weekend free-for-all – January 4-5, 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 Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo, by Taylor Jenkins Reid. A legendary but reclusive actress agrees to write her biography, with a surprising condition.

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

{ 1,030 comments… read them below }

  1. Jenny T*

    Happy New Year one and all! May your kittens be snugly, your games engrossing, your writing sparkling, your health flourishing, your health costs shrinking, and your relatives relatively well behaved!

    Thank you Alison and the cats for hosting this weekly online gathering.

    1. Minocho*

      My cat is lying on my arm as I type right now. I was out for a week over Christmas, and he still hasn’t forgiven me. Don’t tell him I have to fly across the country next weekend, please!

  2. nep*

    The kitty sofa will always and forever be one of my favorite things.
    Tell me about your house-sitting experiences. I’m keeping an eye on a friend’s place while she’s away for a few months. It’s an interesting sort of ‘reset’ a the start of a new year…

    1. 40 Years in the Hole*

      Not so much my own story, but a family member sat our semi-rural place while we work-travelled for the week: mid-winter, small acreage, lots of forest, no streetlights, very quiet, no close neighbours….very “country mouse.”
      While very much the “city mouse,” she was happy to get a break from her little downtown apt. On the to-do list was bringing in the bird feeders nightly (‘cuz, raccoons), and spreading out a bucket of feed for the visiting deer. They associate opening the garage door with supper, so when she went out with the bucket (in the dark) they were waiting – all flighty, stamping and snorting- and scared the bejeesus out of her. She told them: “I’m a city girl…,” as if they would be, like: “oh, ok, we’ll be chill.”

    2. Elspeth Mcgillicuddy*

      I just house sat for several months this fall. The house sitting part was fairly boring, though I had a lot of fun teaching their dog the “Find It” game. The weird part was cooking in someone else’s kitchen, with someone else’s kitchen gear. Fun to use their Instant pot and gas stove, but I had to bring my own good knives from home and they didn’t have any cast iron.

      1. nep*

        I’ve always used to a gas stove, and theirs is electric. (Brand new kitchen, and it’s lovely. But just takes some getting used to, yeah.)
        Spent first night last night, and tonight I’ll remember my sleep mask! Somehow forgot to pack it. It’s a bit of an odd situation because she lives two minutes from my house, so it’s not like I had to pick up and move. Little by little I’ll get a good rhythm/routine going.

    3. C Average*

      I recently house-sat for my parents, who still live in the same log cabin way out in the sticks where I grew up.

      I discovered that my mother has a large plastic storage bin in which she’s kept certain, er, creative output of mine. Kid drawings, class projects, and–oh God–journals and adolescent poetry. (She showed it to me once, long ago, asking if I wanted to take it home with me, and I said no at the time. I was surprised to find that it still exists. It’s in an out-of-the-way cupboard in the basement, and I doubt she even knows she still has it. I mention this to dispel any concerns that it’s something she actively pays attention to. She definitely doesn’t!)

      Their house is heated with a wood stove, so I got to enjoy starting fires with the terrible stuff I wrote when I was a teenager. It was tremendously satisfying!

        1. Jane*

          When my mom died I found a box of the things she’d kept – mother’s day cards, homemade gifts, etc. I had no idea she’d saved any of it.

    4. Three owls in a trench coat*

      I remember a family friend telling us about a time she house-sat for someone who had a friendly dog and an evil, evil cat. She said she felt like she had to make sure the bedroom door was tightly closed at night or the cat would come in and “try to kill me”. It would just start hissing violently if it was in the same room as her.

      1. Jdc*

        My friend has insanely rich parents with equally rich friends and even at 45 he still house sits at these massive beachfront homes. He loves it. Free vacation. Although his parents house is still my favorite. Beyond gorgeous.

      2. SaffyTaffy*

        awww, poor kitty! heehee, i can’t help but find that sort of overreaction really funny though. we’ve had a feral in our yard for well over a decade now, who gets fed and vaxxed and deticked by us, and she still acts like “oh no what are you STRANGERS gonna DO TO ME?!?!”

  3. Yoga with Adriene*

    Hi! It’s anyone doing the Yoga With Adriene Home sessions this January?
    I’ve just started, and I love them!

    How are you getting on with it?

    I’m also finding that meditating on the word each day is opening up stuff inside too. It’s been…eye opening.
    The mat is a mirror, I’m finding out!

    I’ve also discovered that my core needs a lot of work, lol.

    1. anon24*

      I am! It’s hard with my work schedule (12 hour shifts) but so far so good. I’ve done them all and this is my 3rd year following along in “real time”. I have fallen out of practice in the last few months because of life so it’s been way harder than it should be but I’m hoping this helps me get back on track and back into regular practice and regular time on my mat.

    2. Anonynony*

      I’m also doing it. I take a yoga mat to work to do it on my break whenever I know that my day will be busy.

    3. Anon because I’m new*

      I am! I’m finding it physically harder than I anticipated. I had been consistently practicing with her for a couple years but got caught up in other things. But I need the physical and mental energy so I’m sticking with it. Certainly it’s bringing up some surprising emotions for me as well. Nice to know I’m not alone!

      1. Yoga with Adriene*

        Yes, definitely! I’ve done (and enjoyed) the bedtime routine one many times which is why I thought is try this. It’s much harder though, although I’m still enjoying it.

    4. Tris Prior*

      I did it last year but not this year – had to stop when I found myself cursing loudly at the screen because what she was having us do hurt so much. That’s probably not the mental state I was supposed to be in, haha. I think I need more experience first, I just don’t seem to have the strength.

      1. Yoga with Adriene*

        Oh that was me yesterday! It was too fast and too difficult, and I kept on crying.
        I just kind of did what I wanted today- tried to follow as best as could and lay down when it was too much.
        My wrists and core are so weak, it’s scary.

        1. Anon because I’m new*

          Yesterday felt much too fast for me. I haven’t done today’s yet, but I’m going to be kind to myself and just manage what I can.

    5. The Cosmic Avenger*

      I actually started doing classes once a week not long ago, and now I would really like to do some at home, so a friend in my class recommended Yoga With Adriene. I will probably start soon, thanks for the reminder!

    6. NJBi*

      I’m doing it! Already a day behind, haha–I end up finishing each 30-day series in about 60 days. I’m nervous going in this year because I haven’t been exercising much over the last six months due to a health issue (it was all fine! but under advisement not to do anything strenuous while the docs figured out what was causing the symptoms) and then other life things crowding out the time from October to December. I’m hopeful, though, that this will help me get back on the right track!

    7. Bluebell*

      I did it two years ago and really liked it. Benji is adorable and I like her attitude. Then last year, when I was doing a twist, I somehow injured my shoulder, and it’s sadly never really recovered. Going to try Alexander Technique this year and see if that makes a difference. I’d love to get back to yoga.

    8. Policy wonk*

      Never heard of it before this, but it looks interesting and I’ll try it. Better in the morning or evening?

      1. Yoga with Adriene*

        Well I prefer doing it in the evening because I’m a night owl, but I suppose it really depends on your schedule!

  4. Loopy*

    In need of new gym music for cardio. Does anyone have any great gym playlists like are dance-y? I like the kind of music they play in exercise classes because it also doubles as dance around the house music. I know music is super subjective but I am also just plain curious to wait other gym goers are using. I figured it would be interesting just to know :) (Disclaimer I have vague far off memories of maybe this topic being a thread some long Saturday ago but I couldn’t begin to guess when that was, apologies for the possible repeat!)

    1. Beaded Librarian*

      Probably not what you are looking for but I personally gravitate towards using the harder rock I listen to all the time. I just pick higher tempo songs. So I like Hollywood Undead, Shinedown, Fall Out Boy, Halestorm, Trapt, In This Moment, Avenged Sevenfold, Lincoln Park, etc. all ones that I dance to as well.

      1. Loopy*

        I actually really like all those bands, for some reason it’s just never worked as well as workout music for me!

    2. That Girl from Quinn's House*

      I’ve taught fitness classes for seniors, and there are music companies that sell the high-tempo remixes you hear in the gym. The one that I’ve gotten the most ads for is Yes! Fitness Music. If you click “Buy Music” on their homepage, you can see their entire catalog, and you can buy individual songs, custom playlists, and prearranged playlists.

      There are other companies, too, if you poke around the internet.

    3. Kuododi*

      Personally, if I am working out I play classic 80-90′ party music. (Fun and danceable while being generally happy and upbeat mood.). Blessings

      1. Loopy*

        I have a few of those sprinkled in, maybe need to revisit that era for some different options.

      1. Loopy*

        Ooo that’s a very different direction i never would have considering going in! It certain is the right tempo!

        1. Elspeth Mcgillicuddy*

          My mom used to put Irish music on when we were little so for us to dance around and get the wiggles out, so that music has fond memories and feel like movement to me.

          I think a lot of other European folk musics have some fast paced dance music, if you want to try some of those too. Irish is just what I grew up on.

    4. Parenthetically*

      the-exercist(dot)tumblr(dot)com has a TON of playlists that are sorted by BPM! They’re called “running mixes” but they’d be awesome for any cardio I reckon. (Plus it’s a great tumblr, lots of mythbusting and body-inclusive fitspo.)

      1. Loopy*

        Ooo thats good to know, I’ll have to browse around there when I have some more time on my hands, thanks!

    5. Fikly*

      This may be weird, but I listen to podcasts/audiobooks that make me laugh, because I find when I’m really amused I get distracted and don’t mind working out as much.

      1. Loopy*

        I wish that worked for me, I find I go really slowly when I’m listening to anything without a beat and it’s harder to keep up a good pace. I love the idea though!

      1. Loopy*

        I think the k pop I’ve come across might have not been the best example of k-pop? I found the one or two songs I tried out changed drastically mid song and threw me off. If you have any specific suggestions I’m open!

        1. Revenge is a dish best served live*

          T-ara, EXID, AOA, Momoland, Twice. They’re all girl groups with multiple disco-style bops. T-ara gets into EDM territory, too.

    6. Arts Akimbo*

      Personally, I have a big ol’ Fall Out Boy playlist that gets my blood pumping and my limbs moving! :)

    7. WooHoo!*

      Try this station: di.fm
      Channels I use-
      Hands up
      Club mixes
      Goa/Psy for endurance stuff

      You need a free acct for listening, I’ve always paid for it and love it. Lots of channels.

    8. nep*

      These are of a certain genre–not sure whether your cup of tea…
      A couple songs by Toofan, especially Sans Commentaire.
      I really like certain songs by Sidiki Diabaté (who does hip hop as well as follows in his dad’s classical kora footsteps). Check out Na Ki Toucher and C’est Bon.
      A few other artists on my playlist over the years: Tekno, Wande Coal, Shatta Wale, Tiggs da Author, Tinie Tempah.
      And every once in a while I have to go back to We Own It (Fast & Furious).

    9. Mid*

      If you have a particular tempo, Spotify is great for that! I have several that are 175ish BPM that are great for my fast runs. I usually just search ### BPM and playlists pop up.

      I also listen to “Moonrise Festival 2019” “African Heat” “Power Workout” “Beast Mode” “Soukous Stars” “Rumba Lingala” “Ethio-Pop” and “Bhangra Bangers” (all are Spotify playlists)

    10. Yep1*

      There’s a Spotify playlist called “Fit and Fearless (Bbc radio 5 live)” lots of dancey music.
      The podcast that created it is a great listen too!

    11. blaise zamboni*

      I don’t have a playlist suggestion because I just add stuff to my own playlist — it sounds like we’re similar, I have to have a pretty specific tempo and energy to keep my workout going strong.

      I can recommend some of my favorite dance-y songs though! There’s Emergency by Icona Pop; Countdown by Beyonce; Get Up (Rattle) Vocal Edit by Bingo Players and Far East Movement (this one is kinda clubby/EDM); Evacuate the Dancefloor by Cascada; Pound the Alarm by Nicki Minaj; Barbra Streisand by Duck Sauce (I always skip the last part when I’m working out); Toxic by Britney Spears.

      Less dance-y but I also get really amped with Satisfaction by Benny Benassi; Trophy by Charli XCX; Work Bitch by Britney Spears; and The Greatest by Sia.

      Hope you find stuff that works well for you! Music makes such a huge difference in your workout IMO, it’s important to get the right mix!

    12. Happy Lurker*

      This is old school, I really like The Black Eyed Peas greatest hits called The End. I just listen to a few songs. Some are faster than the others and if I am not feeling one particular song, I just skip it. I find most of the first 6 songs or so that I get in are good enough for me. I used to love KC and the Sunshine bands greatest hits for housecleaning.

  5. Marguerite*

    Does anyone have any tips on not getting sinus infections? I keep getting them. Also, can stress bring them on as well? I feel like when I’m stressed, I’m more prone to them.

    1. OperaArt*

      Following my allergist’s advice, I use a daily saline nasal spray, available over the counter at any drugstore. Non-addictive, and has proven to be very effective at reducing the frequency and duration of infections.

    2. Jdc*

      I’m following this too as I’m on month two of a nasty sinus infection and had one for three plus months last year. You have my sympathy. Driving me bonkers.

      1. OperaArt*

        You are having an unpleasant experience, for sure. I once gave one of my sinus infections a name because it had been around so long. Sydney the Sinus Infection. Kind of like an annoying, freeloading relative you can’t boot from the house.

        1. Jdc*

          Ha exactly. It isn’t making me crazy sick but it’s just so annoying. I’d like her to find a new place to live.

    3. nep*

      I hear it all the time–stress hampers the immune system.
      Right there with Deranged Cubicle Owl, too–adequate sleep is huge too.
      I’ve heard people swear by cleaning out the passages at least once a month with saline solution (w distilled water). I bought the pot and everything a while back, but I’m reluctant to try it. I keep thinking I’m going to do something wrong and make myself sick. (!)
      I feel for you. That pain is a special kind of horrible.

      1. Lexin*

        Do try it. I find that a regular system of using a neti pot does clear sinus infections. If you’re worried about how to do it, there are YouTube vids which show you.

          1. Parenthetically*

            I find the NeilMed nasal/sinus irrigator bottle to be MUCH easier to use than a neti pot. I have both and I used the neti pot for years, but much prefer the bottle now.

    4. Stephanie*

      I have a long history of sinus infections, and the only thing that really, truly made a real difference was surgery. I ended up going to an ENT after having 4 sinus infections in 6 months, and she recommended a balloon sinuplasty. It was outpatient, and the recovery wasn’t too bad, and it really made a difference. I had the surgery several years ago and I now get maybe one sinus infection a year instead of several.

      If surgery doesn’t sound appealing to you, definitely try the saline nasal spray. I also found that if I felt a cold coming on, taking zinc supplements would often help prevent it from getting really bad.

      1. Middle School Teacher*

        I also am getting surgery. Three sinus infections lasting 3 weeks or more in 8 months made me a good candidate.

      2. Natalie*

        I’ve also had sinus surgery, polyp removal and deviated septum in my case. It’s often a pretty simple outpatient procedure these days, and my recovery was quite easy as well. So worth it!

    5. StellaBella*

      I use a netipot semi regularly (maybe once a week or ten days), take steamy hot showers, never touch by face/nose, wash my hands a ton, get a lot of sleep, and acupuncture. I had a sinus infection for 6 months – finally after a ton of antibiotics, nasal sprays, etc, I started eating better, running, sleeping more, using the netipot, and I saw an acupuncture therapist for 4+ months twice a week. Stress is a huge factor in immuno suppression, yes. Good luck, I hate them and thankfully have only had one or two in last 5 years. Also if you are around kids or have kids, that may contribute – most of my friends with kids are. always sick including with sinus stuff.

    6. MissDisplaced*

      Per my ENT use the NeilMed saline mix manual squirt bottle 1-2x per day. Make sure you use distilled or boiled water.

      I did buy the Navage system, which works well but is difficult to keep clean. The ENT didn’t recommend because mold can grow in the tubing if you don’t thoroughly clean and dry it.

      1. The pest, Ramona*

        My sis and I second and third the NeilMed kit with distilled water. She gets a sinuses infection every time she misses a day or two. I just breath easier.

    7. Pennalynn Lott*

      I second the saline nasal sprays, but my ENT also told me to use (generic) Flonase after I had suffered through about 9 months straight with a sinus infection. Ultimately, I’ll need surgery to correct a deviated septum and to pair down the turbinates but the Flonase has made such a huge difference that I’m OK putting off the surgery until some things settle down in my life (which was NOT the case pre-Flonase; back then I was willing to do anything to feel better).

    8. Three owls in a trench coat*

      I’d say that stress makes you more prone to getting sick in general, since it can suppress your immune system. I’ve been battling a sinus infection for almost a month, and I’ve been under an unusually high amount of stress for a month. Went back to the doctor and got Antibiotics Round Two so I’m finally on the mend!

      As for preventing them, the usual “eat healthy wash your hands” is a good start. I strongly second what others have said about a saline rise – not pleasant but gets the job done. However, for safety reasons, ALWAYS USE DISTILLED WATER WITH NASAL RINSES. Tap water is perfectly fine to drink, bathe in, etc. but even filtered tap can have stuff you don’t want to be shooting into your sinuses.

      If you have chronic or persistent sinus infections, you might need to look into surgery or installing a humidifier on your home’s heating system. Some people’s sinuses are just shaped in a way that traps stuff, and surgery opens them up a bit. The humidifier means the air you breath isn’t as dry, so your nostrils aren’t as irritated.

      Hope this helps! <3

    9. Problematic Sinuses R Us*

      In addition to the other suggestions, I’d add:

      – Change your sheets weekly if you don’t already (no judging from me, we’re not always on top of this in my own household), and launder them in hot water
      – Same with your towels
      – Next time you feel up to it, give your entire bathroom a good deep clean with bleach, actual bleach, this is no time for eco-friendly cleaners
      – Throw out your pillows and get new ones
      – Same with your shower curtain
      – Launder your winter hats, scarves, and gloves/mittens

      Basically, see how much disinfecting you can do with things that touch or get close to your face. Your goal is to reduce the microbial load of all these items and surfaces, to reduce your snot production, which will reduce how many of these germs get into your sinuses and sit there, causing infections. Good luck!

      1. Seeking Second Childhood*

        For what it’s worth, feather pillows can be laundered–no matter what Martha Stewart says. Do them in a front load washer, plan time to leave them in a medium drier for at least two cycles, and put an old canvas sneaker onto the wash/dry with them. The sneaker keeps feathers from clumping. This is one time I go to the laundromat that overcharges for washing by luring you in with free drying.
        I’ve done down comforters too, but mine redistributed their feathers, so I’m going to grit my teeth and try dry cleaning this spring.

        1. CrazyPlantLady*

          You can also use a few tennis balls instead of a sneaker. I do this when I wash my down coat and it works great.

          1. Seven hobbits are highly effective, people*

            Also a fan of the tennis ball method here. We have a special can of 3 tennis balls that we keep on a shelf over the dryer (so they’re clean, unlike balls used to play tennis with) set aside for dryer use. It sounds very loud and thumpy while you’re doing it, but it doesn’t seem to damage either the dryer or the pillows.

          2. Seeking Second Childhood*

            A few years before my mother died, I snagged one of her old Keds out of the discard bin to use to wash the comforter. I still use it for things that need to get beat up. My mom did just about everything around the house while I was at school — but laundry is a long process so she got in the habit of me helping her. Now, I smile when I use that sneaker and think that mom is helping helping me do the laundry. Except yikes I just realized I left it at our old house. Here’s hoping my fatherinlaw hasn’t spotted it and thrown it out. (And that means I missed a year washing the pillows. DOUBLE YIKES.)

    10. YHGTBK*

      I used to have frequent sinus, and then tear duct infections. I started using a probiotic that you suck (specifically for ENT) and stopped having them. I then couldn’t find the product and after about a year they came back. I was moaning to my pharmacist and found they had been repackaged and slightly rebranded. No infections since! Much easier than neti pots. I use Blis Probiotics (blis.co.nz).

    11. Snickelfritz*

      I used to have at least two NASTY sinus infections a year, so I started wearing a mask — one of those cheap loop-over-the-ear things from the drugstore — every time I set foot outside a closed environment. The only comment I’ve ever gotten was “That looks like a good idea!” from numerous people. They need to be changed after a few wearings, but it’s a small price to pay (and you can get fancy ones if you like — my current batch is lavender with little white hearts on them).

    12. George*

      Like others, I have used a sinus rinse. Also Flonase or Nasacort help for the allergy component, but if you aren’t having allergies, it won’t help. Eventually, I had surgery, which helped immensely, but one side they could only do so much. Drink LOTS of water (thins mucous), Mucinex can help too.

      Afrin is something I use when things get bad. You can only use it twice a day for 2-3 days or it will actually make things worse. But I’d you have soft tissue swelling contributing, it will temporarily fix that which can let things clear up.

  6. bassclefchick*

    Happy New Year, everyone! I finally got a dutch oven! Now that I have one, I have NO idea what to make in it. Anyone have recipes or a cookbook to recommend? I ended up with a Staub. Thanks!

    1. university minion*

      Everything, LOL! I make chili, chicken & dumplings, oxtails, veggie korma, small batches of soup, bread… you name it. It’s probably the most versatile thing in my kitchen and has been beaten to hell and back since I got it many, many years ago.

      1. Happy Lurker*

        I second this! I make everything in mine. I just got it this past year. Whole chicken, turkey breast, last night we had seared pork loins finished in the oven (braised in beer). Stew, pasta sauce, soup. I am astounded what a good cook I am now! ;)
        Almost every meal starts with fresh chopped garlic and/or onions and shallots and kosher salt.
        Do yourself a favor and make sure your spice cabinet is up to snuff. Get some fresh stuff if you can’t remember when you last purchased an item. Have fun!
        I have not yet tried bread. I want to, but I had such a bad experience with it previously that I am still embarassed.

    2. BRR*

      I would recommend America’s test kitchen cook it in your dutch oven. I personally love using mine for bread.

      1. Seeking Second Childhood*

        I went to a camping event with a bonfire…coals the next morning were still hit enough that I baked coffee cake in a tin pan inside the cast iron Dutch oven. From scratch without a recipe, and I was pretty annoyingly proud of myself.

      2. zora*

        They also have a “One-Pan Wonders” cookbook that has a whole section of one-pot meals for the Dutch Oven. They are so easy and tasty!

    3. Ali G*

      Congrats! I love mine! Chili, pot roast, French onion soup, the list goes on. The thing is, it’s so forgiving, so you can just dump stuff in and it’ll be good.
      Any one want to share their bread recipe? One that’s good for a newbie to bread baking?

    4. Reader in ND*

      I’ve made a no-stir risotto that you start on the stove and finish in the oven. I’ve also done stews but I mostly do bread. Try the No Knead Bread from the Jo Cooks website. It’s on my to do list to try some desserts in it too. There are cookbooks devoted to Dutch oven cooking but the trick for me was finding one that was for using an oven in my house and not a fire in the woods (because there’s that kind of dutch oven cooking too).

      1. Constance Lloyd*

        Seconded! I haven’t tried the NYT recipe, but I’m a huge fan of Jo Cooks dutch oven bread and make it weekly. The no knead bread options in general are my absolute favorite. Throw some everything but the bagel seasoning over the top before baking or stir some rosemary and garlic in the dough before rising if you want a fun variation.

    5. Fikly*

      So this recipe is written for a slow cooker, but I put it in my dutch over and just let it do its thing until the beef is tender, and it’s amazing. I usually serve over brown rice or quinoa.

      Search beef barbacoa and gimmesomeoven.

    6. Bluebell*

      I make lots of soups and stews in mine. I find that they are excellent for cooking mushrooms, and it’s also perfect for making large amounts of caramelized onions.

    7. Le Sigh*

      Higly recommend Kenji Lopez-Alt’s red sauce recipes on Serious Eats. Just what a dutch oven was made for.

    1. Argh!*

      I spent extra time with therapeutic light this morning and made my morning coffee a tad bit stronger. Usually I go back to bed on Saturday morning and sleep until noon or one. At this point (2:00) I’ve done my laundry (usually last minute on Sunday night) and cleaned my kitchen. I think I’ll try stronger coffee & more light tomorrow morning too!

  7. Purt’s Peas*

    What’s everyone reading?

    I reread Howl’s Moving Castle and it was just as delightful as always. There was an interview with Diana Wynne Jones in the back of the book where she talked about the movie—she said she liked the castle’s legs, and said that the characters were gentler and nobler than in the novel, which is both true and very sweet.

    Also, currently reading Gideon the Ninth by Tamsin Muir and having a really good time!

    1. WellRed*

      I have like 7 books I’ve started and then put down cause for various reasons they aren’t doing it for me. Sigh.

    2. Jenny T*

      Love a bit of DWJ! DWJ always said that people shouldn’t see the film as a film of the novel, but as an independent creative work. She genuinely liked it very much (a family member of hers was my lovely line manager when the film came out).

      1. tangerineRose*

        Her books are so amazing and with great twists! I started with Archer’s Goon and was hooked.

      2. Tau*

        Yeah, they’re very different. I’ll admit I struggle to like the film because I have trouble separating them and not only do I love the book loads, some of my favourite things were what the film changed.

        That said, I was charmed by this explanation I ran across online:

        The book is Sophie’s version of how they met. The film is Howl’s.

    3. Beaded Librarian*

      Have you read the two sequels? They are equally great and Sophie is again a very strong woman and Howl is as insufferable as ever in the best kind of way.

      1. Purt’s Peas*

        I have, but a long time ago! I love Sophie something fierce. Her incredibly fast switch from young+shy to old+BOLD is incredible. Like, the barest of inhibitions was holding her back. It’s so delightful.

      1. Purt’s Peas*

        I’m really enjoying it! I was hesitant at first since I don’t always get into stories where nobody likes each other, but I am IN. I’m about halfway through now and pretty in love with all the characters and the world they live in.

        1. Loopy*

          It’s not my usual either and I was quite unsure for the first quarter of it but man, it is one of my all time favorites now.

    4. GoryDetails*

      Several good books in my currently-reading stack, including:

      Major Impossible by Nathan Hale, from his “Hazardous Tales” history-in-graphic-novel-format series; this one’s about John Wesley Powell and his harrowing expedition down the Grand Canyon in 1869.

      Clare Boylan short stories, including “A Model Daughter” and “The Stolen Child”; they blend humor and vague unease (not so vague in the case of the latter story), and remind me of Shirley Jackson in a good way.

      Caitlin Doughty’s Will My Cat Eat My Eyeballs?, a hilarious if grisly collection of questions about death from children, addressed to funeral-home-owner Doughty; the questions and answers are fascinating, and the stylish artwork by Dianne Ruz enhances the book considerably. (Never have skeletons and corpses been so adorable! {wry grin})

        1. Grace*

          Also check out her second book, From Here to Eternity – equally as good, and gorgeous cover art!

      1. Beaded Librarian*

        The Hazardous Tales books maybe I’m a bad person but the Donner Dinner Party gets me every time.

    5. PhyllisB*

      Just started Carol Burnett’s book In Such Good Company. I decided I wanted to start the new year with something light and humorous.

    6. Gilmore67*

      I need to start reading again so I was at the library yesterday.

      I got Janet Evanovich ” Look Alive Twenty Five”. Only into about 2 chapters but loving it so far.

    7. Parenthetically*

      Just re-re-re-re-re-reading the Lord Peter Wimsey books because 95% of my reading time is currently during Little Brackets #2’s night feeds, so I need familiar and beloved rather than new/unfamiliar!

      1. Purt’s Peas*

        Oh! That reminded me to pick up the first one—I’d been meaning to read those for a while.

        1. Parenthetically*

          DO read them in order, but also brace yourself not to love Lord Peter right away! He’s a bit of an ass at the beginning but his arc is gorgeous.

      2. Ranon*

        If you ever read the Enchanted Forest Chronicles they are great late night newborn rereads, definitely recommend

        1. Kendra*

          Love this series; Patricia C. Wrede was one of my favorites as a teen, and is one of the few authors I can still re-read with just as much enjoyment as an adult. Her Magic & Malice series (Mairelon the Magician and Magician’s Ward) is also really good, and just about the only Regency fiction I can stand.

        2. Cimorene*

          I love enchanted forest chronicles (as you can guess from my username) and love most Patricia Wrede. I was remarking to a family member that i wish more authors these days wrote books like Patricia Wrede. I feel like that style of fantasy has gone away and i miss it.

    8. Lilo*

      I just bailed a quarter of the way through A Discovery of Witches. I was hoping for a fantasy novel and it turned into a really boring romance book.

      1. Foreign Octopus*


        I was an optimist and bought all three books at once. I finished the first one out of sheer perseverance but refused to pick up the other two. I loved the concept, disliked the execution.

        1. Lilo*

          Fortunately it was a library loan. I had serious bad vibes when she inexplicably went from “gotta watch out for vampires” to “let’s go to vampire yoga” in the space of a couple pages. And basically her whole plan is to trust this random sketchy vampire guy she met like a day ago. I’m out, y’all.

      2. Uncivil Engineer*

        My book club read it and some people had a hard time making it all the way through. We had a long discussion about the premise that can be summed up like this:

        Author: I wrote a book about witches with a strong, independent, female protagonist.
        Us: No, you didn’t.

    9. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      So far this year:

      1. Watership Down – Richard Adams
      2. The Killer Across the Table – John Douglas
      3. Mindhunter – John Douglas
      4. The Princess Diarist – Carrie Fisher

      I’m tracking for 2020.

    10. Foreign Octopus*

      I’ve just picked up The Fire This Time, a collection of essays on race compiled by Jesmyn Ward. They’re a follow up to James Baldwin’s essays The Fire Next Time.

    11. Fikly*

      I am about a third of the way into The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie, which is an utter delight, and the 11 year old protagonist is my new role model.

      She starts the book literally tied up in a closet and mocking her captors for not using better knots. On the first page!

      Author is Alan Bradley

    12. AnonEMoose*

      I’m currently reading “Absolute Monarchs,” which is a history of the Papacy. I’ve read quite a lot of history, but never delved into things from that particular point of view. Since it’s a general overview, it doesn’t go into a ton of detail, but it’s entertainingly written and effective for what it is. I hadn’t previously realized how turbulent things actually were for the Papacy, and for how long. Really interesting stuff; I just finished the part on Alexander VI (otherwise known as Rodrigo Borgia). I did know some about him from other reading before, but this was still an interesting perspective.

      1. Pomona Sprout*

        Oh, I’m just enough of a history buff to be intrigued by that description! My local library doesn’t have it for some odd reason, so I just put in a request to get a copy from another library in the system. Looking forward to it!

    13. Jaid*

      I’m Not Shouldering This Blame, a web novel by Tian Tang Fang Zhu Zhe. 175 chapters about protagonists who discover they live in a urban fantasy/horror novel and have to deal with creatures, superpowers and fans of the novel who transmigrated into it. I like the world building, though the author has some weird ideas about the American school system (um, public school is free, school lunches are available, and some other things). That’s kind of funny because the in-book novel was written by an American.

    14. Randomity*

      Just finished two books over Christmas- firstly Nine Perfect Strangers by Liane Moriarty, which was compelling but in a dreadful how-can-this-keep-getting-worse?! kinda way. And the Brighton Mermaid by Dorothy Koomson. I have loved most of her books* except for The Friend which was a bit contrived IMO. Loved this one too although there were a few plot holes and inconsistencies. Reviews are mixed which I understand so if anyone wants to share opinions in interested.

      * I can’t ever re-read Goodnight, Beautiful though. It utterly destroyed me.

    15. Seeking Second Childhood*

      I am anout to force myself to slog through anothet chunk of Dracula. So I picked up a replacement copy of The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society at the library thrift shop. It will be my reward & antidote.
      Dracula is tedious, which is frustrating because I’d expected to enjoy it.

      1. AnonEMoose*

        I didn’t mind “Dracula;” I’ve read it several times. “Frankenstein,” now…THAT was a slog.

      2. Grace*

        I had a summer where I binged classics – I quite enjoyed Dracula, although some characters’ sections were better than others. To be fair, that might be because it was coming off the back of Les Mis, where significant sections were skipped altogether. I understand that the sections on the war etc are thematically important when it comes to the point that Hugo was making, but they are so dull.

    16. Pomona Sprout*

      I just finished the third (so far) of Vivian Shaw’s Dr. Greta Helsing novels and have fallen completely in live with Greta and her ragtag band of supernatural buddies.

      For anyone who hasn’t read these, I highly recommend them for their humor, whimsy, and thoroughly modern take on vampires, mummies, ghouls, etc., etc. Just be sure to read them in order, or a lot of things won’t make sense:

      1. Strange Practice
      2. Dreadful Company
      3. Grave Importance

    17. Overeducated*

      I’m reading Down Girl by Kate Manne…which I’ve been reading for a month. I don’t feel a lot of motivation for nonfiction. But I also just finished Boomsdat by Christopher Buckley and found it quite fun (apart from the “many men fall in love with my hot blonde protagonist” shtick).

    18. Persephone Mulberry*

      I’m savoring Starless Sea, the new Erin Morgenstern (The Night Circus) book. I bought it on Kindle but unless something goes horribly wrong and I end up hating it by the end, I’m going to have to get it in paperback, too. It’s a bookshelf keeper for me so far.

    19. Kendra*

      Just finished listening to The Spirit Ring by Lois McMaster Bujold. It feels like a precursor to The Curse of Chalion (but set in the “real” world, a Renaissance Italy where magic is real), like either writing it or doing the research for it may have inspired some of the ideas behind that series.

      The main character, Fiametta, is firey (but never obnoxious) and smart, and the other lead, Thur, is sweet and more capable than he knows; they make an adorable match. The reader on the audiobook version is good, too; I’ve read it before as text, and it’s just as good both ways.

    20. MysteryFan*

      I just finished The goblin Emperor by Katherine Addison. I was intimidated at first by this Looong list of words/names that were in the preface.. but it wasn’t that confusing (completely new language/nomenclature etc.. you know, fantasy) and the story was very engaging! I found myself looking for a sequel about a third of the way thru!

      1. foxinabox*

        She’s so so so good at worldbuilding! She used to write somewhat more uh explicit and dramatic books under the name Sarah Monette, all of which I adore but they are a lot less gentle and come attached to MANY warnings. Her short stories under that name are uniformly fantastic, although, again, come with some heavy content. Goblin Emperor is a great turn in her style and I can’t wait for more.

  8. Blue Eagle*

    Book thread
    Just finished “Olive Again” and really enjoyed it. But not looking forward to old age. The library notified me that 3 reserved books are finally waiting for me (and it figures that they all come up on the same day) “Permanent Record” by Edward Snowden, “The Lager Queen of Minnesota” and “Say Nothing” by Brad Parks. So I’ll be reading a bunch for the next week. JOY!

    1. Purt’s Peas*


      I also recently got a giant load of books at the library—actually ebooks I’d had on hold for a while. It’s so exciting to get a huge haul of new books dumped in your lap :)

    2. PhyllisB*

      That sounds like me!! I usually only request three at a time because I feel like that’s all I can handle if they all come in at once, and that has happened more times than I can count. You will like the Lager Queen of Minnesota. You might also want to read Kitchens of the Great Midwest by the same author. Also very good.

    3. Blarg*

      Say Nothing is quite impactful. I just got it from my library after finally coming off the holds list and gobbled it up in two days. Still thinking about it and the broader issues it both directly addresses and parallels around the world.

      Now reading Range by David Epstein which took almost six months on the hold list. It is also making me think, but has yet to make me nauseated.

    4. C Average*

      I really loved Snowden’s book. I had considered purchasing copies for friends I thought would enjoy it, but then read that he’s not allowed to keep the royalties–the Justice Department is seizing that money. (The NYT has a good piece explaining it all.) I know I’m skirting close to the no-politics rule here, but the decision doesn’t sit well with me and I’m reluctant to further financially support the Justice Department by spending money on Snowden’s excellent book.

      1. Mr Mistofolees*

        wow. I didn’t know that. I bought the book for my husband, and now a bit sorry I did. can’t wait to read it though.

        1. C Average*

          It’s really good! Don’t feel bad. Read it, enjoy it, pass it on. It’s a story everyone should read. It just irks me that the government is making money off of it rather than the author.

    5. Lifesempossible*

      My library has a feature where you can suspend your holds. You still move up on the wait list, but it won’t become available until your specified date. I have approximately 23 books on hold, some where I’m #1 on the list, but I’ve staggered the dates for when I’ll get it. You should see if your library has something similar. It’s really useful!

  9. Strawberry Fields*

    Are there any websites or apps that have you input what you eat and tells you either what not to eat or suggests alternatives. I don’t mean anything like Weight Watchers or anything, but something that keeps track of what you’re eating.

    1. WellRed*

      I just downloaded my fitnesspal. It tracks food and nutrition but doesn’t recommend alternatives.

      1. MaryB*

        Second MyFitnessPal – it’s free (or there’s a free version) and it does have suggested recipes and a blog with healthy recipes and ideas. Super easy to use – rarely is something I eat not already in the database – and a good nudge toward healthier eating since you can look at your percentage of fat/carbs/protein over a day or week, which is sometimes … eye opening. :-)

        1. WellRed*

          Agreed. It’s also kind of affirming when you eat well and motivating when it says, if you keep this up for a week…

      2. General von Klinkerhoffen*

        Gentle note that MFP can be triggering and even in some cases dangerous to people with history of EDs. It is wise to take their exercise calorie calculations broadly, not definitively.

        Many people find MFP very useful, and I hope it works out for you!

      3. Kendra*

        The nutritionist/dietician they have keeping an eye on me while I’m doing chemo also recommended MyFitnessPal, because you can use it as just a quick & easy food diary. So if you just want to track, say, protein intake, or sodium or something, you can just ignore their dietary advice & use it that way, too. (In my case, it helps to have a record of what foods I’m actually able to keep down, and where I may have nutritional deficiencies cropping up; they very most definitely DON’T want me losing weight right now.)

    2. MissDisplaced*

      Try Ate, See How You Eat or iEatBetter food diaries.
      Not sure how much to what level they’ll actually suggest. But the focus seems more on health rather than weight loss.

    3. knitter*

      I used Noom. I used it with the goal of losing weight and have lost 35 lbs over the past year. It categorizes food as green, yellow and red when you log it. The goal is replace red with yellow, yellow with green, etc. Somewhere in the app gives ideas for food replacements.

      It is expensive, but it worked for me because it helped me change unhelpful eating habits. I didn’t feel shamed for going over my reds–just noted what I needed to think about next time. I’m going to start using it again to see if I can lose a few more pounds. My eating is mindful and more nutritious so I, in general, just feel better, so I’m happy either way.

      1. Persephone Mulberry*

        How expensive is expensive? I keep getting ads for it on Facebook and they’re just vague enough that I haven’t clicked on one yet.

    4. Anonymousy*

      I use the free version of fitday.com. You input what you eat, any exercise, your weight, and you can make notes to yourself. It tells you your nutrition for the day and averages over time. It also makes weight graphs.

    5. LilySparrow*

      Sparkpeople lets you set your stats and suggests a calorie range and optional meal plan. Then you can track your actual intake & exercise.

    6. MJ*

      eatthismuch dot com (Also Android/iPhone apps)

      “Eat This Much creates personalized meal plans based on your food preferences, budget, and schedule. Reach your diet and nutritional goals with our calorie calculator, weekly meal plans, grocery lists and more. Create your meal plan right here in seconds.”

      You can open a free account to try it. Special offer for 12-month subscription $48.

      I have no affiliation with this company.

  10. Outside Earthling*

    Anyone had to deal with friends being less than supportive to you after a cancer diagnosis? I texted one good friend to let her know about my breast cancer diagnosis, reassuring her that it has been caught early, but outlining upcoming treatment, which obviously is making me apprehensive. Heard nothing for two days. Eventually texted her again to ask her to at least let me know she is ok. It was genuinely so surprising to me that a friend would meet that kind of news with silence that I was scared something had happened to her. Got a nice response back explaining how busy she was and offering support, but jeez, she couldn’t have taken 20 seconds to text or call me earlier with a few words of support? Another friend keeps saying she’ll call me and then most often doesn’t, although there has at least been some support, albeit very sporadic and brief. A third friend has been absolutely brilliant, despite having 3 kids and a husband currently working in another country. I am so grateful for her.

    Do I just try to reframe this and think well, people are leading their own busy lives and everyone is trying their best? And maybe just adjust my expectations of these two friends in future life crises? Accept the good things the friendships offer and try to be a good friend back. The kind and rational me wants to think along these lines, especially as it will cause me less pain, but it’s hard because I just feel hurt.

    1. WellRed*

      So, it’s no excuse but they may not know what to say. Some people instinctively know how to be supportive, others suck and many fall in the gray area. Yes, adjust your expectations of them for now. I would also suggest letting them know, specifically, how they can support you at some poin (even if it’s just, hey, I’d love to see a movie on Saturday). Concrete.

      1. valentine*

        She may have skimmed it, seen “early/treatment, or otherwise taken it as “FYI/no worries.” I think it’ll help to say what you want plus BLUF: “I could use some encouraging words. I’ve been diagnosed…” Either they deliver or you know for sure they’re not up to it.

    2. Queer Earthling*

      Hello, fellow Earthling! I’m sorry this happened to you.

      My spouse has never had a lot of friends anyway, and did find during the last year (two surgeries and a round of chemo) that most of them clammed up even further. Some of it was just that they were busy, and some of it was, unfortunately, that being a Friend to someone with a diagnosis feels hard and they didn’t want to put in the effort. (This is probably specific to my spouse’s awful friends.)

      I hope your friends step up and, if they don’t, you’re able to lean into other people for support and perhaps make new friends as well. Also, good luck with the cancer treatments and I hope everything goes as smoothly as possible.

      1. Kendra*

        One of the things that’s really blown me away since my own diagnosis is how incredibly kind and supportive random strangers can be. There’s a waitress here in town who pretty much changed my life, just by being kind and open about her own cancer fight, and dozens more who’ve done everything from holding doors and complimenting my hats, to offering rides or volunteering at the place I get my chemo.

        In some ways, I think it’s less emotionally intensive to help a stranger with something like this than a close friend or family member. It’s still hard for them, and I’m incredibly grateful for the people who do it (I want to be like them when I grow up), but since they don’t know me as closely, they don’t have to deal with their own pain on top of mine, if that makes sense.

        If friends disappear during something like this, they either weren’t really your friends, or they’re having their own breakdown & trying not to burden you with it, or they’re completely overwhelmed and have no idea how to help. The first one happens, but IME, the other two are a lot more common. Usually, giving them a little time helps, or a more concrete way to help.

      2. Outside Earthling*

        Thank you! Sorry to hear your spouse’s friends didn’t step up. Wishing you both well for this year.

    3. OperaArt*

      Personal relationships during health crises can be weird. Sometimes the people you expect to be there aren’t, and the people with whom you have more superficial relationships step up to the plate. It can be very surprising.
      Your friends may be scared, or in denial, or uncertain what to do. Or you may find out that the friendship is not what you thought it was.
      Or after they process the news, they may be there in all the ways you need.
      I wish you the best future , and effective treatment.

      1. EEOC Counselor*

        This is so true. I’m female and one of my closest friends is male. I was casual friends with his girlfriend, but we never spent any time together alone. When she was diagnosed with breast cancer, I reached out to her, texting her every day (she texted every day, too, so it wasn’t stalking), and sending her a card/note in the mail every week. Three years later and I am one of her best friends. One of her best friends when she got the diagnosis essentially ghosted her, and she mourns for that relationship. It is very surprising.

        1. Gaia*

          This is so accurate. My best friend is my best friend because when I had a personal crisis she stepped up when no one else did. We were super casual acquaintances at the time but her simple acts of support changed everything.

        2. RebeccaNoraBunch*

          This exact thing happened to me when my beloved dog unexpectedly passed away this summer. Several of my closest friends were either completely silent or initially very quiet, and it hurt. Then again, several acquaintances really stepped up and checked on me actively and are now some of my closest friends. Tragedy/grief are very weird, and everyone told me the same thing: I’d be very surprised at who would come out of the woodwork and who wouldn’t, and I definitely was. It’s very nice to know who I can count on.

      2. Poppy the Flower*

        I agree. I’ve gone through this multiple times during flares of a chronic illness. Some people do end up showing they can’t be there for you for whatever reason. I would say, if you want to, maybe try talking it out. And maybe she will become supportive now that the initial shock is over. I know I’ve been surprised by how close I became to some people so the opposite can happen too!

    4. PhyllisB*

      I can relate. I had a cancerous growth on my bronchial tube when I was only 34 and had to have surgery to remove it. (Luckily surgery took care of it, no follow-up) I was surprise at how many of my friends fell off the face of the earth until I was totally recovered.
      I was also hurt, but like someone else said, I just figured they didn’t know what to say, so they just said nothing. My take-away is that I have tried to do better with people in my life going through similar things.
      I wish you only good things, and hope you have a swift recovery.
      One piece of advice, I don’t know what type of treatment you are having, but if you feel adverse effects, TALK TO YOUR DOCTOR!! This includes anything from sores in your mouth from chemo to not enjoying food. If they try to brush you off, don’t let them. This is advice from my husband who was treated for Lymphoma 20 years ago.
      Also, you are going to get people saying, “Let me know if there is anything I can do.” Tell them what they can do. (No, not take a long walk off a short pier!!) Assign them a task if you feel up to it. Most people mean well, (I know, I know!!) but if they offer, take them up on it.

      1. Sam I Am*

        Super big yes to tell them what they can do.
        Also if you need something specific, ask for it, the same that you would if you weren’t ill; with a lot of outs built in. For example, “What I need most is someone to walk my dog in the evening. I don’t want it to be a burden to any one person, would you be able to organize a schedule of friends to come at 7 pm for the next 4 weeks? If you don’t have the resources to organize that, it’s ok, I don’t want you to feel overwhelmed with it, so please say no if you aren’t comfortable with it.”
        Check out lotsahelpinghandsDOTcom if you want to include a community of people. It’s already got the scheduling template in place. It was really useful when a friend of mine was going through cancer treatment and needed help getting the school aged kids out the door to school each day, rides to activities, rides for treatment, dinner drop offs for the family, etc. Some people did things all the time, some people did one or two things over the course of several months. It was the best experience I’ve had trying to help on the friend side as far as ease of use. People were able to do as much or as little as their own lives and comfort with the situation and family allowed.
        Good luck with your treatment, my thoughts are with you

    5. Texan In Exile*

      I am so sorry your friend was not more responsive. Yes, she should have texted or called immediately. And I agree with WellRed – this is a time to adjust expectations.

      I hope your treatments go easily and well and that other friends step up to bring you brownies and to clean your bathroom and to drive you to your appointments and to do the things that friends should do. Out of town friends can send brownies through the mail. :)

      I wish all this for you.

      1. Texan In Exile*

        PS If you would like, send me your address in a private message on facebook (https://www.facebook.com/Texan.In.Exile/). I just got good health news yesterday (my follow-up mammogram was negative) and want to put the karma back out there. I make awesome brownies and I will send some to you. :) I don’t think they cure cancer but I have heard they make things a little better.

        1. Anon woman with breast cancer*

          TIE, I was just reading the comments in this thread, and was going to ask if you had heard any news! YIPPEE!! So glad for you that all is OK!! A great way to start 2020!

          1. Outside Earthling*

            Thank you so much for that offer. I am not on Facebook but I appreciate it. I love brownies too! A virtual brownie from you is just as good. I’m so pleased about your great news. What a relief for you!

          2. Texan In Exile*

            Thanks, Anon woman! Yes, it’s a huge relief. (Also – send me your address so I can send you some Cancer Brownies, too.)

    6. Dan*

      Sorry about the cancer, it can’t be fun.

      As for how to react to “friends.” First things first, ask yourself whether your life is better with these people in it. If no, let them go and move on with things. If yes, then accept nobody is perfect and we all screw up from time to time.

      To your first friend, and specifically to your question about taking 20 seconds for a text? Honestly no, it doesn’t always work like that. Personally, I don’t always multitask very well, especially during the work day. So when my text alerts go off, my thought process is something like: 1) WTF? Who’s bothering me, and what do they want? 2) Do I need to deal with it *now*? 3) Crap. What do I say to *that*? I don’t want to say something insensitive off the cuff. 4) I’m in the middle of something and I don’t want to get drawn into a conversation either. I’ll deal with it later.

      Then I go on about my day and forget I have a text to respond to. So it goes back to the first question: Do these people make your life better, or not? Some people are always flakes and never supportive, and should just be cut loose. Others are generally good friends who are humans and drop the ball every once in awhile. Figure out who’s who and proceed accordingly.

    7. Not So NewReader*

      I think this is pretty normal. Or at least please let me think it is because I saw it through my parents illness and my husband’s illness. If I tell myself it’s fairly normal I can just move on.

      It’s true, not everyone hangs around when the going gets tough. And as the going gets tougher then even more drop out.

      You might/might not find it helpful to believe in the ebb and flow of life. Believe that the right people are talking with you now. Other people are not “supposed” to be there at the moment. Perhaps that is because they have nothing to offer of any consolation. Or perhaps they have another person they are helping and that is intense for them. (We can’t really assume we know what everyone is doing or up against, especially if they keep it to themselves.)

      I think I have probably been that person with a seemingly weak reason. “Sorry I did not come see you after your accident. I had to take the dog to the vet.” And I stopped there. There was more to the story. Well, I had to take the dog to the vet because my parents were both in the hospital in very serious condition and I did not know if they would even come out. MEANWHILE, the dog is sick and needs vet help. I am sure I sounded like an idiot because I left out the surrounding context.

      I know for a while I got really ticked at people who dropped out of sight when I was trying to take care of my parents. Looking back on it, they probably lacked the skill set and/or knowledge to follow along with what I was seeing. When my husband got sick I saw a positive thing that was amazing. I saw people who barely knew us reaching out to help us. And I realized. We have to keep looking at who IS showing up and who is offering to help. If we look at the people who seem to have wandered off, we will miss some of these new folks. Just my biased opinion, but some of the new folks are The Best.

      1. Cathie from Canada*

        That said, it’s too bad some of the old “politeness manners” have gone by the wayside in our society now, leaving people without the conventional phrases and actions to respond to bad news. Like “I’m so sorry to hear this news. Can I bring over a cake?”
        I had the same experience when I was in hospital. I found myself reassuring friends that I hadn’t minded when they didn’t visit, text, email or send a card, even while inwardly I wondered why it was MY job to make THEM feel better.

        1. Anon woman with breast cancer*

          Your last sentence is so true – I have had to set some boundaries with some family and friends because their anxiety (in general) and overstepping is just too much for me to manage now, on top of chemo and prep for surgeries, etc. I have shared my situation with my close friends and when it was obvious that some were overwhelmed because of their own issues, I withdrew as the burden of their anxiety on top of mine was too much. Most days I manage ok, but if I had to deal with this stuff, too, it would be more challenging.

        2. Paulina*

          I’ve seen the reverse version of this problem as well: people who feel “I need to help!” so strongly, and according to their own ideas about what “helping” is, that they ignore your actual needs and wishes. Sigh. Unfortunately many people don’t listen to others that well.

    8. Outside Earthling*

      Thank you for all of your kind responses. This is really helpful (and comforting) to hear all of your perspectives. I appreciate it. Best wishes to all those who are either dealing / have dealt with their own health crisis or supporting someone through theirs.

    9. Not A Manager*

      Specifically regarding the texting friend, I’m sorry to say that I’ve done similar myself. What happens is, I’m doing normal busy multitasking stuff, maybe like checking my texts while I’m at the grocery store, and I get a big heavy text that clearly needs time and care and attention. I’m genuinely distressed and I really want to craft a careful reply, but I’m also thinking about my shopping. So I plan to get to it later. And then throughout the day, I keep thinking, “I need to respond to my friend.” But actually, there is no perfect thing to say and text is weird. So I put it off.

      I have gotten better about this, AND I’ve never blown off a friend with cancer, but I can see how this could happen.

      My general advice is, if these are very good and very close friends, it’s probably worth a phone call and a kind but frank conversation. You might lose the friendships, but if you don’t say anything the friendships will probably never be what they once were. But if they’re not super close friends, then just figure that they are fun to hang out with, but not much use when the chips are down, and circle back to them when you have time to hang out.

      Do tell people specifically what they can do. In fact, I wouldn’t wait for them to ask. Pick something that you need and that you don’t think would be a big burden to them, and reach out. Don’t lean into the illness and treatment, just say what you need. “Hey, I know you pass by the grocery store on your way back from yoga – do you think you could pick up a few things for me?” A lot of times the thing that scares people is the fact of your illness and their fear of having to talk about it/think about it. I’m not saying don’t ever talk about it! But some of your friends will want to have an easy opportunity to be helpful, and will be grateful if you give it to them.

    10. Fikly*

      This is not just a cancer thing. It’s a thing that is so so common to anyone who has a major illness/chronic illness/new disability.

      A lot of people just can’t hack it. Either they don’t know what to say or they don’t want to be around someone whose life is suddenly about different things or I don’t know what.

      But it’s not you, it’s them. And yes, adjust your expectations. This will show you who you can actually depend on.

      1. coffee cup*

        Yes. A friend I’ve known for years pretty much ignored me when I told him how low I was feeling the other day. I genuinely only wanted him to say ‘that sucks, can I do anything?’ or something. I didn’t expect him to know how to fix it! So I had to tell him how that made me feel. I think he gets it a bit more now, but he was very ‘I don’t know what to say’. I told him you don’t have to say a load of stuff. Just be there.

      2. Meepmeep*

        Any sort of crisis. I went no contact with a relative because when I was temporarily homeless and emailed said relative asking for a place to stay for a couple of weeks, the relative just didn’t respond. I don’t know if they didn’t know what to say, didn’t want to deal with my problems, or whatever – but I know that someone who just ignores an email like that doesn’t belong in my life. So they’re not in my life anymore. I’m not angry at them, I don’t wish them ill, but I don’t see any reason to interact with them either. I’d rather spend time with other people.

    11. Sunflower Sea Star*

      I’m sorry you’re dealing with cancer AND a friend that is less than supportive. I’m sorry to say that I recently did something similar to a close-ish but still somewhat new friend newly diagnosed with colon cancer. You see, my brother is in a big battle with colon cancer, and it’s not going well. He’s had 11 surgeries in 18 months due to infections, complications, etc.
      So when my friend, who does not know my brother and his struggles, told me she had been diagnosed with colon cancer, I froze.
      I didn’t want to dump ALLLLL I have learned, and all that has gone wrong with my brother on her. I didn’t want the dam to break. I knew she didn’t need to hear that.
      But at first I didn’t know how to even say anything without even going there. I had to work out my huge “OH NO THIS ISN’T HAPPENING TO SOMEONE I LOVE AGAIN!!” reaction before I could reach out to her.
      I still haven’t told her about my brother. It feels weird not to, but I cannot imagine how to have that conversation without it becoming a talk about the horrors. And his situation is not the same as hers at all.
      All that to say that you just don’t know what’s happening in their heads.
      I hope your friends can eventually step up to be supportive and helpful. I am trying to do that for my friend. I’ve taken meals, listened and validated, even took her to an appointment when she needed a ride. But my initial response was definitely not good.

      1. Outside Earthling*

        I’m so sorry to hear about your brother. Your initial reaction towards your friend is so completely understandable. Thanks for your comment. Very best wishes.

      2. Not A Manager*

        Sunflower Sea Star, you sound COMPLETELY different from the “I just can’t with all the cancer” people. You’ve been tremendously supportive of your friend.

        If you feel that your initial response was poor, or that your current ability to engage empathically is affected, I do think you could say to your friend, “I want to apologize for my slow response when you first told me about this,” (or, “for how it’s sometimes hard for me to discuss your treatment with you”). “I have a close relative who is also battling colon cancer. His situation is very different from yours, but sometimes my feelings about his treatment affect my interactions with you.”

        She will probably ask how he is doing, etc. and I think you can kindly signal the situation without getting into details. “He’s had some complications, but we are hopeful for a good outcome. I’m here for you as your friend, though. I have a lot of other support regarding my relative.”

        Best wishes to you, and to your friend and your family.

    12. NoMercy*

      I was diagnosed with early stage breast cancer in August and am currently going through chemotherapy. The cancer was removed and, as far as I know, I am cancer-free so it’s not like I am currently sick with cancer- just sick with chemo. It was eye-opening to say the least to discover who I could talk to about this and who wasn’t available or wasn’t able to for whatever reason. I do know now that my diagnosis scared the bayjayzus out of many people as I am youngish (47), there were no symptoms and it was caught during a routine mammogram. As I was dealing with the reality of it, many friends and family members were scrambling to come to terms with how this could have happened and either getting themselves booked for mammograms or completely distancing themselves from it so they wouldn’t “catch” it from me (or that’s how it seemed). I have been chastised for joking about some of my symptoms from people who are too close to it to find the humour. I have been ignored by friends who I thought would be available to take me to the odd chemo appt. I have been told countless stories from strangers about their dying uncles, cousins, cats, you name it because they also had cancer so therefore we have something in common, right? On the other hand, family members I maybe see once a year have called and written. Offers of support have come in from so many places I didn’t expect. People are strange creatures sometimes and dealing with others’ illness doesn’t come easily for everyone. Of course there are always those fairweather friends you don’t realize are that until the crap hits the fan. All I can advise is to accept the help you need graciously, thank everyone else for offering, and forgive those who are incapable of offering you anything. I am still working on that last part myself.

      1. Outside Earthling*

        Thank you. This is good advice. I am also young (for this) at 46 and I do wonder whether that is partly why some friends find it hard to know how to react. It’s like we know what scary stuff can and might happen at this age (losing parents, kids going off the rails etc) and can kind of foresee these things coming down the pipeline and so think we might have a head start on knowing how to deal with them; whereas this kind of things comes out of left field and so that scares us. It has helped me to read your comments and others’ and see it more as a facet of human nature. I completely relate to what you and others have said about help coming from unexpected sources. That has happened to me too, and isn’t it lovely when it happens? Others are generally very kind but don’t always get it right, like my sister giving me a hard time for not being in the ‘Christmas spirit’ or rolling her eyes at me for telling her that I can’t be her ‘accountability partner’ for her weight loss project right now because of, you know, having to have daily radiation treatment. Her intentions are good and she is a kind soul, so it is best just to roll with these sorts of comments, but hard sometimes.

        I am wishing you all the best for your remaining treatment. I am post-surgery with clear margins but keep trying to tell myself (and, somewhat annoyingly, listen to others who haven’t had any kind of brush with cancer tell me) I am lucky in the grand scheme of things. I know this to be true but it’s still no picnic.

        1. Anon woman with breast cancer*

          Outside Earthling, I am sending you a lot of good vibes and wishing you the best. The kindness of strangers has also surprised me, and I am sorry you have had this interaction with your friend. As I noted in another open thread, my counsellor told me that a lot of folks have their own baggage/anxiety about cancer so sometimes when told that a relative/friend has cancer, they cannot cope as it scares them. So one must set boundaries for one’s self if needed. (whether. it is you, the patient, or you, the friend). As to your sister, I am sorry too. You are strong to roll with this stuff.

      2. Kendra*

        “I have been chastised for joking about some of my symptoms from people who are too close to it to find the humour.“

        Oh, how true this is! And these are the folks who annoy me even more than the ones who ghost you. It’s like, “so sorry my best coping mechanism bothers you; if you don’t want to hear it, there’s the door.“ The person who actually HAS the disease/condition/disability gets to set the tone on that one, and nobody else gets a vote, specifically because they have the option to get up and leave.

        Or, to put it another way, I can laugh or scream right now, and I choose to laugh. If you try to take that away from me, you will most definitely get the screaming instead.

    13. Anonymousy*

      Big news like that isn’t really a text thing in my book. It’s for sharing in a phone call or a lunchtime get-together. I get a lot of texts from non-friends (doctor appointment reminders, etc.) so I often miss texts from friends. I wouldn’t take something like that personally. With so many ways to communicate with each other, there are just too many ways for misdirection and miscommunication. If you really want support, have lunch together, and you’ll be able to see first-hand whether she’s the right person to be discussing it with.

      Good luck with treatment. I hope everything turns out okay.

      1. Outside Earthling*

        Well, the cancer support sites suggest letting friends know in whatever way is comfortable and convenient for you as the person with cancer. But yes, I see your point and agree that in an ideal world, this is how it would work.

      2. names*

        I know your response was not mean-spirited, but as someone who has also had cancer in the last two years, it’s really difficult and draining to tell so many people about your diagnosis because everyone wants details and frankly, I didn’t even have the emotional space to process it myself in the first few days and weeks, and you often get swept up into doctor’s appointments, lab tests, and overall preparation for what is to come. I had no time to have lunches before having major surgery. All of this is to say that sometimes it has to be over text.

    14. The New Wanderer*

      I might have been that friend, at least in some ways. I responded almost immediately to my friend emailing me about her diagnosis (I had to compose myself first), but throughout her treatment I probably failed on the friend scale. I could never figure out the right thing to do. I offered to visit her anytime (involved a plane flight so at least a few days’ advance planning would be necessary), but she didn’t take me up on it. I wrote her regularly for weeks, just prattling on because she had said she liked the distraction, but stopped when I got no replies of any kind back – I understood she was busy and overwhelmed so I didn’t expect much but I started feeling like I was adding to her stress rather than helping. And then my FIL’s cancer stopped responding to treatment so that took all my bandwidth up for several months. Meanwhile, her diagnosis never left my mind and my concern never wavered, only my ability to express it.

      Thing is, I know she had other friends who were just better at being her friend during this situation. They did visit her and she visited them when she was still able to travel, and they just gave her something I couldn’t. And I don’t know what that was or why it was different with them than with me. Maybe they just had a better idea of the kind of support she needed vs. what I was doing.

    15. YHGTBK*

      People are weird. And some people are particularly weird about cancer.

      I had a friend tell me off for having the (my first routine) mammogram that found my cancer. Apparently this caused it (‘the secret’ mentality), despite it being there for quite some time already and my belief then that I was cancer immune (due to family history – have had to apologise for ruining the family history).

      I had another, casual, friend who would call me over for a chat every Saturday morning at the local market where they had a stall. I mentioned the cancer, I was very low key about it, was taking it in my stride, and certainly giving no message that I needed any support or even comment from this person. For a year they avoided even catching my eye, after a year it was back to normal. I felt fine before, during and after the treatment – no chemo – so no signs off illlness/potential death to freak them out.

      Having cancer involves some really amazing people – professional and others – step up and be wonderful. I my experience it’s a vulnerable time and the emotional response to the good is heightened, and so is the response to the not-good.

      Good luck

    16. Jackalope*

      One of my most memorable fails as a friend was a time when a good friend of mine sent me an email about a sad thing that happened to her (let’s say her cat died). I didn’t see the email at all, leading to an awkward moment a few days later when I called her to chat and started off the conversation by asking cheerfully how my favorite rascal Fluffy was doing. She could tell immediately from how I started the conversation that I knew nothing about her email, which did at least make her feel better about me not responding, but I still feel badly about those couple of days when she thought I was ignoring her grief. I have had a few other moments since then where I missed important phone calls or texts (I have to silence my phone at work and so often go a few days without realizing that it’s off). I respond as soon as I realize what’s going on but sometimes I’m a bit late.

      So all of that to say that your friends may have had other reasons not to respond. They could include simply not having seen your message, or skimming over it and not realizing what was really going on. They might also have needed time to process such big news. It’s possible that you’re correct and they will be bad sources of support during your treatment, and if so then I’m truly sorry. It’s hard to find out that people you thought you could lean on were not such reliable friends, and it’s such a lonely feeling. But maybe they’ll surprise you.

      Echoing what others said here as well. If you give people clear guidance on what you need they will be more likely/able to oblige. Even these friends if they turn out to be not people you can really lean on, might help. I’ve had times when I was going through a really horrible time in my life and some friendly acquaintances were wonderful in taking me out to do something playful and having fluffy conversations with me totally unrelated to whatever grief I was dealing with. They weren’t friends I could confide in, but they knew I was going through a hard time and gave me much needed distraction. So keep that in the back of your mind as an option too.

    17. Maybe Perhaps*

      I’m sorry for your experience. I wonder if possibly she’s had a past experience with someone who’s been diagnosed and then became almost overwhelming with their “updates”. I’ve seen it happen twice, most recently from a business acquaintance who added me to an email list where I’m receiving constant lengthy email and video updates, and requests to support her by buying something from her, long after her breast cancer was quickly and relatively easily treated at no cost (thanks to Canada’s healthcare).

    18. WS*

      I was diagnosed with cancer aged 24 and lost pretty much all my friends because they just couldn’t deal. And I was too sick to do any follow-ups.

    19. names*

      I had the exact same experience, and frankly, it was devastating to me. I am almost two years out from having cancer (got diagnosed at 34), and I lost my best friend during the process because she was so unsupportive and self-centered after so many chances. I will tell you that having cancer sucked, losing relationships sucked, the post-cancer issues sucked (hello anxiety and depression!), but in so many ways, it was my opportunity to evaluate my life, my time, my choices, and everything I want to do with them. All the love to you.

      1. Outside Earthling*

        Yes, I’m thinking over this kind of thing too. How I want to spend my time and who with. Thank you for your comments and I hope 2020 is good to you.

    20. different seudonym*

      Others have already said important things about how unpredictable reactions are, but I wanted to add one thing: do make sure that you continue reaching out to people, including people who are merely acquaintances, because on a purely practical level you will require help getting things done, and you should have contacts for emergencies and quasi-emergencies. When I was sick, I withdrew more than I should have after a few experiences like yours, and it meant I did things like Uber to the emergency room when I had bad side effects, which was really, really dumb of me. My neighbor would have been glad to help, but I was too proud to ask.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        Good advice for those who have illnesses but also good advice for people who have lost a spouse or other close loved one. Say yes more often to offers of help. And ask for specific help. When my husband passed I specifically asked for help mowing the lawn as I was too rattled to learn to drive the tractor. After a few weeks, I asked for help learning to drive the tractor. (I did ask a person who could actually drive my tractor. Putting a little thought into who does what well, is also a good idea.)

    21. Batgirl*

      This kind of thing happens with other huge life events like divorce, or financial trouble or bereavement. I’ve lost count of situations where people either bail or wait for their friend to ‘get back to normal’, e.g. their presumed role in their friends’ lives.
      I’m reminded of a friend who had just announced her engagement to her long time partner when she discovered he’d been cheating on her for over a year. She was very proactive about the support she needed but was dropped by her since-childhood best friends who’d blandly say things like ‘It’s a couple’s event; you’re not a couple’. Before that they’d been extremely attentive. I think part of it is fear that the bad luck is catching but some of it is just disliking change and inconvenience.
      So she did what you’re doing – she reassessed the friendship and assumed she’d expected too much and misjudged how close they were.
      Cut to her next engagement with her now husband. The coupled up gang were vocally upset not to be bridesmaids because they’d been “waiting to see her so happy”, and they considered themselves her closest friends.
      I’ve seen the same dynamic play out with a chronically unemployed friend who got a job, and a friend experiencing miscarriages who finally had a baby. In all cases they were ‘welcomed back’ like they’d gone somewhere.
      Fair weather friends is unfortunately not just an expression.

    22. Meepmeep*

      It is sadly true that in time of crisis, you find out who your friends are. I’d mentally recategorize Friends #1 and #2 as acquaintances and Friend #3 as a true friend, and behave accordingly.

      Right now, you need to be in survival mode and put yourself first. Don’t put yourself into a situation where you’re expecting support and not getting any – meaning, it’s probably a good idea to limit contact with Friends #1 and #2. You need to make sure to have plenty of supportive, positive interactions in your life right now.

      I hope the treatment goes well for you, and that you have plenty of other people in your life who will offer you support and help during this hard time.

  11. Nightingale*

    Tt;dr: I just found out that a new member is our music ensemble she is a GP/MD that lives in the village of my late-grandmother and I learned from a family that they treated my grandmother horrendous when my grandmother’s GP wasn’t available and she had to contact another one in her village when she had terminal cancer (which was then still undiagnosed at that time). How do I move on from this without being judgemental towards this GP and without bringing this ensemble out of balance?

    The story begins about ten years ago. My grandmother had lost her husband (my grandfather) a couple of years before, so she was doing a lot more in her house even though her children raised up the ante as well, helping her. That winter it snowed quite a bit (unusual for my country) and while both my parents and uncles said that they would help her clearing the snow on her driveway (after their work), my nan did a big part herself, she made a clear path to her house so that the postman and other visitors wouldn’t get hurt slipping in it (She didn’t do it to proof her independence, she genuinely didn’t want anyone getting hurt. That was my grandmother, putting everyone’s needs before hers).

    So it didn’t come up as a surprise that she wasn’t feeling well a couple of days later. She called her GP, but he was not available. So another doctor was called. My grandmother had to plead (not ask, really plead!) with her to make a house call because she definitely was in no state to make the trip, and the doctor reluctantly agreed.
    I work for a doctors practice (now, not then), I know that doctors do prefer that the patient comes to the practice. But the doctors I work with, do realise that not all patients can do this and trust the judgement from that patient (also, in this country the GP gets paid more for house calls by the Health insurance. The part that the patient has to pay, is a bit bigger as well).

    It turns out that the whole ordeal was really unpleasant for my grandmother: the doctor was impolite and didn’t really listen to my grandmother telling her symptoms and medical history. The doctor just said to her to take some pain medication and to come to the practice the next time.
    Readers, let me tell you: if my father says that someone was rude or insulting to him, I usually take that with a grain of salt since I know him. I know he likes to exaggerate, doesn’t shy away from conflict and can be quite rude as well.
    Same with my cousin, depending on the words he uses, I know when he is telling the truth or when he is a bit exaggerating.

    When my grandmother tells me that someone is impolite, I know that this is an understatement. When she said that it was unpleasant, I know it must have been horrendous for her. While my grandmother was only disappointed in that doctor, I was furious about the whole situation: this is not how you treat patients, even if they see the patient only once or twice when their regular doctor is not available.
    A few days later, my gran had to call the GP again (this time her regular one was available) because it wasn’t better at all. He came and was really worried so he sent her to the hospital right away.
    Days later we got the news that she had cancer, that it was terminal and three months later she died rather peacefully considering the diagnose.

    To make it clear: I am not angry that the first doctor ‘misdiagnosed’ my grandmother, cancer is not something a general practitioner can diagnose. Nor am I angry that she didn’t sent my grandmother to the hospital right away. It is not an easy call, especially if the patient is not a regular one and you miss the medical history. I am angry that she was rude, and didn’t treat my grandmother with dignity and respect.

    Now, that doctor is in the ensemble group I sing in. I didn’t know at first that she was a doctor and that she lives and works in the village where my grandmother lived. But after our last performance she told me her last name, and it sounded very familiar but I couldn’t place it.

    However, since she also told me where she lived I told my mother about her, and she immediately knew who she was. And now I do too. I cannot “unknow” this.

    I don’t know what to do. I know myself: I probably won’t be rude, but I will be short and defensive and probably will lose my patience quicker than with other persons. So how do I not do that?

    1. WellRed*

      It was one unpleasant visit, that you’ve learned about secondhand. Maybe the dr has terrible bedside manners, maybe she was just having a bad day. Maybe none of it was as bad as you are fearing.

    2. The Scrivener*

      I’m sorry about your grandmother. She sounds like a lovely person.

      That said, freezing someone out for something that happened a decade ago is a pretty intense response on your part. This is how family feuds get started. (I should know; my mother doesn’t talk to my aunt because of something that happened between them in 1983!)

      In honor of your grandmother and her kindness towards others, I’d suggest you let this one go.

    3. Dan*

      When these types of questions come up, here’s what runs through my mind:

      1. What do you gain by holding on to the past?
      2. What do you lose by letting the past go?
      3. Is it *worth* holding on to the past?

      Somebody may have done something to you that is so hurtful that being in their presence is a painful reminder of [X] and getting over it just doesn’t have much benefit. Fine. But in your case? I can’t see how holding on to the past is of benefit to you now, especially because it may cost you friendships in a social group that is important to you.

    4. Cheluzal*

      You know what? I know we always wanna react appropriately and give advice to always be the bigger person but sometimes you just want to be a human. So you have my permission to be chilly polite and defensive and feel however you want to. And then you won’t be rude but you’ll never forget this so I would probably react exact same way because you just have no respect for them as a person and professional and that’s OK!

    5. Not So NewReader*

      You could decide that you are going to show this doc what kindness looks like, so she can see it herself.
      People can’t learn kindness/patience/sympathy if they do not see it in others.

      OTH, I have friends I would not want to work with. And sometimes they kind of feel the same way about me as we have different views or different ways of handling the same thing. It could be that you find her tolerable as a band mate but you resolve you will never see her professionally nor recommend her to anyone. Sometimes people we hang with aren’t the most professional. I remember meeting a doc in a bar and deciding I would never, ever go to him for anything. I chatted with him because my husband knew him.

      She’s a new member so maybe she will not work out or maybe she will decide on her own to leave. That’s nothing I would hang all my hopes on though. It could be that she is just has an irritable personality and she gets irate with people, so they see what you already are aware of. This can play out in lots of ways.

      Meanwhile, you have a group that you value. Focus on the music. Focus on other members and let her find her own path.

      1. Doc in a Box*

        “I remember meeting a doc in a bar and deciding I would never, ever go to him for anything.”

        Oh boy. I hate to break it to you, but we doctors are just like everyone else — on our evenings off, we go to pub trivia nights and bars and the theater; some of us even go to (gasp) casinos! Unless there’s some other context here, like he was drinking on call or answering patient messages from the bar, this seems like a double-standard moral code (after all, you were at the bar too!)

        1. NotUsualComputer*

          I read Not So NewReader’s response not as their reaction was because they met the doc *in a bar*, as that they met the doc in a bar and the doc was an ass while they were chatting.

        2. Not So NewReader*

          My husband and I were in the bar also, so hopefully people can see this is not about going to a bar.

          He went on a gross sexist, racist rant that included telling gross stories about his patients. He was very disrespectful on top of the lack of confidentiality. I can’t repeat what he said. We both tried redirecting a couple times but to no avail. So my husband wrapped up the conversation and we left.

          1. Doc in a Box*

            Ew, yeah, breaking patient confidentiality is a hard no, not to mention being sexist and racist to boot!

    6. Anonymousy*

      Consider that you probably know even less about the other members of the group. Try to frame your contact with this person as just another person in the group, and move on from it. You’re not in a doctor-patient relationship, and she is ethically bound not to discuss her patients. From her point of view, you’re just another singer in the group. Try to reciprocate.

    7. Nita*

      I don’t think I’d be able to let it go entirely. Because they’re a doctor and presumably still seeing patients, and I hope they’ve improved in the last ten years but who knows. So I’d tell them that oh, that’s why their name sounds familiar, you’ve remembered them from a house call to your grandma three months before she died. And yeah, it was ten years ago but it’s just unforgettable because that very same week she was diagnosed, and you remember that time very vividly as a result. And I wouldn’t say anything about them being rude and dismissive of a terminally ill patient, but they can surely read between the lines of what you say at that point. If it makes them pause and think the next time they’re about to blow someone off, it’s worth it.

      1. Approval is optional*

        I honestly doubt they’d remember her grandmother after 10 years. Patients, and their families, remember doctors because they only see a few and/or because the circumstances were memorable. The doctors will see hundreds of patients a month: a patient they saw once, a decade ago, for what the doctor considered routine treatment, is unlikely to be remembered.
        This goes for all professions of course, but doctors are more likely to see us in circumstances we remember well than most other service providers.

      2. LilySparrow*

        The grandmother wasn’t known to be terminally ill at that point. She was, to all appearances, an elderly lady who had overdone herself shoveling snow and didn’t feel well as a result.

        Not that it’s okay for the doctor to be rude to anyone, but there’s no need to paint it worse than it really was. Sounds like she gave the advice/treatment that appeared to be appropriate with the information she had, but with a very poor bedside manner.

      3. Marthooh*

        Uh, saying “You know what you did ten years ago!” is not going to make that doctor a better person.

    8. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      I encourage you to get to know her a bit with this information in mind.

      People do have bad days as well as the fact they do indeed change.

      I had an awful experience with my pediatrician in my teens, he called me a liar to my face. Then when test results came back, he had to apologize to say the least. He was a bit on the crotchety side in general but he did have redeeming qualities, including being a good doctor in the long run.

      Then the family medicine doctor that my mother set me up with after I was too old for my pediatrician. She wasn’t a fan of him either but we kept going just because the office was convenient and he wasn’t bad, just another grouch it seemed. Abrupt and skeptical, never calling anyone a liar though so that was an upgrade in my opinion.

      But much to our surprise, after he switched practices, we followed him just to stay with what we knew despite the grouch factor. “Better the devil you know…” kicking in as well. He was actually so much more pleasant at that point! I don’t know if it was the other practice or just that he’d grown the heck up by that point but until his retirement recently, he was actually really decent. So I’d hate to have others write him off for his original bad attitude .

      So go in with open eyes. Know that she’s capable of being a jerk to a sick elderly woman but see how she interacts on a social level. She may be better now! She may have just been in a really bad spot, it doesn’t mean she’s a perma-monster. If she’s a crappy person like you feel like she is given your grandmother’s bad experience, she’ll show that to you and give you a fresh reason to be chilly AF to her if necessary!

    9. So Not The Boss Of Me*

      I would concentrate on what you don’t know, Nightingale.
      1.At that time, you don’t know what pressures/circumstances your choral mate was faced with. From a sick child/pet/SO/parent/self to problems at work/ relationship/choral group. (For example, my brother was weirdly very short/testy with bearded people when our bearded father was ill. Minutes later he would break down crying from guilt. Until he realized it was the beards he couldn’t stop.) From nothing to something horrible, you don’t know what the doc’s whole story was. Doctors are told they cannot let personal life color their work, but that is sometimes impossible.
      2. You don’t know what that doc has learned since then. Every good doc I’ve worked with has a story from their early days. Sometimes it’s like yours, sometimes it directly resulted in the patient’s death, anything in between. These docs carry that person with them the rest of their lives. When they speak of that time, they say the person’s name, work, family and other circumstances. It informs what they do every day after that. Your grandmother sounds like a person who would be glad for the service to be this doc’s story. And if she is, the doc got off lightly because the doc did not cause your gm’s death.
      I would pick a scenario like one of these things and believe that it’s reality. That way you can forgive the doc and move on. (Remember that forgiveness is done for the forgiver– it has nothing to do with the forgiven.)
      And besides, if you treat the person less well, you will be doing the same thing as the doc did to your gm–letting other factors keep you from doing your job (as a choral member). I hope it all works out well for you.

  12. Nicki Name*

    Happy first weekend of the new year! What’s your most unusual new year’s resolution?

    Mine is that I’m not going to change my schedule for daylight savings time. I’ve been reading about the health consequences of the time change for years. I’ve got flexible hours at work, so the only thing in my way is really just my tendency to go along with the crowd. No more!

    I’ll change my clocks, but I’ll just let my body adjust to the longer days on its own pace and see how it goes.

    1. Jenny T*

      I’ve challenged myself to eat 100 different fruits and vegetables! It’s been easy so far, but may get much much harder rapidly.

    2. Deranged Cubicle Owl*

      My new year’s resolution is to be more like Miss Nigeria (from miss world). I rarely follow anything about beauty pageants at all, but the clip where Miss Nigeria celebrated her competitors win of the Miss Universe title, brought a huge smile on my face.
      I want to be like that. Celebrating my friends win even when I don’t win it.

      Other resulations are: just trying to work on my stamina and health, keep practicing my music and keep focussing on my photography. Resolutions have to be reasonable ;-)

    3. Loopy*

      I never do resolutions but I think I found one I can keep: I will not buy a piece of clothing I can’t just throw in the dryer after washing, no matter how much I like it.

      This sounds silly but so many times, even after months of being diligent I end up messing up on a day I’m tired or in a rush and those dresses/sleeves, etc always end up shorter and I don’t wear the piece anymore anyway. I set myself up for failure!

    4. Jdc*

      I usually don’t really make any but this year it’s to kick some habits that I’m quite sure are making my health issues worse. Less caffeine, although I’ve already cut back a lot (gesh I’m craving a coffee just typing that), less drinking, less dairy (oh but how I love cheese) and much more yoga to help my knees. I work out but get lazy about yoga as I don’t find it as enjoyable but it really is worth it for my knees.

      Also to eat more veggies. I love veggies but with less fresh here due to cold weather I tend to eat less in the colder months.

    5. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      I don’t know that I have anything super unusual. Eat less, move more. I am tracking my reading this year, so we’ll see how that goes.

    6. Misty*

      My resolution for 2020 is to ‘let go of suffering.’

      I made a list of habits, relationships and patterns of behavior that I participate in that caused me unneeded suffering in 2019/2018. I am going to work on letting go of them or limiting their impact in my life.

      An example of this is that I have a casual friend who I find myself being extremely stressed around. I’m not going to cut them out of my life, but I am going to consider not hanging out with them outside of groups and not spending a lot of time alone with them or on the phone with them. I am pulling back slowly so that’s it’s not an abrupt change but I think it is a change that will benefit us both.

      Another thing that caused me some suffering in 2019 was online dating so this year I’m taking a break from trying to meet a special someone unless it happens naturally (aka without looking online).

      1. Lena Clare*

        I did this over the last year, gradually, and it’s made such a difference! Good luck with it :)

    7. Seeking Second Childhood*

      Nicki you’re my hero. I’ve been doing something like that with my lunch break but…maybe I’ll make it official if the stars get me out of my “go early to avoid traffic” commute!

    8. Amy Farrah Fowler*

      I work from home and have found that I don’t get out of my house as much as I’d like to, so I made a resolution to get out of the house at least 3x per week for something other than getting food. I think it will be really good for me and will also encourage me to explore new places and do new activities.

    9. Meepmeep*

      My challenge for the year is to learn to play boogie-woogie on the piano. I play classical music so this is going to be a fun change of pace.

    10. Pharmgirl*

      Crochet a temperature blanket! You crochet a row everyday, and the color you choose corresponds to the temperature for the day. I’m in New England so I’ll get a good range of temperatures over the year – it took me almost an hour to figure out the colors I wanted the order to put them. So far I’ve crocheted every day, and it’s looking great…but it’s only day 5 (of 366)! This is definitely the largest crochet project I’ve taken on, but I’m excited for the end result!

      1. Lau*

        I’ve always thought about this but only remember halfway into the new year!
        Maybe I’ll look at some colour schemes when I get home tonight.

        What yarn are you using?

  13. Red Sunglasses*

    For people who are unsure about having kids, how do you handle that on dating apps/when dating? On most dating apps I use, there’s a section for kids (if you have them, want them, don’t want them). I’ve just been selecting ‘Prefer to not say’ and it doesn’t show any bits about kids on my profile.

    A few years ago as my friends started getting pregnant, I realized I’m really unsure about kids. I definitely don’t want to have one alone so I thought ‘well, if I meet someone I want to marry, I’ll see how they feel and I’ll know if that feels right or wrong for me’.

    I know this isn’t first date conversation but nowadays, I understand people not wanting to waste their time especially on a hard non-negotiable like this. I’m just not sure how to properly communicate my un-sureness.

    1. Jdc*

      I used to be upfront on the first date. I don’t have time to waste and if a simple question about it scares someone off we aren’t on the same page anyway.

    2. Loopy*

      Maybe just be up front about not being sure at this point. My husband and I are both on the fence and have been for years. Neither seems to have moved one way or the other but I can appreciate his unsureness because I feel the same. I bet there are others out there who haven’t decided yet either.

    3. Dan*

      When I was on “the apps” (and their predecessors), I just pout “unsure”. Although, at this point, it’s been so long that I don’t remember what the options are/were.

      I’m actually fine with this as a first date topic. Some people are “hell yes”, others are “hell no”, and that’s important stuff to know ASAP. If someone’s on the “hell yes” train, TBH, I’d like to know sooner rather than later so that if I’m not really digging it/them, as little time gets wasted as possible. That said, “unsure” can mean all sorts of things. It can mean “unsure” literally. I2t can mean, “not a burning desire but I could see it with the right person”. In my case, it’s meant, “I don’t want them in the next two years and I’ve been saying that forever now.” I turned 40 last year, and I *still* say I don’t want them in the next two years. So if I’m really honest with myself, the answer is “unsure, but probably not.”

    4. Fikly*

      I think being unsure is a completely legit answer!

      But also be aware that meeting the right person and learning they feel will not necessarily mean that you will be less unsure!

    5. Teacher Lady*

      I’m now in my early 30s and married, but when I was dating in my early-to-mid-20s, “unsure” (not on apps though) was my actual answer to that question when it came up. For sure that answer probably closed some doors (for men who were certain, then and there, that they wanted kids), but I genuinely wasn’t certain at that time. I think honesty for this answer is your best bet. (As it happens, I ultimately landed on not wanting kids, so I don’t have the sense that I missed out on potential opportunities, so that may be the YMMV portion of this answer.)

    6. AnonEMoose*

      My DH told me on our second date that he was not interested in having kids. More than 20 years later, we’re still happily married, and just as happily childfree. He has told me in the years since that he knew he could get very serious about me, and if it turned out I really wanted kids, he wanted to be able to end things right away…better for both of us.

      So I’d be honest about being unsure. Or “unsure but leaning toward not” or whatever your feelings are. Personally, I think it should be much more culturally ok to be upfront about it early on…and that people wouldn’t assume that someone who says they don’t want kids will “change their mind” later on. Sometimes that happens, and that’s ok, too. But sometimes it doesn’t. I think it’s better to take people at their word from the beginning and decide accordingly as to whether to proceed further.

    7. carrie heffernan*

      I agree with those who say just be honest and up front. I remember on a dating profile putting that I didn’t want any kids and it was non-negotiable and then on a first date this dude told me he wanted to have more kids (he had one son from his first marriage). That date ended pretty quickly and I’m grateful I didn’t waste my time.

      1. AnonEMoose*

        Argh…if there is one thing that angers me more than the “you’ll change your mind/but HOW can you NOT WANT KIDS?” crowd…it’s the dudes who pay NO attention to what a woman says on the issue, and just assume she’ll want kids or will comply with what he wants, because he wants it. I’m glad you ended the date quickly and didn’t waste your time. I hope you gave him an earful in the process.

    8. Batgirl*

      I asked my fiance quite early why he had chosen ‘unsure’ on his dating profile and he said lots of women our age are done having kids and he was OK with that, but open to having kids.

      I would just put your cards out there as plainly as possible – you haven’t decided yet. People hell bent on a decided answer will pass over you (which is good) and the more flexible or similarly undecided will probably just ask you your thoughts.

  14. Jdc*

    Snowed a couple inches here last night. Just enough to cover the grass but not make the roads bad. Lovely. Just the kind of snow I love. It is a bit cold still outside. Trying to think of something to do today. The one enjoyable museum around here I would go to today but we have free passes for next week so waiting to save the $40. Wish there was more to do around here.

    1. Signal*

      We got a dusting of snow, too. My children made the smallest snowman I’ve ever seen.
      I enjoy walks (and runs) on cold, crisp days like today.

  15. Moop*

    I feel like friendship break ups are every bit as painful as romantic break ups yet people don’t talk much about the former.

    I met “Fiona” at a time of her life when she was new to the city. We hit it off quickly and saw each other often.

    After struggling for a long time Fiona finally found a job. Through here she established a new group of friends she didn’t have before. When I tried to contact her about catching up she was busy with one thing or another. When her birthday approached I texted again to offer to buy her lunch and asked where she wanted to go. She replied with a vague, “I’d love to do that! Definitely let’s meet some time.” Then silence. My birthday came and went and since her last text she has not contacted me at all.

    It finally dawned on me that Fiona had no interest in meeting me. I’ve reached a conclusion that my friendship was meaningful to her when she had no other options and needed support to through a certain stage in her life. I don’t think I’ve done anything to offend her or that she consciously decided to cut me out; but now that she has other things to do it’s like she can’t be bothered with me anymore.

    I feel very much like I’ve been dumped from a relationship: sad, angry, disappointed, confused.

    1. puffle*

      In some ways I think friendship breakups are worse precisely because people don’t talk about them. I always find it strange that there’s none of the sympathy from a friend breakup that you get with a romantic breakup- even though a friendship can span years and be just as meaningful in its own way as a romance.

      Anyway, this is my longwinded way of saying: friend breakups are horrible and I’m so sorry this has happened to you. Please be kind to yourself, this is a hard time to go through

    2. Anne*

      Oh that’s so hard. I’ve had that happen a couple of times and it never gets easier or more understandable. I generally hate trite quotes as they feel very dismissive, but I read somewhere “people are in your life for a reason, a season, or a lifetime” and I think it’s pretty accurate. We rarely have friends for an lifetime, and why or how they end can be for all kinds of reasons.

      I think the thing that makes them harder than romantic relationships is that we rarely if ever have the kind of “what is this relationship, where is it going, what do we both want?” or a “I need different things and need to move on” conversation that gives romantic relationships some closure.

      It sucks though and I’m sorry you’re going through it. There was a time when I didn’t have many friends and this would happen and I would just feel crushed and cry and wonder what was wrong with me. As time has passed, I’ve grown a larger group of friends and so when this happens (and it still does – I had two, I thought, very close friends I talked to daily or weekly for years just completely ghost me), it still hurts and is confusing, but I’ve been learning to realize it’s not me, it’s just how relationships are sometimes.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        Reason/season/life time has helped me so much with friends that have moved on.

        I tend to make myself think about the fact that I am only accountable for my actions and my own sincerity. OP, if you can, try to work toward a place of having warm memories of friendship. You have done nothing wrong by sincerely befriending a person. I think sincerity is a valuable trait to have. Keep that sincerity. While I miss some of my old friends, thinking of them makes me smile.

      2. So Not The Boss Of Me*

        I think you are onto something, Anne. Romantic relationships have break ups, often loudly so. Friendships tend to fade away. Interesting perspective. Thanks

    3. Raia*

      Having never been in a serious romantic relationship, the several friendship breakups I’ve had have been Awful, and again no one really talks about this! It made me afraid that I was being friends with people the wrong way, being too affectionate, clingy, etc when this is just a fact of life. People grow close and then far away, like seasons. It helps to have multiple really awesome friends – then when one leaves, it is not as crushing as there are other people to lean on. And definitely invest in the people who are similarly invested in you.

    4. Thankful for AAM*

      I kind of ghosted a friend. The part of this that really does not get talked about is how to break up with a friend. How do you do that? In a dating relationship, you have “the talk.” Should I have met with her to say, I just dont feel in like with you anymore? That feels unnecessarily confrontational. I think politely declining to get together is the right thing to do? For me, there was no reason, I just did not want to hang out anymore.

      1. Zona the Great*

        Yes I’ve gone this route as well. I’ve also told a friend straight out why it was ending (this was a 15-20 year friend). Sometimes we’re in each other’s lives at a certain point for a reason. Sometimes we outgrow friends quickly and other times it takes 15-20 years. Doesn’t make it easier. I agree they are worse than romantic breakups.

      2. Roseberriesmaybe*

        As someone who was ghosted by a friend, I would have preferred if she had straight up said that she didn’t want to hang out any more. I think it shows more respect for the friendship you had. It’s not confrontational, but honest, and doesn’t leave the other person wondering what happened

        1. Washi*

          I think it depends on the length of the friendship to me. I’ve only been ghosted twice – once by a friend I had known since 3rd grade, and once by a woman I had been friends with about 6 months. For my friend of 20+ years, I definitely would have preferred that she say something – I still kind of wonder if I offended her or if she’s ok or if she’s somehow just really busy and she’ll reappear? For my 6 month friend, while it did sting, I think her telling me point blank why she doesn’t want to see me anymore would have been even worse. I mean, I think it can be done in a kind but honest way, but also I can think if so many ways to bungle that conversation that I can see why people try to avoid having it at all.

        2. Avasarala*

          I frequently reevaluate friendships and sometimes that ends in a cooling down to a “sometimes” friend or “mostly text” friend or a “responds to texts slowly” friend. Sometimes it happens naturally as we grow apart. Sometimes it’s because they’re flaky or selfish or overly critical or whiny. Would you prefer to be told that honestly? “Sorry I don’t want to hang out as much because you’re too whiny.” How do you recover from that without blowing up the friendship? I don’t think people actually want their perceived faults told to their face.

    5. Washi*

      I got married fairly young, and have never felt like I’ve missed out on any of the excitement of dating, since I feel like I get practically the same thing from my friendships. Having a crush, asking the person out on a “date”, trying to figure out if they’re as into you as you are into them, the first time you cry in front of them, the first time you say I love you, the first time you argue, being ghosted, breaking up entirely…I feel like I’ve gotten just as many of the highs and lows as when I was dating.

      And yet, as other commenters have referenced, there’s so much less discussion about friendships compared to romantic relationships. In some ways, my relationship with my husband has been the easiest one in my life because it is expected that we will explicitly talk about what we want, what bothers us, what we expect of each other, where we think this is going, etc, and it can feel weird to do that with a friend. So you’re kind of bumbling along, doing your best to read each other’s cues, and when it doesn’t work out, it often tapers rather than ending sharply, like a romantic relationship usually would. I’ve been ghosted and been very hurt by it, and I’ve ghosted acquaintances as well, because in choosing the usual step of declining to make plans felt kinder than taking the unusual step of having conversation about why I don’t like them.

      I’m so sorry you’re going through this, but I’m glad you posted, because I wish friendship’s role in our lives were taken more seriously.

    6. Jackalope*

      I hear you. Friendships just aren’t taken very seriously in our society and this makes me very upset sometimes. I had an experience similar to yours not that long ago. I became friends with someone who for various reasons was needing a new person in her life. Things went swimmingly for a few months and then she didn’t need the friendship anymore and just….stopped getting together with me. I kept trying for awhile and finally figured out that she wasn’t interested. (My last comment to her was, “If you’d ever like to get together I’d love to; just text me.” Over a year ago, and… crickets.) I ran into her recently and realized that I didn’t care that much anymore, and I have a good friend base here so I was okay without her, but it was so painful when I first had that realization that she wasn’t interested. So I sympathize!

  16. Akcipitrokulo*

    Lang may yer lum reek everyone!

    At Irn Bru carnical. It is mobbed! Kids are having a great time :)

  17. Reader in ND*

    I’m interested in the idea of marriage where you don’t live with your spouse. I believe it’s called Living Apart Together. The reasoning is that at some point, when our parents are gone and we need to start relying on each other to make health care decisions, etc. well, you need to be a spouse and not just a boyfriend to do that. And we’re set in our ways and I’m not sure we could live with each other and stay together (we’d drive each other away because I couldn’t stand to watch all his bad health habits and he’s soooo introverted that he likes to be alone and even though he loves me, he wouldn’t want to live with me). Has anyone tried this or have resources that they can point me to so I can learn more? Thanks in advance for any advice, tidbits, personal experiences, things to think about….

    1. Countess Boochie Flagrante*

      Oh, hey, I didn’t realize this was actually a thing! I was just saying to my friends a little while ago that my ideal of a committed relationship would be something like… married but we just live next door to each other, because I’m protective of my personal space and don’t like the thought of sharing a home with someone.

      Thanks for bringing it up here! I’ll keep an eye on this thread.

      1. Reader in ND*

        There are some famous actors that live next door to each other and I think it might be more popular in Europe, but it is appealing. You’d get all the legal benefits of being married but wouldn’t have to change the way you live in your own house. I think everyone I know would think it’s very weird, so explaining the situation would likely become a chore really quickly. That’s one aspect I’m interested in – how do you explain this to friends, tax preparers, etc.

      2. tangerineRose*

        “married but we just live next door to each other” This sounds ideal to me, too. Or maybe share a duplex. As far as explaining it, maybe “We get along better when we each have our own space” ?

      3. Free Meerkats*

        I’ve often said the ideal living situation for me would be a ranch-style triplex. Install doors between the units. She had one end, I have the other, and we share the center one. Neither wife has agreed with me.

    2. Lore*

      My partner and I have been together 10+ years and we have this conversation all the time—we both lived alone for a decade before we met and we have very different living habits and needs. The big obstacle right now is that we live about an hour apart by public transport (no cars) and it’s too far to be each other’s every day support system for basic stuff like picking stuff up at the store or remembering what brand of shampoo is the other’s favorite. I had a possible medical emergency the other night and he dropped everything to come over but that took an hour and a half and if it had gotten worse that might have been too long. But our finances are such right now that both moving into separate new places that are close together seems unrealistic (plus high COL city and we both have currently affordable but not shareable—for us—spaces for different reasons)… so we’re a little stuck. We could probably share a house but that means moving to another location almost certainly and that’s a whole other discussion. Probably one of us should move to
      the other’s area of town but that probably means me moving because my area is crazy unaffordable right now, and I love my area. It’s a pickle.

    3. Not Sayin'*

      Terry Gross (NPR) wrote a piece years ago about how her long time boyfriend, with whom she was not living, had a health crisis. Although they knew the doctor and therefore she was granted access to him in the hospital, it awakened the awareness of just what you suggested. They married, he recovered, and they returned to their respective apartments, still married, still committed, but still living apart.

      I was in a 25-year relationship with a man I Could. Not. Live. With. We talked on the phone daily, and spent weekends, vacations and holidays together. We broke up twice during those years — both times we were trying to live (unsuccessfully) together. We weren’t legally married, but it was a long term, monogamous, committed relationship. We knew ourselves and each other, and devised a way to make it work.

      It’s a thing. There’s nothing wrong with it. If it works for you, and you’re both in agreement, go for it. I will tell you, though, that our friends scratched their heads over us, and my mom had more than one “what are your intentions” conversation with my guy.

    4. Perstephanie*

      There was a really interesting article in the Globe and Mail recently: Do a Google search for “The New Reality of Dating Over 65.”

      1. Reader in ND*

        That was an interesting article. We are not that old (37 & 44) and I think I’m more apt to want to live together than he would be but it was very interesting to see the shift that is happening. I just read a book about being female (and I cannot remember the title now) where females do most of the emotional and caretaking work of remembering to buy the birthday cards and checking in on the frail aunt, so I can see where in this day and age some women are like “I’m done coordinating that for someone else” (hubby’s side of family) so they are choosing to remain single.

    5. Not A Manager*

      The New York Time Modern Love column had a story about that. Since I was binge reading it, I have no idea whether it was recent or not, but I think not. The couple were living in different flats in the same building.

      I know several divorced couples who have gotten back together but not moved back in. They are not “dating” or “working on things” or whatever. They’re in a committed, monogamous relationship, but they don’t live together. They say that it gives them space and that they are more present and mindful when they are together.

    6. NicoleK*

      DH and I are married and we reside in the same house. However, we have separate bedrooms and spend most of the time apart. He has his own space in the basement while I occupy the main level of the house. I’ve often joked about buying a side by side duplex. Our arrangement is strange some people, but it works for us.

    7. zora*

      Don’t have any resources, but this is not as uncommon as you’d think!
      I know a couple who married and lived together for a while but were seriously considering divorce. In their 50s (I believe) she decided they could only stay together if they lived apart, so they found a duplex and they each live in their own part of the duplex. Last I was in touch they were still together while living apart. If it sounds like it would be the best for you, go for it!

    8. Squidhead*

      If your concern is more pragmatic (about health care decisions if one of you couldn’t make your needs known) than romantic (and formalizing your feelings about each other) …you don’t *have* to get married. In the US, at least, you can name a person to act as your health care proxy (makes health decisions in your interest), a power of attorney (can handle your legal/financial affairs) etc… It would be worth consulting a lawyer or seeking out a free clinic (try senior centers or libraries) to define the exact terms of the documents you would need. The next step would be letting others in your family/circle know that you have made this decision and where the papers are. Lots of people appoint a HCP who isn’t a family member, so it shouldn’t be too surprising to your healthcare providers.

    9. MOAS*

      Not the same thing but we do have separate bedrooms. which I’m sure is considered odd to many people. It’s just what works for us. When I get to know someone I’ll mention it eventually but not casually.

  18. Come On Eileen*

    Anyone here take Lexapro for seasonal depression? My doc prescribed it for me two weeks ago – this time of year is hard for me and I do a lot in my own trying to combat it (SAD light, vitamin D, exercise, etc). I originally asked for Wellbutrin because I know several people who have had success with it. However, because I do have some anxiety, my doc said Lexapro is more suited to me. Lexapro is supposed to take 6-8 weeks to really feel full effects so I probably should have reached out and asked for something earlier than now, but I’m wondering if any of you have found relief with it.

    1. Fikly*

      I take lexapro (30mg) year round for year round depression. I’ve been on it for, hmm, 6-7 years now?

      It did take time for me to notice it, and it also sort of snuck up on me. One day I just sort of noticed that things were less hard.

      Are you tapering up a dose? Often you need to start low and build up to help avoid side effects, and so you won’t feel it help much until you get to a higher dose.

    2. Owl*

      Yes, I take it for anxiety and depression, but my depression is mostly seasonal. I use a sun lamp with the Lexapro.

    3. Lexaho*

      I also take Lexapro – I’ve been on 20mg for a year now. Like Fikly said below, it definitely takes some time for it to start taking effect. I did 10 mg for a month and that was not enough for me so we upped the dose. I find it to be very “smooth” in effect and I haven’t had the negative side effects I’ve had with other antidepressants. I have to say that it has really helped me a lot with both my anxiety and depression. I’ve taken Wellbutrin in the past and find Lexapro to be significantly better for me. 2 weeks isn’t much time at all!

  19. Loopy*

    Random question that Google seems stumped over:

    I’m using these great Fisherman’s Friend throat lozenges for a cough I’m getting over. It seems to be getting better but slowly. The package says do not use for more than two days at a time. I can’t find a reason. If it’s just because generally you should get it checked out after two days- well, mine is improving so I’m not terribly worried but if there are consequences or side effects of prolonged use- I can’t find them!

    Why would something like a throat lozenge have such a short usage window?

    1. Ali G*

      If there are no ingredients that are obviously problematic, I would bet it’s because they don’t want liability if the use of the product is masking a problem that needs medical intervention.

      1. WellRed*

        +1. Most of these warnings are CYA, not hard and fast medical advice. I suppose you could ask a pharmacist.

    2. Reader in ND*

      I’m NOT a medical professional and this is kind of speculation, but I think my grandma overused cough drops once. She was diabetic and she was using them a lot so I think the problem was that she ended up swallowing a bunch of phlegm and that caused a problem OR they were not sugar free and that messed up her diabetes. So the docs told her to stop using them so much. So maybe it’s just a general warning to not overuse them?

    3. VlookupsAreMyLife*

      The one I love (Cold-Eze) has zinc in it, so you’ve gotta be careful not to take too much. Otherwise, I’m not sure why plain old cough drops would be an issue, especially if you don’t have glucose issues.

    4. Countess Boochie Flagrante*

      I don’t know about Fisherman’s Friend specifically, but the cough drops I tend to use in the winter have a similar warning not to take too many, and it’s because there’s an ingredient that can give you mild digestive upset if you eat like 10+ in a day. I wonder if it’s something similar?

      1. AcademiaNut*

        Sugar free ones tend to use artificial sweeteners like xylitol or sorbitol, which can cause diarrhea if you take too much. I’m particularly sensitive to xylitol, so I avoid sugar free candies and gum completely – I don’t need to spend an hour in the bathroom after half a package of gum.

    5. Foreign Octopus*

      Cough lozenges tends to be a diuretic when too many are taken. I found that out the hard when I ate a whole pack of peach Soothers when I was a teen. I spent a lot of time in the bathroom that day. It won’t do anything horrible to you if you swallow the whole packet but your stomach won’t thank you for it.

    6. Not So NewReader*

      The active ingredient is menthol. According to poison control menthol can cause irritation in small amounts and sever larger symptoms in large amounts. Apparently there is some evidence that menthol causes more inflammation.

      From: poison dot org “can menthol have harmful effects?”

      Another website mentioned seizure/coma/death. ugh!

      I have drifted away from menthol over the years. I did not know why. I guess my body got tired of it? I seem to be liking lemon flavored drops now.

      1. Anono-me*

        I find that after a while the menthol ones irritate my throat. I prefer the ones with fruit pectin

    7. tink*

      It’s probably the ingredients. FF’s got menthol & eucalyptus oil in them, iirc, and there is a max dosage for both those (granted, you’d basically have to be shoving them in like candy, so it’s probably mostly a CYA).

  20. Anne*

    I just ended an 18 year relationship yesterday. I’m sad but I knew I had to do it. The part I’m most worried about is what my partner will do next, where he will go and how he will take care of himself. I want to be kind and I’m not kicking him out or anything like that, but he doesn’t have a lot of financial resources, his own home is falling apart and in a dangerous part of town, and he has diabetes. I know he’s a grown-up and will just need to figure his own things out, but I’m worried. I don’t really know what I’m asking, this is the first relationship I’ve ended (only the second relationship I’ve ever been in) and I don’t know what to do next.

    1. Dan*

      I’m sorry to hear that. Even when you know it’s coming, it’s still not easy. To your question: Do next in what sense? How literal are we talking here? When I left my ex, I saw it coming for awhile, the only real question was when and “how”. But the day she actually left was still a bit of a shell shocker, so I get it. She was also in a not-dissimilar position than your ex, e.g., of limited limited financial resources.

      So for you, in the literal sense? Get out of bed. Go to work. Keep the paycheck coming. The important thing, though, is to take care of yourself. Now that you’re single again, you can do what you want for you without having to worry about others. Make the most of it.

      P.S. Keeping the ex around is going to make moving on more complicated.

      1. Anne*

        Our place is mine, so he will be the one who needs to find his own space. I just don’t know how to balance my worry for them and wanting to help with giving them space to figure out things on their own and not getting myself financially involved. I feel terrible even writing this – I hate thinking they’re going to go back to an awful, unsafe living space, they’ll eat junk because I’m the one who cooks for us…

        I’m doing ok at the moment I think. Like you, I knew this was coming for a long time, I just had to finally do it.

        1. Dan*

          To be blunt, he isn’t your problem to worry about anymore. My ex was/is in a similar position, so I completely get it. But… you just can’t worry. Not your problem. What did I do? I paid the ex to go away… signed over a car that was brand new when *I* bought it (she didn’t want to work) and gave her a few grand to get set up while she moved on with life. TBH, I think she blew it all partying before she moved out of town penniless. (I remember my ex-BIL saying something about having to Western Union her gas money or something. Um, I certainly had given her enough for literal gas money.) Again, *not my problem anymore.*

          It’s a harsh position to take, but adults who don’t want to act like adults don’t belong in adult relationships, and that’s nothing to feel to guilty over. My ex is 38 and we split five years ago. She never had a stable work history, and while I don’t keep in touch with her anymore, I don’t expect that that has changed. Her life can’t be fun, but she made choices she has to live with.

          1. Pennalynn Lott*

            “Adults who don’t want to act like adults don’t belong in adult relationships.”


          2. Anne*

            I’m sorry you went through something similar. It’s hard to get over the inate need to want to help, and feeling some people get dealt a crappy life hand, especially when it feels like I’m the one who caused part of the pain…but also that we all have choices in how to be a grown-up.

            1. Dan*

              Thanks. While what I write about the topic likely seems callous, I didn’t get there easily. People in my circle who knew me then wouldn’t recognize that attitude from me now. Hey, I married that person for a reason, right? Of course some guilt and what not was par for the course.

              As for you *causing* the pain… sure, you may have made some decisions recently that had an adverse affect on your former partner, and I think it’s fair to have some empathy over that. It’s hard not too. But is it on you to mitigate that pain? No. Breakups are par for the course, especially if you never married. You just have an obligation to not be any more crueler than necessary. TBH, the older I get, the more I believe that if a person can’t handle a breakup, they shouldn’t be dating/in a relationship. That’s essentially holding the partner hostage, and not fair to them.

              1. tri fold brochure*

                OMFG. THIS IS UTTERLY BEYOND BRILLIANT: if a person can’t handle a breakup, they shouldn’t be dating/in a relationship.

    2. Wishing You Well*

      I’m sorry you’re going through this. Since you ended things yesterday, your emotions might be very raw and ‘unprocessed’ even though you knew it was coming for a long time. It’s okay and normal to be in this stage. It will take time to get your balance back. You might be thinking in catastrophic terms which is typical with life changes, but your worst worries are very unlikely to happen.
      You’ll get through this. Internet hugs, if you want them.

      1. Anne*

        Thank you. The other thing that makes this hard (and why I’m glad this forum exists) is that I’m not ready to tell anyone else about this yet. So I needed to get it out in the world both so I don’t go back and for the support until I can bring myself to use my support system.

    3. Not A Manager*

      This is not the time to make firm plans, and it’s CERTAINLY not the time for you to make any commitments. I suggest that you say to yourself, and to him, “this is going to be a big adjustment for both of us. Let’s play everything by ear for two weeks and then we’ll meet up and talk about how we’re going to untangle everything.”

      The danger right now is that you feel so guilty and concerned and invested that you impulsively make commitments that might not be wise for either of you. If you can respond to your own well-meaning concern by telling yourself, “if this thoughtful gesture still makes sense in two weeks, then that will be part of the plan,” then you can stop yourself from making the offer right at the time.

      Also, I agree with Dan that your money is better than your time or your real estate. If you have the resources, help him transition with a monthly food delivery for three months, or by making a list of super necessary home repairs and helping with some of them, or by arranging a visiting nurse to check his health status. Do not help him by letting him “stay as long as he needs to,” or thinking that you have to bring him meals, etc.

      1. Anne*

        Thank you…I think I needed to hear both that nothing has to change tomorrow, but also don’t let this drag out (which I would be inclined to do).

        1. valentine*

          making a list of super necessary home repairs and helping with some of them, or by arranging a visiting nurse to check his health status.
          This is too much work and keeps you entangled. A bright line will help you here. He has a home to return to, that he’s kept for some time, so, he won’t be homeless and it’s not condemned, yeah, just not as nice as you think he deserves? Give him an exit date. Two weeks? Definitely less than a month, unless he has legal rights to a particular eviction period. But pull back and leave him to it. I don’t think it’s good when people don’t separate physically and so the breakup’s in slow motion because it’s not just your space again yet, so you’re in limbo, waiting to unleash.

          Take the urge to take care of him and turn it inward. Ask yourself whether concerns about his food and safety are projections. Are you worried you’ll cook less when it’s just for you, or that you won’t feel safe living alone? Look after yourself really well. Treat yourself the way you treat loved ones.

    4. Zona the Great*

      Coming from someone who just got blindsided by an end to our 5 year relationship, the kindest thing you can do is let him go and stay away. Don’t respond to him when he’s in despair, don’t agree to meet up, don’t try and help.

      1. Anne*

        I’m so very sorry you’re going through that, and thank you for your perspective on the other side of things.

    5. LibbyG*

      Lots of wisdom here already. I would just add that you’re allowed to feel whatever you feel in the wake of the break up. Even as the initiator and the one with more resources of various kinds, your primary obligation is to take care of your own needs as the ever changing mix of grief, elation, sympathy, resentment, fear, relief or whatever washes over you in the coming weeks and months.

      Your post makes me envision someone who might say to themselves, “Ex has it so much harder; It’s not for me to feel [blank].” I hope you can direct your ample kindness toward yourself in the wake of this loss.

    6. Kanon*

      I just wanted to say I admire your strength. I am considering ending a nearly 20 year marriage and part of my waiting is “what will he do” and “how will he take care of himself”. The reality is that he won’t do anything and won’t take care of himself but I need to focus on my and our child.

      1. Anne*

        It’s so very easy to just keep going along because things are ok, they’re fine, maybe we’ll have a fight next month that will be the breaking point and I can do it then… Just know I understand how hard it is to finally say the words. There’s no good moment. Sending strength to you.

  21. Sarah*

    I need help with my cat who has started peeing outside of her litter box. We bought her a new litter box and still have the old one upstairs. They are cleaned regularly. We’ve tried different litter (although only two types). She tends to pee on clothes or plastic bags that get left on the floor. She is about 2 and not fixed (she came from a litter of barn kittens but has been inside only. We keep meaning to, but haven’t had the money when we’ve had the time).

    Has anyone successfully retrained their cat to pee in the litter box? Will getting her fixed help?

    1. Ali G*

      That sounds like a UTI and yes getting her fixed will help. She needs to go to the vet to prevent the infection from getting worse. She is peeing on soft surfaces because it hurts when she goes.

    2. Foreign Octopus*

      The times that my cat peed outside the litter box was when she was sick. I’d recommend getting her fixed (but only because I believe all domesticated pets should be fixed for their own health as going through heat with no outlet is awful) but also cleaning anything and everything that she’s peed on. I know you say clothes and plastic bags but if there’s any furniture she’s peed on, clean that; I’ve found that the smell generally makes them want to pee their again. Maybe she’s also telling you where she prefers to pee. My cat is very particular about her location so maybe try shifting the litter box to her most peed-in spot.

      If it continues, I think a vet visit is definitely in order.

    3. Countess Boochie Flagrante*

      Something I did when my last cat was unwilling to use the box was to put down cheap towels (specifically purchased for this use and no other) around the litter box for her to go on, with plastic sheeting underneath to protect the floor. It kept her staying at least in the vicinity of the litterbox and I think helped to keep the litterbox concept alive in her head.

      Definitely talk to your vet. Refusing to use the box is often indicative of health issues of some kind.

    4. Max Kitty*

      As said, probably a urinary tract infection. Get her to the vet.

      As for the spaying, ask the vet for low-cost or no-cost resources. Groups I have volunteered for did clinics that accepted owned cats as well as ferals.

    5. puffle*

      My cat started doing this, a trip to the vet revealed that she had cystitis. The vet said that cats will often pee outside their litter box when they’re not well because they know it will get our attention- it’s a way of saying “I need some help here!”

      As soon as we started my cat on medication and she started feeling better she went back to using her box as normal

      1. Anonymousy*

        Sometimes stepping over the edge is painful when something’s going on up in there, too.

    6. Anonymatic Yo-Yo*

      Is she peeing more frequently, but with a lot less output? Our girl with the UTI kept it in the box but she was running in there like every 15 minutes to a half hour.

      But she was definitely litter trained at one time, right? This isn’t a case of a barn cat who was removed from Mom Cat too early and never learned How To Cat?

      1. Sarah*

        Yes, she was using the litter box for quite a while. I hadn’t even thought of a UTI since I had a previous (male) cat who had a really obvious one (was meowing in pain and peed in tiny drips).

        I have definitely been following her around with the spray bottle that’s supposed to eliminate odors.

        I will happily get her a vet appointment and hope that resolves it.

        I had looked into low cost spaying, but they’re a 2 hour drive from me and only during work hours with a long waiting list. I do plan on getting her spayed, and life circumstances are such that I should be able to do so relatively soon.

        1. tangerineRose*

          I’m glad you’ll be able to get her “fixed” soon – this will make her life easier as well as your life.

    7. cat socks*

      Get her spayed as soon as possible. While she is at the vet for the spay, see if they can do a urinalysis to determine if she has a UTI or cystitis.

      When a cat has health issues they can associate the pain with the litter box so they will go elsewhere.

    8. The Doctor is In*

      Some cats pee on everything when they are in heat. And stay in heat till pregnant or fixed.

    9. That Girl from Quinn's House*

      My friend has a cat with feline urinary syndrome, which is basically chronic kidney stones for cats, and this is how her flares manifest. They go potty outside the box because Cat Logic says that if it hurts to go potty in the box, it must be the box’s fault and the box should Be Avoided.

      This is really easy to diagnose, because the crystals are visible to the human eye and the vet will see them right away if that’s what’s causing the problem. The treatment is easy, just extra fluids and kibble with special vitamins.

    10. Snarflepants*

      Adding my voice to “Your cat needs to go to the vet to be spayed and checked for a urinary tract infection.” It’s your cheapest option and the best one for your cat. If money is a factor, many animal rescue groups or The City offer free spay/neuter programs.

    11. pcake*

      Yes, it does sound like a UTI – my first guess – or the start of kidney disease or diabetes. I’ve also seen sick cats or cats on medication pee outside the box because of the odd smell of their urine. You cat should be taken to a competent vet asap.

  22. Aurora Leigh*

    You all are the best at diplomatic wording!

    My wedding is coming up in May and one of my bridesmaids has a LOT going on in her life right now, and will also be about 8 1/2 months pregnant at that point.

    Should I offer her the option to bow out? If so, how should I word it?

    For context, the only thing extra I’m asking/expecting of the wedding party is the wedding rehearsal and doing pictures before the ceremony. But I don’t want to add any stress to her life or make her feel stuck since she said yes before a lot of things changed for her.

    Thanks all!

    1. WellRed*

      Well this is a refreshing change from bridezillas who get personally offended when a bridesmaid gets pregnant. Talk to your friend. Tell her your thrilled to have her as a bridesmaid but understand she’s got a lot on her plate. The pregnancy alone is reason enough to bow out, if she wants. She could be physically unable or go into labor once the wedding rolls around. Be OK with whatever she decides.

    2. Reader in ND*

      I just heard something about this on Awesome Etiquette (I’m 85% sure it was there). The suggestion was to tell them you’d love them to be involved in your wedding and ask if they’d like to be a bridesmaid, do a reading, cut the cake, etc. So basically express your desire that they share your special day but let them choose the level of involvement, cost, physical activity, etc. and let one of her answers be “I’m sorry but I can’t commit to anything because I might have given birth at that point”.

    3. HBJ*

      I don’t think you ahould ask at all. If she needs to bow out, she will. But there’s no reason to assume she might want to, just because she’s pregnant. Your expectations are reasonable (you shouldn’t be expecting anyone, regardless of pregnancy, to make decorations, run errands, address invitations, etc. unless they offer), just make sure there are chairs around so she can sit for a minute.

    4. Nita*

      Maybe just tell her that if at any point she’s tired/stressed/overwhelmed and wants to just enjoy the wedding without bridesmaid obligations, she can tell you. Maybe she’s still up to this, but it’s also possible she’s thinking it’s too much but doesn’t know how to bring it up.

    5. Not the Famous Actress*

      When I asked my childhood best friend to be in our wedding, she told me she was pregnant! I literally said “I happy for you to do whatever you feel comfortable with – a reading, walk down the aisle and sit with my mom, walk down the aisle and stand up, or nothing at all. I want you to be a part of it, but I totally understand whatever you’re most comfortable with – even if something changes the hour of!” She wanted to be in it! I did choose bridesmaids’ skirts rather than dresses to easily accommodate the baby bump, and they all chose from different tops to suit their specific tastes or body shape so she wouldn’t feel like she was the only different one. She was 36 weeks pregnant in the wedding, and gave birth two weeks later!

    6. LilySparrow*

      “Hey, I just wanted to let you know, I am really happy you said yes to being a bridesmaid, but I realize a lot has changed for you since then.

      I don’t want to put any stress on you, so if you ever feel like being in the wedding is too much, just say so, okay? I won’t be offended, I just want you to be happy and well.”

    7. Jemima Bond*

      I think it would be nice of you to give her the option to gracefully bow out as I don’t think she would necessarily say so if she felt it would be too much, not wanting to let you down.
      I’d have a chat with her and ask about how she is feeling health-wise, give her the opportunity to tell you if she’s been feeling really sick, tired, worried about being a good parent etc. so she knows it matters to you how she feels. Then you could say something along the lines of, “listen I really want you as my bridesmaid but you’re going to be very pregnant on the day and I don’t want to stress you out or tire you out when you‘ve already got plenty to deal with. So if it’d be a relief not to have to do the bridesmaid thing, please know I won’t be at all offended! I absolutely don’t want to push you out, pardon the pun, but I thought it’s possible you’ve got enough going on without this, and just want you to be happy too on my wedding day! And not have to stand up half the day when you are great with child lol. But if you are still up for it let’s look for bridesmaid dresses with a lovely bump-flattering style option, and flat shoes!”

      1. Not enough coffee*

        FWIW I was 9 months pregnant at my brother’s wedding. I was due 2 days after his wedding. I was his best (wo)man.

        I bought a dress from David’s bridal 2 sizes up from my normal size and didn’t get it hemmed. Worked really all all things considered. And as it happened baby was 8 days late ;).

    1. Amity*

      “Wallace, let’s talk about your mother…”

      “I may need a different therapist for that subject mom.”

      1. StellaBella*

        “Well, doc, I am anxious and I need some words to use to tell my boss I need a raise. My partner and I just had 9 kittens.”

    2. Nervous Nellie*

      I was thinking just that! To me the kitty on the couch looks like Lucy from the Peanuts – “The doctor is IN”. LOL.

  23. The Scrivener*

    The new Little Women movie — worth seeing? I loved the book as a child and vividly remember the 1994 movie with Winona Ryder and Christian Bale (I was 10 at the time; developed a massive crush on Christian Bale!) as a cultural touchstone.

    I’ve heard this new one has a framestory about Jo/Louisa May Alcott trying to publish her autobiographical novel and publishers telling her to make it “spicy.” Which is so ironic because LMA preferred to write potboiler Gothic romances, couldn’t find an audience (“A Long and Fatal Love Chase” wasn’t published till 1995!) because publishers wanted domestic fiction for Victorian girls instead — hence, “Little Women” and its sequels.

    1. annakarina1*

      I recommend it, I thought it was really fresh and interesting, and while Jo is still the main star, Amy gets a lot more character development as well.

      It does have a framework based on LMA’s real struggle to get the book published, and there is a great scene with the publisher that is influenced from her real life in terms of negotiations.

      I also saw the 1994 movie as a kid, but thought Eric Stoltz was cute, I felt like he got overshadowed by Bale and Byrne. (shrugs)

    2. Morning reader*

      Yes, especially if you loved the book. I saw it recently and generally enjoyed it, but my impression was that it would only be especially enjoyable to people extremely familiar with the story. The movie presents it out of chronological order and as I haven’t read it in about 50 years, I had trouble figuring out what was going on about half the time. It was virtually plotless. Beautifully filmed and the actors are of course lovely. I think they changed some things so they made even less sense. Example: old Aunt March advises Amy to marry well so she can have money and be the support for her family. But why wasn’t rich Aunt March the support for this family…. Amy should support her sisters and their poor husbands and her parents, but auntie does nothing for her brother and his wife and children while they suffer through having to re-use buttons? (genteel poverty was not accurately portrayed.)
      So… don’t see it for the plot or accuracy to the book. But enjoy the lush cinematography and the character portrayals.

      1. AcademiaNut*

        The March family used to be quite well off, but Mr March lost the family’s money trying to “help an unfortunate friend”. Aunt March offered to adopt one of the girls, but the family refused. She later hired Jo to work for her, and then helped educate Amy. She also gave the family money when really needed it – they had to ask her for money when Mr March fell ill, because they couldn’t afford for Mrs March to go nurse him. And she leaves Plumfield to Jo.

        Amy does marry well, but she doesn’t support her siblings in day to day life – Meg still has a modest life with her family, Jo and Professor Bhaer run their school. What she would have is the ability to help out in an emergency, and the resources to take in her mother and any unmarried siblings if her father died, which is pretty much what Aunt March was willing to do – be the equivalent of a social safety net for her family.

      2. Alexandra Lynch*

        I think modern people would be surprised how much clothing was recycled in even middle-class families. The primary sources I read talk blithely about ripping a dress down to its pieces, taking off all the trims and ironing them and otherwise getting them ready to reuse, and making other garments out of them. If you had an expensive set of buttons, well, yeah. You take them off that dress and put them on your new “good dress”.

        I don’t remember what Aunt March was doing or not doing, but I suspect that she felt that visits that exposed her nieces to a good life would inspire them to want that life and work for it. Of course, this also means she doesn’t have to spend any money. (wry grin)

    3. NB*

      I loved it. I was initially reluctant for the same reasons as you. Also, my daughter and I are reading it together in preparation for a book discussion at the library. But I heard someone on Pop Culture Happy Hour say, “for all you moms who are waiting to see the movie, because you haven’t finished the book with your daughter yet–don’t wait. Just go see it.”

      So we went. And we really really liked it.

    4. Fellow Traveler*

      I just saw it yesterday and I enjoyed it- it was a beautiful movie, emotionally and visually. I do wonder, though, given the flashback framework, how clear the narrative is for people who aren’t familiar with the story. Little Women was one of my favorite books growing up so I’m always interested in seeing adaptations. I don’t know that I loved it as much as other people- there are definitely things that struck me as anachronistic in the language and some of the characters seemed, “off” for me, like they were mostly there as a plot point and not really deep. However, I appreciate how Gerwig tackled themes in the books that would seem problematic today, namely the marriage plot and the glorification of domestic life. Even though the source material is the same, this movie is clearly telling a very different story than the 1994 movie, so perhaps it is a little unfair to compare them. The 1994 movie was one of my favorite movies for a long time, but then again, I saw it when I was young and romantic, and had less issues with the idea of the marriage plot.

    5. AcademiaNut*

      It’s not showing where I live, so I’m going to have to wait for the DVD. But the reviews all sound really promising – it sounds like the director really loves the books and understands their spirit. Alcott’s life and its relationship to the books is fascinating – Little Women shows a gentled and idealized version of what she grew up with (her poverty was a lot less gentille, and her father a lot more crackpot.

      1. AnonEMoose*

        It is…and if nothing else, it’s a powerful illustration that this stuff is not new. We just have different names for it now, and there’s some recognition that it’s not ok.

  24. Foreign Octopus*

    Baking advice, please!

    I’m making my mum’s birthday cake next week and it calls for buttermilk in the recipe. Since I can’t get that where I live the recipe says I can substitute it with milk that’s been thickened with white wine vinegar. However, I also can’t get the vinegar. Would lemon juice work to thicken the milk instead?

    1. Kuododi*

      Actually, white wine vinegar isn’t necessary if it is complicating things. I typically use plain white vinegar without issues. I’ve heard about the lemon juice trick but haven’t tried it myself. I’d suggest a trial run first with the lemon. That way if it doesn’t work there’s not been a huge outlay of time and $$$. Best of luck.

      1. PhyllisB*

        If you use lemon juice, make sure you are using WHOLE milk. Low fat milk won’t clabber right.

    2. Parenthetically*

      Literally any acid will work! Plain vinegar or vinegar of any kind, lemon juice, whatever.

    3. Elspeth Mcgillicuddy*

      Do you have yogurt? It has the tang and enzymes of buttermilk so makes a good sub. I’d probably use half milk, half yogurt so it isn’t too thick.

      You can’t get any vinegar where you live?! You don’t need white wine vinegar, apple cider or plain white vinegar work too.

      1. Foreign Octopus*

        Honestly, the lack of vinegar is a huge issue! I like to make my own chips and am the sort of person who likes them drenched in vinegar but I ran out six months ago and haven’t been able to find it for love nor money in my area. I can get apple vinegar that I use for slow cooking meat but malt vinegar or even white vinegar of any kind is super difficult to track down and I have no idea why.

    4. BRR*

      I’ve used lemon juice just fine for a buttermilk substitute in biscuits. Stella Parks on serious eats (google serious eats buttermilk substitute) recommends kefir as the best substitute and yogurt as a second.

    5. Foreign Octopus*

      Thanks very much, AAM-baking gang!

      I’ll give the lemon a whirl and keep my fingers crossed that everything works out. Despite baking for nearly ten years, I’ve never actually used buttermilk in a recipe before (I’ve always avoided it) but this cake looks perfect for my mum, so thanks!

        1. Foreign Octopus*

          As a matter of fact it is. I was looking at a Mary Berry recipe but it looked too dry for what I know my mum likes so I just Googled “moist chocolate cake” and all of them were calling for buttermilk so I figured I’d give it a crack.

          1. CoffeeforLife*

            I love the chocolate cake recipe from Cake by Courtney. It was so moist and tender – literally the best I’ve ever had.

      1. Parenthetically*

        Buttermilk isn’t milk+butter, though, it’s a cultured and thus acidic dairy product.

    6. HBJ*

      Yes! I do it all the time. Lemon juice is how I was taught.

      And if you want more authority, Taste of Home and Food Network both say lemon juice or vinegar.

    7. Dancing Otter*

      I used to buy buttermilk powder, because it was shelf stable and I never used a whole container of real buttermilk before it went bad. I believe you can get it from online vendors, though I haven’t looked recently. Not a solution for your mother’s birthday, but for future use, perhaps?

      1. Squidhead*

        I was excited about this, but some chocolate cupcakes we made (from a recipe we had used before) did not rise at all when made with it. For biscuits, we use plain low-fat or whole yogurt mixed with a bit of milk to thin it to the right volume. Seems to work okay, but haven’t tried this in the aforementioned cake recipe.

    8. Jemima Bond*

      I’ve seen runny plain yogurt given as a sub for buttermilk if you can’t get the latter. By Nigella Lawson, in a muffin recipe, and it worked well.

      But I am fascinated to know where the heck in the world you can’t get vinegar?! Horrifying.

      1. Foreign Octopus*

        I’m only in Northern Spain, which makes the lack of vinegar even more bewildering. I can get apple cider vinegar and the like but normal malt vinegar or white vinegar is just completely absent from the supermarkets.

        1. KayeBerry*

          Have you tried asking at the market(s) you shop at? They may know where you could find white vinegar or to order it for you. [I realize this won’t help with the immediate situation, it is more of a long term solution.]

    9. Garland Not Andrews*

      Late to the party, but if you can find it, buttermilk powder is also a good substitute. It is usually located in the baking section of the grocery store in a can. Just follow the directions for it on the can.

  25. PhyllisB*

    Just wanted to give a sort-of update on Son. He is at detox now and doing well by all accounts. Daughter has been checking with him (this is the unit she does work for. Not floor work, marketing.)
    I know there are no guarantees, but he went in with a different attitude this time. Can’t remember if I mentioned this the other day, but he texted me and told me where to find his stuff, warning me that it wouldn’t be pleasant. Even telling me had needles in his closet. He didn’t do that last time so this indicates that he’s sincere this time.

    1. Policy wonk*

      Sounds like things are moving in the right direction. Sending positive vibes for success to you both!

  26. An Amazing Detective-Slash-Genius*

    What are your go-to openers for conversations on dating apps? I just downloaded two of them last night for the first time in my life and I have no idea what I’m doing.

    1. annakarina1*

      I usually try to ask them something in relation to their interests, or complimenting them if they have some weird or obscure taste in music/movies/books. It can get a conversation started, though a lot of guys can just answer the questions but not engage much back.

      1. Dan*

        When I was doing the “apps” (TBH, I never did Tinder but did do things like Match and OKC, e.g., things that took more effort than swiping.), I’m pretty sure I had better “success” than average. To get that success took *work*, and a couple of questions didn’t cut it, either from me, or from someone else. I’d usually write ~2 paragraphs that indicated I actually *read the profile* and not just the same generic stuff that could be copy/pasted to anybody. My success rate with that was pretty good, but it was still a time consuming activity on Sunday evenings. That was my frame of mind going into that whole scene.

        So… if someone messaged me first, and literally just asked a couple of questions? They’d get a few answers in return, but really, that was just an indication that I might be open to more communication if the effort was made. But I often took just a couple questions as a sign that someone was expecting *me* to put in the communication effort, and that’s just not how it works. (S/he who initiates has to make the bigger effort.)

        1. An Amazing Detective-Slash-Genius*

          This is very interesting! I realized I’m a bit worried about coming across like I’m trying too hard, so the idea of writing a paragraph seemed like something to avoid. I’m avoiding Tinder as well, I got Hinge and Coffee Meets Bagel for now.

        2. Courageous cat*

          My take: 2 paragraphs to someone you have never spoken to before in your life is too much. I probably would feel a bit overwhelmed from the get go. Maybe just a couple sentences at most is safe imo.

          1. Dan*

            They weren’t long paragraphs, just a few sentences each. But the thing is, best I can tell, I had pretty good success with my approach… to the point where I wasn’t complaining about “can’t get any dates.” The other thing is, I only messaged someone where I could find something to *say*. (I can’t make up 7-8 sentences out of any random profile.) Also, the first dates I went on weren’t duds by any stretch.

          2. Nom de Plume*

            This is my take as well. I think this is a good example of how we are all different and we won’t mesh with everyone out there, and that’s okay! When I met my fiancé online, we started talking with a few back and forth questions. It was all very natural and it was a real conversation. I was talking to another guy at the same time, and he would write me multi-paragraph monologues. It was overwhelming and it was hard to respond to. It felt like he might as well have started his messages with “dear diary”. The back and forth was not a conversation and I never met him and I stopped responding to his messages.

            So if you’re more comfortable slinging out a quick question or two and seeing how they respond, do that. If it feels better to spend a large amount of time crafting many well-composed paragraphs and expect them to respond in kind, do that.

            For me, my “secret” was to be honest about who I am and what I want. I didn’t try to appeal to everyone (I love hiking and yoga!), I focused on what makes me me (I’m a nerdy outdoor-lover and am not an adrenaline junkie).

            1. Dan*

              “Heh” to the guy who liked to write monologues. TBH, I spend all of my work day in front of the computer, and to me, the whole point of the “online dating” thing was less about online and more about the dating *in person*. So my MO was to write just enough to establish that someone could put together coherent thoughts and express themselves, and that we’d have enough to get through the first date without looking at each other silently all night. If we hadn’t arranged for drinks/coffee/something similar within three exchanges or so, I was out. I even had a few women tell me that they appreciated me cutting to the chase. With a good conversation going, it was pretty easy to just transition it to “I’m enjoying this conversation with you. Would you like to continue it over a drink?”

        3. Not Sayin'*

          No longer in the market, but totally agree. I used to get emails saying, “Loved your profile. Tell me a little bit more about yourself.” Or worse, “Tell me what you’re looking for in a relationship.” Hey, you pinged ME, buddy. Tell me why.

    2. Hannah Banana*

      Not sure if you’re a man or woman – but coming from a woman’s perspective, comment on something in their profile, an interest that they have, if they enjoy reading ask what their favorite book of 2019 is and tell them about yours. Tell them a bit about yourself. When I was online dating, I had written a longer profile and it was always nice to see someone who had read it and commented on something I had written.

      Be interesting and genuinely interested in getting to know them. Easier said than done, of course. But the first message you send to someone is what will grab their attention.

      A few tips other than convo starters:
      Post good quality photos that are recent. You don’t want to post any that are more than 2 years old. If you don’t have any, take some. Lighting in front of a window is always the best because their is no shadow. A full body shot is also necessary – sounds shallow, but hey, it’s online dating. Don’t want to fool someone.

      Be clear about what you want. Looking for a fling, longer relationship, open to whatever – write it out.

      Religion is important to a lot of people, if you are religious and you want someone religious, write that. If not, then write that as well.

      If you’re a man – no photos with fish or hunted animals. Every female friend I’ve had who’s online dated comments on how they would never date someone who posted fish or dead animal photos.

      1. An Amazing Detective-Slash-Genius*

        I’m a woman, and definitely appreciate this advice! And totally agree with your last point too haha.

        1. Nom de Plume*

          :) I think this is another example of everyone being different. I never minded the dead fish photographs because it shows a person engaging in a hobby. If you’re interested in that too, cool! If not, that’s cool too, but it may mean you may not be compatible long term. I’m not into extreme sports, so if all of a guy’s photos showed him skiing, mountain biking, whitewater rafting, ice climbing, whatever, I steered clear. So if fishing and hunting are important to you, and you’d like a partner to participate in those activities with you, by all means feature them in photographs.

          1. HBJ*

            Absolutely this. I know a lot of women who hunt and fish and rnjoy harvesting their own meat. That’d be a check in the pro box!

    3. Lena Clare*

      So I’ve heard that if the two of you answer the same to the following questions then you’ve got a high chance of staying together:
      – have you ever travelled around a foreign country on your own?
      – would you give it all up to live on a boat?
      – do you like horror movies?
      Have fun!

    4. SJNB*

      If you’re using hinge, I’d recommend replying to one of the person’s question answers – or ask them about one of their photos if there’s a clear foreign location

      1. SJNB*

        I personally used hinge as a way of finding people I was interested in meeting in person rather than as a way of getting to know people – so I’d switch to suggesting a date quite quickly, and definitely wouldn’t have sent any super long messages

    5. SaffyTaffy*

      I mean, you’re Jake Peralta, so you’ll BE FINE. :)
      I honestly just say something like, “Hi, I really like the bit in your profile about downloading dating apps. I’ve downloaded OKCupid and Collarme- I’m enjoying Collarme. Have you tried either of those?”

    6. AnonEMoose*

      The Paging Dr. Nerdlove has a lot of advice about online dating…I can’t speak to it personally, but I find a lot of his advice about relationships pretty sensible, so I’d think the same is true of the online dating advice.

    1. nep*

      It’s just impossible to get my head around the horror people affected by wildfires experience. Fleeing to the ocean to escape fire.

    2. Larelah*

      Thanks for your kind words. I’m heartbroken. Still many friends defending homes on the south coast, and we are still on alert in case it comes. My family were some of the people who had to run to the beach NYE.

      I’ve lived many places around the world and the South Coast has long been the most beautiful place in the world in my eyes. Every fire alert I get on my phone hurts my soul as I mourn the loss of the animals, the land and the communities.

      1. Snuck*

        I’m glad your family are safe… Did they come out on the navy boat, or chopper?

        I can’t believe we’re finally calling up the defence reserves… it’s mind blowing how… enormous this is. After living on the east coast for near a decade… it’s hard to imagine the size of these fires until you realise just how big a land area it is. Millions of acres. Millions.

        1. Larelah*

          They’re still in Batemans Bay. It’s their home so they’re staying to help out. Community there has been amazing.
          Back in Canberra I can see everyone who was here remembering the 2003 bushfires that hit our city. I keep having nightmares of that time, running through the house with buckets of water from the bath, no water pressure, the heat and smoke… the smell and sight of dead animals after it was over…
          Getting prepared in case it happens again.

    3. Snuck*

      I’m in the west, and we’re completely safe from the horror… but it bringing up a lot of memories… the time I flew into Sydney about 30yrs ago and the entire city was cut off via road… or 20 years ago when Canberra burned.

      We’re trying to finish our crop harvest, and my husband started two grass fires the other day, we only lost about 800 acres, no one hurt… but we’ve given up until temperatures drop, or we get a touch of rain. We’ve not had rain on the farm in months, and it’s tinder dry. (We’ve NEVER had a fire on the farm before.)

      It’s… all very… catastrophic… everywhere.

      My heart is in my mouth, and I am beyond “Thoughts and prayers” and deep into a massive soul searching.

      The good that might come out of this is the Australian PM is a science climate change denier… and everyone is basically YELLING at him… because this is clearly a combination of HUMAN effort to have created. Maybe… some good will come. Maybe we’ll get our butts into gear. Maybe…

      And in the interim… we sit and weep.

  27. bibliovore*

    okay as part of my resolution for work/life balance on Friday, I left work early AND left my laptop at work because hey, I finished what I could do. If I don’t have my work laptop at home, I will not be tempted to “catch up on things”

    Mr. Bibliovore’s birthday.Stopped by the bank. Stopped by the grocery store. Made him all his favorite stuff.

    After dinner around 7ish, I saw an email from finance and thought oh, I will just take care of that. Went into my backpack, no lap top. I panicked. I retraced my steps. Did I take it out and is it in the family room? Did I put it in my office? OMG did someone steal it out of the back of the car when I was at the grocery store? Would ‘t they steal the backpack too? OyOyOy. Did I leave it at work? I couldn’t stop obsessing. It was probably in my office right? Could I spend the weekend not knowing?

    We just finished our security training. OMG!What if I lost my laptop? Jumped into the car, went back to work. Yep right where I left it. Secure behind two locked doors. Recalled my work/life commitment and deliberate leaving behind. Said hi to the maintenance guys who were used to seeing me in the office after everyone had left.

    Brought it home.
    Caught up on some emails. Put it back in my backpack.
    Taking today and tomorrow off.

    Weekend stuff.
    Has anyone made Bob’s 13 bean soup in the instant pot? All the recipes that I have found on line call for soaking the beans 8 hours. Doesn’t that defeat the instant pot use?

    1. nep*

      Oh my god that’s a great story.
      I can completely imagine doing that–panicking about where the hell my laptop is, having deliberately left it in the office.
      Enjoy your days off.

      1. I'm A Little Teapot*

        FYI, my understanding is that beans contain something that can make you sick/poison you/something, and soaking them removes it. No idea which type(s), etc. But I wouldn’t skip soaking them unless you’re positive.

        1. Constance Lloyd*

          Soaking cuts down on cook time, but I always make mine in a slow cooker or instant pot and haven’t had any trouble. There are theories they will make you less gassy if soaked, but nothing conclusive. Dry beans in the instant pot are done in 30 minutes, dry beans in a slow cooker are done in 3 hours on high or 6 on low.

  28. DanaScully*

    CW: Diet/weight loss.

    Intermittent fasting, anyone? I’m giving it a try as the weight I lost over the last couple of years is creeping back on. I’m trying 16:8 (eating 12:00-20:00) at the moment and not finding it too difficult. Also looking into Keto but that won’t be until I’ve gotten comfortable with IF.

    It’s hard to resist picking of an evening, but I’m able to distract myself with a TV show or video game and have some water instead. I don’t like black tea or coffee so I’ve been having herbal tea, which is nice.

    I’d welcome hearing your experiences if you have tried or are currrently IF and/or on Keto. Thanks!

    1. fposte*

      I’ve been doing 16:8 for about 6 months now and I really like it. I don’t do it every day–I’m more flexible on weekends or when my Crohn’s is kicking up–but it’s the vast majority of days. I haven’t found it made any difference to weight, but my already good blood pressure dropped 5-10 points and it’s helped stabilize gut stuff a lot. (Haven’t had a cholesterol read since starting but I’m curious about that too.) I also just like having the experience of being actually hungry, because I feel like my eating experience had gotten very divorced from that, but it’s not super-hungry so I don’t find it particularly stressful.

    2. Not Sayin'*

      I lost 30 lbs. on IF. I found that eating Keto, although not required, made it much easier for me because it kept my blood sugar more stable and kept the hunger at bay. YMMV.

      I settled in for a long time on a 16-8 cycle, and it went pretty well. Due to some health issues, I decided to go on a Whole30 program, which insists on 3 meals a day. I’m finding that I feel much better eating more frequently, but that may be because the health issues are resolving. I also try to have at least 12 hours between dinner and breakfast.

      Read Jason Fung and Gin Stephens. If you go the Facebook route, look for Gin’s. Very kind people who don’t try to tell you what foods to eat — just support for your fasting efforts. (Reminds me of AAM folks.)
      Some of those groups can be nasty and judgmental.

      Good luck!

    3. Beaded Librarian*

      I don’t know if you’re a man/woman but check out ROAR by Stacy Sims if you are a woman. It’s aimed at athletes but gets into the science of why intermittent fasting and keto might not be good for many woman including the fact that they are more likely to use up their muscles as fuel when fasting.

    4. Filosofickle*

      I’m experimenting with it right now. When I first learned about IF, I realized that a few years before I was unknowingly doing something similar, eating my meals between 11a-5p. (It wasn’t a true fast window because I was drinking wine at night and coffee in the morning…more on that in a moment.) Several meals spaced closely really curbs my hunger.

      Now I’m partnered and my dinner time is more normal so I eat dinner at a more normal time. For the last month I’ve done 12-14 hours a day of fasting (7pm-9am / 8p-8a), and while I haven’t lost anything I also haven’t gained, despite all the Christmas cookies so that’s probably a win. Evening is the one time being hungry doesn’t seem to bother me, so I have to take advantage of that.

      The morning stretch poses a particular challenge: my coffee. The only calories I typically consume between 8-11 is my coffee, but I don’t drink it black. That 100 calories (two mugs, each with 1 tsp sugar and a tb of half-and-half) is what’s keeping me from the 16 hour fast. And an occasional mug of tea at night with 1 tsp sugar, but I can go without that.

      This week I tried a few days of plain coffee / tea and I was RAVENOUS, which defeated the purpose and I ate a lot more than I would have otherwise. I was totally hangry by 9a. That little bit of food seems to even me out and make my meals smaller. I’ve tried cutting out coffee sugar before, and it always seems to backfire like this. That little bit of sugar satiates me, even though I understand that dependence is not a good thing. So I’m not sure what to do here.

      Right now I’m trying to re-launch my business and I can’t afford to feel punished and miserable. So I’ll go back to sugar in my coffee for now. I do still get 12-14 hours this way. Next month I can tackle sugar and try to expand the window.

    5. Buzzbattlecat*

      I did keto for a long time and something that is really important is having healthy fat- coconut oil, olive oil, avocado, butter (NOT seed oils). Your body doesn’t store fat as fat, it stores sugar as fat. We need fats in the diet for gut health, hair/nails/skin etc but also because they satiate hunger, whereas sugars drive hunger.
      When I was in ketosis, IF was natural because I stopped thinking about food (never hungry) and when I ate, it was smaller portions of nutrient dense food. I had much more energy and no aches and pains.
      I stopped due to becoming vegetarian (so many meat substitutes are carb heavy!) but writing this has me inspired again, thanks!

  29. Queer Earthling*

    I wrote this up about events yesterday, and had nowhere to put it, but I genuinely think it would amuse you all. So:

    We were watching something on TV, and two characters used a floating craft, so my spouse Damien joked about going for a romantic moonlight float. I said, “A romantic float is when there are two straws in your root beer float.” They laughed, and we kept watching.

    About ten minutes later, I said, “Now I’m craving a root beer float.”

    “Same,” they said, almost before I finished speaking.

    So after our show, we decided to go to the grocery store to get root beer and vanilla ice cream. It was raining very lightly, with some thunder, but that’s pretty normal around here, so we hurried out to the car in a very light rain. We drove to Publix.

    Lightning lit the ride every so often. “Were we idiots for coming out in this for a random craving?” I asked Damien.

    “Nah,” they said, “we’ve gone out in worse, for dumber reasons.” This I could not argue.

    We parked, went in, and spent some time deliberating which variety of root beer. After settling on the Publix brand, we then went to the ice cream aisle.

    While we were there, the rain went crazy. It sounded like someone was hosing off the Publix windows. Also, we could not find a vanilla ice cream for ages. Every single flavor except for vanilla was available. At least one brand that offered vanilla was out of it.

    Finally, Damien spied a Haagen-Dasz vanilla. As thunder crashed, they grabbed it.

    “I could make a mad dash to the car,” said Damien as we headed to the check-out, “and come back for you.”

    “No, it’s fine,” I said, “I’ll dash madly with you.”

    We reached the express line, since we’d come out in this weather for precisely two items. We talked about the weather with the cashier, since that was, naturally, all we could think about. In the foyer of the store, people clustered near the windows, anxiously waiting for rides or, at least, a break in the rain. Damien and I looked out, and could barely see a thing for all the rain spilling down.

    “Well,” I said, with grim determination, “let’s rock.”

    We ran. The puddles splashed my ankles, and I fought not to slip. My ballet flats were as flooded as the parking lot, and the cold January rain soaked my t-shirt and hair. We made it to the car and fell into it, laughing.

    “That was actually fun!” I said, and we started the short drive home. Thunder rumbled. My phone flashed a message from my metamour.

    “Severe T-storm warning until 7,” he said.

    “We noticed,” I answered.

    We reached home, and our sidewalk was even more flooded than the parking lot. We hurried along the edge of it to our apartment door, trying not to fill our shoes even more. We reached the door, and Damien struggled with the key. “No, no, no!” they said, and finally got the door unlocked.

    We came in, at last, to our dry apartment.

    “Well,” I said, “that was an adventure.” I put down our hard-won bag of groceries. “But we’ve earned these floats!”

    “We have,” they agreed, and went to sit down.

    I set out the root beer, and the pint of ice cream. I looked down at it, and started laughing.

    It was strawberry.

        1. Elspeth Mcgillicuddy*

          Personally, I hate root beer, so any ice cream whatsoever wouldn’t save root beer floats for me.

          However, if I did like root beer floats and had made a special trip to get ingredients only to end up with the wrong ice cream, I’d probably be giving strawberry ice cream a try.

      1. Queer Earthling*

        We actually wound up having root beer in a cup and strawberry ice cream in a bowl. I meant to try them together but forgot.

    1. Three owls in a trench coat*

      I’m glad you two were able to laugh about it! I’d be able to laugh later, but in the moment I’d be mad that I went through all that and wasn’t able to have my root beer float at the end.

      Were you able to go back later, find vanilla ice cream, and enjoy your floats?

      1. Queer Earthling*

        They were actually REALLY upset at the time, but luckily me being a goof about it helped. We still haven’t had any root beer floats!

    2. Nothemomma*

      Oh my goodness, Maybe cuz hubby and I are having a fantastic day, but I completely read that envisioning the sappiest if romantic stories and at the same time reliving some of my own silly wonderful adventures. What a wonderful story- thank you for sharing and I hope you print it out, hang it up and never lose the absurd adventure that this was!

  30. Beancat*

    My fiancé and I are waiting to board our flight to get to our cruise to get married on Monday!!! I admit I’m screaming inside from nerves and excitement!! :)

    1. nep*

      Scream out loud! If there’s ever a moment that’s warranted it’s now.
      Enjoy every second. Wishing you all the best.

  31. nep*

    Musicians or songs that aren’t necessarily new but you’re glad to have learned about in 2019?
    A few songs: Conner Youngblood’s The Birds of Finland, Y La Bamba’s Mujeres, Kelly Lee Owens’s S.O, Koffee’s Toast.
    Artists April + Vista, Charlotte dos Santos.
    I’m sure there are more, but those come to mind.

    1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      Shinedown. I quite literally stopped listening to the radio in 2000 when I got my first iPod, so I asked friends to recommend artists they thought I would like. :)

      1. Beaded Librarian*

        Shinedown is so awesome. I’m still bummed I didn’t get to see them again this year due to my to turning into an ISLAND the day of the concert.

      2. The Other Dawn*

        Yes to Shinedown! They’re on my workout playlist: Monsters, Devil, and State of My Head. I haven’t listened to many other songs yet, which this reminds me I need to do that. I’m sure there are others I’ll like.

    2. Grace*

      Postmodern Jukebox – I kept seeing them pop up as recommended for me, but never took the time to listen. My mistake. They’re all brilliant.

      Along with lots of other people, discovered Lizzo’s older music after Juice came out.

      1. Chaordic One*

        I was lucky enough to see PMJ live. They were every bit as good live as they are in their videos and utterly charming. It was quite an event with many of the fans dressing up in 1920s flapper-style dresses and men in zoot suits. I really enjoyed myself.

      2. Mimmy*

        My husband saw them last month for a Christmas-themed show.(I wasn’t interested so he went by himself.). He really enjoyed it.

    3. Raia*

      ABBA and The Carpenters, helps me connect with my parents and they have lovely, non-autotuned voices and creativity. I dig it.

    4. Beaded Librarian*

      The Hu a Mongolian band, folk metal is the best description I’ve heard of them. They are fabulous and I was lucky enough to see them live.

      1. acmx*

        I tried to see them when they came to my city but they sold out. I’m still pouting about that :)

        1. Beaded Librarian*

          I totally get it. I’m still pouting about missing Shinedown last March. If they come through your area again though definitely get tickets early.

          1. acmx*

            Well hey, I got to see Shinedown in May (not to rub it in). They were my favorite show that weekend.

    5. Chaordic One*

      Understand that I’m hopeless out-of-touch with pop music, but two artists (who have probably been around awhile, but) who I didn’t notice until now are Lizzo and Billie Eilish. It seems like you can’t turn on the radio without hearing either one or the other now.
      Songs are: Muna’s I Know a Place and MisterWives’ Machine.

      1. nep*

        Just watched an interview of Lizzo the other day. Quite impressed with her in a lot of ways. (Classical flute, I mean, come on.) Just her disposition and manner–I like.

      2. Beaded Librarian*

        In the case of Billie Elish she just appeared in 2019. She’s only 17 or 19. I’ve not heard of the other artist.

        1. nep*

          Eilish is interesting. Apparently she and her brother have been producing her songs at home for a long time.

      3. An Amazing Detective-Slash-Genius*

        I got on board the Billie Eilish train after watching her carpool karaoke a couple weeks ago. Her raw voice had Corden speechless and made me feel things I didn’t know I needed.

        1. Buzzbattlecat*

          About this time last year my then-13y.o girl begged me to take her to see Billie Eilish on her Australian four-year my daughter’s first concert), I’d never heard of her and it was honestly a huge deal- the tickets sold out in literally seconds so I had to buy resold, it was interstate so travel and hotel and time off work BUT! It was worth every cent.
          I fell in love with the music and have remained a fan. My daughter was ecstatic, in tears and singing along with every word, just shining with joy.
          (The album only came out a week prior, but they all knew every word- it was like being in a 6,000 teen girl choir!)
          Billie Eilish has remained a treasured connection between us.

      4. Chaordic One*

        When I first heard D.J.s saying “Billie Eilish” I thought they were saying, “Billie Eyelash.” A few months later I heard that there’s a drag queen who calls herself, “Billie Eyelash.”

    6. PX*

      Thoroughly enjoying W by Koffee at the moment!

      Not sure when this came out but as I’m super late to the whole Billie Eilish bandwagon, I discovered Lovely a couple of weeks ago and really love it. It also reminds me I need to listen to more of Khalid

    7. Anono-me*

      Morgan Freeman. I just found out that he also can sing. He used to perform regularly as a singer when he was with the Electric Company in the 70s. If you’re curious , you may want to check out “Shoo Shoo Sunshine” sung by Morgan Freeman.

    8. Bluebell*

      Lankum, a cool band from Ireland. More or less new, though the two members have been around: Better Oblivion Community Center. Beautiful voices and interesting lyrics.

    9. Anonyme*

      The Jerry Cans! They are this phenomenal mix of traditional Inuit throat singing and folk music. Lyrics in both Inuktitut and English.

    10. coffee cup*

      Definitely not new, but last year I really enjoyed listening to Gerry Rafferty. He has some beautiful songs.

    11. E-1 motochuck 359*

      Bronx Casket Company…Sounds a bit like Type O Negative but with a more metal sound. “Bleed with Me” and “Little Dead Girl” are my favs ATM. Seems that they started around 1999. Heard them for the first time last week.

  32. OyHiOh*

    Thursday evening marked the proper end of my observance of the eleven months. I noticed, when I covered my mirrors last February, that about five days or so before the end of that thirty days, I started to feel ready to see myself again. I noticed that about three or four weeks ago, that I’d started to feel that I didn’t need the daily recitation of the mourner’s kaddish any more. The next time I say kaddish will be on Mr Oy’s yahrzeit, the anniversary of his death. Because of the mis match between Gregorian and Hebrew calendars, that won’t be until (Gregorian calendar) the first week of March. I don’t feel like I’ve lost anything. I feel that I’ve gained.

    Started January with a Facebook post: “How do you measure the seasons of a year? 61,650 stitches. 200 journal pages. Love, Loss, and Everything I Wore.”

    Two theater references in under ninety characters WooHoo!

    Last March, a friend gave me a pile of yarn tangles and said I could have the yarn if I was able to untangle it (I find untangling yarn very soothing). Two weeks and six fresh balls of worsted yarn later, I put 182 stitches onto US 2 needles, and started knitting double seed stitch. I couldn’t bring myself to describe those stitches as anything. I said it was meditation. I said, maybe if or when I get to the last color, I’ll be able to call it something but right now, it’s just meditation. I put all of my “it wasn’t supposed to be this way” thought spirals into that pattern. As with the mirrors and the kaddish, somewhere around the middle of the third color, I found myself able to think about what this is, rather than just a way to still and silence my mind. Sixty-one thousand, many hundreds of stitches later, I have a knit blanket Dragon #3 sleeps with every night.

    Album link to follow, in comments. I stayed up far too late last night making art pieces (going to enter a show in February!!) and decided to skip Conservative services this morning.

    1. Merci Dee*

      Oh, sweetheart. It’s been amazing to watch you heal and grow through these months. I would give you all the hugs and squeezes if I could. You have my wishes for all the peace and joy you could ever want, and my admiration that you’ve been willing to share such a difficult journey so that maybe someone else would know they’re not alone if they found themselves following your footsteps.

      1. Jean (just Jean)*

        Yes, this, because sooner or later most of us will be on a similarly difficult journey.

    2. Not So NewReader*

      onions. more onions.

      It wasn’t supposed to be this way. Actually, it wasn’t supposed to be any particular way. It just *is*, that’s all. And it’s our habits that carry us. Knitting. Dishes. Jobs. Care-taking of family. The mundane pulls us through the extraordinary. How ironic.

      We lose big chunks of ourselves and in a bit we find even larger parts of ourselves that we never knew we had. More irony.

      I can honestly say, I have things now that I would not have if my husband had lived. I like to think of these things as gifts or encouragements. And more of that irony stuff.

      Just as we can see something terrible in the midst of beauty, we can also see something beautiful in an otherwise terrible situation.

      1. Jean (just Jean)*

        The mundane pulls us through the extraordinary. ….
        Just as we can see something terrible in the midst of beauty, we can also see something beautiful in an otherwise terrible situation.

        Yes. Just yes. And thank you! These are words to carry forward. (Now the problem is, how to format the citation? The ancient Egyptians built pyramids [spelling?]: one huge structure of collective wisdom to memorialize one or two people. No need for any reference beyond “that vast stone structure over there.” We in the 21st century are awash in the thoughts of gazillions. A galaxy of ideas and comments. Cyber space indeed.)

      2. Alpha Bravo*

        “I can honestly say, I have things now that I would not have if my husband had lived. I like to think of these things as gifts or encouragements. And more of that irony stuff.”

        I got a horse in October, the month Spouse died. The horse came home two years and one day from the date Spouse went into the hospital for the last time. I found the horse at a local rescue around the same time my daughter, cleaning some things out of the house, found a wad of cash her dad had stashed behind an old painting. The cash was almost the exact amount of my horse’s adoption fee.

  33. Amber Rose*

    I’m basically out of trainer sessions at the gym and since the brilliant people in this area voted for a delusional incel basement dweller and now husband is taking a pay cut for the pettiest of reasons, I can’t afford more.

    Political bitterness aside, what do people do at the gym when they don’t have anyone telling them what to do? Since I’m more comfortable there now I’d like to move away from cardio and more into strength stuff but I don’t know where to start. I also still don’t really know how to use any equipment, since I’ve mostly been doing core, cardio and some free weights.

    1. Miki*

      I signed up for online workout sessions: personal trainer sends you 3 workouts/week for a month for $99. (so 12 sessions, you download True coach app and it’s in there, with videos on how to do workouts) Started with free weights, kettle bells and stuff, now on barbells, deadlifts and all. On month 4 now and I can see a difference.
      https://www.bfithive. com/services.

        1. Miki*

          My gym is $21.99 but I think I’ll go down to basic membership ($9.99) soon as I don’t go to the group classes nor do I use spray or tanning beds (Crunch gym is the name) . Their personal training is $65 per session, so my $99 for 12 sessions seems like a bargain to me.

    2. Wishing You Well*

      The gym should be willing to give you an orientation on a piece of equipment. If not, you could try Youtube for a primer. That should get you started.
      Side note: I don’t use the weight equipment at my gym because it’s all too big for my height and nonadjustable. The risk of injury is too great. I weight-lift at home.

    3. Victoria, Please*

      Free weights are actually a better workout as they require control from smaller muscles. Don’t worry about the equipment.

      I like to look up crossfit workouts online and then modify them to fit my capacity (go light, go light, go light!). A 21-15-9 with three movements is always a good bet, for example: 21 deadlifts, 21 burpees, 21 russian twists; 15-15-15; 9-9-9. When I don’t know what something is, like wth is a “turkish get-up,” I look at youtube videos.

      So sorry to hear about your family pay cut and the elected asshat.

    4. MaryB*

      Google it! Use your current fitness level as a guide and choose one of MANY PT-created free workout options online. My son and his workout partners take turns choosing 3- 6- or 12-month programs and do them together. You should be able to find something that works for you, with the gym equipment available to you, that has been at least crowd-tested so you can have a good idea that it works. You won’t get the “I SAID GET YER BUTT DOWN” kind of encouragement a real-life trainer can provide, but if you’re motivated this will work just as well!

    5. Jenny T*

      The people here recommended Fitness Blender to me and so far it’s been just what I needed!

    6. Tris Prior*

      Does your gym offer any group fitness classes? I get unlimited classes with my membership and, honestly, if someone isn’t standing in front of me telling me what to do, I’d never do anything. A lot of them are fun dance-based things which feel less like hard work (though they are; I’m barely going to be able to get out of bed tomorrow due to today’s class, I suspect.)

    7. Aly_b*

      Reddit’s fitness forum is actually surprisingly good. It has a variety of programs and exercises that you can follow, and if you’re willing to invest some time digging around, particularly in their wiki, there’s a ton of good info. The gym should be able to give you a primer on specific pieces of equipment, and you can look at youtube videos for additional tips. One way to do it would start by picking like 6 or 8 exercises that you’re going to go in and do, including mostly ones you already know, but try to learn 1-2 new ones every couple of weeks and sub those in for one of the existing exercises. You’ll eventually probably want to do more wholesale changes, but that’s one strategy for starting that’s not too daunting but gets you some new stuff.

    8. Kuododi*

      I use my local Y. They have designated staff trained to get folks oriented to the machines. Additionally, they help make a basic plan to get the workout program in place. If I was interested in working with a personal trainer, there’s a minimum additional fee. Currently I’m working with a trainer through LiveStrong which helps with strength training and cardio. (All the stuff needed to aid in my cancer recovery). My LiveStrong trainer is terrific. She has a warm lovely personality, I have never found her to be bossy about training, repetitions or anything else. (She’s quite firm about her clients not overdoing anything to the point of injury/illness.)

    9. Pam*

      I got a written out routine- leg day, upper body, etc., and followed it. I would increase weights/reps as needed.

    10. The Other Dawn*

      Try searching for a Groupon for personal trainer sessions. That’s how I started with mine. The studio ran a Groupon and it was 99.00 for five 45-minute sessions, which is a huge bargain. You could do the sessions and get enough information to guide you in creating a few routines to rotate through.

      If you can’t do that, maybe try checking out Nerd Fitness (nerdfitness dot com), as they have a lot of articles about the basics and how to get started. Also, think back to the routines you did with the trainer. You could change those up by adding strength exercises and then rotating them every couple weeks.

      Although I have a functional training machine, I don’t rely on it for strength training. I use it regularly, but I also use kettle bells, dumbbells, slam balls, and battle ropes. Those all work the core and provide some strength training at the same time. I use the functional trainer for lateral pulldowns, tricep pushdowns, chest presses, among other things.

      I only see my trainer once a week, so when I’m on my own I rotate the two routines he gave me, which get changed every couple months (not recently, though, since with the back problems, it’s been hit or miss as to whether I even feel up to working out at all lately). When I’m bored, I change it up, but always follow the same formula: at least three to four different groups of two to three somewhat similar exercises, with three sets of each exercise. So on a very light day, that gets me at least six different exercises, and up to 12 on a heavier day. And that usually gets me at least a 45-minute workout.

    11. Lexaho*

      I’ve had luck finding photo and video workout tutorials on Pinterest as well. Very visual so you can make sure you are using good form.

  34. Grace*

    Gums started feeling a bit weird over Christmas, new genuinely looking inflamed – probably gingivitis, right? I hardly ever floss, so it’s 100% on me in that sense, although I do use an electric brush and mouthwash. Has anyone dealt with that? Is it normal to feel like it’s come on that quickly, or has it been brewing for a while? Easy fix or no?

    UK-specific – I’m NHS registered at the dentist in my hometown and am trying to keep that as long as I can, even though I don’t really live there anymore, because trying to find a dentist with space for new NHS patients is a hellscape. Will that cause any problems when I go to a dentist near where I live, even though I’ll presumably be paying private prices? I’m not planning to fully register with whichever dentist I see, because this lease will be up in six months and I don’t know where in the city I’ll be moving to after that so don’t want to commit to a local dentist.

    1. Foreign Octopus*

      You might need to change toothpaste and mouthwash and maybe have your teeth professionally cleaned, but I doubt it’ll be a huge amount that’s needed to be done.

      As for causing problems, it shouldn’t cause any problems at all. When I was at university I needed an emergency root canal and just went to the dentist nearest me and begged for an appointment. They didn’t contact my home dentist and the only thing I needed to fill out was a financial aid form since I was poor and students get cheaper prices if they claim it. I then went back to my other dentist no problem.

    2. Not A Manager*

      I have no idea about the NHS system (US here), but in general I think a medical practitioner will see you to deal with an emergent issue without requiring that you transfer to him or her as your practitioner. “I need someone to look at my suddenly inflamed gums and I can pay privately” seems pretty reasonable.

      Do you know how to floss? If so, I suggest gently flossing once a day, brushing your teeth more frequently – also gently – and maybe trying a salt water rinse. If your mouthwash has alcohol in it, you might want to stop using it for bit. I am not a med pro, but I do have very fussy gums. For me, the thing about the flossing and brushing is to tolerate a small amount of bleeding when the gums are inflamed, but not go so hard that they bleed a lot or get more sore. Hopefully, as you clean the area and stimulate the gums, they become more healthy and you can be a bit more vigorous in your routine.

      If you try this and the gums get worse or don’t improve, then probably you really do need to be seen quickly by your dentist.

    3. Not Sayin'*

      Not sure if it’s available to you where you live, but there’s a website called orawellness.com. They sell a product called HealThy Mouth Blend, which, when used with the Bass toothbrushes they also sell, could heal your gums.

      True story: I am dental phobic, and hadn’t been to the dentist in at least 15 years. Not even for cleanings. My gums were a mess, and I knew I had some cavities that needed addressing, not to mention caps that were telling me they needed to be replaced. I’m retiring soon, and Medicare doesn’t cover dental care.

      I sucked it up and made an appointment with my mom’s dentist (because, after 15 years I didn’t know anybody) for 3 weeks out. I buckled down and used this product twice a day until my appointment, along with a water flosser. I am not kidding you, by the time my dentist appointment arrived my red, sore, bleeding, inflamed gums were healed. As in, my dentist told me I had great gums. Fifteen years, folks! I’m SOLD on this stuff! And no, I don’t own stock. Just a true believer.

      1. Ms Darcy*

        Not sure what’s available in the UK, but Look for Glyoxide – an antiseptic oral cleaner. Also, Crest makes a gum detox toothpaste which is great.

    4. Marzipan*

      Near me they have what’s called a ‘Dental Access Centre’ which is essentially an NHS urgent service for people not registered with a dentist nearby. Might be worth looking to see if there’s something similar near you?

      1. Grace*

        Turns out the one I was planning to go to actually is a dental access centre! It’s on a uni campus (I still live pretty near my old university) so that makes sense. It’s the doctor and pharmacy that I still use, so I already know there’s no problem with me being an ex-student. I’ll call on Monday and see if I can get an appointment – it’ll have to be after work on Monday, looking at their hours, so hopefully I’ll get a same-day appointment instead of having to wait a week.

    5. we're basically gods*

      I had bad gingivitis and really inflamed gums until I started flossing regularly, and it cleared up just fine. Don’t remember how long it took, but it couldn’t have been super long term. It’s kind of painful when you’re first starting, but that fades pretty fast.
      I use a flosser stick, because my hands are too big and my mouth is too small, and I floss once a day, but it’s made a huge difference.

    6. MJ*

      Try interdental brushes as well. They come in different sizes to suit the gaps between your teeth.

      Your gums may bleed at the start, but that’s okay. The gunk is being expelled. When the bleeding lessens, it means the gums are getting healthier.

      I prefer the interdental brushes to floss, but ideally you should use both.

  35. Square Root of Minus One*

    Hello everyone,
    Happy New Year and best wishes to all!
    I wrote in a weekend thread around mid-June to share my annoyment about my money-borrowing boyfriend and thought I’d share a bit of an update six months later.
    He doesn’t owe me anything anymore, and he has started to save some money and revamped his budget (he had one but hadn’t gotten in his head that if something wasn’t in there, he shouldn’t buy it even if his card went through at the time). But it’s still not back to even, and I can’t see how well he keeps within the budget… so I’m very cautiously optimistic on that one. But all the damage I can control is controlled: my own finances are detangled and away from his, as is my life. I’ve come to be at peace with the fact that we are neither gonna live together nor be exclusive any time soon, so I enjoyed our two Christmas weeks together just as much as I enjoy my independance today :)
    Thank you again for validating my feelings back then. It was really comforting to me.

    1. LibbyG*

      I remember your prior post. Good on you for addressing both the financial and emotional entanglement in such a clear-eyed way!

  36. Be the Change*

    Feeling a little punch-drunk here, although all the stuff is weirdly disconnected. I am not sleeping well at all due to hot flashes, sorry if that’s TMI. My husband is taking a trip overseas with a bunch of students and it is a disaster of chaos. He had a fight with his brother, which I hate because I want all love and roses all the time, ridiculous though that is. The Amazon is burning down. Australia is burning down. And of course, Here. We. Go. (said in Joker voice) with Iran.

    What do you all do when you feel that the world is completely out of whack?

    1. Wishing You Well*

      Honestly, I hit the gym.
      There’s too much information about stuff we can’t do anything about. Remind yourself what you do have power over and work that. Let’s hope 2020 ends better than it started. Please.

    2. Not A Manager*

      “What do you do when you feel that the world is completely out of whack?”

      Crossword puzzles.

    3. Not So NewReader*

      I can only control how I handle my 1 square inch of this planet. I can make sure I am being fair with people. I can be kind to others. If I am lucky maybe I can help someone in a small way. Maybe they will turn and help someone in a small way because of me. Dunno.

      Try to remember that the news media loves upsetting us because then we buy more toothpaste or whatever they are selling. Try to remember that there are many sides to a story and people can only report what they see, they can’t report the full extent of the story.

      Turn off the news for a bit. Get some tea/hot chocolate/good book. Take time to regroup.

    4. Selmarie*

      Lack of sleep makes everything seem even worse (not that some things aren’t bad). And it can lead to health problems for you, besides. Control the things you can (vote, volunteer, etc.) and talk to your doctor about the hot flashes so you can sleep.

    5. Janet*

      I am so scared of what Iran is going to do to us now. Is there anything we as average citizens can do to make sure we are safe? Are our salaries at risk if there is a cyber-attack? Should we stockpile food and gas?

      Allison, I hope this question is not too “political”, but I have so much anxiety about this. I don’t post much but I trust our AAM community so much more than all the talking heads on TV!!!

      1. Jackalope*

        When I went through a similar moment of fear (for political reasons, although not this same crisis), I decided it was reasonable to stave my fears by prepping for a natural disaster. I got a bunch of food that I eat anyway that stores for a long time and that I could est without cooking if needed. I also got some water and saved that up as well. I figured that it doesn’t hurt to be prepped for disasters (which are a thing that happen!), and knowing that I had enough food to make it through a couple of weeks if needed gave me some peace of mind. And if we have a earthquake I’m closer to ready!

    6. tangerineRose*

      There are a lot of good things happening in the world, too. People helping people, etc. I just saw an episode of a fixing-up-house kind of show where a sports celebrity got involved in helping a family with 2 special need kids.

      I think there’s at least 1 site that mostly just publishes good news.

    7. SaffyTaffy*

      I do a meditation on the universe. I start with the solar system and then the Milky Way, and picture all the planets and other little revolving bodies. Some are balls of ice, some are gas clouds with tiny solid centers, some are chunks of iron or silicates, or both. Picture all of them for a while, then move out of the Milky Way to other galaxies. Look around at all the vastness, all the possibility. Human beings can never, ever ruin any of it.

    8. Dancing Otter*

      Walk the Labyrinth. My church built a turf labyrinth in the backyard that I can walk with my eyes closed, or almost closed, just feeling the connection to the earth beneath my feet. Not so great in the snow, unfortunately.
      A local woodworker used to make wooden finger labyrinths, that you could close your eyes and run your finger along the carved lines. I should have bought one when I saw them, because he hasn’t been back the last two years. Maybe Etsy….
      The taped lines on the floor of the gathering room just don’t work as well, Because I have to look where I put my feet; plus there are usually people around making sounds — which is normal and reasonable, but distracting.

  37. Raia*

    Confidence. I need some. My family and friends tell me I’m smart, but I can never fully believe them even though I know they aren’t lying to me. My flaws just fill up a lot of my thought space. Is this something people go to therapy for, and what articles/YouTube videos/other methods have helped you increase your confidence both at work and in your personal life? For some reason I found the TED talks dealing with confidence not inspirational.

    1. Foreign Octopus*

      When I feel lacking in confidence, I like to read articles/biographies of women (I’m a woman) who have achieved great things or even interesting things. There’s generally a theme that runs through each of them that shows their lack of confidence or self-esteem issues and I figure that if they can do it then so can I. However, if your lack of confidence is debilitating then therapy is definitely the way to go.

      Although, I quite like using therapy to touch base with myself so I may be a little biased in favour of therapy here.

    2. Wishing You Well*

      Therapy might be useful, along with exercise and taking care of yourself physically. For repetitive thoughts, you might try a LITTLE zinc and magnesium in pill form. An entire pill could make you feel sick. Acting, as in “fake it ’til you make it”, might also work for you. Standing up straight with a confident look on your face in public might get you started.
      Best of Luck

    3. Not So NewReader*

      Courage is what we do when we are in doubt and worried.

      What other say is my confidence, is probably just my courage. Some days getting up and getting dressed is a courageous act.

      I think confidence is built through repetition. I don’t think we have instant confidence, I think it takes time. And confidence in some areas comes quicker to some people than others. For example a person maybe a very confident attorney yet be all thumbs in a veggie garden.

    4. Alan*

      Is there anything that you enjoy that you’re good at? Something like cooking, sewing or even playing a video game you like. I’ve always struggled with confidence and hobbies have always given me a bit of self esteem.

      1. Raia*

        Terrible at cooking and sewing, but I never thought of games as a confidence/courage booster and I love both video and board games! I’ll add that to my mental health toolbelt, thank you!

    5. Jane of all Trades*

      Two things that help me build confidence: one is looking back at the things I have accomplished, or done well. I keep a couple of emails from bosses giving positive feedback for work, and I have some cards that former coworkers gave me when I left exjob. Do you have something like that that you could look at when you need a boost?
      Also, I noticed that I gained confidence when I started doing sports on a regular basis. As I felt like I gained more control over my body (more strength and coordination), that translates into more confidence generally.
      I also work with a therapist, and if that is an option for you would strongly recommend it! but all of it is an ongoing process!
      Finally, I feel like I work with somebody who has similar issues where they perceive themselves as less able than they are. I tell them all the time that I admire them, but it is a shame that they don’t see what I see! Believe me, your friends wouldn’t lie to you about this – do they have the habit of lying to you on other things? Probably not! It’s hard, but can you try to listen and believe when they tell you what makes you smart, rather than discounting it?
      Best wishes!!

    6. Lifesempossible*

      I have a book recommendation that really helped me discover the core of my confidence issues. It’s called Mindset: The New Psychology of Success. I learned how there’s a pattern that some parents create where they praise kids with the end result (“Good job”). With the crave for reinforcement, kids may end up sticking to the things they know they’re good at and don’t take any new opportunities because it could withhold the praise. (The alternative is more about praising effort or emphasizing, “Are YOU proud of it?”) In reading this book, I realized that my perfectionism and self-confidence issues were rooted in that cycle. Then I decided to break the cycle by embracing the fact that all experts were once beginners. I started learning new skills. My first one was cooking. I set small goals, like trying a particular recipe or doing 12 Pinterest recipes in a year, and then tracked my growth.

      Reading between your lines there, a compliment of being ‘smart’ carries a ton of weight. I, too, have been told I’m ‘smart’ as my hallmark feature. It’s been devastating to NOT reach academic goals after that. My confidence crumbled in college and had to be rebuilt from me learning that worth is found in me feeling comfortable with myself.

      You’re going to lose if you compare yourself to others. Social media can sometimes be a trigger for me in that way. But my suggestion is to start with small goals, learn something new (and use structure if you need to! Take a course or find an accountability partner), and measure/track progress with time for reflection. It’s a great feeling to say, “In the past, I would have messed up this [work situation], but I was able to avoid it now because I’ve learned xyz.”

    7. Raia*

      Thanks to all who responded, implementing these ideas, tips, and mental reminders as I move forward in my journey to be more confident this year

  38. Rebecca*

    Mom update, and she’s getting worse…

    She rinsed the sauerkraut. On Purpose!! (for those of you who have watched A Christmas Story, use the same inflection as the Old Man when he found out all the glue was gone)

    My mother rinsed the life out of the sauerkraut before putting it on the super lean pork tenderloin roast in the slow cooker on Wednesday. I knew there was something up when she said she would take care of it. Why, you ask? Sodium. Seriously. She doesn’t even have a blood pressure problem or on a low sodium or restricted sodium diet for any reason, but I finally pried it out of her. She said she went to a health fair once at our local hospital, and they said you should always rinse sauerkraut. I said, well, now it’s tasteless and like eating dry pork with soft weird cabbage on it, and she snapped, WELL JUST PUT SOME DAMNED SALT ON IT! No! It’s not the same. And she wouldn’t eat a hot dog, either, because they weren’t Nathan’s brand.

    This is a traditional once a year thing. Pork, sauerkraut, mashed potatoes, maybe some sort of sausage or hot dogs, on New Year’s Day. I actually look forward to it, and she ruined it all in the name of “health”. Seriously. I told her I wasn’t eating any more of it, and to have at it. If I eat something, I want it to taste good, and ~80% of the time, I’m eating totally good for you stuff. She really just likes to be a martyr, oh, look at me, I’m eating this nasty, tasteless, flavorless, awful bland food, but it’s healthy, so I’m better than you. At the same time, she complains about the food she eats, how she doesn’t want to eat it, she doesn’t know what she wants….so frustrating.

    Sighs. I’m not even surprised. I ran into an acquaintance of hers this past week, and she asked me what is wrong with mom, as all she does is go on about her high blood sugar, how she needs to lower it, how everyone isn’t eating the correct or best foods, etc. and I told her that (1) fasting blood sugar of 108 was not even flagged by her doctor as being high and (2) it’s none of mom’s business what other people eat. Apparently mom is fussing about this to anyone who will listen, and she admitted to me that she was up all night worrying about it. I’ve noticed a big drop off in phone calls from her friends, too. She’s started telling people they shouldn’t eat this or that, it’s not good for them, they will have problems if they eat X, etc. and not surprisingly, no one wants to hear this.

    I’m going to call her PCP and ask when it would be convenient for me to stop by and fill him in on all of this, along with the supplements she’s taking and not telling him about, etc. I think she needs cognitive testing, too, as the note taking, taping notes all over, filling notebooks with notes, etc. is ramping up, and while I’m not exactly sure what’s wrong, I’m sure something is amiss.

    Other than that, I had a good week, went on a long hike (complete with rain, sleet, snow squall, crossing streams on foot, and amazing water features). Went back to work, boo, I feel like I need a few more months off…and off to do garbage pickup later this afternoon. Apparently the beer can throwers and fast food wrapper discarders are back at it.

    1. Laura H.*

      I’m sorry, having a holiday special thing ruined that badly sucks.

      And this really makes me thankful for my grandma who is a good cook and manages to make healthy stuff taste good and not shy away from the holiday yum but not good for you…

    2. Nervous Nellie*

      Rebecca, my goodness, your Mum sounds like the anxiety is really taking over. I am so sorry for you, and for her. it has to be tense & uncomfortable for her to be this obsessed all the time. Chatting with her doc sounds like a good plan.

      Ick about the sauerkraut! But now you have me craving a crockpot AND Nathan’s hot dogs. And I shouldn’t have been drinking tea when I read your “glue gone” voiceover advice, but I guess my keyboard will dry off eventually. LOL.

      Cheering for you! Look after yourself.

      1. Rebecca*

        Sorry about your keyboard :) OMG, that movie is too funny!! And yes, I suspect her anxiety is getting much worse. She is always stressing and fussing and worrying about something! It’s exhausting. She has a script for lorazapam but it’s the very lowest dose, she only takes it once in a great while, like in the middle of the night when she’s been awake for hours, because she doesn’t want to be addicted. If she makes a decision, she spends days or weeks second guessing it. I’m so totally opposite. I figure if I’m standing upright, breathing, and taking nourishment, it’s all gonna be OK and there’s not much to worry about.

        1. Cathie from Canada*

          I’m late to this thread, but you could also talk to a geriatric social worker – they might know more about local resources, too. I am wondering about whether these symptoms indicate dementia (ie, the note taking, the repetitive stories, the obsessions with food, the anxiety, losing friends) and a social worker would be able to tell you. There are geriatric social workers in hospitals who deal with these kinds of issues.

    3. The Cosmic Avenger*

      If you can, try to get her a late afternoon appointment for the cognitive/memory testing. People with dementia tend to be able to compensate better in the morning, and get worse in the evening, a phenomenon called sundowning. She needs to be tested her at her worst, because that’s how she’s going to have to function when she’s on her own.

      I’m very, very sorry about the sauerkraut. I can hear my ancestors lamenting (OK, kvetching) loudly! :D

      1. Rebecca*

        Thanks for that tip – she can’t/won’t go to morning appointments due to bladder and bowel issues that were never addressed properly (because she knows what to do and can manage just fine without medical intervention…cough cough…) so this would be perfect. Getting her to agree to it, that’s another thing, and I wonder if the PCP could say it’s part of age related care or something? Like I had to have an EKG even though nothing was wrong just to get a baseline.

        This isn’t the first time she’s ruined food in the name of “health”. She made fake chocolate chip cookies once using carob chips, prune paste, whole wheat flower, splenda, egg whites, need I go on? They looked really good, but they were horrible!! I took one bite, resisted spitting it out as I was sitting at the table with other people, and she said “well, I made these my way, because they aren’t good for you otherwise”. I said “no, you went to far, they’re just not good at all” and told her to never, ever do that again. No one ate them, she was mad, but tough. It was a jerk move.

      2. Lizabeth*

        I second the afternoon appointment but be aware she will probably be worse towards you. Everything she is doing is not about you or commentary on your choices. SHE HAS FALLEN AND CANNOT GET OUT HER SELF MADE RUT, EVER* Personally I would make the pork dish again just for yourself and enjoy it. Let her handle her own meals herself. Find a dementia caregiver group if possible to go to, I know you’re in the middle of nowhere.

        *Meds may help her in the future “but” she’s got a lifetime of habits to change and that’s hard to do.

    4. Wishing You Well*

      Oy! Sorry you’re going through this. I worry about YOUR health!
      I hope your mom’s PCP orders a mood stabilizer and that your mom actually takes it.
      I have female relatives who became ever more anxious and obsessive in their later years. They also took offense easily and liked to spout debunked information from 80 years ago. They were incapable of learning anything new or changing. Since I’m heading down the same path, I hope to God I at least keep my mouth shut!
      Best Hopes for a better year!

    5. OyHiOh*

      I know the dish of which you speak! I tweaked to make it kosher, using beef rib steaks and all beef sausage. Boiled potatoes. I generally braise my kraut in a bottle of beer.

      1. Rebecca*

        That sounds good! And my neighbor adds beer to her sauerkraut, I’ve never tried that, but I may need to!

    6. Dr. Anonymous*

      So sorry you’re going through this. A letter to the PCP would also work well and may be simpler for you. A basic cognitive assessment is required in the Medicare Annual wellness visit and even the very basic two-question mini-cog test uncovers some problems in quite a few patients who seem to be functioning otherwise well. I hope this helps! I do find letters from family members HUGELY helpful.

    7. Observer*

      In a way, I’d say it’s not a hill to die on. She doesn’t want to eat (ie is too “virtuous” to eat) whatever? Oh, well, more for you to have. There is a good chance that she’s going to ruin whatever in the name of health? Don’t let her make it. That’s annoying of course, but a LOT less annoying that discovering that something you were looking forward to in basically inedible.

  39. puffle*

    I’m not sure about dentists, but for NHS GPs you can sign up as a ‘temporary patient’ or something similar if you need a one off appointment- I had to do this when I was visiting my parents a few years ago

  40. Merci Dee*

    Has anyone else noticed certain changes to their fingernails as they get older?

    Two particular things I’m dealing with: vertical ridges and fanning.

    I know that the vertical ridges are a common change due to aging, and it seems like it’s confined to my thumbs for now. I had been lightly buffing over the ridges before painting my nails, but that just seemed to make my nails more prone to splitting down along the ridge. So now I just use a couple of coats of really thick gel-like base polish to fill in before I paint.

    The fanning, though, is what’s stumping me. I’ve always had nails with a really strong C-curve. But now my nails are kind of flattening as they grow, and the side walls don’t grow in straight parallel lines anymore. So it makes the free edge of my nail start to pull and kind of curl downward if my nails grow past a certain
    length. The only way I can describe it is this – when I was younger, my nails looked like a U when they grew out (the crescent nail bed at the bottom with long parallel sides, and a C-curve when you looked down at my fingertips), and now they look like a V (a narrow nail bed, but the sides spread out the further they grow, and my nails now look like a bracket [ because they’re flat on top and only drop down where they attach at the sides of my nails). From what I gather, the only real way to correct fanning is with an acrylic overlay that is properly pinched to reestablish the C-curve, but that only lasts until the acrylic nails are removed.

    Middle age, man. I creak when I get up, can’t laugh or cough without worrying about leaks, and now my nails are going haywire.

    1. Hello*

      Sound like my nails. Though I’m not getting any significant fanning. I’m 64 and have had the ridges for ever and the nails have flattened some and a couple of widened some at the tip. But overall they look okay.

      1. Merci Dee*

        I just had a weird realization. When I was younger, my nails looked like my mom’s with the strong C-curve. Now that I’m in my 40s, my nails are starting to look like my dad’s. He has hands that are squared and blocky, with shorter thick fingers that have the more broad and flattened nails. I always knew I had my dad’s squarish hands and short fat fingers (playing much more than an octave on the piano was a trial in my tweens), but now I’m getting the nails to go with them? Thanks, Dad. All I need now is wiry hair sprouting on the backs of my hands/fingers and ashy knuckles that look like I’ve been dragging them on the ground as I walk, and the transformation will be complete. I’ll totally have my dad’s hands. :)

    2. I'm A Little Teapot*

      Can’t certain health conditions effect the nails? Might be worth mentioning to your doctor next time you’re in.

    3. Reba*

      For the flattening, you could see if biotin or topical nail strengthener helps. (My spouse who plays classical guitar uses a lotion like one that is supposedly for horse hoofs?) For ridges, well, I’m in the same boat! I’m also trying to get in the habit of moisturizing like crazy for my poor cuticles.

    4. Overeducated*

      I have the ridges, which i remember noticing on my mom and grandpa and thinking “wow they are SO old!” Sigh.

    5. Mimmy*

      Yeah I think the vertical ridges are very common.

      My nails seem more brittle in the last couple of years, they split very easily. Also, I noticed a small dimple in my right thumb nail the other day.

        1. Wren F*

          I’ve experienced extremely dry nails plus cracks at the nail pits. What has made a huge difference is OPI’s Nail Strengthener (comes in a couple of formulations). I try to just keep reapplying it every day or few days. It has been very healing.

          I also take biotin, a b multi, and b-12 for versions reasons. All make a very noticeable difference.

  41. DCGirl*

    I’m currently at work because the company has a big proposal (a re-compete of one of our biggest federal contracts) due in 10 days. I worked some (not full days) on both Christmas and New Year as well as the weekend in between, which means that the last day that I didn’t work was…. December 22.

    I’m tired.

    1. Zona the Great*

      Aw I’m so sorry. My only advice is to treat yourself in any way you can. Indulge in your favorite things.

  42. Llellayena*

    Short form: Questions I should ask when considering going on my first cruise ever?

    Long form: My uncle is organizing a family cruise. He’s picked the specific cruise, reserved a bank of adjacent rooms, and given us a basic packet of info. The cruise website won’t give us any more info unless we sign up with them (no thanks until I have to), so we’re going to quiz my uncle on “things we need to know.” Neither I not my parents have cruised before. I have some idea of things to ask from reading (single supplement anyone?), but I could use some help in case we’re missing some important info we need to find out! Thanks all!

    1. My Brain Is Exploding*

      What’s included? Gratuities ? (And if not, you will be excited to leave them.) Air fare? Transfers? Excursions? Number of meals? Drinks? (All kinds, some cruises offer everything for free, some only water/tea/coffee but you have to pay for soda, some you have to pay for booze or can add on a package for unlimited booze). Degree of formality? Look up the cruise/cruise line on sites like Travelocity; the cruise line may even have a Facebook page.

    2. university minion*

      Check out cruisecritic.com and there’s probably already a thread about the specific ship you’ll be on (maybe even the specific cruise). You can find out lots of good info about what to expect on there.

      1. Cruiser*

        Get a room with a window if at all possible. Buy motion sickness medication before you board. Take a picture of your DL and Passport. The ship WILL leave you if you don’t board on time at your stops. Don’t cut it close. Unless you have a true medical emergency don’t alert staff to being sick. (Such as being motion sick, vomiting a couple of times, nothing serious) I’ve known two families who were confined to their cabins for the duration of the cruise. Have fun. Be careful at the buffets. Eat the fresh food and food higher up. Little kids stick their fingers in the low stuff. You do tip your cabin help/maid at least five to ten dollars a day and a buck or two if you ask them to get you something. I do at least ten.

    3. Llellayena*

      So single supplements are absolutely ridiculous. I’d pay more solo in an interior cabin than in a shared veranda room, by a few hundred dollars. I might still do it but dam do I want to find someone to share with!

    4. So Not The Boss Of Me*

      How much do you drink? Some people drink All. Day. Long. on cruises. These people enjoy the unlimited beverage pkg. We drink a glass of wine every 3-5 days with dinner. The wine is about ten bucks a glass. So on a seven day cruise, we spend 40 to 60 bucks. We also don’t drink soda. The beverage pkg would be a large waste of money for us. So do the math. On every cruise we’ve been on, coffee, water, tea (hot and iced) and something called “lemonade” are the only drinks included.
      Some people save with the interior room because they are out all day, only sleep there. I need to see the horizon or I don’t feel so good.
      If you feel seasick, get into a pool or hot tub and sit. Your brain will process the water as moving, not the boat, and all is well. On a rough crossing I was in the pool for up to 4 hours a day. Strangest thing how well it worked.
      Allergies? Tell them ahead of time and then first day, go see the maitre d’ hotel and explain. They take this very seriously. I find it better to eat in the dining room because they make sure there’s no problem. Buffet will do it too, but it’s harder there, IME.
      If they have online billing, look at it each day to be sure it’s right. 48 hours before the end of cruise, talk to guest services about the tipping they are going to bill you. How it’s billed, who gets it… on some cruises we could direct the tips to the people who served us, others required tipping everyone, despite never entering the spa or casino.
      Check out the spa on the first day. They may have specials on steam room, etc that disappear later. Exercise equipment is usually included, but jammed full in early morning, not later in the day.
      Google the deck plan and look at each deck. Sometimes interesting things on ships you won’t know to look for. Or alternate facilities that avoid the crowds.
      There may be cheaper shore excursions than the ones the cruise offers, but. If your excursion is delayed, the ship will leave. If the ship’s excursion is late, the ship will wait for it. Weigh it out.
      Do not tell them you are sick unless it’s urgent! They will treat you like you have the plague. Guest services may have seasick pills they give out free. But downplay your symptoms.
      IME the crews are wonderful. It’s a pressure cooker environment and yet they are great. They work up to 16 hours per day, every single day for 3 to 11 months (contract) and they are always from places I’ve never been. We always ended up talking and laughing, especially with dining crews that we saw every day. People to people.
      I look for the Friends of Dorothy meetings or, on some ships they just come out and call it LGBT+. These are some of the funnest people on the ship.
      I hope you have a great time.

      1. Llellayena*

        Fortunately, I’m not much of a drinker. If I have more that two drinks the whole week that’s way more than usual for me. Tea is my go to.

  43. Aurion*

    Happy new year, all!

    Anyone have any thoughts/experience on volunteering for the YMCA?

    I’ve decided this year I’m going to put volunteering as a priority. This was inspired by some things that happened at work that made me realize I really don’t have a network at all, and volunteering would a) get me out of the house, b) help causes I believe in, and c) give me more of a network in case I ever need an exit strategy. I’ve got a very stable schedule with no overtime required at work, but it is standard M-F business hours, so it’s not as flexible as I’d like.

    I’m currently thinking about volunteering at the local (ish) YMCA on the administration side (I’m more interested in the exercise side but I’m not certified, just a dedicated hobbyist, so admin it is). I’ve spent most of my career working for Small Organizations and their somewhat haphazard procedures, so I’d really like to see what a big organization does in terms of hierarchy and structure, how they train volunteers, and etc etc.

    I know the most important thing for volunteers is to be pleasant, reliable, and committed to show up, but I’d appreciate all thoughts on volunteering, both with YMCA in specific, and in general! My parents were not volunteer people and it wasn’t a mindset I was raised with, so I’ve never been really big on it myself. But I’d like to change that.

    (Honestly, I’m a little squeamish about medicine, otherwise I think volunteering for St John’s Ambulance as a special event first responder would be so great. I’m still trying to talk myself into it.)

    1. Misty*

      I’ve never volunteered at the YMCA.

      I’ve volunteered at an animal shelter for a couple of years, at my mom’s church’s summer kid’s thing (called VBS), and at my friend’s soup kitchen. I enjoyed volunteering at the animal shelter because I like animals. I did not enjoy volunteering at the kid’s thing because it was basically a week full of babysitting (I did it five summers in a row when I was in hs and college) or at the soup kitchen (because it involved cooking and I found the amount of people overwhelming.)

      In college I volunteered at a place where they checked in low income families for Christmas gifts. So basically the family had to make under a certain amount of money and they had to bring in IDs for their children and then they got to pick a gift for each child. I really liked volunteering there. It was great to help so many people and also it was really well organized so it wasn’t overwhelming at all. I don’t remember the name of the organization though.

      I think the trick for volunteering is to volunteer around something you’re interested in. Like me volunteering for babysitting and soup kitchens wasn’t really my strong suits, where as pet care and checking people in on computers was!

      Good luck to you! Let us know how it ends up going

      1. Aurion*

        That’s actually why I’m interested in volunteering at the Y–I really love health and fitness (though I have no intention on turning it into a career, I just soapbox about it to my friends and family). Weightlifting changed my life, no joke. I am not certified in anything so I wouldn’t be able to teach classes, but helping the admin/membership side of an org that allows sliding scale fees so fitness and health is more accessible to everyone? I think that helps!

        Thanks for your thoughts, they’re really appreciated. :)

        1. Misty*

          That sounds really good then! I think you should def try it and see if it’s a fit. And you never know, maybe you could get certified for something in the future if it peaks your interest!

    2. Valancy Snaith*

      After my dad retired he got into volunteering in a big way, specifically driving for Meals on Wheels. He originally just had friends who were encouraging him to help out, and started out just as a relief driver for sickness/vacations, but eventually worked his way up to driving relief 3-4 days a week and was voted Most Valuable Volunteer of 2017. He had to back down a bit when he was caring for my mom through her cancer, but is now planning on getting back into it. It has been a GREAT success, even he is surprised at how much he likes it after a lifetime of not volunteering one little bit. The senior organization he volunteers for always stresses that the actual thing you’re doing isn’t as important as being reliable and willing to help, and they have a great cohort of volunteers, so it seems to be working!

    3. zaracat*

      Anyone else have a Village People soundtrack in their head as they read this? (Sorry, that was no help at all for your actual question).

  44. Misty*

    On NYE I went to a party at my friend’s house. She emailed out the invitations the week before.

    Wednesday morning I woke up at noon to an email from a man I met at the party. I assume he got my email through my friend sending out the invites over email. He had sent the email at 9am saying it was nice to see me the night before and would I like to meet this upcoming week on Monday or Tuesday for a date. He said my name in the email so he def sent it to the right person.

    I emailed back saying that sounded nice and did he have any ideas of what we should do.

    I haven’t heard back from him. So it’s been three days and I’m kinda hoping he doesn’t email back at this point. Because idk my week is filling up and I had kind of expected to hear back from him faster than three days considering he asked me out over email first and I replied to his original email in three hours. Like Monday is basically two days away.

    Am I overreacting that I’ve basically lost interest because he hasn’t replied to my email yet?

    1. Lena Clare*

      Nope, not overreacting at all! I’d be the same. I mean, it’s nicer if they at least seem excited about meeting you right?! Bin him ;)

    2. Aurion*

      Nope, I’d be annoyed too. I’d mentally toss him into the dating circle bin and move on unless he comes back with a really good explanation (like a family emergency).

      1. Mommy.MD*

        Yep this. Sounds like game playing, he changed his mind, etc. Delete the mail and toss it from your mind.

        1. Misty*

          Everyone: thank you so much for your replies!! You all put my mind at ease. I thought maybe I was being too sensitive but I think it’s more likely he’s playing a game or changed his mind. I will move on :)

    3. LilySparrow*

      I would put this in the “don’t wait but don’t necessarily hold it against him” category.

      About half the time when something like this happens to me, there turns out to be a sigificant extenuating circumstance, like the person got horribly ill or their phone was stolen. Or even that they had a flood of spam and lost my email in it.

      Maybe he’s just being a slacker. But if he turns up, see what he has to say.

      1. Misty*

        Yes I agree, I decided to just let it go unless he does email back or say something about it. He still hasn’t emailed and tomorrow is Monday so I’m assuming that he’s not going to email tonight or tomorrow trying to hold me to hanging out Monday or Tuesday (which is what I had agreed to in his original email but we never set a definite time.) My boss actually asked me to work Tuesday so I said yes because I figured no sense waiting for a date that may never happen.

    4. Mx*

      Maybe he’s applying The Rules. That woukd be strange as the book is intended to women but you never know.
      Anyway I wouldn’t like this manipulation whether from a man or a woman. I would just forget about him.

      1. Misty*

        When I told my coworker what happened, she said if he did email back I had to wait as many days to reply as he had waited lol so I feel like she’s read that book perhaps. I’ve never read the book but I’ve heard some random things about it on and off.

  45. Anon Siberian*

    The kitty’s pink eye is better and he is SO persistent in his meows, and it’s partly my eye feels weird+I wanna explore+I wanna be where the people are.

    Are all Siberian kittens this age so very vocal?

    He’s got a vet appt in 2 weeks to determine best age to neuter (last visit, he wasn’t yet developed enough for the surgery). He was less than 5 pounds and just over 4 months old.

    Did neutering change your cat’s personality a lot? Is excessive focalization a sign he’s ready for neutering?

    This miracle hypoallergenic kitty is a handful but is nevertheless a miracle bc of my cat allergies and autoimmune eye conditions—it’s amazing I was able to own a kitty in this lifetime.

    1. Venus*

      Neutering doesn’t tend to change the personality. Some people find that it does (it “makes them lazy”) but that’s often because there are changes which happen at about the same age – hormones, maturity – so it’s not often the neutering that is the reason. I have had adult cats neutered and it improved their smell and made them nicer.

    2. Elspeth Mcgillicuddy*

      Excessive vocalization is probably just a sign he’s a chatty cat, or possibly that he’s bored. I’ve only ever had mutt cats, but they’ve varied substantially in how talkative they are. My dad picked out one of our kittens because he was the noisiest of the litter, and he’s a noisy adult too.

      Is there a reason he can’t explore? If he wants to he’s probably ready.

      1. Anon Siberian*

        He has started exploring the whole house when we’re home (4 full days of the week plus countless hours on other days, due to our flex telework schedules).

        Usually it’s a curious “hmm!” Or a strong mew, when his toy gets lost, or little mews if he’s hungry, or persistent repetitive mews calling for attention.

    3. That Girl from Quinn's House*

      My cat is chatty in general, but when she was a baby, she’d used to mew at me like I was her cat mom. “Mew!” look I’m in the closet. “Mew!” look I found a bag. “Mew!” hey the cabinet is open too!

      I of course used to chat back at her like she was a human kid, and she’s pretty verbal as an adult kitty too.

    4. Fikly*

      While Siamese are probably the most vocal cat breed out there, Siberians are pretty high up on the scale themselves. Your kitten probably just has a lot to say!

      I had a rescue who definitely had some Siamese in her (you could see it in her face) and wow was she a chatter.

      1. Not a cat*

        I had a chatty male siamese. Loved it when he tried “talking” to the dog (who looked perplexed). My most chatty cat was a female Maine Coon. Derailing (apologies) she did not like the sound of human sneezing. When I would sneeze, she would puff up and hiss at me. If I was in another room–sneezing, she would come and find me and then hiss.

        I love chatty cats because PERSONALITY! :)

        1. Fikly*

          My rescue was also offended by human sneezing, but if she had to sneeze, she would stand up on your lap, stick her face in yours, sneeze, then glare at you like it was your fault. So I guess she was offended by her own sneezing as well?

    5. Book Lover*

      Is he a Siberian with standard colors or a neva masquerade? Siamese are very chatty and presumably the neva has some Siamese cat background. Ours is very chatty and extremely social. She plays fetch for us and is always in the middle of the action, even during vacuuming and so on.

  46. Three owls in a trench coat*

    Dilemma of the day: Not sure if I want to own a cat with a cat sofa, or be a cat with a cat sofa.

    1. Not a cat*

      I live near a beach where there are beautiful, huge houses along the strand. When you walked by, you could see various cats sunning themselves on balconies or behind massive french doors. A friend of mine would look and marvel at what he imagined as the perfect life of an indoor “strand” cat.

      1. Three owls in a trench coat*

        Those “strand cats” are living the life I hope to have in my next life. It doesn’t even have to be a big house, just one with lots of sun and a human to cuddle and feed me.

        And a cat sofa and maybe one of those cat drinking fountains too.

  47. Marzipan*

    On the train home from seeing The Ocean At The End Of The Lane at the National Theatre – a stage adaptation of the Neil Gaiman book. It was so, so lovely – creepy and poignant and beautiful. I know it’s pretty much sold out but if it happens to transfer elsewhere I highly recommend it!

    1. Bagpuss*

      Glad you got to see it – I went and was absolutely bowled over – I didn’t think they would be able to adapt the book effectively but it worked so well.

      I have a ticket for the last night, too, and am looking forward to seeing it again.
      It’s had good reviews and sold out the run which (even though the Dorfman is pretty small) are both things that make me optimistic that they may revive it to tour.

  48. Mommy.MD*

    Does anyone watch the Servant on Apple+? It’s the perfect amount of creepy and just hooks you in.

    1. Mimmy*

      Yes!!! I think we missed when it first came out, so we’re trying to catch up. We just finished the episode that included the Japanese woman and crickets. It is definitely creepy!

  49. Shrunken Hippo*

    After a few months I finally have my crafting space set up and it is wonderful! I can leave a project half finished for a few days until my body recovers enough for me to start again. It’s at the back of my bedroom and I blocked it off with shelves so you can’t see the mess from my bed which is the best. I’m feeling more motivated to craft than ever and have plans to make some shirts and a dress. I’ve also been sketching everyday and I’ve been seeing marked improvement since I started in November.

    The down side is I’m having more pain and now have to walk with a cane. On top of my fibromyalgia I’ve been diagnosed with Ehler’s-Danlos syndrome and osteoarthritis in my spine. I have braces for every joint except my back because medical back braces don’t account for curves so I’m waiting to get a custom corset that’ll give me support and make me feel good about myself. It’s been a rough start to the year but I’m feeling pretty positive about life.

    1. misspiggy*

      Would you mind sharing where you’re getting your corset? I also have EDS and am thinking a corset might help with my scoliosis pain.

      1. Shrunken Hippo*

        I’m getting an off the rack one from Orchard corsets and the custom one is being made by a family friend who worked as a seamstress for 45 years. Orchard corsets has great info on how to wear a corset and their customer service is very good. You can give them your measurements and what you’re hoping to use the corset for and they will give you suggestions on which corset to get. They also have steel boned corsets which is what you need if you’re looking for support.

    2. KoiFeeder*

      Do you have recommendations on those joint braces? I’ve got braces for knee, wrist, and elbow, but my feet are weird and I haven’t found any hip braces at all. My elbow braces also leave a little to be desired, but at least I’m not giving myself cubital tunnel when I sleep funny.

      Also, I’ve heard that corsets and back braces are a no-go if you’re prone to dislocation of the rib joints, which outside of my worst hip are my second-most dislocating joint. So no relief for me. :c

      1. misspiggy*

        For weird feet, I’ve used soccer ankle braces from Amazon with great success – the foot is not under pressure, unlike most other foot/ankle braces, which crush my feet and don’t do well with swelling. They’ve really helped me retrain the way I walk and bear weight, which has helped my back and ribs.

        Also, gentle bouncing exercises on those inflatable exercise balls has been good for my core strength to reduce back and hip strain. Just takes us bendies a lot longer to get past the early, very gentle, stages. Bouncing and doing swimming moves with the arms is a good one.

        1. Shrunken Hippo*

          I second these recommendations.
          I have compression style elbow braces that help me keep everything in place but I did get them professionally fitted at a local shop. I never used to be able to wear back braces because of my ribs but I have been doing core and upper body exercises for a year and a half and can wear them now. My physiotherapist only allows me to wear a corset because it gives me just enough support that I can do even more strengthening exercises without hurting myself. It’s been a long three years to get to this point so you just got to start slow and steady and always check in with your medical team.

  50. Why must I always take the high road?*

    If I have to hear another desperate wanna-be Grandfather say something nasty like:

    ” I don’t know what is is wrong with my son-in-law, if I were doing it, my daughter would’ve already popped a few kids, it is like he need me to instruct him how to do it.”

    That is some sick shit right there, and this man has no clue how close he came to getting punched in the throat.

    Of course I just scoffed and said “Classy,” before walking off

    1. Why?*

      Stupid sensitive computer mouse, the ^ got posted before I could edit/add/erase the whole thing. Reading it over, I was actually considering erasing the whole thing and it got sent instead. And while it was somewhat satisfying to see in writing what I have been thinking since I heard it yesterday, it seems lackluster and ill advised in retrospect.

      *Sigh* Still think comments like that are gross even if I don’t want to got to jail for actually assaulting someone.

      I just don’t know why anyone would ever think that was okay to say something like that to a general audience?

      1. That Girl from Quinn's House*

        Or, maybe she doesn’t want to pass on YOUR genes, they’re pretty sexist and icky.

      2. KoiFeeder*

        To be blunt about it, recovering from my maternal grandfather is why my mom never had kids until after he died (which was coincidental, but still deserved on his part).

    2. Plus Ultra*

      I think the entire culture of obsessing over a woman’s reproductive capability is sick and disgusting. I don’t care if grandpa, grandma, or SIL/BILs wanting cousins for their own kids. It’s no one’s business.

      1. Why?*

        I agree it is no one’s business and maybe I’m singling out men, but as offensive as some prospective Grandmothers have been, I’ve never heard one say something like, if it were up to them, their daughter would get the turkey baster.

        Unfortunately I have heard more than one Wanna be Grandfather assert how he’d “get the job done” if he was bedside coaching, or literally had skin in the game (if it were him!)

        I feel so bad for this man’s daughter, because I am pretty this man knew exactly what he said would sound like, and was getting off on being crass. Short of decking him, there was nothing I could really do besides say what I said and walk away, because I am sure an argument or reaction would have thrilled him.

        I don’t know what my Father says behind my back, but I would disown him if I found out he was saying something like that publicly about me.

      2. Observer*

        This comment is as gross as it gets, but it seems to be a lot more obsessed with the GUY’s reproductive “ability”.

    3. Not So NewReader*

      “And if I ruled the world all sexist remarks would cease. Looks like we both don’t have what we want.”

    4. Jaid*

      I’d retort that that was the creepiest thing I ever heard, him saying that he’d schtup his own daughter for a grandbaby.

    5. E-1 motochuck 359*

      Yeah,thats some pretty sick s#!t right there. Maybe next time ask him what kind of incestous fantasies he’s been having to throw in his face how effed up what he said really is.

  51. coffee cup*

    I think I asked this not too long ago, and I’m sorry if I did, but my brain isn’t quite on it at the moment, and actually I am more serious about taking action now than I was then.

    I have always self-managed my depression, since I was in my 20s. I’m 36 now. I did see someone at university to talk to, and since then I’ve had counselling a couple of times but didn’t engage much with it. I find to hard to talk and the counsellor I had, although very lovely, was too much like me to push me out of my stupid shell. I mostly get by because I have what I’d describe as a high-functioning depression, so I don’t take time off work, I get out of bed, I do the things I need to. I just lack motivation or energy to do *more* and better things that would benefit me, like external courses and things I want to learn and do. Which frustrates me, but it’s all very exhausting when your mood is low as a baseline, even if you function OK generally.

    By the way, none of this is to comment on anyone else’s situation! Just how I deal with it usually and how it affects me.

    Anyway, I’m finding it’s just too tiring now and I really think I need to change something. I am considering going back to counselling but asking for another person (it’s a donation service, I can’t afford expensive therapy at the moment), but also for the first time looking into antidepressants alongside. I really am not keen on the idea, but I am wondering if now it’s worth trying because it might actually help. Not solve everything, and I know I need to work alongside medication to get better, but maybe it would give me a way to get to a head space where I can actually work on that stuff without being constantly fed up, tired and lethargic.

    My mind feels like there’s a small speed bump, and my mood tries to get over the bump, like in a car, but it just keeps buffing against it and not actually getting over it. That’s how I decided it feels, haha. If that makes any sense to anyone. I’m motoring, but not effectively.

    I wondered if anyone could share their experiences with antidepressants and if there’s a way I should ask about them if I go to the GP. I’m wary of them just giving them to me without really investigating what I need, so I want to have more information before I tell them what’s going on. I haven’t 100% decided yet if I’ll even go, but I’m definitely considering it. I am a bit scared, though. Any advice would be helpful… I feel like I can’t really tell anyone else at the moment, so I appreciate it!

    1. Jackalope*

      No info on the antidepressants but I wanted to say that I really like your speed bump analogy. That’s it, to a T.

      1. Reba*

        That is a great image! Because you can even see where you want to go and just… not get there.

        I will say that anti depressants have made a big positive difference in my house.

    2. ThatGirl*

      Note, this is from the perspective of a wife, my husband (who is also a therapist) has dealt with depression since he was a teenager. Antidepressants are a tool. They help add back neurotransmitters your brain is missing. For many people with depression they’re crucial. Therapy is also important! But many people need both.

      I would suggest asking for a referral or seeing a psychiatrist or psych nurse practitioner if possible. Primarily because they have more experience prescribing and can help figure out the right drug. GPs can certainly write you a prescription bit they’d be guessing more — and it could take longer to find the right dose or drug. But if you really like your GP you can absolutely talk to them.

      1. Senor Montoya*

        Agree with this. I was on Prozac for a couple of years, worked w a counselor for about 15 months, my doc was excellent at working w me to get the right meds and right doses with the fewest side effects. It was very helpful, made therapy a lot easier to do.
        If you have a good relationship w yr primary doc, then that’s fine for prescribing.

    3. Pam*

      I’ve been on a fairly low dose of fluoxetine for years. I figure that, just as I can’t think my pancreas into working, so need diabetic medications, I also can’t magically make my brain better, so need antidepressants,

      1. CastIrony*

        I agree. I take a very low dose of fluoxetine (Prozac), and my headspace dramatically improved to where I can think again.

    4. Amber Rose*

      Much like you, I dealt on my own until I was too tired. Then I went to my doctor and said, “I’m depressed and I need some help.”

      Then we talked about my options. Antidepressants are a funny thing because of how individual our reactions to them are. The first one I tried left me incapable of sleeping for the 2 weeks I tried it. The second gave me anger issues.

      The wellbutrin was a lifesaver. It didn’t cause like a drastic change. But things started to get easier. The speed bump went from small mountain to tiny blip, and getting over it took less effort. I had a weird gap where I expected that darkness to be for a while. I’d just got so used to being exhausted and miserable when doing things that I’d assume it would happen and feel disoriented when it didn’t. But that was freeing as well. I could treat being tired as a bad habit instead of a crippling problem and deal with it finally.

      Overall, it was the tiniest huge life changer. That small boost really gave me my life back.

      I can’t make any claims on what would happen for you, but I’d argue it’s at least worth trying.

      1. Not a cat*

        Boy, are you right about differing reactions! I lost 20 lbs on Prosac. My appetite just completely disappeared, poof! Now I take a low dose of an old school SSRI and it works really well.

    5. Misty*

      Therapy has helped my depression A LOT.

      It can be work finding the right therapist. Over the past nine years I tried 12 different therapists (for varied amounts of time) until I found my current therapist. She’s amazing. Just knowing that she has my back when I start to dip down, has helped a LOT. It’s so awesome having the extra support. I’ve been seeing her twice a week for the past year.

      1. Senor Montoya*

        Yes. Definitely don’t feel bad about trying dif therapists even at the same practice. If they are professional they understand that sometimes you just don’t click.
        Ask around for recs. My doc gave me a few, but the one I ended up sticking w was someone recommended by a coworker who had gone thru some similar experiences

    6. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      I can offer solidarity as well, I’m in the exact same boat.

      Therapy did help me get over a hump a few years ago but in the end, I didn’t want to return. The therapist was kind and trustworthy but I hated the structure of it all. I know I need to go back at some point but I’ve been sitting on a list of providers in my insurance network for over six months now. And now I think it could be to the level of needing medication, since I’m finding myself in absolute hermit mode, so much so that it’s causing me medical problems from the lack of activity.

      My mom has used antidepressants for a couple of bad spells she had, once when my grandmother was dying and when my father was fighting cancer. They helped her a lot but she said they make her feel “funny” and she just doesn’t like it. So she stopped taking them after getting through the worst of each event. She got them from her GP, they do indeed go on your word of symptoms and don’t really investigate much. So the best thing to do is to go to your therapist and work it out on that level for the research level.

      I’m glad that you’re thinking about all this. It’s upsetting but necessary.

      1. coffee cup*

        I know that hermit mode and can relate! I really don’t think it’s anything other than circumstances that’s stopped me getting more into that mode. I will always go to work because I need to, and it’s good for me to have the routine, but outside work, especially in winter, it’s far too easy for me to just stay in and hide. I do just want a small dose to get me out of the current headspace a little.

        I don’t think therapy is easy to do at all. I think it takes the right time for you and the right person for you. I hope you can find that so you can start to feel better too.

    7. Parenthetically*

      I’m someone with a similar depression journey (also 3rd generation depressed person on both sides, hollaaaa!), and our family doc was willing to prescribe a “half-dose” of Wellbutrin — technically a sub-therapeutic dose, but it was enough to help get over that hump to be ABLE to do the other things that are helpful for depression, like exercising, checking things off the list, making nutritious meals, keeping the house clean, etc.

      1. coffee cup*

        Yes, that’s really all I want. A way to clear my brain a wee bit so I can tackle the stuff that will at heart make me feel better long term. I’ve been doing it without any other ‘support’ for a loooong time.

  52. Anonthistime*

    Has anyone had this one person in their friend circle who rubbed them the wrong way/didn’t like, but your other friends did not feel as antagonistic towards?

    I’ve known this girl – let’s call her Karen (bc why not) – since high school. For some context, it’s common where I’m from for a lot of people from my high school to go to the same state university. My first couple of years in college, I continued to hang out with the same social circle from high school because I’m socially lazy and bad at meeting new people.

    Anyway, Karen and I were friends in high school. She is one of those people who if you interact with her on a casual level, is very fun to be around and chat with. She is also conventionally attractive and gives off a cool girl vibe, so you feel validated if she compliments your clothes or whatever.

    However, it’s when we became roommates in college that I started to see her “dark” side. I found her to be disingenuous and sort of petty. She would commonly do this thing to me and my other friends where she would go around spilling tea on bad things other people have said about us. E.g. She revealed to my friend “Melissa” that “a lot of people in HS actually disliked her because they though she was a bossy know-it-all” and to another mutual friend CeCe (who considers Karen to be her best friend) that a lot of the guys CeCe had dated actually had a crush on HER (Karen) instead. She told me that one of the girls on my floor said bad things about me, that her bf thought I was ugly, etc. (Her bf at the time was also horrible, but that’s another story.) She would also share unflattering opinions about our mutual friends to me when they weren’t around. One example: CeCe is too ugly to attract the boys she wants.

    I stopped hanging out with her after we moved to different dorms the following year. I politely acknowledged her and made small talk when we would hang out in common social circles, but I stopped having any a good opinion of her since we were roommates. The problem is, CeCe, who is a dear friend of mine, still likes to hang out with Karen and still considers her a best friend. Since college, CeCe and I have moved to the same city, and is trying to convince Karen to do the same (while I’m secretly praying that Karen stays away.)

    I’m so puzzled by CeCe’s willingness to continue hanging out with Karen, because I remember distinctly the multiple arguments and drama she would get into with Karen in college, where Karen would say something hurtful and make CeCe cry. This is in addition to knowing what Karen has said about CeCe behind her back. I haven’t been honest to CeCe about my views on Karen because I don’t want to be potentially left out of group hangouts/outings if she were to move here.

    I did confide my views on Karen to our other friend Melissa. Melissa validated my views, but had a more forgiving tone. She cites Karen’s difficult upbringing (her dad walked out on her and she was raised by a single mother) on her potential insecurities, which probably drove her to do the things she did.

    For me: F all that! I think Karen’s a **tch who is enabled by forgiving people like CeCe and Melissa. The annoying thing is that because she is beautiful, superficially charming, and smart, she has definitely succeeded in life with a good career and got recently married to a psychiatrist, which I find EXTREMELY intriguing (because I have honestly wondered if she is a low-key sociopath.)

    1. Anonthistime*

      Wow I did not intend for this post to be so long! I do find this person in my life very interesting, though.

    2. Cat*

      I mean, I think you’re completely justified in having nothing to do with her. But it also sounds like you haven’t had much to do with her since college – a lot of people are high drama in high school and college and figure things out later. Maybe she treats your friends fine now. That doesn’t mean you should hang out with her, but it also doesn’t mean she’s still toxic to her friends.

    3. Anon Here*

      This is why I don’t do friend groups! But, seriously, here’s something else that I’ve learned. People are responsible for what they tolerate and who they associate with. They’re not responsible for other people’s behavior, but they are accountable for choosing to accept what and who they do.

      So, if you want, you can stop being friends with the friends who are friends with Karen and not feel bad about it. It’s ok to distance yourself from people who are friends with people who mistreat people. You can kinda sorta keep in touch and then befriend them again if things change.

      Also, I know this varies person to person, but I find small friend groups to be kind of toxic. I find that it’s healthier to have a bunch of random friends, many of whom don’t know each other. I would take a break from all these people and focus on making new friends.

      1. Cat*

        You can be friends with whoever you want of course. But most of us would find that if we distanced ourselves from everyone who’s hanging onto an old friend we don’t approve of, we would have zero social life left.

      2. Anonthistime*

        Yeah – I do genuinely like my other friends, so I am not willing to distance myself from them. It did take hanging out with them separately from Karen to conclude that the problem really was just Karen, and not an overall unhealthy group dynamic.

        1. valentine*

          I am not willing to distance myself from them.
          Okay, but you’re the only one who found Karen bad enough to cut off, except you’re willing to tolerate her to avoid missing out, even though it would mean your friends she’s mistreated chose her over you.

          the problem really was just Karen, and not an overall unhealthy group dynamic.
          Karen is probably badmouthing you to CeCe and Melissa, so how does continuing the friendship benefit them? Karen’s an easy target, but the real problem isn’t why the other two won’t let her go. It’s why you’re idealizing them and won’t let go of them, especially when CeCe’s not just going back for more with Karen, but trying to bring Karen back into your orbit.

          New year, new friends. How does that sound? And don’t introduce them to the college crowd. What if, this year, you almost forget Karen exists because no one mentions her and you’ve truly moved on?

          1. Anonthistime*

            No offense, but I know my own friends, and if I felt like I should distance myself from them, it would have occurred to me by now.

            1. Fetch*

              You asked for opinions. Moving forward from adults still acting like high-schoolers seems like a good one. It’s a big interesting world out there.

              1. Anonthistime*

                Re-read the question – I wasn’t actually asking for advice! (I mean, people can still post advice if they want, but I won’t be taking them.)

              1. Anonthistime*

                I wasn’t asking for advice; I was asking if people have had similar experiences. Mostly out of curiosity.

          2. Colette*

            People are allowed to limit relationships – I.e. “I don’t want to hang out with her but I won’t avoid something she’s going to be at”. Karen may not act the same way with CeCe and Melissa – and if she does, that’s their problem to handle. I have friends whose friends I don’t particularly like; that’s fine.

    4. TL -*

      Yeah, one of my friends had a huge issue with me and the way they handled it was – well, I was the one who decided we weren’t ever talking again and then they handled that really badly, and I’ve just decided wherever they are, I’m not.
      This has been easy because we’ve been living in different countries, so when they come into town, I just don’t go see them with everyone else. I think most of the friend group knows some version of “TL and ZH don’t get hang out ever,” and I don’t talk about it with them out of respect for those friendships.

      I just view it as “people value different things in a friendship,” – not all of my friends get along and though this is more extreme, they’re not condoning something that is beyond the pale for me.

      We’ll probably end up at a few weddings together in the next couple of years and my plan is to be polite when necessary and elsewhere when possible. I imagine their plan will be much the same.

    5. Gaspode*

      How long has it been since y’all graduated or hung out together? If it’s been a while, you might want to reflect on why her past behavior is still bothering you so much now.

      You can’t control other people. CeCe & Melissa probably find some value in their friendship with Karen, but even if they didn’t, that’s on them, not you. Plus, again depending on how long it’s been, it’s quite possible she’s changed her ways.

    6. Not So NewReader*

      So if you want to stay with the group and Karen won’t quit gossiping, why not start a new trend in your group?
      Why not just tell Karen that you aren’t going to be discussing people who are not present ATM? Say this in front of who ever and say it when ever necessary.

      There’s a difference in talking about others in order to try to help them and just plain talking about others to gossip. You could go with, “I am not sure how this conversation helps Nancy. So I think we ought to move on here. If we can come up with something to help Nancy, we can come back to this conversation.”

  53. Jackalope*

    Just roasted a pumpkin and am looking for ideas on what to make with it. I don’t want pie or pumpkin bread which are my usual go-to recipes. Any thoughts? Something that could be a primary meal would be nice since I don’t have a lot in the house for that right now.

    1. Tris Prior*

      I don’t have a recipe to link to, but I had pumpkin and black bean chili at a party once and it was fantastic.

    2. Elspeth Mcgillicuddy*

      My mom does a thing sometimes based on Afghani kaddu (or kadoo), but she seasons ground beef like kadoo and serves it over roast pumpkin instead of cooking the pumpkin with the spices. It’s really good.

    3. Bluebell*

      Roasted pumpkin and arugula makes a fantastic salad. You could serve it over quinoa or couscous and garnish with roasted pumpkin seeds, and maybe a little crumbled cheese.

    4. Pippa K*

      Pumpkin curry or pumpkin ravioli! A curry might be more pantry-friendly if you don’t have a lot of fresh groceries in the house, since it would probably use things like a can of chickpeas, coconut milk, etc.

    5. Grace*

      Risotto! Need some stock, some arborio (or similar) rice, some parmegiano reggiano, some butter, maybe also onion, but the pumpkin is the star of the show.

    6. Jackalope*

      I have 15 milion gallons (give or take) of turkey stock that I am trying to work through in the faint hope that I might someday have freezer space again (as well as amici more modest amount of chicken stock), so soups and things involving stock would not go amiss.

    7. Nita*

      I like to mash roasted pumpkin with some sugar, cinnamon and raisins, stew it a little so the raisins soften, and bingo – nice hearty side dish.

    8. zaracat*

      Puree with roasted cashew nuts for a really nice dip. Also, pumpkin and feta cheese risotto.

    9. Jackalope*

      Thanks everyone for the great ideas! I made the pumpkin bean chili this time since that’s what I had ingredients on hand for but have more pumpkin in my freezer so plan to try some of the other ideas in the next couple of weeks!

  54. Green Handbag*

    I’m trying to work on the emotion of “shame.” I guess… I don’t really understand the message behind it and if it’s something to listen to and pay attention to, or ignore.

    I’m trying to work with someone on this creative project, and I feel like we’ve been going back and forth a lot with scheduling. I feel really ashamed because I feel like I haven’t really stepped up and been a good leader. The main issue is, I don’t have a car so a lot of the transport depends on my friend’s mom’s schedule so if he can use her car to drive me. (I am a full-grown adult. I just… don’t have a car.)

    He can’t give me an answer when he will have the car because it’s not HIS car.

    The next option is to find some place closer. The place I wanted to go to is shutting down because the person who owns it has to plan a funeral for his mom. So… now I’m like… aghghhhh. I don’t know what good options there are now except spending 5x as much somewhere else.

    I feel like I’m leading this other person on because it’s like, ok here’s a plan, just kidding that won’t work, ok new plan, ok just kidding. I haven’t even met this person before so I feel like I’m making a terrible impression. I don’t know how to “step up” and make it work. I feel like I’m totally failing here.

    1. Elspeth Mcgillicuddy*

      Shame lets us know when we have (or are about to) do something wrong. This is very useful if it stops us from doing something wrong in the first place, keeps us from doing it again or makes us take responsibility for our wrongdoing. It is not so useful if we haven’t actually done anything wrong or if we keep beating ourselves up for a minor wrongdoing. In your case, while being flaky is not great, it’s not a major wrongdoing either, plus you can’t really help it. Fix it if you can, apologize either way, and don’t beat yourself up.

    2. WellRed*

      Is this a long or short term project? I’d also point out that he also is a grown ass adult without a car. Ultimately though, it’s up to you to figure out what you can do and how to get yourself there. Why are your plans not working? Start there.

      1. Green Handbag*

        I don’t think it’s cool to judge me for not having a car. I live in a city with public transit and it’s not my fault the other person lives in a far away suburb!

        1. valentine*

          I think WellRed is taking your side and saying you shouldn’t judge yourself for not having a car and neither should your friend, especially when he doesn’t have one, either. If WellRed is right, then he’s the problem because he doesn’t know when he’ll have transport. But I think your friend is a third party and not the prospective project partner, unless there’s a missing “to,” so it should read “drive to me.”

          Either way, can the two of you Skype initially and only meet if you decide to go ahead? Can you form a cab fare fund? No carshare near them? Can they rent them a car? Do they have a relative or neighbor who seldom drives their vehicle and might be willing to lend or lease? Can you meet around whatever they’re doing that takes them near non-mom transport?

        2. TL -*

          It’s not your fault – but generally if you’re working with someone, about half the responsibility of meeting up should fall on you. If you live in a major city, a combination of public transit and taxis(which you can schedule)/rideshares are highly likely to be an option to get somewhere deep into the suburbs. There’s also options like Zipcar.
          The same goes for him, if mom’s car isn’t reliable.

          Also, I didn’t read WellRed as judging you for not having a car. I don’t think being car-free is a problem, but I also don’t think it’s okay to put all the transportation responsibility on someone else because of your choice. Choosing to be car free means you never have to deal with parking or car expenses, but it also means sometimes it takes you a lot longer with extra steps to get somewhere.

    3. Colette*

      Why are cars mandatory? I get that they would make it easier, but since neither of you has a car, you’d be more successful if you came up with a plan that doesn’t require one. Can you take turns making the trek on public transit? Can you meet halfway? Are there times when you’re close together due to other activities that will you allow you to tag this activity on?

      Not having a car is a reasonable choice, as long as you’re not expecting someone who does have a car to subsidize it. Make your plans based on what is in your control.

    4. LGC*

      So, I’d actually start with the “leadership”: why do you have to lead? It feels like you’re ashamed because you haven’t been good at leading the project and flaking on the other person, but…why does it have to be on you to organize this and get out to their area?

      Also, are there any hosting alternatives? You say that you’re planning a creative project, so what kind of workspace do you need? Could you do it in – like – a Starbucks, or even at your home if you felt comfortable? If you need a dedicated studio space, are there any other spaces closer to your town that aren’t five times the price of the one you can’t use? And what about the other person – is it easier for them to come out to you?

      I do think that you shouldn’t feel ashamed – and I agree with Elspeth in that being ashamed isn’t very helpful to you (because – like – to be quite honest, it reads a bit like you feel like a failure, so you can’t solve this).

  55. Sustainable living*

    Tell me your best sustainable living ideas! I am looking specifically to reduce single-use plastic consumption.

    I already:
    – bring reusable bags to the grocery store (including reusable mesh produce bags)
    – use bar soaps in place of liquid soaps
    – use Loop to get other personal care/household products in reusable metal containers

    I know there are a lot more things I can do (one relatively easy change I’m eyeing is changing my other facial/makeup products to brands that don’t use plastic), but I’m interested in hearing what others are doing to improve sustainability/reduce single use plastic use.

      1. WellRed*

        I’m trying to get in the habit of bring a container with me for leftovers at a restaurant. My only other thought is to reduce what you buy in general. Interested to see what others suggest.

    1. Anonthistime*

      Following this. One thing I started doing is using reusable bags/jars to buy grocery store items (like grains and produce) in bulk instead of packaged. Also buying clothes and furniture secondhand is one of the most sustainable things you can do.

      Though I will say, there is only so much impact one can have individually. This year, I plan to do more research and advocacy on a policy level to reduce plastic and other types of waste. I’m also trying to consume less overall.

      1. Sustainable living*

        Are you US-based? I see the recommendation to buy from bulk bins everywhere online, but I have never encountered an actual store that offers that option. All the grocery stores that I’m aware of in my area are traditional chain stores.

        1. Natalie*

          It might be your region, assuming you’re in the US. I’m in the Twin Cities and even our local/regional chain groceries have a bulk section, as does Whole Foods, although they vary in size/selection. The only chains that don’t are Target and Walmart.

          Do you have any natural foods or co-op stores near you? The bulk items are generally pretty affordable even when the packaged food isn’t. (And it’s great when you only need a tablespoon of something for a new recipe.)

          1. Sustainable living*

            I am; I live just outside of Boston. We have 3 Whole Foods stores adjacent to our lives (one each near home, my workplace, and my spouse’s workplace), but none of them offer bulk bins. I’ll have to keep searching for other types of grocery stores that offer this.

            1. Natalie*

              You might have better luck in Boston itself, if your routine takes you there at any point. Around me most of the coops are in the city proper or maybe first ring suburbs.

        2. ThatGirl*

          My local Mariano’s (owner by Kroger) has bulk nuts and dried fruit but she did also say produce, meaning, buy individual loose potatoes or apples or veggies instead of prepackaged ones. Of course you still need a bag to put them in.

        3. Anonthistime*

          Yes – sorry I should have clarified. I am in the U.S. and do live in a metropolitan area, so I’m by a lot of specialty grocery stores like Whole Foods and MOM’s Organic. I understand that this option is not available everywhere, though.

          This is why, though, I don’t like to overemphasize individual efforts to be sustainable. I mean, do what you can, but it’s just not universally feasible and requires more top-down, systemic efforts.

        4. university minion*

          See if there’s a co-op in your area. I buy all my bulk ingredients at my local co-op and it’s the only place I trust for bulk. 40+ years of bulk foods being their bread and butter has led to very good practices for both employees and customers. Some of the regular supermarkets in the area have them now, but the staff isn’t well trained in their upkeep nor are the customers considerate of how to use them.

    2. Square Root of Minus One*

      Reusable mug and/or bottle in the hand bag. Also, if you eat out, a box and/or a set of cutlery.
      Stainless steel or wooden straws if you use them.
      Paper wipes replaced by washable fabric wipes.
      Washable cotton menstrual pads.
      Good luck!

    3. Washi*

      Ooh, looking forward to this!

      -reusable sponges (I have some peach pit scrubbers that I love, and they last 6-8 months for me)
      -Diva cup instead of disposable menstrual products
      -shop at thrift stores when I need clothes
      -use my local Buy Nothing group when I need small household items
      -park my car far away on the weekends so I’m not tempted to drive instead of biking/public transport

    4. Ezera*

      This isn’t single use plastic, but I’m trying to get things that are used when possible, like trying out ThredUp for clothes, and getting used books instead of new (when I buy a book instead of getting it at the library). I’m also thinking of getting a guppyfriend bag that you put your polyester/fleece items in in the washing machine; it collects microplastic fibers so they don’t get into the water supply.

    5. MaryB*

      Vote wisely!! That’s where the biggest change will come from – the world is not going to make important changes from the good of our hearts.

      Single use plastics are tough. Buy in bulk – huge bottles of shampoo, for example – and use to refill more manageable sized bottles. Now that google knows you’re thinking about this you’ll see ads for laundry “sheets” instead of liquids or pods. As others have said I carry a container for restaurant leftovers, plus cutlery for restaurants which use plastic. Get a steel pint glass for outdoor festivals which allow them. Get refillable Kurek (sp?) cups for coffee making. Use dental floss instead of “Plackers.”

      I keep meaning to save all my plastic in plain sight for a week to see what I’m using but I think I keep losing my nerve!

      Good thread! I’m looking forward to it!

    6. Zona the Great*

      Gather all soft plastics including bubble wrap and other packaging and send to Trex decking company. Many Kroger stores will collect. Go to the Trex website for more info.

      1. skylight*

        Thanks for mentioning this. Just went to their website and all my local grocery chains collect for them, so it’s easier than I thought.

    7. LizB*

      I’m also in a process of working on this! In addition to many of the things already mentioned:
      – reusable/washable cotton rounds for washing my face/taking off makeup
      – switched to a conditioner bar instead of bottled conditioner
      – use beeswax cloth wraps instead of foil/plastic wrap
      – an adorable reusable little glass & metal container for floss – I can get little refill bundles of biodegradable floss when I run out
      – I’m lucky enough to have municipal composting in my city, so making sure all my compostable waste goes into that bin instead of the trash
      – I recently switched jobs and now can commute by public transit, which has been wonderful

      I’ve also just tried to get a lot better about reusing — if I already have an item, I’m going to keep using it over and over until it’s truly useless, rather than throwing it out to use a sustainable version instead. (This seems obvious, but sometimes I feel like there’s a ton of advertising all about “Get rid of all your plastic and replace it with glass/bamboo/metal immediately!”, and that’s… not actually helpful.) I ran out of some spices recently, so I washed out the cheap plastic grocery store spice jars they came in and brought them to my local grocery co-op to re-fill them from the bulk spice section. Plastic ziplocs can be washed/rinsed and re-used a number of times. Instead of buying a brand new planner for 2020, I took one of the dozen pretty notebooks I’ve had lying around for years and turned it into a planner. All my holiday presents were wrapped with reused gift bags or paper (my partner’s family has always re-used wrapping paper so they didn’t bat an eye at this). I don’t know that I’ll ever get down to truly zero waste, and even if I did there’s only so much an individual can move the needle… but I’m enjoying making swaps where I can, and learning that I really don’t need many of the one-use things I’ve grown accustomed to.

      1. WellRed*

        Talk to me about the bees wax wraps. I wrap stuff like pizza in foil to reheat and hate it. Are these appropriate for that? Where did you get them? (Not an Amazon fan, partly due to the packaging waste it generates).

        1. fposte*

          I have the beeswax wraps. I like them (I *love* the scent especially), but they’re not super-clingy and you hand wash them, so I mostly use them for covering bowls or wrapping harder stuff. I did get some of the reusable silicone zip bags as well and since they can seal and go into the dishwasher I favor them for gooier stuff. I got both the beeswax and silicone wraps on Amazon but I think they’re getting popular enough that they’d turn up in various housewares stores.

        2. Elf*

          You can definitely get beeswax wraps a lot of places (I know trader joe’s has them) but you CAN’T put them in the microwave, or even wash in hot water, the wax will melt off and they’ll be wrecked. They make silicone dish covers you could use, or just rig up something with actual plates (I tend to use one dinner plate upside down on top of the other, works great)

        3. LizB*

          They can’t get heated up or used to wrap hot things, unfortunately, so they wouldn’t be great for that usage. They could be used to store said pizza in the fridge prior to reheating, though! I picked up a couple of wraps from my local co-op, then got the rest of my stash from packagefreeshop [dot] com. At one point I picked up a pack of the Trader Joe’s ones, but I did NOT like them – the fabric was way too stiff and the wax didn’t stick even after holding it for a long time.

      2. Sustainable living*

        Where do you get your conditioner bars? I’m trying out shampoo bars now but still using liquid conditioner because I couldn’t find bars anywhere.

        1. LizB*

          They sell them on packagefreeshop [dot] com — I’ve gotten quite a few different things from there, but not specifically conditioner bars. I personally have a store near me that’s explicitly package-free and sustainable (Tare Market in Minneapolis, MN), so I’m lucky that I can just pick up local ones with zero packaging from there. Tare also carries a bunch of shampoo and conditioner bars from HiBAR, and I’ve heard from friends that those are pretty great.

    8. zaracat*

      I keep a metal drinking straw and a metal spork in a small drawstring bag in my handbag, so I never have to use plastic cutlery or straws when I eat at a food court or want to buy a snack like yoghurt when I’m out and about. I’ve specially modified the spork handle so it’s like a very blunt knife (think butter knife) so at a pinch it can be used to cut things like cheese or cake when I’m sharing food. Also I cover food in the fridge with an upturned plate or bowl instead of using cling wrap, just like my grandma used to do.

      1. Jackalope*

        For those in an area with an REI they sell a spork with a knife handle which I used for a long time for my lunches at work. I finally just took metal silverware in bcs I’m at work every day so for that situation it’s worth it but for carrying around in your purse or bag like that for food courts and such it would probably be great.

    9. General von Klinkerhoffen*

      Avoid net-caught fish if you are concerned about plastic. Line-caught is more expensive and less available, but plastic fishing nets are a huge problem for the oceans.

    10. Be the Change*

      TMI warning, I’ve reduced home toilet paper use by using washable rags for #1 and the rinse method for #2. Can’t do it at work though, ha!

      What I would love to be able to ditch is plastic bags for frozen vegetables and fruit. I use a lot of that given my frozen fruit addiction.

      1. LizB*

        This would be a long-term solution, not an immediate one, but could you buy fruit and veggies in bulk when they’re in season and freeze them yourself in reusable containers? Obviously depends heavily on how much freezer space you have and how much time and energy you’re able to devote to this.

        I also saw a post that made me think the other day that pointed out that all those frozen fruit bags, bread bags, chip bags, etc. that most households end up throwing out are perfectly good to be used in small trash cans, for pet waste, etc. For some reason I had never thought of that! If you can give your frozen stuff bags a second life somehow, that’s an improvement.

  56. Anon for this (medical diagnosis)*

    Using a throwaway name for this one because I’d rather it not be associated with my other user name, etc. It is about a medical diagnosis, so adding in that warning for anyone who would prefer it.

    This past December I got diagnosed with HPV, which is freaking me out. The doctor told me that there is no treatment and to just come back in a year to see if the pap smear is abnormal because that would be the first sign if cancer is forming. This the first time I’ve been diagnosed with an STI, and I’ve been with my current partner for three years. I also did get the full series of the HPV vaccine a few years ago, but it doesn’t cover all the strains.

    It’s bumming me out because there’s nothing I can do now. I did start the new HPV vaccine because it covers more strains than the old one, and it might help for the future.

    Just looking for positive vibes over the internet. 2019 was a weird year for health.

    1. Cat*

      Sorry to hear it. But remember that a huge percentage of the population has HPV. It’s extraordinarily common. And your body can and often does clear the virus. And if it doesn’t, the risk can be well managed through regular paps. The odds are overwhelmingly Hugh that everything will be fine!

      1. Natalie*

        *Nearly all* people will be infected with HPV at some point in their lives. It really isn’t anything to be concerned about, although I recall sex ed trying to make it a thing and that kind of mindset can certainly stick with you. Get regular medical care and cervical screenings and you’ll be a-ok.

        I’ll link an article about the out of proportion fear of herpes that might be interesting. Different viruses but very similar as far as their prevalence and (largely) benign nature.

      1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        Yep, the CDC has approved it for use on individuals up to 45 years old.

          1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

            Mine didn’t (in 2019, but should do in 2020), but my husband’s did.

      2. WS*

        It’s most effective before you’re sexually active, but it can still offer protection against all the other strains (and there’s a lot!) after that, too.

    2. AvonLady Barksdale*

      I had HPV a long time ago. My next pap was negative. HPV is SO common and so easy to get (I’ve heard you don’t even have to have sex to get it) and most of the time it’s nothing. I freaked out too– but I promise you, it is likely ok! My doctor’s office was wonderful about it and I know I was lucky. A cousin of mine is a gynecologist and he thinks a lot of colposcopies are unnecessary because generally, HPV will not be present in a follow up pap.

      Deep breath! Just take it from here.

      1. WellRed*

        I’m going for my second colposcopy and want to ask the doc how necessary these are for me. It’s an area where the cells change rapidly so why all the alarm?

      2. Filosofickle*

        I had the same — by the time I was able to schedule the follow up a few months later, it was already gone. Our bodies can usually fight off HPV.

      3. Anne*

        Ugh, I had this happen several years ago and they did the miserable colposcopy and it just confirmed HPV but nothing more and next pap was clear. Awful experience, made worse by the fact that I was beating myself up for getting an STD from a long-term partner, until I learned what most people have said above – most people have some strain at some point, and most men don’t even know they have it as there isn’t even an effective test for it in men.

    3. The LEEP Police*

      I had high-risk HPV on my Pap 3 years in a row before I cleared it. The first year, I had some weird squamous pre-cancer cells on my cervix that they burned off. The second year, I had some less troubling but still abnormal cells that they scraped off. The third year, I tested positive for a high risk stain of HPV, but I didn’t need any cells burned out scraped. And this year, my Pap was normal! I was so pleased.

      It’s important to monitor this stuff and get any pre-cancer removed, but it’s not in itself any sort of death sentence or moral judgment or stigma. Most people will get one or more strains of HPV at some point.

    4. Dr. Anonymous*

      This is super common. Very often the repeat is clear. Sometimes you have to have an additional brief simple procedure in the OB GYN’s office to evaluate further, and rarely an additional procedure on the cervix. There are a LOT of stages between HPV and significant cervical changes, much less cancer, and very few people end up seeing more than one or two of those stages.

  57. SandrineSmiles - France*

    Happy New Year everyone!

    I just got a brand new computer tower and I am SO relieved as things are so much easier now. I think I’ll try and go easy on this computer, the last one is probably tired of my antics xD …

    Everything is going rather well so far. I’m just hoping I can see my BF soon, cause I haven’t in a while.


    1. Merci Dee*

      Happy new year to you, as well! :)

      I hope you get some quality time with your BF soon. All the internet hugs from a stranger in the meantime! :)

  58. WellRed*

    I’m not judging you at all. I’d gladly give up having a car if it was practical. If you live in a city with public transport then can’t he come to you? Does this project needs certain space or equipment? That does make it harder.

  59. larelah*

    Hi all – sharing the below around as it’s recently said the lives of a few friends – from “Essential bushfire Safety Tips”

    Although data states that 2/3 of Black Saturday fatalities died while sheltering in or near their house, research by bushfire scientists revealed that they did not die BECAUSE they were sheltering. They died because they did not know how to shelter safely.
    SO WHEN THE BUSHFIRE EMERGENCY MESSAGE IS “It I s too Late to Leave, You Should Take Shelter and Stay Indoors” – WHAT SHOULD YOU ACTUALLY DO?
    * Shelter behind a wall; beside a large fire resistant tree (that has no flammable undergrowth); in nor beside a car; in a dam (if no vegetation is near either), in a ditch, (cover yourself with earth or blanket); crouch beneath a blankets (must be PURE WOOL and DRY) on bare ground or an already burnt area.
    – Dry pure wool has the quality of extinguishing sparks and embers.
    Before you go inside:
    * Shut off gas and electricity at the mains.
    * Put pets inside: dogs on leash, cats in covered cages.
    * Take in outdoor furniture, doormats, hanging baskets, plastic pot plants.
    When you are inside:
    * Make sure all doors and windows are securely shut.
    * Turn off air conditioners; cover their internal vents.
    * If windows are unshuttered, cover with blankets (must be PURE WOOL), heavy quality quilts, foil or wet towels.
    *Move flammable furniture away from windows.
    * Close internal doors to limit fire spread if embers enter and ignite inside.
    * Put on protective clothing and nose mask and drink often.
    * Keep blankets (must be PURE WOOL and DRY) handy.
    * Cool off when possible.
    * Watch the conditions outside if possible through a small window or peephole. Do not open a door or window to look outside.
    * When you are sure flaring shrubs have blackened, it’s safe to go out again. (Burning tree trunks do not generally emit killing radiant heat.)
    * DO NOT SHELTER IN AN INNER ROOM. Not in the hallway. Not in the bath. If you shelter in ANY kind of inner room – no matter how many doors it has – you could be trapped. Embers may have ignited sub-floor or wall cavities or rafters in the ceiling space,. Flaming walls or ceiling could collapse on you. Toxic fumes from smouldering furnishings, synthetic furniture or wall linings could overcome you.
    * STAY BY A DOOR THAT EXITS TO OUTSIDE in protective clothing and with blankets (must be PURE WOOL and DRY).
    * It is vital for passive shelterers to exit as soon as the potentially killing radiant heat from fames has died down.
    * Take hose, sprayers and ladder inside with you.
    * Fill bath & troughs with water, immerse towels, roll up and place at door gaps and window ledges. Plug keyholes with play dough, blue-tack or soap.
    * Fill containers (e.g. garden sprayers) with water; put these, with dippers, mops etc, in each room.
    * Watch for invading embers. Particularly in the ceiling space, through windows, gaps under doors. Spray or hit with wet mop any sparks, embers or smouldering furnishings.
    * If any ignition cannot be extinguished, close the door of that room.
    * Maintain easy access to an exit door.
    * Never go outside during a flame front to douse an outside ignition.
    * Exit with great care, preferably from a door that is sheltered from the wind.
    * Wear protective clothing & nose cover, cover yourself with your blanket (must be PURE WOOL and DRY), crouch, lower your eyelids and open the door gradually.
    The quintessential bushfire survival resource is a
    Covered with such a blanket and with a flask of water
    people have survived the most catastrophic conditions.
    Extracted from Essential Bushfire Safety Tips (CSIRO 2012), http://www.publish.csiro.au/pid/6969.htm

  60. Existential Crisis*

    Any advice on how to stay positive when it seems the whole world is just going to sh*t? Aside from therapy, which I’m already doing?

    Like, things are fine for me personally. But there’s microplastics everywhere. Food is full of pesticides and hormones and antibiotics that are going to screw you up unless you can afford to eat organic EVERYTHING. Australia is in a humanitarian climate crisis. The president may have started WW3.

    I’m incredibly grateful for everything I have in my life but I have depression and anxiety so my brain tends to focus on the negative and every once in a while it just goes into Panic Mode about the world at large.

    1. Plus Ultra*

      I would disconnect from social media and the internet (outside of work purposes) for awhile. I had to after the 2016 election because it was just too much. Stop reading about each and every terrible thing and give yourself a chance to breath and be.

    2. Mimmy*

      I feel the same way. Things for me personally are pretty good but everything going on in the world makes me very anxious at times. I also have anxiety and tend to focus on the negatives. The common advice seems to be “don’t watch the news” but I feel it’s important to be informed.

      I do enjoy the “feel good” stories that run at the end of most network evening news broadcasts. Some of them give me hope that there is still good out there.

    3. Ezera*

      I have to disconnect from the info. I was in a plastic reduction group on Facebook and had to leave it because it was stressing me out so much i was having trouble sleeping.

    4. Dan*

      I don’t know how to give you advice on the clinical stuff, but I 100% agree with Plus Ultra’s advice: stay off social media for sure. I never got into Facebook or Twitter (just don’t see the point), and TBH, at this point, I’m glad I never did. I do read some mainstream news sources, but I don’t hang around in comments sections, unless I thought the author was an idiot and I wanted to see who agreed with me (then I just lurk, I never post.)

      My ignorance-is-bliss approach is working out quite well.

    5. Not A Manager*

      I do two things. They will both sound kind of weird and negative, but they help me.

      The first is to really appreciate the beauty of nature *right now.* I try to walk or hike and really pay attention not only to big beautiful trees and sunsets, but also to things like anthills and fungi. I look at clouds and waves. I feel some peace and awe at how *right now* a lot of nature is just doing its thing that it’s done for millennia.

      Similarly, I totally click on feel-good animal videos about the duck that adopted a litter of tigers or the elephant that helped a frog out of traffic. Even thought you’d think all I’d be thinking of is loss, in fact that stuff makes me happy. I do not look at feel-good human interest stories because my response is much more complicated.

      The second thing I do is think about how vast the universe is, and how long time is. I’m happy to think that there were hundreds of millions of years of dinosaurs on earth, and that cave-painting civilizations lasted for literally tens of thousands of years virtually unchanged. I’m happy to think of how many planets there are, and how many of them might have civilizations on them. I’m happy just to think about the vast ordering of the universe.

      I’m sorry that our story, the story of modern human civilization, might be radically changing. But there’s a lot of time and a lot of space out there. I hope that somewhere, all is as it should be.

      1. StellaBella*

        I want to know about this duck so I. will look for that.

        In terms of how I manage: limit to 5 min or less social media each day. Also limit and curate your feeds. I cannot see some of the things happening in Oz right now, it is WAY too painful to watch. I. get outside and do look at the. little things – anthills, fungi, as noted above. Look and listen and check in with the birds. Play with my cat. Do something nice for someone else. Write a few postcards. Clean. I also read a lot – Good Omens is a favourite of mine. Spend time with people you like and go for a walk if possible. Self care things too: hot showers, tea, massages if possible.

    6. Nogreenergrass*

      Disconnect from the internet, connect with those you care about, and find reasons to be truly grateful about your life. Your life probably looks amazing to a vast majority on this Earth who have all your above problems AND don’t even have good food or clean water to feed their babies. Volunteer for something positive you believe in.

    7. Fikly*

      This is going to sound horrible, but I remind myself that humanity is a small blip on this planet, and when we are gone, nature will prevail and be just fine (better, even) without us.

    8. nep*

      I hear you on all that. When I think about all the plastic, I feel myself slipping into a dark hole of helplessness. But I know that helps nothing, so I’ve got to think of ways I might help. (Happy for that other thread about sustainable living.)
      Second the idea of volunteering, if you’re not yet. And staying off Twitter and FB.
      It helps me to be around people who are engaged in humane acts or living their passion as far as environmental protection, caring for the needy…It helps to be around that kind of energy. And even with all the seemingly insurmountable problems in the world, you can make a real difference to one human in your corner of the universe.

    9. thestik*

      I will say that as far as the food supply issues go I stopped worrying about that after reading articles by Mark Lyman and brushing up on my chemistry a bit. Granted, this made me give the side eye to sensationalized headlines waaaaay more often, but the science education refresh has helped me view anything with a public health angle a little less panicky than U might have last decade.

      Barring that, learning about the media tricks and tactics can be useful. Following Social Media Today is great for this and can help you see through practices designed to provoke strong emotional responses.

    10. Meepmeep*

      I unplugged completely. No Facebook, no news, no TV. I have no clue what’s going on in the world and I don’t want to know. I’m raising a small child, I have a demanding job, and I can’t afford to add negativity to my life. There’s nothing I can do about any of the current world problems other than vote and plant a tree every so often, so I will vote and plant a tree whenever I can and ignore the never ending stream of doomsday predictions and bad news.

    11. Jackalope*

      I’ve tried to find specific ways I can help such as giving money to causes that help with these things, writing postcards to convince people to vote, and so on. I work on those a bit on a regular basis. And then I tell myself to put everything away and that I personally can’t do anymore so I will stop letting myself look up articles/check FB/whatever. I also try to read on a deliberate basis the positive articles in my local newspaper (which they regularly write). It doesn’t always work but has helped a lot. There’s something to picking a thing or two that I can help with and then just doing it. (I am also wanting to do environmental work in my area but haven’t gotten around to finding a group that does that which works for me [they have meetings on days I can’t make it, etc.]).

  61. Jessen*

    So…last weekend, my apartment burnt down. Happy new year to me!

    Building’s a total loss, and almost certainly almost all the contents. I was away on a family trip so I had the basics with me (clothes, toiletries, meds). I’m insured so they’re managing a lot of stuff.

    So my question for the AAM community: how can I best manage to get as much money out of my insurance company as possible? I may not be able to retrieve much to see exactly what I had, and some items are gone entirely. My jewelry and makeup are all melted down entirely so I can’t see what I had. Also a lot of my stuff is gifted, second-hand, or hand-made and doesn’t really have any good way to tell what it’s worth. I have about a 40k personal property limit.

    I’ve found a lot of advice on how to get renter’s insurance, but not much on how to actually make it worthwhile!

    1. Enough*

      Do the best you can to list everything you can remember. Add any purchase dates and prices you can remember. Look for any pictures you have on your phone or have posted or that your friends may have of you and your apartment showing your possessions. I’ve dealt with insurance with a break in when my son was in college but not with a fire or anything that extensive.
      For future keep records of at least the big purchases (receipts – make copies as many fade) with photos. Take a video of your rooms commenting on what is there and any information. Check with your agent about any limits. Usually there are limits on computers, jewelry, etc. If you have anything unique like antiques you will want a rider for increased coverage for that item.

      1. Jessen*

        I have photos of the big pieces. The problem right now is all the bunches and bunches of stuff that’s $20 here and $30 there. None of that’s going to be in any of the photos, and that’s where a lot of my money was. Like, it’s not the furniture I’m having trouble with. It’s that I have to list individually every book, shirt, necklace, eyeshadow, tool, shoe, and so forth that I owned to get reimbursed. That adds up to a lot of money, quite possibly even more than what the large items were. And I can’t get to them even if they weren’t melted or incinerated.

        1. StellaBella*

          Oh no, I am so so sorry for the fire.

          You can request or go online (maybe) and print out bank receipts or records that show purchases maybe? For older things like say, a TV you bought like ten years ago – you may not have receipts but you will have those things you can list, I would think? Also, if when you moved in you put up photos of the new place and your stuff in it onto Facebook, those pics (or pics from parties you had there) will help to remind you too. I am so sorry tho, this sounds painful. Best of luck with the insurance claims and if you need to get a lawyer if you can.

          1. Jessen*

            Mostly we’re talking things like jewelry, makeup, books, etc. So I might have a record that says I spent money at macys or something, but that’s not terribly helpful. And there’s an awful lot of money that was tied up in all that small stuff. And it won’t even be in photos because we’re talking the sorts of things you’d store in the closet or inside a box or something.

      2. Colette*

        One piece of advice from my friend who used to be an adjuster – make sure the prices they pay include tax. So if your couch was worth $400 and you live somewhere tax is 10%, you should ask for $440.

        For things like “2 weeks of clothes”, can you do something like “10 dress shirts, average price $30, 3 skirts, average price $40, 5 pairs pants, average price $40”?

    2. Ezera*

      Do you have any photos of your space? Even photos from having people over may help to see what’s in the background.

      1. Jessen*

        The trouble I’m having is the majority of items that I’d need reimbursed aren’t items that would show up in photos. Think less “bed” and more “2 weeks worth of nice outfits for work.”

    3. Ali G*

      I went through this when my husbands town home had a fire issue. There are places online where you can get price info on the stuff that was lost. Make a spreadsheet of everything you can think of and put a price on it. If you have insurance, they likely won’t complain unless you claim something crazy. You can estimate. You can also use the internet to see what things costs now (you need a new set of dishes, you don’t want to claim the cost of a used set, but of new plates).
      I’m sorry this happened. It’s the worst – been there!!

      1. Jessen*

        A lot of the problem is how much money is in stuff I don’t specifically remember. Like, I know I had packed up 2 weeks worth of a nice summer work wardrobe. I don’t know exactly what clothes I have in there though. And insurance wants to know what I had specifically.

        1. WellRed*

          Give them an estimate and be done with it. You’ll drive yourself crazy trying to get reimbursed dollar for dollar. If the big stuff is covered, that’s the main thing.

          1. Jessen*

            I think most of the money I had in the apartment was in the little stuff. I didn’t have much in the way of furniture and most of it was cheap. So I’d guess that getting just the big stuff might get me like half of what I’d actually need to be made whole. The big stuff is actually the part that matters the least if I get money to replace it or not.

        2. Book Lover*

          Credit card records – you can go back years. Unless you pay cash – I would be able to see the things I bought and when and where. I know they wouldn’t be itemized but they will remind you which stores you went to and it is proof for the insurance.

          1. Jessen*

            More an issue of vagueness. I’m rather a veteran thrift store hunter. So I’d like payment for the new with tags designer clothing I worked hard to find. But all I have is a receipt that says I spent some money at goodwill at some point.

    4. fposte*

      Oh, no, Jessen, I’m so sorry!

      There is a brilliant best of Reddit post from an insurance adjuster with advice on this. I’ll post a link in followup.

        1. Jessen*


          Most of the genuine expensive items were online orders, thankfully, other than a few gifted furniture pieces that I have pictures of. But yeah it’s trying to do all those little things that’s hard.

          The big challenge for me is that, due to the extent of the damage, the contents of the apartment are not just unusable but inaccessible and potentially destroyed beyond recognition. There’s a couple inches of what was the roof currently coating the floor. Much of my stuff was also purchased second-hand, so you’ve got the additional challenge of replacing designer clothing goodwill – and a lack of receipts. I have a talent for finding good quality like-new pieces, but it takes a massive amount of time and I want compensation for that.

          1. StellaBella*

            Oh – if you bought anything from Amazon, they I think have your history from day 1 of what you bought? that may help too.

            1. Jessen*

              I avoid amazon on principle. Most of this stuff was bought in person. So I might have a record that I spend money at a department store, but that’s it.

          2. fposte*

            Are they telling you that compensation is dependent on being able to match receipts to specific items? If they’re not, I think you can get pretty far with estimates that square with payments and current available pricing.

            As far as putting together the inventory, that’s definitely a hard one; any photos/social media corpus you have could be useful for jogging your memory. I’d also do a bunch of slow, thorough, mental walkthroughs and pawthroughs of drawers, maybe with your phone on dictation while you think it through. My suspicion is that if your details are within plausibility, it’s more important to say “Sonia Kashuk eyeshadow palette from Sephora” or “four wool tailored jackets, YSL purchased NWT, @$50 each” than it is to prove payment.

            1. Jessen*

              Not really matching receipts to specific items, just that I need to know the specific items. So the problem is more that what I actually know might be “tray full of various colors eyeshadow and lipstick” more than anything. Or “about 10 summer blouses plus a dozen patterned sheer pantyhose.” Since most of that stuff would be put away I’m not going to have photos.

              1. fposte*

                Yeah, it’s the trayful problem; I think we’d all struggle with that. If you can guess at numbers and brands (and, for bought new stuff, stores) that might help some so you get better than the lowest valuation.

    5. Texan In Exile*

      I am so, so sorry this happened. I am happy you are OK, but am so sad that you have lost your belongings. I hope your insurance company makes it easy and just gives you the entire $40k and that you have an easy time with next steps. This is so hard.

      1. Jessen*

        To be clear for people: the 40k is a maximum, not the amount I have any reason to believe I’ll actually get. It just means that if my property amount totals more than 40k, I’ll only get 40k.

    6. So Not The Boss Of Me*

      What is the ins co asking for? When this happened to friends, the adjuster just asked them what they had– just over the phone and sort of casually. When they ran out of ideas he asked “what about this, and this, and this”? And then he said “sounds like about X would allow you to replace your stuff” and it was pretty fair. If your company is a good one they know how difficult this is and they know how much the stuff in a 1,2,3 bedroom apartment is worth, on average. You could spend months figuring and they are still going to pay you about that number. WellRed is right that you just estimate it. If the adjuster will go through it with you, you may feel better. But they already have a number that they are willing to pay for all the soft stuff you are (understandably) hazy on. You have enough on you plate. Don’t stress about this. In fact, it could be the stress causing you to overly stress about it.
      Take care.

      1. Jessen*

        I don’t have a number they’re willing to pay me, honestly. I have a maximum amount they’re willing to pay. But they’re saying to actually get payment I have to actually list each item I owned in order to get reimbursement. And a lot of stuff I have is more like “pile of slag that used to be several unidentified pieces of jewelry.” They’re telling me however in order to get any money for that I have to tell them each individual jewelry piece I had in that pile.

    7. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      You don’t necessarily need the exact price you paid. You want to give them replacement value more than anything. So you want to average what it’s going to take to get you back to “full”.

      A ‘like’ couch, look online and check what a used similar one would cost you. That’s it’s actual value in the end for the insurance company. You can use comparable pricing!!

      Also since it’s a total loss, you should get a lot more in general because they won’t fight much given the situation. Whereas when it’s a “damaged” issue, there’s a lot more fight.

      I went through this not on a personal home owners/renters. But I have filed claims for assorted damages over the years and comparable pricing has always been acceptable. Like the time a semi truck took out our fence at work, they were like “but what’s the cost of that former fence?” hell if I know, bro it was 15 years ago. So we had some estimates from various people and they went on those.

      It’s like when you total a car. The insurance looks at comparable is for what the value is. I got the average price for what a car my make/model/year would be to buy today.

      1. Jessen*

        It’s not a matter of exact price. It’s a matter of knowing what I have. So it’s more like…here’s a pile of melted plastic. In order to get reimbursed, I need to tell insurance what makeup items were in that pile.

        1. The Man, Becky Lynch*

          Ooooooho yeah that makes sense, I doubt anyone knows the actual inventory of stuff in their house that are low value.

          I’d just estimate it all. Since it’s a total loss, they’re probably not going to comb over your report that much unless there was something outrageous. They usually have “caps” for each category.

          Honestly, I’d think about talking to an attorney who specializes in insurance claims in your area if you can afford it. Then you can get their opinion on the best way to approach it since it’s such a huge thing.

  62. Hamster*

    Help me make sense of this? Maybe it’s a lot to unpack.

    I visited family. I planned this 3 months ago and was in constant contact with my SIL who was also excited. And…I don’t know, I’m feeling it was kind of a letdown? It was emotionally and physically rough. Idk if it was the pregnancy or family or my own insecurities or all of the above.

    I was mostly excited to see my nephews who are 12 and 13 but they weren’t lol. I saw them last 2 years ago. It was like pulling teeth to get them to go anywhere or do anything and I could tell they were annoyed with me. I tried to not let it bother me. My SIL was appreciative that I was there, shes said to me that she wants to do so much with them but they just want to veg out at home 24/7 and it’s exhausting trying to fight all the time. I just reminded myself they’re being normal kids going through puberty. I’d get emotional, figure out what the root cause of my problem is, and talk myself out of it, all in private.

    We took a road trip to Canada about 6 hours away. It had been my idea but all adults were game. When I initially floated the idea 2-3 months ago, I was going to rent a car and drive up there. We ended up all going together. The boys and I were cramped and they complained a lot and my brother was vaping the whole car ride. I wore a mask off and on but it’s uncomfortable to wear for so long. I was so uncomfortable that I was contemplating flying back alone or renting a car and driving back but I Couldn’t find one way rentals.

    The trip in Canada was very physically tough on me. I’m expecting and while I got the OK from my doctor to travel and do light exercise, my sugars were all out of whack and I would go super low even from a very slow 20-30 minute walk. Luckily food and snacks were always nearby and I keep things with me but nonetheless it was frustrating. The family is super thin and have no health issues while I’m as big as the 4 of them combined. So I felt ashamed of my physical limitations. I had to really concentrate hard on not wallowing in the negative self talk.

    Things were OK when we got back, the kids were down for an errand run and were engaged and fun to hang around with. My SIL is a lovely person and a great stepmom and I’m so glad my brother found her. All in all, I actually like the area and I would go back again but 10 days was just way too long.

    I didn’t realize this would be so long. TIA to anyone who reads and comments.

    1. WellRed*

      I think the pregnancy had a lot to do with this. Road trips are a lot even without that and this is a reminder you are moving into a new life phase. I agree your nephews were just acting their ages. Not personal. Your brother? An asshole with a capital pA. You do know that, right? Has he always been spoiled? Or similarly self centered? Finally, 10 days is definitely too long for most of us.

    2. Misty*

      Wait your brother was vaping in the car while you’re pregnant? So you had to wear a mask?

      Wow if I’m reading this story right then it seems like he’s very insensitive and maybe addicted to vaping?

      1. KoiFeeder*

        If nothing else, nicotine vapes set my allergies off as much as a cigarette does, so I really doubt that they’re safe enough to expose a pregnant person to. If it’s a weed vape it’s so much worse. So, yeah, that’s reprehensible.

        1. Hamster*

          Some fruity stuff. Just a situation where if I say stop, there’s a 50/50 chance I’d be teased or no drama

      2. Hamster*

        Def addicted to vaping, some fruity stuff and also smokes a lot of weed. I avoided the garage and partially why I didn’t use their second car (reeked of weed smell) and did a last minute rental. I smoked/vaped before finding out so it never bothered me as much.

        1. Natalie*

          It’s awesome that you quit. Cigarette smoking is exceptionally bad during pregnancy. (There’s more evidence of harm from occasional smoking than from occasional drinking, although I think most people would assume the opposite.) While vaping might be marginally better it will still have some of the same effects from the nicotine.

          I would additionally try to avoid being around secondhand smoking/vaping as much as possible, especially in a closed space like a car. Aside from you and your kiddo’s health, it’s a pretty miserable experience when you’re nauseous or sensitive to smells.

          1. Natalie*

            Left of a part: as far as being made fun of – there are many parts of caring for babies and children that have changed over time or are contentious or a matter of priorities. There will likely be something, whether it’s car seat practices or safe sleep protocols or vaccines, where you will need to insist on your rules despite teasing from your relatives. So maybe this is a good place to practice?

    3. Marthooh