weekend free-for-all – February 15-16, 2020

Foster cat Humphrey (on couch) is tolerating resident cats taking over his room.

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

Book recommendation of the week: Followers, by Megan Angelo. In 2016, two friends seek fame, and find it with unanticipated consequences. 35 years later, the government runs a strictly controlled, 24/7 reality show with stars who can’t leave. This is a dark, utterly engrossing story about technology, fame, and lack of privacy.

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

{ 1,149 comments… read them below }

  1. Blue Eagle*

    Decluttering Update #2

    It’s 2 months into the year-long decluttering process and time to celebrate the disposal of 650 items! The kitchen calendar shows I’m still up-to-date on my stars (one star earned per day of reaching the target of decluttering 10 items per day).

    This month I’ve been tackling boxes of documents, excess office supplies and other paper stuff – and earning a star for recycling 10 pieces of paper didn’t make sense so the target is one star for each 45 minutes of going through stuff and recycling/donating/tossing. Last month someone mentioned that their decluttering worked best when it was done first thing in the morning, so on those days where earning the star got away from me, the next morning I earned two stars (and marked one on the previous day). The main thing for me is to not get more than one day behind.

    It’s amazing how much better the house looks already. And it’s also amazing how good it feels to decide that if I haven’t used it in 10 years to stop saving it for the time I might use it and just get rid of it. It’s not easy to stop being a pack rat, but I’m making good progress.

    1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      I thought of you this morning when I took a deep breath, went into my closet, and told myself I couldn’t leave it without five things for the goodwill box. :) I managed six.

      1. Blue Eagle*

        Congratulations! Each individual little bit seems tiny but when you add them all up you will start to notice a significant difference.

    2. Rebecca*

      I think you’re doing an amazing job. It’s really hard to shed the “but I might need that someday” mentality.

      1. Heffalump*

        The downside of not having something you need is obvious. The downside of keeping a bunch of stuff you don’t need is less so.

    3. Disco Janet*

      This is awesome! I started decluttering over the summer and basically do a different room every time there’s a work/school break. It makes such a difference!

    4. Elizabeth West*

      Yay you!!! \0/

      It’s such a great feeling, isn’t it? I was forced to do this when I moved. I tried to make myself do it before that, but it was just too overwhelming, until it came down to actually having to stage the house and pack up. Since my brother had offered to store my things for me, I didn’t want to have so much it took over his space.

      Whatever seemed like clutter went into the garage and from there, to the thrift store or my nerd group garage sale, or the rubbish bin. The hardest thing, as I predicted, was the art and craft stuff. I kept more than I probably should have, but I managed to downsize enough that it’s manageable. The library takes donations for Friends of the Library sales all year; I donated so. many. books.

      I plan to look for a decent-sized apartment when I’m working, with space to actually do the crafts, etc. But I’ll probably ditch even more stuff when I move again. Once you start, it’s easier to keep going!

    5. Miss Pantalones En Fuego*

      This is amazing! I really need to do something like this. I recently put away a ton of clean clothes the other day which required creative folding and cramming things in drawers. Just for the fun of it I counted some categories and found that I have 52 pairs of socks, 40 shirts and tops, and 34 tank tops/camisoles. And that doesn’t include the things that were in the laundry or the entire second closet I have in storage. Ludicrous! I need some serious psychological help with this. I just can’t decide which items out of an array of nearly identical things to keep

      1. VirtualLight*

        It may take a while with that many clothes in rotation, but one solution to feeling overwhelmed by stuff/ a complementing strategy to decluttering is to just not replace clothing items as they wear out and stop buying new ones. I’ve been doing this and my clothes are finally fitting into the (tiny!) storage available ~2 years on. Bonus: you get to feel thrifty/ can earmark the money you would have spent for something fun.

            1. Hiring Mgr2*

              I have a tip for you! If you want to thin the herd a bit but aren’t comfortable with getting rid of items just yet – get a big wardrobe box or something similar, and pack away items you don’t wear often. Then put it away somewhere that you won’t visit frequently. If after 6 months/1 year (whatever time frame you decide), you haven’t missed anything in there – then you can feel confident about donating the entire box!

              Another tip I like – turn all your hangers backwards. It’s a huge pain but trust me, it’s worth it. Then, as you wear items and the get washed and hung back up, hang them the correct way. Over time, it will be obvious to you the items that you don’t really wear because their hangers will still be backwards. You could combine these two concepts too – do the backwards hanger first, then if you’re still not quite ready to let them go, pick the items from your closet that are still backwards to put away in box for X timeframe.

      2. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        YES. I find something I like, buy it in six different colors (twice), and then move on to a new “look” three months later. And I’m terrible at getting rid of things.

      3. Elf*

        Get a plastic tub, and put all but a 1-2 week supply in. Then, every time one thing from your in-use supply wears our, replace it from the bin. I don’t recommend this for clothes you don’t wear, like your least favorite shirt, but for things like socks and underwear it is great, and the bin will eventually be empty. It’s particularly good because it declutters the active areas in the interim.

      4. Jules the 3rd*

        The thing I did for this was to take about half of the socks and camis and stuff them into those vacuum bags, and put them in the closet. When the remaining ones started to wear out, I could pull these and refresh instantly. I stored socks separately, they wore out faster.

        The shirts / tops, I was able to give away or trash about a third, once I got ruthless about whether I’d actually wear it.

    6. PhyllisB*

      Way to go!!! I’ve been trying to do this. My downfall is books and magazines. I have magazines that are over 10 years old that I haven’t read yet. Not to mention enough books to develop a small library. I’ve made some inroads, but as you say, it’s hard.

      1. Clisby*

        And then there are magazines like my beloved Cooks Illustrated, that I have read but might need to refer back to for that special recipe from 5 years ago. I finally got a grip and figured, if I haven’t torn out that page and put it with my other recipes, I don’t really need it.

        1. Elizabeth West*

          I put all my magazines (there were tons) in one box. One. I had a crapton of old MAD magazines I’d been hauling around for years, so I picked out my absolute favorites and kept those. The rest was miniature magazines with instructions and stuff like that. Anything that didn’t fit either went in the garbage, or in the case of the MADs, I sold the ones that weren’t all messed up to the comic store guy for $10.

          I used to rip articles out of women’s magazines and file them, but I stopped doing that when the internet became a thing. I also noticed over the years that they tend to run the same articles over and over, with minor variations, so I didn’t really need to save them. The internet has also replaced a bunch of books—if I can look it up online, there’s really no reason to keep the book.

    7. Jean (just Jean)*

      >It’s not easy to stop being a pack rat, but I’m making good progress.
      No kidding!!Best wishes for your continuing success, and multiple cheers for your two months of identifying, donating, recycling and/or trashing whatever meets your definition of (choose one or more)
      – No, thank you
      – Not interesting, useful, or beautiful
      – Evokes unhappiness for (reasons)
      – Goodbye!
      Side benefit: Your updates give moral support for the rest of us recovering packrats. *Tries to look innocent amidst the “collections” on all horizontal surfaces.*

    8. Bluebell*

      Great job! I finally gave away a few things this week, but have a few others that have been lingering. I hope I’ll be able to comment next week that they are gone!

    9. C Average*

      One thing I like to do is stack-rank things I only really need or use a few of. I really only need or use five workout tops, so I choose the five I love and donate the rest. I’ve done this with my whole wardrobe, leaving me with three handbags, three coats, seven pairs of socks, etc. If you’re like most people, you really only wear your favorites unless it’s laundry day.

      1. Miss Pantalones En Fuego*

        How do you actually choose between the items when you do this? Do you have any kind of process to sort them into your most to least favourite, or do you just have the talent of picking five?

        1. C Average*

          First, they’re all clean. I pick the one I’d wear. Then I pick the one I’d wear if my favorite was dirty, and so on.

          Sometimes I also think about which one(s) I would truly miss and try to replace if they were in a piece of luggage that got lost.

          (To be fair, I buy my clothes almost exclusively at the Goodwill outlet, where everything is $2.19/pound and you dig through piles of stuff. My wardrobe tends to be easy come, easy go. But there are always a few pieces I get truly attached to, and those survive the periodic purges.)

    10. NoLongerYoung*

      Following you in awe. I haven’t managed a regular cadence yet, but I can see that your approach is amazing in its results. (Similar to the don’t-break-the-chain approach).
      I do the first thing in the morning on my good days…I just need to adjust back to that. Thanks for the reminder.

    11. Thankful for AAM*

      At the place we dont mention in this thread I teach a decluttering class. Not bc I’m great at it but because I am working on it and the class keeps me focused.

      My tips (fwiw):
      1. I do by item type, not room, all books, all clothes, all jewelry, all photos, etc. As per Marie Kondo, I put all of the thing in one place (search the house, each thing is everywhere!), then keep only what works for me.
      2. To get away from the fear of tossing something I want, I get rid of the books or whatever that are easy to donate. But if I have a pile that is not clear, I store it for 3 months and “shop” from the boxed up stuff. That is enough time to help me get over it and to know if I actually need it. Got the idea of temporarily storing and shopping from it from Project 333.
      3. To keep me from still keeping too much, I give each category a specific space and if I get more books or clothes, something else has to go. I have about 70 clothes hangers, if I get new clothes, something has to go. I have one cabinet with 2 shelves for books, if I get a new book, one has to go.
      4. To help let things go, I use the minimalists’ just in case $20/20 minute and 90/90 rules. If I have not used it in 90 days and dont think I will in the next 90 days, move it on, if I can get it in 20 minutes for less than $20, move it on.

      Those are the basics I can think of right now. I need to revisit my clutter!

      1. Elizabeth West*

        That store-for-three-months thing REALLY helped me before I moved. If I didn’t go out into the garage and get it at all during that time, it went out the door with no regrets.

    12. Thankful for AAM*

      At the place we dont mention in this thread I teach a decluttering class. Not bc I’m great at it but because I am working on it and the class keeps me focused.

      My tips (fwiw):
      1. I do by item type, not room, all books, all clothes, all jewelry, all photos, etc. As per Marie Kondo, I put all of the thing in one place (search the house, each thing is everywhere!), then keep only what works for me.
      2. To get away from the fear of tossing something I want, I get rid of the books or whatever that are easy to donate. But if I have a pile that is not clear, I store it for 3 months and “shop” from the boxed up stuff. That is enough time to help me get over it and to know if I actually need it. Got the idea of temporarily storing and shopping from it from Project 333.
      3. To keep me from still keeping too much, I give each category a specific space and if I get more books or clothes, something else has to go. I have about 70 clothes hangers, if I get new clothes, something has to go. I have one cabinet with 2 shelves for books, if I get a new book, one has to go.
      4. To help let things go, I use the minimalists’ just in case $20/20 minute and 90/90 rules. If I have not used it in 90 days and dont think I will in the next 90 days, move it on, if I can get it in 20 minutes for less than $20, move it on.

      Those are the basics I can think of right now. I need to revisit my clutter!

    13. CC*

      Talbots stores are collecting (excellent condition) work/interview clothing for Dress for Success this Thursday, February 20 through Monday, February 24. Dress for Success will give it to people who are getting into the workforce but need work appropriate clothes that fit (I believe they typically get an interview outfit & then they get can get a week of work clothes when they get hired).

      Just sharing in case anyone else is cleaning out clothing that doesn’t fit or they don’t care for. I know the regular Dress for Success drop off point is not convenient for me so I appreciate they have the special drop off weekend.

      1. NoLongerYoung*

        Thank you for the heads up. I have several classic suits that are great for interviews, left from my conservative industry days.

    14. Jean (just Jean)*

      Thanks for the encouragement. I spent the morning rearranging a hang-inside-the-closet door organizer so that it could hold the food storage containers that were crowding the closet shelves. Got rid of two cute but got-no-space-for-em jars and some other plastic junk. Also tackled the large, spreading pile on the floor closest to the front door: returned multiple (now empty) tote bags to their hook inside the closet door; gathered newspapers for the outdoor recyling bin; discarded innumerable scraps of paper; and returned two pairs of shoes to the shoe pockets hung (you guessed it!) inside the bedroom door. Thank goodness for over-the-door storage.

    15. Ruffingit*

      That is awesome, way to go!! I’m with you on decluttering this year and have completed my nightstand drawer, my guest room, linen closet, and moving on to paper soon. Keep it up, you’re doing great!

  2. Probably overthinking*

    Is there a decent way to phrase: “Hey, I’m sure my offer for you to vent if you need it probably came off as though I was making a joke, because 90% of what I say comes off that way, but sincerely I’m here if you need to vent or talk,” specifically without putting pressure on someone to share if they don’t actually want to? I know my friend is going through Some Stuff (don’t know the details, only found out after my offer to vent about something unrelated to the Stuff), and I don’t want to make him feel obligated to share, but I want to make sure he knows that he can if he would like to.

    Additional details that may or may not matter:
    We’ve only known each other/been friends for a fairly short time, but have gotten pretty close pretty fast, so a certain level of venting would be totally normal at the friendship stage I feel we’re at.
    I don’t know enough of the details of Stuff to know for certain if it’s something he’d need a closer friend to share it with or not.
    I’m usually pretty good at judging what level friend people think they are with me, so I don’t think the offer of a sympathetic ear would be boundary pushing/crossing, particularly if I drop it if he declines or changes the subject.

    I’m, honestly, probably over thinking it, but I’m a worrier.

    1. Kathenus*

      I think your sentence above is great, just maybe add a “no pressure, just an open invitation for now or the future if you ever want it”.

      1. fposte*

        But I’d also let it go after that; offering twice is plenty, and going beyond that makes it look like it’s about you, not them. They won’t necessarily tell you explicitly that they’re not going to vent to you (and they may not know themselves), so closure might not come here–you’re not going to see an obvious difference between them not choosing to vent and them not sure you’re willing to listen. You just have to accept you made your gesture and it’s up to them what they do with it.

    2. Purt’s Peas*

      Keep in mind also that your friend may see you as a person who will distract them and make them feel lighter, rather than someone who should receive big confessions and vents. That’s an incredibly valuable friend to have—especially a friend who knows that something big is going on and is still able to provide that lighter feeling.

      1. Parenthetically*

        Absolutely agree with this comment and fposte’s above! I’ve found that in difficult times I really need equal parts digging in (practical help/steps, therapy, sitting with my emotions, friends to listen and speak truth to me, whatever) and distraction (friends to bring over a bottle of wine and a stack of magazines and watch stupid movies and eat popcorn together, etc.), and both of those are absolutely crucial to getting through it.

    3. I'm just here for the cats*

      Maybe just do a check in? Text or call and say hey how’s it going I heard that stuff is stressful. I hope you know If you need to you can always come to me to vent.

    4. I'm just here for the cats*

      Maybe just check in with you friend. Hey how’s it going, I heard that x happened. Let me know if you need anything or just want to vent.
      But please back off if she doesn’t want to. She may not be one who likes to bring her problems to others or maybe she just needs a distraction.

    5. Probably overthinking*

      Thank you all for such thoughtful replies!

      If I do bring it up again, I’ll definitely drop it after that. I honestly wouldn’t even consider bringing it up a second time if it weren’t for the circumstances of the first time I’d brought it up. Basically they were mentioning a minor inconvenience sort of problem that we occasionally gripe about with one another (think something along the lines of traffic being annoying, or the place you want to go for lunch being out of your preferred food) only, after my offer to listen if they wanted to complain about it, they mentioned that the amount of frustration was more due to other circumstances (something more along the lines of a parent/close friend having a serious illness or injury in scale). Since the initial offer was in a more silly, joking context, I want to clarify that the offer on the whole was sincere, if he does need to vent about something.

      And I’m honestly totally fine with him not sharing if he doesn’t want to! It’s not about a desire to know all the things, just to be there for my friend in whatever way he needs. Whether that’s venting, or distracting, or something else that I haven’t considered. I know that, when I have serious problems, I prefer distraction to venting, but I also have appreciated people offering their time for venting if it was something I needed, even if I didn’t take them up on it.

      I’ll strongly consider just checking in, instead of bringing up sharing the problems again, also.

    6. RagingADHD*

      For me, I’d leave it and not do a second offer at all.

      You said you are fairly recent friends. He may well have someone he feels closer to that he talks with. Or maybe not, but he’s not prepared to talk to you anyway.

      I’m a friendly person but very selective about who I get deeply personal with. To me, the second offer would feel pushy, like the person was using my difficult circumstances to demand greater intimacy than the friendship warranted on its own. I would probably make an intentional downshift in the friendship and pull back from them.

      It really depends on your friend’s temperament.

      If he’s the type who rarely speaks up about personal preferences in small things and needs a lot of reassurance and checking in before speaking his mind, a followup might be helpful. If he expresses his ordinary needs and boundaries easily, then I’d leave the situation alone and trust that he will open up (or not) in his own time.

  3. Washi*

    Another “what is this?” question re: friend with a baby. My very dear childhood friend had a baby about 6 months ago, and we both consider each other family and him my nephew. He’s amazing and adorable, so sometimes I’ll say something like “who’s the cutest baby? you’re the cutest baby!” or “there’s my favorite baby!” etc. However I’ve noticed that a lot of the time my friend will say something in a sort of jokey tone like “when you have kids he won’t be your favorite anymore” or “watch out, Baby, when Washi has kids then they’ll be the cutest baby.”

    Is saying stuff like that insensitive in some way? It’s true that when I do have kids (which is 2+ years away at least) I’m sure they’ll be my favorite, but by then her baby won’t even be a baby anymore, nor will he remember these moments and be jealous! It’s easy enough to stop saying stuff like that, so I have, but I’m wondering if I was committing an unwitting faux pas?

    1. General von Klinkerhoffen*

      I don’t think that’s at all inappropriate, but if you’re getting a sense that she doesn’t like it then you could try to find other things to say that isn’t so superlative.

      “Who’s a cute baby? You’re a cute baby!” is roughly 99% the same sentiment but without the bit she seems to be bristling at. The comments can be absurd when they’re little – “Who’s got a nose? Here it is! You have a nose!” as it’s all about tone of voice and eye contact.

      There’s a separate school of thought about not praising kids for things they can’t help (anything innate like looks, general intelligence) but rather for things you notice that they have chosen to do (wearing a cool hat, being kind to someone, telling a funny joke). As Baby grows up and/or when your own children come along you might like to have a bunch of those kinds of compliments in your arsenal.

    2. Workerbee*

      You could always just say your heart is expansive enough to have more than one favorite, cutest, or other superlative.

    3. Myrin*

      I feel like you might be overthinking this – very specific and unlikely circumstances surrounding your friend and you guys’ friendship notwithstanding, I’m fairly sure she doesn’t really mean anything by this and it’s Just Something To Say.

    4. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      Might just be in the wording. I tell my dogs (not kids, obviously, but), who have no idea what I’m saying, things like “you’re the prettiest doggy in this room!” (when the other dog is in a different room) or “you’re my favoritest Angua of all time!” (when the other dog’s name is obviously not the same). My grandma used to tell me I was her favorite red headed granddaughter – well, out of her six grandkids, I was the only red headed one at all.

      But no, what you’re doing doesn’t seem weird to me, for what it’s worth.

      1. Kathenus*

        I totally do this with pets too, ‘you’re the best (defining characteristic that’s different from the other pets)!’ As if they understand and the others would be offended if I didn’t qualify it. So funny, but it feels wrong to overly compliment one in front of the others, even though it makes no actual sense to feel that way.

      2. C Average*

        My partner and I matched on Tinder partly because we both claimed to have the best cat in the world.

        (That was over two years ago and we live together now. I have reluctantly acknowledged that his cat is objectively superior to mine: smarter, more playful, less trouble. But I still love mine more.)

        1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

          I regularly inform my husband’s cat that she is the dumbest cat in the house, and yet I am her favorite person. Her sister, his other cat, actually picked me out while we were at the shelter – I was standing off to the side, tapping my foot and waiting for him to pick a cat (I am not a cat person), and suddenly I couldn’t move because tiny paws had reached out the kennel behind me and grabbed my bun. After a minute I said “Can someone go in that room and tell the guy in the green shirt that his cat has his wife by the head out here?”

          1. Pomona Sprout*

            At first I read “bun” as “bum” and couldn’t figure what that the “head” part meant! Either way, this is an adorable story.

      3. Queer Earthling*

        My cats are “the best orange baby” and “the best gray boy.”

        Although I also regularly tell one or the other that they’re my favorite today, usually whichever one’s not pulling things off shelves or screaming at someone’s feet.

      4. Parenthetically*

        I tell my son he’s my favorite son and my daughter that she’s my favorite daughter! And my husband that he’s my favorite husband!

            1. Salymander*

              Ever since she could speak in sentences, my daughter has called the cats her older sisters. She would talk about her sisters to people who were not in the know, and they would be very confused if/when we mentioned that she was an only child.

              Daughter’s preschool teacher would not let her put the cats on her family tree project, so she drew 2 little cats at the bottom of the tree. You know, as if they were our ancestors. Because ancestors deserve respect. Which daughter told the teacher. Then, she included our 2 cats somewhere in every single art project she did at school for years afterward. It was awesome.

    5. Parenthetically*

      Oh, I totally feel your anxiety about this, Washi, but I think it’s nothing! I’m sure he’s just saying something to say something. You could definitely say something — “So hey, you’ve said that a couple times, does it bother you that I call Peanut my favorite baby?” and then wait for an answer — but I really think it’s nothing, just an acknowledgment that you’ll have kids of your own one day and you’ll love them and think they’re the best.

    6. ampersand*

      I think this might just be a thing that parents think about! I have one baby and will not be having any more babies and I tell my daughter daily that she’s the best baby or my favorite baby—and often when I say it I think: “man, it’s a good thing she’s an only child because I couldn’t say this if she had a sibling! What would I say instead? I have no idea.”

      You could try changing your wording a bit, as someone else suggested, to see if that stops your friend’s comments. You could also ask her if it bothers her when you say such things—maybe she doesn’t realize how often she’s saying it and how it’s coming across, and/or maybe there are some underlying feelings there that she’s not consciously aware of.

    7. Not So NewReader*

      Perhaps throw it down in a neutral place such as, “Each child will always be a gift in my life!” Or, “I will have many favorite babies. This one’s my favorite because he is YOUR baby.”

    8. Patty Mayonnaise*

      Could she be trying to feel you out about your plans for having kids? It could be that she wants to bring the conversation around to you but not ask outright. Some people get very “so when are YOU having kids?” with their friends after they have a baby. I think they just want to be at the same life stage at the same time as their friends.

      1. Double A*

        This was totally my thought– she’s gently nudging you about your kid plans. I really, really doubt she in any way feels weird about you calling her kids the cutest. And/or it’s kind of a cool feeling knowing you have the cutest child in the world (because this is how you feel about your own child) and she’s looking forward to you experiencing that.

      2. Washi*

        She definitely knows I’d like to have kids!

        But I appreciate everyone’s thoughts and am glad I haven’t been insensitive in some glaringly obvious way. I’ve been just rephrasing things without superlatives, which doesn’t prompt the comments, so I’ll continue doing that.

    9. Policy wonk*

      Does your friend have siblings? She might be sensitive to having been demoted from the “cutest” or some other superlative when she was a kid. It can still hurt decades later. Recommend you avoid comparative language (favorite, best, superlatives) so that it never becomes an issue. (And offer to talk about it with her, as has already benn suggested.)

    10. RagingADHD*

      No, you aren’t being insensitive.

      New parents get wierd about odd stuff. I was wierd about odd things when my first baby was little. Every new parent I’ve ever known was wierd about something. And when you have yours, you’ll be wierd about something else.

      The answer is, “Well, when my babies show up, he’ll be my favorite preschooler.”

      Or, as others suggested, “Hey friend, you seem bugged by this- what’s up?”

  4. Disco Janet*

    I’m having a serious hair issue. A patch on the back of my head has gotten very damaged – I have absolutely no idea how. But the texture of it is coarse (I’ve always had smooth straight hair), and it keeps breaking off to the point of a slight bald patch. Doctor says it’s not a scalp condition, and we’re waiting on bloodwork to come back to try to determine the cause.

    Anyways, I’ve been avoiding going to the woman who cuts my hair because I’m so freaking embarrassed. I’ve tried hair masks, Olaplex, etc. – no use. I finally made an appointment because the split ends are getting crazy, but I’m afraid she’s going to suggest chopping it super short, which will look awful with my face shape – which has also changed a bit because I’m addition to the hair issue, I’ve been gaining weight. I don’t know why I’m so stressed – it’s a really nice salon and she’s their education/training person with tons of extra experience. I’m sure she’ll be helpful. But I’m so embarrassed.

    I feel ugly and broken and I know it’s so superficial, but ugh. Every time I walk into my coworkers classroom for our co-planning time, I see myself in her mirror and just feel like absolute shit about myself. Hair is a mess, face shows the weight gain, etc. And my coworker is very slender and yet is still currently dieting for her upcoming wedding. I know this isn’t about her, it’s about my possibly having a medical issue and needing to figure out my health stuff. But I wish there was a magical fix to help me feel like I look decent in the meantime.

    1. Mimosa Jones*

      I’m sorry you’re going through this. Fleabag was not wrong with her ‘hair is everything’ speech. I’d look on your stylist as a resource who may have seen this before. You can always say no thanks to any offers to cut it short. You wouldn’t want to try something so dramatic during a time of stress anyway. Cleaning up your cut will make you feel and look better. And hopefully your salon will pamper you. I hope you find a solution for this soon!

      1. valentine*

        Your stylist is trained to deal with this. If she’s not happy to help, someone else will be. Can you cover it with a braid, with extensions if your hair’s not long enough?

    2. Falling Diphthong*

      It’s a really nice salon and she’s their education/training person with tons of extra experience. I’m sure she’ll be helpful.

      Talk to her. Tell her why you don’t want to go short. Maybe this is a time to learn to be a person who can wear stylish scarves, or an updo could hide it while growing out, or once you talk to her she will have an idea that never occurred to you or me, untrained hair people.

      1. Jdc*

        Agree. Plus she’s seen it all. She really woke be judging you, just want to help you feel good about how you look. Maybe there’s a way to style or that’ll help that she can walk you through. Heck she might even have a good idea of the issue.

        In the meantime switch to silk pillowcases. Less running on your hair will at least help a bit and it’s best for your hair no matter what.

    3. C Average*

      Yes, talk to her. Or, if it’s easier, share your concerns by email and maybe ask for an appointment during a less-busy time of day.

      Good luck. This sounds really stressful.

    4. epi*

      I’m sorry you’re going through this. If it helps, I bet your stylist would actually enjoy helping you and be happy that you asked– especially since it sounds like she’s a mentor to others. Many people like a chance to problem solve and help someone using their expertise, and will appreciate being trusted and getting to advise you. Manys stylists find it fulfilling to help someone going through a health issue or a hard time feel good about themselves. Sometimes I find it helps *me* to ask for help by starting with being honest about my embarrassment or ambivalence.

      My best friend is a middle school teacher who is also dealing with some weight gain right now due to a health issue. So I say sincerely, I think it is amazing you are doing a demanding job that involves caring for others, dealing with a health issue that actively makes you feel bad about yourself, and somehow doing it while keeping those feelings to yourself. You don’t need to be decorative while doing all that!

      I hope you and your doctor find the problem soon, and are able to manage it. And I really hope you let people in your life show you kindness and compassion right now. I bet you have lots to feel good about yourself for.

    5. JOANN SCHRIEKS*

      Sometimes this is vitamin related , sometimes age related other times care related .
      You might want to try Biotin vitamins or keratin or viviscal or Joyce Gerard has hair products for thinning broken hair . Perhaps too hot a hair dryer is the problem ? Just use it on low or cool . What kind of brush do you have ? Try a wet brush ,its supposed to reduce breaking hair. Dont use too much shampoo . Deep condition your hair once a week by leaving on conditioner and then rinsing , no shampooing . You will be surprised it might help .Dont towel dry your hair too harshly, it can break and frizz up hair . Sometimes when you dont have to go anywhere let it air dry .Or get one of those turbans for hair drying . Try some of these stop gap methods . I think thevitamins might help . Are you wearing a winter hat that bothers your hair? I have several frinds that have tiny hairpieces they use to disquise bald spots . STRESSS does cause hair loss .

      1. Disco Janet*

        I’m hoping it’s as simple of a fix as being vitamin-related. If it was just the texture issue I could see it being an age thing (I’m in my 30s and am solidly no longer in the “OMG you look like you could be a student!” group, haha), but with the other symptoms I’m experiencing (weight gain, fatigue, etc.) the doctor is guessing a vitamin deficiency or a thyroid problem. I’ve stopped using a blow dryer, regularly deep condition, and before this wore my hair down sans hat pretty much all the time (now I have to pull it back to cover the thinned out spot), etc. I’ve researched and done every hair care thing possible…and unfortunately, it has only gotten worse.

        1. Hound Fan*

          It could be thyroid and that is not always on the blood work panel, so you may want to ask. When I find myself in awkward situations, I remind myself that this professional has seen it all so they will not be embarrassed and it feels a bit better. I hope things get better soon,

          1. Disco Janet*

            Thank you. Yes, thyroid is on my doctor’s radar, so she did include that. Hopefully we figure out what is going on soon!

          2. Arts Akimbo*

            I was thinking that, too! Weird hair issues + weight gain is so often thyroid-related. I hope it’s as simple a fix as taking a pill every morning!

        2. names*

          Hi! I’ve been dealing with thyroid stuff, and it dramatically changed the texture of my hair. Now on meds for a bit, and my new hair growth is normal and actually suuuuper nice. Good luck!

    6. Kuododi*

      I’ve been dealing with thinning hair following radiation treatment. My hairstylist is a family friend and a magician with scissors. When it first started, I pointed it to my stylist and she did her magic act with scissors. I now have a darling haircut with minimal risk of my thinning showing up as a serious issue. I’d start there and additionally follow up with your regular physician to begin to address medical concerns.

    7. Cor*

      I’m sorry you’re feeling so rough. I doubt your stylist will suggest a big chop – I’ve actually done it a few times and I find that I have to reassure my hairdressers that yes, I really do want to cut it all off. Many women are skittish about the prospect of going short, and stylists know that! Besides, they want you to be happy with your haircut, otherwise, you won’t come back.

      I would also bet that a stylist as experienced as yours has worked with plenty of other clients with distressing hair changes, whether due to pregnancy or health problems, chemotherapy, stress, aging – not to mention all the hair damage they must see caused by bleach or chemical straighteners or heat damage. I think you’re a lot more likely to get sympathy than judgment. It sounds like you’re in a place where you feel really ashamed of a lot of things, but your hair issues are just a weird thing your hair is doing for some reason, not something that makes you a less worthy person, and you don’t deserve all the shame you’re carrying over it.

    8. CTT*

      Oh gosh, I’m so sorry you’re going through this. I second everyone’s suggestion to talk to your stylist. She may suggest cutting a lot, but I bet she will be able to find a short cut that works for you (that short hair doesn’t look good on all face types really isn’t true; it’s all about the cut, same with longer hair (she says, shuddering at the memory of her long, no-layered, vaguely Charles Manson look in high school)). It might be a good idea to call and tell her you’ve been having some hair issues and you want to talk over your options, so you’re not committing through figuring out what to do AND getting the haircut in the same day, which could be a lot to deal with at once.

    9. Eleanor Abernathy*

      I’ve had trichotillomania literally my entire life which means that I pull my hair out, often frequently enough to cause bald spots, and literally the only people who have never given me crap for it are hair stylists. There’s a lot of shame around the hair pulling and, of course, I feel like a grade A moron because I have no one to blame but myself but all my stylists have just been interested in how I would like to handle the problem. Sometimes I don’t want to sacrifice length and I just ask them to style it as usual, other times I have asked for their opinion on the best way to disguise the damage while it grows out and they’ve all just followed my lead. Good luck on your health and I hope your stylist can be an ally to help get you feeling terrific while you figure out what’s going on

      1. Disco Janet*

        Thank you for saying this – honestly, this is part of it – but yes to what you said about the shame. During the visit to my doctor about this she also put me on anxiety medication, because when I am feeling very anxious (which was regularly, the medicine is helping through) I couldn’t seem to leave that stupid patch alone and obsessing over the texture/weak points.

    10. Not So NewReader*

      While you are considering things here, please look at your pillow and hats. If they have not been washed in a while, then washing them would be a great idea. If you have a car you might want to wipe the headrests. I have had problems with skin/hair just from forgetting to wash the hats I wear all the time.

      I know when I go to shampoo my hair if I am not watchful I will dump a glob of shampoo on the same spot each and every time. Consider lathering up the shampoo between two hands and then using two hands to apply it.

      Also think about your hydration levels and consider perhaps adding some good oils to your diet. Lack of water and lack of oil really show in hair.

      You can also check any new medications you might be using.

      To me it sounds like a vitamin loss of some sort. Vitamin loses are really odd, they materialize in odd ways. I hope I can encourage you that this might be fixable.

      1. Disco Janet*

        I’ve seen the doctor, so vitamin levels are being checked and she has ruled out some of the causes you suggested. Everything has been washed, and I upgraded my pillowcase to a silk one. The new hair growing in is still incredibly weak and noticeably different than the rest of my head, so it is quite likely an internal problem.

    11. just a random teacher*

      It’s also possible that your stylist has seen similar hair issues with other clients and may be able to suggest additional avenues to explore with your doctor if the current round of tests doesn’t find a cause. I’m not suggesting that hair stylists are qualified to make medical diagnoses, but they have certainly seen a lot of hair issues so may have some knowledge of how various conditions can affect hair, particularly if they’re the kind who have clients who tend to share personal details with them.

      I don’t know if this will be at all helpful to you, but one of the things that I tell myself when I think I look like a troll and yet have to go teach is that it’s important for students to see people who look all kinds of different ways be comfortable in their skin, and today is one of the days I get to model that for them. So, when I have a giant zit or something and a kid points it out, I’ll just reply with something like “yep, I’m thinking I’ll name it Steve” and act completely non-bothered about it, to try and normalize that bodies do all kinds of things and not looking perfect all the time is not something you need to feel bad about. (I also don’t follow all of the “fancy grooming rules” for women like wearing makeup or shaving my legs, so the intensely appearance-policing students decide I’m weird early on, but that’s more of a personal hill to die on than it is something I’m doing to model behavior for my students.)

    12. Chaordic One*

      I know this isn’t exactly the same situation, but one of my friends suffers from a form of alopecia where she has a dollar-sized patch of bare skin on the side of her head. Like you, my friend was embarrassed about the situation. She always wore her hair in a longer style and is only in her 20s. She spoke about it with her stylist and the stylist had no problem with coming up with a hair style where longer hair above the bald spot was combed over it so it wasn’t noticeable. (It’s not at all like a man attempting to do a comb-over.) The only reason I knew about it was because one day my friend confided about it to me. Any stylist who wouldn’t at least attempt to work with you isn’t worth keeping, but talk to your stylist and at least give her the chance to to work with you.

    13. Sleve McDichael*

      If you have long enough hair, maybe consider an updo like a bun or a ponytail? Ponytails can be any height and they hide the hair right behind them plus anything under them.

      If you are worried about a short cut with a rounder face, the right fringe can do wonders. Also sometimes hair down beside your cheeks can emphasise extra weight there, whereas having the bulk of your hair on top can sort of elongate your face. A shorter cut might be flattering. Then again I can’t see you so it might not be, but I’m just saying don’t dismiss it out of hand. Your hairdresser will know.

      Because our hearing, sight and taste are in our head, our sense of self is there also. So if you don’t feel right about the way your hair looks it’s legitimately a big problem. I wish you the best of luck in getting your hair right again!

    14. scepones*

      I have a few things to say about this – primarily, it is not superficial in any way, shape or form. Women are taught from birth that their hair is something beautiful that makes them beautiful. The whole reason Muslim women wear headscarves is because your hair is your glory and they believe it should be saved only for their husbands/family. Believing that your hair is changing beyond your control is something that would, naturally, shake any woman’s confidence.
      Do not belittle yourself because of this insecurity. It is natural.
      Secondly, trust your stylist. Because of all the things above, women don’t talk about hair loss/damage issues and you won’t realise how many people your stylist will already have treated who have the same kind of issue. She will be sympathetic to your concerns and help you find a healthy solution that retains your confidence.
      Trust her. I am so sorry you’re going through this but I hope you find peace and/or a solution soon.

    15. Courageous cat*

      I have alopecia and the hair on the top of my head is like 30% as thick as the hair on the sides of it, and I have never had a single hair dresser blink an eye. I even don’t care about it even though they’re seeing it really up close. I am just straightforward and say, “Also, my hair is a lot thinner at the top since I have some rare form of alopecia, so don’t be concerned!” And everyone’s always like “cool sounds good!”

  5. Dog behaviorist*

    Hi. Does anyone have any recommendations on how to find a good behaviorist? Do they usually come to the home? Is it a multi session thing? We adopted an older dog a few years ago and lately the younger one (we’ve had her longer) is getting more territorial. They have been checked by the vet and no medical / dental issues. They are both the same size, 7 to 8 pounds. Thanks.

    1. AvonLady Barksdale*

      Mine came to the home and gave me access to some resources, but ultimately my dog’s issues were minor so it was only one visit. We found her on Yelp, but ask your vet for recommendations.

    2. Dog lady*

      Are you seeking a board certified veterinary behaviorist or a trainer behaviorist? If you are looking for the former you can search on the board website: https://www.dacvb.org/search/custom.asp?id=4709

      If you are searching for the latter I would suggest the International Association of Animal Behavior Consultants, or at least a trainer that has their CPDT-KA. The training field is not regulated just about anyone can call themselves a behaviorist and it can really be a minefield. Some of “behaviorists” who have stellar reviews on yelp/google/Facebook use outdated yank n crank methods that can sometimes be downright dangerous, especially with a dog that is having behavior issues.

    3. Dog Foster*

      You might also ask a good rescue for someone that they recommend. Don’t necessarily trust their recommendation blindly (do your research), as sometimes they are happy to take whichever behaviorist volunteers their time, yet I know some trainers are excellent and the rescue gets a good deal for the dogs that are big problems. You should do your research with any recommendation, and many of them here have videos on Facebook so you can see their style, and decide if it fits you. Some are focused on positive reinforcement (Victoria Stilwell has the show It’s Me or the Dog on Youtube and does well with aggressive dogs) and others with vibration or shock collars (I’m not as keen on this method, so I don’t have any suggestions, although a local trainer here has a lot of success with linking the vibrating collar to treats so not all collar use is punishment). A good trainer will have a range of training methods, not just one (much as Victoria is fairly positive, she does a lot of time outs and techniques that vary from dog to dog), and I usually try to avoid a trainer who says that they only use Method X (especially related to ‘Caesar’ (hopefully I spelled that right) as the ‘alpha dog’ behaviour stuff has been shown in research to be bullshit). If you want a good author then I can recommend Stanley Coren, although his books (such as How to Speak Dog) aren’t focused on training so much as on ‘What does it mean when my dog moves their ears like this?” and his work is all researched (and well written – he has many fun examples). You can also find him on Youtube.

      Whether or not the trainer comes to the home depends on the trainer, and the problem. If the problem is related to territory then you might need someone to visit. The way forward really depends on the dogs, and how the problem manifests itself. Sometimes the problem can be resolved with one visit to the home and some training suggestions, other times it requires a board-and-train for several weeks (this is sometimes the case with really aggressive dogs that have deep problems with their owners).

    4. Seeking Second Childhood*

      If you’re in NYC I can point you to a training center in Brooklyn whose owners can make recommendations.

  6. irene*

    Question: how worried are you about COVID-19 (Coronavirus)?

    Are you practicing better hygiene? Avoiding crowded areas? Avoiding Asian people? Stocking up on supplies?

      1. AvonLady Barksdale*

        Yeah, that is just… I can’t. I also can’t deal with anyone who thinks domestic travel is now doomed and will kill you. Airplanes make people sick all the time, chances of catching coronavirus on your flight from Columbus to Orlando are pretty low.

        1. LogicalOne*

          Just act like you don’t want the flu. Wash your hands, use sanitizer, don’t put your hands in your mouth, it’s basically a stronger version of the flu. I am not worried. People freak out too easily and let this consume them and just go into a rabbit-hole of negative dark thoughts. Like chill tf out, stop being so dramatic and negative, and calm down Felicia. You want to be in a dark hole, be my guest. When you’re ready to come to reality and start acting grown up, let me know.
          The Chinese couple from Illinois that were the first in the US to be diagnosed with Coronavirus, got discharged from the hospital and are now home but being watched. All Americans that were on that cruise ship that needed to be quarantined for two weeks all got to go home. HOpefully that gives peace of mind to the sensitive folks.

    1. Fikly*

      Not at all worried. When it has killed anywhere near as many people as the flu does every single year, I may pay attention.

      1. No.
      2. No.
      3. No
      4. No

      Also, I am informing everyone that those masks don’t actually do anything against Corona, and just spread fear.

      1. AnonForThis*

        I’m not taking any action, not avoiding Asian ppl. But I am very worried. A “normal” bout of sinusitis, URI, bronchitis results in 3 months of medical care for me. I’m one of the high risk groups.

        1. Randomity*

          That’s reasonable.
          Fwiw one of my friends who is regularly nearly killed by the common cold (severe brittle asthma and a load of co-morbidities) is not worried about Corona virus.

        2. Fikly*

          I’m in a very high risk group myself, as I’m immuno-compromised.. Regardless, the actual risk of me getting corona, versus the risk of me getting something else and getting seriously ill, is vastly less corona and vastly more something else.

          It’s reasonable to be concerned about what would happen if you got corona. But I would look hard at whether or not it’s reasonable to be concerned that you will get corona.

          1. That Girl from Quinn's House*

            TBH, the biggest concern about someone who’s medically at risk for complications is not getting coronavirus, it’s getting coronavirus at the same time as a bunch of other people who are medically at risk for complications, when the hospitals are slammed and there’s not enough medical resources to go around.

            The scale is what makes it so dangerous, not the individual risk.

        3. Venus*

          I’m the opposite – I’m not particularly worried, and I am taking action: washing hands more often, not shaking hands, using a sleeve to touch doorknobs and buttons at work… (essentially all ‘practicing better hygiene’ as I’m not stocking up on supplies and I try to avoid crowds all the time).

      2. Nicki Name*

        Masks are useful for one thing– a sick person who wears one will lower their chance of spreading infection.

        But yeah, they’re not going to help healthy people.

        1. Fikly*

          Not the masks that are commonly available. Only the very expensive respirators that have to be custom fitted that are actually hard to breathe through.

          1. Nesprin*

            Less so than you think- you’d need an n95 respirator, which is a fancy sort of dust mask (1$ at home depot) They do need to fit well, and be used correctly, but theyre not hard to get

            1. Fikly*

              Well, they’re not hard to get, but by commonly available I mean the ones everyone is wearing/are being handed out in doctors offices and hospitals.

              However, they are hard to fit and use.

      3. Elizabeth West*

        I wish it were a thing in the U.S. to wear a mask when you get sick and go to work anyway. :P

          1. Elizabeth West*

            Yay!!
            If I have a cold and do that, I’d probably write “Just a cold” on it with a Sharpie so people don’t freak out.

            1. Hiring Mgr2*

              Whenever I see someone out & about (in the US) with a mask like that on, in my mind I always assume that person is immuno-comprised, like going through chemo or something, and is trying to protect themselves from other germs, not the other way around.

              1. fhqwhgads*

                It’s likely that’s what they’re trying to do, but unfortunately that’s not how those masks work, generally.

      4. Observer*

        You don’t fight ignorance with ignorance. WHO is worried about this for a reason. If you or anyone you know is planning international travel, you SHOULD be paying attention.

        If not, at this point, we don’t seem to have much of a problem in the US yet, and hopefully we won’t.

    2. Llama Face!*

      Basically I’m not. But I also live quite far from affected areas and in a place with a good health care system. I also have a knee-jerk oppositional reaction whenever media is trying to get people to panic about something.

      I’m with Red Reader the Adulting Fairy on the avoiding asian people=racism and just NO. Actually I’m trying really hard not to make it weird because my default reaction when someone is a jerk is to try and make up for it by being extra nice. So I’m telling myself whenever I see someone of any asian background to just act normal and not be weirdly overfriendly in an attempt to make up for ignorant people. :(

    3. Confused Publisher*

      Avoiding Asian people?? The British super spreader is a 53 year old white man.
      Alison’s website is where I come to get away from casual and yet entrenched racism, not have it rear its head at me.

    4. Falling Diphthong*

      I am not worried about Coronavirus. I am avoiding crowds because I am avoiding regular flu, colds, etc as I recover from surgery.

      With Red that that third one is hella racist.

    5. Rebecca*

      I’m not doing anything. We have 30-50,000 fatalities just from influenza usually here in the USA every year. Sometimes more, sometimes less. I’m much more worried about the flu. And even that I’m not too concerned about. I got a flu shot, practice good hygiene, etc.

      And the comment about “avoiding Asian people?” Way out of line. Viruses don’t discriminate like some people do.

    6. hamsterpants*

      What country are you in? Here in my US state we currently have zero documented cases. People who travel from China take a two week (honor system) self -quarantine (meaning they work from home). That’s it.

    7. TL -*

      I’m not traveling to areas with active outbreaks (but I wasn’t planning to anyways.) Other than that, it’s just normal flu season precautions, which basically is avoiding people who are actively sick and washing my hands if I think I’ve been around someone contagious.

      Just for comparison’s sake, the flu has killed ~14,000 Americans this year. So I would suggest, if you must avoid people, you should avoid all those in the Northern Hemisphere until summer, in which case you should start avoiding those in the Southern Hemisphere.

      I work in department full of infectious disease doctors for a larger hospital. All the advice we’ve been is given is 1) avoid travel to areas with active outbreaks. 2) if you come back from an area with an active outbreak, please self-quarantine for 12 days to make sure you aren’t sick and don’t spread virus in the hospital.

      1. Queer Earthling*

        Maybe racists want Asian people to avoid themselves?

        ….actually I’ve tried avoiding myself before but it never seems to work.

    8. Ask a Manager* Post author

      Whoa. I’m always torn on how to handle comments like this (in terms of whether to remove them) — but ultimately think there’s often value in people (not just the original poster but others too) reading the responses since clearly there’s still a lot of education to be done on this. So I’m leaving it with its responses — but this kind of thing is not okay here (or anywhere, for that matter).

        1. Lockstep*

          That was my post from last week, but I only asked one of the questions posted above, which was about stocking up on food and water.

      1. Thursday Next*

        I’m glad you’re leaving it up—having so many commenters call out this poster’s racism is a good thing, better, I think, than deleting the post and removing the evidence of how widespread racism around this issue is.

    9. Lockstep*

      I’m preparing by stocking up on food and water and getting my earthquake kit assembled and I’m happy to say I’m almost there.

      1. Elizabeth West*

        That’s a good thing to have anyway. You never know when a quake or snowstorm or flood or whatever could keep you from being able to leave for a while.

      2. Amethystmoon*

        Yes, same here. Well, I don’t live in a place that has earthquakes, but it’s good to have an overnight emergency bag.

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

      Not worried at all. My parents, however, are super upset and close to paranoia. They even flat out cancelled the holidays in Italy I was planning for March and told me they won’t board a plane for now, even for domestic travel. I guess their fear is founded since my dad is a former smoker who had pneumonia a few years ago, but it’s pointless to reason with them right now.

    11. VirginiaGirl*

      Ummm…why is avoiding Asian people a solution? That won’t help – plenty of Asian haven’t been to where the Corona virus is.

      1. ampersand*

        And plenty of non-Asian people have been near people with coronavirus (like on airplanes) so yeah, not only is this crazy racist—if you think about it, it’s also completely illogical.

        1. ampersand*

          *also cruise ships

          It makes way more sense, actually, to not go on a cruise at the moment than it does to stay away from Asian people!

    12. Maya Elena*

      I don’t think the flu comparison is really appropriate here. When something is new and unpredictable and there is a real chance of 1) much higher death rates than flu 2) equally as or more contagious than flu 3) no treatments or vaccines 4) mutateable?, it makes complete sense to take outsize precautions, just like with ebola. The “scaremongering” is a much lower cost than a large death toll later.

      For me I live in a metro area and near a large educational institution with a lot of international students, and me with small children. I have basically reduced my going to campus and going to really crowded children’s activities, like indoor playgrounds. I also wash/sanitize my and kids’ hands more. If a second degree connection recently traveled to China or SE Asia, I am waiting a few weeks before seeing the first degree connection (e.g. my cousin who is the traveler’s roommate). Also less likely to take public transport vs. driving.

      It’s not in our area, but I think it would if it were not got the quarantine efforts in place, so I’m grateful for that. If it comes to my or my parents’ or inlaws’ area I think I will take more stringent precautions, what I don’t know yet. I think one should not go crazy, but vigilant and careful.

      1. fposte*

        To clarify a bit, there are treatments; it’s pretty much on a par with flu for that. For neither of them does the treatment always work. The death rate is considerably lower than SARS was, and there are indications that it’s significantly lower than the 2% that has been in use for a while because the milder cases haven’t been classified as CoVID. And it’s a very stable virus that’s not likely to mutate to something more dangerous. It’s likely in future years it will be very much on a par with the flu and that this will be more statistically significant because it’s new to most of our immune systems.

        Not saying you can’t take your precautions, just giving a little more detail.

        1. Cor*

          Good information here, though I do want to add that sadly and paradoxically, it might not be the best news that the death rate is lower than SARS. To simplify it a lot, if all else is equal between two viruses, the one that kills faster doesn’t spread as much, because it kills the hosts who would otherwise be able to pass it along. Now, there are a LOT of other variables involved, so of course it’s not that simple, but it may contribute to COVID-19 having the potential to kill more people in absolute numbers than SARS or MERS did – which at this point, it has.

          1. fposte*

            Right, same as seasonal flu does. While it’s hard to say exactly where it will head, there are already four endemic coronaviruses and it’s quite possible this will end up as a fifth. So yes, it’ll add to the death toll because many virus strains do, but not because it’s an unusually dangerous virus.

            1. fposte*

              To clarify, it could also end up as a particularly dangerous virus–I’m just saying that there are many possibilities and that it could be endemic without being more dangerous than other viruses.

      2. Not A Manager*

        *The “scaremongering” is a much lower cost than a large death toll later.*

        This is a false dichotomy. The scaremongering has a HUGE monetary and psychological cost, and most often there is actually little or no death toll in the areas where such scaremongering is taking place. Your Ebola example is a good one. How many people actually died of Ebola in North America during the last hyper-blown pandemic scare? IIRC it was zero.

      3. ThatGirl*

        Ebola was waaaaay less transmittable than the flu or coved-19, you need direct contact with a sick person’s bodily fluids. This is more like SARS, but also not as deadly as influenza, roughly 80% of the infected will have very minor manageable symptoms. It’s always good to take some precautions during flu season and wash your hands a lot but there’s no need for paranoia.

      4. Fikly*

        Well, no.

        1. Something being new and unpredictable has nothing to do with the odds of any given death rate. It does mean we are less likely to know what the death rate is, but that’s a very different thing. Also, we have a death toll for areas where that isn’t being surpressed, plus a number of reported cases.
        2. The flu is incredibly contagious.
        3. There are plenty of treatments, there is no cure, just like the flu. Also, flu vaccines must be made ahead of the flu season, and are a best guess as to what strains will be prevalent in the next flu season. See what happened when Swine Flu burst onto the scene, and there was no immediate vaccine.
        4. All viruses and bacteria are highly mutable. That’s just how they work. Hence the many many different strains of flu, and the challenges of picking the right ones to put in any years vaccine (which will only include 3 or 4).

        Please do some research.

        1. Cor*

          I’m not in favor of fear lingering either, but I have to respectfully disagree with your take on this, and I would take the flu analogy a little differently.

          1. The newness of the virus is absolutely relevant. It’s one of the reasons this has become an epidemic/pandemic. It’s the reason the flu is also dangerous every year – because it’s a new form of the virus every year. When a new virus crosses over to humans, we lack the antibodies to it and thus it can spread much more rapidly through the population than it can when, say, half the population has already had it and thus won’t catch or spread it when they come into contact with it. Moreover, there are important things we don’t know about it still, such as whether it can spread only through droplets or through airborne means, which is important to know in order to choose adequate protection. When this first started, we also didn’t know that people could spread it before it became symptomatic, which contributed to its rapid spread, and we still don’t know exactly how long the incubation period actually is. We also don’t know if, like the flu, its transmissibility will fall in warmer weather (good!) or not (very bad!).

          2. The flu is indeed very contagious, and kills many people every year.

          3. We agree that the flu is particularly hard to fight and vaccinate against because it’s a new strain every year. Similarly, this is a new strain of beta coronavirus.

          4. What do you mean by “highly” mutable? It’s certainly not the case that all viruses mutate at the same rate, nor that they all mutate rapidly in ways that are relevant to immunity or transmissibility or deadliness. If that were true, we’d have to get a new measles or mumps or polio or smallpox vaccine every year, same as we do with the flu. If it mutates at a slower rate, a vaccine would really help. If it mutates like the flu – well, you said it yourself.

          All that isn’t to say that I think people should be panicking. Especially if you live in an area of minimal/low risk currently (see: stockpiling of resources that people actively dealing with the infection need much more, clogging up of medical resources, economic damage, racism). I’m describing why I think this is worrisome from a *global health perspective,* not an individual perspective.

          1. fposte*

            “we also didn’t know that people could spread it before it became symptomatic”–this is still highly disputed. The one case that was considered proof has turned out not to be. Fauci and others still won’t rule it out (other coronaviruses are contagious prior to symptoms), and obviously better safe than sorry, but there’s no documented example.

          2. Elizabeth West*

            There are people working on a universal flu vaccine. It may not happen in our lifetime (ugh, science is expensive, wish I were a billionaire), but it is being worked on. They’re targeting the parts of the virus that don’t change, hoping that it will train people’s immune systems to recognize those.

      5. Sleve McDichael*

        I don’t know that the scaremongering is at a lower cost. There’s a reason it’s illegal to yell ‘Fire’ in a crowded theatre. People get hurt.

      6. The Gollux, Not a Mere Device*

        The flu comparison is useful because, unless you’re a medical researcher or epidemiologist, most of what you can do to keep yourself and other people safer is the same. I’ve already had a flu vaccine, so from here it’s a question of how carefully I wash my hands and avoid touching my face (not carefully enough, habits are difficult to change), and not going out if I have a cold or cough, even if I’m pretty sure it’s neither influenza nor this new coronavirus.

        I do well in crowds and actively like subway trains, and am not going to start avoiding either. I am (again) wishing I lived closer to Chinatown, so I could go there for dumplings and such more often.

        Avoiding Chinese people is flat-out racism. The meaningful risk factor, if any, is a recent visit to China, regardless of who someone’s parents are or where they live.

      7. Blueberry*

        The ‘scaremongering’ is resulting in real economic tolls on Asian-pwned businesses and harassment of people of Asian descent.

    13. I'm A Little Teapot*

      Flu deaths for 2019-2020 so far: 14,000
      https://abcnews.go.com/Health/1300-people-died-flu-year/story?id=67754182

      Novel coronavirus deaths: 1,383
      https://www.cnn.com/2020/02/14/asia/coronavirus-covid-19-update-intl-hnk/index.html

      Please do your research before panicking about a virus, regardless of how new and scary it is. Practicing good hygiene is ALWAYS a good idea. Allowing fear to rule your life is ALWAYS a bad idea. If you’re struggling, please talk to your doctor and get some help.

    14. Randomity*

      I’m really not worried and I hate the hysteria.

      I’m going out of my way to be friendlier towards Asian-looking-people to counteract in some small way the racism that I’m sure they’re facing.

      1. ThatGirl*

        Go eat at a Chinese restaurant if you can, or visit a Chinatown, they’re getting hit hard thanks to racist idiots.

        1. KoiFeeder*

          My favorite Chinese restaurant is a ghost town and it’s about the saddest thing one ever did see.

        2. Squidhead*

          Yeah, we ordered delivery Chinese food last night and it showed up in 29 minutes! At first I just figured no one was ordering Chinese for Valentine’s day, but then I started wondering if their business was being affected. I hope not!

        3. Clisby*

          Yep, we’re doing that tonight. Not to combat racism, though – it hadn’t even occurred to me that people would be avoiding Asian restaurants in the US out of fear of coronavirus.

          1. Nicki Name*

            Part of the drop in business for some restaurants is due to the drop in Chinese tourists visiting them, but yeah, the racism is a thing too.

        4. MatKnifeNinja*

          My OB/GYN is from Hong Kong and has huge expat clientele.

          Women have been cancelling in droves, except women who are pregnant, and that isn’t a huge part of her practice.

          The endo in her office (from Beijing) said they’ve been closing early. Business has been horrible.

          This is a huge metropolitan area, not Sticksville.

    15. Free Meercats*

      Zero worry. And I live in the town where the first US case surfaced. I was even in the hospital (for work reasons) where he ended up the day he arrived.

      I play with raw sewage for a living, my hygiene is already beyond what most do, so no change there.

      I avoid crowds simply because I don’t like crowds.

      Say what? I’ll just leave it at that.

      I already have enough supplies to last two weeks because I live in earthquake country. If you live in earthquake country, you should do the same.

    16. Rick Tq*

      I haven’t changed any habits because avoiding crowds covers avoiding large numbers of possibly infected people by default, and I live in an earthquake zone so keeping food in stock is a regular thing.

      1. Clisby*

        Yeah, I live in hurricane country so for at least half the year I have a couple of weeks’ food and water on hand.

    17. Not So NewReader*

      Zero worry. Every year there is some disease dominating the news. Every. single. year. I am tired of listening to the fear mongering new media and I focus on the over-arching idea. Eat right, get adequate rest, hydrate, take walks and limit the amount of news I take in each day.

      We had someone ask about this last week. I think that anyone who is very concerned should beef up their own self care. This can include whole foods but it also can mean simplifying their lives and surroundings so they feel less stress. It can be any number of activities. I think that too much concern about any disease is a yellow flag which is warning us to take a look at how well we take care of ourselves year round. We can also build long term self-care plans as the decades roll by.

      1. Thursday Next*

        Thank you for this sane response. I’d add hand-washing to the list of preventative measures we should be engaging in already anyway.

    18. RussianInTexas*

      1. Sure
      2. Not really
      3. Whoa
      4. Nah
      My city’s huge and vibrant Chinatown is suffering massively due racism like this. My friend, who is usually reasonable person, was posting on social media that she is abounding Chinatown because businesses there slaughter livestock imported from China, so we are all going to get infected or something (I was gobsmacked)
      My state has one case of the virus, and that’s an evacuee, who’s currently on a military base. USDA specifically banned live poultry from China. No one brings live goats to Chinatown in the middle of the massive city.
      Anyway. A group of us is going to a restaurant in Chinatown tonight.

        1. Falling Diphthong*

          I was sincerely encouraged tonight to discover that my local Chinese restaurant is doing its usual bustling Saturday night takeout.

      1. Blueberry*

        I’m so sorry you have to deal with a friend busting out the ridiculousness. I hate it when a usually reasonable person unlocks their bigotry.

    19. Merci Dee*

      I’m not worried about the virus itself, because common sense hygiene habits are effective. What does concern me right now is the fact that I’m in the process of dumping a significant chunk of change into a cruise, and the cruise industry is getting pretty tangled up with the virus just now. Granted, my cruise sails to the Caribbean in July, and my daughter and I will not have done any travel to southeast Asia in the meantime. The chances of our cruise being affected by the virus are vanishingly small, and I know this. But I still can’t help get a little antsy when I do a casual checkup with the folks quarantined on the ship in Japan.

      1. RussianInTexas*

        My friends group is planning a cruise at the end of August for couple big birthdays, and it’s worrysome. I know, logically, that I should be more worried about a hurricane than the virus, but that’s a lot money.

    20. Clisby*

      Avoiding Asian people? What? That is just a terrible thing to suggest.

      I, personally, am doing nothing different from what I always do. I get a flu shot, and even though I should do it year-round, I admit that during flu/cold season I am more diligent about washing my hands and not coughing/sneezing around people if I can help it. I always avoid crowded areas if possible.

    21. Seven hobbits are highly effective, people*

      Here’s a good flowchart for if you, a person who does not currently live in a city with major covid-19 outbreak, should do a specific thing to avoid catching covid-19:

      1) Does that thing also help avoid getting/spreading the flu and/or a common cold?

      If YES: Go ahead and do that thing! Viruses really don’t care about intent, so the fact that you’re doing it to avoid covid-19 will still make it an effective protection against this year’s flu and various other common illnesses (including other non-novel types of coronavirus that probably are circulating in your community right now). If it helps you worry less about covid-19, that’s fine, and it’ll stand a good chance of preventing you from getting sick from something.

      If NO: Pick a different thing to do from the list of things that also help against those other diseases. It is much more likely to prevent you from getting sick.

      Personally, I’ve decided to start washing my hands as soon as I come home from going anywhere in public, on the theory it might help me avoid a variety of things my hands pick up when I’m out in the world. I’m mostly doing this because there is some stomach bug going around work again, but if covid-19 did happen to get out in my community it might help with that too. (I’m also avoiding buying food from open bulk bins or eating at salad bars/buffets until fewer local people I know are sick, but that’s definitely related more to trying to avoid the stomach bug that’s going around my workplace and, presumably, the rest of my local community right now rather than anything to do with covid-19.)

      I’m also currently playing the fun springtime game of “are these sniffles a cold or allergies”, but I’m pretty sure they’re allergies given that everything just started blooming and it’s a low-grade sniffle with no other symptoms. The springtime cold/allergy overlap season is so much fun.

    22. London Calling*

      Total number of cases in the UK – nine. UK population – getting on for 70 million.

      Nope, I’m not worrying, despite HR being in what seems to be a panic spiral, sending out detailed emails on How To Keep Safe and Here’s How to Wash Your Hands, as well as big notice by the hand sanitisers. Some people on other sites are acting like this is the bastard child of the Black Death and Spanish flu.

    23. Chaordic One*

      I’m not very worried about it. If, by chance, it remains a thing, it will probably poop out for a while during the summer and then come back next fall and winter and I’ll deal with it then. I had a doozy of a cold this past month. It came on right after MLK day and lasted for more than 3 weeks. I missed 3 days from work, went back before I was over it, and then had to take 2 more days off the following week.

      As it is, lots of people die from common influenza, so I guess the thing is to wash your hands frequently and try to stay healthy so you can fight off the germs that you will be exposed to.

    24. Jaid*

      oH NOES! I went to the ASIAN supermarket, which was crowded with ASIAN people and then ate in the ASIAN food court, today!!!!!! I even got KOREAN FRIED CHICKEN to bring home!

      Oh, golly.

      BTW, Korean fried chicken is the best and I will fight anyone who says otherwise.

      1. OyHiOh*

        IKR?!

        I had sushi for lunch yesterday at a place that’s owned by a couple whose accents sounds Japanese to me but didn’t ask because ultimately, it doesn’t matter to me where they came from: The sushi is fantastic and when went by again later in the day, the place was packed and they had a sign up posting no walk-ins for the evening due to the volume of reservations.

      2. Elizabeth West*

        I need to find and go to the Asian supermarket here. There isn’t one in Suburb where I’m staying. There were three in OldCity, including one that sold durian!*

        Gaww, I miss my Japanese market.

        *no, I never tried it; it was mega expensive

    25. Restless Rover*

      Wow. Avoid Asians? That’s offensive and racist. If you’re in the US, the chance of catching the Coronavirus are about zero. Most if not all the cases in the US were people returning from the affected area in China. Additionally, so many more people die each year from the flu and pneumonia yet no one seems to be too concerned about that. But then it’s old news and the media doesn’t make money if it can’t fan hysteria.
      That being said, I currently live in Korea and my husband and I recently made a reservation with a popular tourist resort in an area usually not frequented by non-Koreans. The resort sent us a cancellation yesterday stating that due to the Coronavirus, they’re not accepting foreigners. I was flabbergasted. The likelihood of catching the virus from us is the same as from every one of their Korean guests. Interesting considering the recent incident with the KLM and the crew bathroom.

    26. ...*

      I would say I am paying better attention to hand hygiene, cleaning surfaces, getting rest. So things I should be doing anyway. I’m not located in China so I have not been avoiding public places any more than normal. Not sure how one “avoids asian people” but no I have not been doing that.

    27. The Other Dawn*

      Nope. I’m living my life as I normally do. Went out for Chinese the other night. I AM stocking up on food and other things; however, that’s because I’m having two major surgeries in a few weeks and I need freezer meals and such. And honestly, I’m more worried about catching a cold or something like that. I’ll be super pissed if I get sick and have to reschedule; I’ve been waiting too long for this. (I was pissed yesterday when I heard a team member telling someone that she wasn’t feeling as bad as yesterday and although she had a fever the previous day, she didn’t yesterday. Meanwhile she’s over there hacking up a lung on the other side of the cubicle wall and constantly blowing her nose. It’s not a matter of having no PTO–she has plenty [company is generous], nor is it a matter of too much work. I know because I manage the department.)

    28. MistOrMister*

      I got some respirators and sanitizer and whatnot a few weeks back and plan to work on a food stockpile. But really, I can use those for everything. Why I didn’t already have respirators is beyond me! I plan to look like a complete weirdo wearing them when I go walking on bad airpollution days in the summer. And, I got the full on half face, reusable respirators that come with filter cartridges….not half-@$$ing it with the paper masks.

      As far as avoiding Asian people..what the actual f***? I got Chinese food from my favorite place last weekend specifically because I’d read that Chinese restaurants are losing business over this thing and I’ll be damned if I’m going to contribute to that place going under. Best egg rolls you’ll ever have in your life!! And I’m an equal opportunity avoider. If you start coughing,I don’t care if you’re Asian, white, black, or purple with yellow polka dots….I will side eye you to death if you don’t cover your mouth and I might run away from you. I actually think I am going to opposite route and putting in more effort to talk to my Asian coworkers because of news that people are being stigmatized over this and I don’t want to contribute.

    29. anon24*

      I’m following it and keeping myself educated on it, but that’s because I work in healthcare and it seems smart to do so, even though it isn’t currently in my area. I’m taking the proper precautions around sick patients, but I’d do that whether I thought they had a cold, the flu, or Covid-19. I’m not in a high risk group so even if I somehow got Covid-19 chances are I would survive – my bigger concern would be passing it on to someone immunocompromised.

      As for avoiding Asian people… just wow. I wasn’t aware that only Asians could get Covid-19 (if so, I don’t have to worry then do I? I’m not Asian) or that all Asians are going to spontaneously come down with it regardless of where they currently live, which Asian countries they or their ancestors are from, or their connection to the outbreak. /s

    30. CastIrony*

      Not worried enough.

      I am worried about influenza A, though, because if I get sick with a fever, one of my jobs is requiring me to get tested for influenza A and adoctor’s note saying I can work or something (depending on the results).

      I already had a false alarm with a 24-hour thing yesterday, so I’m drinking my orange juice at work right now.

      Good luck in this sick season, everyone!

    31. Lora*

      Worried isn’t the right word. Fatalistic. Whatever happens will happen and it’s much too late to stop it. My immune system is garbage (bad genetics) and even a common cold knocks me down with two months of secondary bronchitis, and I live/work in a major metro area with at least one diagnosed case, probably more undiagnosed and lots of travelers between here and Wuhan.

      But – nothing I can do about it other than the usual “I don’t want to get sick” handwashing, not touching my face, eat healthy and exercise, sleep well, drink lots of fluids (hey, wine is a fluid!) and keep my own germs to myself when I’m coughing up snot.

      I happen to know a lot of the folks who are working on the vaccine development. I feel better now that J&J and Sanofi are working on it – both have good scientists, very competent thoughtful people, good track records of success. So, there’s that. I have some friends in primary care practice, doctors and NPs, who are worried that they will be overwhelmed and also infected by patients, but I can’t speed up vaccine development any more than I already do at work, so.

      PSA: masks are for sick people so they can keep their germs to themselves. A mask that would really protect from viruses 1) has to be specially fitted with a lung capacity test, and anyone with asthma will fail 2) costs a lot to buy and maintain and clean. You can’t just get one. Also, those fogger truck things? Are probably spraying fruit flavor vape liquid or something, real aerosol disinfectant doesn’t work like that – if it was the real deal, everyone in the truck and within a 1 block radius would die. In real life when you get a lungful of paraformaldehyde, you faint and have to be taken to the ER right away and put on oxygen and Albuterol.

      Continue to eat dumplings as you normally would. Wash your hands and don’t be touching gross stuff. If you’re sick, work from home and keep your cooties to yourself. That is all we can do.

    32. Observer*

      Avoiding Asian people? Is that a serious question or are you trying to highlight the insanity that seems to be going on? Because if it’s a serious question, that’s just gross and ignorant.

    33. Thankful for AAM*

      My in laws are Asian and were born in and live in Hong Kong. MIL is in her 90s and has been sick recently. So the son who lives over the border in China has been wearing an N95 mask when he visits.

      But they closed the border/trains into China so that the son is trapped in Hong Kong. He stopped wearing the mask but they are taking precautions, like all of them are avoiding going out in crowds, bc mom is so senior and frail.

      People in HK are afraid of people from China – we might see it as racism (bc my inlaws (and maybe other HKers) see “chinese ppl” as different). But their fear is really a fear of what the govt in China is hiding about this coronavirus (bc they know the history of hiding things in China) and a fear of efforts by the govt in China to take over HK.

    34. Self-quarantine team*

      Not worried – and I just finished up a (self-imposed) two week work from home period with my partner! My partner is Chinese (I’m a white american) and we travelled to visit his family over Chinese New Year. In China my main concern was actually not getting ill – it was just rather logistics of getting back to the airport and getting groceries! We opted to work from home upon returning because both of us work with several pregnant people and others with compromised immune systems. We weren’t in contact with any ill people but decided for ours and others ease of mind it was the best option. My partner is unfortunately starting to get backlash because he’s Chinese – people who don’t want to be in meetings or get meals with him, even after the quarantine period is over. They say it’s because he goes to Chinatown often for food and groceries. I do as well, and I have not received any comments other than people saying they are glad I got home alright, and they hope my partners family is okay. My partner is the only Asian and one of few people of color in his company, and he’s been on the receiving end of so many comments about how people will avoid Chinese food, how ‘of course’ this happened in China because ‘we all know’ what a messed up place it is and so different from here. Please consider how much of your concern is motivated by racial othering! Within China it’s obviously being taken seriously and I was impressed by the efforts of individuals and the city I stayed in. But since my return I’ve noticed a lot more paranoia and hysteria than I ever felt whilst in China. It is of course something to keep an eye on, particularly because of it is a potentially massive burden on hospitals, but it’s important to examine where this concern comes from.

        1. Self-quarantine team*

          Very glad he hasn’t! Most of it so far is from his coworkers who are the type to complain about diversity initiatives and don’t see the harm in making ‘fun’ comments – read, comments that are quite harmful but they’ve gotten away with it their whole careers because they are wealthy and well-connected. I hope your husband continues to have no issues!

    35. Lockstep*

      The poor people on that cruise ship in Japan. The Coronavirus seems to be spreading through the air ventilation system – another 70 people are now infected. Total working towards 400. I haven’t heard about flu spreading this way.

      Seriously rethinking plans to take a cruise this year.

  7. ArtK*

    Sharing a happy story for the weekend. An online friend of mine got married yesterday. Nice enough on its own but her story is what makes this special.

    Margaret Kerry is an actress and dancer. You may have seen her work. She was in a few of the Our Gang comedies and also appeared on the Andy Griffith show and other TV. Her most-seen role is one where nobody would recognize her, though: She was the reference model for Tinkerbell in Disney’s animated Peter Pan. All of that Tinkerbell attitude is Margaret, aided by animator Marc Davis. She’s still very much the sweetest pixie you would ever want to meet.

    From this you may have guessed that she’s a bit older than the usual bride. She’s 90, he’s 94! She and her husband first met in 1949; they lost touch and reconnected last year, a 70 year gap. A very Disney romance!

    Excuse me… there seems to be some dust in the room…

    1. Forrest Rhodes*

      Handsful of confetti in the air, with cheering and all best wishes to the newlyweds, and a whole bunch more cheers for the source of Tinkerbell’s feistiness.

    2. Not So NewReader*

      A friend was telling me about this, it’s so cool. Good for them. Definitely no such thing as being “too old”.

  8. @Unidentified Lurker - how are you doing?*

    I’ve been thinking so much about you since your post two weeks ago. I don’t think I saw anything else from you last week. How are you doing?

  9. Beer for your thoughts?*

    Mentions of alcohol and excessive drinking.

    I grew up in a family where drinking alcohol was common. My parents always ended the day with several bottles of bear or a few glasses of wine. Never to excess of getting wasted or even tipsy but just needed to have that glass to ‘take the edge off the day’. My mother told me when I was older that she did consider herself an alcoholic because of her dependency on alcohol, which amazed me because my view on alcoholism had been colored by media of slurring drunks. I never thought of my parents that way until they labeled themselves as alcoholics.

    When I came of legal drinking age (yes, I did wait til I was legal, truly), I wasn’t big into drinking. Maybe a couple drinks at parties every few weeks but that was all. Lately, now hitting my 30s, I’ve realized I’ve fallen into a similar fate of my parents. A bottle or two of beer in the evening after work has become common for me. Even worse, I can’t keep to just a drink or two in social situations. Last night at a friend’s party, I went in fully intending to only have one beer. But then I had three and the signature party cocktail too, and it wasn’t until I left that I realized I’d broken my own vow to myself.

    I guess I’m looking for tips on switching out of the mindset of that drink dependency. I don’t think of myself as an alcoholic but I can see I’m starting to walk down the path of my parents which I don’t want to do.

    1. WellRed*

      The same happened to me. It was all good, hardly drank until some point in my thirties? It creeps up. I’ve found it helpful to read articles and memoirs about quitting.

    2. matcha123*

      Do you feel like you need more to feel relaxed or that having X number of drinks has become routine?
      Growing up I heard about how I came from a family of alcoholics. My mom didn’t drink much and we never had much alcohol around the house. I have always been afraid of becoming dependent on alcohol.
      With that said, it’s easy to get into the habit of having a beer or two with dinner or while watching a movie at home. When I feel like I’ve had a bout of consistent drinking, I make an effort to up my tea and water intake.
      As to parties, it’s easy for me to drink a lot because I’m talking with people and drink fast. I have to make an effort to remember to order water if I feel like I’ve had a lot to drink or might have a lot.

      I don’t know if that helps much.

    3. Coco*

      The past year or so I’ve noticed I’ve wanted to drink more. I’m in my early 40’s. I realized though that it was the ritual of drinking I like. When I make myself a drink I tend to sit, relax, and enjoy it. When I make a cup of tea, pour a glass of water, etc end up getting up and doing other things while drinking the tea/ water. I’ve never finished a cup of coffee or tea before it goes cold because I get distracted by other things. Having a tonic water with lime has helped a lot. When I drink that, I sit and relax and don’t feel like I need to finish folding the laundry, walking the dog, prepping for the next day, etc. so it might help to know why you enjoy having a drink? And finding a substitute?

    4. Cora*

      I always said I wasn’t going to become a daily drinker, since I felt like my parents drank far too much on a daily basis. The last year or so I found myself coming home from work most days and pouring a glass of wine, or having 2 beers, etc.
      I think it’s more the ritual for me than the actual alcohol, so I started buying ginger beer or other fancy soda and drinking it out of a wine glass at night. It’s been working well, for me at least.

    5. Dan*

      I don’t worry about X number of drinks per se — at least not in a general discussion forum where we know nothing about each other. I say this because I’ve met people where three drinks = passed out drunk whereas for me (big guy) that’s equivalent to the proverbial “glass of wine with dinner.”

      In the general case, I’d agree that if you set a limit for yourself and can’t keep to it, there’s something to think about. But unless four drinks puts you into “I really shouldn’t have done that” territory (e.g., couldn’t drive when you needed to, made you pass out drunk, or something) then perhaps no harm no foul?

      To your question about breaking the mindset: One suggestion I have is to stop making it part of a “routine”. Personally, I hardly drink during the week and leave it for the weekends. Alcohol *is* a part of my routine when I “go out” on the weekends, especially with friends. If I’m out by myself, I’ll often skip the booze unless I see something truly interesting or innovative.

      1. Fikly*

        My understanding has been that it’s less about x quantity or however often, but can you actually stop at any given moment.

        Can you take a night off? And then actually do it to see. If not, well, that’s a red flag.

      2. Red Sunglasses*

        I agree. I’d say explore what it is that worries you about drinking. Have you deemed 3 as a bad number or is 3 drinks truly putting you out of control and making you feel regret? I think you’ve got to really explore your relationship with drinking to figure out what’s best for you.

        I don’t really drink at home and I have no problem staying in instead of going out and drinking. But once I start drinking, it can be hard for me to only have a few. I made a commitment to stop drinking as much because my hangovers were getting terrible. But so much of the way I feel when drinking is dependent on the time the drinks are consumed in, I started saying ‘when I feel this way, I will have a glass of water and switch to light beer for the night.’ So far, that’s working for me- I feel better the next day, less anxiety and still enjoy myself when I’m out. Doing a ‘dry january’ didn’t feel like it would do anything for me.

    6. I'm A Little Teapot*

      My family has a similar history. It took me years to realize that my grandmother was nearly always drunk, it wasn’t normal to drink 3-4 Manhattans a night, delaying dinner when everyone was hungry because someone HAD to have a drink is bad. When I did realize it, I also started decreasing the time spent with my extended family.

      My response has been that I pretty much don’t drink, and I have VERY strict rules in place for when I do drink. I can’t drink more than 1 day in a row, or more than 2 days in a week, or more than 5 days in a month. If I’m away from home drinking, I can only have 1. If I’m home, I can only have 2 drinks. I do not drink alone, there must always be another person there AND that person must be drinking as well. If I mess up on these rules, then I can’t drink for 3 months. As a result, I have gone years without drinking, and I don’t really notice.

      And I’m sorry to tell you this, but you ARE an alcoholic. Maybe not a nonfunctional or abusive one, but you can’t control your drinking. You need to just stop drinking entirely – no “I’ll just have one”, but instead drink water, pop, juice, etc. Maybe in a year you’ll be able to just have one, but right now, you can just have none.

      Possible excuses to use for your friends: trying to lose a few pounds and alcohol just has empty calories; medication you’re on interacts badly; supporting a mythical friend/family member while they go dry; just not feeling it today; stomach is a little upset; etc. You can also get a “drink” that is nonalcholic. Screwdriver without the vodka – that’s orange juice. You don’t need to tell people what you’re drinking.

      1. Dan*

        The (true) excuse that I use when I get the “haven’t seen you in awhile” from my craft beer group is: “Doc’s been up my ass to drink less.” Strangely, that’s a good enough reason that actually doesn’t invite further questions other than “is everything ok?”

      2. brightstar*

        I don’t think there’s been enough information to say the OP is definitely an alcoholic. You have strict rules for drinking that work for you, but also may frame your viewpoint of what is and what isn’t an alcoholic. Habitual drinker doesn’t necessarily mean someone is an alcoholic.

        There’s already been good suggestions about becoming less dependent, so I won’t repeat those ideas.

        1. I'm A Little Teapot*

          If you walk into a party intending to have 1 drink, and then you are unable to only have 1 drink – you have a problem. It can be a big problem, or a little problem, but it is still a problem. The word that is used to describe having a problem with alcohol is alcoholic. Just because our society has a serious hangup with alcohol doesn’t mean that the basic definition doesn’t change.

          https://www.alcoholrehabguide.org/alcohol/
          https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/alcohol-use-disorder/symptoms-causes/syc-20369243
          https://www.alcohol.org/alcoholism/

          Please note at each of those sites specifically sites “being unable to reduce consumption despite a desire to do so” as one of the signs. Oh, and if you need suggestions about how to become “less dependent” means that you ARE dependent, which means you’re addicted. Think about that.

          1. MistOrMister*

            Except….maybe the poster just forgot about the one drink plan once they were in the thick of things. I was doing intermittent fasting at one point and ended up eating during fasting hours. Not due to a food addiction, I just literally forgot that I had planned to not eat during those hours and I wanted a snack. OP might be an alcoholic, but I agree with the other commenters that we don’t have enough information to be able to tell based on their post. I’ve been around people who were the DD and pouted and then started drinking anyway because it wasn’t fair that they didn’t get to drink too. THAT is concerning. Having an extra drink or two at a party because that’s what you’re used to and you forgot you were only going to stick to one is not. Context matters…

    7. Ludo*

      I would suggest really trying to not drink for a month and if you find that you can’t go a month without drinking then maybe look deeper into your options

    8. PhyllisB*

      I can relate. I stopped drinking over a year ago (with one relapse last Feb.) but I still miss it and think about it. I never thought of myself as an alcoholic because I never drank to the point of passing out but I finally had to face the fact that I was drinking too much and had to stop altogether because I couldn’t drink just one glass of wine and be done with it; it was always three. (Don’t ask me why three was the magic number, it just was!!) I have shared here before that I have members of my family who battle addiction but never thought of myself in that category. It has been really hard for me to face this in myself.
      I have had people tell me, “Well, just limit yourself to one glass, surely you can do that!!” But I have been to meetings with my loved ones, and I know that addicts always start back at the level they left at. I have proven this to myself because I have given up alcohol for Lent a couple of times and when I resumed it was always back at the three glasses. So I have had to face that for me total abstinence is the only answer. I just repeat the the AA mantra: “One day at a time.”

      1. Viette*

        “So I have had to face that for me total abstinence is the only answer.”
        I have a few alcoholics in my life (family and friends), and this is often the hardest thing about addressing their drinking, for them. OP, it’s often very, very frustrating and upsetting to accept. You used to be able to control yourself; other people can stop after one or two drinks; you *should* be able to stop yourself. It can make you feel powerless and angry. It can also make you keep trying to have one or two drinks, and keep failing. And keep beating yourself up.
        At this point I second the recommendations to not drink any alcohol in those party circumstances, and very possibly not drink at all. (“I’m taking a break”/”I might be getting a cold and I don’t want to push it”/”No thanks!”)
        Look at it as taking the easy way out. This isn’t the time for the ideal outcome, where you drink only one drink; this is the time for not having the bad outcome, where you drink five drinks. It may still be hard, and it may tell you a lot about yourself, but the thing to know is that trying to use willpower to make yourself have a different, idealized relationship with alcohol is certainly not the way to start addressing this. Back off, and reassess, and then see what you need to do.

    9. Bluebell*

      For the month of January, I decided not to drink at all at home. I stocked up on a variety of nonalcoholic options, including teas, kombucha, and flavored seltzer. I also made some homemade shrubs. This way when I ended the day, I could treat myself to something special, and it was a nice change. Lots of good advice in this thread, too—I hope it helps you.

    10. Kuododi*

      Even when I did consume alcohol it was so infrequent and such a small amount, I spent most of my time during undergrad as the designated driver for my friends. In seminary and after, I did enough clinical training in different local Level I trauma ctrs, I was able to get a broad perspective on the various ways alcohol and motor vehicles never interact in a positive manner. Needless to say my minimal consumption became even less. For the past 5-6years my state of health has meant no alcohol in any fashion.

      I never had a particular foundation of high consumption as a child. My parents believed in setting a positive example on these issues rather than “do as I say, not as I do.”. That meant no alcohol in the house or consumption of alcohol in front of us kids as long as we were underage by US standards. Best regards.

    11. Marthooh*

      I don’t know about drinking in general, but you should make “No alcohol at parties!” a strict rule for yourself. If you can’t control your behavior under certain circumstances, then avoid those circumstances—that’s something you can control.

    12. Square Root of Minus One*

      Your parents remind me of my father. He has a beer at least once a day before lunch (plus bonus stops at the local pub) and a glass of whisky every night with his wife in front of the TV. He came to visit me in December and bought a bottle of whisky for my place: obviously, me not caring for it wasn’t a parameter.
      I see him, honestly, as an alcoholic – he’d deny vehemently if he heard; your parents and you have much more lucidity, kudos -, and yet, he drinks mindlessly and he couldn’t deal without it for a week.
      And that comes from an occasional drinker. I enjoy a beer or a shot of rum just as much as anyone in a night out, or after a bad day.
      As for tips, I am vigilant to have no daily ritual that involves alcohol: not sitting on the couch after work with a beer, not a glass of wine every Sunday lunch, nothing like that. Just “on occasion”, really, and when I really feel like it. That’s how you accumulate without even thinking.

    13. Not So NewReader*

      My father was allowed to drink starting at age 7. So was I.
      I think he was an alcoholic and I will say that until my dying day.

      I read where psychological dependence comes first. The physical dependence. I am pretty sure I was well on my way to psychologically dependent. I changed everything I was doing. I stopped going out drinking with friends and took a second job. My husband and I decided to totally quit the scene together. And we had to deliberately pick out activities that we would enjoy to fill in that time we would have spent at a bar. It did end up that we stopped being such night owls as the new activities were things that we did during the day.

      I’d seriously recommend getting interested in vitamins and nutrition. Proper levels of vitamins in your body will help you with walking away from it, if this is what you want to do. A body that is nutritionally fortified helps the mind to grow stronger also.
      For me, I was surprised to see how much sitting with friends and drinking filled up my free time. When I was doing it, it never seemed to be that long. Once I stopped, I realized just how long it was.

    14. Miss Pantalones En Fuego*

      I went through a phase where I was drinking far too much and too often, and it was getting quite alarming. However I made a drastic change in my life by deciding to go to graduate school overseas, which meant no longer hanging out with the same people and circumstances. I also met my husband and started spending a lot of time with him, which meant that I no longer had the routine of drinking beer and reading all night.

      It’s a bit of an extreme solution to move to another continent, but maybe some version of this could work for you? Even though back then I was definitely exhibiting all the signs of alcoholism, like having cravings and finding it hard to skip a day, I don’t have that problem any more. I can go to the pub and just have one drink, go for weeks without even thinking of having a drink, etc. I say this to encourage you that it might be possible for you to break this pattern without necessarily thinking that you can never drink again. YMMV of course.

    15. PX*

      I’m a big fan of also trying to understand why you drink. As others have commented, is it for relaxation? Habit? Nervous around new people so a drink makes you less self conscious?

      Just that level of self awareness can help you make better decisions and hopefully taper down on the drinking when needed.

      I’m lucky in that in my younger years, I didnt have the money to afford fancy cocktails, and hated beer and wine – so I learnt how to say no to drinks (and stick to it) early on because thats pretty much what most of my friends group drank at the time. I loved surprising people by going to bars/pubs and ordering tea. So I’m very comfortable being the odd one out by not drinking in a group – perhaps another thing to consider?

    16. Traffic_Spiral*

      For social situations I used to have the same problem, and then realized it’s just that my throat gets dry when talking (especially when we were in smokey bars) and I like having something to sip on. Make a point of having every other drink be water or iced tea or something non-alcoholic and see if that works.

    17. Claire*

      When I wanted to cut down on drinking, I just stopped keeping alcohol in the house, except on rare occasions. I found that for me, a lot of the time I was drinking out of boredom or habit, rather than desperate need, so if there just wasn’t any whiskey around when the urge hit, I wouldn’t drink it, and it was easy enough for me to just slap my own hand when I was at the grocery store and considering going to the liquor section, because I wasn’t exactly planning on sitting down right then and there and chugging. That wouldn’t solve the problem of social situations, but if you want to try cutting back and seeing whether or not you do feel the need to seek more help, that’s an idea.

  10. Myrin*

    My friend’s bachelorette party will be in late March. We will be doing a tour around Salzburg (where I last was seventeen years ago – I’m so looking forward to it!) and then attending some kind of introductory funtimes casino thingy which she (the bride) won at a convention (I did not know that was a thing).

    Now we’re wondering about some additional gift/surprise we (the attendees) can get for her. My friend doesn’t have any particular one or two hobbies she’s very passionate about but instead likes to do all kinds of things and is interested in basically anything. So I’m asking very broadly – anyone got any ideas?

    (And in case it’s relevant: all the organising of this outing was done via a WhatsApp group my friend added all of us to. I went to school with her and so did her oldest childhood friend, who is the only person I can definitely identify in this group; it’s possible I know one other person, but she might also just share a name with who I’m thinking of. The others I’ve never met. The childhood friend then made a separate group with everyone except for the bride so that we might talk ideas regarding a gift, be she, too, doesn’t know any of the others. So any surprise which could be organised or bought or whatever by one person and where everyone else can contribute independently later one when we all meet would be best.)

    1. Fikly*

      I’m not sure how heavily scheduled this trip will be, but if there’s time, some sort of local Salzburg experience could be really fun.

      She’s presumably about to get a lot of stuff from the wedding gifts, so something experience rather than another thing might be welcome.

      1. Myrin*

        Oooh, that’s a great idea right out of the gate! I’ll look into it and ask around a little, thank you so much!

        1. Anonariffic*

          It’s been ages since I went but the part of Salzburg that I remember best wasn’t the city itself but taking an amazing tour of a salt mine outside of town. Definitely worth it if you have the time.

    2. Alston*

      Ok so one of my bridesmaids had everyone send her photos and then she had a photo book made for me of my bachelorette. She gave it to me the morning of my wedding.

      You could also do this before the party. I had a friend who was moving across the country. I got photos from her Facebook and from all her diverse group of friends, and made sort of a yearbook of her time in our city (about 6 years) at her going away party we hid it in a bedroom and had people go sign it. If your friend is the sentimental type get everyone to send a photo or two of them and the bride and then make the photo book. And then everyone can write a nice story in when you’re together.

    3. @Unidentified Lurker - how are you doing?*

      If your friend (and your friend group) likes to cook, look into a group cooking class in Austrian (or any other) cuisine. Some classes will take you to a local market to shop, others just provide the ingredients. It can be a fun group activity, and at the end you all enjoy the meal you’ve created, usually with wine and some extras.

      Other options are things like a group day spa experience. But really any shared group experience can be fun – wine tasting, pub crawl, special theater thing. Some museums will organize a special group tour of part of their collection.

    4. Wishing You Well*

      I realize you’re asking about gifts, but the “attending some kind of introductory funtimes casino thingy” reminds me of the bride who is making her wedding guests attend a timeshare sales pitch at her destination wedding. I sure hope your casino thingy is nothing like that.
      I hope you have fun!

      1. Myrin*

        Ha, I didn’t even think of something like that. But no, my friend would never do that. And I don’t mean that in a naïve “oh no, my beloved would never cheat on me even though [suspicious behaviour A, B, and C]” kind of way but rather in that I would seriously inquire after her wellbeing if she ever did something like that – she’s such a genuinely kind and steadfast and reasonable person, I’d eat my own hat if I ever encountered something like this with her.

        But also, the casino actually advertises this event (and others in the same vein) on its website so unless we get led completely astray (locally, I mean), all should be well! (It’s also possible I didn’t explain myself well enough; it’s a bit hard to do so in English sometimes. It’s a small event including champagne where we’ll get taught beginner’s lessons in Poker or Black Jack, but it’s not about huge sums of money but rather about having fun and doing something together.)

        Thanks for your concern, though, it’s never bad to have stuff like this on one’s general radar!

    5. PX*

      Like Fikly suggested, experiences are usually a good shout. We did a wine tasting for my friends bachelorette which went down well (but she was a wine fan so easy to choose) – but I feel like most things food related are a decent bet.

      As Alston suggested, the other thing that went down well was creating a book with photos and memories for the bride. We did this as a secret, and during the bachelorette everyone passed it around to decorate/write in, and then we gave it to the bride as a wedding present.

      So really I tend towards experiences or more thoughtful/personal gifts that will hopefully be remembered for years :)

      1. Chocolate Teapot*

        An office Christmas party was held at the local casino and we were given tokens to use in the slot machines and given a class on how to play Blackjack. I would still love to know how to sweep the deck of cards and get a perfect arc.

        For Salzburg, there are a couple of tour companies (Panorama Tours is the one that springs to mind, although I have never used it) which do day trips around the Salzkammergut.

        1. LoveEurope*

          There is the ‘water toys’ at the Count’s castle in Saltsburg, but March may be early for the surprise water sprayings. The grotto and music is probably open.

  11. Alston*

    Happy Valentine’s!

    Last night I accidentally used 2 tablespoons of cayenne pepper instead of 2 tablespoons of curry powder.
    Thank God my husband stole a single chickpea to try instead of either of us taking a full bite.

    We ended up ordering pizza instead and having to hide upstairs because it felt like I’d set of pepper spray in the kitchen.

    1. PharmaCat*

      That’s so funny! One time I made banana bread and threw in some chocolate chips. Only they were mint chocolate chips! It was so terrible.

      1. PhyllisB*

        My sister made a pound cake one time, and instead of vanilla accidentally added peppermint extract. It was actually pretty good.
        My son-in-law told a story about making cinnamon toast as a child, but instead of cinnamon, he used cumin powder.

        1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

          I’ve done pound cakes that way with a bit of concentrated espresso instead of the vanilla. It’s a really easy way to shake up the traditional pound cake :)

          Another one that’s SUPER good, with a boxed mix – get a box mix where you add water, not milk, and replace half the water with key lime juice. Key lime pound cake. Delish. Top with raspberry glaze (thin out some raspberry jam with a little bit more of the lime juice).

        2. Marthooh*

          Cumin instead of cinnamon, oh dear. I used curry instead of cumin in tacos once — curried tacos are pretty good!

        3. BikeLover*

          One time I used liquid smoke instead of vanilla. I will NEVER live that one down. Every time I cook with my family, they ask if I want the vanilla or the liquid smoke.

      2. Drtheliz*

        My Worst Cooking Mistake was probably the day I learned that if you’re going to put dried whole mushrooms on a pizza, you need to soak them first. They caught fire. I have, if course, not lived down the resulting Champignons Brulee.

    2. Falling Diphthong*

      I’ve done that with paprika. Even though we were young and poor, we had to admit that there was no saving the dish after rinsing didn’t work, and dumped the whole pot.

      1. Alston*

        Yeah, if I hadn’t mixed the chickpeas in with the rice it would have been fine, but woof. That certainly is a smell.

    3. C Average*

      I once put salt instead of sugar in apple pie filling. The Great Salt Pie is still a legend in my family.

      1. RC Rascal*

        My aunt, when she was young, once made a surprise cake for her family. (think–10 years old). Recipe called for a dash of salt. She didn’t know what that was; decided it was a misspelling for a dish of sale.

        That Great Salt Cake is still a legend in our family. some 60 years after it was made.

        1. Marthooh*

          To be fair to your aunt, “dish” is more reasonable than “dash” as a unit of English measurement: pinch, teaspoon, tablespoon, cup, dish…

        2. Miss Pantalones En Fuego*

          As a kid I made muffins using a recipe on a cereal box, but I somehow misread the amount of baking powder to use (don’t recall the exact numbers but something like 1 teaspoon ended up being 4 tablespoons). Even the squirrels wouldn’t touch them, they were so salty.

        3. Seeking Second Childhood*

          The first time I made pickles I didn’t know the difference between kosher salt and table salt. They were so salty we couldn’t even use them cut up tiny in a martini.
          So yeah…the Great Salty Pickle Disaster.

      2. The Perky Goth*

        I once made houmous, and realised that what I thought was garlic powder was actually garlic salt. Added a bunch of flour to try and stretch it out but it was still inedible!

      3. Linguist*

        Happened to me. Weird how UTTERLY disgusting that is!

        (Happened to my parents as well, speaking of family legends. That’s why the jam jar they kept the salt in had a label with a death’s head on it.)

        1. Wired Wolf*

          My mom tends to store spices in old jam jars–we’re moving soon, so I’m throwing out all the empty small jars I can find. Sometimes she’ll put the label in the jar with whatever it is, but not always. Five-spice cake, anyone? (that was horrible). I later found the–properly labeled–cocoa/cinnamon mix I had meant to use way up in the top of the cupboard and I know I did not put it up there.

    4. Elizabeth West*

      Oh nooooooo lol

      I once made a tuna casserole that was so bad, my ex who ate anything that was set before him didn’t want to eat it. I didn’t want to eat it. We opened a can of stew.

      1. Alston*

        My dad made some so bad once the cats wouldn’t even eat it.

        He decided to make sauerbraten. We thought it was marinating a suspiciously long time, and smelled it and were like nope….

        Family say down to dinner and my brother and I were both like hell no, we aren’t eating this. And my parents threatened all sorts of punishments (before even eating a bite themselves because we were being such pills) until we finally ate a tiny bite. Then the dug in. And apologized. And not even the cat wanted some. It was seriously like chewing vinegar.

        1. Laura H.*

          My mom put cinnamon instead of chili powder in chili once. (Well before I was eating solid foods, thank goodness!)

          1. Fikly*

            Cinnamon can be good in chili! But probably in smaller amounts than chili powder, and also with the chili powder on top of it.

      2. PhyllisB*

        If this shows up twice, forget me. I lost my comment while typing. Anyway, I love trying recipes I read in novels. One time I decided to try a recipe for Prune Meat Balls. (This was a Scandinavian recipe.) Took me all day and made a HUGE amount.
        At dinner that night my husband ate three huge helpings (he was taking predisone that week. He was in treatment for Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma.) After dinner he grabbed the pot of left-overs, strode out to the back fence and poured it out. When he came in, he said, “Don’t ever make that again.” And the kids were like “Thank you, Lord!!”
        Now whenever we make something that doesn’t quite turn out, the standard of comparison is, “Is it worse than the prune meatballs?” It never is.

        P.S. For those of you wondering why I mentioned the predisone, this is a steroid they give cancer patients, and it gives you a HUGE appetite. You will eat anything while taking it.

        1. KoiFeeder*

          Taking pred is like that one scene from the Venom movie for me. I’ll clean out a fridge in an hour.

      3. Amethystmoon*

        I’ve once or twice burnt pizza, but usually because I was distracted by other stuff. I did once overestimate the amount of time to microwave leftover flatbread. It was frozen and I put it in for 5 minutes. Should have tried for 2 minutes. Though, I did learn you can stop the fire alarm from going off by putting a coat or something over the microwave vent, and then not opening the microwave door. But, it will make your microwave stink and you will have to put some baking soda in it later.

    5. NicoleK*

      My SIL made pumpkin bars with cayenne pepper instead of cinnamon. She didn’t believe me at first when I mentioned that her pumpkin bars were spicy

    6. Fikly*

      Back in home ec, we cooked/baked in groups. I was out of the room (on a bathroom break or something) when the final ingredients went in one time.

      Pumpkin bread without sugar is not something that anyone should experience.

      1. Merci Dee*

        Oh, my daughter and I are the family pumpkin pie makers for our family Thanksgiving. A couple of years ago, we made our pies and happily toddled off to Thanksgiving lunch … only to discover we’d forgotten the sugar. So, we double and triple check for the sugar now in all our pies.

        1. Fikly*

          Ah, Thanksgiving pumpkin pie disasters!

          My sister can no longer eat dairy. She also adores pumpkin pie.

          So a few years ago, my mother decided she would make a dairy-free pumpkin pie for her for Thanksgiving. She decided to bake it the evening before (planning ahead).

          Turns out when you use a dairy substitute, the raw pie filling is not as thick. When she went to put the pie in the oven, it spilled EVERYWHERE. So badly, we had to disassemble the entire oven door to clean it.

          And then there was the emergency Thanksgiving Eve trip to try to buy more ingredients. There were tears from multiple parties involved.

          My sister said pie #2 was delicious, but I don’t feel like any other answer would have been allowed at that point.

    7. Three owls in a trench coat*

      I guess you could say you really…spiced things up!

      I’ll show myself out.

      I’ve had a number of close calls with almost putting chili powder in my morning oatmeal instead of cinnamon. The fact that I’m not a morning person and prefer to keep the kitchen lights dimmed until I’m fully awake probably doesn’t help.

    8. Perstephanie*

      When I was a tween and just starting to experiment with baking, I tried a recipe for a “Lemon Pudding Cake.” It called for half a cup of lemon juice, and I looked and looked but there was no lemon juice in the house. But I found a bottle of lemon extract and thought “Score!” and poured in, yes, half a cup. A full bottle.

      It was, er, memorable.

          1. KoiFeeder*

            Firstly, start with the cajun napalm style of roux. Secondly, forget to grab the ingredients you need after the roux is complete, rush to the fridge, and pour chilled beef stock directly into the still-hot roux.

            Thermodynamics isn’t just a suggestion, it’s the law.

    9. Wishing You Well*

      A young friend of mine made a hamburger dish with an entire bulb of garlic (not a clove). She tried adding more hamburger to cut the taste but threw it all away in the end. Her husband and 3 kids just couldn’t handle it!
      Oy!

      1. Seven hobbits are highly effective, people*

        I also had a friend who did this, but with a rice dish recipe she’d gotten from a neighbor (so no one else in her family was particularly familiar with the details of it to head these issues off in advance). Heads versus cloves of garlic is confusing to a kid! Fortunately, some adult intervened when she started peeling the second head of garlic, so we only got aggressively garlic-y rice (with one head of garlic in it rather than 3 cloves) rather than inedibly garlic-y rice.

      2. GoryDetails*

        A friend of mine did that – made meatballs using an entire head of garlic instead of a clove. And he was in his 30s at the time. (Not a frequent cooker, obviously.) The meatballs have passed into legend, but oddly enough the folks at the gathering said they were actually pretty good – I think they all had a high tolerance for garlic…

      3. Claire*

        Honestly, I’d probably be happy with it–my general policy when it comes to cooking is that any recipe with one clove of garlic in it should really have four–but I think I’m unusual for North America.

        1. BikeLover*

          I do this. I cannot figure out why you would only put one clove of garlic in anything. I generally use a whole head unless there’s a darned good reason not to

          1. Clisby*

            Cook’s Illustrated once referred to a recipe specification of something like 1/8 tsp. of cumin as “a silly ingredient.” I’d classify a single clove of garlic in that category.

    10. RussianInTexas*

      I once dresses cole slaw with sweetened condensed milk instead of mayo. Do not recommend.
      And few weeks ago I made a lentil stew with Moroccan spices, wasn’t careful with it, and yep. The pepper spray in the kitchen description is appropriate.

    11. Enter_the_Dragonfly*

      That is both awful and hilarious (cry-laughing face)! Glad ya’ll have s sense of humor about it. Were you able to go in to the kitchen this morning?

      1. Alston*

        We forgot to put away the nuclear chicpeas last night, so downstairs was still a little spicey, but fine.

        It was weird, the air didn’t smell spicey last night, but we were coughing from it.

        My husband said it reminded him of the time he tried to flush pepper spray down the toilet when he was in college (and an idiot). Apparently he dischared the mace under the water and it still pepper sprayed his whole dorm.

    12. Eng*

      My friend and I once accidentally used salted butter when making shortbread. I had never thought salted vs unsalted would make a big difference but oh boy, did it ever.

    13. LmMp*

      My husband once wanted to make crepes for me for mother’s day. I was flying back from a meeting and called me in the Uber when I was about 10 minutes from the house because “the recipe wasn’t working”. Turns out he used powdered sugar instead of eggs. It was the most disgusting sugary scrambled. We started over…

    14. Nita*

      I once made biscuits to impress a boy, and I guess there was a typo in the recipe because it called for 5 tablespoons of baking soda. I didn’t realize this is a mistake because the recipe specifically went on about how you need to use more baking soda then you think for them to rise nicely. It was so bitter. The boy actually ate half of one, kind soul that he is, before I bit into the next one and started yelling “OMG, I’m so sorry, no one eat this, I’ll finish the rest myself!”

      In hindsight, though, so glad I didn’t impress him. We were both meant to be with other people.

    15. Seeking Second Childhood*

      First time visiting my boyfriend (now husband) at his mother’s farm, I was told that sugar for my tea was in the big jar on the counter. I didn’t realize the 2-quart jar was the LITTLE one so ended up with salted tea.
      People who put up pickles & bake restaurant quantities of cookies have a skewed definition of big!

    16. Fikly*

      This wasn’t an accident, but my brother-in-law’s ah, creative approach to cooking/he doesn’t understand substitutions.

      He decided he would make my sister a lasagna. This is a very special thing, because my sister has Celiac and also can’t have dairy, so a lasagna is complicated. My sister provided him with the recipe.

      By now, I forget entirely what ingredient he couldn’t find, but it was some kind of green vegetable. One appropriate for lasagna. He shrugged and thought, you know what else is green and vegetable like? Cucumbers! And thus the legend of the diced cucumber lasagna was born.

      1. Fikly*

        Now I remember, it was zucchini. They are totally equivalents, right? I mean, green and tube shaped, what else is important?

  12. Penny*

    Obviously I’m not looking for a miracle work-out routine but I do want to pick your brains for effective weight-loss exercises. I feel overwhelmed when searching the Internet for ideas and wanted to ask people who have actually gone through exercising with the focus of losing weight.

    1. Not A Manager*

      The common wisdom that I’ve heard is that it’s hard to lose weight through exercise alone. I’ve been doing Weight Watchers since the middle of January and it’s been working very well for me. Coincidentally, I also upped my aerobic exercise a good bit, but I do think the awareness of what I’m eating has helped a lot.

      1. Falling Diphthong*

        That is what I have heard, as well–that it’s really rare to lose weight with exercise alone. Barring the deal where you move and the new place makes it really easy to walk everywhere and such, and so the adults in the family all lose a few pounds. And then stop at a new, slightly lower weight.

      2. ThatGirl*

        Exercise is good for mind, body and soul and can help keep weight off, but you are correct that it’s not the main driver. It’s much easier to cut, say, 500 calories from your eating a day than burn 500 extra calories every day through exercise. That said! Building muscle is a good way to boost your metabolism,

      3. CoffeeLover*

        Weight training is the best. You build muscle which in turn burns more calories. A lot of people have trouble getting starting because the gym can be intimidating. If you feel that way, then it’s a good idea to go with a friend who’s a seasoned gymer or hire a personal trainer for a month that can show you which exercises you can do and how to do them safely. While cardio is great, you should also keep in mind that some cardio (like running) can be hard on the joints. Think about doing low impact cardio like stairs instead.

        Diet is important but it doesn’t have to be complicated. Drink water instead of sugary drinks. If you like flavored beverages then lemon water is a good option. Reduce the ratio of carbs in your meals. Eat slowly so you don’t overeat. Stock up on healthy snacks like nuts and fruit so you don’t reach for processed foods. Try to stop eating out and cook more at home. Fast food/restaurant food is loaded with empty calories.

        1. CoffeeLover*

          Sorry for the nesting fail. I saw your comment about more specifically wanting help with training so I thought I would elaborate on that if you want to go the weight training route.

          There are a lot of fancy exercises out there, but in reality, there are only a few fundamental weight training exercises that will get you the results you want. The fancy stuff you can add on if you get bored with the basic moves. Those being:
          1) legs: squats
          2) back: pull ups (or pull downs) and rows (standing or sitting)
          3) shoulders: shoulder press (and lateral raises if you want)
          4) chest: pushups or chest press (do this with dumbbells instead of the bar – it’s better for your shoulders and less risk of injury)

          You can add extra arm exercises if you want, but I find I get enough of an arm workout doing the above moves. You can also add planks/sit-ups if you want for extra abs, but you engage your abs whenever you’re doing standing exercises so it’s also not necessary. Deadlifts are a great all around workout, but are prone to injury so I would avoid those until you feel you have a good technique.

          Depending on how many times you go, you can do:
          Day 1: legs and shoulders
          Day 2 back and biceps
          Day 3: chest and triceps

          Keep repeating each week, add 15min of stair master each day and bam you’re fit. The internet really over complicates this stuff.

          I’ll also add that most people use too light weights. You should do 8-12 reps for 3 sets to failure. To failure means that you physically can’t do the move another time and the last few should be a struggle. If you find you can do 15 reps, then the weight is too light.

          It’s important to have proper technique to avoid injury, so again, get someone to show you how to do these things properly. That will also give you the confidence to walk into the gym knowing you’re doing it right.

          1. CoffeeLover*

            One more thing. Most people spend way too long at the gym. A good gym session should be 30 – 45min. It’s better to go more frequently, with shorter sessions, than to spend 1hr+ and only go once a week.

            1. Diahann Carroll*

              All of this. And to piggyback off your day exercise suggestions, I’ve been doing HIT yoga for about a half hour to an hour every day, and I have lost a few pounds. Amazon Prime has great videos for this, especially the 30 Day Yoga for Weight Loss series with Jill Marie.

          2. Personal Trainer*

            Yes! Coffee Lover has outlined great advice, and I agree with it entirely. Absolutely agree that most people spend far too much time at the gym! 30 min on most days should be sufficient. Strength training is the fastest/best way to aid in your weight loss goals – but nutrition needs to be a focus as well. I typically encourage my clients to focus on eating “healthy” 80% of the time, and allow yourself some indulgences (not binges) 20% of the time.

            “Eating Healthy” = paying attention to both quantity AND quality. Avoid all the fads/diet foods. Go for REAL food – focus on eating more fruits and veggies. If you make it a priority to eat more veggies – you naturally won’t have as much room in your daily diet for junk food, because veggies are filling! Avoid all the low fat/fat free stuff and eat the real food. Your body knows how to process real food, not fake, created in a lab food.

            But you have to still pay attention to quantity. You can over-do it on healthy foods as well. At the end of the day, it’s still a matter of calories in vs. calories out, but food composition is extremely important.

            When I say 80/20 – that means you make healthier choices 80% of the time. That doesn’t mean you eat healthy M-F and eat whatever you want on the weekends. That will sabotage your goals every time. I typically recommend picking 1 meal a week to get whatever you want – maybe you really want to order pizza on Friday nights. Get the pizza, but also make a side salad. Don’t gorge on the pizza, but feel comfortable eating what you want – go ahead and have a 3rd slice. Then, you might also pick one “treat” per week. I personally love sweets, so that treat for me would be dessert.

            This way you’re not depriving yourself – there are no good foods vs bad foods – it’s all about moderation. Make better choices most of the time. And if you have a week where you go out to eat twice and overdo it – you didn’t ruin anything – just keep making better choices at every meal.

            You can’t out-train a bad diet. Working out helps speed up building muscle (and it FEELS GOOD), but working out alone will not = weight loss. (Maybe a little, but not sustainable.)

            Good luck!!

      4. Thursday Next*

        Exercise can have powerful psychological effects, though. I find it easier to eat healthier foods when I’ve established an exercise habit, because I’m in a more positive frame of mind. I have fewer cravings, and I am also conscious of not wanting to undermine my exercise efforts through food choices. YMMV.

        1. Diahann Carroll*

          Same, though I do still eat my sweets because I believe everything can be okay in moderation.

    2. hamsterpants*

      Doing something you find enjoyable, or at least tolerable, is the best. For exercise to be effective, you have to keep doing it!

      1. Falling Diphthong*

        I agree with this re exercise for any reason–I really liked deep water running, found it very meditative, did it leading up to surgery.

        (Didn’t lose any weight at it, though.)

      2. Traffic_Spiral*

        This. the best exercise is whatever you can make yourself regularly do. The best healthy food is whatever you can enjoy eating regularly.

    3. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      Exercising is good for toning, and for strengthening your muscles and increasing your stamina and keeping you limber and many other things. But if your primary goal is weight loss, exercise alone is not an effective way to do it. A brisk walk will burn about 90 calories per mile – that’s less than the equivalent of an ounce of cheese or a serving of low-fat yogurt.

    4. MOAS*

      One thing I have always read in the last 15-20 years and experienced personally is that weightlifting will help with overall weight/body composition than just cardio alone. Adjusted diet is a given. Weight # alone may not change as much, because muscles weigh more than fat, but it takes up less space so you look overall slimmer.

    5. Drama Llama Herder*

      I *hate* exercising, but I eventually discovered I enjoy Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. I like having a purpose I guess? And I don’t feel self conscious like I do in regular group exercise classes. It’s been great for becoming stronger and increasing my cardio, but it took going to a registered dietician and making lots of small diet changes to actually start shedding weight. I can tell when my eating habits slip (pasta is SO GOOD) that my weight does too.

    6. nep*

      Agree with other comments (and you probably already know)–what you’re eating is going to do far more for weight loss than how you work out. Not to say exercise not important–it’s huge.
      All that said, I feel leaner when I do strength training. Don’t focus only on aerobic/cardio. Building muscle can make a difference.

    7. Penny*

      I should clarify that yes, I know diet changes must also come about. I’m already working on that. It’s exercise where I feel lost and am looking for guidance.

    8. Stephanie*

      I go to boot camp (think HIIT), and I love it, but it hasn’t been a weight loss boon. There’s an adage that you can’t outrun your fork, and I think it’s true.
      That being said, finding a form of exercise that you enjoy can help motivate you to be more mindful of your diet. And, exercising just makes me feel better, in general, and there are health benefits from just moving your body more, even if there isn’t a corresponding weight loss. (Plus, things have tightened up noticeably, which has made me more confident and care less about the number on the scale.)
      Can you check out some classes at your local YMCA or a trial at a gym? That might be a good way to find something you like. I’ve tried many, many things over the years, and it is essential for me that I actually like the activity or I won’t stick with it for very long.

    9. OyHiOh*

      Historically, the single most effective, most sustainable exercise on earth is walking. About a mile a day, or twenty minutes a day – a fit human of average height and mobility can walk a mile in about 20 minutes but as always, YMMV, etc. Pounds will not melt off. This will be a slow gradual change over years, not weeks.

      A friend of mine – almost 4 years ago – was diganosed on the threshold of type 2 diabetes. They started walking more. Initially just started eating “a little” less (the equivilant of eating one less snack a day, basically). *Years* later, my friend has lost closing in on 200 pounds and their A1C is perfect and has been, consistently, for two years. Friend says it’s the walking that did it.

    10. university minion*

      I can lose weight through exercise alone, but it means working up to mileage (running and cycling) that’s not sustainable if I have much more than the bare minimum of life-stuff going on.
      I hate restricting calories and LOVE FOOD, but as I age, it’s becoming more difficult to maintain, much less lose, weight without paying close attention to what goes in. There are lots of good things about getting older, but this ain’t one.

    11. cat socks*

      I always recommend the YouTube channel Fitness Blender for anyone starting off with exercise. They have tons of free workout videos or you can buy a series of programs from their website for something more structured. I think they also have information about food and meal plans but haven’t looked into that in detail.

    12. The Other Dawn*

      Weight loss is 80% nutrition and 20% exercise. I’ve heard that from many people, including my trainer. You can exercise all day long, but if you eat more calories than you burn, you’re typically not going to lose weight. So, I’d focus your energy on eating well first, then adding in some exercise. Building some muscle will help to burn more calories. Read CoffeeLover’s post below, which is really on point.

      1. Amethystmoon*

        Yes but if one has hypothyroid or other conditions, it can be very difficult to lose weight that way. Just saying as someone who’s been trying for years.

    13. Not So NewReader*

      I did not start losing weight until I cut out carbs. I had a very physical job so the doc said NOT to add exercise to the big mess that was my so-called health. I lost three sizes in two weeks, but I only lost 4 pounds. Muscle weighs more than fat/water.
      From that I can really see why they say what you eat is more important than exercise. Taking walks was the best thing for me, as my body got healthier I needed to process “life stuff”. Walking was my time slot for mulling over big picture stuff.
      I now can add that diet is only one aspect of weight loss. I had to deal with allergies; things that were just bad habits; and I had to get a handle on my sleep time. If we don’t get enough sleep we tend to eat, this makes sense because energy has to come from some where. I had to learn about hydration as thirst will often times feel like hunger but it’s not hunger.

      I had started trying to lose weight when I graduated high school. I had gotten some exercise machines (crappy ones) and I decided to watch what I snacked on. This gave me some success but it was hard to sustain and eventually I stalled out. I would go through long periods of time where I did not gain or lose one single pound. It was truly an act of self-discipline to stay focused on my goal. Seventeen years later I got really sick, everything was going wrong. With professional help, I took back control of my diet, hydration and rest. So it was almost 20 years for me to lose 8 sizes. Once I decided to focus on how I felt, did I have good energy levels, was I able to do everything I needed to do during the day (within reason), that focus is when the real results started happening.

      I now have a range of two sizes that I keep as my goal. When the higher size gets tight, I start roping in what I am doing so I do not “graduate” to a size outside of my goal. It’s much easier to handle a smaller version of the problem than to revisit that whole long saga.

    14. Amethystmoon*

      I have stuck religiously to walking in the warehouse where I work. (Well, I work in the office adjacent to it.) But there’s an area flagged off for walking, and 4 times is a mile. So I take my 2 breaks and walk for that time. I have actually lost a few pounds this winter as a result. When it’s warmer, I can start walking to work again, but I still have to worry about ice for the time being.

    15. NoLongerYoung*

      It’s complicated, and there’s lots of good advice. I did a combination of things and I “did” take off 175 pounds and keep it off (15 years now). It was a combination of my eating and the exercise.
      But the exercise REALLY helped.
      * I found that weight lifting was aweseome – and don’t fear getting muscle bound (didn’t happen, and trust me, I tried). I lifted to exhaustion, within 12 reps or so, on every machine in the gym. (I had a trainer set me up and monitor periodically, but I tracked this). And then I’d up the weight as soon as the lifting got easy at that level. I laid down a great level of muscle and my basal metabolic rate seemed to go up.
      * I also did cardio. To the “target heart rate” on the elliptical, and kept it there for my 20 minutes. (appropriate monitoring).
      * I also did the concept 2 rower… YMMV but I did what they called “the long row” – 3 hours on Saturdays, rowing and rowing. This helps (in theory – it has not doubt been disproven in the 15 years subsequently! this is just what I researched back then) because 20 minutes is burning the sugar converted from your recent eating. A longer workout, and you are having to start to reach in and convert the fat cells into energy..
      I don’t know if that “is” actually true, but I did it
      * and, I tried to burn – cardio – 500 calories a day more than I ate. (or 3500 a week). That’s a pound a week, from the exercise. So if I wanted to eat more, I had to exercise more. This was good math. I tracked basically what I ate (I had been food journaling the calories in an app for about a year when I started; I just had to add an accurate estimate of the real calories I was burning).
      Most folks overestimate the amount they are exercising and under estimate the amount they are eating. I was harder than it sounds, but it taught me a close-to-lifetime set of good habits that still serve me well. I didn’t have to measure the food after I got good at the portions.
      But I do have to set the timer for exercise – because it is easy to think “oh, that’s enough” when ahem, its only been 10 minutes, not 20.
      But I loved how strong I felt, and that sense of accomplishment has stayed with me since then.
      I do need to get back to the more rigorous exercise (I have been slacking on the cardio and just walking gently with pokey dog, unless I go to Pilates cardio).
      I hope this helps. You will find that once you get in the groove, it also reduces your anxiety and you do enjoy and miss it when you can’t exercise. (and I never thought I’d say that).

  13. Myrin*

    Alison, if it’s not too much, please tell us more about the long-suffering Humphrey and his interaction with the other cats!

      1. Ask a Manager* Post author

        That is Eve! She and Wallace are now best friends, which is surprising since she spent the first 10 or so months terrorizing him. (Everything changed when he got bigger than her.)

        Humphrey is doing well! I think he’d prefer not to have the other cats around because they are Highly Active, but he tolerates them — until they get too rambunctious and up in his face. Wallace fell on top of him while playing the other day and Humphrey barely reacted. We haven’t been able to coax him out of his room much though — he’s come out a couple of times but he’s clearly unnerved by the prospect of running into cats on their territory. But he’s making real progress in general — has put on weight (was skin and bones when he was found; now you can barely feel his spine anymore), is getting much more playful (we thought he was a lot older when he came to us but now he seems 8-ish), and generally seems more confident.

        1. fposte*

          Am I hallucinating or did you post that picture before? I swear I remember looking at the display cabinets.

          1. Ask a Manager* Post author

            I posted a link to it way down in the comments of last weekend’s open thread, but hadn’t used it as the main photo yet. So you probably saw it then!

        2. Jenn*

          I’m a few thousand too many miles away to adopt him myself, but I want so intensely for Humphrey to be happy and healthy and go to a good home. Something about that face and body language just has my heartstrings tugged.

          1. Elizabeth West*

            I feel like Alison seems to end up with all her foster babies permanently joining the household, heh heh.

          2. Ask a Manager* Post author

            As of today, we have a potential adopter who’s going to do a trial foster period to make sure he gets along with their other cat. We are very excited for him (and them)!

            1. tangerineRose*

              That’s great! He’ll probably like having just 1 kitty friend. You’ve done such a great job with him!

    1. Three owls in a trench coat*

      When I first looked at the photo my initial thought was “Why does Humphrey have two bananas next to him? For scale?” Took me a few seconds to realize they’re just cat toys.

      I’m sure Humphrey is glad to be out of the cold and in a warm, loving home, even if he does have to share it with the resident cats.

  14. A Different Julia*

    Hi everyone! I want to recommend a book called Selling Dead People’s Things by Duane Scott Cerny.
    Written by a lifelong vintage dealer, it’s a fascinating journey through his childhood love of resale, building his business with his partner, and some of the people and things he met along the way.

    I know many of us like ghost stories and there are a few in this book, though it’s not the main point.

    If you’re in Chicago you can buy it at their shop, the Broadway Antique Market.
    If not, I’ll post links below.
    Enjoy! :)

    1. GoryDetails*

      Thanks for the pointer – sounds like I’d enjoy that!

      It also reminded me of the Cheryl Wheeler song “Estate Sale”, featuring the chorus:

      “Going through dead people’s houses
      Wonderful things they have collected
      Open the drawers and trunks and closets
      Don’t leave a corner uninspected”

      The song’s rather bouncy, and wraps up with a line that might make the packrats among us feel a teeny bit better about bringing in all those exciting things from other people’s sales:

      “But I bet we’ll make some young strangers happy when we die”

  15. Miss Pantalones En Fuego*

    Any suggestions for keeping on top of non-work volunteer tasks?

    I have a couple of groups I’ve volunteered to do things for, but my problem is that the tasks are so infrequent that I forget about them. I’m not actually busy in my life at all, in fact I have nothing much to do. I think this is a big part of the problem. I’m just not in the habit of checking to see what I need to do every week and then actually doing it. Any ideas for getting myself to remember and then actually do this stuff?

    1. A Different Julia*

      I have a wall calendar above my dresser and I write appointments on it in brightly colored ink so I’m always seeing them. That works pretty well.

      1. bunniferous*

        If you use Gmail, set reminders in Google Calendar and set it up for reminders that will go to email.

        1. Pomona Sprout*

          You don’t even have to use Gmail to do this. Google calendar will send reminders to any email address you tell it to.

    2. A New Normal*

      I put them in my iphone’s calendar with alerts set for one week and one day ahead. It’s not perfect (it still requires me to LOOK at my calendar to keep myself from double-booking) but the alerts at least keep me from forgetting it the week of.

    3. IAmOnlyHereForThePoetry*

      I put the items I need to do on or by a certain date in my calendar so I don’t forget. I also write a separate To Do list during meetings so I can look at it the next day (or week) and the list will live next to my computer until all the items are complete.

      1. Miss Pantalones En Fuego*

        Part of my problem is that I look at the reminder and think “ok I can do that sometime today” and then I just… Don’t do it. I guess it’s a form of procrastination. I don’t know how to make myself stop doing it though.

        1. Dr. Anonymous*

          Maybe step back and see why you volunteer for these things and if you don’t really want to do them in the first place.

          1. Miss Pantalones En Fuego*

            There is a certain element of not wanting to do it, but I’m like that with just about everything in life. I was asked by people I know in other capacities to take these things on because nobody else was willing to do them, and quitting would be a big knock against my professional reputation at this point.

    4. leukothea*

      I add things to my to-do app and complete them throughout the day. I feel a sense of satisfaction when I complete my goal of 5 tasks per day. Anything that doesn’t get done that day has to be manually transferred to the next day, which I hate doing, so that’s a negative incentive to get myself to actually get through the list.

    5. Not So NewReader*

      I have this problem and it’s embarrassing to show up with stuff not done. Or forget to show up.
      I make myself look at my calendar every Sunday night to see what is coming up for the next 7 days.

      I put warning notes the week before, “Volunteer Chore next week!”

      Sometimes there are things that I cannot screw up. I have to remember to show up for an event on a particular day. I use a white board in my kitchen and put notes on my place mat.

      One thing that is good is the group just accepts that everyone forgets, so reminders go out for some things, especially the critical stuff such as an event.

      Partner up where it makes sense and the two of you can remind each other. Unfortunately, I have not found a one size fits all answer. Somethings are just plain hard to remember.

    6. Nelalvai*

      I struggle with the non-routine too. I have a big chart on the wall of daily/weekly/monthly chores that I’m mostly faithful to but the one-off items are much harder. What if you incorporated a 10-min volunteer block into your daily routine? If you don’t have any volunteer work do something else that day. The important thing is to sit down and look at the volunteer stuff everyday.
      That king of routine can take months to build. Even if it’s been two weeks of not doing it, do it on day 15, the habit is growing. (Speaking from experience)

  16. C Average*

    Fiction writing question and observation: how common is it for a story to morph into something almost entirely new?

    Last year I wrote a 300-page draft of a novel. It got savaged in workshop, and I seriously contemplated sticking it in a drawer and never looking at it again. But like malaria, it keeps coming back, and I feel weirdly compelled to write it again.

    If you’ve had similar experiences, did a rewrite prove worthwhile?

    I was all ready to move onto something new–I had an outline and 50 pages of the next book written–when this character started invading my thoughts again.

    1. Foreign Octopus*

      To be honest, with my fiction writing I always expect my drafts to morph into something different. There will be similarities between the first draft and final product but only in the sense of shared scenes and bits of dialogue that I liked. Most of everything else will be shifted around and changed.

    2. Elizabeth West*

      If you want to do it, do it! The English department chair at my alma mater is a Mark Twain scholar who wrote an acclaimed biography of him and his wife. I had several classes with her and she told me that time spent writing is never a waste.

      Remembering that made me feel better when I finished Secret Book and realized how badly I’d messed up. It contains some of the best writing I’ve ever done, which tells me that yes, I can elevate my voice a bit if the story demands it (I’m not a literary writer). It was good practice, and I got something valuable out of it, even if I never revise and it remains a trunk novel until the end of time.

      It might turn out better this time, or it might not. I think you’ll figure that out pretty quick, and there is no obligation to finish if you see it isn’t going anywhere.

    3. Ravenahra*

      Rewriting is always worth it.

      Your first draft will never be that great. Sorry, but it won’t. It might be really good but it won’t be great.

      All writers have to do rewrites to fix their first draft and it’s common for first drafts to be savaged.

      So, don’t take it personally and go ahead and do the rewrite.

      1. C Average*

        Sigh. Yeah.

        I revised and/or rewrote extensive passages of the first draft and had secretly hoped I could tinker around the edges and not have to rewrite the whole thing. I didn’t expect to have the main character demanding a new setting, new friends, a new relationship with her mother, etc. Almost everything has changed except for the main character’s name, the name of her love interest, and the fact that it all takes place in the not particularly distant future.

    4. Jedi Squirrel*

      If you try to push it in the direction you want it to go, it won’t be great. (But, hey—there is a market for those kinds of books, apparently. Some people don’t like to be challenged when they read, and that’s okay.)

      But stories are organic things, found objects. Most of my short stories never go where I think they will. It’s a wild ride, and quite enjoyable.

    5. Rick Tq*

      MadGeniusClub.com is a group blog of a bunch of SF/Fantasy writers who talk about the writing process and how some days the Muse takes over and an outline gets left miles behind in the dust.. There are also discussions about how to self-publish and deal with distributors.

    6. MissDisplaced*

      If ‘the story is still in you’ then go do the rewrite!
      Things are never fully done at at draft stage. But on the other hand, you don’t necessarily have to take all of the advice that was given either (critiques can be useful I think, but sometimes come off as savaging the story so much it feels like people are out to change the whole idea). But whatever you decide, just writing and finishing is the thing.

    7. Diahann Carroll*

      Are you talking about revising your draft so that you clean up any plot holes and fix story problems (e.g., character development, story arcs) or are you talking about completely rewriting the story from top to bottom so that it’s basically a different story set in the same world as your original draft? Because for me, the former is just a basic tenet of writing anything – hardly anyone writes a 100% clean and perfect first draft of anything. Revision is to be expected. The latter, on the other hand, is something I try to avoid – the story just never ends up having the same spark as the original. It always feels watered down and uninspired.

      I once wrote a 300 page horror novel with a murderous pedophile preacher as the main character, and that monster just wouldn’t leave my brain – it was distressing. So I ended up putting him into a short story I wrote for a horror anthology in a setting not of my own making (the anthology was doing a collaborative serial where the original writer created the setting, but allowed the other writers to use it and any side characters we wanted) – it turned out a thousand times better than the novel I ended up trashing. It was so good that I revised it and took out the anthology elements that weren’t mine, created my own side characters, and added it to my own horror short story collection.

      Figure out what you want your outcome to be for this novel and this character, and then you’ll know whether to revise or rewrite it altogether with your character in a totally different setting.

      1. C Average*

        Yeah, a complete rewrite, top to bottom. I think there’s still some juice for this character and story, although I very much get what you’re saying about the lack of excitement around writing a book you’ve already written. Because it’s SO different, there’s new world building to do and some new characters to write. I think it’s worth a shot.

        1. Diahann Carroll*

          That’s cool if you can make it work – I’m always gutted when I have to abandon a story because I can’t do rewrites. Let us know how it goes!

  17. TW/CW: pregnancy and fetal complications*

    It’s been a week. Regular name will be in the comments below, just putting the content warning in username so people can choose to read or skip.

    I had health issues prior to my pregnancy, including diabetes and being overweight. When I first found out I was pregnant, I learned that I had hypothyroidism and a blood disorder that made me prone to blood clots–the latter was the reason for all my miscarriages, but b/c of the weight and diabetes, previous doctors didn’t find it. The thyroid made so much sense to me now, for 2 years, I was in a fog–constantly tired/fatigued, not being able to lose weight, etc. I thought it was PCOS but my bloodwork came back “normal” for it–by the time I got to an obgyn who ordered a pelvic ultrasound to check there, I was already pregnant. In addition to my insulin regime, I’m taking an injectable blood thinner and baby aspirin and synthroid.

    Anyway, so I’ve been going to a high risk specialist since December and have had 5 ultrasounds now, and everything seems to be going fine, strong heartbeat, active baby etc. Physically I feel OK, I haven’t had many symptoms–no nausea, still tired etc. Blood work showed that my thyroid levels were improving as was my A1c for my diabetes.

    I joined a few Facebook groups for support and information–now, they are support groups and they are NOT substitutes for medical professionals. it’s more like, “oh yeah, I’ve had that symptom!/any recommendations for diaper bags” type of stuff. So, they’re supportive but not the “your doctor knows nothing, stop taking medicine and do everything naturally” kind.

    I joined one group that was for hypothyroidism. I introduced myself and relayed my journey, similar to what I’ve stated here-history and everything is going great and i’m optimistic yay! The second or third comment someone made was “you DO KNOW that your baby will not develop a brain, right?”

    I commented back saying no I didn’t know but that they could be a little kinder about it. I disengaged from the conversation, left the group and reached out to some people for support and comfort. I even reached out to my endocrinologist and she said that that was false.

    First of all, even if it’s true, there are so many ways to say something. And….you just do not tell an already pregnant woman her baby will be dead. Being kind and honest is NOT the same thing as sugarcoating. (The group prided itself on “not sugarcoating”).

    Anyway, I write this here because hopefully someone will get this (as I’ve learned many things from reading here over hte years)…..you can be kind while being honest and factual.

    Also–because my brain won’t shut off now–anyone with thyroid issues go on to have a healthy baby?

    Finally — my anatomy scan is next week and I could use the good wishes!

    1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      What a jerk!! Good thoughts to you – I have two friends with thyroid issues who have seven perfectly healthy munchkins among them, ranging from age 4-17.

    2. TL -*

      Thyroid issues (especially thyroid issues that are controlled with medication) aren’t going to affect your baby. My grandmother had two healthy babies with hypothyroidism. And I have it and no doctor has ever discussed it as a pregnancy risk, including my very thorough OB-GYN. Hypo is really, really common in women – if it caused birth complications we would know about it.

      Good luck with your anatomy scan!

    3. bunniferous*

      I am tempted to think that the person who wrote you that vile comment did not have a brain themselves. It is safe to say they certainly were not USING it. Ugh.

      1. MOAS*

        I was tempted to say that they are ugly as hell (and not looks wise but soul and mind for even saying such a thing. It’s like… “I’m HONEST I TAKE PLEASURE IN TELLING PEOPLE HORRIBLE THINGS”

    4. Thinking about Kids*

      My mother-in-law has thyroid issues (undiagnosed for 3 decades!). Both of her sons are alive and smart and good citizens in society. 1 son/my husband has celiac, type 1 diabetes, and a dairy allergy. Another son has celiac.

      But I’m pretty sure the celiac is a genetic predisposition completely unrelated to the thyroid stuff. At least 1 other niece has it too.

    5. Falling Diphthong*

      Oh god. I am so sorry.

      There’s an xkcd joke that hits true-to-hard about how you can’t go to bed while people are being wrong on the internet–as in, the stick figure is typing away at 2 a.m. because he is being RIGHT on the internet. Where “RIGHT” often means “repeating this half-remembered thing I once read, and shall argue for in all caps in the face of any stupid evidence to the contrary. And I don’t care about how my words might hit because I am RIGHT.”

      Couple of examples from long threads here: Someone arguing that one should shame everyone into breast feeding because Science, who rapidly backtracked to “you can’t believe science” when people pointed out via scientific articles that was completely unfounded based on Science. Someone bewildered that she had been reassigned after challenging a coworker with cancer to do her cancer better. In both cases, people who were wrong but believed they were right, but also people who just did not think through “this thought inside my head, should I share it with this person?” because obviously being RIGHT and winning via compiling rightness points is what matters and people should understand that your rightness isn’t personal or an attack on them, it’s just you being right.

      To be clear, this poster is WRONG–the ultrasounds would have shown any problem, your doctor would have told you the risks–but their mindset is that all the thoughts they have are right, and that rightness trumps any piddly argument about not immediately sharing their thoughts for the benefit of the world.

      1. MOAS*

        Ha I remember that comic. Makes sense. Im glad I didn’t get into a long ugly fight with them and disengaged immediately.

        It still introduces doubt…I mean i hear about 2nd/3rd trimester/stilllbirths all the time, it’s just getting through hurdles. I freaked out when I was 5 weeks but calmed down and this just started me all over again.

      2. Pomona Sprout*

        “Someone bewildered that she had been reassigned after challenging a coworker with cancer to do her cancer better” sounds like a letter to AAM! Not sure if there has actually ever been a letter quite like that, probably because the person on the receiving end of that kind of behavior is the one who usually writes in, but we have certainly seem plenty of letters about how to handle busybodies who try to tell others how to [fill in the blank] “better.”

        Now I’m wishing this “bewildered” coworker would write to AAM so we can all have the fun of watching Alison set them straight and then adding our two cents! *rubs hands together in gleeful anticipation*

    6. Best Cat in the World*

      I have a friend who was told she would likely never have children because of thyroid and other hormone issues. She now has a gorgeous, healthy little boy. I’m not close enough to know if she had any issues during the pregnancy but the little one is healthy and happy.

      And I’m sorry you had that response. I agree with bunniferous, they certainly weren’t using their brain.

    7. Aly_b*

      I have a friend with thyroid issues who has 3 amazing kids.

      This person sucks and I’m glad you’ve disengaged from that group.

    8. Myrin*

      My mum has has been prone to blood clots and with thyroid issues since before I was born and both me and my little sister (28 and 23 now) were completely healthy babies!

    9. Randomity*

      That’s an awful, awful thing to say. I’m so sorry you had to hear that. I’m so glad you’ve been able to get reassurance!
      Good luck next week. Will be thinking of you <3

      1. Randomity*

        Also thank you for the content warning. I am fine with stuff like this if I’m forewarned. I don’t usually get warnings in everyday life, but it’s nice to get them here.

        1. MOAS*

          Absolutely! I’ve learned to do them through here. I turned off Notifications from all my groups Because there were many posts about losses, and while my heart hurt for them, it didn’t help my own mental health either. I’m also not going to go into someone’s post about their loss and demand they use a warning. I’m in control of my behavior only so I try to use them when I Think it’s appropriate.

    10. I'm A Little Teapot*

      Not sure if this will help or hurt, but I just found an article that said in a small study involving 114 babies, there was an overall 18% rate of birth defects of various sorts. Which means that 82% were fine. I think your odds are pretty good!

      Good luck with your scan, and try to relax a little bit. There’s nothing you can do outside of taking care of yourself, so just focus on that.

      1. MOAS*

        There are so many things that can go wrong.
        Not getting pregnant
        Early miscarriage
        2nd trimester miscarriage
        stillborn
        healthy delivery >>> complications
        healthy baby >>> sick/disabled.

        It’s a true miracle that a baby is born healthy

        1. Cat*

          It does feel that way, but the statistics are on your side once you’re past the first trimester! Most health problems babies have are manageable and not complicated. I will cross my fingers for your baby as well.

      2. Beatrice*

        A lot of the things that can go wrong aren’t the end of the world, though. My son doesn’t have any thyroid function. He has to see a doctor regularly and take medication daily, but he’s perfectly healthy otherwise and it doesn’t keep him from doing anything. I have a friend whose son was born with hypospadias (pee hole in the wrong place, basically). It was an extremely simple procedure to fix it, no big deal. Not every birth defect is life-threatening.

        1. RagingADHD*

          Right, there are all kinds of things that are treatable now that would have been tragic a generation ago.

          One friend had a baby with spina bifida – repaired and now fine. Shes a beautiful teenager who does dance competitions, totally normal.

          Another had a baby whose esophagus didn’t connect to his stomach, it was a dead end. Fixed, had to have special interventions as an infant, but is now a rambunctious 100% normal 8 year old.

    11. HBJ*

      I know lots of people with thyroid issues who have healthy children. I also know someone who always had thyroid issues and then had surgery to have it removed WHILE she was pregnant with her last. (Yes, this was decades ago. No, that would not happen today.)

    12. MOAS*

      Thank you everyone, I feel so much better <3

      Mixed feelings–
      I'm glad that I actually found out WHY I felt so crappy for the last 2 years.
      I'm mad that my endocrinologist SAW THAT MY LEVELS WERE HIGH and didn't do anything. Literally her answer was "lose weight and control your diabetes."

      I have a new endo now and she's more helpful thank goodness.

      1. JKP*

        Wow. It’s so much easier to lose weight *after* your thyroid levels are managed properly. Asking someone to lose weight while their thyroid is out of whack is like asking them to run a marathon while dragging a ball and chain behind them.

      2. ampersand*

        I haaaaate when a doctor’s first/only answer to something is to tell their patient to lose weight. I mean, sometimes that helps, but your doctor saw you had high levels and dismissed them? Nope. Not okay.

        I don’t have any advice re: thyroid, but I do know what having a high risk pregnancy feels like so I can commiserate on that front. It’s hard! My kiddo is healthy and all is well, but if you find yourself feeling anxious during your pregnancy just know you’re not alone in that. Growing a brand new human is a miracle as far as I’m concerned, but it *does* go right the majority of the time. I’m glad your new doctor is helpful!

    13. Fikly*

      That’s awful, there is no excuse for that kind of behavior.

      For what it’s worth, I work in maternal healthcare (I’m not clinical) and one of the high up OBs where I work says regularly that treating thyroid issues while pregnant is very important for both mother and fetus. It’s when they’re not treated that problems happen.

      When my grandfather was in hospice, there was a hospice nurse who said to my grandmother, if he had been on x medication earlier, he wouldn’t be dying now. First of all, there was no way to know that. Second of all, we are where we are now, you cannot change the past. My grandmother felt so terrible, it was awful. My mother called the hospice and reamed them out for that.

      I hope the anatomy scan goes wonderfully!

    14. Cat*

      Omg, soooooooo many women have thyroid issues prior to pregnancy and are on thyroid medication for pregnancy. It’s one of the default tests my reproductive endocrinologist runs because many, many, many women have undiagnosed thyroid issues, especially in their 30s. And the ideal levels for pregnancy are a little different than the ideal levels outside of pregnancy. Then you medicate it and it is FINE. It just needs to be monitored because it can change during pregnancy. That person is an absolute idiot. Or a troll trying to hurt people.

      1. MOAS*

        She was an admin of the group, so it’s pretty much the entire group mentality to be that way. Which is horrifying. You can’t call yourself a support group if you take pleasure in being condescending and vile.

        When I saw my endo, she looked at my results from 4 months prior and was shocked that my previous endo hadn’t addressed the high number. The endo had called me and said she didn’t want to put me on medication–I said I want to take medicine but she didn’t want to so I dropped it. I wish I had done a better job of advocating for myself, but I always blame myself for everything–that if I wasn’t overweight I wouldn’t have any issues, bring myself to “reality” and point to that as the root cause of eerything.

        If anything this pregnancy has taught me, it’s to take this stuff in my own hands. I still trust doctors but i gotta do better.

        1. Cat*

          Yeah, it’s awful that there are so many bad doctors out there. I’m glad you have some better ones now.

          There are also a lot of toxic Facebook groups out there! I had a baby recently and had to leave one of the largest parenting ones. People were horrible to each other and constantly saying things were supported by “evidence” when they weren’t. I think the internet is dangerous that way.

          1. Meepmeep*

            I no longer go to any parenting groups because I think they’re all toxic. I sure as hell didn’t feel supported in any of them, and they made me feel worse instead of better when I was in the baby-parenting / PPD phase of life (and thus very vulnerable). Just thinking about those horrible people makes me feel stressed – yuck.

        2. OBMD*

          I am so sorry that this terrible person made you worry one minute about your baby. I am an Obstetrician. There is no correlation between hypothyroid and anencephaly (fetus without a brain). Severe untreated hypothyroid can cause issues for a fetus. But that is not you. Yes, you have several medical problems that make you high risk. Keep seeing your High Risk OB doctor (Maternal Fetal Medicine doctor in the US) and you will likely do well. Best wishes on a successful pregnancy.

        3. Julia*

          I stopped frequenting a German language thyroid forum because some longterm members were so vicious and preachy. One told me I DEFINITELY had X and Y issue and was an idiot for not believing her, when she was not a doctor or knew my files at all. Sometimes online forums can become really hierarchical and mean, and it’s nothing you and I have done to cause the vitriol. With hormonal issues, expecially for women, we are so use to doctors not believing us that we start disbelieving them as well, and some people take that very far.

    15. Margaret*

      *Untreated* thyroid issues can cause issues. Honestly not sure what, but it was definitely emphasized that treatment/monitoring for my hypothyroidism switched from my PCP to my OB/midwives during pregnancy, and since I already had an established issue they checked it fairly frequently and adjusted my levothyroxine dosage 2 or 3 times.

      You have a diagnosis and treatment, are being monitored for it. You’re fine.

      1. Hound Fan*

        My sister had two healthy babies with a thyroid condition and my mom had four. Statistics can be twisted to support a lot of different theories. I can’t tell you not to worry as I worried through my pregnancies, but my very calm OB said to me that anyone who is taking good care of themselves has a 97% chance of delivering a healthy baby with zero complications. I am sorry anyone would be that cruel.

    16. Thursday Next*

      Do not listen to those insensitive jerks.

      I strongly recommend not visiting those groups or related sites during your pregnancy. They’re hubs for anxiety and I don’t think they’d offer you any actionable information.

      Best wishes!

      1. MOAS*

        Thank you! So far majority of the groups I’m in are helpful and kind, fortunately this was the exception and not the rule.

    17. Seven hobbits are highly effective, people*

      My mother had pretty serious thyroid issues when she was pregnant with me, and ended up having to have her thyroid killed off when I was pretty young as a result. Both of my grandmothers were also on thyroid medication.

      I tested as a genius at a psych screening around age 2. Definitely have a brain! Most of my life problems are related to Entirely Too Much Thinking Going On, really. (Do not recommend, but unlikely to be a result of my mom’s thyroid issues as far as I know.)

      1. Not So NewReader*

        Likewise, my mother had a thyroid problem and did not have treatment. I will be 60 this year. I made it through college in good shape. I have a home and a life.
        Your baby and you will probably be fine.
        That person who posted the brainless remark was solely interested in creating unnecessary drama. You got this one under control, you are working at everything.

    18. LibbyG*

      Good wishes for the anatomy scan! I hope it provides a ton of reassurance as well lots of wonderful views of your beautiful baby! Update us!

    19. Nita*

      My bio teacher in high school had thyroid issues and has a healthy daughter. Her doctors did call her daughter a miracle, but that was due to unrelated stuff with her tubes – she was supposed to not even be able to have kids!

      The online jerk is a jerk, stupid, and not a doctor. Don’t give them any more thought. And good luck on your scan!

    20. Sleve McDichael*

      What a smooth-brained troglodyte. There’s a world of difference between not sugarcoating and just making stuff up. Not sugarcoating would be saying ‘Hey did you know there’s a risk of birth complications with your baby? There’s even a possibility it might not have a brain.’ Which, I mean, there’s also a possibility it might get hit by a meteor strike but whatever. Saying ‘Your baby won’t have a brain.’ is just straight up lying because that gormless bollard can’t possibly know that for a fact. Good on you for leaving.

    21. Ranon*

      My thyroid did all sorts of nonsense leading up to my getting pregnant (hyper to hypo swing) and stayed hypo through my pregnancy and postpartum. Honestly as far as health things to deal with during pregnancy treated hypothyroidism is something the medical establishment pretty much has figured out from a technical standpoint, synthroid is like one of the only Category A drugs that exists! (Bedside manner, on the other hand, varies) My kiddo came out just fine and he’s a scary smart three year old now.

      My only recs would be to make sure that your doctor is up on the latest endocrinology best practices for your TSH levels as the recommendations shifted relatively recently (within the last several years or so), and that you make sure they monitor your postpartum levels as loads of people find the postpartum phase is when stuff really gets wild.

      Best wishes for your anatomy scan!

    22. Merci Dee*

      Pro tip: when someone (or a group) says that they pride themselves on not sugar-coating, that is often code for “I’m an unrestrained asshole who wouldn’t know kindness and tact if they beat me over the head with a metal baseball bat!”

      Granted, not everyone or every group is like this, but my experience has been that approximately 80% of the time that I’ve heard this claim, bad behavior has followed close behind. Your results may vary.

    23. Miss Pantalones En Fuego*

      My mom was diagnosed with hypothyroid when she was in her 60s. I’m sure she probably also has PCOS (my sister and I both do). But she had two healthy babies and despite my self esteem issues telling me otherwise I do in fact appear to have a functioning brain, as does my sister. This person is full of it.

    24. Erin*

      I have had hypothyroidism for 20+ years. I take a low dose of synthroid to treat it. When I got pregnant last February, my endocrinologist just wanted to check my levels more frequently. We did that and made a couple tweaks to my dosage throughout the pregnancy and I now have a beautiful, healthy 3 month old baby.

    25. RagingADHD*

      Please ignore that horrible troll!

      Something like in 4 women in the US have thyroid issues. It’s really common and, while dangerous if untreated, very easy to treat.

      I was Dx with Hashimoto’s (autoimmune hypothyroid) in 2003-4. I got treated and have 2 perfectly healthy kids, not high-risk or anything. Natural childbirth. Fine.

      Congratulations, and best wishes for you and the baby!

  18. A New Normal*

    How do you deal with the “share and post” kind of messages on Facebook? I have a number of very sweet grandmother types as FB friends and a handful of them seem to post nothing but badly pixelated pictures of angels or minions with text like “today is hugday! Share this hug and see how many you get back! If you’re a special person, you’ll get at least 5!”

    I have a blanket policy of not passing on that sort of stuff but haven’t found a comfortable way to respond when one of these sweet ladies tags me in such a message or sends it via FB messenger. I usually just ignore it but should I instead do a simple “thank you, I don’t pass on things but thank you for thinking of me!” to the first one? Or continue to ignore it? I’m likely overthinking this but today one of them who doesn’t have many friends due to an illness that keeps her homebound sent me the hugday one and I feel bad not doing anything.

      1. Magrat*

        I just put a comment on their post or do a heart react or something. Like, hugs to you Aunt Gertie or love you Grandpa, etc. I dont think most people expect those to be shared, but I like to at least acknowledge them, especially if they’re posts from the elderly in my family I don’t get to see very often.

        1. Not So NewReader*

          Yeah, treat it like the share was with YOU. So send them a hug back or send them a heart, something like that.

    1. Purt’s Peas*

      Honestly just ignore it. In my opinion it’s not very good online citizenship but common and harmless. If they follow up or push at you, you can always tell them you just don’t pass stuff on, as you mentioned.

    2. Parenthetically*

      Ignore the messages/tags, but maybe be a bit intentional about engaging with them in other ways? :)

    3. Queer Earthling*

      Ignore them and, if they ask, just say Facebook’s algorithms and tagging system are buggy and you didn’t see them oh darn.

    4. I'm A Little Teapot*

      It’s the modern day version of chain letters. I ignore them. IF it’s something scary/false/bad, I’ll contact them privately to reassure them that it’s just a chain letter, it’s not real and they don’t need to worry about it.

    5. Kuododi*

      I’ve been dealing with thinning hair following radiation treatment. My hairstylist is a family friend and a magician with scissors. When it first started, I pointed it to my stylist and she did her magic act with scissors. I now have a darling haircut with minimal risk of my thinning showing up as a serious issue. I’d start there and additionally follow up with your regular physician to begin to address medical concerns.

      1. Kuododi*

        Woops!!! Got a double post and it should have posted earlier in the thread about hairloss. Sorry bout that. !!!

    6. Laura H.*

      I sometimes say “thank you, but I don’t pass these on” which usually falls on silence because I keep getting them. I just roll my eyes and let them sit.

      It’s annoying and these people should know that’s not how anything faith related works if the messages swing that way- those are the ones that baffle me and might possibly cross into the category of peeving me off slightly. All I can do is roll my eyes and move on.

      (I practice Roman Catholicism, so if I’m sent a prayer or novena thru messenger, I will look at it, I just don’t pass it on.)

    7. Jedi Squirrel*

      I think there are two reasons they do this:

      1) They are lonely.

      2) They think other people are lonely, and this will brighten their day.

      I would just try reaching out to them a little more often if you can. More companionship may lower this need to connect online.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        My thought was that they ran out of things to talk about. If they are house bound there is not too much new in their worlds. I used to get a lot of forwarded emails, I tried to explain about the emails but that did not make them stop.
        I landed on this is what they have to work with to connect with me. When I was 3 they put up with the fact that I did not have too much to talk about. Now it’s my turn.

    8. Kuododi*

      The only time I would contact someone about the “share or you’re a bad Christian, patriot, threat to God and country blah blah.” would be if I verified it was BS on the fact-checking sites…ie snopes.com or anything similar. Otherwise I would spend so much time responding, I’d never get anything accomplished in RL or online.

    9. KR*

      I hit the three dots on the post and mute or block the page/person they’re sharing it from. So I don’t have to mute or block them, but I don’t see that type of spam from that page.

    10. LQ*

      I try to take a moment and send a nice message back. I don’t get a lot of these so it’s not too much of a weight. But sending a direct response saying that you’re thinking of them and asking a question about their life and sharing a thing from your own is good.

      I have an aunt who does a super passive-aggressive martyr version of this and just entirely ignoring all the passive aggressive martyr stuff and instead asking about her animals at least makes me feel less shitty about the whole thing. That said I don’t do it every time and try to do it occasionally when it isn’t invoked by bs messages.

      Even something as small as I hope you’re having a great day can be good.

    11. Amethystmoon*

      I just ignore them. If someone messages me privately, I will send it back to them privately but to no one else.

    12. All Hail Queen Sally*

      I will click “like” if I actually do like it, otherwise I ignore. And I get those a lot–it seems like that is only what some of my relatives think facebook is for.

  19. hamsterpants*

    Anyone have tips for finding a hair stylist that will give a chit that will look nice with no maintenance other than washing and brushing? It seems that all the stylists I find fall at an extreme: either 1) fancy styles that take at least an hour of work every day + multiple expensive products; or 2) ultra utilitarian, doesn’t even try to look good, just super short.

    1. C Average*

      If you have curly or wavy hair, search for salons that offer the Deva cut. While I’ve never been a fan of Deva products, whatever they teach their Deva cut stylists really works.

      They have you come in with clean, dry hair and they cut it dry, working with your natural part and wave. Then they style it using minimal product. I have let my stylist know I don’t own a blow dryer and I buy whatever hair products are cheap at GrossOut, and she totally respects that.

      I swear I am not getting kickbacks from Deva, but man, the Deva cut has been life-changing for me and my unruly mop.

      1. Elizabeth West*

        My mum has been cutting her own curly hair (she wears it short-ish) since she’s currently without a stylist. I’ll have to check this out for her.

      2. The Other Dawn*

        Thank you for posting this! I have naturally curly hair and I’ve had a hard time the last few years since my regular hair stylist moved out of state. I tried the owner of the salon and it was just too expensive, plus too far to drive. Tried a friend of a friend and too far to drive. Tried Super Cuts and was hit or miss. I just found a guy literally around the corner and he seems good. I’ll have to ask if he does these cuts. People have told me to have the stylist cut it dry for the best results, but I didn’t know there’s an actual named technique for it!

      3. Goldfinch*

        If you get a DevCut, they will use Deva products on you. Be aware that there is a class action in progress regarding scalp chemical burns, altered hair growth, and permanent hair loss. That stuff has ****ed people up.

        Ask when making the appointment if they will do the cut without the products.

        1. Goldfinch*

          Damn, hit return too soon.

          There is another curly cut philosophy called the Ouidad cut, also check that out.

    2. Alston*

      What’s your hair like? Curly, straight, frizzy? If your hair is fairly straight that seems a pretty easy request. I don’t think I could get a brush and go style to work with my hair.

      I don’t know about finding the hair stylist, but I bought myself a Revlon hair dryer brush and it’s awesome. My hair is long, fine, frizzy, and fairly curly. Air drying takes a while and looks ok, I have never been great at blow drying, blah blah. This brush is insane, my hair is fine so in 5 minute my hair is 80% dry and then I just twirl the ends so I have waves.

      1. hamsterpants*

        My hair is long, gently wavy, and very fine. There are at least a couple cuts that look great on it, and I even know how to ask for them!

        My challenges is that I recently moved and it usually takes me a few tries to find a good stylist who can work with me. Failure modes include spending (I do not exaggerate) 2+ hours giving me a “salon experience” when I explicitly said I didn’t want any of that, and a separate hairdresser who interpreted interpreting “side-swept bangs that frame my face” with “Jim Carrey in Dumb and Dumber.”

        1. Fikly*

          Do you know anyone local who has hair that doesn’t look hard to keep up, and is similar to yours? I’d start by asking them who they use.

        2. Alston*

          OMG, i cannot believe someone gave you those bangs!

          Maybe look for a “punky” salon? There are a bunch in my area, Clementine’s, Judy Jetson Hair, I tend to see a lot of wash and go looks on my punk (and aging punk) friends, and I would wager most salons like that won’t be doing the 2 hour + frou frou salon routine.

          Look for places that do fashion colors/have a slightly edge instagram?

        3. Seeking Second Childhood*

          No answers, just sympathy. I once had an accidental mullet in a situation like that. :(

      2. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        I have curly hair that is prone to frizzing if there’s even a sniff of humidity, and what I’ve found is that there is no such thing as a short brush-and-go style for this kind of hair. (Which is probably not helped by the fact that it defies gravity to stand on end until it’s past my shoulders – I spent my high school years being called “Ronald McDonald” :P ) The longer my hair gets, the less maintenance it requires. At this point, it’s hip-length and I wash it 1-2 times a week and take (literally) 30 seconds in the morning to let it down, flip my fingers through it, and pin it back up in a nautilus bun.

    3. Cor*

      I look at pictures on social media – Instagram (salon first, then the individual stylist whose cuts I like the best, or I search hashtags like #geographicalregionhair), Facebook and Yelp (salons). Of course just about every place will style your hair after cutting it, but I think you still get a good sense of the types of cuts (especially since you know what cuts look good on you), the skill level, and the atmosphere they’re going for (fancy vs hip vs no frills). I also explicitly tell my stylist that I don’t own a hair dryer and am extremely hair-lazy.

    4. Elaress*

      When you see someone with a great haircut, ask where they got it. Be sure to get the name of the stylist, not just the salon. When you get there, tell them who referred you.

    5. Sunflower*

      Have you told the stylist you want a cut that doesn’t require a lot of maintenance? I very rarely get my hair cut and I’m a brush and air-dry sort of girl. But. I also acknowledge that my hair always look okay/acceptable those days and unless you have time to style, it’s very hard to find a haircut that looks fab daily without work. I always ask for long layers that frame my face. I almost always end up showing her a picture of Kristin Cavallari. Jennifer Aniston’s hair when it’s long is a similar cut and should be relatively low maintenance. Make sure you bring photos to ensure you and the stylist are on the same page. I’ve brought photos of what I think are the same cut and the stylist has pointed out they are indeed not!

    6. MinotJ*

      I second what everybody else says about finding somebody who had a good haircut – and – be willing to wait for an appointment. I used to move all the time and I’d get so frustrated that hairstylists were either too busy to see me or they gave me a not-great cut. It took me too freaking long to realize that those two things are related! I waited months to get in with my current stylist and she was worth it. She listens to what I want to do with my hair, and she’s been cutting it for long enough now that she knows how it’s going to act when she messes with it in a different way. Turns out booked-up stylists are that way for a reason.

    7. All Hail Queen Sally*

      I had to find a new hair stylist for this very thing! I do not like to “style.” I want to comb and go. It took me a while, but it turned out she was right down the street from my house. My original guy would make me look so fabulous–but I could never (didn’t want to) keep it up, and the cuts that look so great when styled, didn’t look so great unstyled. I kept explaining to him what I wanted, but he would just do what he wanted.

  20. C Average*

    I enthusiastically second Alison’s book recommendation this week. I loved Followers. I listened to the audiobook while sewing.

    1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      Be mindful of the timeframe, if the deal you choose has one, a la “zero interest for 12 months” or whatever. Usually if you haven’t paid off the amount by the end of the (12 months or whatever), you get slammed with alllll the interest.

      I’ve noticed that my cards are now giving me both a minimum balance and an “interest-avoiding” balance on my statements, so pay attention to that, if you’re transferring to a card that you’re also using.

      1. valentine*

        Use a card you won’t shop with, choose zero interest, be sure to consider the transfer fee in your calculations, pay at least the minimum, maybe pay more the first month or two so you can pay the same amount for the last 10, and give yourself more cushion for the last payment to post on time.

    2. Dan*

      What are you looking to do? 0% APR balance transfers were my lifeline to get out of $20k in debt that I accrued between a divorce and a layoff. It took five years, but I got rid of the debt and life is good now.

      The two things to look out for are the duration of the promotional offer (it can run anywhere from 9 mos to 24 mos) and the balance transfer fee. AFAIK, all offers these days come with a fee that is a fixed percentage of the balance transferred. There’s no need to pay over 4%.

      To Red Reader’s comment about “pay it all off or your screwed”, that tends to be more for store cards where you’re buying some “thing” (e.g., TV, furniture) on a “no interest for X months” plans. When I had to do balance transfers for credit card debt, whatever remaining balance would convert over to the standard APR for purchase if I didn’t flip it. So if I started with $5k and had $500 left at the end of the period, just the $500 would be subject to the higher interest rates.

      All in all, over 5 years of flipping balances across several cards, I didn’t find there to be much in the way of gotchas. The stuff was all above board with little, if any fine print to screw you. If you *must* manage debt, this isn’t a bad way to do it. But I do not encourage people to pile up debt with this being their management plan.

    3. RC Rascal*

      Stay away from Discover. They will refuse to negotiate with you and will sue you if you get behind.

      When I had all my financial trouble in 2009 there was a point where I could have settled my credit cards with a gift from a family member. All my cards agreed to a settlement instead of Discover. They not only refused to settle with me, they sued me. At that point I was forced to declare Chapter 7.

      Friends don’t let friends use Discover.

    4. Addy*

      You might consider a personal loan! it turns the revolving credit into installment debt so it doesn’t keep accruing interest, and you can even get them to pay off your cards directly at a lower APR. See what options you have on Credit Karma or the like.

    5. Jdc*

      We love our Capitol One card. Heck I love my Capitol one everything. (Totally free checking, all the time no matter what!!) the points are great and we can use them like cash!

      If you amazon a lot I like their card as well, lots of points back to spend back at amazon.

  21. Foreign Octopus*

    Book thread!

    What’s everyone reading this week?

    I’m 300 pages into The Sparrow, by Mary Doria Russell. It’s been sitting on my book shelf for nearly two years now and I’ve finally got around to reading it. It’s not what I expected – and this will sound silly given the blurb on the back, but I wasn’t expecting such a heaping of religion in it – but it’s interesting. I’ve just reached the part where the crew have made contact with the Runa (I think), and I’m eager to find out how everything unravelled so badly. I have to admit that the description regarding Emilio’s hands was a little much, as well.

    1. Queer Earthling*

      I’m about halfway through An Edible History of Humanity by Tom Standage. I really like history in terms of everyday people and how they experienced life (my fave nonfiction book is At Home by Bill Bryson) and while this is a little bit greater scope than that, it’s still interesting to read about the origins of agriculture and how the spice trade spread religion. I also like that it isn’t purely European-centric.

    2. C Average*

      I loved The Sparrow!

      I’m reading Future Politics by Jamie Susskind. It’s phenomenal. It’s about how the digital world will affect power and politics in the future, but it’s not just virtual reality and flying cars–it’s philosophy and political theory. So good.

    3. Elizabeth West*

      I’m backed up! Finished Jeremy C. Shipp’s The Atrocities, have been dipping into the Effin Birds book (so funny!). I bought his and he bought mine, haha.

      The list of unread things on my Kindle is very long. I need to establish some kind of regular schedule for myself, and I want to build in reading time. The last thing I finished before Shipp’s book was Empty the Pews: Stories of Leaving the Church, an essay collection edited by Chrissy Stroop and Lauren O’Neal.

    4. Disco Janet*

      The Kite Runner and Into the Wild (because I’m about to teach both…but haven’t read them before!)

      Just for fun, also the Scythe series, which I’ve found super interesting.

      1. Three owls in a trench coat*

        I haven’t gotten around to reading the Scythe series yet, but I’m glad to hear someone enjoyed it! The whole concept of the series really interests me. A few years ago I read the “Unwind” series by the same author. It was one of the most disturbing things I’ve ever read and at the same time unputdownable.

      2. Forrest Rhodes*

        Hope you like Into the Wild; it’s one of my favorites, and I’ve enjoyed most of Krakauer’s books.
        I’m always intrigued by the ways that readers perceive and react to this book—is it an adventure story? a cautionary tale? a Shakespearean tragedy? And is Chris McCandless a dreamer, an optimist, a fool? At the time it was published I was living in a small town that was on the edge of wilderness. Most residents either worked or played in the backcountry, and those who read Wild generally just shook their heads sadly and shrugged.
        It would be interesting to see how your class responds.

      3. ampersand*

        These are all great books. I’m reading the last book in the Scythe series now. It’s so good. I think we must have similar tastes—I also like your username!

        My daughter’s middle name is Eleanor, after The Good Place (and to think I could have named her Disco Janet!).

    5. HamlindigoBlue*

      I just finished Brotopia by Emily Chang. The book mentioned books by Sheryl Sandberg and Kim Scott that I’d forgotten about, and those titles are now on my official Goodreads list so I won’t forget again.

      I’m currently more than halfway through The Family Upstairs by Lisa Jewell, and El Narco by Ioan Grillo is next.

    6. Randomity*

      Just finished How To Build A Girl by Caitlin Moran for one book group (wasn’t excited to read it – it was better than I expected but decidedly odd) and reading Their Eyes Were Watching God for the other. Not my usual fayre but that’s why I go to that group, to stretch my horizons.

    7. Jedi Squirrel*

      I just picked at Future Tense Fiction: Stories of Tomorrow which is a compendium of science fiction short stories. I just skipped over all the sportsball stories (why were there so many of them?). My favorite was “When Robot and Crow Saved East St. Louis” by Annalee Newitz. “Mother of Invention” by Nnedi Okorafor was the first story and my second favorite. (And I have Okorafor’s Binti on my to-read list, but haven’t gotten to it yet.)

      I also picked up Alexander Weinstein’s Children of the New World from the library for the third time. Again, it’s science fiction short stories, and yes, this will be the third time I read it. It’s that good.

      I also tried to start reading Thomas Pynchon’s The Crying of Lot 49 last night, but Friday night after a long week at work is not the best time to start a Pynchon novel.

    8. Fikly*

      I made my second attempt on a fic by one of my favorite authors that I had been much looking forward to reading.

      I tried it a few months ago, could not get through more than a chapter or two, just was not interested and couldn’t follow the plot.

      This time, I was sucked into it and eagerly reading more.

      On the more traditional book front, I was just given Assassination Vacation as a gift. I haven’t started it yet, but I am super intrigued by the concept. Anyone read it?
      Still confused on what was up with the first time.

      1. Long drives*

        If that’s Sarah Vowell’s ASSASSINATION VACATION, you’re in for a treat. It’s one of my favorite books- full of history and humor.

    9. Bluebell*

      Zoomed through The Chain by Adrian McKinty. Great premise of a kidnapping chain, but falls apart a bit in the end. Also enjoyed A Pure Heart by Rajia Hassib.

    10. Two Dog Night*

      A Woman of No Importance, by by Sonia Purnell. It’s about an American woman who was involved in getting the French Resistance off the ground in WWII, and it’s fascinating.

    11. Anon and alone*

      “Elevation” by Stephen King. First of all it’s NOT a horror, the blurb I read said it had an “It’s A Wonderful Life” vibe which is what made me go looking for it at my local library. It’s a story about a man named Scott Carey who is losing weight, or is he? The scale says he is but his body isn’t changing and it doesn’t matter what he wears when he steps on the scale, whether it’s a heavy parka with 5 lbs of coins in each pocket or boxers and a t-shirt (an example pulled from the book). Then there’s his “feud” (not really one) with his two lesbian neighbors. At 146 pages it was a fast read and actually pretty good.

      1. ThatGirl*

        I read that one as an ebook and didn’t realize how short it was, so I was surprised when it ended!

    12. PhyllisB*

      Right now I’m reading Into the Water by Catherine Steadman. Enjoying it so far. Before that I read All This Could be Yours and it was just meh to me. I know a lot of people loved it, but I’m not one of them.

    13. OtterB*

      Rapidly finished T Kingfisher aka Ursula Vernon’s newest, Paladin’s Grace. Slides from angst to humor to practicality, sometimes in the same paragraph. Occasional berserker paladin meets perfumer with serious trust issues. In the same universe as her Swordheart and Clocktaur War Books, but not a sequel to anything. She says it was supposed to be a fluffy romance but she is told a fluffy romance can’t have that many severed heads.

      1. Claire (Scotland)*

        I just read that too, and immediately then reread Swordheart. I love that world, and her writing, so much!

        1. OtterB*

          Me too. Temple of the White Rat in general, and Bishop Beartongue in particular, FTW.

          I have read and enjoyed, and often loved, everything she’s written, except I haven’t read The Twisted Ones because my horror tolerance is very low. I will probably give in and try it sometime. Have you read it?

          1. Claire (Scotland)*

            No, I haven’t, as I am a giant wuss when it comes to horror. I have a copy from her Patreon, and I’ll probably read it eventually, but I’m more likely to reread the others.

            I loved Minor Mage though!

    14. Hi there*

      I just finished “I Like to Watch” by Emily Nussbaum. It is a collection of her pieces on television. She had smart things to say, and I like her writing. I found myself thinking about her ideas when I was listening to The Good Place podcast on my run this morning.

    15. Jen Erik*

      I’ve just finished Slow Horses by Mick Herron – I don’t know where I got the recommendation, but if it was from someone here, thank you.
      At first I wasn’t sure if it was my kind of thing – a lot of characters introduced really quickly – but the writing was good so I stayed with it. The idea is that Slough House is a place where people who have in one way or another failed the UK security services are relocated to – either do do no further damage or to resign from boredom – and these operatives are therefore known as the ‘slow horses’. And then they get involved in an ongoing operation. And for bonus content, there is a portrait of a politician in the middle of the book, who is clearly Boris, and a clear suggestion that he would achieve Brexit and become PM, which for a book published in 2010 seems pretty prescient.

    16. Pieforbreakfast*

      I’ve reread the Sparrow many times, and the sequel Children of God. She also wrote a WWII book I enjoyed but I can’t recall the title.

      I’m just over halfway through The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt, and it’s due back at the library in 3 days so I may not finish it. I’m not hating it but I’m not so enthralled I’ll be only reading for the weekend so I may not finish it. Is that terrible? Is it worth overdue fines?

      1. fhqwhgads*

        It sounds like maybe I enjoyed it more than you are. It’s not worth overdue fines, so if you can’t extend it I’d return it. But you may also be able to download it on Libby or Overdrive and finish it that way. To me, it is very worth finishing. However, I did find it very intense and kind of exhausting to read for too long in one sitting. So I kinda get where you’re coming from.

      2. Foreign Octopus*

        I have to say that I was completely enraptured by The Goldfinch. It was my first Tartt book and it made me a fan completely. However, I was taken in from the first chapter so if you’re halfway through and not really feeling it then it may not be worth finishing for you. I wouldn’t say there’s a huge, sweeping conclusion to it but I really enjoyed the character interactions in the latter half of the book as we got away from the childhood aspect.

      3. Sparrow*

        I’ve also read and reread The Sparrow and Children of God many times (it’s how I chose my commenting name!) and they are some of my all time favorite books.
        I also liked Dreamers of The Day by the same author, it’s about a woman traveling alone in early 1900s Egypt.
        Also if you liked the Sparrow, I recommend The Wanderers by Meg Howrey. It’s about 3 astronauts training for the first mission to Mars. There is much less religion than The Sparrow, but a similar depth of characterization and commentary on the deeper meaning of space travel.

        1. Foreign Octopus*

          I actually thought of you when I picked up the book! I remember you mentioning once that it was where your username came from, and I check the book out on Book Depository before buying it. Figured if you’d pulled your name from it then it was probably worth a read. I’m really enjoying the Naples, 2060 sections as it gives just enough of a hint to keep me interested, but the bits on the actual planet are a little hard to get through – I just want to find out what happened to everyone and how Emilio ended up where he did.

          1. Sparrow*

            Aw thanks, I’m touched!
            Yes, the Naples sections are a nice change of pace just when your brain starts to get tired of puzzling through what’s going on on the planet itself

    17. Shrunken Hippo*

      I finished Castle in the Air (book 2 of the Howl’s Moving Castle trilogy because I love the movie so had to read the books!) and God Greed and the (Prosperity) Gospel. I’m working on The Fantastic Laboratory of Dr. Weigl: How Two Brave Scientists Battled Typhus and Sabotaged the Nazis, which I am enjoying.
      I had been trying to read through the Wheel of Time series but I just can’t. I made it through the first three books with book three being my favourite so far but I struggled with book four. I’m going to try the audiobooks before I totally give up on the series but it’s not looking good. The world and concept are interesting but the characters make the dumbest decisions, they are all reactive, and good lord the writing is repetitive. Oh and then there’s the instalove because a hero isn’t a hero unless all the women fall for him in the first five seconds of meeting each other. Ugh, I know people say it gets better but I don’t know if getting to that point is worth it for me.

    18. willow19*

      Educated by Tara Westover. I got it on CD and listened to the last CD about a dozen times. I honestly thing it was life changing for me. So many passages managed to put words to what I felt inside but could not elucidate.

    19. zaracat*

      I was feeling a bit lazy at the library so I just chose books off the “librarian’s selection” shelves, and my current reads out of this batch include “Cutting Edge” – a crime/mystery anthology by women writers including poetry by Margaret Atwood (edited by Joyce Carol Oates) – the stories are all disturbing but absorbing; and “Irresistible: Why we can’t stop checking, scrolling,clicking and watching” which is an ironic read considering how much time I’ve just spent online catching up on AAM.

  22. MaryAnne Spier*

    Two weeks ago we lost my boyfriend’s grandpa. He had been going downhill slowly, then quickly, since August. He had to permanently enter a nursing home in January but had been in and out of them since August, doing rehab that didn’t work. I know he wasn’t my grandpa but every day I visited him after work for an hour or so. I tried to cheer him up, bring him gifts, get him to eat dinner. I know it was his time and 93 is a great long life but I’m in that grief phase where it just hits me sometimes that he’s gone.

    Not looking for feedback. I just wanted to talk about it for a second.

    1. Not A Manager*

      I’m very sorry for your loss. He must have been a special person to have such an effect on you. I hope that soon your loving memories will bring you comfort.

    2. Akcipitrokulo*

      Sending good thoughts. My granda was also 93, and his being old didn’t make it any less painful.

    3. Sled dog mana*

      My grandfather passed away yesterday too. Similar story he was 92, has been pining for my grandma since she died 9 years ago. He has been in a nursing home for nearly two years and went down hill very quickly the last two weeks.
      I know from other losses that it will take about a week to really sink in and then I will be a mess for a while.

    4. Not So NewReader*

      They don’t have to have the same blood in their vessels to be family.
      I am sorry for your loss.

  23. Dan*

    This is more of a vent than anything, but a please to people to use their common sense.

    I live in a suburban area that was developed as a “planned community” but has very terrible pedestrian access. My apartment complex is a “garden style” community with all surface-level parking. The entrance/exit lanes are separated by a small island. The complex is an area where it is natural to have people walking around. Except… the idiots who designed everything did not design it in such a way that pedestrians and autos coming in and out of the complex can stay out of each other’s way. Even worse, that part of the complex doesn’t have much lighting.

    Yesterday, I was turning off the side street into the complex and did a double take. At first I thought I saw a shadow in the middle of the entrance lane, and hit my brakes. I looked again and thought “naw, I must be imaging it.” Then I looked again and was like, “nope it’s real.” This dude was dressed in all black and had his head buried in his phone. I came within three feet of hitting him and he seemed completely oblivious to the fact I was there.

    Ok, the dude doesn’t have a safe place to walk, I get that. I have the same complaint. I walk around the area just as much as a I drive so I’m sympathetic to the plights of walkers. But for FFS people, do not dress in all black, walk in the middle of a traffic lane that isn’t well lit, and bury your head in your phone and be completely oblivious to your surroundings.

    If that dude would have flipped me the bird, at least he would have been aware that I was even there, and I’d be here bemoaning poor city planning that set up the whole situation. Instead, I’m venting about a guy who was two feet from going to the hospital and did not appear to even realize it.

    1. fposte*

      This is nighttime driving in my university town, too. It’s especially bad in winter because people are wearing their jacket hoods up. And yes, people do get hit this way.

    2. Bookwyrm*

      I encountered something similar this week too. Driving down a busy road at night where the speed limit is 40 and I was pulling into the left turn lane to turn at a stop light. A guy in dark clothes came barreling into the street on his bike 100 feet before the crosswalk at the light. I had to slam on my breaks to not hit him. I honked my horn and he yelled at me as he drove through the street and cut off other drivers. It’s a miracle he wasn’t hit.

      1. Dan*

        I don’t have a good solution to the bike thing. Yes, they are far more vulnerable than cars in an accident. However, they move too fast for auto drivers to see them, process what’s going on, and act.

        My apartment complex is also near a very popular walking/biking trail. It’s an old stretch of rail road that was decommissioned and paved over for recreational use. My street intersects it at the surface level, and thankfully there’s a traffic light for the path. If a pedestrian pushes the signal, cars get a red light in just a few seconds. The bikers can’t be bothered, and the real problem is the street doesn’t intersect the path at a 90 degree angle. Add trees to that, and the view of the street and path is obscured from that angle. Bikes come flying down that intersection without stopping far for more often than not. I’m pretty sure the only reason they don’t actually get hit is because they move pretty and the road is a 25 mph road.

        I know there’s all kinds of tension between bikes and autos, but bikers need to be aware that they can be hard to see and move very fast. And for FFS, if you’re at an intersection where there’s a control, get off your bike and call for the signal. If I have a green light, I have the legal right to take it. No, I’m not going to hit anybody out of spite, but if the intersection is clear and the light’s green, I have the right of way.

        Side note on this topic: I have a lead foot, but not in 25 mph zones. (ok, I’ll go like 30.) Thankfully, TPTB in my region generally put in 25 mph zones when they need to (residential areas for the most part) so it’s easy to train your brain to say that speed limits here SHOULD be obeyed. Whereas the nearby highway, the cops let normal speeding go and only write tickets for reckless driving (25 mph over the limit.)

        1. Lora*

          One of my colleagues recently made me aware that some cities and also countries (including the Netherlands) have rules about bike lights cannot be flashing because it’s distracting to cars. What…? That’s…the point, really, that you have this big annoying flashing 1500-lumen thing to warn people not to hit you!

          I am in full agreement with the notion that LED headlights on cars are an abomination because you’re blinding your fellow drivers completely, constantly – but bikes, as you said, have a tendency to be invisible and need all the help they can get.

          1. Belgian*

            You don’t want lights on bikes that distract drivers, you want lights that notify the drivers that the cyclist is there. Flashing lights are distracting and you don’t have a continuous notion of where the cyclist is.

            The Netherlands is about the most bike-heavy country in the world. I’m pretty sure they know what they’re doing.

          2. Koala dreams*

            Those annoying flashing lights have always made me confused. Surely it’s much easier to see a continous light compared to a flashing light? Luckily most bike lights I buy have different settings, so I can have my favourite continous light. Now I miss biking in the dark, haven’t done that for a long, long time…

          1. Dan*

            Well, there’s theory and reality. If you drive the speed limit on any road near where I live, you will be passed by every single car, and be subject to a lot of people riding your bumper indicating that you should speed up. Second, the cops around here more or less only give out tickets for reckless driving. If a law doesn’t get enforced, functionally speaking, it’s not much of a law.

    3. Cat*

      Maybe get in touch with management about installing better lights? It sounds like there’s no reason for it to be as poorly lit as it is.

    4. Jedi Squirrel*

      Almost the same thing happened to me a few years ago, but it was a young woman CARRYING HER BABY!

      I walk quite a bit at night, and I always wear either a light-colored jacket or a flashing LED arm band, because drivers around here like to drive fast while also looking at their phones. What a screwed-up world we live in.

      For feck’s sake, walkers, wear something that lets drivers know you are there!

      1. Margaret*

        Seriously! Of course it’s still no guarantee a driver will be looking in the right place to see you (the more I run and bike, the more disturbing it is to see how many drivers making right-hand turns look ONLY to their left to see oncoming traffic, with not even a glance to the right for predestrians until they’ve started turning), but at least it gives them a chance to see you.

    5. Fikly*

      I used to live in a town with no sidewalks and no street lights. The number of people out walking/jogging at dusk or later in dark clothes on the side of the street – I do not understand. it.

    6. That Girl from Quinn's House*

      This is a huge pet peeve in my city too! Except a lot of the people doing it are jaywalking, when there’s crosswalks nearby, they just didn’t want to walk the rest of the block to get to it. Wearing black pants and a black hoodie with the hood up, and running across the middle of the street in the dark, is just irresponsible.

    7. Miranda Priestly's Assistant*

      I don’t understand people who do that! I live in a walkable urban area with reasonable amount of crosswalks and such, and we have simultaneous issues with inattentive pedestrians and drivers. As a very alert pedestrian, the drivers here annoy the crap out of me. They truly don’t seem to pay attention, roll through crosswalks (and red lights!) without stopping even when people are on it, etc etc. If you as a pedestrian aren’t paying attention, you’re toast.

    8. NoLongerYoung*

      I got a reflective armband, that snaps on. I was given a light up ring (flashes or solid) that goes over the dogs neck. And I carry a flashlight now. The street in front of my house has no speed bumps and I’ve seen folks blow right through the stop sign and make a (frequent) left turn into the housing complex bordering the park here. I have to listen because when they are doing 40 mph or so (theres a 3 block stretch off the main road with no stop signs), I can’t get the pokey dog across the intersection in time without swooping and running. Even with the lighting, she nearly got hit the first time (after that, if doubt, I just wait for the source and direction, when I hear any zooming sounds, even if I can’t see the car coming yet. )
      But yes…. I always worry that some distracted driver is going to blow through that stop sign. So I do all I can, including waiting to cross until I hear no traffic if possible.

      1. Bumblebee*

        The dog light thing is so important! People in my neighborhood walk in their finest dark clothes late at night, with their dogs on those long extendable leashes. Sometimes the people even have lights on but their dogs are unlit, and I always feel like tragedy is about 20 seconds away.

        1. NoLongerYoung*

          She’s small, but I have a super sturdy harness, and a heavy weight bugee cord leash that is strong enough to send her airborne if necessary. A different neighborhood, several years ago, and I had to bungee-airfly my surly rescue up to my arms quickly, to prevent an unfortunate incident between him and a loose dog.

          It might startle her, but she would be safe. I never know when a dog will come running down a driveway or break through a fence.

          I lived in a much nicer neighborhood 20 years ago and one of my neighbors had her poodle killed on her front lawn by an aggressor dog running loose. So… no retractable leashes, and a firm grip and awareness.

    9. Not So NewReader*

      People have gotten killed around here this way.
      It’s a shame.
      There are plenty of safety items available. There are specialty lights for bikes and dogs. There are reflective garments for walkers.
      These items can be great Christmas or birthday presents. Eh, one year I got a hammer that breaks a car window for escape. It also cuts safety belt material. I keep it with me because of the old rule, “if you have it on hand you will never need it.”

    10. willow19*

      Oh man, I almost ran over someone in my apartment driveway yesterday, would not have seen them at all if it had not been for the light tan Chihuahua.

    11. Otter box*

      There’s some victim-blame-y stuff in this thread that’s really disturbing to read, as a pedestrian, cyclist, and driver. Frankly, if you cannot see someone who is walking across your path at night, regardless of what they’re wearing, and stop in time not to hit them, you’re driving too fast for the conditions. People’s right to exist on sidewalks, crosswalks, and parking lots without being hurt should not be contingent on having worn the “right” clothes that day, or having the “right” high visibility vest or light up armband. What if a pedestrian wore slacks and a dark shirt to work but ended up stuck there late? What are they supposed to do, not walk home? That’s absurd. You shouldn’t need special clothes and gear to venture outside.

      Personally I’m quite careful when out walking or cycling (or driving) because I’m very aware that a tiny mistake by me or by a driver could be life altering or fatal. But I don’t wear lights or high visibility colors when walking, and I don’t plan my outfits around whether I think I might need to be out after dark. Maybe someday someone will run me over – I still wouldn’t have caused it or deserved it just because I wore normal clothing.

      Just this Thursday, while I was waiting for lunch at a food truck outside my office, a driver ran a red light and was t-boned by a delivery truck and both vehicles went flying toward the sidewalk. Everyone seemed okay, but it was quite scary. This just illustrates how we’ve designed our streets in such a way that these tiny mistakes can easily turn harmful or fatal. It’s misguided to imply that pedestrians somehow contribute to being run over because their clothes aren’t the right color or they don’t have a spare fluorescent vest in their purse to whip out whenever they’re outside after the sun goes down. If drivers can’t see pedestrians wearing normal clothing in the dark, they need to slow down until they can. And at the societal level, we need to fundamentally redesign our streets to be safe for everyone so that people don’t feel like they need to light up like a Christmas tree just to take the dog out.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        The unfortunate reality is that there is just not enough money in the world to fix all the problems with our streets. Here the roads are deliberately curvy to make people slow down. And predictably drivers go off a drop off or smash into a rock outcropping. They don’t slow down.

        I don’t think you meant to tell pedestrians to throw away any safety practices. It’s not victim blamey to tell people to take steps to protect their own lives. And it’s a disservice to encourage people that the sole responsibility for safety falls to the driver, because legally and insurance wise that it not how it plays out. And the physical pain from injury does not hurt any less because “it was someone else’s fault.” We have many laws in place to enforce safety while driving. Just because people “should” do something does not mean they will. Some folks do as they wish and the results are dire. We are always responsible for our own safety and we are always responsible for the safety of others.

        1. Otter box*

          Yes we absolutely can afford to re-design our streets for safety – many of the safety improvements that have huge impact cost very little – like adding crosswalks, small pedestrian islands, wider sidewalks, curbs, etc. The US spends ~$100 *billion* on new roads and highways annually in the US (that’s excluding maintenance and repair costs). My city recently redesigned a bridge close to where I live to add protected bike lanes and better marked crossings for pedestrians and cyclists to the tune of about US$450,000. I use this route almost every day and it’s a marked improvement in safety and comfort for pedestrians and cyclists. Compare that to the US$14 million it cost my hometown 10 years ago to add a lane to a 1/3 mile stretch of road. Our governments can afford to install some paint and bollards and concrete curbs on most of our city streets.

          It’s absolutely victim-blamey to attribute pedestrian injuries and death to clothing choices. If you replace “pedestrians” with “women,” “dark clothing” with “revealing clothing,” and “walking at night” with “drinking too much,” this becomes very clear. A few weeks ago, a few hundred feet from where that road-widening project took place in my hometown, two teenage boys were killed by a driver while trying to cross 4-lane road that has no safe pedestrian crossings, in the dark. Maybe the boys weren’t being as careful as they should have been (they were teenage boys after all), but there is no safe way to walk from one side of that street to the other even in the best of circumstances. The driver claimed not to have seen them, and being familiar with that stretch, it’s VERY likely they were speeding because *everyone* drives at least 10 over the limit there. The road design just invites speeding. Everyone just threw up their hands and treated it like an unavoidable act of nature and not a fundamental failure of street design. Maybe these kids weren’t as hypervigilant when crossing the street as they could have been, but they were KIDS, and it is an absolute failure of our society that small mistakes so often become deadly.

          And if drivers can’t stop themselves from speeding around curves and hitting bollards and falling off cliffs, rather than driving at a safe speed for the conditions, that’s a problem with them and they have no business staying licensed.

          1. Avasarala*

            How dare you compare pedestrian safety issue to rape culture victim blaming. That is apples to oranges and people’s comments here are no grosser than your own (“Maybe the boys weren’t being as careful as they should have been (they were teenage boys after all)” so let’s all calm down.

            Should roadways be designed to force drivers to slow down when nearing crossways and other traffic areas? Yes.
            Should we have more walkways and lights so people can walk and cross safely? Yes.
            Should drivers be more careful and drive more slowly? Yes.
            Should pedestrians be careful when crossing the street? Yes<-This is what people are talking about, and what is missing from your argument.
            If you are dressed like a ninja at night, jaywalking, looking at your phone instead of your surroundings, and generally not being careful then you are increasing your risk of an accident (note that accident is the key word here that separates this from sexual assault, because that is not an "accident" that can be helped by safety precaution on both sides). If you know you often walk your dog at night, take precautions and get high-vis gear. If you know you're crossing the street, look up from your phone and look both ways first–this is basic stuff and the moral high ground is little comfort when your negligence contributes to your injury.

            1. Green Square*

              Using “accident” as a default in collisions implies there is no one to blame, that both sides share equal responsibility. Someone who has a gun has a greater responsibility for others’ safety than someone who doesn’t. Cars are just as dangerous, and thus drivers have a greater responsibility than pedestrians regardless of what pedestrians are wearing. Also, re: “If you are dressed like a ninja at night, jaywalking, looking at your phone instead of your surroundings, and generally not being careful then you are increasing your risk of an accident” <— that sounds an awful lot like what rape victim-blamers say about dressing provocatively, drinking alcohol, and flirting. Rape is not an accident. Neither are most car collisions where people die.

      2. NoLongerYoung*

        I want to be careful criticizing others posts, though, as well. Note that I do zip up my backpack in the city and carry my purse under my arm. Yes, it would be ideal not to have a society where there are rampant pick pockets on our metro train or snatch and grab muggings. But I’m going to advise those that might not think about it, to take adequate caution.
        It is not victim blamey to acknowledge it is not a perfect world, nor likely to be any time soon.
        Do I want to have to guard against getting hit by speeders on my street? no. Do I? yes. Because the truth is, nothing is going to be enough of a settlement to return my dead dog to me and/or restore my life or ability to walk, in the event of an accident.
        I don’t think taking reasonable precautions is wrong. I lock my car, too. (someone did try to pick the locks on it, so that I can only unlock it with the clicker now).
        Before I thought about it how difficult it might be to see me, I always pulled on my black fleece or dark gray windbreaker for walks. And frankly, I used to read my phone while I walked – and nearly walked into a pole once. I stopped that.
        Should they drive so fast ? no. Does it make a difference to take precautions? Yes. I’m not trying to blame those that don’t – I’m just worried about them. I don’t think some folks think about looking both ways before stepping off curbs.
        And yes, I did advise the young one in my family to never drive faster than he could stop in less than a car length, in a residential neighborhood. No matter the time, he didn’t want to risk hitting a pet or a child dashing from between cars.
        Just saying, there’s a balance.

      3. Koala dreams*

        Thank you.

        We need safer streets, but until we get them we need to adapt our driving to the streets we have. And often that means slowing down and be extra careful.

      4. TypeFun*

        Otter box, I’m totally with you here. I live in a major city in the US and I can’t tell you how many times I’ve almost been hit walking around. It’s ridiculous. I was almost hit after getting a walk signal at a crosswalk because a driver wanted to run a red light. Another time a driver decided to BACK into a crosswalk while I was walking through and had the nerve to yell at me when she got startled because she almost hit me. I understand that driving can be stressful but the reaction of most drivers near me is absolutely ridiculous. I believe the solution is more stringent reinforcement of traffic rules for cars. No texting and driving and no running stoplights would save a lot of people’s lives and I don’t believe the same could be said for anything you could ask a pedestrian to do. The times I’ve almost been hit, the drivers literally weren’t looking anyway. And there needs to be consequences for that.

  24. HannahS*

    HannahS is Getting Married: a semi-regular invitation to share stories and give me advice!

    So…we’ve hit a snag. So far everything has been peachy-keen, but we’ve reached the difficult conclusion that we are deeply uncomfortable with our officiant, my fiance’s rabbi. To be brief, the biggest red flag for me was that despite the guy being Reform, I didn’t feel respected as a woman or as a Jew. It was bad. Like, BAD. So we now have to break up with my fiance’s rabbi and try and move everything over to another synagogue, (the Conservative one, where I often go) and use their rabbi (who we know and like, so that’s good). We booked my fiance’s temple as the venue, and so we’re probably switching venues, less than four months away from the date.

    Guys, tell me about your unexpected snags, and how they were resolved! I know this will be fine, but it’s uncomfortable for us. This is a fairly small community, and my fiance is closely involved in temple life.

    1. Fikly*

      My sister lives in and got married in Chicago. The weekend of her wedding (there were big events the day before, plus the wedding on Sunday) was a major outdoor event/festival thing in Chicago. We…did not realize this in advance. Traffic was out of bounds, and major roads were shut down.

      Everyone got where they needed to be, food was consumed, happiness was had by all.

    2. Wedding mishaps*

      My husband and I are not particularly religious so when we were planning our wedding we did not have a “default” minister from our families to marry us. The place where we were getting married gave us a list of several officiants they recommended and when we called one of the officiants on the list (who we had also heard good things about elsewhere) he informed us he was booked, but recommended someone who was just starting out that he thought seemed like a good fit for what we were looking for. We met with this person and while he was a bit “quirky”, we really liked him. We were looking for an officiant who would be willing to work together with us to create a custom, non-religious ceremony and he was perfectly happy to do this and also had ideas we liked. And his price was reasonable as he was just starting out. Perfect!

      A couple of weeks before our wedding he set up a meeting with us, and told us a friend would be there that he thought we should meet. Ok, sure! At the meeting he explained that while he had gone through the training to become an officiant, in the end he hadn’t completed whatever else was needed to be certified to legally marry us. But my friend here did and she’ll do the ceremony together with me so it won’t be a problem! (Uh, ok?) And we’ll keep the price the same even though there will be 2 of us officiating! (That part made us laugh because no way were we going to pay more because you aren’t actually able to marry us.). We were a bit in shock, said ok, and went home and were like “what the heck?!” The funny part about it was that just a few weeks earlier we had read about a couple who had found out years later they weren’t actually legally married because their officiant had lied about being certified to perform weddings and we had joked around about how much that would have sucked! And here we were….

      In the end we decided to just go with it. We had 2 officiants, it was a lovely ceremony and went fine (we are indeed legally married) . We got some questions from family and friends about why we decided to have two people marry us which we were vague about until after the wedding. Then we spilled the beans, and we all got a good laugh about it but man, we about had a heart attack in the weeks leading up. I mean, the whole point of that big party was to leave married and we almost didn’t. Geez.

    3. Not So NewReader*

      My friend officiates weddings. She tells couples that they should expect at least three things to go wrong ON the wedding day. She reminds them that there are NOT varying degrees of married. No matter what happens you will still be married.
      I think it’s helpful advice for setting a tone of acceptance if things are not perfect.

    4. Goldfinch*

      Alfred Angelo jerked me around regarding the bridesmaid dresses up until a month before the wedding, at which point they finally admitted that the style I chose had been discontinued. David’s Bridal completely saved my ass. They ran an inventory search of what they could get for me in under a week, pulled dresses from multiple shops in the tri-state area, and overnighted them to my local store.

      The best part was that I was so ragingly furious that I was verbally trashing the (perfectly fine) style I ended up having to use, only for my bridesmaid Katherine to point out that it was the same dress she had chosen for her own bridesmaids the previous spring.

    5. Fellow Traveler*

      The day of our wedding, our city got hit with a huge snow storm and the city pretty much shut down. Now our wedding was small (about 30 people), so things definitely could have been worse, but on the way down to the church (driving very very slowly, eight of us family and friends packed into the only four wheel drive vehicle amongst us), the restaurant where we had reservations for the wedding dinner called and said they were sending their staff home because of the snow and they were sorry but they had to cancel our reservation. We frantically called around and finally found one restaurant three blocks from the church that said, “If you can be here by 4:00, and can eat fast, we can accommodate your party.” So after the ceremony (the sexton didn’t make it, saving us that fee… The organist did. We held the start of the ceremony to wait for one friend who was walking two miles to get to us, but our priest said, there was probably no one coming to the 5pm mass so he wasn’t in a rush) after the ceremony, we walked to this restaurant and had dinner and after dinner we all went back to our hotel suite and drank wine and had a good time. And in the end, we were just as married as we would have been had everything gone according to plan, only the stories would have been a lot less interesting.

    6. NoLongerYoung*

      my mother had paid for the reception/ food for my sister, some 20+ years before my wedding. We had already planned to pay our own, and made arrangements to have our reception at a nice banquet hall, on the lake, cloth table clothes, college student wait staff, nice but not ostentatious entrees. (Really reasonable per head, given what it was, and not out of line for the area). BUT it was nicer than what my sister had (hers was in the basement – no windows- of the smaller town community center, and mom had made the meal).
      So behind my back, mom cancelled our reservations/ plans, and paid the same amount for a caterer at the same hall my sister had it at. (linoleum shuffle board court, shag carpet on the walls, plywood lift-up doors for the kitchen service area; think late 50s senior center). The only person left in the area was a horrible restaurant owner – the food was inedible. There was inadequate punch for the fountain. She had plastic silverware (the prime rib was cooked completely through and broke the fork tines). The cake was okay – I had ordered that from someone else. There was green bean casserole (tasted like an ash tray was dumped in it). Etc.
      We stopped on our way to the honeymoon and had dinner at a restaurant, an hour away. I hadn’t eaten all day because I was only allowed to eat clear, non-staining items after I put the dress on – and we had pictures before the ceremony.
      Let’s just say it was all laughable, but not for awhile.

    7. Clisby*

      This isn’t my snag, but it was pretty impressive, so I’m passing it on.

      4+ years ago we got hit with a massive, record-breaking rainstorm (side effect of a hurricane, but no wind) here in Charleston, SC. Caught up in this maelstrom were two starry-eyed spouses-to-be, with their families and friends, here in town for the wedding.

      Except, the officiant, photographer, makeup person, and some others were trapped across a bridge (police had shut off traffic to downtown Charleston), and groomsmen were trapped on a nearby island. They wound up sending out a TV appeal for someone to marry them. A city councilman (who I assume is a notary) walked over to their hotel and performed the ceremony. A student at the local college saw the TV clip and came over to do the photography. The hotel chef couldn’t come in to work, but other people working at the hotel pitched in and got the reception done (they had to switch from a sit-down dinner to a buffet.) But hey! They got married! And got a great story out of it.

      https://www.kansascity.com/news/local/article37805151.html

      1. Clisby*

        From the link I posted: “When they picked their Oct. 3 date, they sort of knew they were flirting with hurricane season.

        “But the odds of that happening are slim to none,” says Britney, 24, a legal assistant for Jeppson Law Office in Kansas City.

        For any future marriers-to-be wanting to come to Charleston:

        NO. The odds are not slim to none. 2019 was the 5th year in a row we had serious problems from one or more hurricanes in the fall. A person could almost start to think this isn’t a freak occurrence.

        Granted, hurricane season is June-November, but if I lived out of town, no way I’d be planning a wedding trip here Aug.-Oct.

  25. Imprudence*

    I really enjoyed that book, it’s one that stayed with me years later. But the sequel us not so good and not worth ploughing through alas.

  26. Non greasy mineral sunscreen*

    Anyone have recommendations for non greasy mineral sunscreens? I’m allergic to sunscreens that include active ingredients like octinoxate, avobenzene, etc and prefer to stay with zinc oxide and titanium dioxide.

    I like the ones that melt into the skin and don’t feel greasy and sits on top of your skin (the way neutrogena sensitive skin, CeraVe hydrating sensitive skin do)

    I love isdin’s eryfotona actinica but it has a v strong fragrance. Like a waxy jasmine. And I like la roche posay’s anthelios but I keep running into bottles that are expiring in a month or already expired. (I’m looking at you cvs, ulta)

    Haven’t been impressed with supergoop or coola.

    Thanks.

    1. I'm A Little Teapot*

      I really like Neutrogena’s Dry Touch sunscreen. Not sure if they’re safe for you, but worth checking out. Not greasy at all, and I don’t really notice an odor.

      1. Grits McGee*

        I’ll second this- nonmineral sunscreens just make my eyes burn and I can’t stand having anything greasy on my face. This stuff is super comfortable to wear, and I’ve had really good results for avoiding sunburn even when I’m sweating or in the water.

    2. Lives in a Shoe*

      I have the same problem and I’ve had some success with Skin Medica’s Essential Defense. It’s a tiny bit greasy at first but soaks in quickly. I’d love to hear about other products though. Thanks for posting this!

    3. Miranda Priestly's Assistant*

      I like CeraVe best, but a good alternative is Banana Boat for Sensitive Skin. It has a watery consistency and blends into the skin very easily.

    4. Viette*

      ThinkSport Everyday Face works very well for me. I’m not allergic, I just like to stick with non-nano zinc oxide sunscreens. I’m an extremely pale white person and I always, always wear sunscreen on my face.

      ThinkSport’s stuff is a little bit tacky (in texture, I mean) to apply but it’s very lightweight and it doesn’t cause whiteness or streaking. And no fragrance! At all! I love it.

    5. Hi there*

      I have that sunscreen problem too. I use Trish McEvoy tinted face cream (SPF 35) as a daily sunscreen and skin tone even-outer. In the summer or before serious outdoors time I use a slightly tinted sunscreen from Skinceuticals. The tinting makes it apply more smoothly somehow. It stains like the dickens though.

    6. ValaMalDoran*

      Are you looking for face or body sunscreen? My ride or die face sunscreen is Etude House Sunprise Mild Airy Finish. It is very liquidy, white, and needs to be rubbed in well. It has citrus ingredients if you’re sensitive to that. And my SIL whose skin is drier than mine found it a bit drying.

      It may have a slight fragrance, but I don’t notice one. It’s under $8 on Amazon right now.

      1. Reba*

        I find the Etude House too fragrant (or maybe it’s the citrus?) but I’m interested to try other Korean brands now that those are becoming easier to get in the US.

        That said, I am super loyal to the Japanese Biore products! I buy them on Amazon. The “watery essence” product does not leave a white cast. The Japanese Nivea super sun protect (or something) gel is also fantastic, if not quite as long lasting.

    7. Old Biddy*

      I like SunBum mineral sunscreen for the face. I’ve got really sensitive skin and am allergic to fragrances in addition to being allergic to many sunscreens, and it hasn’t bothered me at all

    8. Another Emma*

      I’ve been buying the European versions of La Roche Posay on Ebay where the sellers list the expiration date. By far my favorite sunscreen.

    9. Recent Grad*

      I have been used banana boats simply protect baby sunscreen and shiseidos sensitive skin ultimate sun protection lotion(from Sephora) for years. They both dry more powdery than oily in my experience.

    10. PicoSignal*

      I like Banana Boat’s fragrance-free kids mineral sunscreen. I, too, am allergic to many sunscreen ingredients, and this is the best I’ve found.

    11. Diahann Carroll*

      Dr. Dennis Gross has a good one that’s SPF 50. It melts into your skin and dries pretty quickly. It is on the pricey side, though, but I love the whole line. As someone with celiac disease and very sensitive skin, I’ve never had a breakout or any other skin-related issues using this sunscreen.

    12. J. F.*

      We use the Banana Boat Baby mineral one on the kids, who are super rashy and break out with the chemical ones, but it is kind of greasy. I’ve heard the something lizard one is okay but haven’t tried it yet.

  27. coffee cup*

    Antidepressants side effects: I could do with any advice!

    I’ve been on fluoxetine for over a week now. Most of the side effects are OK or have worn off, but I have a new and weird one that I’m not sure how to counteract. I feel like I am starving hungry even when I have eaten a normal amount. The kind of gnawing stomach feeling, actual hunger pangs feeling. This has woken me in the night twice now and to be honest I can handle it in the daytime but it’s stopping me sleeping, which is making me extremely tired (and ultimately *that’s* the worst thing – I really need a decent sleep!).

    A quick search seemed to suggest it could be a form of acid reflux. Never heard of that before but it seems plausible because I am really not ‘hungry’ to that extent normally. I have antacids but they don’t work for very long. I wondered if anyone had experienced this before (not even just as a side effect) and if there were *any* suggestions of how to deal with it? It’s really driving me up the wall. If I can get a handle on that I will feel much better as otherwise I’m doing not too badly with these meds. I can’t keep eating in response as it doesn’t really work and I’ll just be eating way too much.

    Thank you! I really, really appreciate it as I’m on my own.

    1. fposte*

      When you say antacids, do you mean Tums, or did you try something like Pepcid? (Zantac is off the market now, I believe, so Pepcid/famotidine is the main one.) If you haven’t tried something like that, that’s a likely next step; it’s got fewer problems with long-term use than PPIs like Prilosec. I’d check with your doctor or a pharmacist before starting, but it’s likely that you’ll find something that can help.

      1. coffee cup*

        I’m not sure what Pepcid is. I’ve used Gaviscon, which I guess is probably more like Tums (I’m in the UK)? I have used them before for indigestion and associated things. They seemed to help a bit but only for a short time, so maybe it isn’t reflux after all. I’m really confused by it, it’s such a weird symptom.

        1. fposte*

          I get it as part of gastritis sometimes; I dunno if it’s the same think you’re experiencing, but it’s weird. It’s savage hunger that’s not quite like other other pangs but maps onto that more than pain. OTOH, it could be, as some are saying, a medication-related appetite increase all on its own.

          Interestingly, when I look at the Boots UK site I don’t see any H2 antagonists like famotidine. It may be they’re prescription-only there? I do see PPIs like Nexium and Guardium. Those are reasonable drugs to take short term but have some consequences if you take them longer term. I don’t know how responsive your doctor’s office is but you could try a short course (in the US usually you get them in 7 or 14-day containers), and then contact your doctor’s office either with the information that it seemed to help and you need to know what to do now or it didn’t help and you need to know what to do now.

          1. coffee cup*

            It’s *so* weird! I’ve only ever had something like it when for example I’ve had food poisoning and have literally eaten nothing for a few days and then it makes sense. But I eat a balanced diet, although to be fair I had eaten less last week here and there as the medication has reduced my appetite.

            Yes, it’s possible to get Nexium here but I don’t know about the others you mention. I’m to call the doctor next week if my side effects don’t improve by then, so it may be a moot point by that stage! But thanks, I will maybe give that a go meantime. I just hate losing sleep. If I got a full sleep, I’d be so happy.

    2. RC Rascal*

      I have zero experience with antidepressants.

      I have a lot of experience with acid reflux. I have Silent Reflux, aka Silent GERD. Runs in the family, my dad had actual GERD. None of these symptoms sound like acid reflux. The symptoms for Silent Reflux include nasal congestion, sore throat, and chronic cough that are frequently mistaken for allergies.

      Actual GERD includes heartburn, stomach bloating, gas, indigestion, burping, etc.

      Zantac was the gold standard for chronic acid reflux; now that it’s off the market I’m using Pepcid.

      Your symptoms sound more like the drug is messing with your blood sugar. I have high sugar (borderline diabetic, another thing that runs in the family despite being fit and normal weight). When I take a narcotic (ex; Vicadin) I get the kind of symptoms you describe. The antibiotic Doxycylene causes it too, but it mostly just makes me really hungry. I can eat like a linebacker when I’m on that.

      1. coffee cup*

        I thought it sounded nothing like reflux (my mum has a history of it) but honestly I did find people talking about it when I looked. Not that that means it’s true, of course! I found it a bit baffling but I thought maybe it’s just something unusual. The blood sugar thing makes more sense, but I’m not diabetic or known to have any problems with it normally. I guess I should maybe drink more sweet drinks and then that might help (I’d rather not eat lots more if I can help it).

      2. coffee cup*

        Thank you for your suggestion by the way. It makes a lot more sense and hopefully I can try to tackle it.

      3. Not So NewReader*

        I am glad you mentioned blood sugar because that hit me also.

        I remember when my husband got on insulin. He would get up in the middle of the night and eat a Thanksgiving size meal. He was so flippin’ hungry. The scary part was he never felt full he remained hungry.
        We talked about it. I was keeping full dinners in the fridge every night. He ditched the insulin and the wild eating stopped. If he did a blood sugar test he would be down around 40.

    3. Wishing You Well*

      Antidepressants can increase your appetite and/or craving for sweets to the point of obesity. I’m seen it happen. Talk to your prescribing doctor and ask for help.

      1. coffee cup*

        I’m not even hungry in myself, it’s just the stomach making me think I am. I am deliberately sticking to my normal eating routine but it’s hard to know how much more I should eat to avoid this. I can’t talk to the doctor over the weekend so I guess I need to think of a way to ease things meantime.

        1. Lena Clare*

          I had this – my GP reckons it’s because my anxiety has gone right down so I feel more relaxed and I’m not burning up energy so much and i felt it in my stomach. It passed, but definitely speak to your doctor about it.

          1. coffee cup*

            I did mention it to him and he didn’t really say much in response. I don’t know if it’s the same for me as I didn’t think I was that anxious, but maybe. How long did it take to pass?

            1. Lena Clare*

              Hmmm maybe a few weeks, I can’t really remember.
              I have put weight on and am now on a diet to lose it so sometimes I get that feeling of being very hungry again, but not often.
              I think for me it has a lot to do with feelings and eating for comfort (short version).

    4. Goldfinch*

      I have severe GERD with gallstones, thyroid problems, and a family history of diabetes (so I watch my sugars). I have experienced two weird hunger issues: never reaching satiety (as you mention), and feeling stuffed/ravenous at the same time. It’s awful. I can feel my stomach stretched full to the point of nausea, and yet be desperate for more food.

      I was on PPIs for several years and my GP demanded I quit them, due to bad kidney bloodwork. I started loosely following the Mediterranean diet, concentrating on low-fat meats and no white carbs. I lost 30 pounds and want to lose another 15 or so.

      What I’ve learned is that my body just doesn’t tolerate sugar well. I never eat a carb without also eating a protein alongside it (advice my diabetic sister was given) to keep my blood sugar from going wild. Avoiding spikes has taken the edge off my hunger pangs and smoothed out the crazy cravings. I’m also no longer in need of reflux meds on a daily basis–though I will get intense gall bladder pains if I eat even one greasy meal, which keeps me on the wagon.

    5. AppleStan*

      I don’t have any recommendations on the stomach thing, but I do know that some antidepressants can have side effects that mess with your mind’s ability to understand its limits (like recognizing that you aren’t hungry or that you’ve had too much to drink (not that you’re supposed to drink while taking antidepressants, but you get the point), and can affect your sleeping habits.

      It took 3 tries for my doctor to find the right antidepressant for me, and when we did finally find one, I had to take a 2nd antidepressant to combat the 1st one’s side effects, PLUS a sleeping pill. Fun times.

      Just sending you internet hugs…I hope it gets better soon.

    6. Chaordic One*

      This might not work for you, but you might consider trying to fill up on low-calorie diet foods such as gelatin and bouillon to ward of the hunger pangs.

  28. Medical advice*

    Thanks to everyone for their hysterectomy advice last week. As it turns out, the decision was made by changing circumstances—after the d&c/failed ablation, the bleeding came straight back at a much higher level than before the procedure, even on a high dose of progesterone. So it’s at a level where I would not feel comfortable traveling, plus I’m in ever increasing discomfort (cramps and bloating). My surgeon was able to schedule the surgery two weeks from now, which is five weeks out from my planned trip. And if I end up having complications and needing to cancel the trip, my friend I’m traveling with is okay with that. Not thrilled about any of it, except for being through it and ending this 5-month-long period!

    1. fposte*

      There is at least a certain comfort in things being unequivocal so you don’t have to worry about making the wrong choice. I hope you have a reasonably quiet couple of weeks and a smooth surgery and recovery, and then you go on to a great trip.

    2. Dr. Anonymous*

      There’s something very comforting about having the decision over with.
      I think if you get up a lot when you are on the plane you may be just fine. You may want to lie down a lot the first day or so after your flight but you’ll have jet lag anyway, so who cares?

      Don’t be afraid to ask the flight attendants if there’s a spot on the floor out of the way where you can lie down for two minutes. Getting flat gives those internal ligaments a much-needed break when you’ve been sitting too long.

  29. OperaArt*

    What type/color of floor covering do you think would go well with a dark-khaki colored sofa and chair? The living room is small. The floor is directly on a slab foundation, so that limits the choices a little.

    1. fposte*

      I think dark khaki is pretty neutral. Do you have a wall color chosen?

      I’m also not sure if you’re talking about the possibility of putting down carpet/LVP/vinyl or just whether or not to get a rug. I’d say make the choice about the first independent of the couch and then either go with neutral for the carpet or whatever you like for the flooring and add a rug in a color that pleases you.

      1. OperaArt*

        I’m open to any kind of floor covering. Perhaps leaning a little toward carpet because of the slab foundation floor.

        1. fposte*

          Yeah, I was thinking that over a slab even if you went for solid flooring you’d want a rug (and you can also put a rug over carpet if you want).

          Do you have pets, and how long do you plan to stay in the house? If you have pets I’d go for a lower price-point carpet in a neutral color and consider replacing it before selling. Have you looked at carpets locally at all? That might be a place to start.

    2. Fikly*

      Is the room well lit? If not, I would go with something light (but not so light that tons of dirt will show) to make it seem a bit bigger.

      1. OperaArt*

        It’s surprisingly well light for a small room with a northeast exposure. There are three large windows.

      2. Jdc*

        Don’t forget to check Home Goods and TJMaxx which combines home goods online. They ship free and I’ve always been able to find good rugs cheap.

    3. OperaArt*

      I’m thinking of looking at bamboo or bamboo-appearing flooring. Or something else with a hint of gold to the color.

      1. fposte*

        I really like lighter wood-type floorings myself, so if that’s where you’re leaning, I’d definitely do it. I’m guessing that you’re an earth-tone person in general, but it would be easy to throw a rug down to add color or texture while still keeping that woodtone around the perimeter to ground the room.

    4. NoLongerYoung*

      I have a dog, went with a (luxury vinyl) flooring plank that looks really great. I researched pet and wearing options, after having to replace the carpet 2x. (Mostly because it was lighter and wear, then bad dog helped ruin the last bit).

      I added a brighter patterned rug over it in the seating area (living room) and rugs where your feet hit the floor in the bedrooms. I coordinate the throw pillows, throws, and rug. Relatively neutral walls. This makes it easy to swap out the design theme or mix it up with pillows and colors.

      After many years of builder beige carpet, it is so nice to have easy to clean flooring. It seemed like I could never keep that beige carpet looking good past the six month mark, even having it professionally cleaned 2x a year.

      And the planking is attractive enough that my friend in property management got the name/label and store where the landlord purchased it…so they could install it in their rentals. And landlord had to replace his hardwood (multiple kids, indoor tricycles, and high heels)….he is likely getting it too.

      Your couch color is flexible enough you can treat it as a neutral in many ways.

        1. NoLongerYoung*

          If you want a lot of inspiration, look at the Surya rug site. Although your head may spin. Lol. But I found good used (for my home office) and had it cleaned (took in), brown with amazing bright circles. And one inexpensive one (costco) in a shag for the bedroom. The living room is fun, butterflies, parrots, vines. It was a gift, though.
          And dont forget to check home goods and Marshall’s for rugs…. amazing prices. (Measure and take your rug size options with you….you might think you will remember, but…you may want to be sure…the cute stuff doesn’t last long enough around here to check and go back).

    5. Seven hobbits are highly effective, people*

      I feel like it would be hard to find a floor color that wouldn’t go well with a dark khaki sofa, really. Also, think about which you plan to replace more frequently: your flooring or your seating. If it’s your seating, then if you somehow manage to fall in love with a floor color that wouldn’t go well with khaki, you could always get slipcovers to tide you over until you buy new furniture.

      I’m a big fan of some kind of easy-to-sweep/mop hard surface as a base and area rugs in general. I’ve had too many bad experiences with carpet between pets and spilled drinks, so I prefer rugs that can be removed entirely if they get wet and cleaned elsewhere after I mop up whatever happened to the floor on-site. (I also buy cheap rugs for places that people will be eating or drinking rather than extremely expensive ones. If someone spills a drink on my $30 under-the-table rug, I can relegate that rug to the garage/rec room/dog’s favorite hangout spot/wherever and buy a new one for the dining area if a couple of quick cleaning methods don’t work.)

    6. Not So NewReader*

      Purple.
      In my world purple goes well with EVERYTHING. ;)

      I redid my bedroom. I have pumpkin walls, olive drab rug and eggplant colored accents. It’s very cozy.
      My laundry room has a deep purple floor, white walls and I used the purple paint randomly around the room for little splashes of purple.

    7. LibbyG*

      I have a heated floor (under laminate). I’m surprised how setting the floor on, like, 68 deg makes the room so much cozier.

      Another idea is carpet tiles. You could set off the seating area in a different color or something.

  30. Nacho*

    Anybody have any interesting coffee recipes? I tried adding cayenne pepper once after reading about it in a story, but it wasn’t very good and I probably shouldn’t take advice on making coffee from works of fiction.

    1. Fikly*

      Have you tried adding cinnamon? I like that a lot.

      My dad used to add chocolate milk instead of regular milk to his coffee as a weekend treat, as sort of a semi-mocha thing.

      1. Diahann Carroll*

        I like adding cinnamon as well (I use Vietnamese cinnamon) with some heavy whipping cream – it’s delicious.

      2. Seeking Second Childhood*

        Speaking of inspiration from fiction… in Samuel Delany’s Nevèrÿon, an immigrant realizes how long she has been in a country because she has even gotten used to the bitter spice they put in everything even sweets. Cinnamon.

    2. Lost in the Woods*

      It’s not that fancy, but if you can find a Mexican hot chocolate mix, than a few tablespoons of that are really good! The sweet/spicy combination works much better than straight spicy, in my opinion.

      1. Seeking Second Childhood*

        FISH SAUCE? Do you mean a sauce used on fish? Or something like nuoc mam that is made from fish?

    3. C Average*

      I sometimes do a DIY Turkish coffee. Put about 4-5 c water in a saucepan with two heaping tablespoons each of sugar and very finely ground coffee, plus a generous pinch of cardamom. Bring it to a boil and then let it cool. Repeat twice and then drink. As you get experience, you’ll probably play with the amounts a bit.

      1. C Average*

        This is for two servings, btw. I’m so accustomed to making it for my partner and me that my brain just defaults to that recipe.

    4. PX*

      When in Hong Kong I saw ginger added a couple of times and took that back with me. They tended to use stem ginger (so sweet and a bit of spice) but I found I didn’t get much flavour from it so I prefer slicing fresh ginger into mine. I use a french press and will add it before adding the water so it gets a chance to brew.

    5. MeepMeep*

      Throw the hot coffee in a blender, add a banana, and a bit of sweetener to taste, blend. Yum. If you throw in some melted chocolate and a bit of raspberry jam, it’s even better.

    6. Pharmgirl*

      I enjoy a bit of almond or amaretto extract in my coffee – I really like the ones from Beanilla.

    7. Recent Grad*

      If you like cardamom, mixing some ground cardamom (just a pinch) in with your coffee grounds before brewing makes a nice fragrant coffee. Great for weekends or days when you have time to savor your coffee.

    8. Salymander*

      Pumpkin pie spice and a bit of vanilla is a nice combination in coffee. I sprinkle the spice on my aeropressed cup of coffee with a bit of vanilla not-milk in it (soy, rice, oat, whatever).

    9. Merci Dee*

      I keep a selection of flavored hot chocolate mixes on hand and stir in a fes spoonfuls when making my cup of coffee. Peppermint and chocolate covered cherry are two nice options, but my favorite is salted caramel. I use milk instead of creamer products, so the hot chocolate mix blends in really well and is nice and creamy.

      1. Diahann Carroll*

        I really like this – I’m going to try this (minus the milk, since I’m lactose intolerant).

  31. AlmostWed*

    I’m getting married in 3 weeks (yay!) and I need advice on gifts for our parents.

    Both my fiancee’s and my parents contributed toward the wedding. We (fiancee and I) are also contributing financially, so it comes out to about 1/3 of the cost each.

    I want to gift our parents with something as a thank you for their contributions but I’m not sure what would be appropriate. Flowers don’t seem like enough. Also, one set of parents lives far away so that is something to take into consideration.

    Any thoughts or suggestions would be welcome!

    1. T. Boone Pickens*

      I think a combo of practical and personal might be a really nice touch. For the personal side, something my sibling did I thought was really nice. They took all the pictures they got of the wedding and put them into a really nice book and included two copies (one in a nice frame, one loose) of a really nice thank you letter than was about a page long. My sibling has gorgeous penmanship so the letter is both really heartfelt and looks striking in the frame. For the practical side they ended up doing something cooking related which my folks enjoy. They gave my folks a gift card to a really nice restaurant that my folks would go to maybe once every couple years, some new cooking knives and a new meat thermometer (which my dad loves…like a lot, he uses it constantly.)

      Congrats on the wedding! In all honesty, a really nice hand written note will go a long, long way.

    2. C to the E*

      We did wedding albums for both sets of parents and they LOVED them (this was after the wedding of course).

      1. NoLongerYoung*

        The picture books are very much appreciated. It was hard when one of the family chose not to do anything with their pictures – we would have loved to have been given books as a thoughtful gift (even if we’d helped pay for them) in order to remember her day.
        And/or a gift certificate to order a print in the size of their choice for display (if they are the kind of family that has a photo wall with family pictures), with access to the photo files. They may want the big family group shot of the extended family, for the wall, and a smaller one of the new couple, for example.

    3. Jen Erik*

      That’s how my daughter’s wedding worked out. And just to say, for us, thanks were unnecessary because we were happy to do it.
      I think, on the day, the groom thanked all parents in his speech, and then afterwards they wrote a letter of thanks, and in due course sent us a photo album.

      (Going back further, I know we gave my mum and dad an engraved fish slice on the day, and I cannot remember what that was about. I suspect we’d just found out we could get random things engraved.)

  32. Wizards Unite*

    We’ve shared Pokémon Go codes a few times…anyone playing Wizards Unite and want to be friends? My code is 8345 8902 2601. I send back whatever gets sent to me, including extravagants.

  33. MOAS*

    Oh, by the way, thanks to this readership….I learned that the best way to respond to a weird comment is a simple “wow.” Who knew 3 simple letters could have such an impact. Less overthinking = less time spent fighting on forums/facebook. Lifechanging.

    1. Selmarie*

      Yes, that a great one. Depending on circumstances, so is “well, bless your heart!” I think it’s a Southern (US) response, but it seems to work ;) Maybe someone from the South can weigh in on it, though.

      1. ampersand*

        Ha, yes, bless your heart works quite well in the south! I’m only south-adjacent and if someone said it to me here I would know exactly what it meant, and it would not be good!

        Not sure if it has the same effect in other parts of the US, though. Like if you know what it means you KNOW. And if you don’t, you may think someone who said it was just…being kind? Or overly southern?

        1. Clisby*

          Reporting in from the South here. “Bless your heart” can mean more than one thing. It can mean, “You’re an idiot!/Fuck you!” Or it can mean “You’re so sweet!” Or if you say it to a child it generally means something along the line of “You are adorable!” A Southerner will likely know which one you mean.

      2. Close Bracket*

        There are two sliders on Bless Your Heart:

        -there is the literal “bless your heart” slider

        -and there is the understood “bc you’re a blooming idjit” slider

        Either can be ramped down to zero or up to 11, and successful plausible deniability when ramping on the 2nd to 11 depends on regular use when ramping the first to 11.

        Usually the 2nd slider is used when talking *about* someone rather than *to* them (“she made her wedding dress herself, bless her heart”). It’s very damning with faint praise.

    2. Seven hobbits are highly effective, people*

      I’ve found the best way for me to react to most online nastiness is to say (out loud) “awww…aren’t you a Grumpy Gus?” and then not post anything to the actual internet, but I can see the value in a well-placed “wow” as well.

      1. MOAS*

        That works when the comment is through and through rude. In this case,it was more like the type of comment that makes you stop and think–is that person giving me a backhanded compliment?

        for context, this was someone I knew online and could be condescending.

        In any case – wow squashes so much overthinking. :D

  34. OyHiOh*

    The Gregorian calendar observance of Mr Oy’s yahrzeit/anniversary of his death was on Tuesday, the 11th. A year ago on the 10th, I spent the day watching Mr Oy’s body shut down. You think about nothing and everything. And at some point that morning, I remember thinking that about not eating or drinking and going through a roster of “who would drop what they’re doing on a Sunday morning to help for a minute” and somehow arrived on Neptune (I really only barely knew him at this point, couple conversations, a lunch) : “I haven’t eaten in two days, I don’t remember the last time I drank something, can you get me some Gatorade?” Twenty minutes later, he was outside Mr Oy’s ICU room with Gatorade and protein snacks.

    A year ago on the 11th, I texted a different friend: “I had some snacks yesterday but haven’t really eaten and I can’t make a decision about a single nother thing. HELP!” My friend, a widow herself, showed up an hour later with pizza, and stood in my kitchen with me, pointedly watching me eat something. (Note that in both instances, I was making meals for my children and they were eating but I couldn’t feed myself.)

    On Monday, had breakfast with Neptune. We ate quieche and bagels and lox, laughed and talked for three hours. Tuesday, we met for lunch – he’d asked if there was anything he should or shouldn’t do this week and I asked if we could meet for lunch today – and I had an enormous burger and a cream puff almost as big as the burger and again, we talked and laughed for hours. No tears were shed.

    I am astonished by where I’ve gone and what I’ve become. If not for my children, I’d feel as if “I” didn’t exist until a year ago; as if the shock and pain of what happened were a necessary part of what I am now becoming.

    Least you think all is well . . . . that’s only part of the story. Thursday was a rough day. Last year, that was the day of planning the funeral with Mr Oy’s in laws and my rabbi. I have never felt so alone in a room as I did that day. Thursday, I was doing great until early afternoon, when my brain just shut down. Numb, cold, shaky – it took hours for me to figure out what was wrong. Yesterday was pretty much more of the same. We had a special service at Temple planned last night and I wasn’t really sure I was going to make it through. Went in early to help prep (Tu b’Shvat, “festival of the trees,” three dozen plates of fruits and nuts to prep . . . . ) and decided not to sit down for the service. Stayed in the kitchen so I could move around a little bit but still hear the service . . . . . and ended up crying on a friend’s shoulder for most of it.

    My therapist “yelled” at me yesterday morning too. Gave me mindfulness homework and guided imagry and I can see what the desired outcome is but learning to do it sucks. Linking an article about the “feed your demon” exercise I’m supposed to be learning to do.

    1. NoLongerYoung*

      Sending you a big hug and a comforting virtual shoulder. There is no smooth path, but I hear you pushing through and listening to your inner dialogue, asking for and accepting help and comfort.
      I sometimes think of it as being fired in the kiln. Being transformed. Shaped and fired, glazed and refired, but in longer process. (Maybe metal work, jewelry refinement from an ingot is better as an analogy?) Regardless, you are becoming …more, different, in a way you did not forsee. But a good way.
      Hug.

      1. Seeking Second Childhood*

        The strongest brick comes from a kiln, not from lying in the sun.
        I’m glad you’re coming through this year strong.

    2. Randomity*

      It’s a year?! How.
      Thank you for sharing your journey here with us. You give me hope. It’s a terrible world sometimes but you navigate it so well.
      Thinking of you and all your family.

      1. OyHiOh*

        I know!! The hours passed so slowly at first, it really is difficult to believe it’s been a year.

        I struggled so hard to understand what certain friends were seeing, when they called me Wonder Woman last year. One of the gifts of social media is seeing the posts I made and finally being able to recognize what they saw.

    3. Not So NewReader*

      Grief/shock can really lower or obliterate appetite.

      Our minds can take us back to particular moments, we can feel the moment as if we are STILL in the moment. This gets a little mind-bending. It’s pretty normal for it to happen once we get to safety. In that safe space we can look back and remember. We can feel those feelings again. It’s safe to do so. We know what happens next in the story line.

      You have indeed come a long way, it’s very impressive. This is what happens when we agree to let those around us help us. We don’t stay stuck, we move. And you LET them move you- this is super important, don’t skate by it. We have to agree to allow others to help.

      There is that part of a person’s life story that goes, “If Awful Thing X had not happened to me, then I would not have found Good Things A, B and C about myself.” The crap in life does become fertilizer and cause us to grow…… IF we let it. You decided to grow. That decision was very subtle, not easy to catch. But one of the first clues was when you started posting here saying, “Uh, I have hit some problems here…..” That was where your decision to grow started. There are things in life we should reach for others, falling into isolation is not a solution because the story is too big for any one person to walk alone.

      My friend lost her husband. His life was tragic. But it’s hard to see that because he made so. many. LOUSY decisions. She could have left him and been very justified. What made his life tragic is that he never reached for others. He insisted on isolating himself. He carried a huge amount of misconceptions and lived according to those misconceptions. His life was way harder than it ever should have been. My friend will be okay so her story is the exact opposite. She can openly say, “I am having a problem here.” She’s made it through cleaning up his mess he left. Something he could not do because of his refusal to ask for help. The other day she said, “I am happy here. I like it here, I think I will stay right here.” There’s two people with two different responses and two very different outcomes.

      1. OyHiOh*

        I lost two full pants sizes in something like twelve weeks. Fortunately, I have sensible friends who responded to weight loss with concern, brought me food, had lunch with me, fetched plates at community meals, scolded me if they thought I was drinking too much coffee (appetite supressant, not exactly helpful at the time!), and occasionally annoyed me via text “have you put food in your mouth in the last four hours?????” And my therapist made me start walking to help deal with anxiety and the result of grief/anxiety/not eating/walking is that I’ve been weight stable for four months now at a much smaller size and I’m more fit than I’ve been in close to twenty years. The strange and unexpected side effects of coping with life shattering change.

        I remember saying in a widows support group, something like six or eight weeks after Oy died, that if change had to happen, then I was going to be actively involved in the process, rather than passively letting change happen around me. Widows got *pissed* at me. “I refuse to accept this life,” etc. God knows how pissed off I’ve been! I’ve shattered two 72 count boxes of pencils at this point and shattered a couple plastic garbage cans from kicking them around. Anger at the situation is fine, maybe even motivating in the right circumstances. But I’m still going to be an active driver in this process

        1. Not So NewReader*

          I so get the weight loss thing, and I totally agree with your last paragraph. Anger is absolutely a normal part of grief. We don’t need to be passive about how the rest of our life plays out. Loss is not an endpoint/destination, rather loss is a part of our continuing story.

          When I lost my husband, I did not want to be identified as a widow. “Oh a widow lives in that house over there.” Or “NSNR is a widow.” I did not want my widow status to be the first thing people thought of when they thought of me. It’s a part of my life but it is NOT the sum total of my life NOR is it my identity. There are many things that make me, well…, me.

          Life takes but life also gives.

          1. NoLongerYoung*

            I appreciate both of you so much. (NSNR, my story is very much like your friend’s, so always good to hear that she is coming through the other side).
            And, Oy, I love the way you talked about not being passive. I didn’t even join a widow’s group (I did a grief group after losing a beloved sibling), because I didn’t “want” to be labeled a widow, and I don’t tell folks I am a widow as part of my life history/ status. I am phoenix, up from the ashes, so to speak.
            I am still working on trying to get in touch with all of the anger. But good to hear it is not a unique phenomenon.
            My thanks to both of you.

            1. Not So NewReader*

              My friend has a quiet strength, like a little sleeper cell of power. It’s been pretty rocky. She is still finding new things that he did and it’s been over a year. I tell her all the time, she’s the best thing that ever happened to him in life.

              So I will say to you, NLY, you’re the best thing that ever happened to him in life. And on some level he knew that to be true, no matter how much he did not want to admit it. So did my friend’s husband. He knew, also.

          2. OyHiOh*

            I lasted barely a month in the group I joined. Everyone grieves differently. Every journey is different. I’m glad for the insight into how some other people grieve, because that knowing helps me avoid accidentally offending people who aren’t me. But it wasn’t the right group of people for me. I did see that group help tremendously for a few people who were struggling and on the edge of self harm or worse so there’s plenty of good to go with the “nope, not right for me.”

            Y’all remember Tabitha King’s Twitter rant about this time last year? (Stephen King’s wife) She went on a rant that involved the statement “wife is a status, not an identity” or something to that effect. Wife/widow/husband . . . those things aren’t *who* I am but part of what I do.

            1. Not So NewReader*

              I went to a life coach instead of going to a counselor because I did not want to dwell on the current state of things. I could get through the current stuff IF I knew I was going toward something. The question remained,”What the hell I am going TOWARD???”. So I went to a life coach.

              I think it helped some. But it would have been better if I waited for the grief fog to lift. It’s really hard to think while in grief fog.

    4. Jean (just Jean)*

      Life is an amazing journey if we have the gift of being able to reflect on and learn from our experiences.
      You have that gift. With your posts and the replies they elicit, you’ve shared some of that with this community.
      Best wishes for your future travels.

      I’ll try to read about feeding one’s demons. Depends upon today’s level of bravery.

  35. Sara(h)*

    I need recommendations for a new fridge! Have you bought a mid-range fridge in the last few years that you’d recommend? Or one that you *don’t* recommend? Why?
    My top priority is getting one with a quiet compressor, as I’m replacing my 20-yr-old model whose compressor is dying an obnoxiously loud death, and I live in a small condo where the fridge is near my bedroom. Looking for something full-size but not huge (about 21-24 cubic feet capacity).
    ALSO, if you bought from a national chain (i.e. Best Buy, Lowe’s, Home Depot), what was your customer experience?

    1. NoLongerYoung*

      I really recommend subscribing to the consumer reports (online only is reasonable). Since my frig cost about as much as my first car, and is harder to get repaired, it’s worth the time and small (20-35$) investment to get real ratings.
      Because I realized that picking, delivery, changing out the old one…. the hassle factors…made it imperative to pick one for longevity and easier / quality repairs. And I read too many anecdotal reports of 4-5 year life. I did get a GE, but actually went to the appliance part distributor place and asked them about availability of parts, and their repair guy which ones were easiest to support. (Because we knew it was probably inevitable that I’d need something done). He recommended the GE (even though he knew we weren’t buying from him).
      Check your costco credit card (I didnt have one at that time)…they sometimes double the warranty if you buy that way (and from costco).
      And measure super carefully, download the installation info. I actually bought mine “never used” from a couple who bought it in advance of their remodel, not realizing they couldn’t get it to fit and get the left door open completely due to the wall. (They had it sitting waiting for installation until after the return period).
      Also, be aware that GE (some) have proprietary RFID chips in the water filters, so those can be expensive (about $10 a month, but cheaper than bottled water delivery).
      But I did wind up getting my dream frig for less than mid range…but had a trailer and muscle, and cash to make that possible. (And looked for awhile…ours too had a slow death)
      The bonus points? I doubled my water consumption, and my fresh veggies/salad stuff really does last now. So it did pay off. (At the 2 year mark).

      1. Seven hobbits are highly effective, people*

        Your local library may also have a Consumer Reports subscription if you don’t want to subscribe yourself. If you’re a print person, the most recent issue will have an index on the left inside back page that lists which issue most recently reviewed a given thing, and libraries that subscribe probably keep a few years of back issues since that’s a magazine where it makes sense to do so as they rotate which products get reviewed. (They also do a yearly “buying guide” that condenses reviews from recent previous years for people who don’t want to hang on to a giant stack of back issues. I’m pretty sure my father’s collection of back issues of Consumer Reports goes back to ones that are older than I am, though, so I’m not someone who has trouble getting access to back issues regardless.)

      2. Sara(h)*

        Thank you for the tips! I have a bottom freezer now, and I like it a lot, but am overwhelmed with the different options out there.

      3. Sara(h)*

        Thank you for suggesting consumer reports — I took your suggestion and just bought an online subscription. You are right that the $25 is worth it when I’m about to invest in a big ticket appliance.

        1. NoLongerYoung*

          I got the online as they update things sometimes, more often than they put in print.
          And I even have found small gems (gift ideas from registries, other gift ideas, small appliances) that have added up over the 18 months I’ve had it. But the big purchase definitely made it worthwhile.

          The problem with asking people for their personal recommendations, is that to a certain extent, you get a sort of bias – they spent $30K on a car, so they are going to tell you (unless it is AWFUL) that the one they got is perfect. Well, it is for them. That doesn’t mean that the 6 month old car is going to be great in 5 years. Maybe they are not keeping it 5 years. Maybe they thought it was a great deal because they had $40K to spend, so $30K is great. Your budget might be $15K, so what’s the best car you can get for that?
          Anecdotal is good to tell you what to look for, that you might not think of, but not always to steer you on the biggest ticket purchases.

    2. Wicked Witch of the West*

      Really *look* at the fridge. I am stuck with one that I knew was a mistake the next day (when it was delivered). Too late, the old one wasn’t dying it was dead. We had to grab what we could find that could be delivered the next day. It’s a side by side with the freezer in a pull out drawer down below (so 3 doors). The top shelf in the fridge is unusable except the first few inches (I’m only 5′ tall), the freezer is half the size I was used to. Live and learn.

    3. Please Don't*

      I have GE and have been happy with it. For midrange prices you will want top freezer with no icemaker/water dispenser. I bought mine from a local GE supplier. Make sure you measure your space. The dimensions have changed over the years particularly the depth.

    4. OtterB*

      We bought a Maytag last summer when our old fridge died. I don’t remember the model number and I don’t see it on the fridge itself. We got it from Home Depot and were reasonably pleased with the customer service. They were understaffed in appliances, but when we finally got our turn with a sales associate they were very helpful. Also, we ordered the fridge for delivery later in the same week, but then got a phone call from the delivery service (not Home Depot itself) that it would be delivered about two weeks later. We didn’t want to wait that long, and apparently couldn’t change the order over the phone, but went back to the store, cancelled the original order, and reordered the same model in a different color. It was delivered just fine.

    5. RC Rascal*

      Have had bad experiences buying appliances from box store chains. Recommend a local appliance dealer. Priced are similar w a good dealer & they can handle all sorts of installation. I have bought from box stores & have had their people refuse to perform the installation I paid for. While I got installation $$ refunded it was hugely inconvenient & I was without appliance for a week.

      1. Sara(h)*

        I wanted to use a local store, but I live in a small city and visited the local appliance stores — they just don’t have much of a selection and also were mostly high-end and expensive. :(

      1. Auntie Social*

        Yay for the GE counter depth. It’s panel-ready so it looks built in and expensive even though it isn’t. And I like that the counter depth keeps me from losing things in the back like I did with our old fridge. Mine is a bottom freezer.

    6. LibbyG*

      We got a bottom-drawer freezer 8 years ago, and I don’t like it. It’s hard to find what you’re looking for when it’s all piled together, and it’s a basket, so there’s loss of storage space around the edges. Hard to clean too. If I was buying a new fridge I’d definitely get thevtop-freezer kind.

      1. Parenthetically*

        And just as an alternate view, I will never buy a top-freezer fridge again if I can help it. The way I see it is, I open the fridge 10+ times a day, and the freezer once or twice a day. I would rather bend down to look for something 1/12th of the time than 11/12ths of the time. (Also, bottom freezers really vary widely in how they’re organized! Ours is a door with a bottom pull-out basket and a top shelf, which I don’t love but a) was the only option for the space we have, and b) is still my preference over a top freezer. My brother’s bottom freezer is a drawer, but the top section is also a drawer, both very square and using maximum space.)

        1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

          Same. I could never find anything in the back of the top-freezer, and people weren’t very organized about putting things into it, so the day I opened the freezer and a loaf of frozen bread dough fell out and smashed my toes, I swore (a lot, and also said) that I was never going to deliberately get a top-freezer fridge again. And now I have a bottom-freezer fridge in my kitchen, a side-by-side in the garage for the housemates, and no top-freezer fridge to be found. :P

    7. Sara(h)*

      Thank you everyone for the tips! I have a bottom freezer now, and I like it a lot, but am overwhelmed with the different options out there.

    8. Gatomon*

      I’m in the same boat, but haven’t pulled the trigger yet, so please update if you find a silent one! You can hear mine whining and grumbling and thumping and coughing throughout the whole condo, and every once in awhile I stick something into the freezer just right so that it shuts off the cooling until I adjust things again. Although it does run quieter for a few days after that.

      I did order a dishwasher in the fall from Lowe’s and was pleased. I have also heard good things about their warranty program, so I got that too. Apparently you get 30% of the cost back if you don’t have a claim at the end of the period.

      1. Sara(h)*

        My fridge compressor died today, so my main recommendation is not to wait, and get one now while yours is still working. I was able to salvage most of my food by putting in a friend’s fridge, but I bought one today, and the soonest delivery date was Wed, so that’s a bummer. I bought this one: https://www.bestbuy.com/site/whirlpool-21-9-cu-ft-bottom-freezer-refrigerator-stainless-steel/3928039.p?skuId=3928039. It has good reviews, and Consumer Reports liked it overall too. And the front is magnetic, which I learned isn’t often the case with the stainless steel fridges. Best Buy also sells a 3-year extended warranty, and their customer service was very good. The most difficult limitation for me dimension-wise was depth — many fridges were a 2-3 inches deeper than would work in my narrow galley kitchen. Unfortunately this ruled out all GE models and many others. Here’s hoping I like this one! It is very similar to the 18-year-old Amana I am replacing.

        1. Gatomon*

          I’ll definitely be bummed when it finally bites the dust, but I don’t cook much so the losses would mostly be like… french fries, pudding and a half-gallon of milk. Maybe some cheese. :) I am hoping to wait for at least the yearly bonus announcement, which should come out in the next few weeks. C’mon fridge…

          I think this one might be too wide, I think I only have 32″ of width unfortunately. Depth is also a bit of a challenge for me since the island is directly in front – it has to be able to open without striking the island. But I bet they make a slightly smaller model I can find. Thanks!

    9. Aurora Leigh*

      https://www.homedepot.com/p/GE-24-8-cu-ft-Bottom-Freezer-Refrigerator-in-Stainless-Steel-ENERGY-STAR-GDE25ESKSS/206875933

      We bought this one from Home Depot in November and I am really happy with it!

      It replaced an ancient beige colored unit that the door handle fell off of. Definitely way more efficient (and much lower power bill) than our old unit. I knew I wanted a bottom freezer, and I really like the drawer, although it seems smaller than our old freezer. I didn’t really like any of the models with the French doors though. . . . They all had the a wide shallow drawer that I couldn’t see a practical use for, and this one I could clearly look at and think okay the milk would go there, the lunch meat there, etc.

      Home Depot’s customer service was great! The delivery guys were on time and quick, but they had to take off the front door and put it back wrong — be better and measuring these things than us!

    10. Sara(h)*

      Hi all – No more tips needed — my fridge died today so I had to buy a new one in a hurry! I got a Whirlpool with bottom freezer which has a pretty good score on Consumer Reports and good reviews overall. The most difficult issue for me was finding one with a smaller depth — my height and width needs were easy to match, but many fridges were a 2-3 inches deeper than would work in my narrow galley kitchen. Unfortunately this ruled out all GE models and many others. Thank you for all the recommendations!

    11. Bluebell*

      A year ago I bought a side by side Whirlpool, and I’ve been pretty happy with it. Before that I had a top freezer Kenmore for almost 20 years. It was still working when I gave it away. I had considered bottom freezer, but my lower back was bothering me, so I changed my mind. Used a smaller appliance store instead of a big box.

    12. Seeking Second Childhood*

      Something that seemed so basic to me that I didn’t even think to look for it: are the shelves adjustable? My G.E. is quiet, easy to clean, was available quickly when we lost ours, and, well, works without freezing lettuce.
      But the shelves don’t move, and the tallest shelf space cannot fit a 1liter or 2liter soda bottle. The door can hold soda– but not a champagne bottle.
      We’re home brewers, one guess what bottles we re-use most for beer & sparkling wines. :(

  36. Fiona*

    I’m sort of interested in roasting a whole chicken tonight in my tiny oven. Favorite recipes, tips, tricks? (Never done it before).

    1. Parenthetically*

      It’s actually extremely easy! Make sure to season inside and out (you can season just as you like, I’ve made them every way from nothing but salt to slathering the whole thing with garlic, lemon, and harissa or with yogurt and curry paste), roast at 450 for 15 minutes, then drop the temp to 350 and roast for 20 minutes per pound. Let rest for 15 minutes before cutting up.

    2. fposte*

      Do you have a rack? I like the America’s Test Kitchen approach of roasting it on its sides–start with one side, then move it to the other halfway.

      1. BRR*

        If you have a rack I’d also recommend trying Kenji Lopez-Alt/the food pans roast chicken. He recommends spatchcocking it, which is just plain fun to say.

        I had really good results with Ina Gardens recipe recently.

        1. Fiona*

          Thanks for the recommendation – I ended up doing the Ina Garten recipe and it turned out wonderfully!! My husband said it was the best home-cooked chicken he’s had in a long time. I’ll definitely do it again :-) thanks all!

    3. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      I’ve never actually done one in the oven, but I’ve done them in the crockpot a zillion times. Scatter some carrots on the bottom so it doesn’t sit right on the base (or use a rack, either way), put a bit of butter in the cavity and under the skin, salt, pepper, and low for 3-4 hours. Easy peasy! The skin doesn’t crisp up the way it does in the oven, but I don’t usually eat the skin anyway, so that’s fine with me :)

    4. London Calling*

      ‘put a bit of butter in the cavity’

      And a cut lemon. Roast chicken is great once you have mastered it and it’s infinitely flexible.

    5. MeepMeep*

      I just made one that turned out great. Stuff the chicken with mushrooms and garlic, and mix up some honey and mustard and smear on the skin. (and salt the skin a bit too). Then put some olive oil in a pan, stick the chicken on top, and roast at 350 degrees. Baste every 20 minutes.

    6. EN*

      Bon Appetit’s Faux Rotisserie Chicken recipe is my favorite! Use the convection roast Setting on your oven if you have it. It helps crisp the outside without drying out the inside.

    7. AcademiaNut*

      I’m doing the same tonight, in a large toaster oven. I will butterfly the chicken first, so it cooks more evenly and for more crispy skin. I can fit the whole chicken in the toaster oven, but the sides don’t brown well. I tend to go fairly simple – brush the skin with melted butter, season with salt, and roast on medium heat, raising it at the end to get nice crispy skin. Let it rest for a few minutes before carving. Then I serve it with lemon slices to squeeze over the meat.

    8. D.W.*

      I just read a great book that an entire chapter on chicken. The Kitchen Counter Cooking School. Audiobook is on overdrive/libby too.

    9. Seeking Second Childhood*

      If you are in the US, look for poultry seasoning the weekend after Thanksgiving — the price drop is extreme, and you can pour the powder from the little cardboard boxes into glass so it stays good for years.

  37. Miranda Priestly's Assistant*

    I’ve finally come to terms with the fact that if I want to continue reading, I’m going to resort to audiobooks. I used read a lot as a up until college. Then I became a typical short attention span millenial who can read for too long without getting restless, developing back issues from looking down too long, getting a headache, and whatnot. I still finish books, but much more slowly.

    What platforms do you all prefer for listening to audiobooks? Do I need to sign up for an Amazon account to use Audible?

    1. it happens*

      Your public library! You do not need to pay. I think most systems use overcast and Libby (same system, better interface.)
      Enjoy!

    2. Fiona*

      I JUST started using the Libby app because I had the same thought as you. It’s been great. Popular books you might wait a while for, but I love having things arrive on my shelf.

    3. fhqwhgads*

      Libby or Overdrive. They’re basically the same thing but depending on your device/local library system you might need to use one or the other.

    4. Elaress*

      Libraries also carry Playaways. These are little audio players that contain one book. You can plug them into an audio player or the port on your car’s audio system.

    5. MistOrMister*

      Yep, I go to the library for audiobooks. In addition to getting them electronically, they’ll have some on CD, should that be a thing that works for you. Loads of people I know swear by various podcasts too. I know someone who listens to all kinds of topics. It’s not something I’ve looked into because I don’t tend to enjoy streaming a whole lot on my phone, but it could be an option, although they’re not books exactly.

    6. Randomity*

      On a different note, silent reading groups are a thing. I heard about them about 3 years ago and have met with two friends once a month since then. We eat pizza and chat then read in companionable silence. Started it because one of the group was struggling to concentrate on reading after some serious illness and apparently it’s really helped.

    7. Ranon*

      Libby and Hoopla, both thorough my public library- Hoopla doesn’t have holds so I can check out right away but Libby has a more mainstream catalog and better user interface for audio books so I hop back & forth.

    8. Seeking Second Childhood*

      Also look into LibriVox, the audiobook equivalent of Project Gutenberg. Volunteer recordings of anything old enough to be public domain.

    9. NB*

      Seconding all the recommendations for the public library! My library offers Libby/Overdrive (great selection, but you may have to wait for what you want) and Hoopla (smaller selection, but instantly available), but many libraries offer other platforms such as 3M Cloud Library or Axis 360. Talk to the librarian for details about what your library offers and for instructions for use. I just started a new job with a long commute, and I’m so grateful for recorded books. Happy listening!

  38. Oompah*

    My friendship with a close friend of many years has effectively ended. For various reasons I’ve decided to phase her out rather than “break up” with her openly. Including the fact that we have lots of mutual friends and there is no way I can avoid her. But my individual friendship with her is over. She has done too many small crappy things that snowballed into a big pile of crap.

    I’m devastated. It’s weird how she has no idea I am grieving for the end of our friendship. I feel similarly to going through a romantic break up. I keep revisiting all the painful situations and conduct imaginary conversations with her and alternate feeling angry and sad. At least with romantic relationships there is a clear beginning and end. Friendships that fizzle out can be just as painful.

    1. Parenthetically*

      I had that happen six or eight years ago and it was completely devastating. I’m so sorry. All the best for you as you move forward with this difficult new scenario.

    2. NoLongerYoung*

      I had one I choose to let go, and it was something of a lesson because I did not realize how toxic it was until afterwards. In other words, this is hard, but in the long run, you will grow and learn how to have ever better relationships…. sending comfort. I did mourn.

      1. Lena Clare*

        Oh yes do I identify with this!

        Sorry you’re going through this, OP. I hope you can mourn about the loss. Much comfort to you.

    3. Misty*

      This is currently happening to me also. I’m trying to phase someone out and it’s not going well.

      I’m sorry that you’re dealing with this too. It’s so sad when you miss someone but for reasons you can’t continue being friends with them.

    4. Blueberry*

      Friendship breakups can be as or even more devastating than romantic ones. I send you all the heart-healing vibes.

  39. Lady Jay*

    Just discovered that a citrus truck from Florida visits my area once every couple weeks. I splurged on a box of grapefruit and — my word! That was the best grapefruit I’ve had in a long time. So sweet & juicy.

      1. Assistant Alpaca Attendant*

        I misread that as circus truck,which was a funnier mental image, but happy for your fruit fortune! :)

  40. MechanicalPencil*

    I’m hoping the hive mind has some ideas for me.

    I moved into a new rental. Love it so far. However. There’s always a catch. My bedroom has a patio door with those lovely vertical blinds and my neighbor on tbe other side has what feels like a flood light that faces into my bedroom.

    I’ve changed the direction of the blinds closure so it angles away from my bed, but is there a curtain rod intended to fit over these vertical blind set ups? Any other ideas? It’s a rental, and I don’t want to sink a fortune into this, but I also want to sleep comfortably. Help!! And thank you in advance. I’m not sure at my response time since I’m trying to unpack and make life somewhat normal.

    1. Please Don't*

      Don’t know about a specific rod setup but brackets that extend past the blinds with a curtain rod should work. You will want 3 brackets. You may have to put the brackets higher than some standard curtain height so either shorten/pool curtains, add to the bottom, or have an uncovered strip along the bottom.

    2. Parenthetically*

      Sure, you can just use an extra-deep bracket setup — the longer the brackets the more clearance you’ll have between the box valance of the vertical blinds and the back of the curtains. From a cursory look, Bed Bath and Beyond sells a set of brackets that adjust as far out as 9″ which should give you plenty of space.

    3. NoLongerYoung*

      I did this for my bedroom…a security light my neighbors have makes it unnecessary to even have a hall nightlight otherwise.
      There are blackout drapes. The total ones. You do have to put up a good rod (I got one that curves on the ends so that the curtains go all the way to the wall on the corners, too. But see the next note).
      Depending upon your intent to stay and handy skills, you can take down the verticals and store them, and put them back up when you leave… or just ignore them and put the drapes in front. But you may need a rod that extends out far enough to clear the vertical blinds and their header hardware, if you dont take down the vertical blinds/hardware.

    4. Aphrodite*

      A cheap and not pretty solution is to find cardboard the size of your windows (a mattress box if the window is large can be cut down to size) and put it in the window. I use this in the summer but have the cardboard covered in aluminum foil, dull side out, to keep the room much cooler and darker. If you have room in your closet to move the cardboard in there during the day it should work very well to lean it up against the window, inside the blinds, to darken the room at night.

      1. Seven hobbits are highly effective, people*

        If you want to “class up” the cardboard a bit, you can also cover it with fabric. I did this with a half-circle bedroom window that was over the rectangular part that had blinds installed. (Who puts a window with no curtains on it in a bedroom? This house also had a bedroom skylight in another bedroom, so clearly someone involved in building it was someone who did not have trouble sleeping in well-lit rooms.)

        You can also get foam board insulation and use that instead of cardboard if you get fancy. It’ll insulate better than cardboard, and you can tape sections together to get it to the size you need.

      1. MeepMeep*

        I was about to suggest that too. I like the MantaSleep eye mask – it blacks out the light completely.

    5. Squidhead*

      Folding dressing screen that you can unfold in front of the window when needed (nighttime) and fold away when you want the blinds open? Advantage: no damage to walls at all, and you can take it with you. Disadvantages: might not be totally light-proof, especially if it’s not as tall as the whole window. But presumably it can be positioned to block the “searchlight” from directly illuminating your bed. Depends on whether you need total darkness or just less direct light.

    6. Not So NewReader*

      I had a southern window in one place that was 12 feet long and 8 feet high.
      I looked at prices on drapes and forget that.

      I ended up at the hardware store. I bought cup hooks with a looong neck. I bought very narrow plastic pipe. Since I had to cover 12 feet, I bought a connector and a second piece of pipe. (The pipe was 8 feet.)

      We screwed the cup hooks into the wall or window frame at even spacing. I was able to slide the rod pocket of my curtains over the pipe. I connected the second piece of pipe and put more curtains on it. Lifting this was a bit interesting. It took both of us because it was so long and so high up. But the pipe fit right down into the hook part of the cup hooks and stayed in place. I fluffed up the curtains so the cup hooks could not be seen.

      Twelve bucks and I was done.
      You can check tag sales or thrift stores for curtains, if you really want to reduce more expenses.

    7. Anono-me*

      If the security light isn’t up so high that a special ladder would be needed, maybe you could ask your neighbor to readjust the light slightly so that it points the light at the ground beneath your window.

    8. Pharmgirl*

      There are window clings you can get to put on your window that can block light. There are all different kinds – some that are completely opaque, some that are translucent and will dim the light coming through but still allow you to see out. And very easy to apply – just spray the window with water and place the cling film. Maybe something like this can help?

    9. Seeking Second Childhood*

      My first studio, the vertical blinds had little holes in the moving parts where the blinds fasten. Just the right size for the little wire hooks used on now-vintage structured drapes!

  41. Fellow Traveler*

    Happy weekend! You all always have such good food advice, I wanted to put this out there….. I have a Dutch oven full of vegetable oil left over from two cooking projects (corn dogs and French fries- the Cooks Illustrated super easy start them in cold oil method). I feel like the oil has one or two more go-arounds before I dump it- anyone have a favorite fried food recipe?
    Thanks!

      1. PX*

        Oooh good one. Although I’m always wary with frying things that previous flavours may still be in the oil.

        1. Parenthetically*

          I had the same thought but was hopeful that spuds and cornbread would be neutral enough not to cause a big problem. Because oliebollen!

    1. Cheesesteak in Paradise*

      Fried chicken. Fried catfish or cod (any fish should be the last use). Doughnuts. Battered vegetables (options: pickles, tempura style veggies, cauliflower or broccoli). Apple fritters.

      1. Parenthetically*

        Tempura veggies would be AWESOME. Tempura green beans and tempura shishitos are absolute favorites, but our local sushi place does all manner of seasonal veg in tempura form and I can’t say I’ve ever had one I don’t like. Thinly sliced sweet potato and thinly sliced acorn squash were particular revelations.

    2. NoLongerYoung*

      Fritters? We’ve done vegetable fritters, corn and zucchini. I’ve strained it and kept it in the frig, and also done tempura veg, and homemade donuts. If you start with things that don’t transfer much flavor into the oil, then you can move to other items and have it last a little longer.
      I’ve also done shrimp, and wontons. I have a smaller pan and fry basket, for doing small batches. So a big project results in a lot of smaller frying projects…

    3. PX*

      I hardly ever fry things anymore so kind of jealous actually. My brain immediately went to Spanish tortilla’s (the potato/egg one) as those involve quite a bit of frying.

      I also feel like I need to make the obligatory PSA about not dumping oil down the sink. Not sure where you are but in my part of the world, we are constantly being bombarded about how this causes issues for the drainage/sewers (fatbergs!) and it should instead be left to solidify and then go in the regular bin (or food bin if you have them) or special recycling centres to be turned into biofuel!

      1. nutella fitzgerald*

        Does cooking oil solidify in your part of the world? I grew up seeing my parents and their expat friends throw it in the trash with newspaper, but all of them definitely came from places it wouldn’t get cold enough to solidify outside a freezer. Now I’m wondering if I can stop saving the paper from my Amazon boxes for grease absorption duty…

        1. Elizabeth West*

          If it does make it down past the sink and into the sewers, it clumps up with other stuff, like those flushable wipes that aren’t really flushable, and makes gigantic fatbergs that block the sewers. There was one under the part of London where my auntie lives. Do not google it unless you want to be seriously grossed out.

    4. Christina*

      Paczki! And paczki day is right around the corner.

      You can also filter the oil and put it back in the jug (look up Serious Eats tips on filtering the oil).

      1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        I just came home from my local Meijer with four boxes of pączki. SO GOOD. Lemon, apple and blueberry are my favorites :)
        /Michigan kid

    5. Parenthetically*

      Ooh also pakoras! Literally any vegetable in a light spiced chickpea flour batter, fried in little bundles. Broccoli and cauliflower pakoras are sooooo good, and you can’t go wrong with onion pakoras.

    6. Seeking Second Childhood*

      Only thing we’ve made ourselves have been donuts, but oh how i love empanadas and samosas and fried stuffed wontons!
      And I’ve always wanted to try the twisted donuts that Laura Ingalls Wilder described, the ones that turn themselves over as they cook & puff up.

  42. Bobina*

    Hope this isnt too work related – I’m mostly looking for advice on how to manage the effects of my current work situation if that makes sense. Apologies for the novel.

    How do people cope with burnout or something that might be burnout or might just be a bit of a bout of depression?

    On the advice of the good commentariat, I decided to start seeing a therapist after a pretty crappy 2019. I’ve only had one session, but one of the things she mentioned is that it sounds like I’m pretty burnt out due to my work. I’d never really considered that, even though I wasnt really happy with my job. I dont think of it as a particularly stressful job, but having thought about it the last week, I do feel like there is a lot of emotional labour in my job, and right now – because I’m extra unhappy – but cant really show it – I feel like I spend a lot of energy trying to pretend everything is “fine” at work that in the evenings and on the weekends I feel completely wrung out and have nothing left (emotionally/energy wise) to do any of the other activities that I actually enjoy and would make me happy.

    Complicating factors: this could also be anxiety and/or (seasonal) depression or something like it (TBD).

    Additional realisations over the last week also include the fact that I am currently putting myself under a lot of pressure to be social!™ and meet new people!™ because I realised over 2019 that my social circle isnt as strong as I’d like it to be, so I want to fix it. But I just…dont feel like I have the bandwidth to do so…..but if I dont then I’ll be sad and lonely and not make any new friends and be sad and alone at home forever…so I have to go out and do things!™ to tend to the baby friendships which are just beginning to form and which need care and attention…which just makes me more tired and less able to cope when I have to go back to work on a Monday and pretend everything is “fine”™…

    In an ideal world, I would take 3-4 months off work, spend probably a month in a nice cottage alone with no one around and just recharge, and then the rest of the time gently socialising and feeling like a human again. In the real world, I know something has to give, but I dont want it to be socialising, but that feels like its the only thing that can give seeing as how I would like to continue getting paid.

    Are there other options I’m not seeing? A reduction in working hours arent an option for the next few months, but after that definitely looking to take some time off. I already do the bare minimum when it comes to cooking/cleaning at home so I dont spend too much energy on those. I’m generally not averse to throwing money at problems but I really dont know if/where that would even help right now. Basically I need a way to manufacture spoons (to use that analogy)?

    1. Lena Clare*

      Arglebargle I just wrote a long reply then lost it. Gah.

      So just briefly I made small changes when I was worn out with work and it gradually got better. It took a long time and it doesn’t mean that I felt horrible during all of that time, it’s just that by the time I realised how worn out I was I had done quite a lot of damage and that took a long time to heal from.

      Drink more water during the day and limit caffeine and alcohol. Make sure you maintain good sleep hygiene and just try to get as much sleep as you possibly can during the night. Stick to a routine, that will also help.

      Therapy is good. Can you see your doctor about anxiety and depression meds too?

      For me, one of the major differences that helped was to work out what self-care for me looked like; that was putting boundaries in place around the stuff that was wearing me down, whether that was in work or around people that I felt were draining me.

      Wishing you the best!

    2. Aurora Leigh*

      I don’t have any real advice for you, but I can relate so hard!

      For the last 3 weeks I have been feeling that same burnout/ seasonal depression/ why can’t I just take a month off from all obligations. Adulting is hard!

      One thing that really helps is if I can use one day of the weekend for socializing, running errands, and that sort of thing, and the other day not leave my house (except for a walk if the weather is nice). I can’t manage this every week, but when I can it is glorious.

      Try giving yourself 1 day of self care, whatever that looks like for you. Sleep late, have a hot bath, eat macaroni and cheese and chicken nuggets for dinner.

    3. WS*

      You seem to be looking at the social stuff as a dichotomy between “do it all right now” vs “die alone”. In reality, you can do *some* of it right now. Make specific times for social stuff and alone stuff to ensure that you get some uninterrupted alone time. It might not be the same time every week, but it’s important to have. Especially when you’re having to perform “totally fine” at work!

    4. Grizelda*

      I am in this space too. Urgh. Commiserations.

      One thing that has been working for me is working out; another self-care routine I dropped because too exhausted to deal with getting myself to the gym or into a class. But last week I got so fed up with it all I just hauled myself there anyway, did a big cardio burst, and within a couple of days, a beginning sense of clarity and resilience started to return. It was a rapid enough change that for now I am prioritising physical health and will deal with social health next.

      Good luck!

    5. Daisy-dog*

      You. Are. Me.

      Except I can no longer justify putting off getting my wisdom teeth extracted, so that will drain my HSA. Even with a discount on BetterHelp, I won’t be able to afford therapy for now. I’m going through Pinterest because it actually does have some useful resources & blog links. I will also be seeing my PCP soon-ish for follow-up on something else, so I will mention my symptoms to her to get advice.

      The big thing – I 100% get the desire to spend 3-4 months in a cottage alone. But actually, I find that my anxiety & possible depression is worse when I lean into and do the things that I think will help me avoid the bad feelings. I think the best option for me is to take things 1 day at a time. Don’t put too much pressure on yourself.

  43. nutella fitzgerald*

    I hadn’t realized there were three resident cats!!

    I’m allergic to cats but I always felt like I could have been a cat person if it weren’t for that. I have a furry hot water bottle cover and it always makes me think of sticking a tail on it and cuddling both of us up with a book and a cup of tea.

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      There are four! Because we are bad at fostering and kept keeping cats we had fostered. But we are resolved to really do it correctly this time. The rescue group we’re fostering with doesn’t have a shelter, so the number of cats they can rescue is based on the number of foster homes they have — which is working pretty well at keeping us motivated not to just say “no, we’re keeping this one and have no space to foster again for a while” (which is how it’s ended up in the past).

      1. NB*

        Hannah Shaw (AKA Kitten Lady) always says that “the goal of fostering is good-bye,” but even she has one “foster fail.”

    2. Nessun*

      Same boat! I am a cat person, had one for years before moving away for Uni and realizing the cat was what was causing my asthma. Now I can’t own one (my doctor would fire me as a patient, in his words)…but most of my friends are cat people so I visit with all their kitties (and bring all my meds). No regrets.

        1. Nessun*

          That is so awesome. LOL I was more tempted by the thousands-plus “hypo-allergenic” cats – but I just don’t trust they’d work for me, and it’s a lot of money to get attached to a friend you have to give up!

  44. NoLongerYoung*

    Two small wins this week.
    First, I had pushed hard to get the storage tents down, anticipating our winter winds. Thank goodness…strong gusts this week were so bad that it tore part of the metal roofing off the barn/garage (landlord has now already fixed). But I had nothing of the deceased’s hoard of supplies, outside or in tents. Woo hoo. I could relax as much as possible (the sound of the wind ripping and banging the corrugated metal of the barn/garage roof not withstanding…once I reassured myself that without rain, all was well and I could sleep).
    Second, he was super nice, and while fixing, offered to help me get the last two abandoned vehicles off the property with towing. This means while I still have plenty to do inside (computer transfer, camera and video chips, and a couple dozen more boxes), the outside is effectively done soon.
    He was particularly pleased that I’ve managed to hack down and keep under control the far back, which was a jungle of weeds waist high before I took it on. (Its about an 1/8 of an acre, and I take out some of my angst hacking down the biggest with giant hedge clippers to keep the BlackBerry brambles for making it impassable).
    So pleased…
    Now to decide if I want to give up some of my wonderful peace and quiet to rent to a commuter. (Have the room, and it would really help the finances).
    More on that later. I figure my procrastinating on it, means I am not prepared to do it yet. I cherish the peace.

      1. NoLongerYoung*

        Yes, I’m so enjoying the peace. I know I will wish I had the money for the room rental, in 7 or so years when I retire, but right now – I feel like I’m still healing. And I love poking around at my own speed, with no one here.

  45. Christina*

    Rant ahead! I have begun to truly hate Whole Foods.

    I was meh on them before Amazon bought them – expensive, but the quality was really good, usually with few added/unnecessary ingredients, and if I couldn’t find some esoteric ingredient elsewhere, they probably had it.

    I just went in to buy canned whole tomatoes and French lentils. All their whole tomatoes had calcium chloride (usually used in diced tomatoes to help them keep their shape, but also makes it harder to cook them down) unless I bought the $4/can ones. Then I went to find lentils. Half of the lentils in the bulk section were empty, including the regular French kind (of course they had organic for twice the price). I went to find bagged lentils and nope, sold out of almost all their pre-bagged beans. I asked an employee and he said “yeah, we’re having supply issues, sorry.” When he said that I noticed a lot of empty spots on the shelves and with the milk/butter.

    Their service has also gone way downhill too. I used to love getting salmon there to make smoked salmon. The fish person could always tell me which was the best one to get, would always make sure to remove the pin bones, and would sell me random fish parts for making stock. The last time I got salmon, they couldn’t give me a good recommendation, it was completely full of pin bones when I got home, and they won’t sell stuff for stock anymore.

    I also have a philosophical objection to having to use Amazon to get discounts. I don’t know why it feels different than a regular grocery store discount card, maybe because Amazon feels so invasive in every other way, but just ugh. Keep your stupid $1 savings.

    Whew. Rant over.

    1. Aphrodite*

      I tend to agree with you. It has gone downhill. I used to love their custom sandwiches but shortly before Amazon bought them the sandwiches changes. Less choice. More money. Those problems increased after the sale and now I haven’t been in WF for several months. I don’t hate them; I just don’t shop there any more.

    2. ...*

      Yeah they kinda suck now. Idk where to shop though for high quality stuff as they’re usually the “nicest” market but they’re going downhill. What other upscale options are there? or not even upscale just not crap like regular supermarkets.

        1. ...*

          SO sad that I don’t but thank you! My fiancé and his friends from east coast go on and on about how wonderful Wegman’s is!

        2. Christina*

          I grew up with Wegmans. I miss it for being able to get really good cheese, brand-name paper towels, pens, a good lunch, and random seasonal stuff all in the same store, but the cult following was always a little baffling, especially as they discontinue certain bands just to replace them with Wegmans (which I don’t like as much).

    3. Lady Jay*

      I mean, I like my local WF because they sell pizza by the slice – I pay $4 for a large piece of pizza, eat it for supper; it’s good pizza and cheaper than the $12-15+ whole pies I’d pay for elsewhere.

      But that and bulk foods (cashews, etc.) are basically the one things I buy there. Everything else, TJs.

        1. Lady Jay*

          Depends on what kinds of nuts / how many nuts I’m wanting. TJs does a lot w/ flavoured nuts or nut mixes especially; sometimes I just want to stock up on pumpkin seeds for granola.

    4. Ann O’Nemity*

      Our local WF has really gone downhill. Prices are higher, except for the much-advertised bananas. They used to have a great sommelier on staff before Amazon, not anymore. They used to have a cheese monger, not anymore. They used to have all these cool food and wine tasting events, not anymore. A full quarter of the produce section is now the expensive pre-prepped and portioned stuff. All the hippy cashiers have been replaced with part-time teenagers. Thankfully the butcher hasn’t changed, yet. And I like the delivery options. Still, I miss the old Whole Foods. Heck, I miss Wild Oats, remember that place?

      1. Parenthetically*

        Wow, this is wild. I’ve definitely noticed some price increases (Bezos is a walking talking breathing version of the old “how much money is enough? A little bit more” quote) but the staff at our local one are all the same — cheesemonger is an old friend, hippy cashiers are the same, cranky bakery lady remains unchanged. I wonder why some would change dramatically and not others?

    5. AcademiaNut*

      I think I read somewhere recently that WF is having genuine supply problems – one of the major components of their supply chain either cancelled the contract or went out of business.

      1. Seeking Second Childhood*

        Same issue, different news outlet.
        “The sudden closure of its supplier of private label beans, grains, lentils and rice, along with weather-related issues affecting the availability of lettuce from California, has led to empty shelves in some Whole Foods Market stores, according to a published report…”

    6. Tris Prior*

      FWIW, I cannot find lentils anywhere in my major city right now. Apparently there are indeed supply issues and not just at WF. I ended up ordering a couple of bags from Bob’s Red Mill’s site.

    7. ..Kat..*

      There was an article in my local paper about Amazon discontinuing health benefits for Whole Foods part time workers. The amount of money saved by WF was 2 hours worth of Bezo’s annual pay. Talk about screwing the little people! The main topic of the article was how Amazon and other big companies like it want to appear as if they care about regular people, but they don’t actually act that way. (Local paper = The Oregonian)

  46. I just want a massage!*

    As a treat, my friend gave me a certificate for an hourlong massage at a spa close by. I scheduled it for Tuesday, but I’m nervous.

    I don’t have specific reservations about being touched, but I have some significant but not recent self harm scarring on my legs and upper arms, burns on my hands and wrists from working in a coffee shop (heating milk to high temps, working with hot metal- it happens), and eczema/a weird allergic skin condition that causes some dryness and redness overall.

    Other than having the massage therapist use fragrance free products so I don’t get more skin irritation- will that kind of scarring be an issue or make things awkward? Are they likely to say anything/can scar tissue be safely massaged? Sometimes it can stiffen my hands up a bit, for instance.

    1. Sled dog mana*

      I really enjoy massage but have had significant toe surgery and several fused joints in my toes. Each time I see a new therapist (I move frequently) I just note it on the intake form. Something like significant surgical scars on toes, joints fused do not try to bend. They ask if they have any questions.
      You could simply say that your hands can be stiff and you would appreciate them being gentle on them.
      Every massage therapist I’ve seen Has been experienced enough to tell the difference in recent and old scars. Old self harm scars shouldn’t be a problem, everyone knows life is hard. If you have any that are particularly sensitive to touch just note that for the therapist at the beginning and you should be fine.

    2. Freya*

      Scar tissue can be safely massaged. It should be absolutely fine. If you are OK with talking about it, telling the therapist upfront that you have some scarring will probably be easiest. They should do a medical questionnaire before the treatment which will ask about things like eczema, so just be honest and tell them your concerns then so they can adjust and adapt the treatment to suit. They will have seen it all before and it won’t be a problem, I promise.

      I hope you have a wonderful massage.

    3. sequined histories*

      Could you call ahead to discuss your practical concerns about how the condition of your skin might affect the massage simply as a strategy for alleviating your own anticipatory anxiety?
      It’s my gut instinct to think that by definition a massage therapist is someone very accustomed to dealing with people’s bodies in all their diversity, so I seriously doubt any of this would give the therapist pause, but a reassuring pre-massage conversation might help you to avoid getting all stressed out about it.

    4. KoiFeeder*

      Scar tissue can be safely massaged! Don’t worry about that! Mine usually just needs a lil extra oil.

    5. Stephanie*

      I would try not to worry about the scarring and eczema. I’m sure the massage therapist has seen it all before. It should not be awkward. If you’re concerned about stiffness, mention it ahead of time.
      Enjoy your massage!

    6. Pharmgirl*

      The massage place I go to always asks if there are any areas they should avoid – if there’s anything that you’re uncomfortable with just ask them to avoid that area, they are used to it.

    7. Three owls in a trench coat*

      That shouldn’t make things awkward at all. Any good massage therapist will ask about and comply with your needs and comfort levels. I always specify “upper body only” since all my tension is in my neck/shoulders and I’m weird about having my legs touched. Remember that massage therapists see all sorts of bodies and will probably just see your skin as another body with muscles that need working.

      You’ll probably also be asked to fill out an intake form so your therapist is aware of any medical conditions you have that could affect your massage.

      Enjoy it!

    8. Nom de Plume*

      I had surgery to correct scoliosis as a kid, so I have a very large scar going up my entire back. Not one massage therapist has ever commented on it, and I haven’t had problems getting it massaged. It doesn’t hurt and no one has said that they couldn’t touch it.

    9. Not So NewReader*

      My therapist put a sheet over me before she started the massage. I really liked that. So she never saw the various problems, I had to tell her.
      The worst thing she might say is to make a suggestion to help a particular area. And you will quietly realize, “Oh she understands I am having problems there.” You can ask questions as you go along. And you can ask her to change to something else if she is massaging a particular area and it’s not going well for you.
      Generally, they already know what will work well for a person in given situations. For example, when I walked in, she could see my shoulders curling toward the front of me. She “ironed” the muscles, and man, that felt good.

      Drink lots of water. Load up starting the day before and when you come home drink more. I love a nap when I get home, too.She said I would get more value for my bucks if I napped after a massage. I got right on that right away.

  47. Siberian kitten is*

    My male Siberian 5 month old kitten has been getting in my lap and purring against my stomach (which is highly unusual—he sits next to me typically).

    Currently PMSing.

    Do cats pick up on that sort of thing?

    1. Squidhead*

      I think they do! One of our cats sleeps on our bed when it is vacant never sleeps on the bed with me (I sleep during the day between night shifts) except for *once* when I was really upset about something and he stayed curled up with me while I cried until I fell asleep. Granted, that’s a little more externally obvious than cramps/mood symptoms/ fatigue, but I think they know.

    2. Foreign Octopus*

      Absolutely! I was really upset once and was crying by myself when my cat climbed all over me, rubbing against me and purring in an attempt to cheer me up. It certainly helped.

    3. Salymander*

      Whenever I have been sick or injured, or just having a particularly crappy time of it, my cats, dog and rat all picked up on how I was feeling. And when I was pregnant, my dog and cats followed my everywhere, watched me like I was suddenly just fascinating, and generally wouldn’t let me alone.

    4. Blueberry*

      They do, and it makes them wonderful. My roommate’s former cat would curl up on my belly when I was having cramps, and once when I literally cried myself sick over a boy who didn’t deserve it she came and purred beside me.

  48. Aphrodite*

    Alison, I love the drawing of you, your husband and the four cats on the bookshelf. Did you have that commissioned?

  49. Jdc*

    Thanks for the kind comments last week when I just needed a vent session. Things have been much calmer this week luckily. Capped off by a nice night at home with steaks and a movie and some wine. My husband got me three, THREE, different Godiva boxes. He’s either crazy or the best. I don’t eat a lot of chocolate but they have a few that I love (white chocolate starfish!).

    He’s taking the kid out to have some dad fun this evening so I am looking forward to a little relaxing time alone.

    The cold this week though. Good grief. It looks like it may warm up enough tomorrow that I’ll get the car washed to get the caked on everything off. Also spoke to my husband about not taking my car so often. I can always take his but it just makes me feel like my car isn’t mine. It is OURS technically of course but I like driving my own car, not having to readjust the seat and mirrors and just knowing everything is where I left it. Plus i picked out the car I liked. He picked the one he likes. So I want to drive the one I picked. He was sweet about it and has stopped. Mine is better in the snow so not never but it made me feel good to have him respect that wish. Not that I doubted he would, but I don’t like telling my husband what to do…just my personality i suppose.
    Best of all he has a job interview this week. He currently works gov so has been open to private to make more money. He is only one of two they are even considering and it’s at a private university (one of the best in the world) and would offer full free tuition for the kid. Omg I cannot even imagine that!!! Angels singing. Crossing our fingers.

  50. Sled dog mana*

    My grandfather passed away last night. He was 92 and had been in failing health for the last two years, started to really go downhill after New Years. I am surprisingly ok. I don’t know if it’s that it was totally expected, that he got to see Grandma again for Valentine’s Day (he’s been pining away for her for 9 years), or if it’s not hit me yet.

    1. NoLongerYoung*

      Sending hug of comfort. It can be a bit of both, so be gentle with yourself when the missing him comes up? It’s a mixed together set of emotions, if they were ready but you can see the hole it leaves in your life.

    2. LGC*

      I’m so sorry.

      I…totally get how you feel. My grandfather passed away almost ten years ago, and he’d been in failing health in the year leading up to his death. (He had kidney failure, so he was on dialysis.) So while I was sad that he was gone, it was almost relieving because he wouldn’t be sick anymore.

      I can’t say how you’ll feel. I still miss my grandpa, but…to be honest, I never got upset or cried over it. And I do feel a bit of guilt for not having the “right” reaction, but forcing myself to react that way would have been worse – I’d already gone through the process of losing him, so faking it would be uncomfortable for everyone. Just know that however you feel, it’s the right way to feel.

    3. Not So NewReader*

      I am sorry for your loss.
      It sounds like you knew it was his time and you are just able to accept that fact.
      Some deaths hit us harder than other deaths. And there are so. many. variables. Some times love helps us through grief. We are able to put our own needs to one side and realize the person believes they have had a good or full life, they do not wish to continue on. This can be what love looks like putting someone else’s needs ahead of our own concerns.
      Or sometimes we just aren’t close to the person.
      I know I have cried because I felt bad for others who missed the person. I did not cry over the loss itself. In an odd mix of emotions, initially, I cried harder for my father’s sibs than I did for me. I felt worse for them because they did not see/know how dire his last months were. At least I understood he could not continue on. I later went through some of the heaviest grief I have ever experienced.

      I do think with grandparents and other older generation people, our parents bear the brunt of the grief and sometimes tend to shield us. I mean this in terms of we can think, “I still have dad/favorite aunty/best cousin/whatever” and that consoles us. I was pretty oblivious to watching my father bury his aunts and uncles. I knew he was sad but I did not think too much further than that. I was young for one thing. Looking back on that span in life, I am awed by how much he went through traveling from one funeral to another. It must have felt like part of his life was sliding through his fingers like sand.

      And grief can be cumulative. So it could be in the future I can catch myself crying over a past loss and crying over a current loss at the same time.

      Grief is just all over the map, for good reasons. Where ever you are at today, trust it to be okay.