weekend free-for-all – February 1-2, 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.)

This is Humphrey, our new foster cat. He was found crying in a parking lot on a freezing cold day. He’s clearly used to being an indoor cat but his family could not be found, so we are fostering him until someone adopts him. He is an older, sedate gentleman with a strong interest in napping and windows, and he has markings on one side like a cow.

{ 1,387 comments… read them below }

    1. londonedit*

      Hello Humphrey! He’s gorgeous, what a lovely cat. Hope he finds a forever home soon (that is, if Alison is now less bad at the ‘fostering not adopting’ part of fostering cats than she used to be…!)

      :D

      1. Windchime*

        That’s what I was thinking, LOL. Humphrey looks pretty settled already and, if he gets along with the others, I imagine we’ll be seeing more of him. He has markings similar to my old cat, Patches, who lived to the grand old age of 19.

    2. Morning reader*

      Oh my, Humphrey looks just like my old family cat, Thumbs. Who of course had thumbs. Does Humphrey? (Thumbs was an outdoor cat and not neutered, in the late 70s… Humphrey could be his descendant.) P.S. We don’t do unneutered, outdoor cats these days.

      1. Ask a Manager* Post author

        So far we’re keeping him in his own room so he can get used to being here. But we let the other cats smell a clump of his fur (from brushing him) and everyone hissed at the fur except for Wallace, who loved it and couldn’t get enough of it. We figured that might be predictive so we’ve let Wallace in to visit a few times, and sure enough, he’s SO EXCITED to meet him. He runs into the room with excitement, practically dances around, chirps happily, and very much wants to be his friend. Humphrey is pretty much ignoring him (stares straight ahead acting like he’s not there, which is what our older cat Sam used to do when the others were being too rambunctious). We also let Sophie visit once, but she hissed right in his face (he ignored her) so she has not been back.

        1. old curmudgeon*

          One of our tricks for introducing a new cat to the existing bunch is to take a t-shirt that my spouse or I have worn (so it’s saturated with our scent) and lay it in a spot where NewCat likes to lie, placing a second shirt we’ve worn someplace where OldCats like to lie. We leave them there for a day or so, then switch places. Each shirt has the scent of something familiar/happy/loving (us) plus the scent of the unfamiliar feline. We do that daily for about a week, and at the point of releasing NewCat, in most cases the transition is a very easy one.

          Of course, for a foster who won’t be staying long, that might be more work than is justified. I only mention it because I am the sort who starts out saying “fostering” and discovers that pretty soon, I’m saying “adopting.” Your mileage may vary.

          1. Kisses*

            This is a great tip. I want to start fostering litters once we have our own house, and this sounds like a good way to go if they’re gonna be around for a while.

        2. IheardItBothWays*

          lmao – that is like Cassie and Turbo. Turbo will sit and growl and hiss at Cassie and Cassie is just like “I have no floofs to give”.

    3. Myrin*

      Yes, a hearty welcome from me, too!
      (And Alison, your description of him reminds me so much of Sam – older gentleman cats are the best cats!)

    4. old curmudgeon*

      Sending chin-scritches and hopes for a loving forever home to Master Humphrey! I have a particular soft spot for older sedate gentlemen with black-and-white or grey-and-white markings; if I lived closer, I’d be happy to adopt him. Thank you for taking him in!

    5. Elizabeth West*

      POOR COLD KITTY D’:
      Alison, you better just buy him a bed and stuff now, ’cause you know you’re gonna keep him. ;)

    6. The Gollux, Not a Mere Device*

      Our cat Molly also has a very strong interest in windows as well as naps; she’s good company.

    7. NoLongerYoung*

      Welcome Humphrey!
      You’ve landed in the wonderful sweet lap of Allison’s home for now… rest up and look beautiful for the day when your new owner lovingly gathers you into your new home…

    8. Can't Think of a Username*

      I have Humphrey’s sister! Seriously, he looks JUST like my kitty, who I found crying in a parking lot going on 12 years ago. After we made friends, she decided to stay with me, and no one else claimed her, so she became mine. Humphrey even shares my cat’s way of side eyeing the camera when photographed.

    9. Forrest Rhodes*

      Humphrey looks very secure and happy. He may not know it yet, but in finding you he’s just won the Cat Residence Lottery, even if it’s only a brief stay. (And I have to say, every animal my family ever “fostered” eventually measured their time with us in years if not decades; we just couldn’t give them up when the time came.)

    10. Kisses*

      Hello Humphrey! I’m so glad you’re doing this for him. We found our Shadow baby just like this- but he still needed milk he was so small. And I planned on just getting him old enough, getting him fixed, then finding a home for him- well, we found one. He is very happy with us and his fur brothers (cats and rabbit both!)

    11. NotAnotherManager!*

      What a doll! His face looks quite a bit like my elder statesman who passed away earlier this month at nearly 17. I’ve a soft spot for mask-and-mantle cats as our first pair both had that marking pattern.

      I hope he finds a forever home soon!

  1. PhyllisB*

    Welcome, Humphrey!! Alison, no book recommendation this week?
    Can’t believe I’m only the second to comment!!

    1. Seeking Second Childhood*

      Time to list cat books instead.
      “The Cats in our Lives” by Pamela & James Mason (*yes THAT James Mason)
      “Uhura’s Song” by Janet Kagan
      “The Book of Moon With Night” by Diane Duane
      “Into the Wild” (Book 1 of the Warrior Cats series of series) by Erin Hunter
      “The Door Into Summer” by Robert Heinlein
      ..Anyone else?

      1. HQB*

        The Cat Who Went to Heaven, by Elizabeth Coatsworth
        The Mrs. Murphy Mysteries (series) by Rita Mae Brown and Sneaky Pie Brown
        I Am a Cat by Natsume Soseki
        The Traveling Cat Chronicles by Hiro Arikawa
        Millions of Cats, by Wanda Gag

      2. PhyllisB*

        Any of the Cat Who?? series by Lillian Jackson Braun Mrs. Murphy series by Rita Mae Brown Dewey The Library Cat (author’s name escapes me at the moment) also Cat in the Stacks mysteries…haven’t read any of these so don’t know author’s name just heard them mentioned recently.

  2. Morning reader*

    Phones…

    This is a little customer service rant which hopefully is non work related enough for this thread.

    Can someone explain to me why so many places use automated phone answering with menu systems? They are so tremendously frustrating. I realize that my perspective is that of an Older Person (feel free to OK Boomer me) but I think the situation has gotten so bad that it is providing a negative experience for nearly everyone making “first contact” or subsequent contacts with a company or organization.

    I understand that the reason is probably primarily financial. But… so what? For profitable companies, they are often getting tax breaks and other allowances with the understanding that they provide employment in the communities where they are located. Couldn’t they just hire people to answer the phones? How much could some minimum wage operators cost them? Just someone to say “how may I direct your call?” Why oh why can’t they do this? It should be the responsibility of every profit-making, capitalist company to provide some basic jobs. That’s the point of “trickle down,” isn’t it? Not just to enrich the owners/stockholders but also to stimulate the economy by providing living wages and maybe even some disposable income to workers?

    It feels like they shift their operating costs onto their customers, like self-check out at the store, rather than even make an attempt to give good customer service. As it is, if I need to call the cable company, the IRS, the insurance company, even the hardware store, I need to set aside about an hour of my time to get through to a person who can answer my question.

    It seems my question is never something that easily fits into their menu system. Either that or it’s more than one question, which, as is, I need to make two calls, navigating their system effectively, to get answers.

    Am I alone in the experience of repeatedly hollering into the phone “representative,” “agent,” “customer service,” or sometimes the ultimate “Human Being, give me a GD Human, for Pete’s sake don’t you have any actual humans working there!” (Sometimes those first ones are effective, or hitting Zero repeatedly…. that last one, not so much.)

    The worse thing is when you get cut off and have to start all over again.

    Or, the even worse thing is when you get into a line that is never going to be answered. My favorite is Enterprise Rental, where if you make the wrong choice, you get to listen them say repeatedly, while you are on hold until you realize that no one will ever answer, that they are “like a family” and are so eager to provide for your needs. I’m like… family my ass… my family answers the phone when I call.

    TL: DR: Why oh why can’t companies just answer their phones?

    I can understand this (but not appreciate it) when it’s something like the cable company. They have a monopoly here so they obviously don’t give a damn about customer service. What are we gonna do, go without internet? And the IRS is clearly underfunded and swamped this time of year. I would do everything in my power to avoid having to call them.

    1. Gaia*

      The IRS is, without a doubt, the worst at this. You go through 20 minutes of phone tree plus 30 minutes on hold only to be told they’re too busy to answer your call, you need to call back another day, goodbys and get hung up on.

      1. The Gollux, Not a Mere Device*

        My most recent dealings with the IRS involved a phone tree that eventually got to “for what you need, press 1; for other thing, press 2; for the tertium quid, press 3″ repeated over and over while the system ignored all attempts to press 1 or, eventually, 2 or 3.” I gave up and tried the next day; same thing. Hung up again and guessed at another point in the phone tree that might be useful.

        All this to get them to confirm that they knew they had received the payment that my bank assured me had been transferred weeks before the date on the “we still don’t have your payment, you now owe a month’s interest as well. *sigh*

        I don’t mind paying taxes to support schools, transport, environmental protection, and so on: I do mind being unable to get through to a human being to say “look, I paid this, your own website says so.”

        1. Tax Man*

          It’s pretty common for payments and notices to cross in the mail and for a notice to be sent out just before the payment gets posted. When that happens the extra interest is almost always waived for being below tolerance. Often the notices will be pre-dated ahead of time. All last week I had calls from people who had gotten notices dated February 3, 2020. I don’t know why they do that. I only work there.

          In the business tax department it is common for payments to be misapplied to an incorrect tax form or tax period. Usually it is because the person making the payment through the Electronic Federal Tax Payment System (EFTPS) applied the payment to the incorrect tax form or tax period. When they call us we can usually locate the payment and transfer it to where it should have gone. Last week I had a lot of calls from people who had not yet received notices, but who realized they had applied tax payments intended for the new 2020 tax year, to 2019, so I ended up moving those payments for the callers.

          1. The Gollux, Not a Mere Device*

            *nod* The payment was made electronically via the IRS website, and credited the same day (December 30). The letter saying I owed them money was dated January 20. That feels like a bit more than “crossed in the mail.” But it’s the dead end in the phone tree that was really annoying, well that and the repeated suggestions that all callers could save time by going to IRS.gov, which had already told me I couldn’t address my problem that way.

      2. Nervous Nellie*

        I actually have a nice IRS phone tree story. I tried one day to multitask, so I was coloring my hair while getting lost for many precious minutes in the IRS phone tree and eventually ending up on hold with one of those sinister recordings stating ‘your estimated wait time is……34 minutes’. Hair color? Why not? I figured I had the time. BUT – two minutes before my hair color timer was about to go off, I was connected to an agent!! She started into the “give me your SSN” spiel, but I interrupted her, thanked her for picking up, told her I knew they were terribly short-staffed, which made the wait times long, but then told her she had only 1.5 minutes to answer my question because my hair color was nearly done. She laughed, and I heard her partly cover the receiver and shout to her colleagues, “We have a winner!” She came back to me and admitted that she and her colleagues kept track of the most amusing callers. Their Hall of Famer was a guy with a tax question who figured he had the time because he was in jail waiting to be processed for a DUI. Heavens!

        My hair came out darker than I wanted (my tax question was quite involved), but the chat was actually kinda fun. But the phone tree burned about 10 minutes of hair color processing time. Next time, I think I will just bake cookies instead. :)

      3. Artemesia*

        One tactic of those seeking to privatize everything is to underfund basic government services and then talk about how ‘inefficient’ government is. I know the IRS fails to pursue big tax cheats (I know someone who did the research that the IRS then didn’t implement) They COULD bring in billions more by going after big cheats, but instead just don’t much and nickel and dime low earners because it is easy and they can’t fight back. Social security has wonderful customer service, but that is less and less so because of the closing of offices and cut backs on staff.

      4. Goldfinch*

        When my husband could not get a human being on the phone at the IRS, he went to the local office, and a security guard literally TURNED HIM AWAY and told him he was not allowed to enter the building without having made an appointment over the phone first. Burn it all down.

        1. Sam I Am*

          And…
          You need a government ID to get into many gov’t offices, don’t have one? Can’t get in. The most poor are of course, the most vulnerable in this situation.

        2. Anon For This*

          I work at my country’s IRS equivalent, and to be honest it’s pretty unrealistic to expect that a person could just walk in here to ask a question. This is a government department, it’s not like going to the bank – there isn’t a customer service manager who can come down to chat with you. 99% of people working here would literally be incapable of helping a walk-in: we aren’t customer-facing, most of us don’t deal with individual people’s taxes, and even those who do won’t be able to access someone’s file or have authority to do anything. The client-facing staff who handle that sort of thing make up a tiny percentage of our workforce and definitely wouldn’t be available without an appointment because they’re doing quite specialised work and are probably out of the office meeting with someone anyway. And we absolutely don’t let people into the building unless they are meeting with an employee who has already put their name on a list, because that would be a very very very serious security risk.

          I get that it can feel frustrating from the customer side, but considering the kind of data we have here I wouldn’t be comfortable with it being handled any other way.

      5. Vicky Austin*

        In my experience, government agencies suck at customer service. Don’t get me started on unemployment insurance.

        1. Curmudgeon in California*

          Cringe.

          Unemployment insurance is probably the least customer-centric state agency I’ve dealt with. Even the DMV tries harder.

      6. Venus*

        I think other countries may beat the IRS. Imagine a phone service where they almost never answered, but if you get so lucky then the tax ‘experts’ are likely to give you the wrong info, and yet you are liable for the consequences. All of which is known to be true from an audit.

    2. The Cosmic Avenger*

      OK Boomer…as a Gen Xer, I have to agree with you! ;)

      I ***HATE*** automated voice-recognition systems. I don’t mind menus as much, even though like you, if I’m calling, it’s because my issue is NOT covered in the FAQ or anything available in my online account. I know that more than 9 out of 10 times, the system will not have been programmed for what I try to tell it, so it will try to make its best guess, which will be wrong, and I’ll have to endure another 3 or 4 rounds of wrong guesses before it gives up, so a lot of times I just start pressing zero or cursing at it until I get a person. (For years now, the voice recognition systems have been able to detect words and tone that indicate frustration, and when they do they usually program an “escape hatch” to get that person to an operator. I had a friend who programmed these types of systems.)

      So anyway, you’re right, it’s mostly cost, but not that they don’t want to hire people, but I can tell you from experience (I’ve been working in/for call centers for decades) that even if someone wants to, say, check their balance, a significant percentage of those people will call in and insist on speaking to a person about it, taking time away from people like us who actually need assistance. So I think they are designing the systems to winnow out as many of those “chatty Chucks/Cathys” as possible. I don’t like it, but the people who are working on these systems are quite smart, they’re just approaching the problem from a totally different perspective than the customer.

      1. Elizabeth West*

        Hahahah, I knew about the tone/word detection. If I can’t get through, I’ll just start chanting “F*ck f*ck f*ck f*ck f*cking sh*t” until the system switches me to a person.

        1. Username required*

          a bit off topic but there’s a funny video about voice recognition system in a lift and two Scottish guys can’t get it to understand them when the lift breaks down. Not sure if I can post a link – its on youtube under Scottish Voice Recognition – Eleven

        2. Artemesia*

          I was told about this years ago and yes — when you shift to obscenity a significant number of systems will meet your needs. Seems like a really perverse system but it is handy to know. There are systems which will only talk to businesses and not consumers and so if desperate you tell them you are a business and you will get a person who can help you get what you need.

        3. Curmudgeon in California*

          Wow!

          So they deliberately piss you off in order to serve you, then wonder why by the time people actually talk to a person they are furious and abusive?

          OTOH, I will swear at a machine much more readily than a person. I work with computers. I know how dumb they are.

        4. nonegiven*

          After I’ve said ‘representative’ several times and had the smarmy voice tell me it didn’t understand and to say ‘representative,’ if that’s what I want, ‘f*ckity, f*ck, f*ck’ is all I want to say.

      2. KoiFeeder*

        Oh, here’s a fun fact. Because of my tone-of-voice issues (yay, autism) I get hung up on by a lot of these systems. I guess the robocaller detection thinks I’m a robot?

        1. KoiFeeder*

          Which means that those voice-operated systems, like the one my local pharmacy now has? Very, very bad for me. No, I cannot use the phone system, you folks keep automatically hanging up on me.

          1. Curmudgeon in California*

            That’s just nasty. I can mimic the operator voice on most systems. I don’t when trying to do voice prompts, but still.

            That seems like an ADA issue, IMO, but IANAL.

            1. KoiFeeder*

              As previously stated, probably! Do I want to piss off my pharmacy when I’ll die without my medication? I do not.

          1. KoiFeeder*

            Probably! But trying to get the ADA enforced is a whole ‘nother can of worms, and I’d really like my pharmacy to not be mad at me for ratting them out to the ADA when I need that medication to not die.

      3. Tax Man*

        At the IRS, in the past they’ve had a lot of problems getting the money to hire more much-needed employees. However, more recently, the IRS has gotten more funding for workers and they are now having trouble attracting enough qualified workers to fill all their openings. During the last round of hiring that I’m aware of, they were only able to fill about 80% of the openings, whereas in the past they usually had more qualified applicants than openings.

      4. calonkat*

        I was once on hold at various points in the day with one company long enough to become frustrated enough to write a webpage (notepad, basic html), and post it to my website. It was in 2002 and I still have the page up and I’m still irritated (not that I hold a grudge or anything…) We just wanted to place an order!!!

    3. Not So NewReader*

      The telephone trees are obscene. No, I cannot sit through a 15 minute telephone tree, my time is as valuable to me as your time is to you, Big Company. One place had me on hold for an hour, yes, I timed it. Between their telephone tree and their search for the correct person, it was an hour. I kept getting sent back into their phone tree, wth. This went on for months. Because of their attitude and their unwillingness to complete their business, I ended up going to the US Attorney General. After that I suddenly, I became a real person with a real life. The USAG were lovely, lovely people, “I see your problem, NSNR. They are not doing their job. *I* will call them and tell them they need to do their job.”

      1. Parenthetically*

        Ohhhhhh getting rerouted to the phone tree!! A place where I was getting my car fixed lost my business because their menu kept looping me back to the start! Infuriating!

    4. TL -*

      I scream incoherently at the phone until it puts me in touch with a real person. Usually takes 3 minutes or less. I have no tolerance for automatic phone trees.

      1. Dan*

        I think I’ve encountered only one system in the last twenty years where pressing 0 three times or saying “agent” three times didn’t actually get me a human. Point being, if it’s actually taking you three minutes of incoherent mumbo jumbo, I think there are faster ways :D

    5. Rebecca*

      I hate this too! I’m calling because I have a problem. I may not know which department handles this problem! Press 1 for…and ending with Press 9 for…by the time I get through all the options, if I haven’t written them down, I don’t know and “tell me in a few words what you need”. “Problem with billing” . I see you have a problem with dill pickles, is this correct? And no, you are not alone, I repeatedly say “representative” or press zero. I need to talk to a person, explain my problem, and get transferred to the right person. And an hour on hold is unacceptable. UPMC billing, I’m looking directly AT YOU.

      1. Anonny*

        UPMC has central scheduling. It’s a real person, but it takes forever to schedule a routine checkup. And they all have a bunch of standardized texts they have to say, “thank you for choosing UPMC…blah blah blah” I find it incredibly frustrating.

        1. Rebecca*

          Especially since I’m not actively choosing UPMC, after they gobbled up a perfectly function hospital with billing system and turned a simple visit into a billing issue that’s run on for 4 months now. I truly hope I don’t have an urgent medical issue – I’ll have to hire a lawyer and/or accountant to deal with it!

          1. Former Employee*

            Ha, Ha! Wouldn’t it be great if these professionals were interchangeable.

            For instance, your medical plan isn’t what it should be, but you have a great lawyer. Too bad there isn’t some way for you to get your medical needs met at your lawyer’s office.

            About the only way I know of that this kind of works is illegal: MD’s & JD’s conspiring to defraud the system in swoop & squat schemes. You definitely don’t want to go there!

            1. Rebecca*

              In my case, I may need a lawyer. I’ve given my insurance information to UPMC 5 times now – 3 over the phone, and twice in person. I’ve gotten bills with threats to send them to a collection agency, because they’re not paid. They’re not paid because UPMC has not properly submitted them to my insurance company. Once I get this mess straightened out, I’m not going back, I’m also going to document everything and send it to whatever agency oversees these things. Thankfully there is another large hospital system in the area that accepts my insurance and can bill properly.

              1. Anono-me*

                Have you tried sending a USPS Registered letter* with you insurance information and a summary of all of the hassle the billing department has put you through?

                I know it sounds ridiculous. But it also is something that people do so as to have proof for when they go into court or escalate to a government office. Most big companies know this, and will respond proactively.
                *Keep a copy for your records.

    6. Parenthetically*

      Yeah, I don’t mind a short menu, but when it’s a multi-level one where I have to make 6 choices before I ever speak to a person, my irritation grows with each level.

      The one thing I DO love that some places have started to do is auto-callback rather than holding? Our family practice does this. They only have one admin who answers the phones, and it’s a busy office with half a dozen providers, so it stands to reason that there would be a wait time, say, first thing in the morning. So you have the option of having them automatically call you back instead of listening to awful hold music for 20 minutes while Traci makes a couple of appointments and checks people in at the front desk.

      1. fposte*

        I think it makes it harder on the CSRs, too; people are more irritated with them after fighting with a phone tree than they would be if they just got straight to a human.

        1. Rebecca*

          I do too. When I finally got a live person at UPMC billing, I was ready to rock and roll, but I held myself back, told the poor man on the other end “I realize the long hold time and billing problems are not your fault, but here is what we need to sort out”.

      2. Elizabeth West*

        The utility company in OldCity had an automated callback on their outage report system. You called, did the menu, and then it would call you back later to see if your power was on. They’re evil for other reasons, but this was a nice perk.

        1. That Girl from Quinn's House*

          When we lived in PG&E territory, I’d call in power outages…and they’d tell me to report it on their website.

          When the whole neighborhood’s power and thus wifi is out, the 4G signal crawls to a stop too!

            1. Curmudgeon in California*

              PG&E needs to be disbanded and remade as a public cooperative, not a private company, IMO. They suck.

          1. Gatomon*

            Oooo that’s infuriating! I’m fairly neutral on phone trees, but there are few things I hate more than holding and listening to an endless loop of “DID YOU KNOW YOU CAN SAVE TIME ONLINE? LOG ON AT DUBBAYOU DUBBAYOU DUBBAYOU DOT …” or being told to go online as part of the representative’s opening script. Trust me, I would never ever waste my time on a phone call if what I needed could be done online.

          2. calonkat*

            In the olden days of landlines, I once called in and reported our phone wasn’t working due to a lightning strike. The SW Bell (after the AT&T breakup, before they reformed) rep wanted me to be sure that I was aware that I should test the connection outside the house, because if the problem was inside, they’d charge me. I informed her that if they would come and replace the melted plastic box, I’d be happy to test the connection.
            She agreed that seemed reasonable…

      3. The Cosmic Avenger*

        The callback systems actually really bother me, though, because it feels as bad as being on hold. I feel like I can’t go do anything, I have to wait and keep in mind what I wanted to ask. But that’s just anecdata, it’s interesting to know that others prefer it over menu systems. I guess I should give it a shot, since I know I’ll be talking to a CSR as soon as I pick up, so I just need to keep that in mind.

        1. Dan*

          I don’t use the call back systems that often, but they don’t actually bother me. I’m not an auditory person (much more visual), so I find having to listen to long holds really, really distracting. I’d be fine with it if they just played *music* the whole time to let you know the call hasn’t dropped, but that’s not how it goes. Everybody wants to pitch a product/their website/something else I don’t care about/tell me that hold times are “longer than usual” every 30 seconds. So, when they cut over from music to the talking, I hear a human voice, and shift mental gears to actually dealing with the call. Except then I realize that it’s not a live rep and now I have to switch gears back to what I was doing. I find that mental shifting to be very taxing, and actually do appreciate the ability to get a callback.

          1. The Cosmic Avenger*

            YES! I’m exactly the same, preferring visual over auditory, and I hate when they interrupt the hold music with speech!

            To be honest, I never use the callback systems, because I feel like I will be at someone else’s mercy for an unknown amount of time, so far I’ve chosen to stay on hold myself since I can hang up whenever I get tired of it. But I should probably try it, the waiting for the callback is probably not as bad in reality as it has been in my mind.

            1. Dan*

              In that respect, you’re certainly at someone else’s mercy if you’ve got the phone glued to your ear or even on speakerphone. And they own more of your mental time with the mindless website promotion and all of that. Just think about it for a sec: If you stay on hold, do you have any better indication when you’ll get to talk to them than you would if you just told them to call you back? With the call back, you can free your mind to do other things.

              It’s one thing if you’re talking 20 minutes or so, but the worst hold times I encounter are with airline frequent flyer desks. I’ve had waits upwards of an hour. At that point, the callback is 100% hands down better than dealing with the inane hold times.

              1. The Cosmic Avenger*

                This has helped me figure it out…I think it’s that I have always had a minor bit of anxiety when the phone rings, but you’re right, staying on hold shouldn’t be that different. Especially with the stupid recorded messages interrupting the hold music! I’ll try it next time I have the option.

            2. Parenthetically*

              The callback system saves your spot in the queue though! You won’t be waiting for a callback for any longer than you’d wait on hold — you’re not waiting for someone to see the callback prompt, it happens automatically. All it does is autodial when it would be your turn in the hold queue and then connect you immediately to the operator.

        2. Parenthetically*

          Yeah, like Dan, I also hate the hold loop — the one at my midwife’s office would pause the music just long enough to make you think someone was picking up the call, and then a recording would either say something about how great the medical practice was and how much they appreciated you as a patient, or something like “Thank you for your patience; your call will be answered in the order it was received.”

        3. Professional Merchandiser*

          Our tech support has a callback feature. I didn’t use it for the longest, because I thought “RIIIIIIIIGGGHHTT!! I know you’re going to call me right back. Sure.” Well, one day I just didn’t have time to hold so I opted for callback. To my surprise, they called back within 10 minutes!! So that’s what I do every time now and always get a quick callback. Of course, not all companies are this good maybe, but it’s worth giving it a shot at least once.

        4. zaracat*

          I detest call back systems because I’ve found that many of them, when you finally get connected, the other end hangs up on you.

        5. Koala dreams*

          Some systems give you a time when you are called back, that way at least you can do something in the meantime. Of course, sometimes they give you a time when you can’t answer at all. :(

        6. Former Employee*

          While you can’t go and do something, since they tell you how long you have to wait for the call back, you could do laundry, clean your kitchen, pay bills, review a contract, etc.

    7. Elizabeth West*

      My mum has been having issues with these things. I am not a boomer, but I too am sick unto death of them. And then when you do get someone, they can’t go off script and there is nothing they can do except transfer you to a hollow tree in the middle of Fangorn Forest where nobody will ever pick up.

    8. Nom de Plume*

      I’ll usually play along with the phone tree game for a few minutes, but then if I feel I’m getting nowhere, I’ll repeatedly press zero. That normally puts me straight through to a person. There’s also a website gethuman.com that tells you the quickest way to talk to a person at various companies.

    9. Lives in a Shoe*

      I actually read an article recently about a study that claimed the long wait times and endless menu options were deliberate. According to the authors most people will give up so the companies end up giving fewer refunds. Wish I could find it. Perhaps there’s a google ninja reading this morning who can track it down. I try to read a book while waiting so I won’t lose my sh#t on someone when they finally answer.

      1. Miranda Priestly's Assistant*

        I mean, if I’m trying to get a refund, this won’t stop me, but make me wayyy more bitchy once I get to speak to someone. I’ve harassed many a Comcast customer service rep for erroneous charges.

      2. Windchime*

        My sister was shipped a several packages from Ikea, and one of them was completely the wrong item. She tried calling a half-dozen times and was never able to talk to a real person. She would navigate down various branches of the phone tree, only to get hung up on or, the one time she *did* get a person, he said he was going to transfer her and instead hung up.

        We ended up having to drive 2 1/2 hours to Ikea to return the item because of the phone tree. And they don’t publish a local number, so we couldn’t call the local store; only the Ikea Phone Tree From Hell.

        1. Miranda Priestly's Assistant*

          I learned this when I moved during Memorial Day weekend and wanted to call my local IKEA to see if they would be open on the holiday. (The information wasn’t on their website.) This is not possible apparently.

        2. Parenthetically*

          The “no way to contact a local store” thing makes me rage blackout. I have a STORE SPECIFIC QUESTION. LET ME TALK TO THE SPECIFIC STORE.

      3. Observer*

        That makes no sense. *IF* these horrible trees were ONLY for refunds and things that cost the company money, I could see it. But when they are also for all sorts of other things, like “I want to upgrade my service” that’s just dumb.

    10. Crazy Chicken Lady*

      My employer, a program within a government agency, ended up not filling the receptionist’s job when she (finally!) left a few months ago.

      I’m sure some of that was based on a budget – it’s not just salary but pension and healthcare costs- but it may just be that we are trying it out to see what happens. The receptionist would answer our general call numbers and now each program’s admin assistant is responsible for checking the voicemail each working hour. That delays our response but in general folks get callbacks within 2 hours.

      (I was having a discussion with one of my kids yesterday. He starts grad school next fall and was asking about health insurance. I told him my employer based insurance covers him until he’s 26, so it’ll be fine until his last year of his Ph.D program. I looked up the cost to me of my coverage and since I just got the IRS form I knew the total cost of the coverage. I pay about $1.2k of the $25k annual cost to cover my family of 4- so about $100 a month. I get why paying more than $25k on top of a receptionist salary may not make sense to our organization.)

      1. Artemesia*

        The huge overpriced health care system in the US in addition to being not that good and bankrupting individuals is also a real blight on international competitiveness for companies. There are historic reasons for tying health coverage to jobs but it is a terrible idea (get sick, lose job, there goes your health care for example) and an economic burden to companies.

        1. Ain't Miss Behavin'*

          Out of curiosity, what are the historic reasons? I find it fascinating how many things we do because we’ve always done them but which are completely counter-purpose in the context of present-day needs.

          1. EinJungerLudendorff*

            From what I can remember it’s a combination of convenience and Americans hating the idea of government social services.

            Companies started by providing some level of health insurance as a bonus.
            When the US government decided to set up a national healthcare policy, the people pushing for it thought it would be an easier sell to the opposition and their voters if they just expanded the exisiting (company based) system instead of replacing it with a big government-run system.

            Then they kept making that choice whenever healthcare needed to expand or adjust, so it never got fixed, and here we are.

          2. Maya Elena*

            At some point salaries were frozen and companies started offering fringe benefits as alternative compensation that the government chose not to tax. Somehow what was a benefit became an entitlement codified in increasingly more and more and more internally conflicting and onerous laws. I think the current situation is the effect of distortion upon distortion where you can’t even parse out the original cause anymore.

            1. Ain’t Miss Behavin’*

              Oh, gosh, thank you both. I had no idea of any of that and had never even bothered to wonder!

              1. Imtheone*

                It started during World War II when the government froze salaries as part of measures to support the war effort. Companies started to look at perks and benefits as ways to attract and keep employees. Thus, health insurance (quite new then) became linked to employment.

    11. nm*

      I agree!!!! Although I must say, the IRS has always been very helpful to me once I manage to get to a person.
      I have switched cell phone providers and cancelled memberships over impossible customer service phone systems.

    12. Miranda Priestly's Assistant*

      I’m a millennial and feel the same exact way. I’ve been experiencing it a lot with doctor’s offices/insurance companies, which is very frustrating if you are already feeling sick to begin with. Harrumph!

      I mean, I don’t mind it if the menu system legitimately streamlines the referral process and basic info collection (like your account number or whatever), but then you still get to speak to a human within a reasonable amount of time. But nowadays, a lot of these systems don’t give you the option to ask any questions whatsoever.

    13. Enough*

      Not a fan of the automated menu but there are now many systems that only allow response by pressing buttons. I have a cell but also a landline. The landline is my husband’s only number and I don’t give out my cell to just anybody so have the landline listed in a lot of places. We have 4 phones in the house. 2 are push button and 2 are rotary dial. The phones in the primary rooms are both dial. I can’t confirm my appoint or select any options from these phones.

        1. Curmudgeon in California*

          Our landline comes in to a rotary phone, built before planned obsolescence was a thing. Most pushbutton landlines have died, but the ancient rotaries are still going strong.

          I wish they made stuff like that nowadays.

      1. Observer*

        Thanks for letting me know this.

        We periodically review our phone tree to make sure it’s appropriately responsive to our constituency. (Press 0 gets a human or a voicemail box, depending on how busy we are). There has been some discussion about whether to continue to automatically route the phone to the front desk if no one presses anything. Everyone keeps on saying “Everyone has touch tone today.” Obviously not.

    14. Dan*

      Oh my favorite topic… No joke, in the late 90’s, I wrote my college admissions essay on phone tree hell. I got in, but I’m not sure how much the essay had to do with it.

      Back in the early 00’s, I worked for an airline. Back then, when airline employees wanted to travel using their employee benefits, they had to “list” for a flight. That involved calling an 800 number and using an interactive voice response system, with no option to speak to a human. At all. Two required pieces of information: Your origin and destination. Simple, right? Well, I don’t know who wrote that system, but more often than the system would interpret the spoken cities as places the airline didn’t fly… and tell you that. The matches often weren’t even close. As in, you told it “Chicago” and it would come back with some off the beaten track central Asian city that no US carrier flies to, and thus its employees wouldn’t be trying to call that airline and list for that flight.

      I’ll be honest, a few times I got a really mean streak in me. If I were walking down the terminal and heard an employee (whether I knew them or not) fussing the with the listing system, I’d sneak up behind them and say “I’m sorry, but XXX Airline does not fly from Azerbaijan!” The looks I would get were priceless.

      1. noahwynn*

        OMG! I hated having to list that way. I used to beg and plead with gate agents to list me because the phone system didn’t work. This was before we could all list online. Spoiled now with how easy it is.

      2. They Don’t Make Sunday*

        Um, I need to know about your college admissions essay on phone tree hell. Please say more! Was there an argument you were making?

        1. Dan*

          Heh. That was 20 years ago. I came across it on an old computer somewhere a couple years back and don’t remember which one it is.

          That said, I think I was making the argument that those phone trees are going to drive customers batty and consequently, there would be “unforseen consequences.”

          The topic would have been on my mind because I grew up in a rural area without much shopping. My grandparents lived in the suburbs of a legit city, and going to see grandma and grandpa always involved a little shopping for everybody. This was in the late 90’s before the internet took off, and I spent many an hour with the yellow pages looking for the places I wanted to go and calling them up to see if they had what I wanted. This was also about the time when phone trees were starting to take off, but my grandparents still hand an old rotary phone (no push buttons.) Many places when they first put in the phone trees just assumed every body had a touch tone phone, and didn’t even have an option to “or please hold for the next available rep”. At those places, phone wise, we were just screwed and couldn’t get through to anybody.

          One year for Christmas, Dad had the foresight to give his mom and dad a touch tone phone.

          1. They Don’t Make Sunday*

            Haha, thanks for sharing. “Unforeseen consequences.” That sounds exactly like a phrase that would turn up in a college admissions essay. Mine was about Kerouac’s “Dharma Bums” and some sort of zen I found one winter day taking capital-P Photographs in the rain.

    15. Dan*

      Separate thought from previous post:

      I’m on the fence about having a minimum wage call screener answer the phone. First, from the company’s perspective, the turnover would have to be ridiculous. Second, there are times where I’ve had to wait on hold for long periods with *multiple* people in the same call. That’s beyond maddening. If I have to wait several minutes just to get told to wait on hold for more times, what’s the point?

      And now that I really think about it… I think these days I may give the phone tree *one* input to get to the right department, and after that, the rest of the prompts seem to be a waste. As in, after the first prompt, I’ll just say “agent” three times, and the person who picks up my call is then able to help me. It’s actually quite rare that the “agent” trick gets me to a live agent who *cannot* handle my call.

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

      I HATE those systems. My bank has it set up in a way that in order to get to a human you have to navigate through all the menu, and then wait for fifteen minutes. Even worse are the voice recognition ones, which fall apart if you have even the tiniest bit of an accent. Granted, the last time I dealt with one was 2016-ish, when part of my job was setting up international corporate plans for those travelling abroad. I hope they suck less now.

    17. Miss Pantalones en Fuego*

      The ones that annoy me the most are the ones that tell you every 10 seconds “did you know we have a website? check out blah blah blah…” and proceed to spell out every single character in the URL. I’m always like yes, I know you have a website, how do you think I found the number? I am calling because my question is not addressed in any of your online materials.

      1. Jules the First*

        My personal favourite is my local council where you have to report a missed garbage collection through their online form…but their website intermittently has me down (erroneously) as not having a garbage collection service (hence all the missed collections), so the online form refuses to accept my missed collection report. So I call, dutifully follow the phone tree for reporting missed collections, and, after five layers, arrive at an automated recording that told me that missed collections have to be reported using the online form, and then it hung up.

        I gave up and emailed the lovely council bylaw enforcement officer I met last year when I testified at a liquor license hearing and asked her very nicely to put me in touch with someone in waste services.

    18. HBJ*

      Yea, I’ve had the experience with playing roulette with the phone tree trying to figure out which option will give a phone tree. The verbal ones are terrible, too. I will say what I need, but it doesn’t match the response options in their system.

    19. PhyllisB*

      I hate automated phone answers, too. And my poor 89 year old mother, who is usually a pretty sharp cookie gets so bamfuzzled when she gets one of these. The main reason I hate them is, if they call for voice prompts the system doesn’t seem to understand my Southern accent. No matter how carefully I enunciate (yell) yes or no, I get “I’m sorry, I didn’t catch that”…GRRRRRRRRRRRR!!!

    20. JKP*

      So back when I worked at a relay center for the Deaf (basically I would type what was said on the phone and read off what the Deaf client had typed on their TTY), I learned a neat trick about these menus. Usually it was not possible to use the menus, because by the time I had typed out the menu and the client had typed back their response, the system gave up on getting a response at all and simply transferred the call to a real live person!

      So that’s what I started doing with all my calls at home too. If I get a automated menu, then I just mute it and put it on speaker phone and wait. It might cycle through the auto menu a few times and even switch to asking for a spoken response, but then it would transfer me to a real person. If you do select any options or give any response, then it knows that you can and will keep trying to force you to use the auto menu.

      A few times, I have had different places hang up without a response, but they’re really violating the ADA by not accommodating people with disabilities who can’t use a phone in that way.

      1. Buni*

        Up until about 10 years ago if you just stayed completely silent from the off the systems assumed you were still using a dial phone and *couldn’t* ‘press 1’ (or whatever), so would transfer you to a human immediately.

        Unfortunately I think this has been phased out with the rise in mobile / touch phones.

    21. lobsterp0t*

      Omg I hate them so much. Millennial here and not even borderline Xennial. They’re just horrible.

    22. Koala dreams*

      The Tax Agency in my country is decent, I think. They usually answer eventually, and sometimes they even call back. The Migration office is the worst. It’s like it’s designed to make immigrants give up. The phone trees that annoy me the most are those were you only get the option to talk to someone after listening through all the choices several times, or when there is no choice to talk to someone.

      I listened to a radio show once where the hosts discussed how technology has changed written and spoken communication. I feel phone trees are the worst combination of written and spoken communication: It’s slow, it takes a lot of concentration, it’s inflexible, it requires good hearing, it has no memory aids.

    23. Vicky Austin*

      In my experience, Apple is the best company when it comes to customer service over the phone. I’ve never had to wait for more than 30 minutes, and they’re always able to answer my questions.
      The worst? DirecTV. I remember telling an inadequate customer service agent from DirecTV, “you’re damn lucky Comcast is too expensive, otherwise, I’d switch in a minute!”

    24. EinJungerLudendorff*

      I’m pretty sure that it is indeed so the company can save more money and make it harder for customers to take their money back.

      Corporate greed knows no limits, and I’ve never seen a corporate CEO who actually cared about local communities or helping the working class.

      Oh, and trickleback economics is basically BS. Handing rich people money is one of the worst ways of actually improving the economy. They mostly just sit on it or cycle it in super-expensive mini-economies like stocks and land properties.

      1. Curmudgeon in California*

        Seriously.

        “Trickle” (spelled tinkle) Down economics has been proven, repeatedly, over the last 40 years NOT to work. It has failed every time. So what do they do? Say, “Oh, we must not have cut far enough for it to succeed”, and do it again more.

        What do they call it when you do the same thing over and over again, but expect a different result?

    25. Observer*

      And what happens when you do get a person who has no clue what they are doing?

      Done right, these systems are really useful. Done wrong (eg any of the stupid examples in this thread >sigh<) they are a nightmare.

      Doing customer service right is hard and expensive. You CANNOT do it by putting "minimum wage workers on the line to say 'How may I direct your call'" It takes training, oversight and a lot of work.

      As for needing to make 2 calls to get two questions answered – that's classic problem of lack of training on the human end, and nothing to do with the automated trees. Good customer service organizations give the people on their lines the ability to transfer you to a different area. Unless you are in a phone tree that is designed to never connect you to a human, you should never have to call back, regardless of whether you got to your first destination via phone tree or human operator.

    26. Fikly*

      This is not a generational thing. It is legit horrible customer service, but because everyone does it, they get away with it.

    27. Retail not Retail*

      My insurance company from 2011 to 2014 was horrible because everything was voice instead of touch tone so yes sure i’ll say my social out loud on the bus thanks.

      I had a major issue with them for the first year where they’d find my proof of prior insurance after losing it so I had to contest every single claim related to a pre-existing condition. We even had their confirmation letter from the switch! Turns out it was in a mirror file or some nonsense. I actually threw my phone at the ground once and got very lucky when nothing happened.

    28. Kiwi with laser beams*

      Millennial and I can’t stand them either. United lost a sale from me years ago because those things are only programmed to understand accents that are common in the country in question so their system couldn’t understand my New Zealand accent. Which raises the question, it’s one thing that it couldn’t understand me, who was a tourist, but what are the systems in our respective countries like for immigrants?

      After that, whenever one of those systems gave me trouble, I just started saying “put me through to a fucking person”.

    29. Dumpster Fire*

      It’s worth checking out the website gethuman-dot-com. They don’t have EVERY company but they have a lot of the big ones, and they include tricks to get to a human (for example, press 1, then 4, then #).

    30. Quinalla*

      I don’t mind if they are one or maybe two layers deep, beyond that, they are just annoying wastes of time. They should also ALWAYS have a “speak to a real person” option on every menu because sometimes your question doesn’t fit in a bucket.

      For when I am calling someone’s office on business, I HATE having to go through a receptionist. I want their direct line or a system where I can enter their extension. In those situations, receptionists act more as gatekeepers than anything else which annoys and slows down my connection. So I prefer an automated system again with an option to speak to a receptionist for these hands down.

      And when I only have a few items at the grocery store, self-checkout all the way. I am much faster at checking myself out especially if I have to wait behind even one person. You shouldn’t completely convert to self-checkout only, but I love the trend of most grocery stores having self-checkout lanes on each end, it makes it so much faster!

    31. Ra94*

      Millennial chipping in to say I loathe automated phone menus, and I don’t think it’s a boomer complaint at all! (If anything, my frustration is at having to call at all- a live webchat, which saves the transcript of the convo, is so much more useful and verifiable.) The worst phone menus I’ve encountered are my local state courts, which I had to call a lot as a paralegal. Even when you get through to someone, it’s never the right department, and they transfer you around until your call disappears into the void and you have to start over.

    32. Curmudgeon in California*

      Oh, yeah, me too. I end up mashing the “0”, or saying, repeatedly, then yelling “Operator” or “Agent”.

      These are places I personally do business with, and the worst are banks! Calling to report fraud on your credit card? Welcome to phone tree hell.

      Rental car agencies are awful too.

      State agencies I can almost understand, but at least some of their menus make sense. However, their systems put you into a queue, then decide the queue is too long and hang up, making you start all over again.

    33. Senor Montoya*

      you can often force the system to send you to a live person by tapping “0”. may need to do it more than once.

  3. Sahara (34/F/she/her)*

    Dating question and a bit long and serious. Sorry.

    Anyone have any experience dating someone with ADHD? I need some advice.

    I matched with a guy (32/M) two weeks ago and we’ve been chatting daily ever since. I know that you shouldn’t text someone so much before meeting them but he initiates and I’m weak and it feels nice. He briefly told me that he has ADHD and I took for granted what I know about it (short attention span) and didn’t bother to read further on it. We moved to texting after two days and talked on the phone after three days at his sweet and polite request. He is very attentive and consistent and I have not detected a single red flag.

    He’s fun to text and even more fun to call. His short attention span has made its appearance a few times, but it’s usually late at night when we talk on the phone and I attribute it partly to him being tired. I honestly have never felt offended by it. He’s been very clear from the start about what he’s looking for (a long-term relationship – same) and he apologises when he takes more than an hour to reply – with an explanation, even though I know he’s at work. Unlike with a lot of guys at this stage of getting to know them, he doesn’t leave me wondering.

    He asked me out on a date on day 3 of talking. However, due to his work schedule and side gig commitments, it wasn’t meant to happen until today (Feb 1st). He’s a teacher, and even when he’s home he has a lot of marking and lesson plans to do. He often doesn’t go to sleep until past midnight, despite having to arrive at school by 7am. His side gig is as a chef, and I know he really was there at the event last weekend because he shared pics of himself on a stranger’s social media. (I added that info so no one thinks he’s hiding something.)

    Since he asked me out he’s been telling me how excited he is about our date. On Tuesday he even asked if we could meet one day earlier (yesterday, Friday). I’d already had plans with a friend and told him let’s just stick to Saturday. He was cool with it.

    Well, folks, Friday afternoon rolls around and he asks if he could take a rain check on our date today, citing “emotional burnout”. He said that he’s been “bottling up a lot for a while”. He feels it’s always important to present his best self when meeting someone new and he’s just not that at the moment. He did not suggest an alternative date. I was pretty disappointed at the cancellation as I had been looking forward to it for 11 days! But what can you do if someone is not feeling their best? I replied saying I was bummed but that I understand, and asked if he wanted to handle the emotional stuff on his own or did he want to talk about it. (I know that it’s a lot to take on especially when I haven’t even met the guy, but I wanted to be supportive. Is that silly?)

    He thanked me for asking and assured me that he’ll be ok to handle it himself. He added that being around too many people on a daily basis (students and fellow teachers) and being emotionally invested in the kids can “kill you a little inside”. (FWIW he teaches in a special ed school where some students have ADHD like him.) I told him to please take care of himself, to try and keep people’s stuff at arm’s length, and to feel his emotions instead of bottling them up. (I only said that because that’s what he said he does.) “Working out takes care of some of it,” I said. “But not all.” (He works out five times a week and often talks about releasing his frustration via his workouts.) He thanked me again and I left it at that.

    Then an hour later he texted me, “Do you cope with expectations well?” I asked him, “What do you mean?” I think he could tell I was disappointed and maybe wanted to gauge just how disappointed I was and maybe talk about it? I don’t know. But I wasn’t really sure so I asked for a clarification. That was over 24 hours ago, folks. My message is still unread even though I have seen him online. This morning he didn’t text me good morning like he usually does. I texted him at 11am asking him if he’s ok. I saw him come online but not read the message (and it’s still unread right now almost 12 hours later). All day I was dying to text him again and even call him but I’m too afraid of bothering him/possibly getting rejected so here I am instead. :)

    I never asked him about his ADHD so I don’t know the extent of it and whether he’s on medication for it; I wanted him to reveal all that to me in his own time. Since yesterday I’ve done a little research and learned that people with ADHD tend to hyper-focus (the constant texting and calling?) and then get overwhelmed, and when they do they withdraw emotionally from their personal relationships. They also tend to be perfectionists, which supports his statement about presenting his best self to me – even though of course you’d want to present your best self when dating, with or without ADHD.

    I really like this guy. He’s different from a lot of guys I’ve met online or organically for a long time. He’s really intelligent and funny, and personality-wise – at least on the phone – we click. I’d like us to meet at least once to see if there’s a chance at romance. I guess I’m just wondering if there is anything I can do here, or if I should even do anything. Someone with ADHD wrote on Reddit that he responds well to his partner reaching out and pursuing things with him instead of leaving him be, but as with anything, YMMV. (Plus they’re already dating. This guy and I are only two weeks into knowing of each other’s existence.)

    However, I know that at this stage of online dating you gotta take people at face value, for what they show you, and for how they make you feel, without trying to find a secondary meaning to their behaviour or digging into their medical history. But how much of that is applicable when someone has a disorder like ADHD? As it is, him ignoring me like this is disrespectful and unacceptable and does not meet my needs. Do I really want a relationship with someone who treats me like this? But how much of this is him “treating me like this” and how much is this just him trying to manage his symptoms? Rest assured I have not and will not contact him unless he contacts me first. I’ve gone into self-preservation mode. But I still keep willing my phone to flash a text from him and my stomach hurts from the ugh-ness of it all.

    1. Legally a Vacuum*

      I have ADHD- sometimes it means my plans are far more aspirational than realistic. But having ADHD doesn’t excuse me from being considerate of other people’s time and feelings.

      Personally, in your shoes I’d focus less on why he acted in that way and more on compatibility with you. It’s early in a relationship- are you going to be okay emotionally investing in someone who acts this way from the outset?

      1. valentine*

        The one thing that might have helped him make the date would be less contact prior to it, saving the energy for the date, yet he is the one who initiated texting and thought responding within an hour while at work was reasonable. Huh. My guess is his question was a test, like, “Will you put up with more of this?”

        That said, if you consider the texting/calling him giving you the full court press, you have the opposite now, but outside of this dynamic y’all created, no response after just 24 hours doesn’t seem major. I mean, what kind of contact level do you expect a prospective partner to sustain?

    2. coffee cup*

      I totally can empathise with this, having done a lot of online dating (unfortunately!). At this point, I think the priority is you. It doesn’t matter why he’s ignoring you, the fact is that he is, and it’s not what you need or want. It’s not making you feel good. In fact, it’s making your stomach hurt! You can’t and shouldn’t attempt to ‘diagnose’ him (even if you’re trying to be kind and take him into consideration) because ultimately you haven’t met him and have no idea what he’s truly like. All you can really go on is ‘he’s ignoring me’. And it isn’t a good sign. Don’t text him – you already did that. I *know* (really know!) how tempting it is. But it’s up to him now to respond.

      In the meantime, distract yourself with nice things. Maybe text a friend instead? If you have an understanding friend, see if they’ll engage you in a long texting chat. I find texting someone else gets the urge to text out of my system and stops me wanting to text ‘the guy’ so much.

    3. Invisible Fish*

      Take my reply with an entire shaker full of salt, but step waaaay, waaaaay back. I’m sure he’s great and fun and considerate and such, but if he’s an adult who is having trouble managing his needs to the point that he bails on a first date, he obviously has some personal introspection still to do. (The salt I mentioned above comes from a long term relationship who dealt with ADD and presented similarly – he was a good person and the relationship had its very good points, but I made so many exceptions that my needs often were not met. I’m not saying to NOT meet him, but I am advising you to be super cautious- always make sure your needs are being met. Right now, it doesn’t seem like they are.)

    4. Not So NewReader*

      Hang on to the fact that when people first meet they are on their best behavior. This right now is his best behavior.

      Decide how much energy you want to put into this. Relationships are a two way street. I think your last paragraph with all the questions tells you what you what you need to know about this relationship (non-relationship).

      People can be very likable and almost have a magnetic appeal initially. I am pretty conservative in my life choices. I always say watch out for the people with magnetic appeal, sometimes (not always) they are all flash and no substance. I see a huge caution flag here.

    5. hazel*

      I think his flakiness and his reported ADHD are separate issues. This dude bailed on you at the 11th hour, then sent you a cryptic text, and then ignored you. I’m exhausted just reading about this and you and your time deserve to be treated with respect.

        1. JSM*

          Agreed. I have a friend who is charming and brilliant, but terrible to her romantic partners. So terrible, that sometimes I wonder if I should remain friends with her. She has been the other woman more than once. She has a tendency of being flaky and canceling first dates. I’m not saying he is a cheater, but I do believe that canceling a first date and then disappearing is a serious red flag. It is a disregard for you and your time.

          As an aside, I have a different friend who has ADHD and she is a wonderful partner. This is not the type of behavior that I would expect from her. They are totally separate things.

          There are calculated risks, and there are high risks. This screams the latter to me.

      1. WellRed*

        Exhausted! This is waaay too much work for someone you haven’t even met. He’s just not that into you. His loss.

        1. Brihanne LeMarre*

          This. I did a lot of swiping in my dating career and this just screams RED FLAG. No one bails on a first date if they’re truly excited about meeting you. You deserve better.

      2. Brioche*

        Yes, agreed. I’m a 28 year old woman with crazy bad ADHD and I do not flake out on people because of my dumb brain. Especially on a first date. Run, run far away.

    6. Jules the 3rd*

      An ex-boyfriend of mine (25 years ago, call him Ben) who has since become one of my closest friends (and a friend of my husband’s) has ADHD. It absolutely does affect him in ways that can be pervasive and subtle, and is probably the reason he’s not answered.

      1) The #1 lesson I have learned in 25 years of ‘trying to hang out with Ben’ is that I have to accept him / his behaviors as belonging to / pertaining to *him*. They are in no way a reflection of his feelings for me. If he cancels, is late, etc, it is not because he doesn’t respect (or, back in the day, lust for) me, it is because he’s struggling to function.

      2) If you choose to move forward, then yes, pursue him in a polite and respectful way. Be patient, and expect to be the planner. ADHD affects his ability to plan realistically, and the whole ‘trying to put his best foot forward’ puts a *ton* of pressure on himself, that’s going to tie into anxiety and prevent him from contacting you. Anxiety usually goes along with ADHD.

      3) You will very much need to state your needs, and see if he can meet them. If you *need* every day courting, he is not for you. If you need someone who understands struggle, then maybe.

      4) He probably has no filter. If he says something that you don’t like, take a breath, repeat it back, and ask him to confirm that he meant what he said. If you’re discussing plans, state what *you* want clearly, and ask what he thinks about it.

      Ben is not universal, but my experience has been that dating someone with ADHD means you have to be very comfortable with explicit communication, with stating your goals / desires, and really accepting, at an emotional / self-confidence level, that when they don’t give what you desire, it’s them, not you.

      All that said, Ben is one of the top 3 of my ex’s that I would recommend to other women. He’s kind, caring, funny, etc. If he’d wanted kids, there’s a 50/50 chance we’d have married (it was also long distance, and we’re a little too much alike; Mr. Jules is definitely one of the ‘opposites attract’). He is now pretty much my brother, renting our house’s mother-in-law suite. He’s in a 3-year relationship and is right now helping Mr. Jules diagnose the funny sound my car tire is making.

      But never ever ever move his keys. He’ll never find them. (ADHD people usually have routines / systems to help them cope; if you mess with them, it will really fuck him over, much more than people who can just remember where they last saw the keys.)

      1. Washi*

        These seem like awesome tips, and yet, my honest reaction: if you need to stock up on a bunch of strategies for someone you haven’t even met yet? Too much work, step way back.

        I’m curious if others have had great relationships that were hard work in the beginning, because in my own experiences, great relationships always felt EASY at the beginning. If we had long-term compatibility, that was pretty much always reflected in how the first couple months went in terms of making time to see each other, having a good time, and expressing how we were feeling about each other. With my husband, I joked that someone must have given him a Washi-cheatsheet beforehand, because I just found him so completely and utterly on point.

        I’m not saying the OP should completely write this guy off, but I would definitely let the ball be in his court now, and be ready to end things if it continues to feel off.

    7. Anon attorney*

      If he hadn’t told you he had ADHD, how would you be interpreting and dealing with his behavior?

      Having dated a variety of neuroatypical folks, one for a long long time, my take is that yes, there are behaviors one chooses to accommodate but the fundamentals like respect, liking, considerateness need to be in place regardless – in other words, being non neurotypical is not a free pass to jerk someone around.

      It’s tempting to overlook and make rationalisations when there’s a spark. But it seems to.me that this guy is a lot of effort at s very early stage, diagnosis or no diagnosis. You’re allowed to bail on him without that making you a prejudiced or privileged person – it’s a date not a job interview. If you don’t want even more of this to come, it is ok – sad, disappointing and all – to take a pass now.

      1. lobsterp0t*

        Yep exactly. It kind of doesn’t matter if he has it or not. At this stage the thing that matters is: is the behaviour acceptable to you?

        He hasn’t earned flexibility from you yet in terms of being a shitty date.

        And also if he didn’t say “sorry, adhd day, let’s rearrange to Tuesday at 11pm and the drinks are on me” then… I think you just gotta take it at face value.

        For me, I don’t cancel on people I have to make a good impression on. I cancel on people who already love me!

    8. T. Boone Pickens*

      So…as someone who has been through the online dating wars I think you need to take a hugggeeeeee step back. You sound way too invested in a dude you haven’t even met yet…and who cancelled on you at the 11th hour. Honestly, I’d pull the plug and walk away as he’s giving off serious red flags already. He’s already laid the groundwork for being difficult to pin down with his two jobs and alleged medical condition. I think there’s a non zero chance you got canceled on so he could go out with someone else.

    9. Nom de Plume*

      Honestly, I’d cut this guy loose. This guy is showing you who he is. Do you like it? Do you want more? Honestly, I do t think it matters WHY he’s acting the way he is. The bottom line is that he isn’t treating you the way you want to be treated. At this stage of dating, people are on their best behavior. They want to get dates, after all! This is his best. I promise you that there are men out there who are honest, reliable, and worthy of you. They keep their promises and they don’t jerk women they’ve never met around.

      1. Parenthetically*

        Yep, at this stage of a relationship, the “why” isn’t important. The “why” matters for, say, my relationship with my husband or my best friend of 10 years or whatever, but for a guy you’ve never met? No chance. Do LESS WORK.

        1. Artemesia*

          This. There is much I would cope with if my husband of nearly 50 years posed some new challenge. And that goes way back. But no way would I start a new relationship with someone who is this problematic out of the gate. Plenty of people with ADHD don’t share that before they even meet you and then behave like toads. Someone managing his responsibilities and ADHD well will not pose such challenges this early — he is just jerking you around and you are putting in way too much work ‘understanding’.

    10. The Gollux, Not a Mere Device*

      If “can I see you early?” followed the next day by “I’m burned out, can I have a rain check” and not suggesting a raindate is presenting himself at his best, that’s all you need to know.

      Especially at this stage when you haven’t actually met, this behavior is how he’s presenting himself.

    11. Lindsay*

      He sounds exhausting and dramatic. If he’s like this now, can you imagine actually being in a relationship with him? I would bail.

    12. Millicent*

      If this is how much work you’re putting into a guy you haven’t even met yet, it will only get worse.

    13. archangelsgirl*

      I’m not going to tell you whether to pursue or not. I’m just going to tell you that everything he told you is legit ADHD and the anxiety that goes with it stuff. In my experience with loved ones with this condition, ADHD is very often about having big ideas/plans/hopes/aspirations, and then bailing when it comes time to execute. It’s exhausting to support and love people with this condition. Make no mistake. Often, it’s all about them.

      Those of us who are neurotypical have a very hard time understanding how much “goes by” and ADHD person. Example: You’re getting coffee before work. You see a mother with a baby in a stroller in a coffee shop and hold the door and give a smile. Automatically, your brain goes, baby, stroller, cumbersome, new mom, tired, door. An ADHD person doesn’t “see” the baby and the mom the same way we do. Maybe they don’t see it at all. What’s more likely though is that it penetrates in about half an hour, “Oh, my god, there was a mom and a baby and a stroller, and then I didn’t even hold the door. I’m a horrible person.” Then, anxiety. This has happened BEFORE THE WORKDAY EVEN STARTED! Try to imagine how many tiny things like this build up throughout the course of a normal day. It is exhausting to revisit every move you make, all day long, and wish you’d handled it differently.

      I’m just offering you validation that this person is likely not “lying” to you. My guess is, looked over your correspondence and now perseverating over a) things they said to you; b) things you said to them; c) (big one) responses they gave you that they now think are in appropriate, and they are embarrassed.

      Only you can say if you want to pursue (or if you will even have that option). Supporting a person with ADHD is tiring, but also rewarding. It’s just that it’s so much more than “not being able to pay attention.” Well, it is that, but hoping the baby and stroller example helps you understand that “not being able to pay attention” ALL THE TIME, is a really big thing, with really big implications.

      1. Marvel*

        Hmm. This isn’t really how I experience ADHD at all.

        I think it’s important to realize that ADHD is a catch all term for a large set of symptoms that are extremely variable from person to person. I have a bunch of friends who also have ADHD, and NONE of us experience it exactly the same way. In some cases our experiences are so different that it’s like having two completely different disorders.

        My point is: I would be careful with trying to generalize like this, or make blanket statements about us being “exhausting to love” (yikes), especially when you don’t experience this yourself.

        1. EinJungerLudendorff*

          Yeah, this.
          Also, he is still responsible for his actions and for how he treats you. And if this is indeed from his ADHD, expect more of this if you decide to go on.

          I mean, I’ve done things like this in the past, but that is also why I’m not trying to date people. Because I know I’d (unwillingly) do stuff like this.

    14. MissGirl*

      I honestly was a little judgmental when I saw how much energy you’d invested in a guy you hadn’t even met yet. Then I remembered I’m still giving mental space to a guy who ghosted me after one date last year. He too canceled right before a second date (I asked him).

      Rejection sucks and that’s what this is. You’re trying to justify his behavior to lessen the pain.

      The truth is this guy isn’t into you enough to date you or he would. My date wasn’t interested in me enough to date me or he would. Some guys are just flaky. We’re both better off dating guys who are willing to put in the effort.

    15. TextFail*

      I had a similar experience with an online person recently.

      During NaNoWriMo, I messaged someone who had posted on the message board saying they were looking for writing buddies. One person seemed really cool and their initial response was immediate, super friendly, and they said they would be online to talk every day. Took them a few days to respond to my next message, and they basically just complained about dealing with their bipolarism. Took them a week to respond to my next message, but they were back to being super friendly and cool. Then took them two weeks to respond (even though I saw them posting on the message board) with an excuse that they were “so sick this past week!” and a dismissive comment (“What is your story about? I don’t even remember what genre you write in!” even though my first message said I wrote the same genre as her…would have taken five seconds to check).

      I was looking for someone fun to chat with about writing somewhat regularly, and it was clear they weren’t going to be reliable or considerate. Possibly because they were dealing with bipolar stuff? I initially felt obligated to give them more chances because of that, but just ended up not responding (and declining the friend request they sent). People with medical problems deserve some leeway and understanding, but they need to earn it first by showing that they’re a good person. Medical problems aren’t an excuse to be a jerk to someone you barely know.

      So, yeah, if you’d been dating this guy for a couple months and this was the first problem, I’d think you should try to be sympathetic and give him a chance to apologize and fix things. But as things are, you don’t owe him anything. I’d just take everything at face value instead of taking medical issues into account. If he didn’t have ADHD, what would you do?

    16. Marvel*

      As someone with ADHD… this has nothing to do with ADHD. Treat it the same as you would with anyone else.

    17. RagingADHD*

      My husband and I both have ADHD. He was and is, by far, the most thoughtful and considerate person I have ever been with. Much nicer than me, really.

      We had a few miscommunications and missed connections at the beginning, but once we got in a rhythm of how to connect, and built trust in each other’s intentions, it’s been great.

      I think there is more going on here than ADHD. It is often comorbid with depression and/or anxiety, and the 3 things can get jnto a negative cycle and make each other worse.

      I know you were excited about the date and are now disappointed. But I think he’s being really transparent with you. From my perspective, it doesn’t look like he’s treating you badly.

      He told you he’s exhausted and not feeling well, and needs some time on his own to rest.

      If he had the flu and you still saw him online occasionally, would you take it personally?

      I’d say, don’t cut him off but downgrade your emotional investment. If and when you meet IRL, you can assess whether you want more dates.

      For now, he’s just an interesting person you chatted with a little bit. There are no obligations on either side.

    18. lobsterp0t*

      This seems intense for a brief text only flirtation and almost date.

      Which isn’t at all surprising to me because that can be super intense.

      And ADHDers are also often super intense.

      I mean… in this case this seems like a lot of interactions in online dating. Lots of stuff doesn’t make it past the online part. Even if you talked on the phone and everything.

      But also… he’s a teacher AND has a side gig. And it’s just after a long weekend and mid winter. ADHDers are definitely prone to burnout.

      Either way you don’t need to wait around for him. Let it sit for a while. Go live your life. Come back to it in a week or two.

      I think he asked about expectations because he was super in it and then real life struck and he decided for whatever reason that now wasn’t the time to add another spinning plate. So maybe that was a fairly passive way of alerting you to manage your own expectations of him.

    19. It's a Yes From Me*

      I was married for many years to a man with extreme ADHD. He also had challenges keeping commitments, but was sure to keep the ones he really wanted, including seeing me as often as possible. I’m sorry to say it sounds like the guy you met is a classic example of “He’s just not that into you.”

    20. AcademiaNut*

      At some level, the ADHD is a red herring. What you know now

      – he’s fun to chat and talk with
      – his schedule is so full that he had to schedule a date ten days in the future
      – he cancelled a date at the last minute, saying he was too tired/overwhelmed to see you
      – he’s now ignoring you
      – you’re stressed out to the point of stomach ache

      That sounds like way too much stress and hard work for someone you haven’t even met yet! It really doesn’t matter why he’s doing this. If it turned that he’s frequently unavailable, cancels dates, and goes incommunicado when he’s stressed solely because of ADHD would that make it all okay and you’d be perfectly fine with it, or would you still be stressed out?

    21. it me*

      That sounds like me, earnestly wanting to do this dating stuff right, and then becoming overwhelmed by everything going on in my life and shutting down and flaking on people. I don’t have ADHD but I struggle with anxiety and depression.

      I can recognise it now, that I was self absorbed and that it wasn’t right to disappear on good people. I am deeply sorry for the hurt I caused.

      You can have compassion for him, AND decide what’s right for you. Whether it is to step back a little or to cut him out of your life or something else. Do what brings you peace of mind.

      1. Sahara (34/F/she/her)*

        I wouldn’t say that you were self-absorbed. You did what was right for you, with the tools you had. Just because something is right for us, doesn’t mean it’s right for other people.

        I sincerely hope you get some help for your anxiety and depression so you can get better.

        Thank you. x

        1. it me*

          I am working with my therapist, and am learning new tools to deal with my JerkBrain.

          And one thing I’m learning is that I can accept responsibility, AND have self-compassion to understand that I did the best with the tools I had.

          You are a deeply compassionate person, and I hope you are kind to yourself as you deal with the intense emotions you feel for this person.

    22. Sahara (34/F/she/her)*

      Thank you, everyone, for your replies. It’s been a real eye-opener reading the different perspectives, especially from those who have ADHD themselves or have experience dating or being friends with those with ADHD. I never knew ADHD was this… complex. I have a lot of pondering to do. Definitely going to let it sit while I continue to live my life. I’ll be ok no matter what.

      xx

      1. Courageous cat*

        I think you’re viewing this… waaaay way too much through the lens of ADHD. It’s not like he has a major personality disorder. I would really try to put that part of it away and not use it to reason this away or excuse it away or whatever is going on. He’s a person like any other, and he’s not being a great one, and it likely is not related to ADHD which is by all accounts not a likely excuse for “why is this person flaky and weird”.

      2. Anon PhD*

        I just wanted to say that, while I have zero experience with ADHD, I like what the majority of others wrote – take step back, you will for sure be ok and this dude and his ignoring you, ain’t worth your precious time. As a fellow 30 something gal, who is also looking for her man, I am sending you lots of happy warm thoughts…be good to yourself, do something nice for yourself today and try to forget this dude for now.

      3. Managing to Get By*

        When I was doing the online dating thing a few years back I found that there was a subset of guys who were very into messaging often, but when it came time to meet or not they faded away. It’s like they want a connection with very little effort and not putting much at risk, they wanted a virtual girlfriend. Some would sound very interested and, like this guy, want a much deeper level of connection than was appropriate given that we’d not even met yet. Then, when it seemed we couldn’t keep on daily messaging without actually meeting they go “poof!”.

        My advice is let this guy go. If he starts messaging again, set a boundary of no more late night phone calls and daily messaging until after you actually meet. And be careful about getting caught up by one of these guys again.

    23. Lucette Kensack*

      I agree with the others that you need to take a deep breath and step back.

      He has been having oddly, but I specifically want to call your attention to some stuff that you’ve been doing that I think you should take a look at: when he canceled your date, a healthy-boundary response to someone you’ve never met would be “Sorry you’re having a tough day! I know how that can be. Let me know if you want to get together another time” — not “Do you want my help dealing with your difficult emotions?” followed by advice based on his specific situation.

      I don’t know if this is a great guy who had a hard week and is really bummed that he had to cancel, or a flaky guy who is pulling the same kind of stunt lots of people do on dating apps, or something in beautiful. It doesn’t really matter at this point! You need to detach yourself from all the wondering about his social activities and neurological health, and go about your life. Perhaps he’ll pop back up and you’ll have a great first date and see where that takes you! Or maybe he’ll disappear completely, or maybe it’ll be frustratingly in between and he’ll try to reengage and then get flustered again, and you’ll go through this cycle three more times before you give up on him. Nothing you do now will change that, other than taking care of yourself.

      (I’ll also say that my read on his “expectations” comment is that he’d worried that he won’t meet your expectations in some way and he’s insecure about it.)

      1. Lucette Kensack*

        What a weird typo. The first sentence of that second paragraph should have ended up “something in between,” not “something in beautiful.”

      2. RagingADHD*

        Agree very much. The whole texting thing can be very engrossing, but this is a complete stranger you have never even met.

        It is not reasonable or appropriate to expect him to meet your emotional needs. Neither is it reasonable to place yourself as an emotional support person.

    24. Peter Piper Picked a Peck of Pickled Peppers*

      I’ve never dated anyone with ADHD, I *am* the person with ADHD.

      Besides a short attention span, he might struggle with impulse control, poor planning and time management, low self esteem, over sensitivity to rejection, anxiety and a bunch of other things. He might have all this well under control and he might not. He might also be a warm, smart, empathetic, creative and original thinker. Or he might not.

      We’re all different :)

      He does sound somewhat impulsive and maybe anxious.

      I think this is the the key thing: you are “only two weeks into knowing of each other’s existence”. It sounds as though you have both escalated this too quickly (poor impulse control) into an intense emotional thing and now are feeling the results of that. Take a break and let him do the same, and then see how you feel.

      Good luck!

      1. Peter Piper Picked a Peck of Pickled Peppers*

        I’ve reread the other comments. Poorly managed ADHD can cause *exactly* this behaviour, contrary to some views. It doesn’t mean that you have to put up it though. But those who say this is likely unrelated to ADHD and just general jerk behaviour, I strongly disagree.

    25. Salsa Your Face*

      I’m way late to the party on this, but the last time I dated someone who kept cancelling on me last minute, it’s because he was trying to hide the fact that he was already in a long-term relationship.

      Also, I have ADHD, and I know that no two people are the same and all, but there’s no way my own issues would get in the way of seeing someone I was excited about seeing. ADHD makes it hard for me to do the necessary-but-boring things in my life, but it never gets in the way of things I’m looking forward to.

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

    Who here has ever given up on a work of classic literature? This week I tried (at almost 40 years old) to read Moby-Dick for the first time. I couldn’t do it. It seemed like there was perhaps 30 pages’ worth of story in 450-plus pages.

    Not only didn’t I finish, but I found myself getting more and more frustrated–angry, even–reading it. This book is required reading for a lot of high school kids (I had an awesome, young feminist rebel of an English teacher junior year of high school and we somehow avoided it). I began to think that if 15 year olds are forced to read horrendously bloated, tedious books like Moby-Dick, it’s no wonder that so many people grow up to hate reading and that reading has such a stigma attached to it in the U.S., and that’s led to us becoming an almost totally illiterate society with a reality TV star as our president…

    Totally irrational reaction? Or have you ever had the same feeling reading one of the classics?

    1. Teapot Translator*

      My first degree is in literature. I think your reaction is normal. Some books don’t age well; they’re classics for somewhat valid reasons but that doesn’t mean that today’s audience will respond well to them. Sometimes, when you’re given the context, it makes it easier to read the classics. I’m a big fan of not reading stuff we don’t like, though (unless we choose to study literature and then, we just have to plow through it).
      I’ve never read Moby Dick, but from your description it doesn’t seem like a good book to give high schoolers to read. Maybe excerpts would be better? Or another book completely. :D

      1. tangerineRose*

        I gave up on most “classic” books in high school. Most of them were just depressing. If a book is sad, I don’t want to read it, even if it’s well-written. I wonder if that is discouraging kids from reading. I was hooked on books long before I had to read some of the classics, so this didn’t discourage me from reading in general.

        1. Peter Piper Picked a Peck of Pickled Peppers*

          I found the teacher made all the difference to my understanding and enjoyment of those books.

          I had some wonderful teachers who brought Shakespeare to life. And others who killed him stone dead.

          I especially remember a novel by LP Hartley (?), because it had a “naughty” scene at the end of one chapter. Our extremely shy teacher tried to avoid reading it (thus bringing it everyone’s attention) by stopping for the day on the page before. The next day she resumed with the next chapter, effectively skipping the questionable paragraph. Everyone started to call out to her that she had missed a bit and she was forced to read it, blushing, under the malicious and delighted gaze of 25 15-year-old girls.

    2. Lena Clare*

      Agree! I’ve never got through Moby Dick either. The one I just can’t read no matter how many times I try is Wuthering Heights. I just can’t get through it.
      I love Charlotte and Anne Brontë’s writing, and I think Emily Brontë’s poetry is awesome, but that book…nope.

      1. Violet Strange*

        Yes, this. I have read arguments that Emily is the superior writer, but she is not the better novelist. I’ve read WH three times–@ ages 15, 30, 40–thinking perhaps I would appreciate it more with more life experience. Nope. I reread Jane Eyre for pleasure, though.

        I refused to major in English in college (literally everyone who knew me then thought that was the obvious major for book loving me) soloely because it required a course in Milton. No thank you.

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

          I also was pressured to major in English because I love to read (in spite of what I just posted) and am a writer — but honestly, in high school, I read the Cliffs Notes for just about every assigned book. I kind of liked Shakespeare, for some reason. Almost everything else… just no. I thought four years of having to read and analyze the classics would be absolute torture.

          1. Enough*

            Reading is not the basis for majoring in English. Love to read, hate to have to analysis everything I read

        2. Anonyme*

          I’m the opposite. I’ll re-read Wuthering Heights (although I find it so ridiculous I do so when I want a laugh) but Jane Eyre irritates me.

          1. Jane of all Trades*

            Same here! I love Wuthering Heights and will reread it every so often. Jane Eyre on the other hand .. ugh!
            One book I tried multiple times and just absolutely couldn’t finish is vanity fair.

          2. smoke tree*

            Oh, I love all of them, but I have a particular soft spot for Emily and her ghosts and moors and habit of cauterizing her own wounds with a fireplace poker.

        3. Berkeleyfarm*

          A full course? Yikes.

          I had one quarter of mostly-Milton and it was quite enough.

          “For malt does more than Milton can
          To justify God’s ways to man” – A. E. Housman

      2. Peter Piper Picked a Peck of Pickled Peppers*

        Haha that’s quite funny, because I read WH (on purpose) when I was 14. It was sooo dramatic and sooo romantic. I loved Heathcliff (if I’ve remembered his name correctly after so many years). I still have my childhood copy but somehow I’ve never been drawn to reading it again.

    3. old curmudgeon*

      Absolutely. Every book, classic or not, gets the 100-page test from me. If I am not engaged and caught up in the story within those first 100 pages, it’s not for me, and I don’t waste any more time on it.

      That includes many of the so-called classics. I bounced hard off Moby Dick, like you, and I was not a fan of most of the Dickens I have tried, either.

      I completely agree that high school lit classes absolutely need to be overhauled in terms of reading material. How can you expect a squirmy 16-year-old to develop a love of literature if you force them to waste weeks reading centuries-old bilge? Bring a bit of creativity to the curriculum, for heaven’s sake, and get some current, topical, interesting fiction in the mix as well! Trust me, great literature did not stop being created in the 20th century, or in the 21st.

      1. Dancing Otter*

        I love Dickens, other than a couple of overly sentimental stories clearly written for a special holiday edition of whichever paper was paying him.
        What I cannot get through is Beowulf. Not even as an audiobook on a long drive with no alternatives. According to the Cliff Notes, there ought to be a good story in there somewhere. Couldn’t prove it by me.
        I also am not a fan of Don Quixote. When I had to write a term paper on it, I actually did extra reading so I could do a “compare & contrast” with other picaresque heroes rather than waste a single additional brain cell on Cervantes.

      2. Seeking Second Childhood*

        My high school English classes were doing that—they mixed up Stranger in a Strange Land with Oliver Twist, for example. But middle school, ugh. One class list we called “the year of depressing literature”: Silas Marner, Ethan Frome, the Red Badge of Courage, the Bell Jar, Lord of the Flies… The only relief I remember was Gulliver’s Travels, and even THAT we read right after ‘A Modest Proposal” (to teach us satire). My daughter’sclasses do far are mixing it up a lot better.

    4. anon24*

      I love reading, and as a kid would read almost anything I could get my hands on. I always read well above my age level and my mom would go crazy trying to find books that were appropriate for me to read that met my reading ability, because I was reading full length novels by first grade.

      I hated most of the reading I had to do in school. I did not read Moby Dick but I thought that a lot of the classics were just wordy shite. All I wanted was the author to get to the damned point! Stop talking about the story and move it along already! I have up on Gulliver’s Travels, just refused to read any further because I thought it was incredibly stupid (my brother thought it was hilarious), and I wanted to give up on Uncle Tom’s cabin for being way too drawn out and wordy but my mom forced me to finish it because she thought it was important. I still look upon it as the worst book I’ve ever read. The plot was good, it just wouldn’t end.

      I definitely think that’s why most people hate reading. If that’s all I’d ever read I wouldn’t go near a book either. But I also think that a lot of new novels are not well done either, I think writing quality is really declining recently and I think that is a shame. There are definitely some really good authors out there still but I read some recent releases and am disappointed by clunky writing, awkward dialogue, and typos.

    5. Ms. Ann Thropy*

      Life is too short to force yourself to finish Moby-Dick, or any other book. It’s worth remembering that even the classics were not universally acclaimed at the time of their publication. I used to believe I had to finish every book I started (or what? I don’t know) but just as we don’t have to keep trying with every relationship, we can drop a book without guilt. Let it go, and find another book that you will actually enjoy.

      1. reader*

        Admission that my doctorate is in literature, but not American lit (blargh). If it’s American and not written by a woman of color – I miss Toni Morrison – I probably dislike it. However, I read all my partner’s AmLit when we moved in together. Moby Dick made me mad at first too, but I slogged through. There can be value in the slog, but there are books I will. not. finish. One was A clockwork Orange. I got to page 47 and knew my soul would be damaged by continuing. Another was Lincoln in the Bardo. The critics are correct about the great stylistic things happening, but come on (cue “men, men, men, men” ). Anyway, read what you like.

      2. Teacher Lady*

        Oh my gosh, SAME. When I was 24 I attempted to read A Tale of Two Cities, even though I was fairly certain Dickens would not appeal to me (because many similar/contemporary authors had previously not appealed to me), and then 20-odd pages in, I was like, “I don’t enjoy this, and nobody is making me read it, so I’m going to stop.” It was SO liberating. I still don’t abandon many books; I actually just finished one that, in retrospect, I should have abandoned (it had NO plot), but I did abandon one the first week of January. I’ll never read every book I want to, so why waste time?

    6. Lady Jay*

      I have both a BA & an MA in English and I give up on so-called classic literature all the time. A short list:
      * Adam Bede
      * Anna Karenina
      * The Count of Monte Cristo
      * Les Miserables (loved the movie, just couldn’t handle the book)

      Also, there’s other books I’ve finished but don’t care for (Jane Eyre, Wuthering Heights, anything Steinbeck). Just because they got added to the canon, and now are impossible to shift off of there, doesn’t make them “good,” nor worth reading. As the reading materials available have grown more diverse, represented more people’s experiences, I think it’s easier to see how classics like Moby Dick represent a very narrow slice of human experience, and to seek out books that offer up a bit more of the pie. Thankfully, I do think that both high schools and colleges are, as much as possible, teaching more texts – I was on Twitter last night, reading a thread by a HS teacher introducing her students to Octavia Butler’s Kindred.

      1. TL -*

        See I loved the Count of Monte Cristo. And Anna Karenina. And Dickens and Jane Eyre and though I wish I had read the abridged version, I really liked Les Mis (hate the movie and don’t like the musical, though – too much left out.) And I got a lot of reading them, as well. To be fair, none of them were required reading for me, but I did like most of my required reading as well. (Except Bless Me, Ultima – which I would probably like better as an adult.)

        “Good” literature is an inherently subjective thing and what is “worth” reading varies so hugely person to person that it’s impossible to define. I’m really glad my teachers assigned the reading they did in high school – it’s books I wouldn’t have read otherwise and even though I didn’t realize it then, they took up a small place in my head that has lasted a long time.

        1. Lady Jay*

          Which, great for you.

          But choosing which literature to read in high school or college is a zero sum game. And in my view, it’s better to pull some of the longer, more difficult and dense works and assign works like Kindred – which are equally high quality and invite students to wrestle with and reconsider the world we inhabit now.

          A bonus for reading shorter texts such as Kindred is that students are more likely to read the entire thing, rather than excerpts of longer works. I do think that “making it all the way through a book” is an accomplishment and teaches people to read in a way that picking up on excerpts doesn’t.

          1. TL -*

            Of course it’s a zero sum game – but I’d strongly argue that Les Mis invited me to wrestle with the world I inhabit today. I don’t think there’s a right or wrong answer for assigned reading; it should just be done intentionally. I had one teacher who taught almost entirely classic American POC authors and one who taught the classic American canon and both were great because they were teaching to their strengths. Neither of them liked YA, though, so while my middle school teacher taught contemporary YA well, I don’t think either of my high school teachers would have done a good job teaching modern literature.

            1. Lady Jay*

              I do not, in fact, claim that older texts *don’t* invite us to wrestle with today’s world – because of course they do! But quite a bit has been published since Les Miz and Moby Dick and Gatsby and the rest, and some stuff, including stuff published at the time (say, the novels by American POC that you describe) has historically fallen through the cracks. I get excited when our curricular choices acknowledge this. And yes, teachers teaching what they’re passionate about makes sense. (I tried to teach James Fenimore Cooper once, per the set curriculum; and it was such a flop, because The Last of the Mohicans is such a boring book.)

              Whether HS should teach YA is another question altogether, and depends largely on the YA novel in question, and the grade level of the students. Something like Carlos Ruiz Zafron’s Shadow of the Wind or Ursula Le Guin’s Earthsea is probably rich enough for teaching; all the Redwall books, much as I enjoy them, likely not.

                1. Lady Jay*

                  I’d count “middle grade” as YA – just depends on your definition of YA (is it JUST for high schoolers?) In any case, my point stands that some YA is more suitable for teaching than others.

                2. foxinabox*

                  Yeah, agreed, Redwall is MG–the core reading demo for them has always generally been about 9-11.

                  (Conflating YA and MG isn’t a huge deal in that people do it all the time, but for the record the book industry uses the terms as discrete and consistent categories. MG refers to chapter books aimed at approximately ages 8-12 and YA refers to books for ages 13-18. No two readers alike, categories are broad, etc etc but the two terms do have distinct meanings in publishing, and by extension libraries and bookstores.)

        2. Nessun*

          So very true!! I loved Dostoevsky and Shakespeare in school, but I couldn’t stand some of the shorter novels (Gatsy still sends me into fits). I had a beloved teacher who wanted me to read her favourite novel Of All Time, Doctor Zhivago…it took me FOUR MONTHS when I can devour a book in a weekend. I loathed it, and I was so very sad to give her back her copy and have to explain that no, I didn’t love it like she did. I couldn’t even chat with her about it. She was devastated.

          1. Blue Eagle*

            Your comment about Dr. Zhivago reminds me of the time in college I went to the movie with a male friend (not a date) and it was so long and boring I fell asleep for most of it. Give me a Daniel Silva book, though, and I’ll have the entire thing read in 24 hours.

        3. Koala dreams*

          The Count of Monte Cristo was my favourite in high school!

          I agree with you that I’m glad to have read some books that I didn’t enjoy in school. The point is to teach students about literature, not to let students read only the books they like the most. By introducing different kinds of reading, the students learn more about what literature can be.

      2. Windchime*

        I tried Anna Karenina several times and just could never get past the first 50 or so pages. I finally just decided that it wasn’t for me and gave away my copy. I did like Les Miserables, but there was a chunk of about 100 pages of story about the war that I totally skipped and I don’t think I missed anything pertinent. I also tried Moby Dick and never could get into it.

        When I was in high school, a teacher assigned us to read Catcher in the Rye. I thought it was stupid and so full of cursing that I couldn’t get through it, so he let me read Walden instead.

        1. PhyllisB*

          Yes, I remember trying to read Catcher in the Rye. Just couldn’t. Someone mentioned A Clockwork Orange. Didn’t realize it was a book, but went with boy I was dating to see the movie. It was too much for me. I had to go out and sit in the lobby.

        2. The New Wanderer*

          Same list of books given up on. I read the first couple chapters of AK and then the end and done. I don’t know if it was the particular translation that got to me or what but it was too much of a slog. Have only read the super-short abridged version of Moby Dick, with pictures on every other page! The unabridged version was not for me.

          Catcher in the Rye – nope, I lasted maybe 20 pages. For similar reasons I would have given up on Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man if I’d been allowed to switch books, I hated every minute of that one.

      3. Enough*

        Had a quarter of English senior year devoted to Russian writers. We were given a list to pick from. Don’t remember which one I read. Much prefer being given a choice within the genre then being forced to read just one.

      4. MissDisplaced*

        * Adam Bede
        Was forced to read this, and I absolutely HATED it. Ugh! Why is that considered classic?

    7. Parenthetically*

      Me! I have an English Lit degree. I have given up on Vanity Fair entirely, may try War & Peace again another time (I ADORE Anna Karenina), and couldn’t get into Middlemarch at all.

      I’ve taught Moby-Dick a couple of times and I have the same feeling as you. There are great classics that my high school students universally adored, and ones that were like pulling teeth to get them to read. Moby Dick is pompous and dull and I cut it from the syllabus whenever I could.

      1. Selmarie*

        I’m sure your students would thank you if they knew what you saved them from! I had to read it in college, and afterwards I always said to anyone who expressed an interest in reading it to read the first third and the last third — my recollection is that the middle third was all descriptions of whales and so, so boring! It’s also a bit heavy-handed on the literary themes for my taste, as well.

        1. Imtheone*

          That’s what the reviewers of the time said., “Why can’t Melville just write another fun adventure story?”

          The stuff about the whale is relevant – but was very out-of-step with the times when it was written.

          I liked War and Peace and Anna Karenina, both of which I read for a college class on Tolstoy. I was behind, and read them as fast as I could, which might have been for the best. I found the “war” parts of War and Peace to be very boring, though.

    8. Not So NewReader*

      I did not get much out of most of the classics. It’s the same basic idea over and over. Horrible thing happens, people go through a bunch of misery and then the book is over. For the most part the common thread seemed to be focused on the futility of life. It’s not something I need more of.

      I remember in high school reading The Bell Jar. Okay, I think I read ten pages. A friend read ahead. The next thing I know she is talking about ending her life, the book was just too much and it made her think about the hopelessness in her life too much.
      Fortunately by then I realized that if I just regurgitated what was said in class on to a test, I would get a B on the test. There was no real need to read the book.

      Many of the books we HAD to read were really not appropriate for teenagers. Eh, 40 or 50 year old people would struggle with some of the issues that come up in these books.

      I don’t do well with long descriptive passages either. I feel my brain going to sleep as I read. To me it feels like the author is writing to please themselves and not thinking about the reader.

    9. Thursday Next*

      Russell Baker wrote a column many years ago saying that kids should not be assigned classics like Huckleberry Finn, because they can’t really appreciate it and it winds up souring them on the classics. He recommended (only half facetiously) a minimum age of 25 for classics.

      I have a PhD in literature, so I admittedly have a bias in favor of old/long works! Still, different things are going to appeal to different people, and there are plenty of classics out there if one you’ve tried doesn’t suit you.

      1. Chaordic One*

        I agree. As an adult I reread several Dickens and Twain books and really got a lot more out of them the second time around because I was more mature and had more life experience and was able to pick up on the humor and ideas that escaped me the first time I read them. That said, I didn’t think they were easy reads and it took a bit of effort to follow the plots and subplots and to understand the words. I had to look up quite a few archaic words in the dictionary.

        It seems to me that many of the authors of the classics spent a too much time with extraneous details that were unnecessary and that detracted from the main points the authors were attempting to make, as well as slowing down the reading process. I remember telling one of my college professors that one of the authors (Dickens probably) was a bit “wordy” and he laughed.

        Does anyone here remember “Readers’ Digest Condensed Books”? I have a new appreciation for them.

        As for Moby Dick, I still don’t really get it. It just seems silly and irrelevant and I find it hard to understand what other people saw in it when it came out or what the see in it now.

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

          My theory is that there just wasn’t much competition when it came to books in 1851, and Moby Dick was pretty much the only game in town, the same way that you only have one or two choices if you want cable TV now.

          1. Imtheone*

            Moby Dick wasn’t that highly thought of when it was first published. Melville’s adventure books were big hits (published earlier), and reviewers were befuddled about why he had so much about the whale in the book.

        2. RagingADHD*

          Dickens literally got paid by the word.

          It was common for many novels to start life as serials. Recaps and repetition were often used “for those who came in late.” And the pay structure incentivized wordiness.

        3. Jackalope*

          One of my profs when I was complaining about the length of Les Mis said that back before electronics people didn’t have as many leisure activities and so books had long rambly bits because that’s what people wanted. After that explanation I was able to appreciate some of the tangents in Les Mis (and after seeing the musical and movie I was able to appreciate the brilliance in all of the threads of story that Victor Hugo pulled together). It’s helped me gain a better appreciation for some of the older books I’ve read.

        4. Imtheone*

          Dickens was usually paid by the inch for his works, as they were first published in newspapers or periodicals. Some of the wordiness helped him earn a living!

    10. A.N. O'Nyme*

      I think that is a very normal reaction to Moby-Dick, honestly. For a loooooooong time the Library of Congress categorised it as “Cetology”, so that should tell you something.

      1. purplecat*

        I read Moby Dick as a 5th grader and remember it being long and boring with way too many chapters on whales and ambergris. I wanted a story, not a science textbook. I only finished it because it was for a book report.

    11. Jean (just Jean)*

      Was assigned Gibbons’ Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire in college and could. not. stay. awake. Period. Decades later I still recommend it as the cure for insomnia.

      Have never read Moby Dick myself.
      Sad but true: there’s an anti-intellectual streak a mile wide in American culture. However I think our cultural decline has been accelerated by the force-feeding of popular culture: celebrity drivel, reality TV shows, and other nonsense that drowns out topics of substance for all but the most strong-minded individuals. That and the accompanying glorification of wealthy folks and conspicuous consumption, starting with the Robber Barons in the late 19th century and going right on down to today.
      Sorry to be so grouchy. I’ll show myself out.

      1. Miss Pantalones en Fuego*

        I agree, but I also think we don’t help ourselves by assigning the ancient classics and such over and over. It would make more sense to me if we started the introductory classes with more contemporary stuff. I was a nerd so I made myself read all of the things in school, but I really had to force myself to get through some of it. And we did more “fun” contemporary-ish stuff in the advanced English classes, but my friend in the “regular” class still had to read the old stuffy things like Dickens while we were reading Catcher in the Rye, which is much more digestible.

        1. MeepMeep*

          Now if they went for the truly ancient “ancient classics”, I think high school would have been a much more interesting place. I loved the Epic of Gilgamesh, but I didn’t discover it until I was long out of college.

    12. Autumn leaves*

      It’s the one book in high school that I didn’t finish. My high schoolers don’t read it though. Their lists are definitely more modern so there is hope

    13. Elizabeth West*

      English lit major here. We didn’t read Moby Dick. But as an avid horror fan, I had already read Frankenstein and Dracula and loads of Victorian ghost stories by the time we got to high school, so I was used to the somewhat stodgy prose. Most of the assigned books were modern or post-modern literature. I liked almost everything except for Great Expectations (hated it).

      Dracula would have been a better choice to teach high schoolers. The story hits the ground running and is packed with action. It can spark a fun discussion on the Victorian love of gadgetry (Dr. Seward uses a phonograph for his notes! Mina uses a typewriter!), and other issues like protectionism of women and the veneration of female virtue. It’s creepy as hell (the count crawling down the castle wall, y’all).

      And it’s never been out of print since its publication in 1897. Yet we never read it, not in high school or in college. *sigh*

      1. Jedi Squirrel*

        I’ve never read Moby Dick, but I read Dracula years ago and loved it. Of course, I was helped along by the fact that it was a three-books-in-one that also included Frankenstein and Dr Jekyl and Mr Hyde and a fantastic introduction by Stephen King that explained why these were classics of the horror genre. (And yep…all that early technology was a great part of the book!)

        I was actually reading Dracula during a spring thunderstorm when the power went out and I ended up reading it by candlelight. It was quite the experience, and one I highly recommend.

      2. KoiFeeder*

        Quincey Morris goes out and shoots a bat while Lucy is panicking. We never learn if that helps or not, but by gum he does it!

        There’s a… idk, is it a fanfic if it’s published literature? Adaptation? A whatever, where Quincey Morris is an American Cowboy /Werewolf/, and I absolutely loved it and I have never found it again.

        1. scarlet magnolias*

          It may be Fanfic, but there is a book by P.N. Elrod that has Quincy as a vampire, being chased by his old friends trying to kill him. I would like a werewolf version as there just aren’t enough good werewolf books out there.

          1. KoiFeeder*

            It was a really good book. Helsing’s doing the garlic thing, and Seward is doing the doctor thing, and I think Arthur was just panicking while Johnathan and Mina comfort each other, and Werewolf!Quincey up and gives Lucy a six-shot revolver. With silver bullets! (Later, Helsing reveals that that’s how he knew what was up with Quincey. Only two people carry around silver bullets, ethical werewolves and monster hunters.)

            Unfortunately, Lucy would’ve needed blessed lead to harm drac, but it was still a really nice touch. I need to find that book again, it was really great.

      3. Seeking Second Childhood*

        Oh dear God not for me. I forced myself to finish Dacula this year and it took all my powers of skimming to do so. And gritting my teeth at the rampant misogyny and racism and classism. (We must PROTECT the poor weak women…. even after protecting Miss Lucy’s mother meant she didn’t know not to fling open windows and discard garlic to make the air fresher for her ill daughter. Van Helsing’s dialect was painful. The wharf workers whose first reaction to a job was a drinking binge. The ‘locals’ when they travelled, especially the not so carefully camouflaged Roma? Bleh.)
        I have to wonder if there’s an edited edition running around that does justice to the underlying plot.

        1. Elizabeth West*

          It does open up a larger discussion of those issues, which I mentioned. Also nobody said Bram Stoker was the best writer around, but the book is pretty exciting for a Victorian novel. Like I said, I was used to reading ghost stories from the period, some of which are absolutely hair-raising. Those are the parts of the novel I responded to most strongly.

      4. Here for randomness*

        Great Expectations is one of my least favorite books, and it was assigned reading in 2 classes in high school.

    14. matcha123*

      I had to read Dickens, can’t remember the title, for a high school English class. That was the only book I ever fell asleep reading.
      I loved and love reading, but I’ve never been able to immerse myself in books written prior to…the 1960s? The writing style is just too hard to follow.

      1. Seeking Second Childhood*

        If you’re game, I’d suggest you try just one more… this one shows that even Victorian England had its lighter side, complete with college boy antics: Jerome K. Jerome, “three men in a boat”. It’s available on Project Guttenberg for a free download. Probably elsewhere as well.

      2. Elizabeth West*

        I LOVE A Christmas Carol. It scared the SHIT out of me. But most of Dickens isn’t my choice.
        I do have a copy of Oliver Twist that was given to me by a neighbor who unfortunately passed away. I’ve never read it, but I’ll get to it one day.

    15. Nom de Plume*

      I read Moby Dick in high school. I actually read the entire fucking thing. Thoroughly unenjoyable. The worst part is that the kids who read the cliff notes version did way better on the test than I did. I wish I had skipped the book and done the cliff notes instead.

      This isn’t classic literature, but I quit reading Outlander about 70% of the way through. I just couldn’t do it anymore. Claire is a thoroughly unpleasant person, and she and Jaime need a safe word.

    16. MargaretG*

      As an English major in college, I read a lot of classics. A. Lot.
      Moby Dick was the only assigned classic where I just could not get through it and ended up reading a condensed Cliff Notes version. And, I feel I got the gist of the book reading that condensed version. The professor was certainly not going to quiz the class on how many gallons of blubber can be produced.
      No. They were going to quiz the class on the protagonist’s motivation or thematic allegory.
      So, don’t worry. Moby Dick can be read by skipping the whaling how-to chapters. I know I did.

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

        The whaling section was about 300 pages, I think. I ended up reading the first 125 pages and then the last 30. I think even that was too much.

      2. A.N. O'Nyme*

        Luckily we only had to read parts of it (the ones reprinted in the Norton Anthology of American Literature) and our professor literally said to just read the children’s book version because it’s way more fun.

    17. Rebecca*

      I have to confess something. Between my junior and senior year of high school, we were given a “summer reading list”. Moby Dick, Tale of Two Cities, Silas Marner, you get the picture. OK, so this is in the late 70’s. I was reading Stephen King, Alex Haley, you get the picture. I got through a few pages of many of the 30 or so books on that list, and um, no. Didn’t read one of them. Of course I turned in my paper with the appropriate number of checkmarks, after asking people what’s this book about? No Google in the 1970’s. I somehow skated through.

      I just couldn’t read them, they were awful and boring. I don’t think they stood the test of time.

    18. Overeducated*

      I love Moby Dick but I am really glad i didn’t have to read it in school, a timeline and overanalysis would have wrecked it. It’s just not a quick read or a plot driven book, it’s more atmospheric. It’s like a bottle of good Scotch rather than vodka or beer – you don’t slam down shots to get drunk or finish it in one night, you savor it slowly for months. Or i do, anyway. I respect that’s not everyone’s preferred reading experience but it was definitely not one the school curriculum would have made room for.

      1. Miranda Priestly's Assistant*

        I actually like some books for this reason. A lot of people find them boring but I like the settings (Jane Austen books being one.)

        1. Overeducated*

          Yes, I think some of the great things about Austen and Melville both are their attention to detail, ability to establish an atmosphere, and very subtle humor. Very different books, but they were both such careful writers.

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

        I think that’s a great analogy. In my case it really fits, because I also hate Scotch!
        There are so many things that I like that other people would never touch, so it cuts both ways. The beautiful thing about books is that there are no right or wrong answers.

    19. nep*

      I absolutely loved many things about Middlemarch. That book stayed with me for a long time, and in a good way. But I have to admit in many sections all I could think was, Why? Why are we spending so much time on this topic/component?

    20. Librarian of Many Hats*

      This was me back in high school with “The Scarlet Letter.” And I was a kid/teen who LOVED to read – so much so that I majored in English and went on to get my Master’s in Library Science! Unfortunately “The Scarlet Letter” was required reading for one of my classes so I had to finish it. But the whole time I was like: “I know Hester’s child is this evil-looking little demon baby. I know. I got it. I got it the first time you told us. You don’t have to remind us every 5 pages.”

      “The Jungle” by Upton Sinclair was another tough read, but for entirely different reasons.

      1. Miranda Priestly's Assistant*

        Oh yeah this is another one! I’ve never met anyone who actually liked this book.

        1. KoiFeeder*

          In defense of the Jungle, you’re not supposed to enjoy it. You’re supposed to be sickened and outraged, and then supportive of socialism.

          Which, absolutely not in defense of high school reading curricula, makes it a poor choice to force a bunch of high schoolers to read. There’s plenty of “classics” that aren’t going to make people ill (or triggered, with all the physical and sexual violence in that book), and there’s also plenty of books about the state of the industry at that time that aren’t going to trigger or sicken students if the point of assigning The Jungle is to discuss the relevant industry and the Pure Food Laws.

          Also, I’ve never known anyone who actually was assigned the book who was actually assigned the socialism chapters. I think, at least in the US, those are universally skipped, which is kind of cowardly in my opinion.

          1. Miss Pantalones en Fuego*

            Ugh, so many things in this book gave me nightmares. I found it compelling for many reasons, but high school me did not need all the graphic details. I don’t remember the socialism bits so maybe we cut those?

            1. KoiFeeder*

              Yeah, the socialism bits may not have been memorable because they’re, IIRC, the catharsis points so you don’t bluescreen from high-octane nightmare fuel. Which is incidentally one of the reasons I object to cutting them- the book is horrible to read if you don’t include those!

          2. Miranda Priestly's Assistant*

            Sorry I was referring to Scarlet Letter! I’ve actually never heard of Jungle.

          3. Cassandra*

            I actually got to read the Jungle as part of an American history class, and that was AWESOME. I honestly loved reading it because we had the context behind why it was written. (Well, some of it…. I don’t think we discussed the socialism aspect too much :| ).

          4. Princesa Zelda*

            The Jungle is the only book I was assigned and didn’t actually finish in high school. I got to the first graphic scene and was like NOPE. My English teacher that year provided everyone with links to the Spark Notes and we talked a lot about the reasons for it being written and labor rights at the time. It was actually one of the best history lessons I had in high school.

          5. The Gollux, Not a Mere Device*

            Sinclair is reputed to have said, later, that “I aimed for the nation’s heart and hit it in the stomach.”

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

        The Scarlet Letter was one of the books we read my junior year of high school when I was fortunate enough to get the hot, rebel English teacher who didn’t teach Moby Dick. I generally had the same opinion as you — such a dreary book. But the teacher was SO INTO IT that it kind of rubbed off on me and made it borderline tolerable.

      3. Patty Mayonnaise*

        I like The Scarlet Letter! The A stood for Able! Between this and the number of people on this thread who hate Dickens, this thread is killing my soul.

    21. Tris Prior*

      I had to read Moby Dick in school and our teacher actually gave us a list of pages (chapters? can’t remember) that we were allowed to skip because they were so tedious and unnecessary to the plot and/or understanding this work of literature.

      My degree’s in English and I had to read a ton of classics in college and I did well in school and had professors pressuring me to go on to grad school in literature – and STILL I strongly disliked (and continue to dislike) most classics that I was required to read. Most of what I read these days is postapocalyptic fiction and urban fantasy involving the supernatural. My professors would be horrified!

    22. Miranda Priestly's Assistant*

      Not given up on it because I’m stubborn and force myself to finish books, but I’ve definitely read many classics that I just didn’t care for.

      – Robinson Crusoe has to be one of the most dull things I’ve ever read in my life
      – The Sun Also Rises – I feel like it’s a cardinal sin to criticize Hemingway but ima do it – he was basically an incel prototype.

      I definitely think that we should let kids read what they want without pushing some sort of literary elitism onto them – which let’s be honest, mostly props up White male authors.

      1. Miranda Priestly's Assistant*

        Actually I don’t think the latter is a classic ha! But I remember forcing myself to read it because Hemingway, and wanted to die during the process.

        1. scarlet magnolias*

          So agree, but I wish Emma Thompson had ended up with Hugh Laurie who was married to the terrible pig nosed woman. No wonder he yearned after Emma.

      1. KarenK*

        I can’t read Jane Austen, but I can listen to any of her books all day! I find that the audio format makes many books easier to tolerate.

      2. pentamom*

        I am a really intense Austen fan, but I agree that one just has “first novel” written all over it. I still think it’s a pretty good book, but she had definitely not hit her stride yet. You can a lot of areas that she got a much better handle on by the next book, the most-beloved PP.

    23. The Gollux, Not a Mere Device*

      No book, new or old, is for everyone. I gave up partway through Don Quixote, and am still grateful to my long-ago college English department for giving us official permission to skip one book from that semester’s reading list.

      And then I got overwhelmed by end-of-semester stuff in other classes, and was again grateful that one of the choices for a paper about *Ulysses* was “pick any one chapter to write about,” so it was okay that I only got a third of the way through the book. The difference is that I periodically consider going back to Joyce, and not to Cervantes. I’ll accept that Cervantes was satirizing a popular genre of the time–but it’s a genre that I’ve read none of, and doubt that even many native speakers of Spanish bother with these days.

    24. Squidhead*

      I actually enjoyed Moby Dick but, like everyone else here, have “classics” that I can’t stand (I’m looking at you, Mr. Dickens!).

      I’m currently re-reading Hemingway’s A Farewell to Arms and am enjoying it a lot more than I thought I would. And with many thanks to Mrs. Penn, my HS English lit teacher who actually focused on the writing (not just the plot) and taught me to tune into questions like “what is being implied?” “How do we know this character is mad/sad/happy?” “How does this passage feel…how do the words & pacing used make you understand a feeling?”

      My current dilemma has been whether or not to re-read Infinite Jest 20 years after first reading it. Anyone tried? Does it hold up? I was 21 when I first read it…will some more life experience help me empathize or just show me that it’s a bloated ridiculous text?

    25. Jaid*

      I remember reading The Fellowship of the Ring and The Kitchen God’s Wife by Amy Tan in HS. There a very few books I stopped reading after a couple of pages, but The Count of Monte Cristo is the one book that I skip the beginning and go straight to his prison scenes.

      The Tale of Genji…well Murasaki never finished it, so I tend not to bother with the part with the second generation. The kids are kinda asses anyway.

    26. YouwantmetodoWHAT?!*

      Journey to the Center of the Earth. I just.could.not.
      It was so VERY condescending toward women, that I just couldn’t get past it. I was so disappointed, because I wanted to love anything by Verne.

    27. KoiFeeder*

      Victor Hugo writes like my inner monologue works. I cannot and probably will never be able to read any of his books. I’m kinda sad about that, because by all accounts I’d probably like them, but if I have to read one more sidetrack on the Parisian sewer system I will just straight-up die.

      1. Lady Jay*

        The Parisian sewer system is, however, very interesting. While I couldn’t make it through Les Miz (I’m sorry, Victor Hugo, I just don’t care about the schematics of the Battle of Waterloo enough to read a 50-page chapter on it), I later visited the sewers during a trip to Paris – I learned *so much* about urban planning, government, and yes, the sewers. :)

        Highly recommend to anybody who visits Paris.

      2. smoke tree*

        I feel like Hugo and Melville shared a passion for the mundane so fierce that they forced themselves to slog through pages of nonsense about civil war, whaling battles, epic love and masturbation in exchange for the thrill of a deep dive on nunneries, the shape of a whale’s skull and sewage.

        Of course, I love both of them because my brain is a mysterious place.

        1. KoiFeeder*

          To be fair, the shape of a whale’s skull is quite amazing.

          More seriously though, I think that passion for the mundane is not a bad thing. It’s just that, well, autism brain already hyperfixates on things without the outside help of someone else explaining why their hyperfixations are wonderful. I learned my lesson with Melville (and the mockery I got for coming to class with whale facts that year).

          1. smoke tree*

            I agree! Although from a writerly point of view, I don’t think either Hugo or Melville was great at reading the room about which parts of their books the average reader would find enthralling.

    28. Sherm*

      I am repeatedly told that I am a very patient person. But I didn’t finish East of Eden. Maybe it’s not fair, but I felt that the book thought it was great without getting to showing me that it was great.

      I also didn’t finish Catch-22, and I know I may be the only one. When I chucked it, I was thinking “Okay, you’ve made that point…many times.”

      1. Bewildered lately*

        Really liked East of Eden. Cathy was wicked and interesting. Grapes of Wrath, however, had me drowsing at the first chapter…

    29. ArtK*

      Moby Dick is particularly hard. It’s really an encyclopedia of whaling with a short story in the margins.

    30. Miss Pantalones en Fuego*

      Even though I was a total bookworm and read voraciously as a kid, I have many classic books and authors I never managed to get through, including Moby Dick. I’ve never managed to read any of the Brontes or Austen, got halfway through Don Quixote, I enjoy shorter works by Dostoyevsky but couldn’t finish the longer ones (they took so long to read I forgot half the plot), attempted War and Peace but only read a small bit of it, and so on. It makes me feel kind of stupid and shallow but I just can’t cope with the old-fashioned language in many of the classic books. I read enough long-winded academic stuff already, I’m not going to force myself to get through fiction that reads the same way.

    31. DCR*

      I was in an IB program in high school, so didn’t read most of the classics that people normally read during high school. Instead, we read a very international mix of books (Things Fall Apart, The Things They Carried, Invisible Man, etc.), but I can’t recall a single book we read by a British author expectShakespeare. At one point in college, I considered reading the “classic “bucks that everybody else had read. I started one or two, got 50 pages in or so, and completely gave up because I hated the books. It was just not worth my time, and I haven’t change my mind set.

    32. Cap. Marvel*

      I feel like that is a completely rational reaction. I have not attempted Moby Dick, but I tried to read through Crime and Punishment because my friend loved it. It really felt like a punishment, so I stopped reading after I was halfway through.
      Also I hated Jane Eyre. I read all of it and I disliked every minute of it.
      I do love Pride and Prejudice though. If anyone else does and hasn’t watched the Lizzie Bennet Diaries, I recommend it.

      1. Nesprin*

        I enjoyed the first hundered pages or so of crime and punishment. Shame there was another 400 bloody pages after that.

    33. NeverNicky*

      I have a degree in literature.

      I have finished ONE Thomas Hardy novel (set text in secondary school), ONE Dickens novel and I declined to enrol on a Masters course because I would have to study Wuthering Heights again.

      Some classics just do not float my boat and yet others (Jane Austen, Elizabeth Gaskell, George Eliot) I happily re-read

    34. Uhtceare*

      Oh I HATED Moby-Dick, thank you. There’s like a hundred pages before they’re even on the boat! I gave up on that one too.

      That’s my worst “classic literature” experience–there’s been a few non-fictions I’ve abandoned in hatred and rage (Martine Rothblatt’s “Virtually Human”, for one: I couldn’t make it through the first chapter, I was picking apart its flaws in the margins in Very Angry Pencil and I decided to stop when I caught myself wanting to steal it from the library just so I could set it on fire)–but at this point I tend to only read things I expect to like. I.e., I refuse to attempt further Melville. Or most of the classic Russians. (I feel like Dostoevsky was badly in need of a hug.)

      (I also hated Frankenstein, good heavens that’s intensely dull, but that was a grade 11 assigned text.)

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

        At page 100ish, I was like, “Okay, they’re on the boat, now things might finally get somewhere.” But then there was an odd play skit and then what looked to be about 250 pages worth of descriptions about whales! At that point I said, “nope”

        1. Uhtceare*

          Yes that was exactly my reaction–at page 60 or so, I decided that it would get better as soon as they got to the boat, and I’d hold out, and then IT DID NOT IMPROVE.

          I can’t imagine trying to get kids interested in it in high school, when they don’t know that books don’t have to be boring. If we must teach “novels involving life lessons learned on boats”, they should go with Captains Courageous. The protagonist falls overboard on page 8! (and learns discipline and empathy from his rescuers)

    35. Lost in the Woods*

      I hate hate hate The Once and Future King. I find its treatment of women to be beyond misogynistic and edging into territory of barely considering women to be human beings, and its portrayal of both celtic peoples and the few non-white characters to be intensely racist and damaging. These issues permeate the book and its themes, they are in my opinion completely inextricable from it. I read it at 14 and I had never felt so angry at a book before – I’d disliked books before, but I usually just stopped reading, no harm no foul. The Once and Future King was the first book I truly hated (also the first book I threw across the room while reading). I couldn’t give up on it because it was required reading. I actually wrote a four page review of why I thought it was a bad book and not worth our class time, but I was ultimately too chicken to send it. Now I wish I had. If this is one of our classics of fantasy, no wonder so many people feel so deeply alienated by the genre.

      1. Lost in the Woods*

        (to be clear, the book does have some good qualities and I get why other people might like it, but its flaws hit every single one of my buttons. I genuinely think it shouldn’t be taught in classrooms without extensive historical contextualization)

      2. Smol Book Wizard*

        I too was not a fan. It felt so…mean? Tired? Bored? If that makes any sense. At least it felt that way to me… My mom, when I got rid of the copy I owned, spoke of how she’d loved it as a child. I suspect she was thinking of The Sword in the Stone though, which contained less general bitterness.
        (Also, I am a super hard sell on Arthuriana and tend to enjoy niche material on the subject, let’s be real.)

    36. Former Usher*

      We were assigned Moby Dick in my junior year AP English class. I never finished it reading it. I couldn’t even finish reading the CliffsNotes.

    37. Merci Dee*

      Reading has always been a pleasure of mine, and I found most of the books I had to read in middle and high school to be decent books.

      Notable exceptions are as follows:

      1) The Lord of the Flies — apparently, William Golding said to himself, “I’m bored today, so I’ll write a novel about what happens when a bunch of pre-teen boys are stranded on a tropical island and have to work together to survive. Blood, terror, and hijinks will ensue!”

      2) Jude the Obscure – the last novel completed by Thomas Hardy, though it was originally a magazine serial. Jesus Tap-Dancing Christ. If I’d written this slog of a novel, I would have given up on writing books, too. This is the absolute biggest drag of a novel I’ve ever been forced to read. Life is shit, marriage is shit, and your oldest kid is going to kill his half siblings and himself because, as mentioned, life is shit. I get pissed off all over again every time I think of this horrid book.

      3) One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich — Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn wrote this novel detailing a single day in the life of a man imprisoned in a Russian gulag for being a spy, since he was briefly captured by the Germans as a prisoner of war. Hint: he was not a spy. I agree that this was an important book for its release in 1962, and Solzhenitsyn had himself been sentenced to a gulag for 8 years because he dared to criticize Stalin in a private letter. So he gives an awful lot of realism to the events detailed in the book. It’s not that the book itself was terrible, it’s just that there was so much oppression and hopelessness. As you might expect in a forced labor camp. I’m not a fan of the military or dystopian genres in literature, so that mostly contributed to my perceptions of the book, though I would generally say that Solzhenitsyn had a writing style that can easily draw you into the story. I guess that was probably the biggest problem I had – simply that this gulag was not a place I wanted to be drawn into.

      4) Wuthering Heights — Written by Emily Bronte. Catherine. Heathcliff. The windswept moors. God save me.

      1. Ermintrude*

        Tess of the d’Urbervilles! I really loved books but this one made me hate every English class for a term.

        The Great Gatsby. Just……what? I found it deeply annoying and dull.

        But Tess of the d’Urbevilles was just – hideous.

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

          Tess was so insufferable that it almost made Moby Dick seem entertaining as a comparison. I thought our senior year of high school English teacher (who absolutely hated us) assigned it to us as punishment homework… but it wasn’t punishment homework.

      2. TL -*

        I loved One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich – but The Master and Margherita was wasted on me. I didn’t even dislike it; I just didn’t get it on such a profound level I may as well have not read it. And I have no desire to reread it to see if age will help.

        1. MeepMeep*

          That one is so steeped in cultural references that you have to have some background knowledge before you read it. It’s one of my favorite books, but I am from Russia and have a basic familiarity with the cultural concepts in question. I can totally see where someone wouldn’t get it if they don’t have that familiarity.

      3. No Name Yet*

        OMG, Lord of the Flies. I also was a huge reader, and enjoyed or tolerated basically everything I was assigned in middle/high school. Except That Book. And since I was always engaged in class and not shy about sharing my opinion….everyone else in eighth grade knew how I felt about it too, LOL.

        It’s funny, because I never really had the language for why it bothered me so much, so it’s been interesting over the ensuing decades to see discussions about who it does and doesn’t represent.

    38. RagingADHD*

      Don’t get me started on forcing students to read Shakespeare on the page instead of seeing it onstage – or at the very least, reading aloud.

      The bulk of the “good parts” like grossouts, sexy scenes, puns, dirty jokes, etc, have to be heard. They simply don’t come across on paper. It’s like teaching culinary arts by reading a cookbook without ever touching food.

      Generations upon generations of people grow up believing Shakespeare is confusing and boring simply because they never got the chance to hear it properly.

      1. KarenK*

        My high school Shakespeare teacher had us perform the plays in class. It made all the difference.

      2. Emily*

        Thank you! I was a pretty good reader in school (aka capable of understanding most of the language and what was going on in the play), but I didn’t love Shakespeare and didn’t really get the fuss around him. Pretty much every time I’ve seen an actual performance, though, I’ve liked it a lot more!

    39. Quake Johnson*

      I simply cannot finish Lord of the Rings. The first one was okay (and the Hobbit was good) but in book two I swear the whole plot is just the characters walking.

      Also wanna chime in that I tried to just read the plot summary of Moby Dick on wikipedia and I found even that way too long with little substance.

      1. purplecat*

        I read Lord of the Rings during the 30 minute reading period we had once a week in high school. Normally I’ll finish interesting books in a day or two because I can’t put them down, but Lord of the Rings lasted quite a while and I rarely felt tempted to bring them home to finish because they were so slow and wordy. I was motivated to continue though because a classmate would always ask me what had happened next and I enjoyed talking about them.

      2. Seven hobbits are highly effective, people*

        I’m pretty sure the only reason I got through Lord of the Rings is because I read it immediately after forcing myself to read Little Women. I’d read a biography of Louisa May Alcott that I liked, so I decided that since I liked that book I was going to make myself like Little Women even though it was the slowest, most boring book I had ever read at the time. (This was paired with confusion when I’d transferred to a new school that year and thought that “older kids” in 4th grade weren’t allowed to check out fiction from the school library when the librarian just meant that we weren’t allowed to check out the picture books because we needed to save them for the younger kids. I spent months alternately checking out non-fiction books about paranormal phenomena, cookbooks, and biographies before I asked the librarian if I could please check out and read Little Women since I’d just read a biography of the author and it sounded interesting. This was when I finally learned that there were fiction books I was allowed to check out after all.)

        Compared to Little Women, Lord of the Rings has many, many more things happening in it so the time passed much more quickly. People went places! And fought orcs! I think I got through The Hobbit and each of the LotR books in a week each. I am curious if I would have also gotten through The Silmarillion if the elementary school library had had a copy, but somehow a k-5 school didn’t think to stock that so I went on to reading a giant pile of fantasy books about unicorns instead, as well as any dog story I could find.

        I’ve never bothered to re-read LotR (or Little Women), though.

        1. Imtheone*

          Fourth grade is too young for Little Women. My daughter tried to read it then and also found it boring. Some of Alcott’s other novels for young people are shorter and faster paced, like An Old-Fashioned Girl. The reading level for Little Women might be find for an advanced fourth grader, but the book is really oriented towards adolescents.

          1. Seven hobbits are highly effective, people*

            I ran into a lot of trouble with reading level versus types of plots I found interesting around that age. I was reading chapter books by 1st or 2nd grade, and was able to read at a high school or college level by 3rd or 4th grade. However, I was still interested in the same kinds of stories as other 8-10 year olds, and that made it really difficult to find interesting books to read. (For example, I was not interested in books about romance or relationships. I was very interested in books about dogs. I ended up reading some pretty dense non-fiction books about dogs and animal behavior from the public library because it did not take me long to blow through all of the available non-romance-focused dog story books remotely close to my reading level.)

            I would still rather read books about dogs having adventures than romance novels, now that I think about it. Why doesn’t anyone write “dogs going on adventures” novels for the adult market? (I mostly read military SF these days, but also other kinds of SF and fantasy, and occasionally historical mysteries.)

      3. RagingADHD*

        The Two Towers is definitely the slowest of the three. The Ents are really the only high point.

        My 13yo is working on it now, because I told her it sets up some important stuff for book 3. But she described it very aptly, I think:

        “It’s like eating straight peanut butter with nothing to drink.”

    40. Unemployed in Greenland*

      Re: the “classics” – especially the Victorian ones … if nobody’s mentioned this already …

      I found it a lot of fun to approach Dickens’ works, and Thackeray’s, in the way the would have originally appeared – serially! I remember finding this tidbit in the intro to “Vanity Fair,” while paging through it in high school (and wondering whether I could make it through such a doorstop. (at least, I thought it was, then.))

      So being the bookish high schooler I was, I found a copy of the publication dates for various “issues” of “Vanity Fair.” I stuck to that schedule while reading it. (Kind of. Thackeray’s installments were monthly, and I decided to make mine two weeks apart, as I didn’t want to be reading the whole book for over a year.)

      I told myself I could not read ahead, no matter how suspenseful the ending was. And I didn’t. It was really something! It felt a lot more like experiencing episodes of a TV show – wondering what would happen next – than like trudging through an Epic Piece of Literature. The emotional payoff of the end was also amazing, because it felt as though I had known those characters for months, instead of for a weekend.

      Anyway. This book is handy, if you want to nerd out over Victorian Literature charts, and perhaps try something similar. https://www.worldcat.org/title/victorian-novels-in-serial/oclc/230822056?referer=br&ht=edition
      (yes, it’s available in the US, but I do not yet know how to scrub geographical order from WorldCat results. Said results would thus show y’all where I am in the US, and honey badger can’t have that. XD)

      (PS I’m sure the details are also available on the internet somewhere. This tells the installment durations, of Dickens, for example – it doesn’t say how long the installments are, though. http://www.victorianweb.org/authors/dickens/edh/chronology.html)

    41. Square Root of Minus One*

      I have given up on a LOT of classic books.
      In my student career, two separate years I got assigned the first book of the Proust series “In search of lost time” – in my country it’s the picture of the loooooong, meditating, drawn-out classic.
      I mean, seriously, two different teachers thought good to assign that to a teenage science-studying public? I am absolutely positive teenagers do NOT have what it takes to appreciate the book. I’m not even sure anyone under fifty can appreciate it. My mom read it through only in her sixties. So I guess I might pick it up again in 30 years.

    42. Artemesia*

      Yes but not Moby Dick which I recently read as an adult and found mesmerizing. There is a lot of Dickens that leaves me cold like this though.

    43. smoke tree*

      Your comment amused me because I read and loved Moby-Dick in high school, although I wouldn’t recommend it as high school curriculum, unless maybe you cut out all of the chapters discussing whether a whale is a fish or not (spoiler: Melville thought it was a fish).

      However, even as a lit major who loves the classics, there are some beloved works that I just can’t get through. I’m looking at you, Catch-22 and On the Road. I think I’ve got an unusually high threshold for rambling tangential discussions, but a lower tolerance for disaffected young guys complaining about everything.

      1. Miss Pantalones en Fuego*

        Ugh, Kerouac. I quite liked a lot of Beat literature and got into it a bit when I was an undergrad, but I never could finish anything he wrote. Bukowski, Ginsberg, Burroughs (I really liked Burroughs), fine. But not Kerouac.

    44. Koala dreams*

      My teachers in high school taught different kinds of literature, including classics, modern books, poetry and plays. They were big on including excerpts and using short stories. Many were chosen because they were about young people or the teachers thought we could connect with them in some way. Many teachers do think about these things, but it can be difficult to combine “interesting to teenagers” with “following the curriculum”.

      I gave up on reading “Crime and Punishment” because all the foreign names and nicknames was just too confusing for me. However, I was never subjected to it in school. We read a short story as an example of realistic literature in class, and it was also confusing, but at least it was short so not too difficult to get through.

      It’s not only books, it’s movies too. The thing is, after someone writes a popular book or a great movie, there will be many writers and film-makers after them that includes their best ideas and make modern version that is more interesting to today’s readers and movie-goers. The classic work will seem out-of-date and done to death at once.

    45. MeepMeep*

      I don’t even want to get into Moby Dick. I went through a phase where I made myself read a lot of classics, though, and I totally had that reaction to Jane Austen. Just bored and turned off. I didn’t continue reading.

      Some classics surprised me (Don Quixote was one I enjoyed greatly, and will re-read) – but some were just too slow, too boring, and not engaging enough for me to continue.

    46. ampersand*

      This made me laugh! I haven’t tried to read Moby Dick and don’t plan to—I stopped forcing myself to read Classics/books I “should” read in my 20s. I’m 39 now. Life is too short and there are too many good books out there to be tortured by bad literature.

      That said: why is it a classic? It sounds dreadful. I don’t think I’ve met anyone who liked it.

    47. Seeking Second Childhood*

      I gave up on “Romeo and Juliette” ….and I’m the linguistics-loving history major who is nuts about medieval & Renaissance England. I know the ending, and I don’t need to suffer to get there. It’s a 3day infatuation ending with pointless suicides. Not my thing!

      1. Person from the Resume*

        OMG! I did have to read Romeo & Juliet in high school. It starts with Romeo pining for someone else and then seeing Juliet from afar and falling “in love.” I immediately thought: this is BS. They aren’t in love. They don’t know each other … and then they are dumb and kill them selves in the end. My conclusion: Shakespeare is dumb.

    48. Formerly in HR*

      Not sure if it’s really a classic, but the author definitely has accolades. Yet ‘The Tin Drum’ was the first book ever that I chose to not finish reading, after ploughing trough more than 100 pages.
      This year I felt I should abandon ‘My struggle’. Which has 6 volumes. And annoyed, bored, iritated, angered and whatnot me after first volume. Not sure why I stuck with it, as I still don’t like it a bit. i’m almost done with volume 5 and realised volume 6 has 1100+ pages. Never again.

    49. Anon Here*

      Everything is subjective. There is no objectively “great” work of literature. We’re all entitled to our opinions.

      I would argue that the problem is not that these books are assigned but the way they’re presented. We’ve lost sight of the above. Students are expected to absorb them as “great,” and to bow down and memorize them instead of critiquing them and understanding that they’re assigned due to their influence, not their objective greatness. Classics should be presented in the context of their significance: how and when they became popular, how critics reacted at different points in history, and the impact they had on the world. Students should be encouraged to advocate for their own opinions of these works.

      As an English and writing tutor, I see that these books are presented very differently in different schools. Critical thinking and open-ended discussions are encouraged in SOME private schools, charter schools, magnet schools, and even regular public schools in higher income neighborhoods. The kids in lower income neighborhoods get the worst deal; they just take multiple choice tests about the book’s basic plot and characters. They aren’t encouraged to have opinions or to critique anything. And the result is that there are different messages being sent to youth. One is, “This is a book and you’re smart enough to form valid opinions of it and to write books that are as good or better.” The other is, “This is a great work of literature and you need to respect that and memorize facts about it.” We need to think about that and the implications, considering that factors that determine the kind of education people get in the U.S.

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

        Really well said. That’s what I think I wanted to say, but ended up ranting instead.

    50. MissDisplaced*

      Oh yes!
      I died when I had to read Paradise Lost for a class. Definitely not on my want to read list. Frankly, I gave up and read about it rather than read it.

    51. Imtheone*

      My daughter LOVED Moby Dick in 9th grade. I think, though, she was fairly unique. She read it in the pre-kindle days with a dictionary at her elbow. (Kindles were first available about four years later.)

      I read Moby Dick in high school and thought it was fine. I had a wonderful English teacher who really helped make the book meannful and accessible. Moby Dick is my husband’s favorite novel.

      So views of these books vary!

      You might try reading one of Melville’s adventure books, like Typee.

    52. Matilda Jefferies*

      I haven’t attempted Moby Dick, but I’m perfectly happy to give up on a book if I’m not enjoying it. I’m an adult, reading for pleasure – there are no grades, and no prizes for finishing. Life is too short to slog through a book just because you feel like you “should.”

      And speaking of classics in particular – in the last year or so, I gave up on the “old dead white guy” genre pretty much entirely. There are so many other stories to be told, and so many other ways of telling them! I’m making a point of reading more diverse books, from authors of various genders, sexualities, time periods, geographies, and languages. I won’t say I’ll never read an old dead white guy again, but I’m not going to read anything just because it’s considered a “classic.”

  5. Reader in ND*

    Hi all, I have been eating Kashi cereal lately and it has lentil flour. It seems to keep me full for a good 5 hours before lunch so I’m wondering what other high protein/fiber and low carb cereals are out there that taste good. I’m in the midwest in an area where I have choice of only 2 grocery store chains, so if it’s something easy to buy (and I can skip going to Amazon say) that would also be great. Thanks in advance!

    1. Three owls in a trench coat*

      Do you like hot cereals? I tried Rx oatmeal this week (by the company that makes the Rx protein bars) and I really like it. Both the maple and apple cinnamon flavors are delicious. The egg whites give it extra protein and a fluffier texture than regular oatmeal.

    2. cleo*

      Bob’s Red Mill has a lot of good, filling hot and cold cereal options, including some unusual whole grain combinations (and maybe with lentils or other beans but I’m not sure of that).

      I’m also in the Midwest and have noticed that it’s easier to find Bob’s Red Mill in my local markets than it used to be. You can also order directly from their website.

      https://www.bobsredmill.com/shop/cereals.html

    3. rockingchair*

      Does this kashi cereal have buckwheat in it (kasha)? That has a lot of fibre and it might be the buckwheat/kasha that you find filling.

    4. Peter Piper Picked a Peck of Pickled Peppers*

      You could try a quinoa based cereal, or just cook it yourself, drain and serve cold with milk, maple syrup, honey, fruit, nuts. Or make quinoa based granola.

  6. Teapot Translator*

    I wanted to thank everyone who replied to my threads last week. I got plenty of book recommendations and ideas for what to do with old bed sheets. And of course, I love to hear about what exercise you’ve been doing. You guys are awesome.

    Life is a bit hard lately, and I got mad at a friend who blamed it on how much stuff I’ve been taking on. I was also hurt. Yes, I take too much on, I do a lot of stuff, but also, the thing that’s been weighing me down the most is my dad’s cancer. I can cancel the class I’m taking at university, I can give up my extracurricular activities, but I don’t see how’s that going to change the fact that my dad is basically dying and we’re just going to have to look at him go through chemo (with all possible side effects) to give him 1 or 2 years more, you know?
    So I just told her that life sucked and I didn’t see how that was going to change. It shut her up a bit and she stopped trying to hint that I had somehow any control here (yes, I have options, and I’m keeping them in mind if ever it becomes unbearable, but I still need to live my life, you know?)

    Well, that got long. Thanks for listening.

    1. Not A Manager*

      Sometimes people say stupid things because they WANT there to be a solution that is within your control (and therefore would be within their control if something bad happened in their life). It’s easier to say “your life would be great if only you weren’t over committed” rather than “sometimes life sucks and there’s not much you can do about it, I’m sorry.”

      Good for you for being clear about what you DON’T need to hear from her right now. I hope she can still be a good friend to you.

      I’m very sorry about your father. Best wishes to you and him both.

    2. Not So NewReader*

      Life is hard and sometimes it’s down right impossible.

      I ended up quitting school when my mother was dying. My ability to concentrate got up and left. With the loss of focus, I also lost my ability to value the schooling.

      [Skip long story.]

      My punchline is that it’s worthwhile to figure out if we are running TOWARD something OR running AWAY from something. There’s a huge difference between the two.
      I was not running TOWARD a career. I was running AWAY from my fear of the future. Even the immediate future was pretty fearful.
      When we are running toward something we are going through a progression of steps. We have incremental growth and small achievements that will add up to something meaningful in the future.
      When we are running away from something we are just busy for the sake of busyness. There’s no goal, we are not building something. We may have random accomplishments that are disconnected from each other, but really don’t get us anywhere in life.

      Instead of framing it as “I can give up X, Y and Z, but I don’t see how that is going to change the fact that my dad is basically dying….”, I’d suggest new framing.
      “I am going to use this time while my father is still here to be deliberate, to pick well-chosen goal oriented activities so that I can have a successful adult life and know my dad would be proud of me.”

      Unfortunately, I was in my 40s before I was able to figure this one out. My aunt put it very well, “If we have been granted the insight to know what the future holds, then we have also been granted the time to prepare for it.”
      Chose your activities with a future oriented purpose. If the activity will not generate something beneficial to you in the future you may (notice the use of the word “may”) want to reconsider that particular activity. I am using the word “may” because some activities are beneficial right now and we need those benefits also. In either case, be deliberate, KNOW what benefits you expect from a particular activity. If you are not seeing those benefits, then move on to something else.

      I am sorry your friend upset you. And I am sorry your dad’s prognosis is not good. My mother passed when I was 23. It was hard. I was young AND old all in the same stroke. I had a young person’s body but my thinking and worry levels were more like an older person. “What if we lose the house? Where will we live? How will we pay for groceries? Will someone take the dog if we can’t pay for the dog’s needs anymore? Etc.” If you can find someone to talk to on a regular basis it might be helpful. This could be a therapist. But it could also be a dear and level-headed relative/older friend who is interested in you and how you fair in life. Or maybe both.

      1. NoLongerYoung*

        Once again, I find your answers to someone else helpful.

        And I am so very sorry, TT, that your father is terminal. You have my warmest hug if you are open to an internet stranger sending you one. The darkest days were the early and end; once I adjusted to the reality, and gave myself a time and energy buffer, I coped better with my husband’s long long demise.

        You will find your equilibrium. In the meantime, everyone has advice. Guard your heart, and your energy. Give yourself grace, and credit for knowing when you want to do something – or not. I had trouble saying no back then, but ultimately had to find a way to give up some things – BUT – I kept some things that let me be me. I did not want to ONLY be defined by the illness, I wanted and needed a future of some kind, and I needed a mental diversion that was riveting.

        Know that good friends sometimes give advice because they do care, and I tried to look at motive. Was it genuine but misplaced concern for me (do x, you need a break) or self-interest (do y, “I” want you to so I am going to say “insert blah blah” – sometimes that’s unconscious on their part).

    3. Cap. Marvel*

      I am so sorry about your dad. I agree with the others, sometimes you need other things to focus on so you’re not fixated on what’s happening to your dad. Of course you get to keep living your life.
      Maybe this may not be the best thing for you if you already have a packed schedule, but have you thought about joining a support group? I haven’t ever been a part of one, but my boyfriend’s mom finds it immensely helpful to talk about how her mom’s illness is affecting her with other people who are going through the same thing. That may be helpful to you since you now know that this friend just can’t relate to what you’re going through.

  7. Lovecraft Beauty*

    I have a cat! A friend of a friend’s cat was stressed out by the baby, and they want at least one more kid, so they agreed to let childless me adopt her. I am delighted …except that she’s been home with me for two days now and has barely come out from under the bed; I’d be fine with that except that I’m worried she’s not eating or drinking enough. She might’ve gotten some dry food from the autofeeder overnight, I can’t tell.

    Is this a crazy new-cat-parent concern?

    1. old curmudgeon*

      It’s pretty typical behavior for a cat who has been rehomed. As long as you’re finding deposits in the litter box, she’s fine. Leave food and water close to where she hides, and whenever you talk around her, use a low, soothing voice. Sit down on the floor to read or watch television, and while you do so, idly swing or toss around a cat toy of some kind. When she feels safer in her new home, she’ll emerge.

    2. Kathenus*

      Agree totally with curmudgeon, put food/water close to where she is comfortable now, litterbox too but obviously separate. I adopted a cat last year who was a ‘shy cat’ from the shelter and I had the whole master bed/bath/walk in closet set up for her, cat trees at the windows, etc. throughout the space – looked perfect (to me). But at that moment her comfortable world was much smaller so I brought all the good stuff to her and let her set the pace.

      She’ll be fine, let her behavior tell you how to proceed, and make it as easy as possible for her to get what she needs until she settles in. Have fun!

    3. Jules the 3rd*

      I’ve had luck with Feliway – starting out at full then cutting down over a week.

      But two days is pretty normal.

      1. Sleve McDichael*

        Seconding the feliway. When we got our cat Sophie we had to use feliway on our clothes and then grab a book and just lie down next to the bed and be as still as possible. She still hides from any guests under the bed. She’s a super snuggle bunny now though, and will roll on the floor in front of us to beg for tummy rubs. Your cat will come around, they all do eventually.

        1. Sleve McDichael*

          Also if you’re worried about her food and moisture intake, it’s ok to take some wet human food and leave it on a plate under the bed. Ham, tuna and chicken (no bones) can be popular. You leave just one under the bed, then leave the room and shut the door and be as quiet as possible (preferably leave the house). Come back in a few hours to collect the plate and if she hasn’t eaten try a different one tomorrow. Alternatively try a wet food with gravy, not a pâté. Cats were designed to get water from their food, it’s why they don’t drink much, so she won’t get too thirsty if she can eat something wet, although drinking is best of course.

          1. Sleve McDichael*

            *wet CAT food with gravy*

            Also, last thing, paper kitty litter stinks and is hard to dispose of and clean regularly. Crystals can cause respiratory problems from the perfumes and the small crystal bits. Clumping clay is wonderful and magical and you don’t have to throw away the whole box, which means you’ll clean it more regularly and she’ll be happier to use it. If you can get a brand with charcoal it also won’t smell other than briefly when she poops (same as people so that’s fair).

    4. Lcsa99*

      We had this problem when we first adopted one of our cats. We could tell he was using the liter box, but he wouldnt eat anything we gave him including treats. We had to bring him to the vet anyway for his shots and she wasn’t worried, just said he was likely stressed because of all the changes. She took a tongue depressor and literally shoved a little food in his mouth and it was like she jump started him. He was totally fine after that.

      As long as everything else seems to be working fine just give your fuzz butt some time to get used to everything.

    5. Not a cat*

      I had a cat hide for a month, and then only come out at night for her first year w/me. Other commenters are giving great advice.

    6. Kama'aina Kitty*

      Two treats that have always worked for me with shy kitties: the “juice” from a can of tuna packed in water and chicken baby food in jars (mix with a little water). Put a bit of either of them in a dish, put it under the bed, and leave her alone for a bit. I agree with sitting near her and doing something quiet like reading just to let her know that you’re available if she wants company. I adopted a very shy senior kitty who would only come out if I laid on the bed and read. She was very affectionate, but very scared. It took a while but she turned out to be such a love bug. Good luck!

      1. Venus*

        Chicken and beef baby food is a good option for encouraging appetite, but please check the ingredients. Food with onion can cause some pretty nasty bleeding problems (for dogs snd cats).

    7. Crazy Chicken Lady*

      Congrats!

      Before you know it you may find her snuggling up to you. I’m being super lazy this morning- usually I have all my grocery shopping done by now and I’m still not even up yet! Next to me is one of our cats (Dh is up and eating breakfast and generally hanging with the dog).

      We adopted this cat about 6 years ago. It really does take at least 2 days- they are in foreign territory and that’s pretty scary for them. She now sleeps between us at night, and tends to remain next to me until I get up.

      And by next to me, I mean pressed up against me, even if I’m having a hot flash. Or on me. Like laying on my chest. Or playing with my hair. Or rubbing her chin against my head.

      Adorable creatures. How you enjoy her! Post an update next weekend!

    8. Crazy Cat Lady*

      Popeyes fried chicken (if you have one in your area). Worked like magic on the two feral kittens I adopted. They were out from under the bed and in my lap within minutes of me sitting on the floor with the box.

    9. Enough*

      I had a cat that didn’t like new (most people) and new places. When I had people over she would hide in a box in the closet. When I brought her to my parents house one Christmas she lived mostly under my bed while I was there.

    10. Windchime*

      Everyone here has given great suggestions. Unless a cat is sick, I leave them alone when they are hiding under the bed or in some other dark, safe place. One thing to try is to just sit quietly in the room with her. You can sit on the floor next to the bed and quietly read your book; don’t try to talk to her or look at her, just let her see you as a safe person who is nearby but not trying to make her come out of her safe place. Many times, curiosity will get the best of the cat and she may eventually come to see what you’re all about, at which time you can speak quietly to her or offer her a treat.

      1. tangerineRose*

        Yeah, all of this. I don’t think cats can go too long without food though – you might want to call your vet and ask. It might be a good idea to put some food and water under the bed where she can get to them easily. And maybe to put the litter box nearby so she doesn’t have to get too far out of hiding.

        My general rule is – if a kitty wants to hide, that’s OK. Being able to hide seems to help them feel more confident eventually. If you’re around the cat sometimes in a non-threatening way, that will help.

        1. Windchime*

          Yes, definitely put some food and water where she can reach it. That’s a good point. Someone else mentioned tuna juice and baby food; sometimes just some good old stinky canned food and of course some water pushed under the edge of the bed.

    11. I'm A Little Teapot*

      New kitty Jill here (had her 6 weeks now) spent the first 2.5 weeks in a box. I cut 2 holes in the sides, put a blanket in there, and just folded the top closed and put something on top to keep it closed. I ended up doing a puzzle sitting on the air mattress in the room with her. The solid 60 hours of me just sitting in there convinced her that I probably wasn’t going to eat her, and we’ve gone from there.

      She jumped up on the chair with me this morning and is now napping next to me. This is a first. It just takes time.

    12. Artemesia*

      We had a cat disappear when we moved to a new home — so only re-homed in the strict sense — still with us — I actually thought she had somehow escaped the house as we could not find her. I was driving to work and saw a calico cat dead by the side of the road but couldn’t stop in traffic and immediately thought ‘oh no, that’s Ginny’. Two days later, Ginny crawls out from behind the washer where she was holed up the whole time. We have had other cats just strut right into the new apartment and take over and make lots of moves — but old Ginny had a terrible time adjusting.

    13. Nesprin*

      Cats dont like change , and your new kitty has been through a bunch. Some cats are picky and will only eat wet or dry food, or will only drink from a fountain so try leaving out a couple types of food in a couple different places and see what gets eaten. Definitely make sure that shes peeing and pooping tho- lack of output is worth a call to the vet.

    14. It's a Yes From Me*

      This is normal! It took my kitty 2 weeks to come out from under the bed after he was adopted but he has turned out to be an incredibly loving sweet boy.

      Keep the food and fresh water in the bedroom and give him some alone time. Try a small plate or bowl of freshly-opened wet cat food (mine loves Fancy Feast fish flavored pates). It has a strong odor which appeals to many cats and you could even push it a little under the bed then leave the room for an hour and, chances are, when you come back, he’ll have eaten some. A benefit of wet food is that it gives him some water in his diet if you’re concerned he’s not getting enough.

      Good luck to you! I think you’ll end up happy with a loving kitty, even if it takes a couple of weeks.

      1. It's a Yes From Me*

        Also, I noticed someone else talking about cat litter. I love, love, love World’s Best Cat Litter in the red bag. It is made of corn and flushable so I keep a small litter box in both bathrooms and easily flush away waste whenever I notice it. It has been a lifesaver for me and my kitty. I lost a previous kitty to lung cancer and always wondered if the clouds of dust caused by clay cat litters had caused or worsened her condition.

        1. It's a Yes From Me*

          I should clarify: while he’s hiding under the bed, keep a litterbox in your room. I also love the other tips from people including water from a can of tuna (make sure the tuna is packed in water and unsalted or low sodium). Feliway is also fantastic. The spray I use is ThunderSpray from ThunderWorks which can be bought online if you can’t find it in a local pet shop.

    15. Curmudgeon in California*

      That’s very typical.

      When I first got my kittens, they hid in the wall of my bathroom (there was an open space they just fit in. It took a week for them to get comfortable and curious. I knew that they were eating, drinking and using the litterbox when I was asleep or out of the room.

  8. Teapot Translator*

    Exercise thread!
    What have you accomplished? What have you tried? Did you take the week off?

    1. Teapot Translator*

      I was able to go twice to yoga, but I didn’t get the time to go swimming, which is frustrating because I’d like to go twice a week (I go at least once a week because I have a swimming class). My shoulder is hurting me again, so I booked myself a massage to try and ease a bit of the tension; I’ve been doing my physio exercises again, but the effect is more on the “medium” term and my shoulder is hurting *now* and I need something that will bring relief more quickly while I work on the long term.
      The plantar fasciitis is still there. I’m starting to wonder if I should get a second opinion on the problem.

    2. Lena Clare*

      I’m feeling really low because my podiatrist recommended I stop doing yoga. I have hypermobility, which is causing me absolutely massive problems.

      In her words, I don’t need more flexibility, I need more strength. I don’t seem to be getting stronger from yoga because the lack of balance I have makes it difficult to maintain the poses.

      I love yoga. I’m sad because it is making my physical health worse, not better, and I understand what she’s telling me to do. But I miss it, because I liked it.

      She recommended starting Pilates
      There’s a class here on Monday, which I’m going to try out. I’m really not looking forward to it. I’m scared actually! I’m very weak in my core, and I’m terrified it’s going to be difficult.

      Sorry for the negativity.

      1. coffee cup*

        Pilates is good! I’m not going to lie, I did find it hard (harder than yoga), but not in a bad way, necessarily. It’s just a case of building strength and getting used to the muscles you have to use. Someone wrote an article in the Guardian not long ago about how pilates ended up really improving her life. Only one story, of course, but I think it does bring benefits. And ultimately you can only give it a go!

      2. Teapot Translator*

        :( Hey, negativity is okay (well, you know what I mean – it’s a perfectly valid reaction to a situation that sucks).
        I get it totally. My exercise of choice is out of the question because of my foot, so I know how difficult it is to give it up.
        Pilates can be fun! But as in most group activities, it depends on the teacher (some just seem unable to adapt their class to the participants’ varying levels?) But strength is something that you can build. Go slowly, listen to your body.

      3. Tai Chi fan*

        You might get on better with Tai Chi. I find it more like yoga than Pilates is, with more emphasis on mindfulness and wellbeing rather than pure fitness. I doubt podiatrists have an opinion on mindfulness!

        The chief difference I’ve found is that while yoga is about holding poses, tai chi is about moving between them – you strengthen the muscles and tendons etc by shifting your weight rather than stretching far. If you’re adept at yoga then tai chi will likely feel familiar. Maybe look at some YouTube videos to see if it appeals (my instructor is under Liming Yue if you want to narrow a search).

        1. Lena Clare*

          Thanks for the rec – I tried tai chi a long time ago and I did not like it; it seems like it isn’t for me, because my balance is crap :-/

          1. Tai Chi fan*

            That’s a shame. Is that a hypermobile thing or a Lena Clare thing, do you think? Because if it’s the former I’ll bear it in mind for future recommendations.

            1. Lena Clare*

              Hmmm good question. Possibly a bit of both? I know I struggle to keep balanced because of the hypermobility in my ankles, and I seem to remember there’s a lot of standing while moving in tai chi, so there were some coordination issues as well (that’s definitely a me thing lol).

      4. Artemesia*

        I don’t think you can beat weight training for strength. We used to go to a gym with the whole nautilus circuit on separate machines and after running, I would do all of the leg machines and a few of the arm/shoulder ones — it really kept strength. Now we just have one of those one piece nautilus in our building and I just use the leg press, but I use free weights for arm strength. The problem of course is self discipline.

      5. rockingchair*

        can you try a circus class? I find both silks and trapeze great for building muscles. Disclaimer: if you have a lot of muscles to build, it will take longer to get to some of the interesting stuff. it really works upper body and core, so if you’re looking to build leg muscles that might not be the thing. But, balancing on a your hip bones while bringing your legs and torso to the horizontal? that’s all core.

        1. Lena Clare*

          I have arthritis in my hips – will that affect it do you think? (Honestly my bones and joints are…a mess.)
          That sounds like loads of fun though. Maybe I could try building my core up first then try one out!

          1. rockingchair*

            Hip arthritis will limit you, but not stop you. I also have hip arthritis(*). I started with silks (tissu), but had to stop once my hips were bad enough I could no longer walk up stairs. In trapeze, I find that there are certain moves or poses I can’t do, but apart from a couple of things, there’s still a long road ahead of what I can learn, and strength to build.
            (*) my hip is so bad, that I can’t even get it into position for x-rays for the replacement I’m getting. Trap and swimming are the only remaining exercises I can do.

      6. Fikly*

        I went through this same transition. I was really unhappy too.

        I don’t know how hypermobile you are, but I am severely hypermobile (I have EDS). I cannot keep myself safe in group Pilates classes, and have to be choosey in instructors for individual sessions.

        I have found a guy who started doing Pilates himself as a teen who got into trouble as a serious dancer because he was hypermobile. He is excellent, and keeps me very safe.

        And it’s made a big difference in my joints and pain levels!

        1. Lena Clare*

          I have been wondering if I also have EDS, so this is truly interesting. Thanks for the feedback, it’s good to hear that it helped with joints and pain levels!
          My podiatrist recommended an individual teacher (well, she does classes in groups of 4, max) so if the class at my gym doesn’t workout on Monday I’ll go to her next. Finances etc.
          I’m really pleased to hear it works though!

          1. Fikly*

            The general idea is that the stronger your muscles are, the less you have to rely on/put stress on your joints. I have found this to be my experience. Also, I have found improving my core strength to be amazing at helping prevent injury when I start to roll an ankle, because I am now able to catch myself before doing damage. YMMV, of course.

            If you are trying to pursue an official diagnosis for the hypermobile subtype of EDS, it’s a difficult time to do it, because right now the diagnostic criteria are super narrow in an effort to find the gene (it’s the only subtype of EDS they have not identified a gene for).

            Because it’s really bad for the research to be looking for the gene in people who don’t have hEDS, they skewed the criteria to get way more false negatives than false positives.

            This means there are a lot of people with hEDS who are not getting diagnosed right now. However, if you have a doctor who understands this, or you want to look at the criteria (old and new) and think about it for yourself, it’s a valid path to go down. Just be aware that this is going on. I got lucky, and had a very understanding doctor who told me, so technically you do not meet the criteria, but you absolutely have hEDS.

            Check out the Ehlers Danlos Society for a great breakdown of all the subtypes, and the current diagnostic criteria for hEDS.

            I spend more on PT and Pilates a month than my rent…argh, finances and healthcare…

    3. Parenthetically*

      I’m slowly coming back to exercise after a long, long break to care for my mental health and sort out the difference in my own mind between exercise as self-care and exercise as punishment/body control/dieting. I did a couple weight lifting sessions this week that felt AWESOME, and I’m starting Yoga with Adriene’s February challenge today.

    4. Nessun*

      My trainer has set up a mini-bootcamp with all her clients today. She’s going to give us each an assignment and then we’re going to meet in a group to chat and share wisdom, struggles, and possibly more contact/buddy stuff. It’s something she’s doing of her own volition and at no charge, and I think it’s a great idea. Looking forward to meeting some of the faces I’ve seen at the gym and hearing people’s different experiences.!

    5. londonedit*

      I was pleased with my running mileage total for January, which was my highest since September (which had a half-marathon at the end of it!)

      Paced at parkrun this morning (my parkrun offers pacers on the first Saturday of the month) and I’m excited about tomorrow’s run because some friends and I have planned a 10-miler followed by brunch, which is an excellent incentive to get out and run!

      1. Emily*

        10-miler followed by brunch with friends sounds great! I’m mostly a solitary runner, but that sounds like a social run I’d enjoy.

        1. londonedit*

          It was great! I enjoy running with other people but they need to be friends I’m comfortable running and chatting with – luckily I have a lovely circle of running buddies and we all understand each other’s paces and goals and whatnot.

          I’m doing this thing at the moment where I try to run faster for the last mile or two of my long runs – it’s been one fast mile at the end for the last couple of weeks but today I upped it to two and it was good! And brunch was delicious.

    6. nep*

      Quads are dying from some exercises we did in a class I teach 2x / week. (I wonder how participants are feeling–I’ll find out next week.)
      Took one day off after that, and today focused on glutes and hamstrings in a pretty low-key workout.

    7. AvonLady Barksdale*

      I’m on vacation so it’s tough after 4x/week (20 min of strength training) and daily dog walks, but I’ve been walking a lot. We stayed with my stepbrother for a few days and I did squats while holding my 25-lb nephew, who is way cuter than a dumbbell. I should have done more because all of the vacation food makes me feel pretty flabby.

    8. General von Klinkerhoffen*

      Things have been hard recently (flare up of chronic condition) but I had several good walks, and an outdoor strength/core/ balance class.

    9. YouwantmetodoWHAT?!*

      I’ve been sick and haven’t been to aerial yoga in a few weeks. I really miss it and keep planning on going, thinking that I’ll just do what I can. But just getting dressed is exhausting. My daughter & I started it the second week in December and we both love it.
      Now she can’t go because she’s having issues with her hands and I have this flu (or whatever it is) that wont.go.away.
      Grrrr I’m sick & tired of being sick & tired, y’all!

      1. Artemesia*

        hear ya — I am at the end of the second week of a cold — when I was young a cold lasted a week — Getting nervous about the international travel we have booked for April given the Corona thing and how we don’t bounce back like we used to. And I have a pretty good immune system.

    10. Emily*

      I’m training for a half marathon in a few months’ time, so right now I’m building up the weekly mileage. Last week I ran 27 miles, and this week (if I run a few miles tomorrow), I hope to do over 30! Fingers crossed that more consistent training + higher weekly mileage will help me beat my previous race time by a fair amount!

      I’m also taking a short, twice a week exercise class mostly focused on bodyweight movements and core strength, and am easing back into indoor bouldering and a very minimal weightlifting routine.

    11. WellRed*

      Why can’t I get myself to the gym? I have new clothes, trashy magazines to read on the treadmill. I need to stop finding excuses.

      1. The New Wanderer*

        I’m the same way. The last time I got on the treadmill, I was on the verge of giving up basically up til I set the speed. Then it was fine, but I have no idea why I couldn’t get any more motivated than that.

        So overall, not getting regular exercise but not zero exercise, and I need to be a bit more consistent.

      2. The Gollux, Not a Mere Device*

        At one point, I decided that my goal was to go to the gym, check in at the desk, and walk into the locker room. In practice, if I got that far I would almost certainly change into my workout clothes, and then probably do at least one exercise.

        The advantage was that defining success as checking in at the front desk helped me get back into exercising regularly, when thinking of the minimum as “do some cardio” or “at least one exercise with the nautilus machines” made it seem like enough of a hurdle that I was going straight home instead.

        This does have a certain aspect of fooling myself, but it worked, and might be worth a try, with a starting point like “put a magazine and clean workout clothes in my bag.”

        1. lasslisa*

          I had a teacher once who called this “finding the pivot point”. What is the smallest possible difference between when you do what you want, and when you don’t? Is it rolling over and putting on your gym shoes in the morning that gets you to the gym? Having to look up the code for the internet blocker that makes the internet too much work?

          For me, the class I like at the work gym is at 5. If I am still sitting at my desk writing email at 4:45, I will be late for class and then why even go and — I won’t go. So the action for me is “stand up at 4:45”. Then inertia is on my side and I remember the emails can wait at least until after class.

    12. RagingADHD*

      I have been slowly regaining my stamina from being ill by doing increasingly challenging garden tasks – light weeding, to mulching, to edging and now digging out a bed that’s infested with Bermuda grass.

      It doesn’t look like much because I have to go slow, but man! My muscles are telling me EXACTLY what I did.

      My new running shoes artived, so I’m looking foward to starting back jogging next week. Hooray for lungs that work!

    13. Goldfinch*

      I am really struggling to do upper body strength training. I badly sprained my wrist a year ago, and it just isn’t bouncing back. I can’t support my body weight with it, I can’t do pushups, I can’t use free weights with it. I’ve gotten my legs in great shape, but I have little chicken arms and no chest muscle tone.

      I’m so incredibly bitter about this, because the reason it happened was that my work scheduled a mandatory meeting on a day that had a terrible ice storm, and I fell getting into my car. The weather was bad enough that I normally would have used a PTO to stay safe at home.

      1. Lucien Nova*

        Oof. Are you certain you didn’t strain or tear a ligament or tendon? That’s something that wouldn’t really be too visible (a tear would show on an MRI, but straining it badly without a tear would not) and could definitely contribute to the injury not healing properly/at all. (Having been through that – it took me almost three years of losing function and strength in the wrist to have it seen to and it turned out the tendon was very near to coming apart – 0/10 would not recommend waiting that long, don’t be me, I had to have it surgically repaired and it’ll never get back to 100% and is proceeding to fail again.)

        Sympathies on that; it’s a right pain in the rear end.

    14. Alexandra Lynch*

      So what I’ve settled on is working out every single morning. I do some machine weights and then ride a bike for a bit. I realize that everyone says I should take breaks, but if I take breaks I decondition very rapidly, so a little every morning is what is going to work for me. This week I discovered that I can take off one day without anything going wrong, but two days, nope.

      For the month, I am down 12 pounds and one size in clothes.

    15. The Gollux, Not a Mere Device*

      I didn’t so much take the week off from exercise as call in sick. Monday I walked down the street to the senior center for an orientation to their fitness room orientation, and then signed up for a three-month membership. Fortunately, the orientation was someone showing me, in detail, how the machines work, rather than having me use them. It’s been a few years since I used exercise equipment other than resistance bands and a few free weights, so the refresher was useful as well as checking a box so I can use the equipment.

      I don’t know whether I’ll actually use the, but it’s $35 for three months *and does not auto-renew*, and seems worth a try.

      Then I did nothing but a bit of stretching for a few days; yesterday I restarted my collection of PT-derived exercises, slowly and carefully–just a few kinds of exercises, and fewer reps than I usually do. I keep reminding myself that the PT exercises aren’t the goal–a stronger, healthier Gollux is the goal, so taking a break when I’m ill is appropriate.

    16. ABC*

      I went to my HIIT/kick boxing class twice this week. And I am excited to go to my gym in the morning (Sunday) to watch HGTV and chill out on the elliptical. I have also been walking into work more often (about 1.3 miles), despite the cold weather. Feels good!

    17. LizB*

      I made it through 45 minutes of cycling class this week! Padded shorts are a lifesaver. Then I tried a yoga class with an instructor I hadn’t tried before, which turned out to be an hour of the instructor talking about traditional Chinese medicine concepts like meridiens and elements as they related to the poses. I got some good stretching in, but that wasn’t really my jam. Ah well, now I know!

  9. LGC*

    A CHALLENGER APPEARS

    Anyway, so I wanted to pivot off of something I posted in this week’s open: where’s a good place to get personalized coffee mugs? I’m looking for travel mugs, nothing too fancy, and something where I can get each person’s name printed on it. I’m hoping to not spend too much, since it’s for 20 people. (20-25, really.)

    1. T. Boone Pickens*

      I’d probably start with a huge online company like Custom Ink and work from there. They’ll probably be the cheapest if you aren’t looking for anything fancy.

      1. LCS*

        Check your local trophy / awards store. They often have lasers and can do small batch custom travel mugs. My husband laser engraves YETI style cups all the time with individual names, logos etc.

    2. fposte*

      It’s such a common service I can’t even remember where I did mine a few years ago. Be aware that since each is different that will cost more than getting 25 of the same one. Walmart does them; standard printy places like Vistaprint and Shutterfly do them. It looks like Vistaprint has a sale on that might get you down below $10 per mug, but mostly you’ll be over 10 for a single mug since it’ll be individually designed.

      I’d just Google for a bit and then check locally with printing places near you. The mugs are pretty standard, so any decently qualified place should be able to handle them.

    3. Aealias*

      I used cafepress site in 2017, personalized stainless steel travel mugs at about $20 US. Probably a minor pain to do a bunch with different designs – there’d be no bulk discount. But I found they had a good system for uploading your own art, and my recipients were happy. The timeline was good, a couple of weeks turnaround, and shipping costs were reasonable.

    4. That Girl from Quinn's House*

      We have a ton of ceramic conference mugs from Discount Mugs which are pretty nice, and my old work used 4Imprint a lot for specialized logo items, though we had a separate company “store” for things like mugs.

      1. Jxb1000*

        For a small order like that, you are probably best checking out sites like cafe press and zazzle. Both also often have promotional codes. So many places offer that type of personalized gift now. For instance stores like Walgreens that do photo printing. Stores like Walgreens.

        I’m afraid this will end up costing more than you expect with each being individualized.

        Another good idea might be Etsy. Since each will be different, the more commercial sites wouldn’t count it as a volume deal. But an individual crafter might give you a bit of a break. Or maybe you could find a good deal and purchase the cups yourself and just past an Etsy artist to add the names. Good luck.

  10. Lena Clare*

    Had my second NHS health check (for those outside the UK it’s just a preventative check-up for everyone over 40. You get one every 5 years).

    Anyway, I’ve shrank! And put weight on. Sigh.
    My blood pressure is low, and my cholesterol is good, plus I’m not pre-diabetic, but she referred me to a weight-loss programme coz I’m very overweight.

    I’m just wondering how much of that I can take on board? She said I was “low risk” despite the weight thing.

    I am going to give the programme (Weight Watchers) a try I guess, but I’m feeling a bit low about it, and am not looking forward to it.

    Who’s done it, had success, and kept the weight off afterwards?

    1. Jean (just Jean)*

      Sympathy and scant advice because I’m fighting a similar battle. When life is calm (ha–see my own post elsewhere) and I can get enough sleep I can live on vegetables, fruit and low-fat protein. I can also fit in more walking which does burn some calories. When life is otherwise I crave sweets especially chocolate. Not proud of this but there it is. I will send you good thoughts for your efforts with Weight Watchers.

      1. Lena Clare*

        I feel you! I just made my evening meal (the recipe said feeds 2 generously) so I had half a portion, and I have to say it isn’t a generous portion at all by my standards…which is maybe the problem! So now I am craving sweet things. My mood greatly affects what I want to eat too – it isn’t a stretch to say I eat for comfort.

      2. tangerineRose*

        If I can force myself to actually exercise and eat more fruit and veggies, I think that will help, but…

    2. Not A Manager*

      I don’t know about keeping the weight off, but I’m doing WW currently and it’s working very well. I like that there’s a way of “measuring” intake that’s not specific calorie counting. It plays to my enjoyment of metrics and tracking, without making me unhealthy about every gram I put in my mouth. Also, because it’s about “points” and not “good/bad food,” when I have an indulgence I don’t feel “bad” that I’ve eaten a “bad” thing. It’s in my points! It’s okay!

      1. Lena Clare*

        That’s good to know! And congrats.
        I don’t want to become obsessed with calorie counting and measuring, plus I don’t like the idea of good/bad food. It’s just all food and sometimes I feel like eating it.
        What I like about WW from the bumpf I’ve read is that it is about eating healthily, moving more, and looking after yourself. I like that they seem to have a holistic approach (I’m gradually talking myself into going! I am beginning to maybe think that it might actually be even good for me?!?!?)

    3. Crazy Chicken Lady*

      I’ve found weight watchers to be quite useful really. I lost a bunch then arthritis showed up in my knee (frankly probably because of carrying around so much extra weight over the years) and that’s set me back. I’m just now getting back to something close to my activity level now that I have a brace that works.

      I didn’t gain it all back but I did gain some with the sudden screeching halt in activity level. I was able to stop the gain by using the knowledge I gained when doing weight watchers.

      My knees are glad that I’m doing both activity and better eating. That stuff actually works. I’m not quite ready to do multi day hikes but I think by summer I should be able to handle a long day of hiking with a backpack. For me it’s more about what I can do than what I weight but really those things are fairly well tied together.

      Give it a good shot! It’s not a horrible program. Even if you don’t stick to the actual program you might find their information useful.

      1. Lena Clare*

        Oh I have arthritis in my knees too. I am so pleased to hear that you are getting back to walking/hiking. I am struggling with walking even short distances at the minute and I do think that losing eight will help that so I am really inspired by your account, thanks! I will give it a go :-)

        1. Crazy Chicken Lady*

          If you need more inspiration- for every 1 lb you lose, 4 lbs of pressure into your knees is taken off!

          Good luck!

    4. YouwantmetodoWHAT?!*

      We did Southbeach diet successfully some 15 or so years ago and still use it to reset occasionally. I worked at B&N at the time so I spent some time reading a LOT of the books. Shaming or guilt – out! Excessive counting of calories? Nope!
      I chose SB because it was originally deceloped as a heart healthy plan, not a weight loss plan. And the first place that you lose weight is the stomach.
      I like that its broken down in stages, the first stage is pretty short (2 weeks to a month) and is very strict. Stage 2 you start adding things back. Stage 3 is your life plan.
      I liked that he said, its your birthday and you want spaghetti and wine and cheesecake? Do it! But then go back on phase 1 for a week.
      We paired this with exercise.
      Let me note that this plan is not going to work if you hate to cook, or have limited time. There is an online forum that is pretty cool, but it costs money.

    5. YouwantmetodoWHAT?!*

      I’m sorry – I just reread your post – you were not asking for weight loss plan info, but info on WW!
      Lack of coffee I blame!

      1. Lena Clare*

        Haha! What you say is interesting and sounds it like it’s become a way of life for you, and a means to keep your weight under control over the years.
        I hope you managed to get your coffee :-)

    6. Can I get a Wahoo?*

      Following, I just started WW as well! And by just I mean on Thursday, so I’m still figuring it out.

      1. Lena Clare*

        Wahoo!

        Congrats. I am starting on Feb 12th because the GP referred me and so I have to wait to receive the letter from them to take with me to the workshop.
        Let us know how you get on next week?

        1. Sue*

          I did WW with a few friends some years ago and found it helpful. The meetings were social and they shared recipes that we all liked. I remember it was just before the holidays and there was a lot of good advice on how to cook for/navigate all the events of the season. I reached my goal and have pretty much kept it off so I would recommend it to anyone (but it may be somewhat dependent on the quality of the group leadership).

      2. KarentheLibrarian*

        I started Weight Watchers in July 2019 & have lost 63 pounds so far! I only use the app, so one of the things that’s been the most helpful for me is to follow a bunch of other people doing WW on Instagram. They’ve inspired me to try foods and products I didn’t know about or that I wouldn’t have tried on my own. They also share recipes and meal plans. Plus, it’s helpful to see their struggles/successes and know I’m not alone in this. Best of luck to you as you start your journey!

    7. Alexandra Lynch*

      I can’t say I’ve done it yet, because I’ve only been doing it a month, but I will say that I’ve accepted that I will have to count calories and measure my portions for the rest of my life. If I was good at doing it myself, I wouldn’t be carrying around an extra person. I view it as a medical necessity, and I use MyFitnessPal, and it is working so well that I can see doing this for the rest of my life. I already have food restrictions due to medical conditions, so this sort of travels a known path.

      1. Lena Clare*

        I will say that I’ve accepted that I will have to count calories and measure my portions for the rest of my life. If I was good at doing it myself, I wouldn’t be carrying around an extra person.

        I couldn’t agree with you more.

        Is MyFitnessPal worth it, do you think?

    8. Peter Piper Picked a Peck of Pickled Peppers*

      I’ve done WW and it worked really well for me.

      I did the first week just writing down what I ate and calculating the points. Shock horror. I was eating for 1.5 people most days.

      I used their guide books to plan simple meals and build in treats for myself. If I had zero point veg soup for supper, I could have a square or 2 of chocolate with my tea.

      It required a bit of planning and some discipline but it was effective and not very difficult at all. I could eat what I liked, but less than before, or I could eat as much as I wanted if I chose the right meals. Their system made it easy.

      Hope it works well for you!

    9. Curmudgeon in California*

      Ugh. They have to tell you to diet if you are technically overweight.

      What I am going to say will probably get a lot of flak from diet fans.

      BUT. If it isn’t endangering your health (BP, cholesterol, diabetes, etc.), is it worth the self abuse to go on a diet that statistically is likely to fail and leave you fatter than when you started? Especially a popular name brand diet who makes money via all the folks having to come back and do the programme again and again?

      I’m not saying to not pay attention to what you eat. Cut back on high sugar, high fat foods – I’ve seen that work and keep working.

      But doing calorie restriction diets is not a winning plan – restricting calories puts your body into starvation mode, shifting your metabolism so that it holds on to calories more and more, and makes your energy lower and lower. After a few of these, your body is stuck in “keep every calorie as fat because they often get scarce” mode. I bear the pounds of that madness. If I knew as a teen what I know now, I’d have never done any diet plans, and I’d weigh less.

  11. Seifer*

    I have finally reached a point where my new house feels settled and it is glorious.

    So I bought a house. On Halloween. And then I did the thing that I said that I would not do and I basically gutted the damn thing. The old lady that owned it before me smoked in the house and so, I had only planned on taking up the carpet, doing new floors, and a fresh coat of paint, but. We took up all the carpet, the carpet pad, the vertical blinds, the doors, the closet doors, wire shelving, baseboards, vent covers, door casings, light fixtures, and everything, everything had a thin layer of tar and/or nicotine. I also ended up destroying several walls, partly because I wanted them gone anyway but mostly because I was frustrated. Trust, it was disgusting.

    Together with my uncle, I put in new flooring, new moulding, new outlets (even the outlets were stained with tar), new paint, new casings, new doors, new bathroom stuff (I do not want to talk about the old toilets), and today, I am getting the furnace replaced because apparently the whole damn heat exchanger was cracked. The guys are doing the AC too because the HVAC guy that I had come out to clean the system was like. Honey. You need to do them both.

    Anyway. We finally were able to move in right before Christmas, so of course there was just an endless stream of boxes, we kept losing the cat, we were dodging rugs and piles of other crap, my plants were wilting, we literally could not not wear shoes in the house, and I was succumbing to deep depression because of how chaotic everything was. And now finally. Finally. I am able to sit on the couch with no shoes on and type this out.

    Feels so good, I needed to tell someone.

    1. rubyrose*

      I am in total awe of you!
      This is why I’m purchasing a brand new house, being built right now. I could not do even a fraction of what you have done.

      1. Seifer*

        Ooooh, I totally want to do that. But I would have them stop once everything is drywalled and do the rest myself, ha! I did some skim coating and it wasn’t bad, but it definitely wasn’t my favorite thing to do.

    2. Ali G*

      I know how you feel! We did a renovation last year that went from July-November. Living in my basement surrounded by crap for 4 months took a huge toll on my mental health. It feels so much better now that we are resettled and can use our whole house again.
      Enjoy! You worked hard for it!

    3. Blarg*

      I’m impressed that you and your uncle did all that work! It must feel so good to relax in your new, smoke-free home. Congrats!

    4. Enough*

      Understand about the tar. I had to go somewhere with a smoking coworker years ago. He never watched the windows of his car. They were yellow.

      1. Seifer*

        Oh my godddd it was the worst. I bought one of those steamer things and we made a concoction of white vinegar, bleach, and pine-sol and used that as the steaming liquid for the walls. And… the steaming pads. Came back. Brown. I could not even.

    5. YouwantmetodoWHAT?!*

      I’m so very excited for you! And in awe that you did that much in such a short amount of time!
      Enjoy!

    6. NoLongerYoung*

      I am so impressed. I am looking at a house in (insert name of US state with low cost of living). One is already, meticulously done by a family IT engineer with OCD – 100K more than the smaller but 1972-last touched version avocado house. I have no idea what it will cost to renovate the lesser house. I’m so tempted to work another 3 years (not guaranteed body can do that) to get the perfect house and forgo the need to renovate completely.
      I’m afraid to ask what your gut job ran you. Sigh. If you don’t mind, you can even state it as a multiplier of the initial cost…but it would be helpful.

      I am so impressed!!!!

      1. Seifer*

        Oh, I’ll share! I honestly like talking about money? Budgets are my day job so that might have a lot to do with it haha.

        So the gut and redo cost was around… $5K? I sunk $1K into garbage removal because the town did not allow a dumpster and I had to make do with bagsters. I used four total and filled them to the brim. Subfloor was $600. Flooring was $2K, click and lock laminate. Moulding was about $1K. Paint was… like $200? And then doors were $400 (I needed 4) and then a bunch of odds and ends. The house is 1300 sq. ft. and I bought as if I was buying for a 1350 sq. ft. home to account for wastage. Since I was able to return a good amount of extra material so that’s why the costs aren’t all that big.

        But keep in mind, I either already had all the tools necessary or my uncle had them. If you had to go out and get them or rent them, the cost would be much higher. I used my miter and table saw heavily for all this, and a nail gun and air compressor. Also ladders. All of my ceilings except one bedroom and the bathrooms and utility room are vaulted and we had to scrub the ceilings and paint up high.

        And then I didn’t count some things that I bought that I had budgeted for but didn’t buy in the name of the renovation. I replaced the fridge and dishwasher (and found a dead mouse under the old one ewwwww) and the washer/dryer. I treated myself to a Nest thermostat during Black Friday too, which was $250. And then the aforementioned furnace and AC unit today. Appliances were $4K as a Samsung Black Friday package through Best Buy and then the HVAC stuff today was around $7K after $3.5K back in promotions which sucked but was necessary since uhhh the heat exchanger on the old one was cracked!

        So total… $15.6K and about 10 weeks working nights and weekends. I also had a friend helping pretty consistently and my boyfriend would help here and there, up until the point where he got a little too freaked out watching me use power tools. He thinks I’m like, unsafe or whatever. Umm oh, click and lock flooring is so. much. fun. and much faster than a traditional hardwood floor install so that definitely cut down on the timeline. But yeah, I saved soooooo much money on labor by doing it with my uncle, and I’m lucky that we both have the know-how.

        If you have any other questions, I’ll check back on the thread and try to answer!

        1. ABC*

          You did all of this in THREE MONTHS?? I’m 10 years into home ownership and still working my way through your list. Impressive.

        2. VlookupsAreMyLife*

          Wow, Seifer, you are officially my new hero! We bought a 20-year old home 18 months ago with grand plans to renovate and change up some things to make it more suitable for us. To-date, not a single project is complete & I find myself actually becoming depressed by living in amidst the chaos of half-finished work.

          1. Seifer*

            The depression while living in chaos is too real. I moved in with my best friend as a roommate/tenant right before Christmas and I had legit despair over everything. It was so overwhelming. Even just doing one thing was like. I could hang up this picture but then I have to figure out where the good screws are and shit, where did I leave my drill again, where’s the level, where is the actual picture, why didn’t I label any of the goddamn boxes. And it’s just. Too. Much.

            Everything feels like a huge deal. Just slogging through is sometimes so much effort that it feels easier to not do anything at all. But then you’re just sitting in the middle of the chaos wanting to cry. The vicious cycle.

        3. NoLongerYoung*

          This is super helpful.
          Avocado house has good woodwork (but is kind of tudor-aged, initially, so I think it needs careful scrubbing/ possible gentle refinishing – it looks grubby /dull). Floors are hardwood and stained, but that’s refinishing. (can rent that machine). It’s the gut job for the bathroom, and the possible replacement of those kitchen cabinets. Kitchen floor is an old linoleum/vinyl (not sure if the old, old kind that has asbestos…).
          Oh, and it has radiators. Windows look original (wood). This is in blizzard country, so I want good insulation.
          So I’m thinking HVAC, water heater (I have in-line here, prefer it), bath, at a minimum. The kitchen remodel will follow as fast as the budget allows.

          I’m good with demo and yes, have access to tools (big grin). I wrote my admission essay (the “getting to know you one/ what are your interests”) on “I love electric power tools.” Although the body has aged since I did planing/ lay hardwood floor or use a demo crow bar for big stretches of time.

          The family-contact electrician says it is not knob and tube, but I doubt there are enough outlets and I’m possibly needing an upgrade there.

          Good news is, wonderful family help back there and family contacts in the trades. But I will have to do the structural and then add the cosmetic as the budget allows, so trying to budget for the big stuff as I plan.

          I still think, I’ll be in less than 100K on any reno, and I won’t have as much house to upkeep. (Nice house has a double lot, and an extra 1K of sq ft under the main roof). Plus lower property taxes and insurance on the smaller, dumpier one. I just have to quit referring to it as that. I’m making a good tradeoff…I think.

          I am still so very very impressed. I am guessing you did not move in while this all was going on… I’ve had to have the vinyl planking laid here in just the bedrooms, and had to shuffle all the bedroom furniture into the living room /dining room in order to make it possible. Living in a construction zone is super stressful, and that was a short stint!

          1. Seifer*

            Thank you! Yeah, I was not living in the house. I planned it that way, to buy the house and have a few months to do reno before the lease on my apartment expired because otherwise I think I would go insane. As soon as it was painted and the baseboards were in though, we decided to move since it was getting exhausting going back and forth.

            I still have to gut one bathroom and the kitchen, but I’m hella winded. The second bathroom will be more of a cosmetic upgrade because I’m okay with the floor tile and the tub, I just think it’d be good with a new vanity and either additional tile for the tile surround or completely new tile, depending on how I feel. I haven’t started my budget sheet for those yet, but I want to keep it under $10K total since I also have to replace the windows in the place. I’m really disappointed with the way the house was kept up with before I moved in and while I want to use this as an investment property and rent it out later, it doesn’t sit well with me to do a slapdash renovation.

            I’m excited for you! I honestly thought the worst part about doing the renovation was paying a shit ton of money for the stuff behind the walls that you don’t even see… like, I put that much money into it, I want to be able to at least see the damn thing! I have an electrician coming this week for a thousand bucks so I can stop blowing the fuse for the garage and have an outlet for the TV so I don’t have to use six extension cords. Yeah, I can see that, but all the work he’s gotta do behind the walls is like. Ughhhh.

            RE: demo and flooring, if I had to do this again, I would seriously consider hiring out the demo. I loved it but what they don’t tell you when you’re binge watching Property Brothers is that when the guy says, “I’ll have my crew clean this up,” if you don’t have a crew, YOU’RE the idiot that has to clean up your maniacal reciprocating saw handiwork. I would sacrifice fun times with my reciprocating saw to not have to clean up days of drywall dust and disgusting carpet pad. As for the flooring, I originally wanted wood-look tile but then my mom freaked out about the timeline so I did laminate so that she would stop crying at me. I couldn’t justify the cost of hardwood and my uncle liked laminate and once he showed me how to click and hit it together I was 100% on board. BUT. I love that little nail gun that you hit with a hammer to nail hardwood flooring down. So next time I will either do the hardwood or my beloved wood-look tile. Because then, I get to use more tools. I also love tools haha!

            Ahah so story time about the age thing. At one point where I was in crippling pain from crawling around on my hands and knees (even with kneepads) to lay the subfloor, I looked over at my uncle and he was calmly sipping from a container of soup that he’d brought with him in the morning. I was like wtf I want to die, how is it that he’s totally fine. I thought I had youthful energy on my side! Then I thought maybe my uncle is younger than I remember so maybe he also has youthful energy on his side? So I asked him how old he was going to be this year. He shrugged and said 60. 60! I was like. So here I am, at 27, wanting to die, and my uncle is just standing there, looking like he can go another 8 hours. WTF.

        4. Jane of all Trades*

          Wow!!! That is so impressive. And must be really exciting to have “arrived”. I just purchased my house last week, and am now in the process of coming up with a plan to do the updates I want (thankfully all cosmetic).
          Do you mind me asking, how difficult was it to do the flooring? I want to rip out the carpet and replace it with something non-carpet-y. I have: some tools, a ton of enthusiasm, physical health. I lack: experience…
          Also – what part did you most enjoy about the renovations, and what was the worst?

          1. Seifer*

            I was hella determined to replace the carpet in my place because it was original to the house and the previous owned smoked for almost 30 years in the house. The carpet pad smelled like smoke. The cement pad beneath everything smelled like smoke.

            I mentioned above, I wanted to do wood look tile. I know how to lay tile and I kind of enjoy it, and it would be super durable in case I wanted a doberman or a 17′ tall fiddle leaf fig. I needed my options! Then, my mother found out and lost. her. shit. So I had to scale down and do something else. I ultimately decided on laminate because my uncle said he knew how to do it and it wouldn’t take too long since there was no need for glue or nails. Okay, sweet.

            It took about two weekends for around 1200 sq. ft. I didn’t do the kitchen and baths since I want to do some cool tile later. I love love love click and lock flooring. I used my miter saw extensively and occasionally the table saw for rip cuts. I have a drill press on hand, and it’s easier to make right angle cuts by drilling at the corner (where the two lines intersect at a right angle) and then either using the table saw to cut to the drill hole and then rotating it to cut the other direction instead of trying to carefully get the table saw to make a perfect, crisp right angle. The end result is the same and normally those places are covered with moulding anyway.

            Anyway. The pieces are usually tongue and groove, and to lock them together, you place your groove pieces flat on the ground and then start to insert the tongue piece into the groove at like a 30ish degree angle. Wiggle it up and down a little until it fits together and then push down on the top of the tongue piece until it’s also flat against the ground. Then, take a little scrap block of wood and put it against the groove side of your tongue piece. Make sure your wood block is above the little flap that sticks out of the groove piece; you want to make sure not to accidentally break this because if you do, the piece won’t lock correctly with the subsequent piece! Then you just hit the block, moving it down the length of your plank until the two pieces are locked together the long way. My uncle and I had to do some gymnastics to knock the short ends together because we’re both like 5′ tall and I bought a 48″ plank (oops) but you want to put your foot on the joints on the short end so that when you knock it together on the free end, the plank doesn’t pop up over your previous plank. Then you just keep going! Does that make sense? It sounds harder than it actually is writing it out, but I promise it’s not super difficult and is actually fun because you get to hit things haha. When my uncle was explaining it to me, I was like ??? but then when he showed it to me I was like. Ohhhhhhhh. Now it’s clicking. Like the flooring!

            My favorite part was baseboards haha. My miter saw is easily my favorite saw, so it was just fun times with the miter saw and then the nail gun. My least favorite was sinking money into things that I could not DIY, like replacing the furnace. My other least favorite was not being able to kick through drywall like the Property Brothers. :( They make it look so easy!

    7. LizB*

      Ahhhhh that’s such a wonderful feeling, when the house is finally together enough that it feels like actual home. (I bought and moved in November so I have also been through that recently.) Congrats!

    1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      I mostly knit, crochet, and cross stitch. None of those are particularly unusual hobbies in and of themselves, but I tend to cross stitch weird things. I have a sampler in my bathroom with e.coli, salmonella and c.diff that says “Wash your hands”, and I’m working on-and-off on a patchwork piece made up of a bunch of small stitched germs. (My mother was slightly mortified that I was working on herpes simplex II while we were on an airplane going to Disneyworld.) My current stitching project is actually a map of Chernobyl’s reactor 4 core rods at the moment of the explosion.

      1. All Hail Queen Sally*

        I would LOVE to see your germ stitchery! I have seen a lot of “interesting ” stitchery on facebook, and love it all.

        1. Artemesia*

          We live near a surgical museum and they have germs and cells Christmas ornament e.g. you can get a stuffed ecoli or in my case when I was coming off a broken bone, I got a stuffed bone cell with a Christmas hat ornament.

        2. Ermintrude*

          So. My country flung itself off a cliff whilst making rude gestures at the other countries who we used to be friends with. My citizenship has been taken away by my government and bigots seem to feel they have free reign. Government seems to be working by use of slogans and Endless lying and the media isn’t helping. It’s scary and upsetting and I really would like to get my EU passport back but that’s quite hard with small children at school (limits the potential to live in another country on and off).
          It’s just – horrifying and I honestly don’t recognise my country any more

          1. Nancy*

            Same here. I feel so … alienated and afraid for the future. I’m in the lucky position of having managed to get a passport from friendly neighbouring country where my grandfather was from, but unfortunately my children are not eligible – although they would have been if I’d become a citizen before they were born – and I just feel so sad and angry that the opportunities available to me won’t be open to them.

            1. Nancy*

              I heard that the PM was going to have a celebratory dinner of traditional English food – roast beef, Yorkshire pudding, Shropshire blue cheese. And I thought, right, I’m going to have French onion soup, Wiener schnitzel and Gorgonzola. That’ll show them!

      2. Elizabeth West*

        Haha, that sounds fun. I’ve been working on a Titanic travel poster for years. I do a little bit and then put it away for ages. The goal was to frame it and hang it in a ship-themed bathroom, but that never happened since I never was able to afford a bathroom remodel at my house.

      3. General von Klinkerhoffen*

        That’s interesting – I had a conversation today with someone along the lines of “some people knit; some people crochet; some people do both, but they tend to have a strong preference for one over the other”.

        I strongly prefer crochet because I find it more intuitive, more forgiving, and far faster. Which do you prefer, or are you going to blow my theory out of the water?

        1. General von Klinkerhoffen*

          Oh and coincidentally I’m also elbow-deep in a Chernobyl WIP, but it’s an Afghan for a child living there.

        2. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

          In general, I have a strong preference for knitting, because my favorite types of yarnwork are cables and lace, both of which are not really well suited (IMO) to crochet. :) But I learned to crochet about twenty years before I learned to knit. :)

      4. YouwantmetodoWHAT?!*

        Red Reader, if you are not a member of Millennial Needlecrafts on FB y’all need to get on over! Your stuff will be LOVED!
        Don’t worry if you are not a millennial, they are VERY welcoming (mid 50’s here).
        Also, I /really/ want to see them!

      5. YouwantmetodoWHAT?!*

        Currently obsessed with Blackwork embroidery (ok, so it started like 2 years ago!).
        I also work at the Ren Faire, so I sew and craft and all that.
        Newest obsession is aerial yoga. LOVE it. I have pretty much no experience with yoga, and am terribly out of shape due to since resolved health issues. Oh and sometimes I get vertigo. Doesn’t matter – it’s still fun!

    2. Felicia*

      I bellydance which people always seem shocked by. Maybe that’s unusual! I also write, but less unusual

    3. Nessun*

      I study Tarot (and also collect decks). I’m a neophyte but I love the psychology of the cards and I love the artwork and archetypes. I pull a card daily, and I take classes in addition to reading.

        1. Nessun*

          I’m taking a course through an online tarot website, and I have bought a lot of books for my independent learning. I’ve already taken one course with the same website, and the community there is very friendly.

      1. Penny Parker*

        Working with the cards can be fun. Do you have a favorite deck you use?

        I used to be a professional reader back for a short time back in the late 1980s, and worked with tarot since the early 1970s. However… I put my cards away in 2009 because no matter how I shuffled and pulled them I only got the same card over, and over, and over, and over. My son had just died a tragic death; my mom was in the process of dying and had been kidnapped by my sister; and I was opening a new business. A lot else was going on, too. On the stress scale (if you score 300 or more it is likely you will get sick the next year) I scored around 700. And the only card my deck would give me was the card of Grief.

        So, I put them away and spent my time grieving. I am now in a place of my life where I am very happy and feeling blessed so have thought about getting them out again but still feel a blockage there. I think I would need a new deck.

    4. Elizabeth West*

      I collect Victorian cabinet cards with photos of people on them. I’ve got four or five of those albums with the window slots and a couple of them are completely full. I’m extremely picky about the cards I buy, so I don’t like it when people try to give them to me, and I don’t give a rip about postcards. Luckily, except for certain hard-to-find ones, they’re pretty cheap. You can usually find them at flea markets.

    5. Chaordic One*

      While not unusual, I collect Barbie dolls. While my collection is mostly Barbies, I also have several other kinds of fashion dolls and a few antique dolls and antique stuffed animals. I display many of them in china cabinets in my home. I worry that I might be getting to be a bit of a “hoarder” and am thinking about getting rid of some of them, but I’m not really sure just how to best go about doing that.

    6. The Cosmic Avenger*

      My main hobby is drinking.
      I know how that sounds, but I do love to visit distilleries and breweries (and wineries, but not nearly as much), and hear about the details of and variations on the process. I also like to try new beers and whiskies, and make notes and/or rate them, and share my finds with other enthusiasts.
      So, I hope it qualifies as a hobby if it’s about quality more than quantity.
      I miss juggling. That used to be a big hobby of mine, I’d practice every week, working on new tricks. I was good with 4 balls, 3 clubs, the diabolo, and a few 2-person passing tricks. But I feel like I have less free time now than I did when I wasn’t a parent. Plus apparently part of being a “grown-up” is having more valuable and breakable stuff.

      1. many bells down*

        You know what, I also count beer as one of my hobbies, and I can’t drink more than 2 in a day. Totally about quality over quantity.

      2. Pippa K*

        Hadn’t thought of drinking in terms of a hobby, but spouse and I like the same sorts of things as you. It’s really enjoyable to learn how things are produced. We’ve done cocktail classes as well which was a lot of fun. We probably don’t drink more as a result, but we do drink better!

      3. KMK*

        Someone asked me recently if I collected anything and I thought for a moment and then asked if gin counted. I seem to have five in the liquor supply.

    7. Lady Alys*

      I use fountain pens when at all possible, and have a small collection, as well as a lot of ink. Probably not unusual by itself, but I’ve gone to fountain pen shows and am a member (not very active though) of a local fountain pen club. My family used to think I was crazy (well some of them still do) but now my daughter uses them for her bullet journaling, and my husband even “allowed” me to buy one for him, which he actually uses at work.

      1. Jedi Squirrel*

        I love fountain pens! I wish we had a local fountain pen club. What are your meetings like? What kind of things do you do?

        1. Lady Alys*

          Most of the time there is a theme, with a member speaking (e.g. at our January meeting someone showed Christmas-themed pen advertisements from the past century) or sometimes a guest – our next meeting features a Pilot pen expert. There is a nice mix of people with really specialized knowledge and newbies like me, so I don’t feel dumb, and everybody is very generous about letting others test-write with their super-fancy pens.

    8. old curmudgeon*

      My hobby is pottery, specifically wheel-throwing. I have a pottery wheel in the basement, and there are a couple of community studios in the area where I can fire the stuff I want to keep.

      I used to be able to sit at the wheel and crank out pots for hours at a time, producing so many that I’d give them away to charitable organizations to use as fundraisers, but arthritis has put an end to that. I still love throwing, though, and try to fit some time in for it at least most weekends.

      For me, throwing a pot is almost a meditative process. See, the first thing you have to do is to get your lump of clay perfectly centered on the wheel as it whirls, and I find that is a vivid metaphor for centering my head. When I am “in the zone,” centering and throwing pots, I am truly in my happy place, and the rest of my life is happier and better balanced as a result.

      1. General von Klinkerhoffen*

        Ooh you’ve just reminded me that I have at least one episode of the latest series of Throwdown to catch up with! Thank you!

        I used to live with a ceramicist and I find the entire process captivating. Some kind of cross between alchemy and witchcraft, honestly.

    9. NeverNicky*

      Indoor hobbies are needle(s)/hook and thread/yarn related – pretty much any you can name except quilting. Oh, and book related.

      Outdoors, I am establishing a garden and my partner and I geocache. We’ve just booked flights to go to a massive geocaching event in Prague in May

    10. Cap. Marvel*

      I don’t have any unusual ones. I really enjoy playing Nancy Drew video games (they are puzzle/logic games) and going to escape rooms. I also like to fence and learn languages. I’m attempting to learn Chinese right now.

    11. A.N. O'Nyme*

      Reading (and hoarding books – turns out there’s a Japanese term for buying books you never get around to reading! It’s called tsundoku), writing (which comes with a modest fountain pen and ink collection because I write my first drafts by hand and ballpoints hurt after a while), gaming (as well as collecting/hoarding games), and crocheting are my main ones. Recently also been temped to get into historical sewing because YouTube recommended me a video of a woman buying a Chinese knock-off of a dress she’d made and setting a piece of it on fire ( for science). Nothing too unusual, I guess.

    12. Raia*

      I play video games, and have recently started picking up board games as well – there’s a thriving community out there past Monopoly! Other than that, I play an unusual musical instrument and read up on personal finance and the FIRE movement.

    13. Kuododi*

      I started with piano at age 4 and singing around the same time. Im also a voracious reader. After my first bout with cancer, I taught myself to make beaded jewelry. (Unfortunately a raging case of carpal tunnel has limited my ability to continue with piano and jewelry making.). I’ve had the surgeries during summer of last year so I am slowly building back up my ability to play piano and make jewelry.

    14. Anon and alone*

      I make, or in many cases, remake bead jewelry. I got a lot of my “stock” from a thrift place similar to Goodwill’s Reuse center (based on descriptions of same). I also read, a lot. I collect unicorns.

    15. Stormy Weather*

      I color. I have a crazy amount of coloring books, 90% of them gifts. It’s meditative sometimes because it needs a fair amount of focus, but at the same time, it’s not that mentally tasking.

      One of my favorite books is the one full of British vulgarity.

  12. Invisible Fish*

    Not a work question- I swear- but a question about reclaiming your life after your focus on work is out of control. It’s a Saturday. I’m an educator. I’m looking around me with wide eyes because I can’t think of anything I WANT to do. Has anyone ever let work become such a focus that you have no life outside of it? What did you do to fix this? I want a real life. I feel like . . . maybe the parts of my brain not focused on work have been excised? I’m in an urban area- restaurants and stores and museums and plays and movies abound!! Yet I’m struggling to think of anything beyond “What do I need to do to be ready for work next week?” Help!! How do I become a real, whole person again?

    1. Book Pony*

      I have this problem all the time.

      I have a sibling that lives with me, so I usually just wander over and see what they want to do. If that doesn’t work, I have a TON of computer games on my desktop that I can play to help me do something fun.

      I would say be gentle with yourself and give yourself time. Take it one step at a time, and maybe focus on one area of your body? Like, for me, I go, “Ok, my feet hurt. How can I fix that and regain spoons?” and then I stick my feet in my foot massager and listen to heavy metal covers of Star Wars.

      I think if you maybe work on each section of yourself, with the goal of becoming a real human again, that might help?

    2. Not A Manager*

      For me, this is a habit like any other. I get in the habit of being mono-focused, and it’s a hard habit to break. I have the most luck taking small but consistent steps.

      First, are you getting enough actual down-time? When you’re at home, are you always squirreling around in your own mind about work? Or are you able to actually relax? The first thing I would do, before getting out of the house, is to make sure that every day (and more on weekends) has SOME sacred time/space where you are truly relaxing and not thinking about work. Can the bedroom be a work-free zone? Can “any time after 9:30 pm” be a work-free time? Do you have things to engage your mind that are not work-related, like books or movies or hobbies?

      Once you’ve done that, commit to just getting out of the house each weekend day, for SOMETHING, even it’s short, not very “cultural” and/or you’re not really feeling it. A walk to the nearest coffee shop. One gallery at one museum. Etc. In a few weeks, if that’s feeling good and energizing, you could add one scheduled activity that you think you might enjoy. A yoga class or a lecture or a theater subscription.

      Anyway, this is what I’ve done when I’ve had the “stuck in a rut” blahs. Hope some of it might help you!

    3. Chaordic One*

      I often find that I am exhausted from work and that when I am not at work, it seems like all I have time to do is housework and cleaning and laundry and that’s my life. Bleah!

    4. Meepmeep*

      My wife is like this. I’ve convinced her to take drum lessons as an antidote. I may regret this later.

    5. Cap. Marvel*

      This may sound silly but have you tried taking a walk?
      When I get overwhelmed I like to change my location so I take long walks with no destination in mind. And since you live in an urban area, maybe on one of your walks you’ll find something that looks interesting. I found an axe throwing place on one of my walks.
      And when I lived in DC, I really loved walking down to the monuments because it was a nice long walk and I had time to myself to think. Sometimes I invited friends along but mostly it was a “me time” activity.

    6. LQ*

      I’ve been struggling with this a bit too. Some of the things I’ve tried that seem to work best.

      Set aside Saturday (or Sunday, or both) morning as NonWorkTime. At least first thing in the morning. My goal is to read one novellaish length book a week, in bed before getting up. Doing it while still in bed helps feel like I’m not in the Should Be Working part of my life. Morning is also helpful because you can promise the part of your brain stressing about work stuff that you’ll get to it later.

      Get a hobby that requires a different part of the brain. I used to write. I can’t right now. Something physical helps. Setting a timer that is low key is good. You can promise yourself you’ll go back to stressing about work stuff after this 30 minutes is over, but you’re going to paint for 30 minutes. If the timer goes off and you keep going, that’s great. But you’re going to sit there and do Not Work for 30 minutes either way.

      Doing something that has low entry points for time and thought. A puzzle that’s always out and you may just sit down with the timer for 5 minutes, but it doesn’t require set up/takedown. Set up/take down always make me feel the worst for some reason, so I just try to leave things at my fingertips for a less than 1-minute entry point.

    7. Mimosa Jones*

      If you’re having a hard time knowing what you want to do, then try approaching it from the other end and rule out what you don’t want to do. Then choose something from what’s left. If you don’t like it, then you’ve ruled out another thing. Or use a different starting criteria for your decision like something inside/outside, or involving food, or costs under $x. You could look at your local paper’s events listings for the weekend and see if there’s anything you like.

      The earlier idea of walking is a good one. You can start with your neighborhood and then branch out to rail trails, malls, and local parks.

      Does your city have a tourist bus? Go ride that tomorrow and see if it sparks an interest in something.

    8. Koala dreams*

      I try to think of things I liked to do before. Also, I think better when I have some paper and a pen where I can write ideas. So I can write different things before I decide to try something. “Watching tv, cooking, listening to music, go for a walk” and so on.

    9. Thankful for AAM*

      I’ve sort of been there.
      I consciously practiced making decisions and doing what I wanted. I mean very small decisions about where to sit or if and how to get my hair cut. Not life decisions.
      I noticed myself deciding and as I built up my “decider muscles,” I got better at choosing what I wanted for bigger things too.

    10. BC Lower Mainlander*

      I started doing cardio kickboxing a couple of years ago, started making friends with people in my age group from there (40-50). Interestingly enough, we’re quite dissimilar in many ways but we get along fabulously and we pull each other out of our headspace. It’s been loads of fun!

    11. Peter Piper Picked a Peck of Pickled Peppers*

      I’ve had this before. And typically where I have planned to do something. But when the times comes, I cannot make myself actually do it. I just sit there. It might be something like baking or it might be taking my daughter to shop for clothes. I just don’t want to do anything. Not good.

    12. lasslisa*

      Yeah. It finally clicked with me that I couldn’t answer the question “what do you WANT to do?”

      I worked on those muscles a bit, as said above – and just worked on imagining doing a couple of different things and seeing what sounded nice. Try to bake bread? Look for people who wanted to play squash? Go swim at the Y? Do a bunch of little home repairs?

      See if you can remember some things you used to like, that can be a good start to try and remember what it feels like to like things.

      1. lasslisa*

        Oh, I meant to suggest, volunteering also is a good way to stretch those muscles. It’s a little bit easier to treat it as important, because it’s not just for you, but it’s not just for work either and it is driven by your own choices.

  13. coffee cup*

    I posted a few weeks ago I think about possibly trying antidepressants. I went to the doctor this week and have a prescription for a very low dose of an SSRI. I’ve held off starting them because I’m going away tomorrow till Tues and would rather not feel weird when I’m supposed to having a nice break from work. So I might start them next week.

    I’m really nervous though. The doctor agreed they could be beneficial and I’m to go back to see him in a couple of weeks to see how I’m getting on. I know that they take a while to work and can have side effects at the start, but he was confident that the dose is so low it would only probably be a case of a bit of nausea and tiredness. I also see that I’m not supposed to drive till I know how they affect me… bit concerning given that I really can’t avoid driving to/from work and don’t wish to tell my work about it unless I really have to (I’ve tried to get help from them before and it’s always just such an issue that I have given up for now). I’ve asked my friend who lives nearby if he’d mind giving me a lift more often, and he kindly agreed (we work together). So I have an option there anyway.

    I would just love some advice and maybe to hear about how people coped with starting to take them? I really want just to feel a bit better so I can get to work on my actual life changes I need to make, so I’m intending for this to be a short-term thing. But I’m a bit worried about actually doing it. If I had a physical injury I’d take painkillers, so this isn’t any different… but the list of side effects freaks me out a bit!

    1. mreasy*

      The side effects of SSRIs are usually not so bad – headache, nausea, fatigue, but all very mild, especially at a low dose. I’ve never had a doc mention anything about driving to me (and I have been on dozens of different meds over the years), but being on the safe side does sound wise. Maybe just start the meds on a day when you know you’ll be staying home, to confirm there’s no major side effects? I’d think if you were going to get woozy/dizzy you’d know pretty immediately. Good luck! I hope they help.

    2. Jules the 3rd*

      Starting wasn’t hard for me for three of the four SSRIs I tried. A day of nausea, a week of metallic taste and loose stools (sorry if that’s TMI!), one or two days of tiredness, and then it was back to normal, except I did feel different – more… flat? emotionally, less ups and downs. The fourth one, I got more and more tired, and more and more anxious (I took them for OCD). The doc tried adding things to deal with the side effects, and they worked until they spectacularly didn’t (visual hallucination of my worst OCD trigger). But you can avoid that by switching SSRIs instead of layering new things (wellbutrin was ok, the anti-psychotic was not).

      Coming *off* them really sucked, tinnitis and ‘zings’, so make sure you taper slowly or switch, and do it with a doctor’s guidance.

    3. Lena Clare*

      Yes, the list of side-effects freaked me out too, but bear in mind that anxiety about taking it might be why you are being prescribed them in the first place, i.e. anxiety can be a symptom of what you have!

      I was very nervous at first. I had dry mouth, and insomnia.
      The dry mouth – I drank lots of water and looked after my teeth (still do).
      I take the tablets in the morning now and not at night, and my sleep has improved.
      I think I’ve put weight on too, but I reckon that’s because I’m more relaxed, less anxious, and am sleeping more.

      Honestly, they saved my life. I think I’ll be on them for a while. Certainly until the menopause has finished.
      I am so glad i took that step.

      Stick to your normal routine when you’re taking them, then it’s easy to notice if anything is different and you can discuss your concerns with your doctor.

      I think you’ll probably feel worse before you feel better, but the side-effects only last from between a few days to a few weeks, and if they work, they really work.

      And remember, nothing is set in stone. You can come off them with your doc’s support and try something else.

      If you’re in the UK (I think you are) you can refer yourself for counselling through your IAPT service, but I recommend MIND for counselling if you want a talking therapy.

      All the best to you!

      1. Kuododi*

        Part of the problem with the side effects list…(at least in the US, I don’t know about the rules in other countries.)..is manufacturers are required to list every possible side effects from dry mouth to death and everything in between. It certainly is anxiety producing to read those lists. Personally, I find information to be the best cure for that type of anxiety. Pharmacist, MD’s, RN are all reliable sources of info for clarification of questions/concerns. Best wishes.

    4. 30ish*

      I remember being in this place and can only encourage you to start with the meds! They may take a while to kick in. I never had any noticeable side effects from taking them and was just so relieved when they finally started working.

    5. nm*

      I started one last year (very low dose as well) and it went quite well. The idea was if I had antidepressants, then even when my stress/anxiety gets bad, it’s easier to take a step back, identify something helpful to do (like meditating, a short walk, a few deep breaths), and then actually do it. So far it’s worked out fine! My only side effect was that I was *very* gassy for the first two weeks but after that my stomach went back to normal.

    6. Damn it, Hardison!*

      I am on a low dose of a SSRI for migraine prevention, and to be honest, I didn’t know it was an SSRI for a couple of years after I started taking it! I haven’t had any side effects. The only thing I’ve noticed is that if I forget to take it, I have more vivid dreams and don’t sleep as soundly. I hope your experience is smooth and side effect free.

    7. That Girl from Quinn's House*

      I take low-dose SSRIs for migraine, so I take them in the evening, and I usually just plan on being extra tired for a week when I adjust the dose. So I either take them earlier at night if I have stuff in the morning, or I clear my mornings so I have an extra hour or two to wake up.

      If you’re taking a morning dose, you could take it after you get to work, so if you’re groggy it’s when you’re done driving?

    8. Better Now*

      When I was prescribed an antidepressant, Wellbutrin (not an SSRI) I immediately felt better and had this extra boost of energy. The first day or so I was almost hyper, but that only lasted briefly. After that initial burst I felt calmer, but much better. The side effects from the medication were dry mouth and constipation so I had to pay more attention than usual to my dental health, more frequent brushing and flossing. I used toothpaste, mouthwash and mouth spray from “Biotene”. (The newer Biotene toothpaste is much better than it was several years ago.)

      I also had to make more of an effort to watch what I ate. More fruits, vegetables and fiber. Prunes became a regular part of my diet and about once every week or two I found I needed to use a laxative and/or stool softener. I usually bought the store brand of a Colace-like stool softener and plant-based “sennosides” laxatives. There’s a senna herbal tea that works well put out by “Traditional Medicinals” that you can find in many grocery stores.

      My doctor recommended “Miralax” and “Citrucel” and they were both helpful, but not especially so, just kind of “meh”. I will say that Citrucel is better than Metamucil which gave me lots of gas. I also used a probiotic, “Florajen 3” which helped some.

      At one point, my doctor supplemented the Wellbutrin with Effexor. I’m not really sure why. After starting the Effexor, I immediately developed a cold that didn’t seem to go away, until my social worker realized that I didn’t really have a cold and the symptoms were side effects from the Effexor. So I quit taking Effexor, the cold symptoms went away and I continued with Wellbutrin for a while longer and counseling for quite a while after that. And I got better.

    9. Sherm*

      I’m not a doctor, but I don’t think antidepressants commonly (or even uncommonly) make people incapable of driving safely, so I wouldn’t worry.

      I do get the fear of trying it for the first time, the sense of “wow, I’m actually going to swallow this, here we go.” My only side effect was waking up a couple hours before I wanted to, and that went away when I switched from taking it in the morning to the evening. It’s sounding like your doctor is on top of things — you can explain anything that’s going wrong at your 2-week visit, or call earlier if the problem needs more immediate attention. They may or may not work, but promise you this: you will not keel over, have a “bad trip,” or lose control like you’ve been at the bar until closing time. You’ve got this!

    10. cleo*

      Good for you for taking this step. I was nervous when I started an SSRI too. (Partly because I’d resisted taking one for like 10 years because I thought it was “cheating” – I know! It took a mental health crisis for me to realize that wasn’t a useful attitude. And taking it did actually help me – it took the edge off enough so that my other therapeutic work was more effective).

      My main side effect was nausea. It lasted at least a couple weeks, maybe more. I ate a lot of crackers and candied ginger and drank a lot of ginger tea and it gradually got better.

      1. Better Now*

        I remember feeling afraid that if I took an antidepressant that I wouldn’t be me. (I wasn’t sure who I’d be, but I was afraid of losing myself.) Then when it came time to wean myself off of the drug, I was also afraid of stopping. In retrospect, I didn’t stop being me, but the drug helped me to be a bit more focused and free from the extraneous thoughts that made me nervous and anxious, it made me be a bit more myself.

        By the time I was ready to stop, I had gotten through the worse part of the depression and I had learned better coping skills and how to take better care of myself. I also had developed a better perspective about life and my place in it.

    11. MysteryFan*

      I did SSRI’s and had no side effects starting out. In fact, in two days, I felt like I just “woke up”.. it was great! After awhile, I notices depressed libido, but that was okay at the time. What I did notice was if I forgot a dose, I’d feel crummy.. kind of “hung over” til I realized what the issue was. When I went off them for good, I just had to lower the dose gradually, and power thru feeling bad for a week or so.

    12. Salymander*

      I started my ssri antidepressants on a Friday, in case of side effects. I felt a tiny bit sleepy so started taking at night. The slight sleepiness wore off quickly, after a few days maybe. No nausea or any other problems. It helped my depression so much, and I was eventually able to wean off of them (carefully and under a doctor’s supervision!!!).
      OP, I wish you good health and contentment, and I hope the meds work really well for you!

    13. Courageous cat*

      Hmm, you can definitely drive when you first take them – maybe just don’t drive on the very first dose in case it’s sedating? But SSRIs aren’t, like, going to reduce your reaction time or anything. I think you may be taking the warnings they give for most medications a little literally, that’s just a “cover your ass” thing that goes on a lot of them.

      I’ve taken most SSRIs. Nothing to be nervous about – you’ll, more likely than not, get no side effects and be fine. I don’t get side effects from any of them. There’s nothing to need to cope with, honestly. They’re there to make your life better, and that’s worth getting excited about! Best of luck!

  14. Unidentifed Lurker*

    Good morning all,
    Long time lurker – but I’ve only commented a couple of times and I normally get to this thread late. My stars must be in alignment today because I’m early. Mostly owing to the think we can’t talk about on weekends but I’ll take what I can get. I need to vent into the anonymous void because I think I’ve lost my shit. DH is an alcoholic, who was sober up until two weeks ago. Let me tell you, that two weeks have been HELL. We’ve been together for over 20 years, and during that time he didn’t drink. 5 years ago, the alcoholism reared it’s ugly head and we’ve walked through fire…. rehabs, psychiatric hospitals, regular hospitals, one night in jail for D&D…. I’ve done all of the things the various professionals have told me to, but I just can’t…. anymore…. He’s been diagnosed with bipolar, ADHD, OCD, BPD and anxiety (probably other things I can’t remember now). Up until this relapse, he took his meds faithfully and I had hope. I’m fresh out of hope and fresh out of f***s to give now. I want to dump him out on the street in a snowbank and hope for the best, but I know I can’t because the person I am wouldn’t do that to a sick person. And he is very sick. But I’m furious, frustrated and frightened for both of us. We’re waiting for a bed to open up in rehab but I have no hope that rehab will work. I can’t let myself hope because when I do I end up disappointed.
    I just want to scream until I can’t scream any longer. He doesn’t give a crap about me when he’s like this, but sober he’s the best partner in the world. Divorce isn’t an option at this point in our marriage, we’re on the brink of financial disaster (hello whiskey) but it is an option for the future. What I don’t need is people pointing out that I’m an enabler. Yes, I am aware of being the enabler this time, but I’m doing what I need to do to keep myself safe and our home intact. A couple of years ago he became violent and smashed everything in the house while I was at work because I refused to leave work to bring him alcohol. I can defend myself physically if necessary but I hope it doesn’t come to that because if he raised a hand, I’d be the one who ended up in jail (6th Dan Isshin-Ru).
    Sorry this was a rant, I guess I needed to vent because I’m working my tail off and he’s passed out with a half empty bottle in his hand. I keep telling myself 3 more days…..
    Thanks for listening

    1. Lena Clare*

      I’m sending you big hugs. Hang in there. Alcoholism is horrible, for everyone. I know that words don’t mean much, but i wanted to let you know that I’m thinking of you, and wishing and hoping for the best for you – whatever that is.

      1. valentine*

        If you’re saying you’re providing alcohol so he doesn’t smash up the house or assault you, you’re a hostage. This is all kinds of dangerous for you and you deserve better. What if you look up the law on abandoning the family home, have a lawyer film a walk-through to show the status of the home, and move out? Separation, if not divorce, especially if you’re legally allowed to separate your finances as well. The second-best time to stem his tide is now. I would call RAINN or a similar hotline right now and see what they say.

        I can defend myself physically if necessary but I hope it doesn’t come to that because if he raised a hand, I’d be the one who ended up in jail (6th Dan Isshin-Ru).
        I cannot overemphasize how much this expectation will differ from the reality.

        1. LGC*

          To be fair, I think the husband smashed up the house because Unidentified Lurker didn’t leave their job to get him alcohol! So I don’t know if UL is directly providing their husband with alcohol. (It’s ambiguous – they did point that out, but they also said they were the enabler this time…but also, the husband is an adult and can get his own booze anyway, most likely.)

    2. Jules the 3rd*

      That sucks, and good luck. Addiction is so very hard to deal with, walking that line between short term and long term needs, which are very much in conflict. You are the best person to judge how to balance them.

    3. fposte*

      I’m not even living with this and I made screaming noises while reading your post. This is heartbreaking and enraging. I’m so sorry.

      You didn’t mention it, but I know Al-Anon has been helpful to relatives and friends from all kinds of philosophical backgrounds; there are online meetings if in-person ones don’t work for you. I think it helps with the crushing isolation of life with an addict.

      I hope that the next three days are quiet and his rehab stint brings him sobriety and you peace.

    4. Not A Manager*

      I’m so sorry you’re going though this. I want to just gently ask about this sentence: “Divorce isn’t an option at this point in our marriage, we’re on the brink of financial disaster (hello whiskey) but it is an option for the future.”

      If your spouse and his relationship to alcohol has pushed you to the brink of financial disaster now, why do you think this will be different in the future? He sounds like a very non-functioning alcoholic, with the smashing things and insisting you leave work, etc. I’m not sure your financial situation is likely to improve, long-term. In any event, I think for your own peace of mind you should get as much support as possible for spouses of people with addiction issues (like Al Anon), but I also think you should IMMEDIATELY consult with a divorce lawyer and a financial planner. That doesn’t mean you’re planning to leave or that you “have” to leave. But you should know what your realistic options are. (Many professionals will do an initial consult cost-free or very low-cost, so if you’re trying to get a big-picture sense of your situation, it might not require a big investment on your part.)

      1. Not So NewReader*

        Agreed. If you know that divorce might be a consideration in the future now is the time to think about this. You could face a time in the future where leaving is not optional as in you have to leave and it’s sudden and/or dire. Start doing things to protect yourself now.

        Keep in mind that protecting yourself from being injured also includes, psychological/emotional injuries and financial injuries.

      2. Rebecca*

        My ex husband’s addiction was gambling. If I had to do it all over again, I would have filed for divorce 20 years before I did, to hell with the consequences, finances, all of it. Please at least get a consultation. You shouldn’t have to live like this.

        1. Wishing You Well*

          I second the lawyer consultation
          It sounds like your physical and financial health is at great risk. PLEASE don’t assume you’d win a fight with a drunk. Holy Cow! Protect yourself, please!

        2. NoLongerYoung*

          Sorry, third here. I kept being the good wife, struggling along, putting up with, working my tail off, while my spouse (women, gambling, pain killers and lying were his addictions, at various times/combos.). I didn’t know, but in retrospect, the lack of respect and way I was treated, should have been enough that I should have pulled the plug even if I’d had to use legal aid for the divorce filing and borrowed money from family and declared bankruptcy. There’s worse things. Much, much worse.
          I do recommend Al-Anon. Different groups have different makeup and styles. I chose one that was all women. I’m in an area that has many meetings, so I was able to pick and test the waters with different ones until I meshed. (And I did get mental health counseling through my work benefits weekly as well ; crying uncontrollably when asked about my life at the doctor’s office launched me into that blessing).

        3. Lora*

          Fourth. My ex liked cocaine and cheap Craigslist hookers. He drained my savings and I blew through my 401k sending him to rehab, all of which did exactly nothing to fix him.

          Protect yourself first. At this point I tend to think that nobody, including the experts, really know anything at all about addiction and people just get better or don’t. It’s like putting tuberculosis patients in sanitariums with lots of fresh air and hoping for the best.

      3. Tris Prior*

        I agree with this. Your husband sounds like my father, who was using alcohol to self-medicate his untreated bipolar. He also used to smash up the house and when my mom would call the cops, they’d say “his name is on the house too, he can smash it up if he wants.” She stayed married to him for 40 years, until he died, and suffered severe health consequences herself from having to caregive him (the decades of heavy drinking caused a variety of issues late in life from dementia to mini-strokes to a broken hip and vertebrae – apparently that many years of heavy consumption can give you osteoporosis even if you’re male?)

        She thought she couldn’t leave for financial reasons; she said her credit score would be ruined. Maybe so, but maybe she’d also have her health, physical and mental. And at the rate he was spending – on booze and on just STUFF, his main symptom when he was manic was spending freely – she might’ve been better off moneywise without him. But, she was too afraid to ask for help and find out.

        Please look into your options as others have suggested. Even if he goes to rehab, he has to want help, and if he does not, there is nothing they can do for him. Learned that one the hard way from my father.

    5. Corky's Wife Bonnie*

      My uncle had a spouse like this and found a lot of support in Al-anon. Check them out online and see if it could work for you. Believe me, you are not the only one going through this or having these feelings. Sending you virtual hugs and many blessings for brighter days ahead! ❤

    6. Johanna*

      I’m so sorry. I have to say, you’ve been so strong for sticking around for the past five years. I hope things get better for you. I’m an addict in recovery with a sister still in the madness. My mother told me she got help from therapy and alanon.

      Please take care of yourself. And remember it’s 100% not your fault, there was no magic thing you could have done to make everything better.

    7. Nom de Plume*

      I’m sorry if I’m overstepping. The phrase “divorce is not an option at this point in our marriage” jumped out at me, and I’d like to challenge that notion. I divorced my husband of nearly 17 years. We had a then 10 year old. I won’t say it wasn’t hard, but please don’t tell yourself that you have to stay and be destroyed by this man.

    8. LGC*

      Oh man!

      So…yeah, this is a lot, but I’m just going to focus on one thing:

      I want to dump him out on the street in a snowbank and hope for the best, but I know I can’t because the person I am wouldn’t do that to a sick person.

      I have a couple of questions:

      First, why is dumping him out on the street in a snowbank the only alternative to taking care of him?

      Second, why does he get to behave awfully towards you because he’s sick? (Even if – okay – his awful behavior is because of the illness?)

      To be honest, you’re going through a TON, and a lot more than a lot of people. You get to be in pain as well, and just because your husband is suffering doesn’t mean he has the right to treat you like dirt on the bottom of his shoe. I don’t think you have to kick him to the curb – it doesn’t sound like you want to anyway – but you definitely get to say that you can’t put up with his alcohol abuse anymore. And that doesn’t make you a bad person for walking away – maybe it’s not a problem that you can help him fix or you can be there for him fixing.

      Also, you yourself aren’t a bad person or an “enabler” just because you haven’t dramatically dumped your husband. You’re trying to survive the best you can. And – if I may – I read your post and…like, the impression I got was that you feel like no matter what you do, you’re a horrible person. Either you’re bad because you’re not supportive enough of him (even if his behavior is abusive), or you’re bad because you’re too supportive and haven’t left him yet (even if that’s not feasible at the moment). The only thing that will redeem you is if…he gets sober again, but in the end, he’s the one that has to do the work to be sober.

      1. EinJungerLudendorff*

        This. You’ve tried to help him for five years against a whole host of life-wrecking problems, he has often been awful to you, and now you sound completely done with it.

        You are not obligated to sacrifice yourself for him. You don’t have to stay with someone who doesn’t want you. And you deserve someone who doesn’t abuse or threaten you.

    9. The Gollux, Not a Mere Device*

      Once he gets a place in rehab, would they work with you to find him somewhere else to go if you told them he couldn’t come back to your home?

      Alternatively, can you find somewhere else to stay for a while–someone who needs a roommate, a friend’s couch? That doesn’t leave him out in a snowbank. It would be deciding that your priorities are your own safety, and not dumping him out in the snow, and that keeping your home intact would be nice but is less important.

    10. Dan*

      Hi,

      Sorry you have to deal with this — I dealt with similar issues with my ex and her family, and it’s no picnic. Anybody who calls you an enabler doesn’t know what it’s like. “For better or worse” doesn’t give a spouse carte blanche to make the other’s life a living hell.

      Staying with your spouse is just going to drag you down. I left my marriage when I realized it was likely to end in one of three ways: 1) Divorce, 2) Jail, and 3) Option C. Options 2 and 3 weren’t very desirable, and Option 1 was a walk in the park in comparison. Note that my spouse had no job, so while *I* didn’t have to worry about how *I* was going to pay bills, getting a non-working spouse out takes some finesse.

      Point being, I’m going to echo others and suggest you strongly reconsider just how unviable Option 1 really is for you. At least begin the planning process with a legal consultation.

    11. Wandering*

      I am so sorry you’re going through this. The only thing I have to offer right now that I haven’t seen here is a consult and action on restricting his access to your/family money. He’s not in a condition to make safe choices, and you are already at the brink. Can you limit or eliminate his access to funds until he’s back on his feet and his head is above the alcohol?

      I’m on Team You, and in accord with those who remind you do what you can to care for yourself. You can’t help him if you can’t also help yourself. Having help finding him a place to live post-rehab til he’s safely sober again sounds like security for both of you. You’ve said that sober he’s a great partner, so why put both of you in the position of living with his being off the rails until such a time as he can be a great partner again, or you come to some other decision.

      You have courage, and heart, and all of us behind you.

    12. So anon for this*

      I’m so sorry you’re going through this. I just wanted to respond to your comments that “the person I am wouldn’t do that to a sick person” because I feel you so, so, much. I spent ten years with a person who had depression, ADD, Aspergers, and a variety of medical diagnoses I won’t go into, but anyway, he was going through some legimitely hard stuff, except he ended up taking it all out on me. The last five years of our relationship were hell, and I put myself through SO much because I thought it was my responsability to help him through this and I couldn’t possibly leave him while he was going through this.
      It did not end well at all – financial disaster in which he stole my savings, a suicide attempt which nearly broke me, and a massive breakdown on my end because I just couldn’t cope anymore. I left him and while it was unbelievably hard, I am just so relieved that this is no longer my life. I’m not saying this to freak you out, and your situation is obviously not the same, but if you need to leave, even temporarily, please give yourself permission to do it and never, ever let yourself feel like like you aren’t a good person because of it. There is only so much you can do to save people from themselves, and you don’t have to loose yourself trying.

      1. NoLongerYoung*

        I’m sending you a hug, too. You’ve come through to the other side of a tough go, and clearly a compassionate and warm person. Hug.

    13. Koala dreams*

      If he treats you that badly that you need to kick him out, sell the house, or live apart, that’s on him, not on you. Please look out for your own safety. He might be sick but he’s still responsible for his actions. It’s very condescending to say that you can’t treat him like an adult because he’s sick. I know it’s hurting you more than him right now, but it’s not right.

    14. MeepMeep*

      Even with mental illness, there is nothing wrong with requiring a spouse to exercise some basic self-care with respect to their condition in order to stay in the marriage.

      My wife has severe bipolar disorder. She is religious about taking her meds and doing all the right things to keep herself sane. If she ever decided that she doesn’t need to do this, I’d walk out.

      You’re not trapped just because your husband is sick. You are allowed to leave a marriage if your safety and sanity are being threatened. He is not entitled to your love or your care.

      Please take care of yourself. Your sanity and safety matter.

    15. Sleve McDichael*

      Hello beautiful <3 I hope I’m not too late for you to see this. If you’re looking for comfort, advice, sympathy, empathy or just a friendly ear, I strongly recommend you check out Captain Awkward. She and Alison sometimes answer letters for each other, she’s kind of like the Alison of personal relationships. There is also a forum where people vent and share stories and messages of support for each other. And you don’t have to wait for open threads! Jedi hugs to you if you want them!

    16. LibbyG*

      I wish I could send you a big ball of strength and energy. You’re walking such a hard road.

      I used to be married to someone who suddenly lost control of his bipolar disorder, and it was hell. I did end up divorcing him. I had to get to the realization that I wasn’t divorcing to punish him; I just had to get out. I loved him, but I couldn’t share a home and a budget with him anymore.

      I end up seeing him once every couple years or so, out and about. I’m fond of him, and I like remembering our good years together. But leaving the marriage was the best thing I ever did for myself.

    17. Wandering*

      Had another thought: have you tried the local NAMI folks? National Alliance for the Mentally Ill. They have family support programs (which vary in caliber by location/available people), & experience with self medicating exacerbation of illness. Perhaps they’d be helpful, too.

    18. bunniferous*

      Boundaries. My friend had a similar issue with her husband. She kicked him out and told him when he got treatment he could come back. It was the hardest thing she ever did in her life. He was sleeping out in the woods, etc. Fast forward to now, he went to treatment, stays going to AA meetings, now has a responsible job, and is doing well. They are together again.

      But it was a choice HE had to make. And SHE had to let him face the consequences of his bad choices.

      You have my sympathy. This is a really hard row to hoe. My friend suffered terribly. So did he. But it was the only way he had a chance at recovery.

  15. TextFail*

    Texting etiquette question.

    Once in a while someone sends me a text along the lines of “Hey, how are you doing?” or “Hey, what have you been up to?” I’ll try to answer with something interesting and we’ll go back and forth for a while about that, but then when I ask the opening question back to them I’ll get a “I’m good” or “not much.” Then when I ask follow-up questions about specific (stuff happening in their lives, hobbies, etc.), I’ll get more vague answers and the conversation dies.

    It makes me feel like I’m horrible at conversations, and I find it annoying because it seems like the person who reaches out should be willing to share something too. (Kinda like how if you ask someone on a date, you should pay. If you text someone to chat, you should contribute something.)

    Am I doing something wrong or thinking about this the wrong way? I’d start to give “I’m good, you?” and “not much, you?” type responses myself to see what happens, but that seems kind of rude and pointless.

    1. Book Pony*

      Idk, I just accept that most conversations I have with people will die eventually. So instead, I usually just throw convo topics to see what sticks. Weather! Arts! Movies!

      Although I did just a leave group chat because people historically never replied back to anything I was talking about, so I feel like it’s more a “them” than a “you” issue.

      1. TextFail*

        I might be overthinking it because I have (undiagnosed) social anxiety. After reading lots of advice, I am very aware that to have a good conversation you should have interesting things to talk about for yourself and should always pay attention to what’s happening in other peoples’ lives so you have good questions to ask them. I generally only text people when I have something exciting/interesting to share, or if I want to ask them about specific things they have going on. So getting asked vague questions and getting vague answers is confusing, like, “What do you want from me? What am I doing wrong?”

        So I guess maybe we have different convo expectations and the issue is them not putting in as much effort.

    2. Jen in Oregon*

      I disagree with a brief answer being rude/pointless. If the person texting you has something on their mind, I think a short response says “I’m here, and I’m ready to listen.” Something like “hey, it’s so good to hear from you. I’m well, thanks, and I’m so glad you reached out. How are you??” I realize my response is colored by the fact that many of my friends have been having a rough go of it lately, so maybe this doesn’t apply here.

      1. TextFail*

        I was thinking it was rude/pointless because I imagined the entire conversation going like this:

        Them: Hey, how are you doing?
        Me: I’m good, you?
        Them: I’m good.

        Your “Hey, it’s so good to hear from you. I’m well, thanks, and I’m so glad you reached out. How are you?” does sound much more kind and polite.

        1. General von Klinkerhoffen*

          I agree with Jen – if someone’s really struggling then your touching base can make all the difference, even if they can only manage a platitude in reply.

          You could try something a bit more random, like:

          “Hey Fergus! Today I went to a farmer’s market and tried some blue cheese which reminded me of the time we went to the cafe near work and had those weird sandwiches. Hope you’re doing well.”

          I find that “saw this and thought of you” is a much more intimate message to send or receive, particularly if it’s very personal rather than what they’re more widely known for.

    3. Dan*

      I have a friend from my college days who is like this, and it drives me nuts. Note that college was like 20 years ago, and we live on opposite sides of a major metro area. Every few months (probably 6) he’ll text me with a bland “what’s up, been awhile.” Well crap, yeah, but I wasn’t expecting to have a text conversation with you right then and there. It took a few of those for me to figure out that he actually was trying to say “we should hang out some time.” Well yeah, we should, and the conversation would actually get somewhere if he would just say, “Hey, it’s been awhile, you free some time in the next two weeks?”

      Side note: I’m a computer programmer for a living, and I live alone (introvert and all of that). I spend my entire day in front of the screen. For social time, I actually need to get out and *see and talk* to people, not interact via a screen. Crud.

      1. TextFail*

        OMG. A guy from one of my college classes kept sending me “what’s up?” messages for a while after we graduated, and I was confused because I didn’t know him well and he never had anything to talk about (we’d only talk about whatever interesting things I brought up). I didn’t suggest hanging out because his texts made it seem like he was boring. Maybe he just wanted to hang out and would have been better at conversations in person.

        1. Jen in Oregon*

          For people like this, I use “what’s on your mind?” if I don’t know them that well, they’ve contacted me and don’t have much to say. I find that it’s still polite enough but get’s to the point that they’ve opened a conversation and then not actually started one. If I’m feeling really magnanimous, I might add “Is everything okay?” but before I do I ask myself what I am willing to do if everything is not okay. (It doesn’t make you a bad person if the best you can do for this person is guide them to resources. Being a kind person doesn’t mean you have to let people bleed you dry with their problems, and it doesn’t mean you need to let them nibble you to death with their tediousness either.)

          1. Jen in Oregon*

            Gah. That was supposed to be “get’s to the point that they’ve opened a conversation *but* they *did not* actually started one.”

    4. Koala dreams*

      I’m thinking you must be an amazing texter, getting a back and forth from such messages! Usually when people text things like that it’s just a greeting, and the conversation dies out after the answer (How are you? I’m fine, and you? Just fine, thanks). Sometimes people text you that to see if you’re available to call or skype. It would usually not lead to a conversation. Give yourself permission to just answer the expected “I’m fine”. Not all social interactions are deep and meaningful, small talk is important too!

    5. EinJungerLudendorff*

      In my personal anxiety-ridden experience, those kinds of messages are more of a conversation opener than anything else.
      If someone has something interesting to say, it can turn into an actual conversation, or else it just kinda dies right there. If the other person wanted to talk, they will generally try to talk.

      For what its worth, most of my texting convos tend to kinda grind to a halt when people don’t know what else to say. So that seems pretty normal.

    6. Anon Here*

      It implies that there’s some kind of power imbalance in the relationship. The term for it is, “information disparity.” When one person is sharing more information than the other, or has access to more information about the other person than vice versa. Because, as the saying goes, “Knowledge is power.” If you think abouy that in the context of any relationship, you’ll see what I mean.

      When a person wants to know what you’re doing and how you’re doing but doesn’t want to share the same about themselves, they are either: 1) Intimidated by you or shy about sharing, 2) Trying to have the upper hand. In other words, the power imbalance could go either way, but it’s a sign that something’s up.

      Or your friend is just a bad conversationalist by text message. Maybe they’re distracted or they have trouble expressing themselves in writing. It could be something completely insignificant.

      But if it feels weird, it probably is. You don’t have to keep texting with them. If they’re acting weird and you want to just stop replying, don’t feel bad. You’re reacting to something real.

    7. lasslisa*

      Sometimes I think of texts like that almost as a radar ping. “Hey, you still exist?” “Yeah, I’m here”. And maybe you want to participate in that or not, depending on who it is and how close you are.

  16. Book Pony*

    I’m ’bout to go running into the woods (metaphorically) y’all.

    This question is specifically for black people, but I’ll take answers from any non-white person. (Or autistic people).

    After dealing with some really heavy ish, how do you recenter? Specifically talking about racist/ableist stuff, hence the filtering statement above. I really need to recenter and not let current drama overwhelm me so I can continue being me, but mannnnn is it weighing heavily on me.

    Also, if anyone knows any (online or otherwise) groups for Black Autistic people, I would love to join. I miss hanging out with black people. I miss my community. OTL

    1. Not A Manager*

      Wow, that sounds like a lot. And very isolating. I have heard about a site called The Color of Autism but I don’t know if they have any resources specifically for adults.

    2. Gatomon*

      There are so few PoC where I live that there is no black community, so when I feel a longing, I usually put on music by black artists. Could be anything from Stevie Wonder to Kendrik Lamar.

    3. LGC*

      Hi, fellow black autistic person!

      So, I’m not sure whether you’re talking about dealing with expressed racism and ableism, or discussions about racism and ableism (which can be draining, but in an entirely different way). To be honest…maybe I’m showing my privilege here, but in the latter case, I try to not discuss tough topics unless I’m feeling like I can deal with it because it’s exhausting. It’s like running a marathon – you train for it, and although it’s going to be tough and uncomfortable no matter how hard you train, you shouldn’t feel totally blindsided by it when you’re at the starting line. And then I block off some time to decompress by doing things that aren’t intensive for me – just because that’s the way I work.

      In the former case…for starters, I have a trusted group of friends (and family) that I know will react in a way that makes me feel comfortable – not like I’m either being dismissed or white knighted. Funny enough, the friends I generally talk to are not black – some are queer, some are on the spectrum, but I’m one of the only PoCs. But that’s what works for me.

      It also depends on where this is happening. If this is going on online…I’m surprisingly faint of heart online (shoot, I took an L here a couple of weeks ago and even the relatively mild reaction of “Your take is bad” was intense to deal with for me!), so I’m a firm believer in logging off for a while. (Even though, yes, people use that to silence others.) For me, subjecting myself to people being angry with me on the internet is just not worth the hassle anymore, especially since it seems like everyone is angry with everyone on the internet all the time nowadays. (Which is another post entirely.) If you’re dealing with this IRL…you might want to log on. Obviously, it’s harder to get out of this in real life.

      So yeah, be like me and avoid all your problems.

  17. Jean (just Jean)*

    Asking for support here. Spouse (living with health issue #1, under control and #2, partially under control) recently developed health issue #3. My counselor’s available but scheduling is difficult. I am almost overwhelmed but still resilient: cancelled a non-essential activity to instead attend religious services. Please send good vibes. Thank you.

    1. fposte*

      Ah, Jean, you are having a go of it, aren’t you? I’m really sorry. Sounds like you made a good decision about prioritizing.

      I think as we get older health is kind of like a mobile (hanging art thing, not phone); once one thing gets out of balance, other stuff starts to wobble, so getting everything back in proper counterpoise can be a challenge. Since you’re part of that mobile, I’m glad to hear that you’re doing what you can to stay in balance in a difficult time. Hope things improve soon.

    2. Not So NewReader*

      Many, many good vibes, Jean.

      Just wondering if your counselor was open to the idea of short phone sessions. Sometimes just talking about Immediate Event is what is really necessary. When the spouse is not well, day-by-day stuff is a challenge. Any thing over the longer term, such as old upsets or future planning goes by the wayside because just dealing with Today is enough right there. I call this survival mode where I work to get through the day or get through the week, there is no next week or next month. I am too busy in current time.

      It’s okay to go into survival mode and sometimes it’s absolutely necessary. You will not do survival mode for the rest of your live, the oceans will calm and you will find new pacing. It seems like forever, I know that too.

      Thinking of you and yours….

    3. NoLongerYoung*

      Sending you my warmest thought and a prayer if welcome. It is very hard when you are already dealing with a lot, but maintaining a somewhat even keel, to have one more thing added. Giving you support and hoping you are able to gain some peaceful moments to let yourself adjust as needed.

    4. Jean (just Jean)*

      Thank you all so very much! Services (and attendant socializing) helped and my counselor offered a workable time slot. I will keep on keeping on without feeling like the roof has blown off.

    5. Wandering*

      Good vibes:~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
      And congrats on the self care.
      Keep us posted.

  18. hazel*

    I’m starting a new, professional chapter in my life and have started to do some wardrobe upgrading. My fiance thinks that I should buy “staples” i.e. high quality, boring items in subdued colors. I, however, am really enjoying this whole fashion thing. Of course I mostly want to be known for being a great worker, smart, and reliable. But I’ve also always really loved beautiful clothing and now that I will have more disposable income, I want my closet to reflect that. Advice for a 20-something who daydreams about tulle skirts and hermes scarves?

    1. LDN Layabout*

      Your fiance’s advice and hermes scarves are very compatible (maybe not the tulle skirts).

      Part of the fun of a ‘staples’ wardrobe is the accessorising of them and how you can switch up a look, one outfit can go from work to out after work to weekend. It also depends if your work/home wardrobe overlap (I’m business casual and lazy, so mine does).

      What do you consider beautiful re: clothes? I personally prefer classic lines and good quality material, both of which tend to be expensive. Same in terms of sustainability and avoiding fast fashion.

      1. hazel*

        Thank you for this perspective. Accessorizing hadn’t really occurred to me. To me, beautiful things are intricate, whimsical, and colorful (like an hermes scarf). Perhaps I should focus more on the little details like that.

        1. LDN Layabout*

          I personally think if you need a more professional wardrobe, the smaller the item, like an accessory, the easier it is to get away with being whimsical and colourful.

          Not that professional things are inherently unprofessional but sometimes they can read young/immature, which is bullshit, but also the world we live in.

        2. Observer*

          Having some good basics gives you a lot more options. And, to be honest, high quality stuff tends to look better even when it’s not so exciting and tends to make a better setting than the more exciting clothing.

          Your Hermes scarf, for instance, is going to look a lot better on a nicely fitting plain top than on a paisley shirt.

          The point of a good set of basics is not to dress in a boring fashion, but to have a good set of stuff that looks good, albeit not gorgeous, on its own so that if some experiment does wrong or you don’t have to time fuss with “what should I wear”, you’ll have something good. And to be able to switch up your look without having to change everything at once.

        3. Seeking Second Childhood*

          Also look middle ground–beautiful flamboyant items that just don’t have that designer name. For example, NYC’s Metropolitan Museum of Art had (had? I moved a long time ago) a shop within NYC Macy’s, with a stunning selection of art-themed scarves, ties, and jewelry. High quality materials and not inexpensive — but not the designer-tag markup. (And bonus, a discount for museum members.)

    2. Anon attorney*

      Split the difference and buy a really good quality plain neutral suit (black/gray) and lots of fun funky colored tops, patterned hose and accessories?

    3. Jules the 3rd*

      Mix both, and get to know a tailor.

      Have a few staples in your personal style, then get 1 – 2 high quality, high fashion items. When the next year comes around, look at your past purchases and see what can be adapted to the new styles with help from a tailor.

      For example, I love wide-legged pants, and 3/4 length A-line skirts, which work well with my height (5′ 10″). They are the basis for my personal style, and I have several good quality ones in neutral tones. Then for tops, I vary classic and trendy. And when Giant Bows! goes out of style, I ask my tailor if it can be trimmed down and reconfigured as a simple drape, or a cowl.

      Remember that you probably only need 6 – 7 outfits, unless you’re in a fashion conscious industry, and that the most important thing is applying fashion trends to your personal style, rather than just chasing everything and ending up with an incoherent look.

    4. Book Pony*

      If you haven’t, I recommend looking at eshakti for work outfit options. They’re both cute and have pockets; I bought a constellation jumpsuit from them and wear it pretty often to work when it’s not cold out. I find it works as a really cute outfit while still being professional. They’re also not too expensive, so you look fashionable without breaking the bank.

      I actually don’t own too many professional outfits, and a coworker gave me some of her castoffs (most of which I had to give back because the lack of room in the chest region), but my go to is a pair of black pants with an elastic band, and a cute blouse.

      I will say that you should probably not go too “loud” to start out with. Like, the first week, wear a standard “tan/grey/black” outfit and see what others wear. You don’t want to be known as the person that wears the outrageous outfits.

      Also, hello fellow 20-something!

    5. PX*

      Make yourself happy. Sorry but when it comes to stuff like this, I say make yourself happy, buy things that you will wear, and then integrate them into your work life.

      My personal approach is to kind of mix and match: if the colour is subdued, there should be something interesting about the item that makes it a bit unique (cut, fit, fabric etc). If the colour or print is a bit wilder, the cut and shape are extremely classic.

      It works for me, but honestly, unless your industry is super conservative, there is absolutely nothing wrong with being the great smart reliable coworker who also has kickass fashion taste and looks amazing all day every day.

      1. Observer*

        Having great taste and making yourself happy with your clothes is not at odds with starting off by getting some good quality staples. They make it much easier to experiment around with stuff, because the staked are much lower.

    6. Filosofickle*

      I’ve tried so hard to convince myself that a neutral capsule is the way to go — practical! versatile! easy to get dressed! — but that wardrobe just makes me sad. And who wants to start the day feeling sad? Give me bold prints and saturated colors and statement accessories! I feel so boring when I wear neutrals, except when it’s a chic black look. (I did go to art school lol.) So, I end up with a too-big wardrobe that’s hell to travel in because little of it mixes/matches, but it makes me feel good and that’s worth it. (I’d like to become more comfortable rewearing pieces more often so I can buy fewer, awesome items, but I’m not there yet.)

      In my younger years when I had less money, I focused on accessories like your scarves to punch up basics so I had a bit of practicality and fun. I wore mostly neutral bottoms and put my colors/patterns into tops. Another compromise is focusing on elevated basics — those that have really good fit and finish (fabrics, cut, drape) or distinctive details (a fun lining, interesting buttons, asymmetry of cut). You can have fashion without going all the way to tulle skirts.

      That said, if your industry doesn’t mind, I also don’t think there’s anything wrong with a tulle skirt, done well! If you love fashion, I say go for it.

    7. NoLongerYoung*

      My budget lagged my job / role for quite a while. A couple points. Spend the expensive money on the well tailored basics, really. The more high fashion it is, the more temporary it is. I found wonderful colorful accessories at high end consignment/ thrift stores (think Pacific heights, if you know SF). Example: I bought and had tailored for me, a good used wood jersey $1000 gray boucle designer sheath and coat combo (for $100). I’ve worn it 10 years. In that time, I’ve cycled through about 4 different scarf/belt, tight/ leather boot / Italian heel combos with it, and worn it from everything to work, to presentations at the C level, to funerals. It is just something I adore.
      I have a pair of pants I spent a small fortune on, but they look wonderful on me. They are a beigey tan. I have worn them with an arty, wonderful geometric jacket (eBay), very vibrant tunic top, and more – 5 years and still working them into the rotation.
      But I did not have the money to buy retail, and I did have to budget carefully. Now, I have two goals I’m saving for (retirement and a hopeful little house to live in).
      Still, I’m known as the most stylish dresser of all I work with (but I am in IT-related). I sew, I love fabrics, and I realized I was trying to show my personality. I can do that through wonderful tailoring and beautiful fabrics, with great accessories.
      I did find that when I was looking back at pictures when I was younger (pre-marriage, I had a love of very bright florals and colors), I rarely kept even the most expensive outfit/ piece for more than a few years because they went out of fashion so quick. (Hello, 80s shoulder pad suits!). I was for a short period of time a fit model for a local designer here, and he allowed me to buy the sample garments post-season for basically their construction cost. Beautiful, but so trendy that… I just couldn’t keep them for long enough to amortize them. (LOL).
      So just because you can, doesn’t mean you should, is all I’m saying. Maybe try adding one outfit at a time, and blend in a bit of both while you think about it.

    8. cleo*

      Different people have different definitions of staples and neutrals that fit their personalities. And that’s a good thing. You get to define your own basic work uniform.

      My staples include neutral colored slacks (black, gray and brown) with cardigans and jackets in solid colors. I dress them up or down with chunky jewelry and patterned scarves.

      My best friend has the same sort of staples that I do but in a totally different palette – and her definition of neutral includes animal prints and vivid colors, as well as grey and black. One time we did a video chat and started laughing because we were wearing the exact same outfit (cotton cardigan over a t-shirt) in totally different color schemes – gray over black in my case and fuchsia over pink in hers).

      I wouldn’t buy a leopard print cardigan as a wardrobe staple but my friend has one that she wears all the time and she looks great, and professional, in it.

      Note that we’re both educators and creatives. There are probably fields where cardigans wouldn’t fly, let alone animal print ones. But I think the principle of defining your own basics can work for any field.

    9. Auntie Social*

      Accessories, for sure— I got a lot of compliments on a black cashmere sweater, black slacks (both on sale) the other day with leopard print heels, belt, and bag (also sale) and a few gold accessories. Also, break up suits—don’t wear a full on Chanel suit, just wear one good thing like the jacket, and the rest classics. Wear the skirt with a cardy, white blouse and a scarf. You know, effortless chic. I go on Pinterest a lot for ideas, if that helps, and I shop Ebay and other sources.

      1. KMK*

        ebay can be great for clothes. I’ve picked up some designer stuff for seriously cheap.

        I’m another one who uses accessories to express my style while wearing simple basics. I have a lot of black, white, and gray clothing. I also have three piercings in one ear and just one in the other, so I wear mismatched earrings a lot–they’re a ton of fun. I also have a huge variety of scarves.

        I wear reading glasses and Etsy had a ton of different eyeglass chains too. Mine has skulls on it.

    10. RagingADHD*

      I’d say, focus on building “capsules” that you can mix up and play with, without just collecting random one-offs. You can get a staple like a suit, and then break it up and mix it with fun stuff.

      Also, consider color, texture, cut and pattern. You can get a neutral/versatile piece like a jacket in a classic color but with a cool cut that makes it stand out. Whereas with a bold color, you might choose a simple shape. And so forth.

      It’s all about balance and versatility. If you’re going to invest in long term pieces or statement pieces, you don’t want something you’ll be tired of or that will look dated in 2 years.

    11. ValaMalDoran*

      I hear you on enjoying fashion. I love fashion, and using it to express who I am. I also really appreciate the power of fashion to make me feel confident and tough when I need it.

      Staples are a good idea, but not in subdued colors, if you will not wear them. Get staples that will mix in to how you want to dress, in colors/fits/lengths you love. (i.e. staples for your wardrobe.) Personally, I find good layering pieces, in colors that go with my wardrobe quite useful. “Staples” don’t have to be boring.

      If you’re anything like me, if you don’t love or at least like pieces, you won’t wear them. I went through a phase where I bought a lot of beige, because beige goes with everything! And I never wore a single piece of it, because I’m not a beige person. And I’m now in the process of getting rid of all of it.

      Are you opposed to thrifting? I’ve found some of my absolute favorite pieces that way.

      Also, are you a jewelry person? If so, that is another layer of expression you can add.

      Go with what you love! (And you can save the tulle skirts for your life outside work.) Good luck!

  19. Mystery book recommendations*

    Anyone have any mystery book recommendations? I tend to like light, easy contemporary reads. I’ve read and like MC Beaton, Alexander McCall Smith, the Virgil Flower series from John Sanford. I don’t mind if there’s a romantic component but not a fan of it being a big part of the plot. Not into fantasy/ science fiction mysteries. Thanks.

    1. Rebecca*

      I like the Virgil Flowers series too, reading Bloody Genius currently. Have you tried Michael Connelly, the Harry Bosch series? I would recommend reading them in order if you start.

    2. GoryDetails*

      Have you read any of David Handler’s “Berger & Mistry” books? They’re not quite at “cozy” level of lightness, but are fairly light and easy, and I adore the banter between the two main characters – a Jewish film critic who’s moved to the Connecticut shore, and the Only Woman-of-color Cop In Town – together, they solve crimes! And flirt a lot. (The series does fall into “Murder She Wrote” territory after a while; how many multiple murders can one town support? But I find it enjoyable anyway, from the seacoast-town-in-winter scenes to the movie-buff chat to the relationship between the main characters.)

      I’m also very fond of Colin Cotterill’s “Dr. Siri” series, though it isn’t quite contemporary – it’s set in Laos in the ’70s, and has some strong political subplots. (I generally avoid books with political subplots, but these are so delightful to read that I find myself appreciating the history lessons while delighting in the banter, wry humor, and gutsy working-around-the-politics bits.)

      1. MargaretG*

        I would try the Maise Dobbs series, by Jacqueline Winspear. It centers around Maisie Dobbs, and the eras between the two world wars, herself being a WWI vet, having served on the front lines as a nurse in an aid station. The series is very, very good.

        1. Parenthetically*

          Yes! They’re good, but easy/light reads.

          I love the Gamache mysteries as well but they’re a good bit darker and heavier. Better writing, though.

    3. retirement is all it's cracked up to be*

      Have you tried Tony Hillerman? The Joe Leaphorn ones especially. Craig Johnson’s Walt Longmire ones are good reads, too (haven’t watched the show because I almost always like the books better anyway–Bosch may be the exception to that rule of mine). Stephen Booth’s Cooper and Fry series are set in the Peak District of England and I like the atmosphere that goes along with the story telling.
      Those may not be light enough for your tastes…but they do get you into a world without much blood and guts and psychological drama–I strongly dislike books that spend a lot of time getting you into the head of a murder. Not a place I want to be.

    4. CoffeeFriend*

      I like MC Beaton & McCall Smith so you might enjoy my mystery reccomendations:
      – Anthony Horowitz has two mystery novels which are super
      – Kate Atkinson‘s series about a detective
      – alan Bradley series about a child chemist detective
      – deborah crombie
      – sophie hannah
      – JK rowling as her alter ego
      – oscar de muriel

      1. carrie heffernan*

        I blew through that series like gang busters – it started with #1 being free on kindle unlimited and then I read 1-2/week thanks to my library card. Now I’m all caught up!

    5. Natalie*

      One I haven’t seen mentioned yet – Laura Lippmann writes contemporary mysteries mainly set in and around Baltimore. She has a series starring one main detective character, and a bunch of one-offs with different characters.

    6. Forrest Rhodes*

      Look for Dana Stabenow. Her Kate Shugak series and Liam Campbell series are both great. Each series will make a little more sense if read in order, but it’s not required.
      Also, Judith van Gieson has a four or five book series about a female Albuquerque attorney; they’re a little more urban than Tony Hillerman’s Jim Chee/Joe Leaphorn books and are really good reads—especially if you’ve lived in Abq or vicinity.

    7. Jen in Oregon*

      I love the Lady Julia Grey series, and also the Veronica Speedwell series, both by Deanna Raybourn. Both are set in the Victorian era but they feel like contemporary (though not anachronistic) reads due to the fact that the heroines are intelligent and the writing is superb.

    8. Betty*

      The Mary Russell series by Laurie R. King is amazing. It gets a bit up and down as it goes on, but the first half down books are incredible.

    9. Jedi Squirrel*

      Years ago, I was very into the Lovejoy mysteries, by Jonathan Gash. East Anglia, antiques, murder, a smidgeon of romance/sex. They were the only mysteries I could ever get into.

    10. Nancy*

      I recently read The Stranger Diaries by Elly Griffiths, set near Brighton in England. I really enjoyed the gothic touches! I also really like PD James, who wrote crime novels often set in very desolate or old-fashioned places. I really like her portrayal of London, as well.

    11. Greywacke Jones*

      I second Dana Stabenow and Laurie King. Laurie King also has the Kate Martinelli series, set in San Francisco, as well as some excellent stand alone books- I liked Folly and Keeping Watch. Also good is the first 12 or so of the Robert Tanenbaum series set in NYC (after that his ghostwriter quit and they get terrible).

    12. HQB*

      These are technically YA books, but otherwise fit your brief, and I loved both of them: The Westing Game (Ellen Raskin) and The London Eye Mystery (Siobhan Dowd).

    13. Policy wonk*

      I love many of those zlready mentioned. If you need a laugh, look at the Miss Fortune series by Jana Deleon. Good mysteries, but also a fun read.

    14. foxinabox*

      Have you read Amy Stewart’s Constance Kopp novels? They’re based on the real life of the first American woman police officer–it means the plots are a little less pat, twisty, and/or pressured than in a lot of mystery novels but the writing is SO good and they are SO satisfying, and Constance and her sisters are incredible characters.

    15. Stormy Weather*

      You might like the Peter Decker/Rina Lazarus series by Faye Kellerman. I find them a little lighter than her husband Jonathan’s books.

  20. many bells down*

    Anyone in the Seattle area have a recommendation for a primary care doctor who is familiar with transgender issues? My brother is coming to live with me in a month or so and I’d like to help him find care.

    1. Erin*

      UW Medicine has a well-established transgender/GNC/NB care department; if they don’t do primary care themselves they may have solid recommendations? Link in next comment.

      1. many bells down*

        That’s what I’m looking at I think. It’s easily accessible by bus from where I am, my cardiologist is there (and I LOVE her), and they’re just generally really good all around. Plus he’s considering postgrad at UW so he might end up in that area anyway.

      2. Detective Right-All-The-Time*

        I will second UW Medicine – my ex partner has a wonderful endocrinologist there. She originally started working with them on an unrelated issue, began HRT and transitioned with them. I don’t know who she sees for a PCP, but I can vouch that UW Medicine in general is really good with trans care.

    2. A Noni Mouse*

      This is technically a little outside of Seattle, but maybe check out a group like Tacoma Tmen. If you contact them, they may have suggestions that cover the Seattle area as well. That might help get input from individuals who have had first-hand experience with providers in the area.

  21. All Hail Queen Sally*

    Has anyone here ever had Shingles? (The grown up version of chicken pox.)
    I was diagnosed earlier this week, and yikes, is it painful! The spot is on my forehead, but the entire right side of my face is sore–it feels like I have been punched. I understand there is now a vaccine, recommended for people once they reach 60, but my Dr never recommended it to me–I am 62. The Dr I saw for this (different Dr) says this could last weeks–or months and there is a risk of permanent nerve damage. Aren’t I the lucky one! It just came out of nowhere. If any of you can recommend coping techniques, I am all ears. Thank you!

    1. Lives in a Shoe*

      I went through my first bout of shingles in my twenties (weird but it happens). I used aloe vera to help reduce potential scarring and topical lidocaine for the pain. It can be very painful and unsightly but it will go away – although you may have some residual tenderness for months or even years after the actual blisters fade. That’s probably not what you want to hear, but it helps to be prepared.

      1. Misty*

        I had shingles twice in my low 20s also. It was really painful and I couldn’t walk because it took over my left leg.

    2. AvonLady Barksdale*

      I’ve had shingles twice– didn’t catch it early enough the first time and it reappeared, which is rare but not unheard of. Mine was on my back. The second round of antivirals fixed it, no nerve damage.

      I took Benadryl and slept when it got really bad. I also used prescription strength hydrocortisone. A friend got them on her head and face– under her hair at first so it took a long time to diagnose– and yes, it was agony for her. But it did go away.

      You didn’t say, but I assume your doc put you on Valtrex? Or something similar?

      1. All Hail Queen Sally*

        My Dr put me on Valacyclovir, somthing I have never heard of. Unfortunately, I didn’t get it until 48 hours after it popped up, so it may not work at all.

    3. Asenath*

      Shingles is surprisingly common, as I found out when I got it and so many friends and acquaintances chimed in with their stories! There’s not much you can do once it’s started other than take painkillers – if you get to a doctor early enough you can get antivirals which shorten the illness, but it sounds like it’s too late for that to help you. I got the antivirals and prescription pain pills because I got to see my doctor really fast after I called the office and said “I got this weird rash that’s spreading and it hurts”. It’s common enough I think the receptionist had me diagnosed by the time she told me I should come in the same day. Most people don’t get the really nasty long-term pain or other complications. I was miserable for a few days and not quite myself for a bit longer, but improved fairly fast. My rash started on my back and progressed down one arm. The only coping things I did was stay home, take my pills and fluids, and huddle in my recliner swathed in blankets, dozing and waking until I eventually felt better.

      There are two vaccines I know of – I got the older one a year after I had shingles, although my then-doctor didn’t think it was really necessary since having shingles increases your antibody levels. But the levels do eventually decline again. One of the first things my current doctor said during our first meeting was that I should get the newer vaccine, Shingrix, which I did. Shingles is not only common, it can recur, and the newer vaccine is said to be very effective protection. It is also the only vaccine I have ever had that made my arm really sore and made me feel a bit feverish for a few hours, and I’ve had a lot of vaccinations. But I just remembered what it was like having shingles, and decided it was worth putting up with the minor side effects of the vaccine.

      1. fposte*

        I had both shingles vaccines too. (FWIW, my insurance covered it for people over 50, so I didn’t need to wait until 60.) Both times (you get two shots for Shingrix) the Shingrix laid me low from about hour 8 to hour 24; full on going-to-bed-with-flu symptoms. Fortunately I was able to time the vaccinations so that I could just do that, and it’s a fair trade to me too, but I agree that it hit me the way no other vaccinations have (and I’ve had rabies post-exposure prophylaxis!).

        1. Millicent*

          Yep, my significant other has an incredible immune system and never gets sick, but both times they got the Shingrix vaccine, it knocked them out for two-three days. That being said, the vaccine is still worth getting – it’s much more effective than the older vaccine.

    4. Been There*

      Shingles is rough. I’m sorry you’re going through this! Honestly, the thing that helped me most was getting whatever sleep I could, any time I could. Middle of the night when there were no distractions was the worst for me for pain, and I got used to sleeping in roughly two-hour segments for a few weeks while the worst of it lasted. If you feel like taking a nap during the day, take the nap! Don’t push yourself through on the assumption that you’ll be able to sleep at night.

      Most people don’t get permanent nerve damage (I did, but it’s very minor!), so try not to stress too much about that. Try not to stress at all, actually – that can exacerbate the symptoms.

      If you’re working, take as much time off as possible. One of my biggest regrets about having shingles is forcing myself to work through the whole thing. (I didn’t have sick days at the time.) I’m pretty sure that’s part of why mine lasted as long as it did.

      It’s not a constant misery the whole way through – some days will be better than others. Nerve pain can be unpredictable. If your doctor hasn’t prescribed any pain medication, it’s not unreasonable to ask them to prescribe you some.

      I also found that while cold compresses didn’t help, exactly, I could kind of trick my brain into thinking they did. The placebo effect is definitely real. Distraction is really the most effective treatment I found. I read a lot of books while I had shingles.

      Good luck! It’s tedious, but it won’t last forever. And get the vaccine once you’ve recovered, so you won’t have to go through this again :)

    5. Wishing You Well*

      If the shingles rash gets anywhere near your eyes, you’ll need to see an eye doctor. My friend had to go in twice to the eye doctor when shingles was on her face. (She was fine, but there was a real risk to her eyes.)
      Best of Luck

      1. Lost in the Woods*

        Seconding the recommendation to see an eye doctor (ideally an ophthalmologist), if you haven’t! Early detection and treatment is key.

      2. All Hail Queen Sally*

        Yep, just within the last couple of hours, it has popped up right next to my right eye. It started as a spot the size of a nickle on my forehead next to my hairline. The Dr told me it would get worse before it got better.

        1. Joie de Vivre*

          Get to a doctor now. My shingles got in my eye, and I’ve ended up with some scarring that slightly affects my vision.

        2. Lost in the Woods*

          Just want to emphasize getting in to see an ophthalmologist ASAP. If you can’t get in through an urgent care or your local office doesn’t have someone on call, then at the least by tomorrow morning.

    6. OyHiOh*

      First case when I was 40. Mine was relatively mild – affected one nerve running from my back to front rib cage. I had much more pain than itch so anti inflammatory meds helped some. You may be tempted to think it’s just a rash and try to maintain a normal schedule but for the first couple weeks, you are *sick* and need to rest, reduce your schedule, and generally treat yourself like you have a significant illness. Since you have some on your head and face, you may find that dim, quiet rooms feel better, and that cool temps feel better than whatever is your normal heat/cool setting.

      (I didn’t get diagnosed until I was out of the effective window for meds so I had to just deal with it for about eight weeks.)

      Just as a general FYI to everyone following along, the younger a person is when they have a first attack of shingles, the greater their risk of developing vascular complications (strokes, heart attacks, etc) so if you develop symptoms that *could* be shingles, get to a doctor for diagnosis and meds sooner rather than later. The meds are effective when prescribed in the first few days and reduce your long term risks considerably!

    7. Buttons*

      I have not had them, but my friends and family who have had Shingles tell me it is incredibly painful. My friend had it along her thigh up to her ribs on her side, and she said the burning feeling lasted for 6 months after the rash was gone.
      A coworker’s dad got shingles and it settled in his groin region and burst his bladder.
      Everyone over 50 needs to get the vaccination.
      I hope you feel better soon!

    8. Windchime*

      My sister just got over a bout of shingles and it was really, really painful. She had it in her scalp, behind her ear, and on the side of her face. She caught it early and they gave her some kind of medication for it, but it was still super painful. It lasted about 3 weeks and she actually ended also becoming nauseated and had to go to the hospital for fluids. I’m going to ask for the shot when I go to the doc next week.

    9. tangerineRose*

      Sorry your doctor didn’t recommend the vaccine – in the Pacific Northwest of the US, it seems to be recommended around age 50.

    10. Joie de Vivre*

      Everyone has given you good advice.
      I’ve got 2 more suggestions.
      I’ve had shingles, and I had some really hard knots in my nerves. If you have hard knots in your nerves using an ice pack will help. Have some kind of cloth between the ice pack and your skin & hold the ice pack on the knot for about 5 minutes at a time.

      If your shingles itch badly & you are scratching the blisters in your sleep, put socks on your hands at night. I ripped a blister & scabs off in my sleep before I started sleeping with socks on my hands.

    11. Goldfinch*

      I’ve had it, and my PCP was so lackadaisical about referring me to a dermatologist that I missed the window of efficacy for the antivirals. The dermatologist scolded me for not pushing for an emergency appointment, as if I had any clue what was going on.

      Anywho, the shooting nerve pain was really aggravated by warm baths and showers. I had to use uncomfortably cool water to get any relief, when normally I prefer to be like Bugs Bunny in the stewpot.

      The right side of my neck was where the rash bloomed, and over a year later I still have some scarring that looks like PIE/PIH. Vitamin C and Alpha Arbutin are slowly fading the marks, but it takes time. HTH.

      1. OyHiOh*

        My scaring looks like a cat stepped in mimeograph ink and left charming paw prints from my spine to . . . . well, let’s just says bras were *really* uncomfortable for about two months! The worst lesion landed right where the side seem on bras usually is. That was . . . . . . . fun. And that spot hurts about three days before my period is due to start, like clockwork, a year later. Yay, nerves!

    12. Sleve McDichael*

      So this is too late to help all of you, (and me) but if you or anybody you know gets shingles again, start the pain meds really soon and go as high dose as you can BEFORE the pain sets in. My husband’s doctor told him that once the pain starts the nerves ‘get used to’ being in pain and it won’t go away, but if you can prevent it starting then you’ll be ok. He had shingles all over his right side and up his back but they went away in a week and barely stung because he got on to the antivirals and pain meds FAST.
      If you’re too late for that (like I was) L-Lysine helps.

    13. Salymander*

      I had shingles a few years ago and it was really uncomfortable. One spot was in my armpit, so I spent a lot of time with my arm propped up on a pillow. I wore PJs and camisoles and a flimsy little robe, all stuff that weighed nothing and was several sizes too big. Any fabric touching the lesions felt like I was being scrubbed with sandpaper made of lightning. I had shingles in summer, and I remember that being warm or at all sweaty was pure torture so stay cool. Hope you feel better soon!!!

    14. Might be Spam*

      Gabapenten may help with the nerve pain. It is an anti-seizure medication that works on nerve pain.
      It took a while to get over some side effects (stomach pain) but once I got used to it, the side effects diminished. An upset stomach was a small price to pay to get effective pain relief.
      Good luck, I hope you feel better soon.

    15. Fikly*

      FYI, if no one has told you, it is very important that you stay away from pregnant people – it can harm the fetus.

      1. Dr. Anonymous*

        To be clear and specific, stay away from pregnant people who have not already had chicken pox until any blisters dry up and crust over.

        It used to be we’d prescribe gabapentin, which is used for diabetic nerve pain, but it turns out it doesn’t seem to do much for the nerve pain from shingles.

        I agree with seeing an ophthalmologist right away, like call your urgent care or on call doc and see if they can see you today or if not, get seen tomorrow.

        I’m so sorry you’re going through this. There was such a shortage of the new Shingrix vaccine that many docs weren’t recommending it for a while because they couldn’t get it.

    16. Wandering*

      If you’re up for trying homeopathy, I was part of a conversation with an RN who has a masters in nutrition on this topic yesterday. She recommended hypericum for nerve pain, or T-Relief (formerly traumeel) which is a blend that includes hypericum if that seems right for you. Usual homeopathic practices apply.

      She also recommended keeping pain relievers at the bedside for easy consumption so that that pain stays managed.

      Good vibes for you, too: ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

      1. Stick a pin in me*

        I got shingles in my early 40s due to stress. It was discovered by my acupuncturist – I had a minor rash and a weird but not intense pain. I mentioned it, she took a look and was like “that’s shingles!” She treated me for it and sent me to my GP in the same practice who got me on the traditional meds as well. I got acupuncture every other day for a week to help support my immune system. My shingles went away quickly and I never had the intense pain others describe. My acupuncturist made it clear to me that she couldn’t cure my shingles but she could help my body fight it off. She also was able to ease some of the symptoms. I know this info doesn’t help you much now, but might help others if they catch it early and have a good acupuncturist. Good luck.

    17. Mari*

      A friend had a very bad case of shingles, and what helped her the most was acupuncture. She started it after she had had it for awhile, so no open sores were left by that time.

  22. Disco Janet*

    I was soooo excited this week about the My Chemical Romance tour – my city is the first stop! Was all ready to go, in the online waiting room like 20 minutes prior to tickets going on sale, it refreshed as soon as the sale began…and I had 13000 people in front of me. By the time I got to the front of the line, the tickets left were all $500+ per ticket for decent seats and $150 for absolute nosebleeds at the back of a huge arena. I’m skipping it – can’t justify spending that much on nosebleeds., and the more expensive ones aren’t in our budget. My inner teenage pop-punk-emo kid is disappointed.

    1. Selmarie*

      Checking the resale market closer to the date of the concert might get you some reasonable tickets. Worth a look, anyway.

    2. Nessun*

      Dont lose hope! Sometimes great seats come up right before the concert when they release seats they were holding for contests or VIPs. I once got seats 8 rows from the stage for Queen, at $85, the night before the concert – that was 3 years ago, but I doubt process has changed too much.

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

      The process of buying tickets to popular concerts is so, so aggravating. For some reason, I thought legislation had been passed years ago that was supposed to change this, but it’s worse than ever.

      1. fposte*

        The BOTS Act to prohibit bots from buying up all the tickets online was passed in 2016 but apparently hasn’t resulted in enforcement, so the bots are still hard at work.

    4. Mayor Bee*

      The same thing happened to me :(

      I looked at tickets for St Paul, Vegas, and Denver and all sold out or $700 within minutes. I’m a little crushed ngl

    5. Sprechen Sie Talk?*

      Pro-tip – is there an online fan place, such as Facebook thing or a forum? I’m part of a rapid fan culture as well for a particular band and in the past have scored great tickets, at face value, for some high-demand shows. Fans for fans sort of a thing – people’s plans change, they get ill, have to work or whatever and they want the tickets to go to a fan for the right price, not some reseller thing.

      1. Disco Janet*

        Problem is, the at face value prices are still INSANE. Like, I know this is a high demand show…but honestly, I’m disappointed in the band for making the prices so ridiculous. Of course they deserve a good profit, but…$700 a ticket for any seat near the stage is insanity and they have to know they’re pricing out a large chunk of their fans. Though it is already sold out.

      2. Vaguebook*

        Do you have any tips for telling which sales are real and which are scams? I tried to get some AFI tickets a day or so before their concert last year and ran into a lot of word for word posts from obvious bots in a fan Facebook page. I just ended up not going. Another band I like is coming to town (not MCR, although I did start listening to them recently) and ticket sales are getting out of my budget.

    6. Granger Chase*

      Yes!! I was so excited they were not only doing a reunion tour, but starting it here was going to be amazing! And then of course within a half hour it’s all resale tickets and you know the nosebleed seats at LCA could actually give you a nosebleed, so it just wasn’t worth it. My inner pop punk emo kid is sad along with ya ):

  23. LDN Layabout*

    The national body for the sport I watch/follow the most is doing focus groups because…well, they’re awful. Like pretty much every national sports body is to be fair. As in, they got hauled up in front of a parlimentary committee, awful.

    So next week I get to be paid to explain to them exactly why I hope the entire lot of them running the business side get punted off a bridge.

  24. Rebecca*

    Ah, so less interesting week, thankfully. I am so proud to report my federal, state, and local tax returns have been filed. I’m getting a whole $50 return from the IRS, so that’s going toward a new phone, as mine is over 2.5 years old now. I feel like a responsible adult for the first time in a very long time. No drama, took me less than an hour to do it all, and it’s done.

    My poor cat Herman had an ear polyp, his ear got infected, so Monday afternoon he had it removed. That night he staggered around, his tongue stuck out, and I just sat in my room and held him for the longest time – poor little guy. Now 10 days of antibiotic capsules, and no, he is not happy about any of that. But he complies, his ear looks great, and hopefully it wasn’t malignant. I didn’t have it checked, because I can’t afford chemotherapy for him, so I’m just going to make sure he’s happy and comfortable.

    Heading over to my cousin’s house shortly, they have a set of stereo speakers they’re not using, and one of my 49 year old Fisher speakers bit the dust (I have the warranty card but it’s long expired :) :) :) ) so I’m going to hook up the hand me downs to see what I can do. I really, really need to clean out a 3 drawer stand. It’s crammed with “stuff”, paperwork, odds and ends, and it’s bothering me, so I made a deal with myself: hook up the speakers, get out The Wall, and while listening to said album, clean the danged stand out!! Ugh, I don’t know why I can’t seem to do these things.

    So funny Mom story – that shows the common sense train didn’t make a complete stop at her station. She was fussing about wanting a beef bone so she could make stock to make soup. Why she wanted to go to all this trouble, I have no idea, but one of my friends lives near a butcher and got a nice bone for me. So, Mom put it in the slow cooker for 24 hours with vegetables, etc. OK, so far so good. I got home from work, 8 hours into this process, and she asked me to get a hammer. I asked what we needed a hammer for (to determine which type to grab), and she started on a long tangent about the soup stock, finally saying “I need to split that beef bone”. I just looked at her – and asked, so…with all seriousness…exactly how do you suggest splitting that big heavy bone with a hammer? She had no idea. “I thought you could take it out and hit it”. I was flabbergasted, and glad there weren’t any hammers in the house. I had to explain to her that (1) this is a boiling hot thing, (2) I had nothing to hold it with, and (3), even if I did, I doubted hitting it with a hammer would split it, as it’s one of the thickest bones in a cow’s body. Maybe with a chisel too? I asked if we had a meat saw, she wasn’t sure. I just said that I thought it was very unsafe to try this, and I pictured burns and/or stitches in my future…and told her that I was sure it would be fine the way it is.

    And she wasn’t happy with the stock in the end, because it had a slim layer of fat on the top when she refrigerated it. Sighs. So it’s in the deep freeze, in small containers, probably never to see the light of day again. She made chicken noodle soup, and complained I bought regular chicken bullion instead of low sodium (she does not have any health issues restricting sodium). Did she specify low sodium? No. Ugh.

    I did show Mom how to use the thaw cycle on the microwave, after she tried to “thaw” meat with the reheat feature at 100% power and turned more than one thing into a hockey puck.

    I hope everyone is well – and avoiding the flu, respiratory miseries, norovirus, or whatever is floating around. After over 2 weeks I can finally breathe better, I’m not coughing any longer, but I still feel like I’m dragging, but every day gets better.

    1. Elizabeth West*

      The Wall is one of my favorite albums. Whenever anyone asks “Beatles or Stones?” I always answer “Pink Floyd.” :) #worldsgreatestband

    2. Wishing You Well*

      Glad to hear from you and that it was a “less interesting” week!
      Sorry about all that fuss with the beef bone. Food trivia: beef marrow is very tasty in soups, but it’s best to have the butcher saw the bone. Not that this really helps the situation…
      I hope February is a good month for you.

    3. NoLongerYoung*

      Sending a hug. And yes, stock I make from carcass/ bones/ bits always has a layer fat… I just skim the solid layer off when it is cold enough in frig to congeal, then use the remaining stock. LOL. But… you can sneak the stock out of the freezer, and use it for lots of good stuff yourself, any time. She won’t miss it, I’ll bet.

      Hope you are keeping warm and dry. And looking around at my office (need to continue working on the filing to get to the donation receipts)…I am in awe that you got the taxes done.

  25. dinoweeds*

    My Dad died 12/19/19 and I commented here a couple days afterwards while I was drowning in grief and I just want to thank you all for your kind words. Now that more time has passed and his service is over I can’t help but feel “stuck.” My life is divided into everything before he died and everything now. I feel like I should wear a sign that says “My Dad just died – please be understanding.” I don’t know. It’s just that every day rises and I don’t feel ready for it. I wish dearly that I could just pause time for awhile and be still, but I can’t. I have a business to run and a life to live and my Dad would want me to be positive and keep truckin’ so that’s what I’m doing – but damn it is hard.

    1. fposte*

      Honey. It’s just over a month. You’re not “stuck.” You’re grieving one of the greatest losses of your life. There’s a reason why the Victorians had outward symbols of mourning for up to a year after the death, and tbh I think even just the black-armband custom could still be useful for the very reason you say–it’s the biggest thing in your head and it’s just surreal that people you interact with have no idea.

      I’ve known people who really appreciated grief groups, which can be a good place to be heard. But mostly I’d say be patient with yourself. It’s okay not to bounce back but to be underwater for a while.

    2. Not A Manager*

      Oh my goodness! Please please give yourself time. Of course you feel “stuck” now, but you won’t always.

      One thing I’ve noticed in myself when a loved one dies, is that at first almost all of my memories are dominated by their last illness or last few years. Over time, it seems like my perspective broadens backward, and they become just as real to me 30 years ago as they were in their last months. And, as that happens, my perspective broadens forward, too. I can start to get a sense of my own life, going forward, “without” them but also “with” them.

      You will carry your father in your heart for the rest of your own life, and he will share your special moments with you. I hope for this for you, and I believe it for you.

    3. Invisible Fish*

      Make the sign. Wear it. You deserve kindness and support. (I know you probably won’t make the sign literally- but reach out to everyone in your support network and take care of yourself.)

    4. Not So NewReader*

      You’re not stuck. You’re grieving. It will be a while- a year, two years, who knows. My dad’s been gone 25 years. I still get a pang in my heart. That’s my grief nowadays.

      Life goes on, in some ways that is annoying as heck and in some ways it’s reassuring. Grief is also like this- two opposite emotions at the same time. It’s okay to allow each emotion to exist as being valid.

      And that is true too, life takes on the Before Dad Died and After Dad Died chapter titles. It’s okay to do this because huge moments in life signal the end of one chapter and the beginning of the next chapter. This is a huge moment. You are re-weaving what you life looks like to you now and how you want it to play out. This takes time to sort. Give yourself plenty of time to sort.

    5. LDN Layabout*

      Can you take a while? Even if it’s just a few days, like a weekend. Just clear your schedule. And go. Doesn’t need to be long, doesn’t need to be far, just to get you away from the space you’re in.

      Pausing is important in life, even if all you can manage is a comma vs. a full stop.

    6. Blue Eagle*

      The loss for the entire first year will likely be tough. Because each holiday or time of year is the first time that your Dad is not there to share it with you. Give yourself time to breathe. Breathe and remember a special happy memory of something you and your Dad did together. That’s what helped me through the first year. Sending positive thoughts and energy your way.

    7. WellRed*

      I remember being irritated that I still had to gas up my car and pay bills when my dad died. I also wanted to sit still.

    8. Paris Geller*

      My mom died when I was in high school, and honestly I remember 30 days–half a year after being the worst time of grief. The immediate aftermath was such a blur; funeral, family coming in, etc. I was sad, of course, but it wasn’t until the world started moving on that the grief really, really hit. I felt stuck for a good long while. I don’t have a lot of words of comfort, but I just want to say I think that’s pretty typical and normal.

    9. anon24*

      I recently heard this about grief and death and I hope it’s ok to share:

      Your grief will be equal to your love, just on the opposite end of the spectrum. You will feel an enormous amount of pain because you have an enormous amount of love for them and that love will never go away.

      Be kind to yourself. It hasn’t been very long. You aren’t expected to just “go back to normal”. I’m sorry for your loss.

    10. Observer*

      I’m going to chime in with all the people who say that it’s too soon for most people to be back to *A* “normal.” You’re life will never be the same, even if it looks the same on the outside. Developing the new normal takes time. You are pretty much just starting that process.

      I remember someone once saying that they feel like the want the world to stop turning – How does the sun keep rising now that this world stopping thing has happened. They didn’t mean it literally, but expressing something similar to what you seem to be feeling.

      The bad news is that the world keeps turning and the sun keeps rising. The good news is that world keeps turning and the sun keeps rising. And we adjust. But it takes time. Be kind to yourself and give yourself as much time as you need. And know that there is a good chance that your life ever after will be divided between before and after. And it’s essentially ok.

    11. NoLongerYoung*

      Lots and lots of good advice here. You are adapting to that “after dad died world” and it’s a hard thing to know he is no longer there physically in your life. But you are feeling, and talking about it, and that’s the super important thing. You are going to have good moments, and teary moments. Your feelings are legitimate and they are honest. Speak of him…you are doing actually very well. (It took me 6 weeks just to go back to work after husband died).

      I second the recommendation to find a grief group when you are ready, if you like. I found it a lot easier to talk with folks who had gone through what I had. It’s helpful to not feel alone or different. (at work, I was an anomaly; the first person there who had lost a spouse. Most hadn’t even lost a parent).

      1. NoLongerYoung*

        Hit enter too soon. And what i meant by that (before I get criticized), is I had also lost my second brother and my dad earlier, and the same group had expressed even less sympathy then. So work is not the place for getting any comfort, at least for me. Not that losing a husband is harder than losing a dad. (For me, it was actually harder to lose my dad and my brother… I still miss them very much… )
        So I found a grief group to be really helpful to process because I just couldn’t bring any of it to work, and I needed to be heard.

    12. hello I feel the same*

      I’m so sorry for your loss, dinoweeds.

      There’s lots of good advice here, and I want to add that you don’t have to feel positive. You’re dealing with a lot of grief. Please give yourself permission to feel what you feel, without adding complications of what you *should* be feeling.

    13. Type 2*

      I’m so sorry. Please be kind to yourself and get a massage, a coloring book, a library card – something just for “you”.

    14. MommaCat*

      My mom died around Thanksgiving. I feel you. Something that’s been helping me is making things with my hands, but I’ve always been the type to meditate while building or painting. Washing dishes can put me in that state, too, where my hands are busy but my mind is free. The key difference, for me, is that my brain doesn’t have the room to spiral when my hands are busy, so I’m able to work through issues and problems. I’m also working on things that can take a little water damage from tears, and where it isn’t dangerous if I can’t see for a little from tearing up. I’ll also periodically provoke those tears when it feels safe for me to ugly cry: reading sad poetry, listening to sad music. Sometimes you have to let off some pressure.
      I hope some of this can help you? My situation is a little different, in that we thought my mom was at death’s door a year ago, so we all said our goodbyes and prepared ourselves… but she held on, in that terrible place between life and death, for almost a year. So I’ve both been through this and am going through it again, with a big dose of relief thrown in this time around. Take care. <3

    15. Sam I Am*

      I legit felt the way you do about the sign, though I thought it should be a t-shirt.

      Everyone else had really good stuff to say on the topic, so I’ll veer a little… it’s ok to feel sad, and it’s ok to feel joy. Sometimes you’ll feel one and think “oh, I shouldn’t feel this right now because of x” and I’m here to tell you feel your grief, feel your joy when it comes, and it isn’t dishonoring the other feeling to feel the opposite.

      This is complex, like your love.

      I’m lucky to have many friends so no single one of them had to hear all my thoughts, but if you don’t have that handy, or some of your people are strange about it, share your thoughts with a support group. Share your memories. Share your frustration at missing him. You’ll cry and you’ll laugh and it may seem mixed up but that’s the pain leaving the spirit. Eventually the seed of joy will flower.

      Good luck.

    16. Laura H.*

      As an aside, for us who aren’t grieving… give them your shoulder to cry on, but understand that it will be in their time.

      Life is hectic and busy. A friend apologized to me for not taking up my offer for coffee and chats- but said friend also lost their mom this year, their spouse is fighting a medical battle, and they still work. I pointed this out and said that’s why I left it to my friend to decide- their life and schedule is necessary. (Un)Fortunately, my schedule is quite open. And I know that if I need my friend- they’d be there in a heartbeat!

      I am sorry for all losses suffered by any of you and internet hugs abound.

    17. Aspiring Chicken Lady*

      Hugs. Grief when trying to adult can be so overwhelming.

      I am a fan of the talisman. Something on my desk, or in my pocket, or on a cord around my neck (under my clothes). Something I deliberately have with me to remind me that I am ok, that love is around, that I am not forgetting even when other people have other things on their mind.

      Take your moments when you need them.

    18. Curmudgeon in California*

      My father died 2018-12-18. The entire year of 2019 was taken up with dealing with his death and two others in my family/friends circle.

      Grief takes time. It is still hitting me in little ways that my dad is gone. The last year seems to have been overshadowed with death and grieving.

      It does get better, little by little.

      But give yourself permission to not be perfect. Give yourself permission to turn down social stuff that you don’t feel like doing. Give yourself permission to go off in a corner and cry if you need to.

      Grief is not over when the memorial service is done. For most of his acquaintances, yeah, but not for his family. Even when all the paperwork and crap is done, you will still be grieving. You can’t lose a person who is such a big part of your life and expect to be “over it” in a month or two.

      The long and short is: It’s OK to grieve, and grieving for family takes time.

  26. StellaBella*

    Happy February all! Two things to share…met four old friends last night for a bit of social time and really enjoyed being out in an underground bar with good people!

    Tomorrow I plan to walk near the lake I live by to do some lakeside cleanup, look for birds, and enjoy nature as 2 February is World Wetlands Day. Ramsar dot org has the info as does worldwetlandsday dot org too.

    Humphrey is so cute and your description of Wallace meeting him and hopping around with joy is so cute, Alison!

  27. Thinking about Kids*

    1. My bottom-most rib on my right side has been achy these past 3 days (intercostal muscle?) Keeping a heating pad on 24/7 has been the only thing working—and walking around. I thought it was an adverse reaction from taking 1 tablet Tylenol extra strength but the pain was on the bottom rib. Any useful non-pill remedies?

    2. New state parental paid leave makes it feel like the universe’s giving us a sign we’re in good hands if we have kids. Oddly it says it’s paid 8 weeks leave but is not job protection. Why? Also that plus 2 weeks paid plus paternal leave means our future kid gets nearly 6 months with us while building its immune system. Which is good bc some autoimmune conditions run in hub’s family and we want to recognize symptoms fast should they arise.

    3. Watching British Bake-Off and enjoying our kitten and watching Kitten Bowl tomorrow. And trying a new potato skins GF/DF recipe…

    1. Not So NewReader*

      For #1 I have kind of a weird thought. A friend had a problem with bottom ribs hurting. After many docs and many pills, a doc finally determined that she was rubbing her ribs into her hips when she slouched. And she slouched a LOT. The doc explained that shorter people can do this as there is less space between their ribs and hips. Taller people never have this problem as their ribs and hips are too far apart. If you are not a shorter person, then just ignore me.

      1. Thinking about Kids*

        Interesting! That actually could be it…I’ve been so busy and exhausted and slouching all of this week. So busy it’s the first time I’ve taken multiple days eating lunch at the desk (typically I go for lunch walks for fresh air but haven’t been able).

    2. Kage*

      #2 – If you’re in the US, it’s because payment programs and FMLA are technically separate things. FMLA is the job-protection portion that companies have to comply with (based on size, your tenure and other factors). FMLA does not provide any payment coverage at all; it’s just the job security that you know you can come back to the same position/level. The payment portion is always handled either thru Short Term Disability plans or Family Leave plans. Often those plans only pay a portion of your wages and only for a certain length of time.

      Be careful/clear in your understanding of how these work together, however, as most states will let them run concurrently. For most people this means you get 12-weeks of job-protected leave (FMLA) of which only 6-8 of that is paid (Short Term Disability/Family Leave). The remainder is then entirely unpaid leave (or you’d have to supplement the payment side with saved-up PTO if your work allows that).

    3. Recent baby-haver*

      Kage is right in concept on the parental leave question (i.e. you probably already were entitled to job-protected leave for the relevant periods of time, the new law means you’re entitled to pay during that time), but given your reference to 6 total months of parental leave, I suspect you’re in a state provides job-protected leave in excess of FMLA. It will probably run concurrently with FMLA (so you don’t get, for example, your state’s guaranteed leave *plus* FMLA), but the likely result is that you’re entitled to more than 12 weeks.

      In any event, my advice is to look carefully at what your state offers and make sure you’re taking all you want to! California’s system, while not perfect, is quite good compared to most places in the US, and I had a really positive experience with it last year. However, I was essentially dealing with two kinds of leave (pregnancy disability leave and baby bonding leave) in three phases (standard disability before giving birth, disability by virtue of having recently given birth, and bonding), with three different pay structures (pay from both employer and state disability insurance, pay from only state disability insurance, no pay). I have a fair amount of background knowledge of employment law and a lot of facility with legal research, and I still found it challenging to piece together what exactly I was entitled to. I also had to do some education of our HR person (probably attributable, at least in part, to the fact that this area of law is changing pretty rapidly and we’re a small organization where this doesn’t come up often; a friend with an F500 employer had knowledgable and helpful HR support).

      All that is just to say: research carefully and make sure you know both what you get and what you want!

      1. fposte*

        I think Thinking meant that when you add paternal and maternal time together; it doesn’t look like their state provides additional parental leave time.

  28. louise*

    TL;DR Open threads have changed my life.

    Five-ish years ago I first heard about the low FODMAP protocol on an open thread. I looked into it and read up on it for over two years before I was willing to concede my IBS symptoms interfered with my life more than the disappointment of a major diet overhaul would.

    Three years ago after symptoms really escalated I plunged into low FODMAP world (including challenging things back into my diet) and… I’m a new person. In the last six months I found a doctor who know what it is and had solutions for me to try for lingering symptoms.

    I also started using a happy light (Which I learned about from open threads!) every single day four months ago and I truly am a different person. I previously never understood power naps—I needed 2-3 hours of napping!—but since getting my gut aligned, I rarely nap and if I do, <20 minutes seems to do the trick.

    This really is the best community.

    1. Not So NewReader*

      Echoing, I have learned so much from these open threads. It’s been really great.

      I am very glad you are doing better. louise.

    2. Katefish*

      One of these threads taught me about the Lucky Iron Fish right when I got diagnosed with anemia… This is a wonderful community, uplifting, diverse, and interesting. Plus with cat pics!

    3. Jedi Squirrel*

      I had no idea happy lights were a thing! As someone who deals with SAD every winter, I am actually excited about this!

      The power of this community! Thank you, everybody!

    4. NoLongerYoung*

      Agreed. I am so glad to hear you are doing well. Thank you for sharing… I have learned so much from fposte and NSNR and many others. I have a recipe (Red reader the adulting fairy) and even word documents on topics that I found interesting. It’s wonderful and encouraging, too.

    5. Ann O.*

      How did you find your doctor?

      I also have embraced low-FODMAP because IBS was causing me so much pain. It’s improved things so much! But I do have lingering issues, and my doctor has been utterly useless about it all.

      1. CSI Tink*

        Also a low fodmapper! Forget the Dr for any kind of nutritional IBS help… find yourself a registered dietitian that has fodmap training. Kate Scarlatas website has a list. Hopefully there is one near you.

    6. MissDisplaced*

      Sometimes it just helps to hear you’re not imagining things and that others have had similar health issues and that, yes, this can really be a thing.

      So, so many doctors ignore women’s symptoms.

  29. Elizabeth West*

    I just can’t seem to catch a break lately. I need to get out of this living situation before I lose my ever-loving mind. I feel like I traded a prison for a dungeon. Please send good vibes, y’all.

    1. Not So NewReader*

      Happy light?
      I think you said you have a cellar space? Daylight is probably at a premium.

      All the good vibes for ya, EW. Always.

      1. Observer*

        Lots of luck.

        I think that the idea of full spectrum lights would be helpful, as would finding SOMEPLACE that you go to every day, just to get you out of there.

    2. Jean (just Jean)*

      Sending all the good vibes possible (not restricted to this small graphic): ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~!

      Can you go to the public library and sit next to a window for part of your day?

    3. NoLongerYoung*

      Oh, my heart goes out. Any way to get out a little bit each day (between 10 and 2?) and get sunlight, green around you, (assuming not in snow belt) and air in your lungs? Do your mediation or journal in the park? Something to get you clean air and space around you?
      (hug)

    4. LibbyG*

      Good vibes! You’ve done so much work to advamce toward your goals. I hope the next ayoff comes quickly.

    5. Wandering*

      Good vibes coming: ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
      Hope good things come back from vacation & camp out with you for a long time.

    6. Tea and Sympathy*

      Adding my good vibes to the rest. I strongly recommend the SAD light, if lack of sunshine gets to you. Also, can you mindfully do something nice for yourself every day?

  30. merp*

    I have gone full BEC with my roommate, and our lease isn’t up until May.. has anyone successfully reset those kinds of feelings? I want us to part as friends if we can!

    1. Not So NewReader*

      Silently wish her well everyday. You can switch it up to specific things she is talking about such as a worry about a car repair, concerns about a raise, etc. and wish her well on those specifics. But deliberately craft a sincere wish for a good thing for her everyday.

      Praying folks can use prayer, also. The key is to do the exercise everyday.

    2. Wishing You Well*

      One technique is to pretend your roommate is on a spectrum of some kind and they can’t help how they are. Another is pretending to be an anthropologist researching an exotic species. Use David Attenborough’s voice in your head.
      Be civil, but be assertive when needed. Don’t fume in silence. (Everyone could use practice being assertive.) Parting as “friends” might be a big ask; “neutral” would be a victory, too.
      Best of Luck

      1. nm*

        You know when people post pictures of their pets next to signs like “I pooped on the carpet” etc? I imagine my roommate that way when they annoy me. Like I imagine a puppy sitting next to a sign that says “I tracked mud all over the kitchen” “I got the entire bathroom floor wet” or whatever.

    3. Jackalope*

      Along with the prior suggestion, could you also do one nice thing for her each day without expecting anything in return? I find that helpful. I also find getting space from that person for awhile can help (ie leaving at the time of day when you most annoy each other for a walk or something), although that’s better if you usually like the person but get on each other’s nerves sometimes.

    4. Vaguebook*

      Ooh I’ve been in your shoes before. What turned it around for me was when she opened up about a struggle she was having which reframed us as allies in my mind, as I was dealing with similar things.

      Maybe you could start thinking about yourselves as allies against the builders’ thin walls, small storage spaces, management’s lax enforcement of community rules, etc.

  31. Jedi Squirrel*

    I’m taking a weekend off just to catch up on reading, writing, and watching movies. Currently watching The Kid Who Would be King and enjoying it greatly. Off for a walk as soon as it’s over. (Also—Cornwall is beautiful.)

  32. Elspeth Mcgillicuddy*

    What is your cat’s favorite dry food? I’m transitioning my cat to mostly wet food, but want to have dry food for cat puzzles and training. I don’t want to just give her treats, because that would be a lot of treats. But she doesn’t much like her current dry food.

    1. Thinking about Kids*

      Our cat does wet food plus freeze-dried raw VitalCat food (minnows, rabbit, duck pellet) and freeze-dried venison (found in pet stores) and VitalCat offers dry food (non-snack). Cat loves his minnows…

    2. Old Biddy*

      mine eat Purina One most of the time and like it. They also really like Crave and the pieces are a bit bigger, so it’s more like cat treats.

    3. I'm A Little Teapot*

      I feed Purina One, but over time have fed a variety of foods as needed. I’ve never known a cat that actually liked Science Diet – I have no idea why the stuff is still made.

      1. Not a cat*

        Roommate’s cat LOVES dry SD. Recently he was put on an all wet food diet (vet’s orders) and he is very displeased.

        1. I'm A Little Teapot*

          So they do exist! All my cats, and every cat I’ve known, think its awful. To each their own.

    4. General von Klinkerhoffen*