tight shoulders. Reducing stress (yeah, I know, haha) and inflammation (an anti inflammatory diet) were game changers. So were biweekly reflexology sessions (they offer 20 minute back/neck/head massages for much less than a regular massage, and I appreciate not having to make an appointment).

    3. Reader in ND*

      I’d suggest investigating a guard to wear at night, but I feel some guards just protect your teeth from wearing down and others are more for TMJ dysfunction. I just recently learned of LVI dentistry, which I don’t know a lot about but they basically try to get your jaw in the perfect alignment without surgery. Check the LVI Global website for more info. I’m not suggesting you need this but if you discover you have major TMJ problems and feel like a regular dentist isn’t able to help, try to find an LVI dentist and see if you like their approach.

      1. Wishing You Well*

        Get a mouth guard and wear it every night. You’re doing something in your sleep that’s hurting your jaw. The mouth guard won’t hurt you but the lack of it could make your problem much worse in the future. This is a “fix it now” issue.
        Best of Luck

      2. Llellayena*

        My dentist hasn’t done or suggested anything for the TMJ, just keeps asking about the clenching. I’ll look into that, thanks.

      3. Reader in ND*

        I forgot my main advice to everyone: don’t go to the dentist two days in a row and have your mouth open wide for hours! I’m sure I clenched and ground my teeth as a child, but my joint issues seemed to start after I had a cleaning one day and then a cavity filled the next day, so don’t do that if you can help it. And I’m still in treatment but we’re hoping that getting my jaw aligned will help cut down on pretty much daily headaches and migraines, so if you can get a guard to wear now and prevent joint problems later, that’s something to consider too. My jaw would jut and sort of click every time I yawned or opened wide, so it’s hard to have a great, pain-free day when your face isn’t aligned correctly.

    4. KoiFeeder*

      My mouthguard doesn’t really help with my jaw joint issues (some doctors say it is TMJ if the joint damage was caused by someone dislocating your jaw. some say it isn’t. I’m very confused.), but mine’s for “you snapped the wire of your retainer in your sleep because you grind your teeth like an espresso machine” and not the joint issues, so YMMV.

    5. Possibly A Cat*

      I normally lurk but I’ve got TMJ and had my wisdom teeth out recently. Hot rice bag on the jaw joint for the pain has always help for me.

      I suggest asking about the a guard because my jaw doesn’t line up properly. The dentist I went to said that not having a proper resting position is what causes a large portion of my discomfort, not grinding or clenching. When I have the funds to do so I am supposed to have a custom bite plate made to wear all the time that will let my jaw relax since it will rest at the proper angle.

      When it comes to the wisdom teeth I just recently had all of mine out. Two were impacted and going places they shouldn’t have. I was told that I didn’t have enough jaw space to keep them and they were crowding and causing issues. I am in so much less pain and felt so much better after getting them out.

      I hope that’s of a little help to you!

      1. Llellayena*

        Oh this is fantastic, thank you! I don’t have regular pain that I can recognize comes from the wisdom teeth (yet), but I’ll keep an eye on it. The surgery scares the heck out of me, at least in part BECAUSE of the TMJ. And I’ve got the hot rice bag, just didn’t think to use it in part because I often don’t have time in the morning when it hurts.

        1. Possibly A Cat*

          I didn’t realize how much facial and neck pain I was having until they were out.

          I was nervous about the surgery too. I had a dental surgeon doing it that was very highly recommended. For me they put me under because of the TMJ. They were in and out in like an hour and half because everything went so smoothly. Worst part for me was honestly after the surgery.
          No one told me that anesthesia can mess with your sleep for up to three weeks. I spent two weeks struggling to sleep because of it and only found out by googling it.

    6. Dee-Nice*

      You’d need to research this, but my dentist has mentioned Botox for jaw clenchers. He says he has tried it himself and it relaxed his jaw muscles in ways he didn’t know they were tense.

    7. Epiphyta*

      Last year I did physical therapy for my TMJ issues and it really helped; there was a lot of muscle retraining and stretches for my neck and shoulders, plus a loooooooot of massage. I also wear a nightguard.

      1. Llellayena*

        Hmm, I might mention this to my doc. I hadn’t thought of PT since it’s not greatly affecting what I can do. It’s just annoying.

    8. TechWorker*

      I paid £300 for a mouth guard to avoid jaw clenching and frustratingly then only wore it for about 2 weeks because by the time it actually arrived (~4 months after the constant jaw pain had started) the pain went away by itself. I’m fairly sure it was stress related, which I know isn’t a solution but it is possible for it to just… go. Wishing you luck!

    9. Jdc*

      I’m guessing that you do in fact do it even if you think you don’t. I wasn’t aware for years. I’d try a mouth guard because it’s likely you are doing it in your sleep and don’t know.

  28. Marion Q*

    Around September last year a university friend got married. We graduated in 2018. The groom is a year older and they’ve been dating for around 3 years. Both come from relatively traditional families, so it’s understandable.

    Earlier this year my neighbour, a childhood friend, also got married. She didn’t go to university, went straight to work after high school, so in a way her adulthood started earlier.

    Last week two elementary school friends, both women, got married. One is a graduate from the leading aerospace engineering program in the country, of which only 1/6 of the class were women. Another just finished her residency iirc (medical school is an undergraduate program where I live).

    I got news this week that a cousin, who graduated last year, will be getting married next month. She hasn’t had a job yet.

    Just . . . Why? Why would you sideline your career before it even begins? Why settle down before you finish exploring all your options?

    I realise it’s none of my business, really, but still . . . I don’t know.

    1. fposte*

      I’m single, so I don’t have a horse in this race, but I feel like you’re overconnecting a decision to choose a partner with a career problem. And you can never explore *all* your options–you can just explore enough of them to make choices. It sounds like these people are marrying a little younger than the average in most European/American countries but they’re not worryingly young–they’re grownups who can drink and vote and fight in wars. And not everybody’s long-term goal is solely career focused–it’s a reasonable decision to say “This isn’t my best career move but it’s still my best life move.”

      It’s kind of like Myrin’s thread elsewhere–sometimes it’s a shock to realize that something you assumed you shared with all your friends isn’t shared at all. And that can be a disorienting thing, but it doesn’t necessarily mean they’re making a mistake, and that can be true even if the marriages don’t last or the careers take a different trajectory.

      1. Marion Q*

        you can never explore *all* your options

        Yeah, realistically I know this. I’m single too, and I don’t think I want to get married, so I do admit a bias there.

    2. Zephy*

      Is it…illegal for married women to have jobs where you are? I don’t think getting married automatically means someone is “sidelining their career.”

      1. ThatGirl*

        This is what I was wondering. Getting married has in no way hindered my career (not my husband’s, not that anyone worries about him!!)

        1. KoiFeeder*

          I mean, my mom’s had people get very upset that Dr. Mom Koifeeder is not her husband, Dr. Dad Koifeeder, but that’s exactly nothing to do with her and everything to do with social idiocy.

      2. MOAS*

        some cultures still believe that a woman’s place is in the home only. So not illegal but against some social norms.

      3. Marion Q*

        Not illegal, of course, but like MOAS said, against some social norms. I know the actual problem is society, not my friends.

        1. Observer*

          What makes you assume that those women who want to have careers are going to be bound by those social norms. I’d be willing to bet that a women who can “ graduate from the leading aerospace engineering program in the country, of which only 1/6 of the class were women” either is operating in circles where having a career is not against social norms or doesn’t give a flip.

          1. Marion Q*

            Because of pervasive discrimination? Sure, she might not give a flip. But what happens when she comes back from maternity leave, and her manager looks at her and thinks, “X has a baby, I bet she’d rather focus on her child. I’ll give the promotion to John instead.”

            We don’t have anything like EEOC and we’re also not a lawsuit-prone. If she sues the company, she might win, but she’d be labelled as a troublemaker and find it hard to get another employment.

            1. TechWorker*

              I would also like to point out that marriage =/= immediate children… like if they’ve said ‘oh yes we’re trying for a child’ then yes, she could experience discrimination earlier… but if not that’s not something that automatically has to follow.

            2. Disco Janet*

              So the solution is to judge the woman for daring to get married, rather than to fight hard to end such discrimination?

              This is awful. I’m completely baffled by the assumptions happening here.

            3. Observer*

              For starters, you are making the same ugly assumptions that you claim to be worried about. She’s getting married. It does happen to be 2020 and you’re going to have to work VERY hard to convince me that a woman like this is not going to make sure to use effective birth control.

              Also, if people are making assumptions about her merely because she’s a female, they will do that regardless of whether she has a ring on her finger or not.

    3. Not A Manager*

      Why would getting married sideline your career, though?

      In terms of exploring all your options, there are 7.7 billion people on earth. You can’t explore ALL your options. All you can do is explore enough options for you personally.

    4. Snarflepants*

      This sounds like normal human life? If they’ve found other people that see having a compatible future with, why not get married? Many professions are flexible and both spouses live satisfying lives. Even in cases where there’s one Working Spouse (the military say) and a Trailing Spouse (military adjacent careers), they probably decided that was okay before hand.

      1. Marion Q*

        Even in cases where there’s one Working Spouse (the military say) and a Trailing Spouse (military adjacent careers), they probably decided that was okay before hand.

        This assuming that there’s an equal partnership between the husband and wife. I came from the same traditional/conservative background, and I know firsthand that there’s a strong belief that the husband is the head of the family and the wife’s duty is to obey him. She can negotiate/argue, but he has the final say.

        I knew a girl who get married in her sophomore year in university. It became very difficult to maintain the friendship because she would say, “Oh I have to ask my husband first,” or “I don’t think my husband would like that”.

        As another cousin put it, “If it’s your parents’ funeral and your husband forbids you from going, you stay at home.”

        1. Observer*

          I’m seriously taken aback at the extent to which you are acting as though your friend is a puppet generated by a cookie cutter rather than an individual with free will and her own opinions. I get that you live in a culture with certain norms.

          That does not mean that her husband subscribes to those norms, and it does not mean that she will bow to those norms either. Let’s face it – she clearly bucked a lot of norms to graduate. Why do you assume that suddenly she got stupid and failed to consider her next steps?

        2. MOAS*

          Sadly I’ve heard the same. Or “the only time a woman leaves home is in a wedding dress or a kaffan.” (Flames down my face).

          My immediate & extended family in the USA isn’t like this, and the attitudes are slowly changing “back home” but its a slow change. This thinking still persists in many cities esp amongst very traditional people. I grew up in the US and 15 years ago I was coming across men who didn’t want a “working wife”. (Barf). Thankfully I married someone who encouraged me to work if I wanted to.

          Marriage and kids itself isn’t career suicide. But when it comes to careers etc….2 of my husbands sisters in law were married straight out of college. As soon as they married they had children. And had them every few years. Babysitting/daycare is unheard of, you never leave your child with a stranger. Neither has a job or career. They are bright, smart and sweet women and run their homes well, but they’re in very traditional roles. Their degrees are ~ 15 years old now and they have no work experience so if they ever do decide to begin working, they will be starting from the bottom competing with ppl in their 20s.

          In a western society women have the right to make their choices, and if they do decide to adopt traditional roles, that’s fine—they’re making the decision to do so. That’s key. But what OP and I are saying is that its not so much a choice when generations before you have done the same thing and there’s social pressure to do the same thing as everyone else.

    5. MOAS*

      I kind of understand where you’re coming from. I’m South Asian and in our culture it is very common for women to marry in late teens/early 20s and then develop a career (or equally likely never work). Things are changing but the traditional mindset still prevails. Signed, married at 21 and got my first job at 29.

      1. Marion Q*

        I’m South Asian too! And lives in South Asia, so, you know how it is. Yeah, things are changing, but I find that most family, even the “modern”ones, still think of a woman’s job as an amusing past time, to be dropped at once for the sake of her family. Instead, you know, something that she genuinely feels fulfilled by.

        1. MOAS*

          I know exactly what you mean and what you are saying. A lot of issues in our Culture/society. I hope with this context that should help some people see what you’re saying and not be unkind

    6. Courageous cat*

      …She’s getting married, it’s not like she’s having a baby? I’m really confused. Why would getting married sideline your career? Should people be 100% single until they’re halfway through their career? What prejudices are YOU carrying that is informing this (kind of unusual) train of thought?

    7. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      What on earth do “married” and “career” have to do with each other?

      1. Marion Q*

        Because we don’t have strong anti discrimination laws.

        My close friend is actually a graduate from the same engineering program. In most of her interviews, she is asked about her family plans, whether she plans to get married in the next few years, if she’s going to have a baby soon after that, and if she’s going to quit and be a stay at home mum. An interviewer, a woman, flat out hold her that she, and the company, didn’t like hiring women because “they just get married and have babies and leave anyway”.

        There are job ads that specifically state the applicant must be single (our marriage status is written in our ID).

        There is a prevailing belief that the only reason a married woman works is because she needs to support her family (because her husband’s income is not enough), not because, you know, she wants a career or that it’s fulfilling for her. A single woman works because she needs something to fill her spare time, and it’s expected that once she gets married her primary focus would be the family.

        And yes, I know the actually problem is the patriarchal society, but revolution doesn’t seem to be coming anytime soon.

          1. Washi*

            Yeah, I think if the context for your post is a culture that differs substantially from American culture (since this is an American site) it really helps to clarify that. No one is trying to be rude, but the original post is so out of step with how things work in the US that it seemed judgy, rather than realistic.

        1. MOAS*

          Funny, slightly OT story (And by funny I mean screaming in anger), way back when I was job hunting I actually went door to door applying at stores that had help wanted sign. This was in a heavy south Asian neighborhood in the USA and yes they asked these same questions, my marital status, child status etc. in the US. Gross AF but I was desperate for a job and couldn’t afford to be picky.

          1. Marion Q*

            And by funny I mean screaming in anger
            This kind of funny accounts for 50% of the humour in my life, lol. Desperation sure makes you accept a lot of sh*tty things, doesn’t it?

        2. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

          Well. Yeah, there’s “burying the lede” and then there’s leaving out like, every shred of possible context you could have done. Heh.

          1. MOAS*

            lol it happens. Sometimes something is at the forefront of your mind or experience that you don’t realize others may not know the context. After reading and posting on here for a few months, I realized how important background information/context is.

        3. misspiggy*

          Coming late to say, I’ve worked in that setting and some women do seem to blossom in their mid thirties once they’ve got the young kids stage done. It seems acceptable in certain circles to pursue a good career from that point. Yes, they don’t get as far as a man would have done, but they are able to combine marriage with career.

    8. Nom de Plume*

      Hmm, well, I was 21 and still in college when I got married. I now have a masters degree and am a lead scientist at a consulting firm. And I did all of that while married.

    9. MatKnifeNinja*

      Not everyone wants babies at 40.

      My BFF graduated from MIT and Harvard, with a degree people would give 10 years off their life to get. The same with the spouse. They got married at 26, and only waited because their families wanted them to finish school.

      Their two kids came boom and boom 18 months later.

      My friend said they had always wanted children, and their careers are only part of them. They weren’t willing to side line that part of themselves, only to find out they waited too long to have kids without fertility treatments.

      People were salty about my friend “throwing away her education” to be a mom. She is still working, but it isn’t in the top tier dog fight of research. Never wanted to do that kind of work anyway.

      Life is all about compromise. If you get married, you know your ease of choices will be limited. A career may not be the end all and be all for those people. Some people really want a spouse and the option of kids. That is a bit harder after age 35.

      1. Parenthetically*

        Yeah, I agree with this. Plus so much of life is random. One of my good friends in college got married the summer after his freshman year (which was the summer after his wife’s senior year in high school) and they’re still, more than 15 years later, happily married with a passel of kids and two thriving careers between them. I didn’t meet my husband until I was in my mid-30s. I did the hard yards in my career before we met; my college friends did theirs after they got married. That’s life. Who cares what other people do?

    10. Valancy Snaith*

      No one can explore all of their options. If they didn’t get married, they still wouldn’t be able to explore every single thing they could ever do. And marriage doesn’t end someone’s career?

      And besides career stuff, my marriage has been one of the single best things I’ve done. Meeting and marrying my life partner has been nothing but positive for me, and I would certainly not take kindly to a friend saying I should have delayed my marriage for some indefinable reason.

      1. Marion Q*

        I don’t doubt that marriage can be one of the best things a person can do! But in the context of my culture/society, with the decks are stacked against working women already, why add another hurdle?

        1. Disco Janet*

          …because it’s their life and marriage is important to them? They’re allowed to have different priorities than you.

    11. RagingADHD*

      Why do you think getting married automatically equals sidelining your career?

      Im not sure how familiar you are with the world outside the 1950s, but there are quite a lot of women who work after getting married these days. Many of them earn more than their husbands.

      Some of them even work after having babies!

      1. MOAS*

        Maybe they’re from a culture where women marry young and are expected to put home as #1 priority. Let’s not pretend that other social rules don’t exist.

        Idk where the OP grew up or what decade and I do agree with everyone saying that marriage & kids don’t mean career suicide BUT at one point I’m pretty sure it did, and I know in some cultures it’s still the norm.

        1. RagingADHD*

          Welp, OP said they graduated college in 2018. AAM is generally oriented to people who

          a) live in Western, English-speaking countries

          b) work and are interested in career topics

          c) Have Internet access and are therefore at least exposed to the world outside their own subculture.

          Besides, it would appear that OP is not operating entirely within some highly restrictive subculture, since they refer to their first set of friends as being traditionalists (implying they personally are not), and seem rather anti-marriage themselves.

          It’s a very odd combination of assumptions. And even those raised in traditional cultures must be aware that other options and lifestyles exist, no?

          Get married, don’t get married, whatever. But the only rational answer to a question like “why would she throw your career away by getting married” is,

          “She didn’t.”

          1. Marion Q*

            All these women, and me, live in major cities with internet access and are exposed to world outside our own subculture. My faculty in univeristy is probably the most progressive in the country.

            Even in cities there are people who believe that university education for daughters is a waste of money, since they’ll end up being a housewife/stay-at-home mother anyway. If a family can only afford to send one kid to university, most of the time they send the son, even if the daughter performs better academically, because “he would be the breadwinner for his family”. This happened to my mother and aunts 40 years ago, and it’s still happening.

            Most of the successful women I know married late (according to our standard anyway) in their 30s. Or they’re single. Or they are lucky to marry progressive men who put equal importance in their careers.

            Some are so disillusioned they flee abroad the first chance they get. Another close friend is planning this: she’d go to graduate school abroad, find a job there, and start working on a citizenship application.

            So yeah, it matters. Especially in field like aerospace engineering. Because people are going to look at her and say, “See, in the end, even an aerospace engineer will focus on her family. That’s in her nature as a woman.” And they’d feel justified in not sending their daughters to university and the doors are closed again.

            1. tangerineRose*

              I’m so sorry you have to deal with this in your country. Your country is missing out on so much talent by treating women this way.

      2. Marion Q*

        What MOAS said. I also explained further up thread in my answer to Red Reader.

        Two of my aunts, married with kids, actually end up as the director of their bank’s local branch, so I do realise that getting married doesn’t necessarily means career suicide. But they didn’t get married in their early twenties either.

        1. Observer*

          Actually, it still doesn’t explain it. The people who won’t hire women because “they will just get married and leave” are going to think that whether your friends are married or not.

    12. Not So NewReader*

      So I have read down through your posts to make sure I see the context.

      Your question is: Why settle down before you finish exploring all your options?

      A couple thoughts:

      … because you don’t believe you will make it in the long run anyway.

      … because something (a relationship) came along that is too good to let go of and you are not going to risk letting go just to follow a career in a sexist society that won’t support your endeavors anyway. A bird in hand is worth two in the bush.

      … because you lack a strong role model and doubt your own ability to succeed.

      …because blazing a new trail comes at a price. But what is the price and how long will she have to pay it and is she willing to pay that price?

      …because the world IS indeed a big, scary place and the Thing that is perhaps less desirable to some can appear to be safer in the long run.

      … or because they do not realize they have options and they do not realize that they do have some say in how things play out.

      For a minute I want to talk about a regret in life. A friend married a guy who I thought was kinda scary. My friend was brilliant, funny, and had so much to offer. I just let communication fizzle between us because I could not watch what happened next. I can say it now what I could not articulate then: This was all about ME. It was all about my own fears and my own life. She was living what I feared would happen to ME.

      A better response to this would have been for me to up my own game AND keep the lines of communication open. Unfortunately, Life! was going on and I just had too much crap to sort through. I let the friendship slide. I do regret that choice. I wish I could have reframed this to, “How is this creative, smart, wonderful person going to handle this aspect of life? What can I learn from her and apply to my own life?” Because I was pretty fragile myself, I let my fears lead me around instead.

      I hope I can encourage you that one way of thinking about this might be that it is good to know all different kinds of people doing all different kinds of things. They each enrich our lives in a unique way. Through watching their lives and their choices play out we learn, too. And sometimes we learn things that we never would have learned anywhere else. I talk about my friend’s son who was in prison. I have learned so much watching this situation. And in effort to help my friend I have also connected to other people and had meaningful conversations. When we follow people’s lives over the long haul we gain so much. Right now you have a snap shot, a moment where a person has said they will get married. As the years unfold they could surprise you with what they think of next.

      It’s reasonable to think that your friend/family member is looking at you and feeling pretty scared/concerned for you and your choices also. I hope I can encourage you to keep stepping back and looking for a bigger and bigger picture. But yes, if we look at any Thing up close and for a longer period of time, we can find that Thing is scary/upsetting/whatever to us. A bigger picture view helps with this.

      1. Cuddles Chatterji*

        A++ comment. Thank you. This has happened to me too: “This was all about ME. It was all about my own fears and my own life. She was living what I feared would happen to ME.”

    13. Jdc*

      Since when did having a wedding equal sidelining your career. That’s a very silly thought process. They got married because they wanted to.

  29. Chi-town*

    Any winter boot recommendations? I have a pair from Sorel but I find myself slipping and sliding on the floor. I walk very slowly because I’m afraid of falling but friends always make fun of me.

    1. Reader in ND*

      No great suggestions on boots, but if walking slowly means you won’t slip and hit your head then I say to ignore the comments where they make fun of you. My boss got a concussion from falling on the ice and the effects of that sounded awful, so stay safe!

    2. Filosofickle*

      When I lived in Chicago I wore hiking boots in winter! Not super stylish, but great for traction on ice.

    3. Tris Prior*

      I have North Face short boots that have held up well for a few years and feel pretty stable when walking on my neighborhood’s sidewalks which no one ever shovels or salts:
      https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0195K72Y2/ref=ppx_od_dt_b_asin_title_s00?ie=UTF8&psc=1

      That being said, as a fellow Chicagoan: Your friends are jerks for making fun of you. It is totally reasonable to walk carefully, however you need to, in nasty icy snowy sloppy conditions. Especially if you’re in the city and do a lot of walking on sidewalks that no one shovels or salts (seriously, WHYYYYY. It’s the law!)

    4. fposte*

      In the meantime, have you considered Yaktrax? Extra traction you can just slip on. Friends swear by them.

    5. Biblibovore*

      Second the need for warm winter boots. The snow boots- Columbia and Sorrell don’t work for me. My hiking boots aren’t warm enough. Even with two pairs of wool socks. Uggs are the perfect warmth aren’t grippy enough.
      I am looking at Canadien Toe Warmers- very pricey $180 but am willing if someone here recommends. I am a 6 and 1/2 extra wide with a high instep so those are is a huge issues.

      Shortish, very warm, very wide, good grippy soles.

    6. HamlindigoBlue*

      I’m in the Chicago area too. I have a pair of Columbia Minx Mid boots, and I love them. Very warm, good traction, and they’re cute (I think, anyway).

    7. Apt Nickname*

      I love my Steger mukluks, but they’re pricey and can be a little over-the-top warm. Also, the moose hide needs careful maintenance especially with salt residue. But I can verify that the rubber sole is very gripping and they’re extremely comfortable.

      1. It's a fish, Al*

        I second the Steger Mukluks!

        I live and work in cold places, and I use:
        Steger Mukluks in the -10 to -30 C range
        Baffin Eiger below -30 C
        Ugg lace up winter boots when I’m out and about for short hops, or driving (the sole on these is much more grippy than typical Uggs).

    8. KoiFeeder*

      sheepskin [dot] com!

      Bad: Hefty price tag, definitely not vegan, one color, cats love eating the insides.
      Good: I’ve had mine for five years and they’re pretty much still indistinguishable from the ones on the website, which is amazing because I have killed heavy-duty hiking boots in less than three years. These are the Boots that Vimes refers to in his Boots Theory.

      1. Bibliovore*

        Looking at their site. Only whole sizes . Can you say something about the fit? My feet are super wide

      1. Aurora Leigh*

        Same! I usually buy them on clearance and check both men’s and women’s to get the best price.

    9. Not So NewReader*

      Do the Sorels have any tread on them?
      Is the tread loaded with snow and that is why you are slipping on floors? I am wondering why you mention floors and not outside conditions.

      Some winter boots offer zero traction and they just look pretty. These are the boots with the heels and smooth bottoms.

      Some winter boots are workhorses with big anti-slip patterns forming a bumpy surface across the bottom of the boot. If you don’t stamp your feet before walking in the house the treads will hold snow and you will end up slipping on bare floors that do not have rugs.

      Some boots actually advertise that they have anti-slip features.

      1. Chi-town*

        The sorels are good outside, but when I wear them inside at work, I find myself slipping on the linoleum. (Not a big deal- I can just change them when I enter the building. They’re older boots and I probably wore them out walking downtown, but they were expensive.)

        1. Owler*

          If you like them and still want to get more wear out of them, maybe you could visit a shoe repair place and see whether it’s worth getting them resoled?

      1. Jdc*

        I meant to type more. Sorry. Anyway they are very grippy and basically comfy Ugg’s inside and full snow boots outside. I’ve actually found ugg makes a lot of normal looking boots that are ugg inside. Nordstrom rack has good prices on them. I have about three pairs now.

    10. Keens Wearer*

      I had Bean Boots for awhile and had the same problem, and Sorel’s didn’t fit my foot. I ended up with Keen Hoodoo III Ice Ups (they are women’s) and love them. They are very warm as well.

  30. PhyllisB*

    Last week I was asking for advice about Son’s upcoming court date (he’s in rehab and won’t be able to appear. I went and talked to the court clerk, and since he has completed all requirements, classes and fine, I was told he doesn’t have to appear. He’s done. (With that part.) Thanks to all who gave advice and moral support!!

    1. Not So NewReader*

      Yippee. When a judge wants a person to rise above their circumstances and have success this is how that judge and clerk react to a parent. In our legal system support comes in very odd packages. But now you know how to identify support, so when you see it again, you will recognize it.

      Keep it in the back of your mind that you can probably to talk to that clerk again regarding scheduling, if absolute need arises.

    2. Kuododi*

      That’s great news. My one recommendation is to make sure to get his release from court in writing. I’ve had enough substance abuse clients overlook getting written verification of status with court. As predicted, they later wound up having further difficulty with court because of lack of documentation. Best regards.

  31. Ezera*

    I’d like to try for another kid (we have a 1.5 year old, and having her took some fertility meds), but we’re waiting until a year from now to talk seriously about it.
    We’ll be better able to afford second daycare then, and hopefully she’ll be sleeping through the night?
    I’ve been having a hard time because it feels like a lot of people with kids my daughter’s age are starting to try. I’m feeling left behind.
    I’m also turning 37 soon, and that’s not making me feel good about this. I’m also worried about what happens if my husband decides he only wants the one kid?
    I guess I’m just anxious and wistful, and not in control.

    1. Nicki Name*

      Has your husband been open to multiple kids in the past, and you’re worried that he may have changed his mind? Or have you just not talked about a specific number?

      1. Ezera*

        He’s on the fence. He loves our daughter but I know it’s been hard for him. He’s open to discussing, but doesn’t want to seriously consider it until next year.

    2. Erin*

      If you’re on Facebook and hearing about the experiences of others in a similar position would be helpful, check out the group One and Done – On the Fence. It’s a pretty active group with a lot of discussion about this decision from a lot of different angles.

    3. LibbyG*

      Family-building is fraught!

      You say you want to take steps toward growing your family, but that you and spouse aren’t going to even seriously talk about it for a whole year. And you say you are apprehensive that your spouse will be opposed to having another.

      So I may be way off, but my Spidey sense is tingling, in that the scheduled timeline talking about it seems to work just fine for your husband, but it isn’t working for you.

      If you need to talk much more specifically about whether/when/how to grow your family sooner than January 2021, then it seems reasonable for you and your husband to try to meet that need.

      I hear ya on feeling like you have no control! Infertility will do that! My Clomid+IUI baby (born when I was 38) is almost 9.

      1. The New Wanderer*

        Seconding this. I didn’t have any delays getting pregnant with my first at 35 and was the one on the fence about a second, especially on the 2 year spacing track. Husband was all in and very concerned about potential age related issues (for us, being relatively older parents). we started trying anyway and after a year of no luck, went the Clomid +IUI route for the second (they are almost exactly 4 years apart). A significant number of friends needed fertility assistance of varying kinds, it’s either far more common or more commonly discussed, or both.

        Part of our conversation was to what extent we would try interventions. For us, IUI was the limit and if that hadn’t worked, we would (continue to) be happy with our one. I think at my age (38) the recommendation was 3 attempts at IUI at most before they strongly recommended in vitro, but that’s just the place we chose. Another doctor had pushed in vitro right off the bat which is why we got a second opinion.

        It’s going to be different for every family, but I agree that you should try to talk about how this “wait a year to discuss” plan is affecting you. I’ll be honest, I didn’t want to dive right back into baby stuff while managing a toddler, even just talking about it, but it is too important a conversation, and too short a timeline, to postpone it that long. Best wishes!

    4. Courageous cat*

      Start talking now. Don’t wait and hope for a full year just to find out he’s not on the same page.

      1. WellRed*

        Yes. Bluntly, if you are struggling with infertility and are already 37 ( in medical pregnancy terms, elderly) I wouldn’t wait a year to start the conversation. What’s been “hard” for your husband with regard to fatherhood? Maybe start there,

        1. Wishing You Well*

          Yup. At 37, it’s time to decide now. Talk to your spouse.
          Congratulations on your daughter! May your family have a great 2020!

        2. Parenthetically*

          Absolutely agreed with this. We were fortunate not to have a hard time getting pregnant, but with infertility already in the picture, postponing the conversation is a pretty big deal.

        3. Disco Janet*

          I agree. It’s unfortunately reality that at age 37 with past fertility issues, waiting a year to discuss it could make the decision for you – and not in the way you want.

    5. Overeducated*

      I hear you. My kids are 5 years apart for financial reasons, plus time to conceive #2, and so many of my cohort seem to have them 2 years apart. I definitely felt behind. Now I feel behind that we don’t own a house, we’re 4 people in a 2 bed apartment, but we aren’t able to settle in our careers yet so it doesn’t make sense to buy.

      No real point here, just sympathy that waiting is hard and comparing makes it harder. Wishing you the best.

    6. Not enough coffee*

      Talk about it now. I have three with 2.9 years between the first two and 22.5 months (not that anyone counts!) between the second and third. DH and I married

  32. Gatomon*

    Any miracle cures for coughing/post-nasal drip? I’m trying to recover from my second cold in 4 weeks and I feel like I’m close to coughing myself into pieces. My head, neck and abs all hurt from this terrible hacking cough that doesn’t really even produce much. Decongestants are barely helping, same with cough drops.

    1. Just a PM*

      Could you try switching to hard candies instead of cough drops and seeing if that helps? I always go for peppermints instead of cough drops. Sometimes they work, sometimes they don’t. For post-nasal drip, if it’s mucous, could you try a neti pot?

    2. Lena Clare*

      Oo that sounds rough!
      Sleep on pillows so your chest is raised at night.
      Lots of warm water to drink, with honey and lemon if you like them.
      Olbas oil (eucalyptus and mint) steam bowl with towel over your head.
      Vicks vaporub on your chest.
      Wrap up warm!

    3. fposte*

      The sad truth is that very little cough medicine performs well in serious research studies. Dextromethorphan does a little; honey does a little. I didn’t look up results with hydrocodone last time I dove into this, which gets prescribed as a cough suppressant and, I think, probably helps people get some sleep as well. You might ask about that if you haven’t.

    4. Reader in ND*

      I’ve usually found eating a big spoon of honey very slowly coats my throat and helps stop the coughing. I don’t know if it’s necessary, but I usually try to not drink something right away after eating it because I want the honey to coat my throat.

    5. StellaBella*

      A couple of options, which may or may not be to your liking…. hot toddies or a modified version of those – hot water, shot whisky, lemon juice and honey. Lots of hot teas with honey, lots of fluids, soups. Sleep – if you can. Hot showers or steamy baths to loosen the mucus. Steam your head in a covered sink. (towel over head, hot water in sink). Good luck!

    6. Can I get a Wahoo?*

      Have you tried Musinex or something like it? I’m laid up with a cold as well and it’s helping break everything up.

      1. RagingADHD*

        Yes, keeping up on the Mucinex makes the cough easier and less wracking.

        And I find the mentho-lyptus type lozenges the most helpful, esp. the lemon & honey type. The Ricola-type are good for a scratchy throat, but don’t help my cough.

    7. WellRed*

      Nose spray to clear up nasal mucus, liquids and copious humidifier use. Nothing will cure it, but could greatly alleviate symptoms,

      1. PharmaCat*

        See an ENT. An uncontrollable cough can be caused by just the irritation of the whole inflammatory response. At various times I’ve taken prednisone or a neuropathy drug for coughs that are persistent.

    8. Parenthetically*

      Mucinex. If you have congestion but you’re not able to cough it up, 100% get some Mucinex and take it with LOTS of water. Also, a painful cough is something it’s worth talking to your doctor about.

    9. Stephanie*

      Robitussin DM, liquid. It tastes vile (at least to me–my husband likes it), but it works. I had a cough left over from a virus while recovering from abdominal surgery last week, and it was a life saver.

    10. Enter_the_Dragonfly*

      Ok, the cure is almost worse than the problem, but it WORKS. Chop up half an onion into thin slices, put the pieces in a mug (or non-absorbent receptacle of choice). Cover the pieces with honey and leave for 2-8 hours. Strain out the onion and take teaspoon any time you need to cough or your throat feels especially raw.
      I know, it will be a while before anyone asks you to dance slow and close, but give it a day or two and you will be amazed by the results!

    11. Not So NewReader*

      Vitamin D for coughs. YMMV of course, but it’s been a miracle in my life. I no longer buy cough drops or cough medicine.

      Post nasal drip. I have had great luck with willow bark. You can find it in health food stores. It gets my sinuses drained right out.

      Watch out for foods/beverages that can cause mucus and avoid them until you get a handle on this. For me this means milk, soda, juice and sweets.

    12. Lora*

      The only thing that helped me (after generic Albuterol, Mucinex and ibuprofen failed to keep me from coughing so hard I barfed and peed at the same time for like…three days) was prescription codeine syrup and brand name Symbicort and Albuterol in a nebulizer twice a day.

      At one point I got in the bathtub, wrapped in towels and just kinda…lay there, coughing and contemplating death’s mercy vs the future cleanup of every towel and blanket I owned. This virus is horrible, I’m sorry. The nebulizer really helps if you can get it though.

    13. Try this one weird thing*

      Ok, it is kind of weird but it helped me when my coughs weren’t productive: I leaned over the side of my bed while coughing to help bring up the mucus.

    14. Lizzo*

      Acupuncture! I have constant post-nasal drip due to allergies and sinus problems, and acupuncture treatments (along with Chinese herbs that my acupuncturist provides) are the only thing that help. Full disclosure: I hate needles, but I’ve been doing this for years.

    15. misspiggy*

      Seconding nose spray (Beconase is the over the counter go-to in the UK) plus a daily antihistamine.

    16. Gatomon*

      Thanks everyone for the suggestions! I propped myself up last night and not only slept better, but had a shorter coughing fit when I woke up. I dragged myself to the store today and got some Mucinex, and I’m currently waiting to see if that helps since it’s only been a few hours since I took the first dose. I’ve also got some saline spray and more cough drops (why the 30 ct. bags of Halls now-a-days???) so hopefully I can get through work without coughing myself into tears every 20 minutes. If I’m still sick Tuesday, I’ll head to the urgent care center and see what they can give me.

      1. BelleMorte*

        are you sure it’s post-nasal drip? I thought I had this but after a visit to an ENT, it is apparently acid reflux building up yuckiness on the back of my throat which then drips off simulating post-nasal, and it’s high up enough where my sinuses were always congested as well.

        I started taking acid reflux meds and it cleared up my sinuses within a week. For what it’s worth, I had zero other symptoms of acid reflux.

      2. lasslisa*

        There are prescription cough meds out there. Codeine as mentioned above but also numbing agents like tessalon benzonatate. Generally if your cough is hanging in for weeks (or even one week and not getting better) it’s time to see a doctor.

  33. Erin*

    Thanks to everyone who responded to my post last week about missing the eligibility window for enrolling my newborn on our health insurance plan. I thought I’d give an update.

    We still haven’t heard back from the insurance company on our appeal of their decision. We called midweek (we were told we’d have an answer by last Monday) to make sure they had everything they needed from us and they confirmed that they did. Still no word yet.

    In the meantime, we were able to purchase a short-term plan for her that will keep her covered until the open enrollment period. It’s expensive and the coverage is mediocre, but it’s something. We spoke with several brokers who just told us there was nothing available, or that my wife and I would have to drop our own coverage and then buy a (sub-par, expensive) family plan before we found the broker who knew of this option, so I’m glad we kept looking.

    I’m sterling myself for the bills to start coming from the hospital and pediatrician’s office for the delivery and appointments when she was uninsured. We will meet with folks there to work out a payment plan.

    Melody Pond, if you’re reading – you mentioned last week that you used to work with appeals like this. In your experience, what were the reasons/circumstances where appeals like this were successful?

    1. Hound Fan*

      This was in the paper this morning but it is advice I give everyone (I am a broker) — asked for a detailed bill from every provider. Often there are services that were not received or the charges were crazy. Providers will often drop those charges if you question them.

      Are you beyond 60 days from the baby’s birth? Carriers usually allow enrollments to go back 60 days. The ERISA requirement for plan sponsors is a minimum of 30/31 (and almost everyone adheres to that), but plan sponsors can be more generous as long as it is not random or discriminatory. I was was able to negotiate a back dated baby (three months so the carrier was generous) this week.

      1. Erin*

        Thanks Hound Fan. Yes, our carrier has a 60 day window for enrollment and we tried to enroll on day 61. It had just completely slipped our minds before then as a task we needed to complete (despite multiple doctor visits within that timeframe, sigh. Sleep deprivation can really do a number on you).

        Thanks for the tip on the detailed billing. We will do this for sure when settling up with the hospital and pediatrician.

        1. valentine*

          Apply for any zero-interest financial aid the hospital has. Tell the pediatrician the issue and see if they offer payment plans.

          1. valentine*

            It’s weird the pediatrician’s office didn’t run your insurance at the first (or any!) visit.

            1. Natalie*

              It’s pretty much universal for the insurance to be updated retroactively for a baby, since they can’t be added until they’re born. So not being able to confirm the coverage wouldn’t have necessarily raised any flags.

        2. blackcat*

          Maybe this isn’t true everywhere, but where I am (MA), the baby is insured under the bio-mother’s insurance for the first 30 days, no matter what. Are you 100% sure that’s not the case?

        3. Hound Fan*

          Oh that sucks — do you have any kind of EAP or health advocate service? Our firm has advocates to help employees navigate the health care system. Some clients allow direct access; others mandate that you go through HR. Can you ask your HR department if that exists?

  34. Penny Parker*

    Recently, in one of the comment sections, there was a link to a site which was about personality disorders, and how to deal with people with such disorders. (not Captain Awkward). I mentioned it to a friend of mine who is interested in checking it out but now I cannot find it. I can find lots of sites about personality disorders, but this one gave very good advice on how to respond to such disorders. Can anyone help me with a link to that site, or even to any other site which might be helpful for this topic? Thank you.

    1. The Cosmic Avenger*

      Could it be the RaisedByNarcissists subreddit? That is a great place for support and advice on dealing with narcissists or people in general who are not kind or empathetic or who gaslight or whatever. I know I recommend it fairly often, although not recently that I can recall.

    2. zaracat*

      I didn’t read the comment you refer to so I don’t know the specific site which was mentioned, but I’d highly recommend Out of the Fog.

  35. AlligatorSky*

    Hey all, it’s been a while since I wrote in. Has anyone experienced the loss of a pet? If so, how did you cope?

    My dog died suddenly yesterday afternoon. He was my best friend for 14 years and I’m absolutely crushed. I don’t know how to feel.. everything just hurts and it feels like I’m trapped in a horrible nightmare.

    1. StellaBella*

      First, I am so sorry for your pain, and am sending you light and love.

      I have lost 2 dogs, and 2 cats in my life. All were painful. My last dog of 12 years, was, like yours, my buddy, he passed in 2011 and I cried for weeks. It still hurts sometimes but I have a kitty now so that helps.

      Be gentle with yourself now, and know that grief is different for each of us, it’s ok to feel the sadness.

    2. Zephy*

      Oh, I’m sorry you’re dealing with that. :( 14 is a good long life, though, and I’m sure he had a great life with you.

      It’s OK to grieve. You might consider talking with a mental health professional; if cost is a concern, see if there’s a community mental health center in your area, they usually offer a sliding scale pricing. There are also inexpensive apps that will either put you in contact with a professional via text/the app or guide you through meditative exercises, and your employer might have an EAP that usually includes some free, confidential counseling sessions.

    3. cat socks*

      I’m so sorry for your loss. I said goodbye to one of my kitties a year ago. We made the choice to say goodbye because her health was not good. Prior to that my tabby boy passed away from heart failure.

      I coped by taking it day by day. For each one, I did not have to go back to work immediately. I have other cats so they still needed care, but it was hard setting out one less food bowl. It takes time getting used to a new normal.

      Check to see if there are any pet loss support groups in your area. I haven’t been to one myself, but I found it helpful to talk to friends who had pets. The website pet-loss dot net has some resources too.

      I’m so sorry. Please be gentle with yourself and allow time to go through the grieving process.

    4. Biblibovore*

      Yes.
      Grieve.
      Write about your beloved pup. Funny moments. What did you love best. Was it the midnight snuggles? The happy dance when they heard the fridge open. The poking their nose in the bathroom door? Remember the good life you gave them.
      Give yourself permission to be sad. Be with people who understand your lose. Share on social media. Give a donation in their memory to a shelter.
      Create a work of art or scrapbook with pictures of your pup. Remember their whole life not just the last 48 hours.
      Read THE LAST WILL AND TESTAMENT OF AN EXTREMELY DISTINGUISHED DOG by Eugene O’Neill
      link to follow.
      I am so sorry for your loss.

    5. Texan In Exile*

      I am so sorry. I coped by crying and being sad for a good long while. And even though it’s been over 36 years, I still miss O’Malley. And my husband and I talk now about how sad we will be when the cats we have now die.

      It’s awful to lose a pet. Awful. They give us unconditional love and are never deliberately hurtful to us. They are nicer to us than most humans are. I am sorry for your loss. You do eventually get used to it. One day, you will think of your dog and it will just make you happy, not sad. But you will always remember him. And you will always be happy he was part of your life.

      1. tangerineRose*

        All of this. It hurts. Pets become part of our life, part of our family, and even knowing that they don’t live as long as us doesn’t really help that much. Be gentle to yourself, let yourself grieve. If you find yourself talking to someone who clearly doesn’t get why this hurts, remember that they just don’t get this, and there are other people who do.

        I’m sorry for your loss.

    6. nep*

      I am so sorry. Oh my gosh–for him to go suddenly too. No pain like that in the universe. There really are no words for how bad it hurts.
      Feel how you feel. I hope you have time and space to be gentle with yourself and grieve as you need to. Don’t think you have to ‘rush’ past the hurt.
      Sending you love and a big hug.

    7. Damn it, Hardison!*

      Oh, I’m so sorry. I felt the same way as you described when I said goodbye to my 22 year old cat last October. I was able to take a couple of days off, which helped. I basically slept and cried. But little by little I started to feel less sad. It really does take time, and you can’t rush it. I hope that your happy memories of your dog will comfort you in the days to come.

    8. silverpie*

      Going through it myself… had to have our cat Waffles put to sleep last week. She was 16, though, and had been in decline for a while, so we knew it was coming. Still quite painful though… and then Leia, one of our younger cats (4, I think) stopped eating for a few days. Now eating on and off, but the vet thinks it’s cancer. This one is my best friend of any species, I’m just about shattered…

      1. BuildMeUp*

        I’m so sorry about Waffles. I hope it’s something else with Leia and that she’ll be okay

    9. NoLongerYoung*

      Sending a hug. Suddenly is hard, no matter the age. I have fostered elderly dogs in the past and no matter the circumstances it’s hard… but my hardest was the one I’d had for 12 years. Grieve and don’t let anyone tell you how you should feel (ie, there’s no timeline, you get to mourn at your own speed).
      I honored her by putting together a picture book, writing out the good memories, and doing a memorial gift. (I’d got her as a puppy, a drop out from guide dogs for the blind type group, so donated to them.)
      My heart goes out to you.

    10. Stephanie*

      I am so very sorry. You lost a family member. Any way that you feel is valid, and the pain is real.
      I lost my very beloved dog, Maggie, just over a year ago. She was 13. I’ve had many, many dogs over the years, and lost many, but she was the hardest for me, by far. I still miss her, every day, but most of the time now, when I think of her, it’s with good feelings, not sadness. I know it’s a cliche, but it is true that it does get a little better with time.
      I’m so sorry. Do what ever you need to do to take care of yourself.

    11. Jules the 3rd*

      Aw, that sucks, I am really sorry for your loss.

      I’ve had 6 cats, and it’s always upsetting when they die. We have a dog now (4yo). She’s even more like a member of the family than the cats, and I loved those cats.

      You’re grieving, and it’s understandable, we love our furry friends. How to cope?
      – Drink a lot of water. It helps with the physical pain.
      – Accept that you’re grieving, and that it’s natural, and that it’s ok.
      – Give yourself time. Six to twelve months is not too long. If you still feel this way in a year, consider talking to a therapist, but… you just lost someone that really matters to you. It is totally normal to be sad about that, even intensely sad, for a while.
      – Take it easy for a month or two – let yourself slack off on chores or social outings or things that take effort.

    12. Not So NewReader*

      Oh AS, I am so sorry. I will set on a bench beside you and cry with you. It hurts. I know.

      I always think of the song “Bless the beasts and the children”. The loss of innocent beings seems to hurt in its own unique and deeply painful way. And it’s unlike any other loss because of the being’s innocence and their dependence on us.

      There is no doubt in my mind that animals are here to serve us. One of the many ways they serve is by offering companionship. I have to say, dogs sometimes are better friends than actual people. Which only confirms in my mind that we are supposed to bond with our pets. They carry us through our days and our life. They provide that constant source of unending love, even on days when the whole world does not seem very loving.

      At one time I found a needlework pillow, with the saying on it, “Please help me be the person my dog thinks I am.” I still regret not buying that. Because yeah, where else is that level of adoration acceptable?? ha. We become their world. Then we get humbled because of their unending flow of love and joy at seeing us. We know our own flaws very well and yet their love persists.

      Stuff I have done:
      Cry. This creates a chemical reaction in the brain that helps to keep the brain healthy.

      Touch base with friends, stay connected to other things and people around you.

      Send thanks out to the universe for the time you did have together.

      Not everyone can do this- but I went and got another dog. And I started the process all over again. My current dog will be 11 next month. I will be 60 this year, so I am thinking this is my last “big” (knee high) dog. I have already started grieving that, but I have already increased my thanks to the universe for this time here.

      Keep what he has taught you. Bring it forward with you in your day-to-day life.

    13. Damn it, Hardison!*

      My local VCA offers grief support groups, if that is something that interests you. Your vet know about other groups.

    14. BuildMeUp*

      I’m so sorry <3

      I lost my cat in December. It was both sudden and not – he had a stroke that he seemed to be getting better from, but then they found cancer, and I was never sure how long he had until it was the end. I understand how you're feeling – even close to a month later, it doesn't feel like it he's really gone.

      At the very beginning, I tried to gather up most of his things and put them in an out-of-the-way place in my apartment. It helped to not have huge constant reminders (although honestly, just about everything in my apartment reminds me of him).

      When I felt ready, I started going through things. I set aside his favorite brush and toys and am planning to get a keepsake box for those and the urn with his ashes.

      When I start thinking about him being gone, I try to think about my favorite things about him, instead of the way he passed. I think about his cute little quirks and my best memories of him. It's helped me deal with how difficult his passing was by reminding myself that the rest of his life wasn't like that.

      It has also helped me to talk to him – to tell him the things I loved about him, and how I wish we had longer together.

    15. Sleve McDichael*

      It’s awful. I felt worse when I lost my cat than when I lost my Granny. You’re allowed to feel really strong grief like you would for a person and all pet owners will agree with me on that. I had to get another cat straight away. She’s not the same, she feels like someone else’s pet in my house, but she needs me and that’s something. On the other hand, my father never could get another dog after Honey. It’s been over a year and I still can’t hear stories about my cat or say his name. This is a mess but I’m trying to say that there is no wrong way to do this. Also if you’re not familiar with it, look up the ball in a box theory of grief. I thought it seemed optimistic at the time, but I think now that it was pretty accurate.

      Also I moved out of my house for two months because I couldn’t be in it without my cat, so whatever you do, you’re not overreacting.

      Lots of love to you <3

    16. Anono-me*

      I’m sorry. I lost my Puppers over 10 years ago and it still hurts. I figured out how to be careful when I think about the happy times and mostly it works, but sometimes….it still hurts. I cried a lot, I got a lot of hugs and cuddles from my sweetie and sometimes I would hide from the pain in a favorite dog free book (because I could be caught up in the story for a little bit.)

      I am so sorry for your loss.

    17. RebeccaNoraBunch*

      I lost the absolute love of my life, my first child, my someone, my everything, my heart walking around outside my body, my little poodle love, Lottie, at 11 years old on July 31, 2019 in the wee morning hours as I was rushing her to the emergency vet. She had a rare, genetic heart condition that causes pretty much instant death that the vet can’t diagnose until it happens, because there were no signs.

      The following hours, days, weeks, and months were the absolute hardest of my life. I had a memorial service for her. My house is a shrine to her now, filled with photos. I got 6 pawprints made. Her ashes are nestled in a box in her bed with her favorite toys around her.

      I won’t say it gets easier. It gets…less sharp, sometimes. It dulls, mostly. You will never stop missing your little love (at least I haven’t). No one will ever replace him. However, it won’t feel this ragged, this raw, forever.

      Three and a half months after she passed, I adopted her little sisters, two little poodle littermates from a local poodle rescue. Do they replace her? No, never. Have they helped? Yes, immensely. I love them dearly and they fill my life with joy and kisses and fun. They’ll never be her, but their unbounded love and joy and snuggles help in the darkest of times. I am a dog mom again, and in that my identity has returned.

      It will get…better. It will get less stark. In the meantime, all I can say is: my deepest sympathies for your loss, and I (and many of us) have very recently been there. It has been the worst loss of my life and I miss my girl every moment. However, the heart has so much love to give, and I can’t believe it every morning when I wake up to have Family Kiss Time with my little ladies, who are learning to be their mom’s dogs. I also look forward to the day when I see my love lump, my kiddo, the light of my whole life, again – forever. <3

      Peace, love, and healing to you.

    18. Minocho*

      It’s so painful. I definitely had people that thought I was dumb for feeling so much grief over “just an animal”, but others understood how important they were to me and were lovely. First off, stick with the lovely people while it’s still raw.

      This is the way I think of it – the grief of losing the family member is the price we pay for all the years of love. If I had never known my kitties, if I had never rescued them, if they hadn’t loved me back for the time I had them (9 months, 12 years, 15 years, 15 years and 18 years), then I wouldn’t be grieving for them. It all comes due at once, and it feels like a heavy price in the moment – but ALL THOSE YEARS of love, contentment, playtime, cuddles and purring – really, it was worth it. It is worth. It will still be worth it. But the price hits you hard when it hits.

      Be kind to yourself, and remember it wouldn’t hurt if you hadn’t had something WONDERFUL.

      Don’t forget to remember the wonderful.

  36. Anon Siberian*

    1. I’m buying a birthday present for my bestie’s 1 year old. What book would you recommend for that age group?

    2. We’re probably trying for kids this fall. My gyno recommended starting prenatals 6 months before (in March) possibly due to my mom’s stillbirth/my slight anemia from earlier. What did you do/read for this life stage? I’m a studious person who loves reading and routine—currently reading “What to Expect Before You’re Expecting.” How early did you give up sushi/raw stuff? Did you eat healthier?

    3. Yesterday, I spent 9 per wipes wiping my Siberian kitten since he got poopy butt *and* poopy paw, on his fluffy bod, right as the plumber knocked on the door to turn the water back on. Is this a preview to parenting? Whew..

    1. Anon Siberian*

      *poopy butt/paw: got dung all over those places because he stepped in it in his litter box….

    2. Just a PM*

      For a book recommendation, try looking for a board book, whose pages the kid would be able to turn him/herself, or a “touch and feel” book with sensory objects that the kid can touch while being read to. Nearly all the popular children’s books come in a board book style so you’d literally have your own pick of choice.

    3. Margaret*

      2. I’d recommend Emily Oster’s books – “Expecting Better” about pregnancy/delivery, and “Crib Sheets” for parenting.

    4. OyHiOh*

      For Expecting, I really liked the Mayo Clinic’s pregnancy book. I found it to be calm and and facts based and didn’t try to demonize any pregnancy or birth options.

      For parenting, I really liked Happiest Baby on the Block. For older kids, the Love and Logic series and Plan B . . .

    5. Grandma Mazur*

      We really like Monkey Puzzle by Julia Donaldson, and also books of words (like picture dictionaries) – at 14 months, our elder was starting to insist we read out all the ones he pointed to.

      I’d recommend reading the Hypnobirthing Book by Katherine Graves – even if this isn’t the route you wish to go with your birth plan, everyone I know who’s done some hypnobirthing prep before their delivery has said that it both made it more enjoyable/less scary/helped them feel more in control and helped them come to terms with not having the birthing experience of their dreams (if that’s what happened).

      3. Yes!

    6. Cat*

      I agree on Emily Oster and I’d be wary of the advice in What to Expect. I think a lot of it is fearmongering.

      IF you decide to give up sushi while pregnant (I didn’t) you don’t need to do it until you’re actually pregnant. The concern is that you’re more vulnerable to food poisoning while pregnant. But it’s just going to make you miserable. It’s not likely to hurt the baby. I ate sushi from reputable places (honestly I’ve never gotten food poisoning from it before and it seemed unlikely I suddenly would). You do want to avoid high mercury fish while pregnant so it’s worth looking up what those are.

      Raw/rare beef is a bigger concern because it can have toxoplasmosis. But that is only a concern if you’re actually pregnant, not in the the pre-conception period.

      I did IVF and didn’t drink during the IVF process. But in general, most people “drink until it’s pink”. The theory is that if you’re aware of your cycles, you’ll know you’re pregnant before alcohol could harm the embryo (you don’t share a bloodstream right away).

      Prenatals are good for everyone early on because you want adequate folic acid in your system three months before you conceive.

    7. Parenthetically*

      Re 2. Not exactly in the “preparation for parenting/pregnancy” line, but we took a babymoon — a big road trip out west. Highly recommend a trip of some kind before you sort of can’t for a long time. And actually it’s now widely recommended for every woman who’ll be TTC in the next year or so to start taking prenatals; some of the research is showing that the folate in particular is most effective in the few months before conception and the first trimester! I read Taking Charge of Your Fertility, which I HIGHLY recommend to every woman, whether TTC or not, as an extremely practical handbook to owning a female body. We used the symptothermal method described in the book as our method of avoiding pregnancy and then as our method of getting pregnant, but I also love it just as a way to never be surprised by my period!

      I take a pretty global line on avoiding foods, tempered by my research and common sense. It’s a fact that US-based advice for pregnancy risks is influenced by malpractice insurers, so I tended to look at what doctors in other parts of the world advise. And I always researched the “why” behind recommendations. So, for instance, I never bothered with cooking eggs to death and continued to enjoy runny yolks throughout both pregnancies, because the worst you can get is salmonella, which can’t pass to the baby. Listeriosis, on the other hand, can cause stillbirth, so I avoided deli meats and raw-milk cheeses throughout both pregnancies. I also wasn’t afraid of half a glass of wine here and there after the first trimester, since studies conclude that there’s no increased risk of FAS until you get to two alcohol units per day. Newer research is also showing that raw fish is almost certainly not a risk — your chance of falling ill from eating non-shellfish seafood is 1 in 2 million — and Japanese women don’t routinely avoid raw sushi during pregnancy. The NHS also considers raw fish generally safe during pregnancy.

    8. Wishing You Well*

      Ask your gyno for book recommendations to avoid the nuttier stuff.
      Um, you also have to stop cleaning your cat’s butt and litter box while or before getting pregnant. There’s a nasty bug in cat feces. Avoid exposing yourself to unnecessary chemicals like painting a baby’s room or refinishing a crib, etc. Both of you should stop drinking and eat healthy before you get pregnant. Alcohol affects the quality of sperm, etc. Remember HE needs to get healthy, too for his contribution!
      Congrats in advance and Best Wishes for a great 2020!

      1. Cat*

        According to my vet toxoplasmosis isn’t a risk for 24 hours. So if you clean the cat or litter box before it’s been sitting around for 24 hours, you’re fine. (And not a risk before pregnancy – it needs to be an active infection to be a problem). And even after 24 hours, you have a pretty low risk if you do things like wear gloves and wash your hands. But that said, nothing wrong with farming that task out to your partner for the duration!

        1. Cat*

          And you don’t need to stop drinking alcohol before pregnancy. Nor does your partner. If you want to that’s fine but it’s not a global rule.

      2. Margaret*

        Also, although to be honest I took advantage of the “reason” to hand over cat litter duties – this is another area where you can evaluate your own risk vs. the inconvenience it causes. I was told the risk of toxoplasmosis is only if you’re initially exposed while pregnant – if you’ve had a cat for a long time (I always did growing up, and had at least one cat for 5+ years before conceiving), you’ve almost certainly already been exposed and your body’s already dealt with it, resulting in little to no risk going forward.

        I.e., if you’re not routinely around cats, don’t step up to cat sit for a friend while pregnant; but continuing for your own cat is unlikely an issue.

        1. Cat*

          Yeah and if you’ve had a cat that’s always been an indoor cat they might well be negative.

          Apparently gardening is actually a bigger risk than your own cat because stray cats poop in gardens.

      3. KoiFeeder*

        Toxo isn’t transmitted in the feline placenta. The only way a kitten could get it is if they were exposed to food with the parasite in it, which is unlikely as long as they’re indoors-only and haven’t eaten any house mice.

    9. Jules the 3rd*

      3. Yes, this is a very good example of what parenting is like. Except that the kid is going to poop again within 30 seconds of you finishing the first cleanup

      1. General von Klinkerhoffen*

        Nothing like a nice clean diaper and a specially selected outfit to have an immediate poosplosion in.

    10. Anonymato*

      1) Look, Look! by Peter Linenthal; and Lamaze Peek-A-Boo Forest
      2) I did eat healthier, and really needed to make sure to get protein, because otherwise I was cold and tired. Book recommendation: Natural Hospital Birth by Cynthia Gabriel (no matter what sort of birth you are considering). I’d just recommend you sort of equally consider preparing for actual birth and and for when the baby is here, since it seems many of us focus all their energy on one or the other piece.

    11. Policy wonk*

      Anything by Eric Carle for a 1 year old. On the pregancy thing, get a variety of books but don’t sit and read them – as someone else said, they may just freak you out. Get books with good indexes, and as a question comes up, read that section of the various books for perspective. Buying several books costs a little more, but gives you a broader view. I did the vitamins and tried to eat healthier. The big thing for me was cutting caffeine. Start cutting back now so you aren’t going through withdrawl at the same time your hormones are going nuts.

      Good luck! Sending positive vibes.

      1. Seeking Second Childhood*

        “Catch the Ball, the Seal Called”.
        But skip “the Giving Tree.” It’s disturbing to so many people why even go there.
        Also consider a book of poetry for the parent to read to the child. Carolyn Kennedy edited a lovely collection a few years ago.

    12. Pam*

      #3,

      For that much mess, get baby shampoo and wash him in the sink. (Or non rinse shampoo and old towels (

    13. Fellow Traveler*

      I’ve been reading “Like a Mother” by Andrea Garbes- she’s not an expert, she’s a writer, but like Expecting Better, this book tries to really question the common narratives/ recommendations surrounding pregnancy. I like that it’s a very inclusive and accepting view of the culture of pregnancy. I also really likes the Baby Bargains book- there are certainly a lot of websites that you can use to source baby gear, but I liked being able to mark up and physically flag useful pages.
      I would also say in addition to diet, the one thing that helped me feel healthy when I was pregnant was excercise. I wasn’t a huge excerciser before, but I did at least 20 mins of yoga or cardio every day while pregnant with my third and it really helped. (Mostly YouTube workouts in my basement)

    14. Sh’Dynasty*

      1.Little tug! My son adores it.
      2. I started prenatals once we started trying and I actively stopped birth control. I did not start eating the pregnancy restricting diet then, but would have considered it if starting fertility treatments/long time of trying.
      3. People often say that pet parents don’t compare to real parenting. As someone who dropped $8K on emergency surgery on their 12wk puppy, and then went thru a full year of sporadic pup stomach issues- don’t listen to those people. You’re learning to take care of something else. You’re actively doing things with your free time that you would otherwise be focusing on yourself. And yo poop is poop when you’re in the weeds of it all.

    15. Meepmeep*

      For trying to conceive, I became a total hippie for 8 months prior to starting (we had a health insurance issue and couldn’t start trying until I actually got insured, so I figured I’d use that time productively). Here’s what I did:

      No wheat, dairy, sugar, or processed food (Basically Paleo with an extra restriction); organic whenever possible (Dairy is high in phthalates, which impair fertility, wheat has fungicides and pesticides, and processed food has all sorts of yuck in it that probably also impairs fertility; and sugar is just bad for you)
      No plastic containers for food or cans with plastic linings (BPA impairs fertility)
      No deodorant, no shampoo, unscented soap, natural toothpaste (Fragrance has phthalates, which impair fertility)
      Reduce stress, both physical and emotional
      Adequate sleep in a dark environment (I used a sleep mask, and still do)

      After doing all of the above for 8 months, I conceived easily on my first try. And I was pretty old for a first pregnancy.

      Oh, and as for books for a one year old: I’m a huge fan of Sandra Boynton.

    16. Natalie*

      They recommend you start prenatals early because neural tube defects form early, and prenatals have more folic acid. However, if you already take a multivitamin check how much folate is in it – it might be plenty and there’s no benefit to taking extra, so you don’t need to throw away perfectly good vitamins. You could always add an iron supplement if the multi doesn’t contain iron.

      I’ll Nth the suggestion for Expecting Better – you might be surprised at how much conventional wisdom is frankly nonsense, including not eating sushi or raw food. I eat lunch meat, I scoop the litter box, and now close to 3rd trimester I feel fine drinking in moderation. I also found the UK site BUMPS (Best Use of Medicine in Pregnancy) very helpful for researching OTC meds. Honestly if you just google stuff you *will* find an authoritative sounding result that says literally everything is bad, and that’s obviously not true or a functional way to live your life.

    17. Book Lover*

      My Siberian stopped needed wipes almost like clockwork on her year birthday. Sanitary trims help prior to that.

      Anything by Sandra boynton or Emily Gravett is wonderful.

    18. Jules the First*

      I see your poopy kittie and raise you a five year old pony who hasn’t learned to lift her tail before she poops. They tell me she might eventually learn now that she’s being socialised with horses who know what to do, but that I shouldn’t count on it.

      My local hypermarket cashiers regularly try and commiserate about having twins the rate I go through baby wipes! (I’m also very good at washing her tail one handed in a bucket)

      1. Jules the First*

        And for one year olds, the “That’s Not My…” series of touchy feely board books is a guaranteed hit.

        1. Grandma Mazur*

          That’s true, although we have 8 of them now and I am soooo bored of reading them aloud in my most interested voice! Read one, you’ve literally read all 72.

  37. Washi*

    Anyone have any thoughts about when it is or isn’t ok to correct other people’s children? (For the sake of this, please assume the corrections are kindly spoken; obviously it’s never ok to purposefully be rude to children or anyone!)

    My only cousin on my mom’s side is 9 years old, so 20+ years younger than me or my brother. We only see him once or maybe twice a year for brief visits, so while we are all family, we’re not close, exactly. I’ve worked with elementary aged children in the past, so I feel like I have a decent handle on developmentally appropriate behavior, but I find my cousin to be an increasingly annoying child. He is not capable of playing independently for more than 5 minutes (literally), interrupts adult conversations constantly, and never says please or thank you. He also phrases all requests as demands – within 5 minutes of seeing me for the first time in almost two years, he ran up to me, grabbed and pulled my arm, and said “you’re playing with me now, we’re going to play X and Y.” I was super surprised – as a kid, I would have been way too shy to come up to an adult I barely knew and demand they play with me! For the rest of the visit, I would play with him when I was inclined to, but I’d also ask him to stop interrupting me/use please when he asked for things/ask me nicely instead of demanding.

    The rest of my immediate family kind of runs the gamut – my dad corrects him way more sternly and frequently, my grandparents and mom are at about my level, and my brother basically doesn’t correct him at all. His parents only corrected him when the rest of us seem especially annoyed, but otherwise sort of ignored it all.

    What do other folks think? What do you correct and what do you let go? Is there some kind of rule I can follow for the next visit?

    1. fposte*

      I think the relevant factors are location, impact, and frequency. I’d correct more at my house than at their house; I’d correct for, say, hurting a pet no matter where it was but in the description you give would focus more on the grabbing of arms than on the saying “please”; if I did correct for “please” I wouldn’t do it every single time either.

      So in your situation I’d pretty much stick to what it sounds like you did.

      1. Washi*

        To clarify, I don’t actually really care about please! If he’d said “can you come play with me?” or even an excited “come play with me!” that would have been fine. It was “you’re playing with me now” as an order that was driving me up the wall.

          1. Washi*

            But yeah, your point about the grabbing is a good one and maybe I’ll pay a little more attention to that next time (he was also jumping on me a bit and I didn’t always correct that.) I think it didn’t immediately register because with children I know well and am close to, I enjoy a little bit of (safe and gentle) roughhousing- giving them piggyback rides, pretending to be a bear and giving them a big snuggle, etc.

            But with him I found myself feeling like “we’re not close enough for this!” but not really good about articulating physical boundaries too.

    2. Zephy*

      This kid is nine years old and acts like this? He’s old enough to hear “No,” and “please don’t touch me” or “keep your hands to yourself and use your words.” Someone needs to start correcting him, if his parents won’t. If he were very young, like preschool age, I’d be more inclined to consult the parents for how they want to handle it, but nine is plenty old enough to know how to act right.

      1. The New Wanderer*

        My kid is 10 and does some of these things with close family (rough housing, demands for attention). It drives me nuts and I am always correcting her, but then they all say oh it’s okay, don’t worry about it. Rarely does anyone else ever tell her to settle down at those moments and I look like I’m overly strict. *sigh* Mixed messages and you bet she’s smart enough to know what she can get away with. It’s a weird age of almost-teen levels of sarcasm and rolled eyes crossed with sudden bursts of little kid enthusiasm/lack of boundaries.

        OTOH both my kids get regular compliments about their manners (please and thank you), so it’s not a lost cause! When their friends are over and not behaving well, I do correct them because they’re on my turf. Otherwise I would only speak up if it’s affecting me directly or risking harm to someone/some pet smaller or damaging a thing.

    3. Miranda Priestly's Assistant*

      Ugh – kids like this, and their parents who don’t discipline them, are so annoying. I couldn’t imagine demanding anything as a kid even from my own parents, much less other adults. I also am unsure what to do in these situations. My current default is to respond to the child’s rudeness by setting my own boundaries – e.g. “No I don’t want to play right now because I’m busy/tired/etc. And please don’t interrupt me when I’m working/talking to someone else etc.” But I don’t take it upon myself to teach a ‘lesson’ about how to request things.

      In my experience, kids who tend to be emotionally intelligent pick up on social cues even in the absence of training from their parents. I saw this with 2 of my younger cousins. They were famous in the family for being very bratty when we were growing up because my aunt never disciplined them, but grew up to be empathetic and likeable. I think they learned from other people’s responses what behaviors were and were not acceptable.

    4. matcha123*

      I was raised by a strict single mom, have babysat more times than I can count, was a teacher of preschool aged kids, etc…So, I think I can offer my perspective, even though I don’t have, or want, kids.
      First, 9 years old is too old to be acting like that. Since you don’t mention any neurological disorders, I am going to assume there are none.
      What I would do if I were you would be to calmly take his hand off of your arm and tell him that you may have time to play with him after you have greeted everyone else. If he tries to pull on you, turn to someone else and start talking with them.
      If he interrupts, say, “I’m talking with Grace now, please do not interrupt.” or look at him and then turn back and continue your conversation.

      It sounds like you feel okay playing with him? If that’s so, you could tell him a specific time when you are available to play and for how long.

      Does he have things to keep himself entertained? Books? Homework? Video games?

      What’s more important is that his parents are the first to nip that rude behavior in the bud. I am friends with a few families with kids that age. And the parents will tell the kid when they are being rude.

    5. Not A Manager*

      Kids actually respond pretty well to the idea that different adults have different rules. I would be explicit upfront. “Honey, I like to play with you, but if we’re going to play together, you need to be polite to me, and you need to not grab me.” After that, I would cue him as necessary. “I will play with you after I spend some time with the adults, but it’s not polite to interrupt other people’s conversations.” “Sweetheart, we talked about not grabbing people.”

      If his parents/the other adults see this framed as “you setting rules for your own interactions with him” and not “you correcting their ill-mannered child,” they are more likely to accept it without offense. He will only accept this if he perceives that you are, in fact, willing to interact with him pleasantly if he behaves himself.

    6. Parenthetically*

      My advice with other people’s kids is always to keep it brisk, firm, and confident. “Oops, nope, don’t grab me, thanks! I’m in the middle of something, so I’m not going to come play with you now, but when I’m finished with X, I’ll play with you.” Doesn’t have to be stern, just matter-of-fact.

      The advice here re: coworkers is often to approach them as though they have good intentions or are acting from ignorance, rather than assuming malice. I think that’s a good tactic with kids as well. Even though he’s 9 and “should know better,” approaching him as though he just doesn’t know the right way to behave and needs to be shown (a reasonable assumption given that his parents can’t be bothered correcting him!) is not only going to put you in a better place to relate to him, it’s also going to be more likely to get you the outcome you want because you’re not starting out being adversarial. (Also, speaking as a former teacher, you’d be surprised at how clueless kids can be about interpersonal things well into their teens.)

    7. RagingADHD*

      I correct other people’s children when their behavior affects me, they are relating to me directly, or there is an issue with potential safety or destruction of property.

      If they are being rude to another grownup, it’s between them. If they are being rambunctious but not directly bothering me, I ignore it.

      If they are picking on a smaller chikd or an animal, or doing destructive or unsafe things, I intervene.

      If they are rude or obnoxious to me, I tell them what they should do instead.

    8. Documentor*

      Yeah, it’s a toughy when the parents are either weak or negligent. That they begrudgingly correct him is your sign on that.
      With everyone getting on to him, it could be easy for a 9-year-old mind to think everyone is against him. I didn’t see in the context here, but maybe in addition to a gentle but firm ‘no,’ add a corrective, and then a promise of some type of engagement. It does sound like he is asking for attention, and maybe some structure. Indeed the parents should have been doing this, but sometimes they need a kickstart by seeing someone else in action.
      Unfortunately, within a year so a lot of kids this age are given a cell phone to occupy themselves and stumble into adulthood without having learned these basic skills.

  38. Anon Health Problems*

    WHY has my left ear been hurting for the past month???

    I went to the urgent care a couple of weeks ago and the doctor prescribed a course of antibiotics and steroids for a potential ear infection, so at least I can rule that out now. However, my left ear still feels heavy and makes me feel off balance. I have also been taking decongestants. I have an appt with the ENT next week. Has anyone else had experience with this? Is it just fluid? It just feels like there is something in my ear canal and it feels heavy and sort of itchy.

    1. theguvnah*

      ouch, sorry. I’ve had a life of ear congestion problems so I can relate. It might just be fluid. One recommendation I have to try for 1-2 weeks is to eliminate dairy – it was a HUGE game-changer for me in improving my constant ear congestion. Seriously, changed my life. I wish someone (one of the many docs i went to!!) had told me this a decade ago so now I tell anyone who has ear stuff, take it or leave it ;)

      good luck!

      1. Anon Health Problems*

        I’ve been avoiding dairy since the problems started. I think it is fluid and I just have to wait until it passes. I also got a humidifier – let’s see if that helps.

    2. NewReadingGlasses*

      I’ve had a mildly inflamed dusty Ian tube that had fluid buildup. Decongestants and an antacid helped.

    3. Seven hobbits are highly effective, people*

      It could be that the antibiotics didn’t clear up the infection even though that’s what the problem was, but since you already have an appointment with an ENT next week, presumably that’s something they would investigate at that appointment so I don’t know that you need to try to get in with urgent care again before then or anything.

      I ended up having fluid in both of my ears from a terrible sinus thing about a decade ago. I went through 2 or 3 different courses of antibiotics that didn’t help, and what finally cleared it up was when they prescribed nasal steroids on my 4th or 5th visit. (Something like Flonase, not, like, crushing and snorting pills!) I have no idea if it was an infection, allergies, my body just deciding Ears Are Terrible And Must Be Punished, or what, but now that nasal steroids are OTC I’ve picked them up once or twice over the years since when I feel a recurrence of that coming on and it’s generally cleared it right up with one or two days of treatment.

      To clear up my on-going annoying sinus thing from a maintenance standpoint, adding more turmeric to my diet seems to have done the trick. I have no idea why, but it is cheap, readily available, and pretty tasty, so I’m just going to keep doing it as long as it keeps working.

      1. Anon Health Problems*

        I’m South Asian descent so I eat curry and lentils on a regular basis. Good to know that I’m on the right track! Will see what the doctor says.

    4. CAA*

      As the poster child for ear problems, I think you’ll just have to wait and see what the ENT says. I’ve had similar symptoms to yours when I had a polyp in one ear canal and when I had a cholesteatoma in the other ear. I’ve also had blockages in the Eustachian tubes after sinus infections but that resulted in temporary deafness rather than pain or balance problems.

      One thing my ENT told me is that decongestant can make some ear congestion worse. He had me stop the decongestant and take prescription strength guaifenesen (in the U.S. the OTC name for it is Mucinex). Also drink extra fluids. I have no idea if any of that helped or if time would have done the job anyway, but I did recover in about 10 days.

      If you do have something like a polyp, they may put drops in your ear to make it crumble and then use a tiny little vacuum to pull the pieces out. If anybody comes near you with the vacuum, beware of delayed vertigo and give yourself enough time to walk around and make sure you’re really o.k. before driving a car. Also, if it’s inside the ear drum and they don’t think it’s fluid, then they may order a CT scan to get a better look, so it can take a while to get a real diagnosis.

    5. Fikly*

      You actually can’t rule out an ear infection. You don’t know that it was the right antibiotics, or a long enough course.

    6. Lives in a Shoe*

      When my son was little he and his cousin (they’re the same age) were prone to ear infections and sinus congestion. Their Dr. had us switch from decongestants to expectorants, he said that decongestants can actually make the mucous thicker and stickier which leads to more infections etc. Expectorants thin the mucous out so that it drains. I’m not a doctor but switching might work for you too.

    7. Seeking Second Childhood*

      Go back to your doctor. There are antibiotic-resistant strains, and there are fungal ear infections. And there are some of us who have crappy eustachian tubes and so need a course of prednisone before ears start popping again.

    8. Pay No Attention To The Man Behind The Curtain*

      Could be fungal? Antibiotics won’t help if it’snot bacterial. And i wonder if a humidifier makes it worse. My dad had a nasty bout of swimmer’s ear and needed antifungal drops to dry out his ear.

  39. Courageous cat*

    Birth control. Anyone have issues with birth control making them break out somewhere that’s *not* their face? My chest has been breaking out a lot lately and I’m just like ???? Why.

    God I wish I had the balls to get an IUD but I am so, so afraid of the pain. Plenty of people are like “oh it’s not that bad” but JUST AS MANY PEOPLE are like “I’m not gonna lie, it was pretty excruciating”. That just doesn’t sell me.

    1. Zephy*

      The challenging thing about BC is that there’s no real way to predict how a given product is going to work for you with your particular body chemistry. This is the fault of the patriarchy and medical science disregarding women basically from the minute men started practicing medicine in any capacity.

      I have a Nexplanon arm implant – I’m on my second one, because my experience with the first one was great. 6 months of spotting and then neither periods nor babies for a further 30 months without me having to remember to do anything, A+ 10/10 would do again. The removal and replacement were kind of a challenge, but not exceptionally traumatic. On the other hand, I’ve also heard accounts from people who have gotten Nexplanon and bled heavily and continuously the entire time, or have passed a decidual cast (basically having your whole period all at once, shedding the endometrium in one big piece, which is probably as horrific to experience as it is to read about, sorry).

      1. Courageous cat*

        Oh man I absolutely loved Implanon when I had it in 2008, but I had it for 2 years and never stopped spotting pretty constantly. Apparently I don’t jive well with progestin-only bc. If they’d only do a version of Nexplanon with estrogen, I’d be the first in line to get it.

        Decidual cast is a new one for me. I cannot imagine.

    2. Female Anon*

      No, I’ve been on a couple different brands of The Pill and none of them have given me acne. I did have one that messed with my mood a bit, and another that gave me horrible, horrible migraines while my body adjusted to the extra estrogens.

      Everyone’s body responds differently to birth control, so maybe you just need to try a different pill? Even if the “active ingredients” are the same, I’ve always been really sensitive to the “inactive ingredients” in various medications that have given me unwanted side effects.

      1. Courageous cat*

        Yeah I’m thinking about trying a different one for sure. I’m mainly trying to figure out if it’s reasonable that that’s what my chest breakout is caused by, rather than just suddenly having body acne now for no reason.

    3. theguvnah*

      a hormonal IUD might give you the same acne issues though!

      FWIW I was one of the “IUD insertion was a breeze people” but then i HATED having it and got it removed 3 weeks later. that also didn’t hurt! there’s just no way of knowing. (well actually, I had had a colposcopy years earlier and it didn’t hurt at all so I suspected a IUD wouldn’t either).

      1. Courageous cat*

        Oh totally, but all birth control is different, so seems like you never know until you try, right? And I guess my understanding is the hormones in an IUD would be more localized so maybe that makes a difference, but I’m probably wrong.

        Yeah, that’s the problem – no way of knowing. It could be super super easy for me and I’d regret not having gotten it earlier, but it may very well be the opposite too, haha.

      2. OyHiOh*

        Copper IUD’s haven’t gone away, FYI. I’m just old enough that the plastic hormonal IUD’s still sound like new fangled alchemy (magical, wonderful alchemy for the record). To my ears “IUD” means the older metal/non hormonal type. Which I have and love. I’ve got about two years left on the one I have now and plan to do another one after that.

    4. WellRed*

      I know it’s not what you asked but, the IUD is equally likely to not be painful as it is likely. If it is painful, it’s over quick (of course, some women can’t or have terrible experience, I am speaking generally). I just think, barring any known reason why it may be painful for YOU, don’t automatically assume the worst (life advice, too) and discount.

    5. Goldfinch*

      I had clear skin on BCP, and I break out like mad on the Mirena IUD. My chin, jaw, neck, and decolletage are a zit minefield. My cheeks, nose, and forehead stay clear. It’s worth it for me, though, since my periods were so bad. Retin A helps too.

      As far as the pain, it’s bad for the 30-45 seconds of insertion, then moderate cramping for about 12 hours afterwards. I’m very wimpy, but I tolerated it well each time. I’m on my third IUD.

    6. KoiFeeder*

      Actually, my birth control reduced my acne.

      But I feel you with the non-facial acne. I still get minor breakouts on my chest and moderate breakouts on my back, and I hate that. I hate it so much. I still can’t wear bras or else I’ll get massive cystic acne silhouettes of the bra.

      1. KoiFeeder*

        Oh, and for my IUD, most of the pain with insertion (and the later removal) had nothing to do with the IUD and everything to do with another medical issue. I had some bleeding over the next few days because there was some unavoidable damage, but that was strictly abnormal and probably won’t happen to you. It wasn’t very pleasant, but if you’ve ever gotten a charley horse before, mine was probably less bad than that but worse than just walking a few miles and getting tired and crampy from that.

    7. Jules the 3rd*

      I’m on my second IUD. 1st was 6 weeks post partum, almost no pain at all. 2nd was 10 years later, and it hurt more, about like a bad set of menstrual cramp. I’m told that taking an ibuprofen before helps, but I forgot.

      With people who tell you it’s excruciating, ask them to compare to their menstrual cramps. If they all say, ‘it’s about as bad as the worst cramps I’ve had’, then you can maybe benchmark it to yours, so that you can assess it based on something you *know* rather than on guestimating what ‘excruciating’ means.

      1. Achoo*

        1st IUD hurt like the dickens. 2nd IUD, Doctor had me take a bunch of Advil beforehand and it was a breeze.

    8. Cora*

      There are ways to make IUD insertion less painful. A prescription for misoprostol (I think they had me take one the night before and one the morning of?) to help soften the cervix and a couple ibuprofen about an hour prior to the procedure. It’s worth at least talking to your doctor about it – let them know that you’re nervous about the insertion being painful and ask what your options are.

      For what it’s worth, I absolutely LOVE my Mirena. I haven’t had a period since about two months after I got it, and I really haven’t had any bad side effects, although that differs so much person to person.

      1. Reba*

        I had the misoprostol for my first insertion and not second, and it definitely made a positive difference!

    9. I'm A Little Teapot*

      RE the IUD – yeah it hurt. For about a minute, then you’re crampy and crabby and just want to curl up on the couch with a heating pad. But for that minute, it hurts.

      I didn’t break out oddly from hormonal birth control. I did turn into a nasty person and have wild mood swings.

    10. Policy wonk*

      I had no pain at all with my IUD and would recommend one to anyone. And it was easy. No pill, no shot every three months. (I wasn’t a good candidate for an implant, don’t remember why.) Talk to your OB/GYN. and if your Dr. isn’t female, I recommend you switch. It was far easier to talk about this with someone who has actually experienced many of the issues I had.

      1. Courageous cat*

        I don’t think there’s any need to switch to a female OBGYN. Kindly, that strikes me as a pretty wild recommendation. A doctor is a doctor, and mine, despite being male, is very well-versed in any problems I’ve ever had.

        It’s the same logic as: if you have a gallbladder problem, do you only go to doctors that have also had gallbladder problems and can commiserate personally? Or do you just search for a really good gallbladder doctor?

        1. Avasarala*

          Any doctor can be a good doctor, but I really appreciated seeing a neurologist who had personal experience with migraines. He could explain things on another level.