weekend free-for-all – February 22-23, 2020

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

Book recommendation of the week: My Latest Grievance, by Elinor Lipman. I’m on an Elinor Lipman kick. This one is about a teenager raised on a college campus where her parents work, and what happens when her father’s glamorous first wife arrives on the scene.

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

{ 1,329 comments… read them below }

  1. Lena Clare*

    Can anyone in the UK recommend a purse wallet that’s durable and not real leather (I’m vegan)?
    Mine last for about a year then they just…break apart, which is really frustrating.

    I’d love a tiger print one, but at this moment in time I’ll settle for durable and reasonably priced.

    1. Middle School Teacher*

      Look for the brand Matt n Nat. They’re based in Canada but they sell all over the world. My last Matt n Nat wallet lasted for years. They’re all vegan, don’t use harmful chemicals in production, and use things like recycled pop bottles in some of their products.

      1. Lena Clare*

        I think I may have to buy one of these or one of Mid’s Pixie Mood recommendations to tide me over till I can afford the expensivo one! They are very nice designs.

    2. Slayer of Squeaky Toys*

      On the expensive side, and not tiger print, but I’m looking for a reason to purchase a wallet or bag made from decommissioned London fire hoses from Elvis and Kresse.

      1. Lena Clare*

        OMG they are amazing.
        I’m dieting, and am putting a fiver away every time I lose a 1lb, so as soon as I have the money (I’m almost halfway there!) I am buying it. And I have time to decide on the colour! Yes, it is leather, but reclaimed…so I can justify it as recycling.
        Thanks :)

        1. Mid*

          I’ve had one for going on three years now, and even with literally daily use, it’s still in perfect condition. I love them.

    3. Anon for this one*

      Don’t feel bad about buying real leather. Fake leather has gotten so good today that animal hides from slaughterhouses are now being thrown out rather than sold to tanneries. You’re not contributing to the killing of animals if you buy leather; you’re keeping animal hides out of landfills.

      1. hamsterpants*

        By buying the hides you increase the revenue of the animal industry, allowing them to sell meat more cheaply and thus keep demand higher. It’s all connected.

    4. Pippa K*

      You might check out the brand Smateria. They’re a woman-owned social-enterprise-type business making bags and accessories out of repurposed netting from construction and fishing. Their things are handmade and I’ve been really pleased with the quality. I think you can find them online, but before Christmas they also had a market stall at Old Spitalfields.

    5. retailisdetail*

      I love, love, love the brand Joy Susan. They’re vegan, last forever, and come in tons of colors/prints/styles. Check them out at: https://www.joysusan.com The only thing is, I’m in the USA, so I don’t know about availability outside the States. Good luck!

  2. Jarffe*

    A while ago I posted here about how I suspected I had ADHD and if it was worth seeing someone about it. Thanks to everyone’s comments I made an appointment and finally earlier this week I got diagnosed. I’m now on Ritalin and working out how to function with ADHD.

    I just wanted to say thank you to the community here for their encouragement and to Alison for her resources and information on being neuroatypical in the workplace.

    1. ampersand*

      Congrats! And it’s funny this is the second comment down—I came here to ask if anyone has done ADHD testing as an adult and if it’s worth it. I had an initial consult with a psychologist yesterday and am trying to decide whether to get tested.

      1. RagingADHD*

        I got dx as an adult, one of the best things I ever did. I finished my book, tripled my hourly rate, paid off my debt, and all of my clean laundry is put away.

        1. ampersand*

          Wow. That’s a success story!

          Thanks for weighing in—I’m leaning toward doing it because, among other things, feeling like a failure is really hard on my self esteem.

    2. RagingADHD*

      Great update!
      Bear in mind, you probably have figured put a lot of ways to function already that are invisible to you because they are working. So if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.

      The things that do need improving are going to be so much easier to address now. Especially because you don’t have to waste energy beating yourself up.

      Have fun with it!

    3. Vicky Austin*

      Great to hear it! I have ADHD too, but unlike you, I was lucky enough to have been diagnosed as a child. Ritalin works great.

    4. Retail not Retail*

      Oh congrats!!!

      My sister just got a diagnosis and her husband and supervisor thought she’d had one since childhood. One of the reasons she didn’t think she had ADHD is um because we think and talk alike and I’m “normal”, so clearly she is too. My sister is a special ed teacher and our mom has been a sped assistant for over 20 years. We are a family of … blindspot having doofuses.

      So I’ve been wrestling with talking to my psych about it because well, I like my job that pays less than minimum wage after health insurance so I’m clearly fine. The meltdowns I’ve been having on slow days (february is just rain at least 3 times a week!) are fine and normal! Totally acceptable!

      I’m happy to see you have and the comments from others. That and a potential autism spectrum diagnosis have helped me reframe my experiences already and made me feel less like a failure and loser.

      1. anonymooos*

        ADD/HD is often missed in women and girls and symptoms can differ. The How to ADD YouTube channel has a good video about it, and is awesome in general. Good luck!

    5. Raleigh Native*

      Raleigh native and resident here. In addition to the other suggestions, the Irregardless Cafe on Morgan St has divine vegetarian food. They also have non-vegetarian food but I haven’t had it. Deco on S Salisbury St has odds and ends gifts but is also the only place in Raleigh where you can get Holly Aiken bags, which are amazing. Enjoy your visit!

  3. SunnySideUp*

    Things to do in Raleigh, NC… any ideas? Will be there for a couple days. Especially interested in dining spots and vintage/antiques. TIA!

    1. Blue wall*

      The NC State Fairgrounds has a flea market every weekend! One of my favorite restaurants, Neomonde, is right near there, as is the North Carolina Museum of Art.

    2. Ada*

      I just moved here a few months ago, so I’m still getting to know the area and unfortunately don’t have any suggestions yet in those categories. But, I’ll throw out that the farmers market is pretty cool if you’re a foodie – you’d have never guessed there were so many different kinds of popcorn or jams! Oh, and the big museums (art, history, science) are all free to visit. We went to the history museum for my husband’s birthday and it was a lot of fun. Enjoy your trip!

    3. Bluebell*

      Spouse and I went two years ago – we spent a really nice afternoon at the art museum and it has a great outdoor sculpture area. Also visited the big farmers market and ate at the fish restaurant onsite. NOFO@ the Pig is a great restaurant in an old Piggly Wiggly with a very fun gift shop.

    4. Falling Diphthong*

      North Carolina Museum of Natural Science in Raleigh
      On the UNC Chapel Hill campus, Morehead Planetarium and Science Center; the gardens next to the center are also nice but I don’t know if in bloom yet.
      On Duke campus, they have lemurs! Sign up for a tour.

      As you may have guessed, we are a nerdy family who did college visits in the area.

      If you happen to be over by Greensboro or Winston-Salem, I recommend Hops Burger Bar. One thing, done well and with wild creativity. None in Raleigh-Durham though.

    5. Emily*

      I grew up in Raleigh/my parents are still there, so I have a few! My recommendations might be a little scattered, since I don’t actually live there.

      Food:
      – Brewery Bhavana (very “hip” – dim sum + brewery + bookstore, they also have a more upscale Laotian restaurant next door)
      – Neomonde (Mediterranean food, very vegetarian-friendly – I also go to and enjoy Sassool, which is similar, but closer to my parents’ house)
      – Poole’s (also very hip, “elevated Southern comfort food”, I went there once with my mom and the food was good but it was pretty loud/crowded)
      – Yin Dee (Laotian/Thai, went there with friends for lunch once and liked it)
      – I haven’t been there, but there is a restaurant (Oak City Meatball Shoppe) that serves various types of meatballs? Idk, sounds gimmicky but possibly fun.

      Vintage/antiques:
      – Not my scene, but a few of my friends used to visit Father and Son for that sort of thing?

      Other:
      – If you like chocolate, Videri Chocolate Factory in downtown Raleigh
      – If you like alcoholic cider, Bull City Ciderworks in Durham
      – If you like being outside, Umstead Park (or one of the many other parks in the area)

        1. Senor Montoya*

          Escazu chocolate, not too far from Peace University (just north of downtown)
          Pooles does not take reservations. Your best bet is late nite (like 9 pm) when it’s raining.
          Brewery Bhavana— reservations are a must. The food is good. It’s loud!
          Seoul 116 — Korean restaurant and bar, terrific food, kind of a hidden gem. Close to downtown.
          Upscale Lebanese food: Sitti Restaurant downtown
          Beasleys chicken and honey (another Ashley Christiansen restaurant), doesn’t take reservations but the wait is not too bad. Everything’s good but the collards are *killer*
          Bloomsbury Bistro for upscale American / southern food
          Garland restaurant— I guess you’d call it Asian fusion? Delicious. Good cocktails

          Gregg Museum of art, feee, on the NC State U campus
          Raulston arboretum — not too far from the fairgrounds and close to Neomonde restaurant

          If you like shopping at resale shops, there are about a dozen of them in North Market Square (look up the goodwill for the street address and you’ll find the rest).

          There are a number of good food markets in the same shopping area: interfood plaza Latina, saigon supermarket, Jun’s seafood, there’s a Caribbean/African market, a Salvadoran sandwich place, etc.

          1. Senor Montoya*

            Oh, and Bittersweet on Martin Street downtown. Bar (check out the gin selection), pie and other desserts, coffee. Great atmosphere. Often crowded, but you can sit at the bar (my fave) or at one of the tall tables — share the table with whomever is there!

    6. Llellayena*

      Sitti – middle eastern fare
      The State farmer’s market
      The NCSU library on the technical campus (designed by Snohetta)

      I was a poor grad student when I was there, so my ‘things to do’ is a little limited. But it’s a great area.

      1. Mme Pince*

        That’s Hunt Library, and it’s very well-known in library circles for its innovative design and book bot (you can watch it retrieve books from their closed stacks).
        They offer tours for visitors:
        Fridays at 3:30 p.m. (with the exception of the following dates when we will not hold a walk-in tour: April 24, May 1, and May 15)
        Saturdays at 10:30 a.m. (with the exception of the following dates when we will not hold a walk-in tour: February 15, February 29, April 25, and May 2)

    7. PB*

      I lived in that area for five years! No suggestions about vintage/antiques, but some favorite dining spots include:

      *Cafe Sosta: super laid-back coffee shop with a nice sandwich menu.
      *Jimmy V’s: Italian restaurant in the Sheraton Raleigh. If you are a drinker, they have a great house-made limoncello. If you are a meat-eater, they have a great ragu. It’s also just a good spot to share a pizza and have a beer or soda.
      *(in Durham) Dashi: Japanese-style ramen restaurant (downstairs) and izakaya (upstairs). If you go to the izakaya (basically, small plates) and eat meat, I highly, highly recommend the takoyaki hushpuppies.
      *Barbecue: The Pit in Raleigh is excellent and a classic. I also love The Pig in Chapel Hill. They catered my rehearsal dinner!
      *If you like breweries, my favorites in Raleigh are Crank Arm (bicycle themes with neat gear-works running around the perimeter) and Gizmo (a little outside of town, but worth the trip)

      Also, a few years ago, Durham was noted as the “Foodiest City” in America. So many good restaurants! If you Google “durham foodiest city” you’ll get a ton of good ideas.

      For things to do, I second the Duke Lemur Center recommendation. If you want to go a little further out, the Carolina Tiger Rescue is also great. For both, book a slot in advance. They fill up. If you like museums, the Durham Museum of Life and Science in excellent, especially if you have kids. The North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences in Raleigh is also great.

      1. Senor Montoya*

        The museum of life and science is a little pricey; the nat Sci museum in downtown Raleigh is free.

      2. Senor Montoya*

        And if you like used books, cannot beat Readers Corner on Hillsborough street near NC State. Lots of good coffee places on hillsborough street near NC State too: my favorites are Global Village and Jubala.

    8. Le Sigh*

      In addition to everyone else’s thoughts, I have a few to add. Also, check out the local Indy Weekly paper — they have a good guide. Oh and Greensboro is an hour away but if for some reason you’re there, Smith Street Diner is the breakfast place I hope to be buried in one day.

      Raleigh:
      -Morning Times for coffee/breakfast (also veg friendly–pimento grilled cheese! and outdoor seating)
      -King’s/Neptunes: Kings is upstairs, Neptunes downstairs. Good drinks, not expensive, good shows.
      -Slim’s: Small, cash-only dive bar with good shows. Chill space.
      -Beasley’s/Chuck’s (burgers)/Poole’s, etc — all owned by Ashley Christenson. Good, though can get crowded.
      -Burial Brewery: Asheville-based, but they have a Raleigh tasting room with a fun food hall next door.
      -Flying Biscuit Cafe: Not downtown area, but good breakfast. The one in Cameron Village has shops you can peruse while you wait.
      -El Rodeo: Straight up, this isn’t what I’d call great tex mex. But if you’re a certain kind of mood, it hits the spot in a way certain cheap diner spots or Kraft mac & cheese does (a slam by some accounts, but I mean this in a good way). Not knowing what you like to eat, I’m just going to add it the list with that context.

      Chapel Hill/Carrboro:
      -In addition to what others suggested, I will add Sunrise Biscuit Kitchen–small, drive-thru southern biscuit space. Closes early afternoon but just what you need for a late breakfast (mm, the chicken biscuit).

      Durham:
      -Nasher Museum on Duke’s campus
      -Durham Bulls minor league games (when in seasons)

      1. Le Sigh*

        Oh, will also add to the Chapel Hill list — Cat’s Cradle and several other good music venues, if you like catching shows at smaller spaces. Chapel Hill gets a fair amount of good music through town.

      2. Le Sigh*

        Oh also, if you’ve never been to one, Cook Out is a regional burger and shakes chain that has well, excellent shakes.

    9. I NC You There*

      We just moved away from Raleigh after five years there.

      If you drink beer, there are tons of options, but my favorite is State of Beer on Hillsborough. It’s a bar/bottle shop with AMAZING sandwiches.

      The Art Museum is lovely, free, and surrounded by a huge sculpture park. Bonus points if you have a dog, they love to explore there.

      You’ve gotten good food recommendations, but here are some more, all downtown:
      – Bida Manda for Laotian (I dream of their pork belly soup)
      – Clyde Cooper’s for barbeque on Wilmington St (don’t miss the signs on the window). Cheap and authentic
      -Big Ed’s in Moore Square for breakfast, lines get LONG
      – Centro for Mexican is good, but upstairs there’s a mezcal bar called Gallo Pelon that is better
      – Go to Transfer Co Food Hall instead of Morgan St– in my opinion, the options are better. Burial Beer is there but so is the new-ish bagel spot (I cannot remember its name), good empanadas and, I hope, the Longleaf Swine brick-and-mortar. They started out as a food truck and it’s two guys who make THE BEST smoked meat and sides. They were getting ready to open when we moved. We’ve been cheering them on for years.
      – The Stanbury is SO GOOD, they make great use of their grill
      – Scott Crawford is a talented chef with two spots: Crawford and Sons and Jolie. I haven’t been to Jolie, but C&S is fabulous. Get the mushroom bread pudding, it’s made of magic

      In Durham: Mateo for tapas, Mothers and Sons for excellent Italian. Bull City Burger for burgers and beer.

      1. Senor Montoya*

        Oh yeah, Stanbury! If they’ve got marrow bones on the menu get them. Because after you eat theM, you can die in a happy fat induced coma.

    10. 00ff00Claire*

      If you like architecture, books, libraries, and/or universities, the Hunt Library at NCSU’s Centennial Campus is worth touring. You can see the bookBot robot retrieve books from the collection! (The main campus library would be underwhelming, though). Other sights would be the NC art museum or the Museum of Natural Science, especially if you have kids with you. Kids also love Marbles Museum. Good parks are Umstead – use the Glenwood entrance for the visitors center and Lake Johnson. If you have time to drive to Durham, the Sarah P Duke Gardens are great if the weather is nice.

      For fast & cheap eats, try Char Grill if you eat meat – it’s burgers and hotdogs and iconic Raleigh. Nothing special at all about the food except the hotdogs are NC red hotdogs. I recommend the one on Hillsborough St.

      Seconding Videri Chocolate Factory!

      For vintage / antiques, if you are looking for something nice I’m not sure. If you mean the vintage stores with random booths that sell Pyrex, Shiny Brites, and knick knacks, try Antiques at Gresham Lake. Cary and Apex also have some smaller shops like those in their downtowns. Fairgrounds on Saturday is also nice.

    11. Smol Book Wizard*

      Raleigh side of Durham has a delightful biscuit place called Rise… and nearby a coffee shop known as Joe Van Gogh. I cannot sufficiently recommend their ham and cheddar biscuits, if you’re an eater of such foods. Also Gugelhupf (I have probably misspelled that) in Durham is good eating at any time of day.
      Check the NC State Fairgrounds calendar for the days you’ll be there – they have 2 or 3 different kinds of conventions/events/sales going on every weekend, everything from dog shows to gem and coin sales to exotic bird clubs.
      There’s also a lovely botanical gardens nearby the fairgrounds – I believe it is the Martin Luther King Jr. Gardens?

    12. gsa*

      I’ve been in Raleigh since ‘88.

      You have gotten solid advice!

      I’ll add a few more:

      If you are in Cameron Village, check out Good Berry’s for frozen custard, same building as the biscuit place.

      If you are on State’s campus, find a C-Store that sells Howling Cow ice cream. It was developed at State and made with NCSU cow’s milk.

      As far as chocolate, Escazu beats Videri everyday all day long!!!

      I almost forgot, look up the “R-Line”. It’s a free bus service that loops around Glenwood South.

      Have fun!!!

      gsa

    13. Raleigh Native*

      Raleigh native and resident here. In addition to the other suggestions, the Irregardless Cafe on Morgan St has divine vegetarian food. They also have non-vegetarian food but I haven’t had it. Deco on S Salisbury St has odds and ends gifts but is also the only place in Raleigh where you can get Holly Aiken bags, which are amazing. Enjoy your visit!

      1. Le Sigh*

        You reminded me that Remedy Diner also has great veg options. Unfortunately it moved out of downtown but still worth checking out.

    14. Melissa Forrest*

      I am not much for night life but I have to recommend PLUS duelling piano bar on Glenwood Ave! When we do go out, that’s our go-to spot.

  4. Justin*

    I became a dad on Tuesday. Heading home from hospital today.

    I know it’s hard but I sure do love fatherhood and my (incredibly small) child.

    1. Thankful for AAM*

      Congrats! Best to you and incredibly small child, who will grow fast!

      Best advice you did not ask for – sleep when the baby sleeps!

    2. Falling Diphthong*

      Congratulations! Enjoy watching her or him discover things, like their toes and the pattern of lights and darks in California Pizza Kitchen.

    3. LizB*

      Congratulations! They are so incredibly tiny when they’re brand new, it almost doesn’t seem real. Best wishes to you and your family.

    4. Justin*

      Thanks to all who replied, we appreciate it. We made it home safe and he is sleeping tightly in his bassinet.

  5. Weirding PMS*

    1. Taking our 5 month old kitten to the vet bc he ate less plus diarrhea. He actually climbed into the carrier yesterday night as if to tell us he was sick/needed help. He’s quite polite!

    2. Period late by a week, negative preg test. Cramps started so hard this morning I could not breathe nor talk the pain was horrendous, and I was shaking. Popped 1 midol and the pain eased. I started taking prenatal vitamins with folate this cycle bc my doctor recommended taking it 6 months before starting trying for kids. Anyone else have weird cycles taking gummy prenatals?

    1. Falling Diphthong*

      Possible you are getting pregnant and miscarrying very early. (Typed as someone who got pregnant on the first try, then had this pattern with subsequent attempts, and docs/nurses suggested I wasn’t imagining the other symptoms.) I believe it can also be hormones bouncing around. All my sympathy.

      The vitamins shouldn’t have any effect on your menstrual cycles. One of my pharmacies has a helpful “If you are taking supplement X, this might affect drug Y” chart, so if you take other meds it might be worth checking with your pharmacist… but a standard multi would be unlikely to have much interaction, stool change is the most I’d expect.

      1. blackcat*

        Yup. This happened to me. You can get a negative test if the embryo stopped developing a few days prior.

    2. Wishing You Well*

      Please call your medical advice line and tell them your symptoms. They’re the best source for advice.
      I hope you’re much better soon.

    3. Weirding PMS*

      I wrote and got response from my gyno who said come in if it doesn’t start. It started late yesterday but it’s been midol round the clock and a heck of a lot heavier than before X///

      Gyno also said prenatals don’t do this typically. Weird.

      Eating red meat. And allllll the chocolate

      1. blackcat*

        That sounds exactly like my very early (~5 week) miscarriage. Late period, worse cramps than normal, very heavy flow.
        If you start to get a fever, go to an ER.

  6. nep*

    Going to Lexington, Kentucky mid-March–first time in Kentucky. Going for a work meeting–quick overnight trip, and will have just a couple of hours to look about. Anyone have favorite thrift stores in Lexington? I like to hit at least one thrift store when I travel.

    1. Kuododi*

      I actually attended U of K back in the Stone Age. Unfortunately, the places I remember well I doubt are still in business. I’ll check a couple of things out and follow up with you later this pm. Lexington is quite lovely with horse farms and Keeneland race track.

      Enjoy your trip!!!

        1. Kuododi*

          I’ve got two suggestions based off of friends who’ve been there more recently. There’s a place called Street Scene who deals in vintage clothing, accessories, all of the fun stuff!!! Additionally, for a change of pace there’s a nifty sounding vintage book store called The Black Swan. I didn’t know if bookstores were your jam however, I took a chance. I’d do a Google search for details and addresses/phone number. Safe travels and have a wonderful time in the Bluegrass State. If you can find a place where you can score some Burgoo and cheese grits those are classic Kentucky Derby party foods. (Nectar of the Gods however they’re unabashedly for meat eaters if that is a concern). Enjoy!!! Kuododi

      1. Johanna*

        I guess Pops and street scene off the top of my head! I normally just go to the goodwill stores in the rich neighborhoods, that’s where pops gets a lot of their stuff and it’s way cheaper.

        Have a nice visit!

    2. Reba*

      nep, my home state!!

      I don’t know Lexington very well, but I hope you enjoy your trip and get to see some of the beautiful horse-farm scenery in the area.

      I can however recommend the Joseph Beth bookstore and the lovely cafe inside.

  7. All Hail Queen Sally*

    I posted a note several weeks ago about having shingles. I would like to thank everyone who responded for their support and kind thoughts. Mine has almost cleared up and at my follow-up doctor’s appointment next week, I expect to get a clean bill of health. It did get worse before it got better; it spread near my right eye and the right side of my face swelled up until I looked quite grotesque, like a monster from a 1950’s horror film! My doctor did get me on an anti-vial medication as soon as I was diagnosed, which I credit with it not getting as bad as it could have and I did spend some time with the opthalmologist making sure it did not spread into my eye. I posted about this on a couple of facebook groups I belong to and the horror stories I heard make me realize that although it didn’t seem like it at the time, my case actually was quite mild! So thanks again everyone, and please get your vaccine when you are able.

    1. fposte*

      I’m so glad yours was mild! Ocular shingles freak me out so I’d have been super-stressed to have it even near my eye.

    2. NoLongerYoung*

      Thank you for the PSA. Can’t imagine the pain of having them on your face…the nerves are so strong there. Ouch…
      I know it seems optional as a preventative measure, but it isn’t if you think about the options…..

    3. Not So NewReader*

      A friend just had surgery to regain her sight after shingles did its thing. She lost vision in one eye. It looks like surgery might successful so far. It’s been a road for her.

      I am so glad you are okay, it’s pretty nasty stuff even in milder versions.

    4. Joie De Vivre*

      When you see your ophthalmologist again, ask about signs of a rebound. My shingles went away, then came back – in my eye. I didn’t recognize the signs (one is sensitive to light) and waited to long to return to my ophthalmologist.

      I’m hoping you are done with it and won’t have any more issues.

    5. Lost in the Woods*

      Glad to hear you’re doing well!
      There’s an interesting study going on right now to see of low prophylactic doses of antivirals might be effective in reducing rebound episodes, it’s called the ZEDS (zoster eye disease study). Might be something to keep an eye (heh) on!

      1. NewReadingGlasses*

        My mom’s doctor had her on anti-viral eye drops for awhile after she had shingles on her face. She said it was precautionary, but not a proven thing yet. This was about 10 years ago. I’ll be interested to see the results of ZEDS.

  8. OyHiOh*

    In future years, I think I may call Feb 17 my birthday (my actual birthday is so close to a major secular holiday there’s “never” anything fun happening just days later). The day all my family went home after the funeral, the day I woke up and recognized that we “must care, for if we do not care, there is only oblivion” and I did not want to face oblivion and passive acceptance of change. I wanted to actively participate in the process of change. Started that schedule, “go see people, invite people in, make something, do something, pray” – struggled along with “well, I’m upright and smiling, that’s got to count for something!” until eventually upright, smiling, and creating became my reality.

    Met Neptune for breakfast on Monday, he a touch grumpy because his therapist is moving his appointments around to random Tuesdays and Wednesdays and he doesn’t like the inconsistencies. Ate at one of the nicer breakfast places since we had more time than usual, then went to one of the thrift stores that was having a holiday weekend sale, looking for photo frames. By the time I got home, it was already 11. Sat down, intending to merely check in quickly before running off to clean. Saw a local arts organization announcing an Open Mic, thought about spoken word pieces I could read, reacted to an annoucement from a different theater group about upcoming auditions, opened up The Patriots (a one act I’ve been fiddling with since September) because I had an idea about how to fix that one . . . . . and then something clicked in my brain. Something a theater friend and I talked about months ago. Immediately lost half my afternoon because I sent a group text out to a big group of theater friends, fielded some questions and specifics, and eventually found myself with four people to read a little comic one act in public at the next First Friday art walk/open mic. This is seriously one of the major highlights of my year, so far! I’ve gotten pretty comfortable with sending scripts out for contests and fellowship applications, pretty comfortable with giving them to beta readers. But I haven’t put my words out in public view in the community I live in. I’m excited! The people reading are friends of mine and they are going to be incredible, just standing in a circle reading lines.

    But the *other* highlight of my year, so far, is that Ari Shapiro (NPR/All Things Considered) was at our Temple last night and I interviewed with him. NPR, y’all. The soundtrack of my youth. It was the only thing my parents listened to so my default listening material as well until well into high school. Shapiro is doing a year long series of stories about our community that intersect around the fall elections in one way or another. He wanted to talk to anyone who was willing to sit down with him so I bounced myself over after the service, gave him my name, and said “I’m the most interesting person you’ll talk to tonight.” I’ve grown a considerable amount of confidence in the past year. Fourteen months ago, before my world shifted on its axis, I would never in a million years have dreamed that sentence, much less said it outloud. He was very good at keeping the interview focused on what his first story is going to address (anti semitism and diversity in a immigrant-built community) so I didn’t get to be as interesting as I think I am (LOL!!) but I did manage to briefly mention a few things where they made sense given the questions he asked. I wanted to talk to him because I’d heard a word here and there in a few other interviews before the service and knew he was going to get a really conservative point of view if I didn’t say something. We’ll see what he chooses to use, and how. He said there are going to be a couple stories dribbled out over the next week, and the first big broadcast will be next Friday.

    1. Not So NewReader*

      This is great stuff, really. Seize each day and everything the day brings.

      And happy birthday four days late! ;)

      1. OyHiOh*

        I told a friend earlier this week that I’m past all the hard anniversaries now. Now it’s all the good things that have happened and that I’ve done, that I get to look back at and enjoy again.

      1. OyHiOh*

        Haha!

        That’s helpful feedback, actually. There’s reasons for wanting loop in ideas about how we in the US define someone who is a patriot. . . . but I hadn’t considered the immediate association to football and may need to rethink that

    2. NoLongerYoung*

      as always, your wonderful attitude – not passive, upright and moving forward – is so helpful. And yes, you have bloomed over these past months. Wishing you well and will look next week for the report out on the one act?

      1. OyHiOh*

        Two weeks on the one act. Reading is during a First Friday Art Walk event on the 7th. Although this is “just” a development read (using scripts, no props/sets/movement) to get audience and actor feedback, my very dedicated actor friends are planning to meet at least once before to “develop physical chemistry.” It’s very cute because they’ve all performed with each other in the past and have good offstage friendships as well. I’m not worried about performance chemistry!

        It’s also been suggested to me that I should contact one or the other of a couple small time production companies to have the thing recorded – you can get information from a recording that you might not notice as an eyewitness.

        1. NoLongerYoung*

          do it… this sounds wonderful and your friends will be so glad to see their participation, too!

    3. OyHiOh*

      Update to Google Brag Album

      https://photos.app.goo.gl/HKbQtTZUgBup4iKn8

      I recorded myself singing at shul this morning. My voice has been a little froggy for a couple weeks so it doesn’t sound perfect to me but considering I haven’t sung this service in six weeks and have been froggy for three weeks, it’s not bad.

  9. Sao Paulo, Brazil*

    Things to do in Sao Paulo, Brazil? I will be there for business but will have some downtime. Museums, parks, bookstores, long walks, that sort of thing, but I also like to sit at a cafe and watch the world go by. Any clues on transportation also? I won’t have a car, and things seem spread out.

    1. Book Lover*

      Make sure your business pays for a travel consult and wear mosquito repellent. Yellow fever vaccine is not required for entry but is advised for most travelers.

      Sorry, not what you were asking but people seem to forget about this stuff :)

      1. Anon PhD*

        Seconding this…had a Brazil work trip and in addition to the vaccines, I brought whatever OTC meds I thought I might need and that the travel clinic recommended, because they don’t have many North American brands that I am used to, so I def recommend having a “mini pharmacy” with you. Haven’t been to Sao Paulo, but definitely wish you a great time.

    2. Brazil tips*

      Hi! Have had to opportunity to visit a few times for work. I found Uber easiest for getting around, you can even get right at the airport. Things are spread out so it depends where you are for work, but Avenida Paulista is great to stroll especially on Sunday’s as they shut it off to vehicles and there are tons of musicians out. I also recommend MASP, a very cool art museum to see even if art isn’t particularly your thing. The food is great all around. Ibirapuera Park is also very nice to stroll in – get a fresh coconut to drink.

    3. Henriette*

      For transportation, you can use the subway and also Uber.
      Check the MASP Museum, Banco do Brasil Cultural Centre or MAC.
      Also check the rooftops of either Edifício Martinelli, Itália or Banespa (if possible make a reservation, I think they have it online by now).
      A famous park is Ibirapuera, but be cautious on your surroundings (usually daytime on weekends is fine).
      The Japanese neighborhood Liberdade is also worth a visit.
      Walk down the Avenida Paulista (Avenue).
      For restaurant tips, check “viaje na viagem” using Google translate, he’s a tourism guru and has some great tips.
      Enjoy your time there, it is a bubbling city!

  10. bibliovore*

    Work/Life balance. Taking the weekend off. Started new activity. Ivan Brunetti’s Comics Easy as ABC with Lynda Barry’s Making Comics. Bought composition notebook. Making time for sunshine light. Catching up on laundry. Taxes.
    Tax people. I received a grant. I spent the whole grant on travel and housing, and per diem expenses. It was reported as income. That was a surprise. Was I supposed to set aside part of that for taxes?

    1. fposte*

      I found an interesting discussion on the TurboTax forum that seems likely to be relevant; I’ll post a link in followup. It’s tricky to research because most Googlings will get you to student funding and this is a different matter. In the TurboTax case it was believed to be an error on the granting agency’s part but obviously yours may not be the same.

    2. Overeducated*

      Every grant or fellowship I received as a grad student had a “this may be taxable income, we can’t advise you on taxes” disclaimer from the grantor. I paid income taxes but not FICA, if I recall they were treated as “other income,” came to around 10%. YMMV and I am not a tax advisor, that was just my experience.

  11. Disco Janet*

    Furniture shopping is the worst. Our sofa and dining room set are in pretty bad shape, which is not a surprise to us – we went pretty basic at the time of purchase since we were getting ready to have kids and didn’t want to spent a bunch of money on something that would be around for the years of potty training accidents, frequent food spills, etc.

    Ready to invest in something sturdier/nicer now that the kids are 5 and 6 but oh my gosh, it’s all so expensive! One of my friends forwarded me a list of quality couches for about 3k, which…she lives in Cali in a high COL area, so for them 3k isn’t a lot. For us (teachers in the Midwest) it’s a much more sizable chunk.

    I overthink everything to a ridiculous amount and have spent ages researching this, but am no further than I started. It doesn’t help that we just spent 5k replacing our furnace. I’d like to wait on this, but the couch is in incredibly bad shape, so that purchase needs to happen soon.

    Anyone have a couch they love that didn’t cost thousands? Sectionals won’t work in our space.

    1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      I feel you, and I’ll be watching for suggestions. Our couches are still holding up, but they’re super hard to keep clean (with two dogs) and the cushion covers are technically washable, but hard as hell to actually get on and off the cushions. One cat has done a number on the ends and the innards are ripped up and yeah. They’re still comfortable, but yeah, nice couches are crazy expensive.

      We have a furniture store in our area (Indianapolis) that is only open on weekends, the idea being that they can have lower prices because they’re not spending money on keeping the store open at hours when very few people are shopping for major purchases, I think it’s actually called Weekends Etc? Anything like that around your area, maybe?

      1. Anono-me*

        Aldi has the pet covers for sofas ($20)and EZ chairs ($15) right now. Bed Bath & Beyond usually carries them also. And you can get them online with lots of different design choices. There not a full slipcover, but they cover better than most throws.

    2. Book Lover*

      I will also be looking for recommendations :(. I bought sets from Costco for the living and family rooms and they are nice but not cheap either. When I started looking for a loveseat for my bedroom I got stuck. Everything costs a fortune and doesn’t seem that well made anyhow :(

    3. Not A Manager*

      We’ve gotten sofas from West Elm on sale, and they are pretty good. I just looked at their website – they have the usual “15% off if you give us your email address.” If you’re already on their list, check to see if furniture is included in the offer, and if so, create a new email address. Also, it looks like they have at least some sofas on 30% offer right now.

      IIRC, they have a reasonable but not amazing return policy if you order something from online without having been able to try it in-store, but I don’t recall the details. I always prefer to go to the bricks and mortar store to see things, but that’s not always possible.

    4. Falling Diphthong*

      • Futon couch, be sure to get the rubber gripper mat that goes under the futon. Not fancy, but it’s easy to swap out the cover (sigh: dogs) and to replace the futon.

      • I sent my mom to Pier 1 for a couch specifically because they had had stuff that worked for my short legs, and she’s smaller than I am. And they have a going out of business sale at the moment. Obviously *not* high quality, but could be a shorter term fix–nicer than what you have, doesn’t break the bank when you want to replace it in 5 years.

      • Our table and chairs (and bed) came from a local store that specializes in wood pieces. The table is the most expensive furniture in the house and I love it.

      Counterintuitively, I’ve had more luck at smaller spaces that hit my preferences well. Larger ones tended toward a lot of options, none of them actually good.

      1. Seven hobbits are highly effective, people*

        My futon has held up really well. I bought a wooden-framed one back when I was a grad student, and it’s still in good shape about 15 years later, even though it’s been my primary bed as well as a couch for some of those years. I don’t have a rubber mat on mine, but it may also be a matter of which kind of cover you have.

        Don’t buy a cheap metal frame one, though. My then-boyfriend bought a cheap metal futon grad school and it didn’t make it two years. Buy a wooden one from an actual futon store. (Are these a thing other places? I live in the PNW.) A dedicated futon store will also have more choices for the mattress and cover. I had one piece of wood crack and need to be replaced (which was something my family fixed ourselves), but other than that I’ve had no issues with mine. I also like that it’s something I can move by myself if I have to (although it’s easier with two people because the mattress is pretty bulky) and it’s open enough underneath that things don’t end up lost underneath it like with a regular couch.

        1. Falling Diphthong*

          I live in the northeast, and have bought futon couches from the futon store. Also LL Bean and I think the wood furniture store.

    5. Ryan Howard’s White Suit*

      I don’t know what’s available for you to see in person, but we had a Haverty’s sofa for 11 years that fit our family of 4 and cost maybe $600 when we bought it. I think it was part of a Labor Day sale. We upgraded to a PB Pearce last year that was around $2500 on sale. I think that’s really the key—determining what you like from where and keeping an eye out for when it’s cheapest.

    6. SunnySideUp*

      The better quality stuff just costs more. I like Crate & Barrel (we just replaced our sofa) or Room & Board.

    7. Ranon*

      Honestly, I feel like West Elm/ Crate & Barrel/ etc. aren’t actually higher quality than Ikea most of the time. We have an Ikea Kivik that’s nearly 10 years old and still going strong – I love that the arms are wide enough to act as tables when I’m feeling lazy. And the cushions are pretty good fort building material.

      1. Not A Manager*

        I disagree on this. I love Ikea for a lot of stuff – I could furnish my home in Billy bookcases. But IMO their upholstered stuff feels cheap and doesn’t last very long. West Elm is about twice as much (ish) but I think it lasts much more than twice as long.

        My own experience is that in terms of cost Ikea < CB2 < West Elm < Crate & Barrel < Room & Board, but it's worth looking at all of them for sales.

      2. Blarg*

        I love my kivik! And that you can easily replace cushions and covers, you can keep it in shape. Plus the washable covers are truly delightful when your cat pukes on your ‘spot’ cause she’s mad you’re working long hours.

        IKEA’s very cheapest stuff is sometimes lower quality. But the other lines are often comparable to higher end brands. And I like putting things together.

    8. NoLongerYoung*

      I have seen on here (prior weekend thread?) that the Ikea couch with the slipcover wears surprisingly well, recommended on a thread for parents elsewhere.
      One alternative is the surefit slip covers. I went that route, because my couch and loveseat (although I actually had them professionally cleaned) were just not looking great. But they were inherited Ethan Allen ones, hardwood frames internally, and had been reupholstered with industrial foam and high thread count upholstery material. So sturdy, comfy, cushions and seams solid. Just – ugly.
      The slipcovers from surefit (the top end ones) were surprisingly good.

      also, around here, I routinely see quality in the high end furniture consignment store. (think, down stuffed cushions, velvet upholstery in a dark color…but classic). You could do a slipcover on that and it would go years. Kind of like buying grandma’s corolla with 5,000 miles on it.

      You have to do due diligence on the store and the soft good piece. (house with smoker, other issues – a hard no for me). But that’s why I cruise the consignment store – they are super picky. I would not otherwise.

      Truth is, I have a stylish (less expensive) couch – and thrilled to have it (price was right). But still mourn the comfy set every time I try to take a nap on this one.

      1. Not A Manager*

        I kept my sofa from grad school literally until my kids graduated from junior high, and just kept covering it with Surefit slip covers. It did eventually retire from the living room into the den, though.

    9. Auntie Social*

      My Macy’s Martha Stewart sofa has held up for 10 years, and has been scrubbed after some food accidents, no problem. If you have a bit more coin Sunbrella fabrics are stainproof. My friend got a comfortable Ethan Allen sofa on Craigslist for $200 and then redid it in a Sunbrella fabric because she has kids and dogs—she said it was that or stainless steel. Turned out just gorgeous.

      1. Lulubell*

        Yes, I was going to suggest Macy’s as well. I bought a couch, chair, and ottoman combo 15 years ago for about $1100, and they are still in good shape. I don’t have kids so you may not get that kind of longevity out of them, but they’ve served me well.

        1. Chocolate Teapot*

          I have 2 Ikea Klippan sofas which have lasted over 15 years, and have removable, washable covers. In fact my Ikea stuff is pretty sturdy. I bought the slightly more expensive, predominently solid wood items for the dining room, but my wear and tear is not the same as a family with small children!

    10. Disco Janet*

      I tried this one in the store and really loved it – it actually does cost twice what our current couch did, but obviously it’s not in in the range of many of the recommendations here (I hear you guys on the crate and barrel/west elm pieces…but it looks they are thousands, which again, I’m trying to avoid. Please keep in mind that I’m a teacher making 42k a year with two small children and all the expenses that come with that.)

      https://www.ashleyfurniture.com/p/nandero-sofa/4440138.html?cgid=sofas-and-couches#prefn1=color2&prefn2=fabric&prefv1=Black%2FGray%7CWhite&prefv2=Microfiber%7CSynthetic%7CTextured&start=5

      1. Violet Strange*

        I have an Ashley sofa, going on 6 years, very comfortable and solid. No kids, one non destructive cat, and its holding up great.

    11. Disco Janet*

      I have one post in moderation because of a link, but after that comment I realized West Elm and such do have some couches not in the thousands range.

      My other thing that’s making this difficult is that I prefer couches with little to no legs. I’m sick of fishing out toys from under the couch, and while I know there are products out there that exist for that, my cats just push them out of the way and then they’re useless. (Fortunately my kitties do not scratch furniture, so that is not a concern!)

      1. All Hail Queen Sally*

        You can remove the existing legs from most couches (be sure to check when you buy). A friend of mind had to do this as she was a cat foster mom and the scared cats would hide underneath and she could never get them out.

        1. Disco Janet*

          This is actually what we did with our current couches! They’re kinda awkward to sit on/get up from, but I figure it’s temporary.

      2. Sue*

        We ended up with leather couches, easier to keep clean and not the hard, uncomfortable kind. Old fabric one was good quality in it’s day but got sad looking and to reupholster was as expensive as a new one. The leather is holding up well.

    12. Jedi Squirrel*

      With kids that age, may I also recommend bean bags? You can get decent ones for $40-50 a piece, and the kids can take out most of the bouncy energy they have for furniture on them, and it will save some wear and tear on whatever sofa you end up getting. Plus, when you have guests and need the space, you can toss them in the kids’ rooms.

      1. Disco Janet*

        Got them – but the kids unfortunately ignore them. I’m considering moving the kids into one room to share so we can turn one bedroom into a playroom with space/furniture just for them. (They’re both boys and constantly in each other’s space anyways.)

    13. Chaordic One*

      I complained about this about a couple of months ago. I’m so disappointed in the lack of colors available in new furniture. It seems like almost all of the new upholstered furniture only comes in shades of white through gray through black, with a few things that vary from tan through ugly brown thrown in for good measure. I haven’t seen any sofas in any sort of print or pattern in the stores. You can order things, but it does seem like a risk and I’d like to be able to look at it first before I buy. Those IKEA sofas with their slip covers are looking better and better to me.

      Only $5,000 to replace your furnace? I think you got off easy.

      1. Disco Janet*

        Well, it’s not a big house and we don’t have a large income, hence the budget issues. I wouldn’t call that ‘easy’, just a matter of how powerful of a furnace is needed to space your home.

        1. Chaordic One*

          My parents just had to replace theirs and it was $17,000. (Natural gas-powered boiler for a house that is approximately 2,000 square feet.)

          1. ThatGirl*

            Boilers are a whole different beast from forced air hvac. Boilers are more expensive but last much longer. We spent about 3500 for a new furnace and AC 8 years ago, so 5k seems pretty close depending on the brand and house.

    14. I'm A Little Teapot*

      I’ve known some of the Ikea couches to stand up to a lot of abuse.

      For hard furniture – check out craigslist, Facebook Marketplace, 2nd hand stores, moving sales, estate sales, etc. There’s LOT of nice furniture out in the world, and sometimes people don’t want it any more. It’s definitely hit or miss, but I’ve found some really nice things and gotten them really cheap.

      1. young professional*

        I bought my couch from Facebook marketplace and love it. I was careful to screen for reasons people were giving it away and making sure it was in a pet-free household. The one I got came just one block away in a nice house and was beat up but easy to cover with a couch cover. 40 dollars! And so, so comfortable. Much better choice I think then just going cheap for a crappy Ikea one

      2. Miss Pantalones En Fuego*

        We have an IKEA Klippan love seat that we got from a neighbor who was throwing it out. I have no idea how old it is or how much they used it, but we’ve had it for about 5 years and it’s still nice and firm and springy. I don’t like the low back on it and it has legs, but I say this as a data point on the durability of IKEA sofas.

    15. retirement is all it's cracked up to be*

      Since you are also in the Midwest, look for a store that carries Smith Bros. (https://www.smithbrothers.net/). We bought one from them 15 years ago, custom choice of fabric, less than $1000 for sure. It has held up very well. We got it from an independent furniture store. Also look at La-z-boy stores–they’re not just chairs. Very comfy and well made stuff.

      1. Disco Janet*

        I’ll check it out! I feel like La-z-buy should give us a discount since they just built a new world headquarters blocks away from our home, haha!

    16. Gatomon*

      I custom-ordered a couch from Furniture Row 4 years back and it’s held up really well for being <$900. I see they're not in the midwest, but the actual couch was made by a company called Sofa Mart in Tennessee. I was able to select pretty much everything about it including fabric, arm/leg styles and configuration (sectional/couch/chaise). Their product might be carried by a chain in your area. I'll probably be ready to replace it or re-upolster it in another 4 years, so for a family with kids I wouldn't expect to get as much life out of it, but it should still last a while.

    17. Boldly Go*

      I don’t know if this is what you’re looking for but ikea is very durable and prices are good. You can purchase a service to deliver and put it together if you are not handy.

      For accent pieces ( side tables, rugs,) I went with Wayfair. Dining set I bought from raymour and Flannigan

    18. Restless Rover*

      I recommend Ikea. We bought a sectional (Ektorp) from them nine years ago and it has survived a move to Europe and Asia and will be going back to the US with us. We changed the covers a couple of times since then. It’s held up pretty darn well and at the time we bought they had a sale and I think we paid something like $700. And if it doesn’t last forever, no big deal.

    19. NewReadingGlasses*

      Some years ago, I lucked out and bought a floor model at a custom furniture place. It had a little shop wear, and the store was happy to sell it at a steep discount. It is violently plaid, but comfortable and well made. I generally have it covered with throw blankets because I have 4 cats, so the color is kind of irrelevant. It’s made by Woodmark.

    20. Lizzo*

      Not sure where you’re located but we got some really well-made used furniture on Craigslist when we bought our home. Lots of people around here seem inclined to sell pieces when they move (i.e. couch doesn’t fit the new space in terms of size or style) even if those pieces are only a couple years old. Not sure if Craigslist is still a legit resource or if it has faded in popularity, but worth exploring! Plus buying used keeps things out of landfills!

    21. Melody Pond*

      I just bought my first “real” sofa for $1000 from a local manufacturer in my area (Portland, OR). To me, at least, it seems an excellent couch, and the company has a lifetime warranty on the frame (7 years on the cushions, 1 year on the upholstery). A friend of Mr. Pond’s has had one of these sofas for over ten years. A spring or something broke in the frame, and the company is repairing it. I’ve only had ours for three months, but it’s very nice – and it was $1000 including delivery and an upgrade to one of their “performance” fabrics that are stain resistant.

      I don’t know how well this would work for you, being out in the Midwest, but in case you want to look into it, the company is Stanton Sofas, and we ordered it through a local retailer. (I’m sure you’d probably have to have a retailer local to you order it, as the company itself is a wholesaler only, I believe.) I ordered the 421 model in the 3-seater sofa style (so 42101) and in the Tweetie Linen fabric.

      http://stantonsofas.com
      http://stantonsofas.com/catalog.php?product_type_id=1&product_id=843
      http://stantonsofas.com/fabric_list.php#m2438

    22. Forrest Gumption*

      I got a gigantic comfy brown leather couch for only 600 bucks at a consignment store. If there are any in your area, you should check them out.

    23. Koala dreams*

      I’d recommend second hand stores for a quality sofa, especially leather sofas since they are easier to clean compared to fabric. I’ve seen very nice sofas, and the price is much cheaper than new.

      I love my IKEA sofa that I bought new. It’s comfy but not super pretty or anything.

    24. Seeking Second Childhood*

      All I’ll say is if the sofa is delivered in sections and bolted together by the delivery team, lift it and move it before they leave. Mine came disconnected the first time I pulled it aside to clean under it — way too late to reject delivery until it was permanently fixed. Two warranty visits later I’m just ticked off at Bob’s Discount Furniture. The one in the store was apparently bolted together differently than the one they sold me. I plan to go back on a busy day and ask about it loudly because phone got me nowhere. IMHO this should not be a “warrabty” issue!

    25. Cheapskate*

      There are some very nice, lightly used pieces of furniture available on Craigslist and Facebook Marketplace. The difficult part of buying something used is getting it home. I’m afraid that at this time in my life, I don’t know anyone with a pickup truck or who could help me carry the furniture into my house. In the past, I was able to hire people for a quick job like this through “TaskRabbit,” but they don’t have TaskRabbit where I now live and I haven’t been able to find anyone to handle a small moving job like this. I don’t want to hire professional movers who charge a lot (often as much as the furniture cost in the first place).

      If you have healthy muscular friends with a pickup truck, be nice to them.

    26. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd (ENTP)*

      Thousands on a couch?!
      Have you tried IKEA and similar (at least here in the UK, they have a really wide price range from “student” up to “luxury”)
      I am always agog at the amount people here say they spent on couches etc actually — could well be in line with the cost a boiler (furnace) but there are much cheaper options out there!
      I spent £800 (about $1000 USD) on ours and was wondering if I’d done the right thing for weeks. (but I am very happy with it!)
      I would reframe it in your mind though from “investing” to “going to lose its value pretty much instantly” — my $1000 setup I got 2 years ago is probably worth about $200 now.

    27. Emily*

      Not sure if this has been suggested (I didn’t read all 50+ replies) but I wanted to suggest looking at Facebook Marketplace, Craigslist, other secondhand websites, etc. It probably depends on your area, but where I am people move in and out a lot for work – so there are always a ton of posts like “selling [brand name] couch, originally $3k, for $500, only 9 months old.” There are also “free” groups that again, depending on your area, give away nice stuff (I got a desk from a group like that). Always worth checking groups like that before buying new!

    28. Star Nursery*

      We watched OfferUp, Craigslist, Facebook Groups and so checked out Furniture stores and ended up buying one from OfferUp. It was in excellent condition and less than two years old. The guy selling it was moving and selling it for $450. The set I bought before that had a reclining sofa, loveseat, coffee table, two end tables and two lamps for $500. I found it on Fb around three years ago; also bought from someone moving long distance. I’ve looked in stores and considered buying new however we have pets and I liked not spending thousands.

    29. Diplomonad*

      I know you say sectionals won’t work but I have a sectional from Costco ($900) where two sections are essentially footrests (or a chaise on each end, or a big coffee table, or turn it into a bed). They’re on casters so I can just move them wherever I need them. It’s been four years with two cats and they’ve held up beautifully.

    30. Aurélia*

      Some of their models are <$2,000. Would highly recommend interior define. I have a dark blue velvet sloan sleeper-sofa that is my prized possession. I was able to finance it over a year at 0%, which helped after I moved and my ex-boyfriend broke a leg off my old one.

    31. 00ff00Claire*

      In addition to Craigslist, etc, you could keep an eye on local estate sales. A lot of them post the items to be sold online so you could look for quality couches. You can only focus on sales that have high quality items so you know the couch will be in good condition. And if you don’t like the style, you could use a cover.

      Are there no local furniture stores near you that might have better prices or sales than the national chains? I haven’t had to buy a lot of furniture, but I got my couch from a small local business. It’s held up fine, although it hasn’t had the same amount of use it sounds like yours will get.

      1. Jdc*

        I think we are going to find a movie. It’s actually finally nice out today but we are just too sick. Stepson brought me a McDonald’s hash brown which is my all time favorite sick food.

        Kicking myself for not getting to good tissue with lotion the other day. I forgot and you need the good stuff when you are using it every four seconds. :)

          1. Jdc*

            Ya I am. I went out when I took the dogs out a few mins ago.

            If the DayQuil kicks in enough I may run time Target and get some sick supplies. Target makes everything better.

            Luckily it should be even warmer tomorrow so hopefully I’ll be a bit better tomorrow.

    1. JDC*

      Woohoo. Found some good cold remedy yes in my cupboard I completely forgot I had bought a few weeks ago. This is a fairy brutal cold. Losing my voice. Husband ended up not being very sick as I had thought which is good for him. Also for me because i can get him to go get me some sick supplies. I wanted to go today but felt too poorly.

      Found out my mom has surged Monday to see if a lump in her breast is cancerous. Scared about that.

      Also dealing with stepsons mom drama. Well I’m not dealing with it but it impacts me. She was supposed to have him for spring break and to no ones surprise says she can’t afford the plane ticket. Oh and she won’t be paying child support either. She was once again fired. Not at all shocking but annoying. Also a month that due to some added expenses was a bad month to not receive it. I’m sure it’ll be months before we see it again. I’m also beyond stressed because I need to plan a trip in June for a family event and it’s really important to me that husband can come with me. I can’t wait until the last minute to buy tickets seeing as if she doesn’t take son for summer I’ll have to either buy an additional ticket for son or more likely not be able to being husband. It really pisses me off to constantly put my plans on hold due to her flakiness. I honestly don’t want to bring step son. Truly. I love him but it would require a second hotel room, on top of another plane ticket and the trip is going to be a bit stressful as it is. Having him moan and complain he isn’t playing video games or doesn’t want to go do whatever we need to is not something I want to deal with when i need to focus on ailing family members. Sometimes things do need to be about what I need. Plus, we will be going back to OC and his mom lives in LA so really it’ll just end up being us paying for a ticket since she refuses to because we can’t exactly bring him a few miles from his mom and not let him see her. I wouldn’t mind just paying for something once in a while when she can’t but she would and has taken huge advantage of that. She makes double what we do. She just a selfish person. You’d think at almost 18 he could stay home (I assure you he has zero desire or do my family stuff) but he’s so immature he really can’t. Last time he was home one night he called his dad hourly. It was supposed to be one night alone for us The day of our wedding and it was as usual all about him. If you can’t tell I’m for sure in a place where I’m feeling like my needs are on the back burner. Luckily husband does his best to help me not feel that way but some things he can’t change.

      Pay child support people. See your kids when it’s your time.

      Oh and if I mentioned we need her to commit to summer or not it would be weeks of flipping out on her part. Apparently us trying to plan anything without son means we are bad parents. That coming from the woman who doesn’t see her kid and said to me “the only reason I want custody is so i don’t have to pay anything”

        1. Jdc*

          I usually don’t let her drama get to me but with this family thing coming up that is really important I need the woman to not be a flake just this once.

      1. Not a cat*

        As a step-kid who could very much tell that my stepmother disliked me, please be gentler when you vent about him. I don’t doubt he senses your frustration.

  12. Virginia Girl*

    Question: how do I know if I’m overreacting?
    Story: I’m a college senior graduating in May. I have a friend that transfer to my school from community college last semester (Fall 2019). She’s nice but very extroverted (I’m a major introvert). She’ll do stuff like touch the giant fluff ball on my hat (even though I’ve said I don’t like people touching it), she’ll come into my room after knocking (even if I don’t answer) and just start talking to me (yes, I’ve tried saying I’m busy/in the middle of something/can’t talk), will give me a pouty face if I say I’m leaving the caf to go somewhere (usually class), talks about faith ALL THE TIME (we go do a deeply religious college and I am devout myself but I do like to have conversations other than religion), explicitly saying she wants to be best friends (I’m not interested in that level – I’ve tried to play it off as me mishearing her and mentioning my BFF who goes to a different school), and explicitly saying wants to be around me most of the time. I do try to do things with her like invite her to clubs that I’m in/set up times to hang out/stuff like that. It got to a head earlier this week when she started to pout when I was leaving the cafeteria to go to class (Frowning/complaining about how I’m “always running off to class”). I had enough and told her we needed to talk later. She agreed and we did. I went over all these things with her and said we should re-evaluate our friendship so we could be on the same page. Yes, I did try addressing these things individually beforehand but it didn’t work so this had to happen. She got tearful and said her actions are because she isn’t good at the whole making friends thing since she hasn’t been at college as long as me (I’ve been at the same school for 4 years and she’s been here for a semester and a half in addition to the 2 years of community college before that). Am I overreacting? Any advice?

    1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      You’re not overreacting, she’s jumping up and down on your stated boundaries. Now that you’ve had the specific conversation though, you have room for “That conversation we had last week? You’re doing that thing that we talked about again, I need you to stop (whatever it is).”
      “Oh, boo hoo, I’m just bad at making friends.”
      “Okay, I understand that, but you aren’t trying to make friends with *me* right now, we’re already friends, and I need you to stop (whatever) because it is important to me that my friends respect my boundaries.”

      Good luck =/

      1. tangerineRose*

        And tell her that respecting boundaries will help her get better at keeping friends. You’re helping her, even if she doesn’t understand it yet.

    2. Not A Manager*

      You are not over-reacting. Good for you for being able to have a conversation with her about it; that can be really hard. If you haven’t looked at Captain Awkward already, give that a try. She has excellent scripts for when people over-step boundaries, and also advice about when and how to pull back.

      But don’t let this lady make you responsible for her emotions. “I’m not good at being a good friend” isn’t a reason for you to put up with bad behavior.

    3. Legally a Vacuum*

      Think of it this way- by asserting your boundaries and making sure she can’t treat you in a way you find off-putting, you’re either going to teach her that her behavior needs to change or that her choice in friends needs to change.

      Either realization is more helpful to her eventually finding friends than you just gritting your teeth are her behavior.

    4. Myrin*

      You are not overreacting at all – even if she’s a good person at heart, she seems at best quite oblivious to… well, people around her, really, and at worst pretty rude.
      But also, major kudos to you for having this very direct conversation! I’m sure that took a lot of guts and it sounds like you handled it very well. I do wonder though – what did you say in reaction to her “I’m new here that’s why I am Like That”?

      1. Miranda Priestly’s Assistant*

        I’m really jaded, but manipulative people tend to make excuses for their behavior like this. Even if she is truthful, continuing her behavior would still be wrong.

      2. Virginia Girl*

        I said, “That’s true but you’ve been to community college, as well as K through 12 schools so you’ve had time to learn about friendships.” She said that she’s struggled to make friends throughout her entire life. I do sympathize with her on that point because it CAN be hard. She didn’t elaborate on why she had trouble doing so.

        1. fposte*

          She may not really know, and her explanations may just be guesses. You’re still not obliged to be friends with her, or accept her making you repeatedly uncomfortable. If the conversations continue, I’d try not to focus on *why* and focus instead on the behaviors of now. From a managerial standpoint, you don’t want an explanation about the old job, you just want the employee to promise not to break the copier.

          But I also don’t think it’s your obligation to coach her through friendship. I get that she desperately wants friendship and I think you did her a major service, but it doesn’t mean now you’re responsible for her.

          1. Washi*

            Yes to all this. Do you actually enjoy hanging out with her? You don’t have to be friends with someone just because they want to be friends with you.

            1. Virginia Girl*

              I used to enjoy hanging out with her but recently I’ve started to resent being in her presence. I’m very much considering ending it completely.

              1. AnonEMoose*

                I think this would be very good for her to know. Also an introvert, and the amount of clinginess she is exhibiting would have me wanting to claw my way out of my own skin to get away from her. She really needs to learn that people need space, and you’re not her security blanket.

        2. Not A Manager*

          “She said that she’s struggled to make friends throughout her entire life.”

          And no wonder. You are doing her a favor by helping her learn how to be a better friend. Whether she sees it that way is up to her.

          “Miranda, I understand that making friends is hard and that you’ve always struggled with it. What I am doing is *explicitly telling you* what you need to do in order to be a good friend to me. Please don’t touch my hat, please don’t come into my room without permission, please don’t interfere with my classes or my other activities. I like you and I like being with you. Please behave in ways that make it possible for me to keep being friends with you.”

    5. Miranda Priestly’s Assistant*

      Not overreacting. She is a boundary violator. You did the right thing by directly communicating to her.

    6. Notthemomma*

      Your ability to set clear boundaries now will help you more than you can imagine in the future….as in sooo many of us are much older and still figuring it out.

      Likewise, her ability to read a person/situation /environment is being formed. As others have said, maintain clear boundaries, but I would also add to it- perhaps give her some clear goals and instructions that will help her help herself (and by extension, help you)? ‘Friend, I challenge you to join two organizations that I not a part of.’ ‘Friend, lets have a group xxx (book club, pottery painting, wine and canvas, picnic) event- you invite three people and I will do the same, but they can’t be people either of us know.’ Yes that is putting a bit more on you, but the closer you get to graduation and leaving, the clingier she may become.

    7. Alex*

      If you want to be kind to her, you can say “Yes, making friends can be really hard! And I know it can be hard to hear when someone tells you that you are crossing their boundaries, but I hope you can take this feedback as information about how to be friends with me, because that is how I mean it. If you are feeling lonely, there are lots of clubs here to join and maybe if you spread around your attention to more than just me, you’ll get the hang of it and have a bunch of friends in no time.” Maybe tell her some things you DO like about her just to soften the blow to her self esteem. Hearing that you are annoying someone you want to befriend is never easy.

      I think you handled it 100% correctly and way better than I handled similar situations when I was your age! Her feeling like she doesn’t have enough friends is something to feel sympathetic towards, but it doesn’t mean you don’t get to put up boundaries for her where you need them. That really doesn’t help anyone in the long run.

    8. Aspiring Chicken Lady*

      I have found that when I have similarly exhausting friends/coworkers etc., if the regular scripts don’t work, it could very well be that they may literally not know how to have a balanced friendship.
      I have had luck saying things like “I have been timing this conversation and I have not gotten to speak for 20 minutes and you have managed to change the subject 3 times. This makes me frustrated and not motivated to participate. I need to get to talk. I am now about to tell you my story about the day and I expect that you will let me finish, and that we will take turns talking. ” It will take rinse and repeat. It might end up looking like social skills practice because that’s what it is. That lecture helped a lot with a friend. I’m working on a similar process with a coworker who isn’t fully aware that I wasn’t listening in on her thought process before she came over. I have keep saying, patiently and before there’s a problem, “I don’t know what you’re referring to, you need to start from the beginning. ”
      We don’t know things until we learn them. Sometimes we need to help that process along for someone else.

    9. Misty*

      On a side note, I had roommates who would knock and then walk in my bedroom before I said come in so I started locking my door and not answering when people knocked – I didn’t realize how much it was bugging me until it stopped. So you could always try locking your door and ignoring the knocks sometime. I had asked these people multiple times to not just walk in but it wasn’t working until I locked them out.

    10. Disco Janet*

      You’ve gotten some good advice here, but I wanted to flag how you’ve described her behavior – you opened with saying she’s an extrovert, then describing rude, boundary-stomping behavior. That’s behavior introverts can also display – I’m an introvert too, but around here it almost seems to be used as an insult because it’s like extrovert = rude person that can’t read social cues and never shuts up, rather than extrovert = anyone who doesn’t need alone time to feel recharged and refreshed.

      I have multiple extrovert friends, and they’re all extremely thoughtful people.

      1. Parenthetically*

        Yes, I picked this up too! Please don’t let people use “extroversion” as shorthand for “pushy, annoying, and boundary-less.”

      2. Virginia Girl*

        Thanks for your perspective. The reason I equated the two in my mind is that the vast majority of self-labeled extroverts I know have similar behavior patterns (just not to this large degree) and the introverts…not so much. guess I need to find good extroverts.

        1. valentine*

          guess I need to find good extroverts.
          Yes. Don’t let her be your extrovert sample. Stop inviting her to join your groups. You may see it as widening her circle, but it just gives her more space in your life and you may feel suffocated. She’s fixated on you and too needy. If you give her even a week, that’s really generous. I would then text her that, since she refuses to wait for an invitation, keep her hands to herself, or stop pouting, it’s time to go your separate ways. (Is there an African violet emoji?)

          (Does she attend class? She seems to think you’re there for her personal socializing benefit.)

          1. Virginia Girl*

            Thanks for the tips! As for class, she attends her Spanish class – I see her entering the classroom as I exit a nearby classroom- but I’m not sure about the rest.

        2. Kuododi*

          Must speak up on this issue. I’ve always been what I would describe as a “mid-range introvert.” My beloved sister is outgoing, friendly and a true extrovert. While every person has their off days where they’re less than their best…I’ve never experienced DS to be anything but thoughtful, considerate and welcoming of every person she meets. There’s positive and negative in all people. Ive always believed it’s incumbent on us to keep looking for the innate goodness in humanity. Hope this helps. Blessings to you.

          1. Parenthetically*

            Totally agreed. I’m an introvert. I know passive-aggressive, inconsiderate, flaky introverts, and thoughtful, kind, selfless extroverts.

        3. Sleve McDichael*

          In my experience the GOOD extroverts are great with boundaries because they love people so much. My extrovert friends just think I’m so wonderful and valuable that they carefully watch my feelings and energy levels and sometimes notice I’m feeling stressed or tired before I do! There’s nothing like an extrovert noticing you’re tired and just bringing you a cup of tea and then letting you recharge. They’ll also carefully guide conversations so that I get to talk by asking really great open questions and actively listening to me. Basically they use all their people skills for good and not for evil.

          People conflate extrovert with boundary stomping and introvert with vanishingly shy because we like to remember extremes of behaviour. (That doesn’t mean she can’t be both though).

          I hope you find some well behaved extroverts if you haven’t already. As an introvert I can strongly recommend them.

        4. Miss Pantalones En Fuego*

          I think this is because people who are boundary crossers like this use the label “extrovert” as an excuse for their bad behaviour.

      3. Miranda Priestly’s Assistant*

        FWIW, people like this themselves use extroversion as an excuse for crossing boundaries.

    11. Fikly*

      That’s not an extroverted thing. That’s a she’s not respecting your clearly stated boundaries things.

      Of course she’s not making friends, who wants to be around someone like that?

    12. I'm A Little Teapot*

      Well, I know why she’s always struggled to make friends! You don’t get to act/be controlling, boundary stomping, attention hogging, needy, etc without consequence. She drives people away because of this behavior. However, you are not obligated to tell her this.

      I don’t know why you’re friends with her honestly, she sounds quite exhausting and annoying. No, you’re not overreacting. Hold your boundaries. She’ll figure it out, or you won’t hang out with her.

      1. Virginia Girl*

        She didn’t start off this way but I’ve started avoiding her at all costs because of emotional exhaustion.

    13. RagingADHD*

      You don’t ever have to justify your feelings with some imaginary outside standard of “fairness”.

      She gets on your last nerve. She is clingy and pouty, and she tries to guilt you into investong more time in her than you want.

      You aren’t required to be friends with people you don’t like. You just need to be civil and kind.

      You don’t really need to have a big talk. Just spend less time with her, take longer to answer her messages/texts, be less available.

      If she says she wants to be with you more, say that this lower amount of contact is all you have available right now.

      You aren’t there to babysit this chick. You’re there to get your education.

      Take care, best wishes.

    14. Vicky Austin*

      No, you are not overreacting. It is clear that she has trouble understanding boundaries. Perhaps she is neurodivergent, or perhaps it is due to cultural differences. Or perhaps it’s due to something else. Who knows.
      Either way, you did the right thing by letter her know that she was crossing your boundaries. Even though she cried, you did her a favor in the long run. I myself am neurodivergent and unable to read subtle, unspoken cues. There have been many times when I have come off as obnoxious, confrontational, or defiant without meaning to be. I always appreciate it when people call me out on it, so that I can do better and avoid coming off as a jerk in the future.

      1. Fikly*

        There is a vast difference between subtle, unspoken cues and someone saying directly to you “stop doing x” or “do not do x.”

        At that point, you are just behaving badly.

        1. Vicky Austin*

          Yeah, it’s only when someone says, “stop doing x” or “do not do x” that I understand them.

    15. ShortT*

      You’re not overreacting. You’ve clearly stated boundaries. She’s steamrolled over them. Unapologetically. That is not OK.

    16. Seagull*

      You aren’t overreacting. Your direct communication was very mature. more than I was at least, in a similar situation. My friend ignored boundaries, knocking, and picked arguments at social gatherings for fun (not fun discussions or debates, but Needlessly Contrarian). I articulated my discomfort sometimes but not all the time, but I really should have handled it like you handled this. FWIW, we eventually lost touch after four years of friendship. I decided not to keep investing in the relationship after he got drunk and messed up a social gathering on purpose, one where we drove an hour to be with old friends, but that was the final straw in a long line of disruptive, boundary-ignoring behavior. If he ever messages I’ll be friendly, but it’s fine that we grew apart.

      If I had limited the relationship earlier {not inviting him to join my friends, not giving him more time then I wanted to} then we may have remained actively in touch in a more distant and/or limited way. I would perhaps give yourself time to regroup, see if there is real change, and decide if you want to be tea friends, or study friends, or just acquaintances. If you give out of obligation, then you don’t feel like you are really giving and it’s not healthy. I felt bad for my friend, for his social problems and lack of friends, but when you have to maintain your boundaries because you can’t turn food from an empty pot. Your discussion with her did her a major service though, that I wish I had extended to my friend. {I genuinely wish him all the best and have nothing against him.}

    17. Paquita*

      Doesn’t she realize that “going to class” is the reason you are there? Sounds like she thinks college is just a big social club for her benefit. And yes, lock your door.

    18. Koala dreams*

      It doesn’t surprise me that she has difficulties making friends in college when she complains about people going to class. If it’s one thing that students have in common, it’s class.

      You are not obliged to continue to be friends with someone who don’t accept you going to class or treat you badly. When we are children we have to put up with a lot since we are not in control, but now you are both adults, and you choose who to be friends with.

      Maybe you want to be friends anyway, and in that case I can only admire your patience and grace in handling things.

    19. Out of the box thinker*

      Ugh… She is the type of person that gets my dander up. If she breaks the boundaries again. I’m all for saying end of friendship and lay out the rules for the room for your last few months. I had a friend waste several yrs in a relationship with one of these type persons who constantly wanted him to provide her emotionally, social etc.. needs. Until she found someone with deeper pockets…. also I’ve direct experienced with the touch boundary violators I had to physically block unwelcome touches to my hat, or hoodie or trying to lean on my shoulder. (Id raise an arm or duck and move to the side) At which point the boundary breaker would invariably try to brush it off as ‘it was harmless fun, or jumpy are you? ) don’t be surprised if you get told u are ruining fun or that you are their only friend… don’t fall for it and don’t play into it. You r leaving soon, so she ll have to learn to survive when you are gone. Frankly next pouty face, I d tell her to stop being juvenile.

  13. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

    Crafting thread! What are you working on?

    I’ve hit a cross stitch kick lately, working on a Star Wars (Empire) sampler for a friend’s birthday with an AT-AT landscape waiting in the wings for myself :) But I also finished a Wingspan mini-shawl a couple weeks ago that I need to find time to pin out and block, and I think the full-sized version is going to be next up on the knitting needles. (The pattern went semi-viral on Facebook last spring, so when I ordered the hand-dyed yarn it was written for, it took the dyer almost 9 months to get it to me! But it should be lovely.)

    I also have a men’s cut t-shirt that I’d really like to cut down to a women’s cut style, but I keep psyching myself out of getting started, because what if I ruin it. But as my bestie pointed out this week, I’m not wearing it *now*, so worst case scenario, I still don’t wear it and nothing changes! My mom is going to be here for a brief visit in a couple weeks, and I will ask her at that point if she can show me how to use the serger she gave me mumblety years ago that I haven’t figured out yet, because serging is better on lightweight t-shirt material than a standard sewing machine, and then no more excuses. :)

    1. Jemima Bond*

      I’ve recently made a nice snuggly dress (short to go over leggings) of deep purple ponti di roma. The pattern is Tilly and the Buttons “Coco” and the view I’ve made has two patch pockets, cuffed long sleeves and a sixties style funnel collar. I love it and really recommend the pattern.
      I’m in the middle of a quilt a friend has commissioned; can’t find the pattern online to post but imagine colours eight-pointed stars, build of diamonds cut from jelly roll strips, on a white background. The strips are blues and greens from moda’s ombré confetti range so an ombré effect with darker/metallic dots scattered over. I think it’s going to be lovely but will take a while; only six big blocks plus borders but each block has a lot of pieces!

    2. Book Lover*

      Cross stitching is so addicting, especially if you have friends that stitch or watch flosstube :). I just sent a couple of pieces for framing and am working on a big black swan design (not a black swan, black swan the designer). I have been enjoying picking our hand dyed fabrics and special threads and browsing charts for next projects. So many more options than when I started.

    3. Not A Manager*

      I am JUST FINISHING a large needlepoint of my young relative’s favorite Pokemon. I will then block it and make it into a pillow, hopefully by the end of this week.

    4. NoLongerYoung*

      For the serger? pick out some scrap/strip fabric of the same weight, so you can do some practice runs to get the tension dialed in and everything set up correctly, before you move on to your t-shirt project.

      And, believe it or not, one of the best how to serger books is the Singer manual (hardback or softside). In some used book sources. It has a diagram set (if I remember correctly, packed away) of what the stitch is suppose to look like when all the threads tensions are perfect. I used to have a sample binder with the notations (fabric, tensions, thread) in plastic sleeves, with a sample for each attached. I took at special summer class (week long, mornings, best use of PTO ever!) at a local renounced community college which has a sewing program. Many years ago.

      1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        I think I have a copy of the singer manual (and if not I’ll definitely look for one!) – I meant the actual operation of this machine, how to thread it properly, what the settings options are and such. My mom is a quilter and my craftiness is usually more yarn based than fabric, so even her older hand-me-down machines are intimidating :)

    5. Lizabeth*

      Working on blocks 3 & 4 of a Christmas wall hanging. Hoping that I will be able to square all of them up to the same size!

    6. Shrunken Hippo*

      I’ve been winding bobbins so I can start tablet weaving some more complex designs. I was weaving on my inkle loom but the designs I want to do cause a lot of twist so I’m switching to weighted weaving. I have to wind roughly 120 bobbins so I’ve been watching some tv and listening to podcasts while I wind them which could be worse.
      I took apart a skirt I made when I was first getting into sewing again so I can redo it so it’s cleaner on the inside and so I can make the pockets bigger. It’s a rectangle skirt so it won’t be hard to redo and I used good cotton so there’s no harm in seam ripping it. I also want to remake it so it’ll fit nicely over my corset (used as a back brace) as it dramatically changes the shape of my natural waist.
      There’s a craft sale April 3rd that my mom has a table for and she said she’d leave some room if I want to make some crocheted critters and see how well they sell. I physically and mentally can’t handle staying at sales because I end up being so exhausted I make mistakes so I’m glad that she’s willing to sell things for me. Now the question is where did I put all my crochet stuff. I have gotten into so many other crafts lately that crochet has almost disappeared, but I find that I go through cycles so hopefully I can get into it again so I can have some cuties to sell.

      1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        Oh, nice! I have an Ashford inkle loom that I need to put together and experiment with at some point. :)

    7. Environmental Compliance*

      A unicorn hat for a coworkers granddaughter! I can’t decide how I want to do the mane, loop stitch or tied and un-plied yarn. It’s for a three year old, so I’m leaning towards loops.

      Also finally found someone with the manual for my Glimakra Anne loom, so took that all apart, cleaned it, now putting it back together and figuring out what needs to be replaced. So far just the clamps, really. If anyone has any recommendations on books for beginners to weaving with floor looms, I’d love to see them!

    8. Pharmgirl*

      I’m crocheting a temperature blanket! Haven’t crocheted in years, and when I did it was mainly just smaller projects like scarves. A friend got into crocheting around the new year and inspired me to start this project I’ve been wanting to do for a while. I’ve stuck to single crochet to keep it simple, and so far I’ve done a good job of crocheting every day or every other day and sticking to target. This week was a little busy and I haven’t gotten around to it so I’m a week behind. But I’m loving the colors and it’s looking great so far! I’m still excited about the project, so hopefully and can keep going rest of the year!

        1. Book Lover*

          Fikly, you can look on Etsy for temperature cross stitch patterns also, I have seen hot air balloons, gardens, and trees with the same concept.

    9. Aspiring Chicken Lady*

      I’m working on a few samples for a sashiko/boro/visible mending class I’m teaching next weekend. Not that I’m awesome at it, but it’s a fun skill to pass along.
      Did up a baby quilt on my President’s day off (or anyway, most of it.. but it’s done and gifted now).
      And now I’m sitting around with some goat’s milk yogurt culturing on the counter, trying to psyche myself into cutting out a jacket pattern from some linen I got from a tag sale.
      Or maybe I’ll just tag along on my friend’s impending Costco run for no reason other than procrastination.
      All of which is designed to avoid actual vacuuming and general tidying.

    10. Lost in the Woods*

      One of my closest childhood friends’ mom is a wonderful spinner (of yarn) and I asked her if she’d be willing to teach me! I’m headed over there after work on Tuesday and I’m so excited to learn on a wheel; I’ve had real trouble with consistent tension on a spindle and I think being able to have both hands involved in tensioning will be super helpful. With knitting, I’m almost done a pair of striped socks, then I can turn my full focus back to an Aran sweater which I only need to finish the front on.

      I also really need to finish a blouse I’m making for my mom. I screwed up the neckline and it’s been in time out for a couple of weeks, but it’s time to suck it up and get it done so I can move on to another sewing project.

    11. Drtheliz*

      I’m trying a bottom-up knitted shrug. Right now is the most boring bit – it’s done in pieces and it’s just stockinette all the way until the armholes on the back. I’m looking forward to the shaping and the cabling on the front, though, and it’ll be a nice project for my train commute :)

    12. Tortally HareBrained*

      I’m working on a gingham crochet blanket. It’s been lots of fun, but going a little slower than I imagined. I usually make amigurumi so it’s nice to have a more mindless project going as well.

    13. LucyJo*

      I’m going to a mini crochet convention next weekend (!!!) so I’m finishing up Afghan squares for that – everyone’s squares will be combined to make heirloom blankets for children born and living under the lingering cloud of Chernobyl. I’ll therefore be leaving with around 20sqft of other people’s work to hook together.

      The children and spouse have indicated that once in a while they’d quite like some of the work I do to stay in our house so the next project will be a big Afghan for our living room. We’ll choose colours together, then each person will choose some textures and patterns they particularly like, and the end product will also have our initials and other significant motifs on it. I will aim to finish by Christmas (allowing myself to do other projects inbetween).

      1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        Very cool! I just finished a cross stitch of the Chernobyl reactor at the moment of the explosion, but I haven’t figured out what else to put on it beyond just the reactor map, so I’m half keeping my eyes open for a good quote or verse or something.

        1. LucyJo*

          I’m very inspired by the reclamation of the area by nature – tower blocks overgrown with self-seeded plants, foraged by deer and other animals. It would be interesting for your work to reflect Chernobyl in 2020 and beyond rather than being a snapshot from the eighties.

    14. Seven hobbits are highly effective, people*

      I’m trying to get my sewing repair pile smaller. I have a lot of things that are worth repairing, and I would definitely wear again if I fixed them, but I really only tackle the pile when I have less than a week’s worth of clothes to wear and tend to just fix enough things to get back up to a week again.

      I also need to make a lanyard cover/patch/??, because the branded lanyards they gave us at work have a rough place on the back (caused by whatever they used for anti-fray) that rubs right on my chest and has caused worn spots on several shirts. I have a temporary solution made out of office supplies I’m using now (and have been ever since someone else at work pointed out the problem with the new lanyards – before that I’d been blaming my new purse for the damage), but I’d like something that looks nicer so I need to find my scrap collection and figure something out. I’ll probably end up sewing either a patch on the back in a contrasting color or a little cuff all the way around, either using scrap fabric or ribbon. (There are good work-related reasons for me to wear a branded lanyard rather than one of my many, many other lanyards that do not have this problem.)

    15. Something Blue*

      Cool! Where did you find the Star Wars designs?

      I’ve been getting little designs from a site called Daily Cross Stitch.

      1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        This one came from the store StitchBuzz on Etsy, I appear to have bought several from a variety of shops though :)

        1. Fikly*

          Hah, one of theirs, yes. I’ve finished three so far, this will be the fourth, when it eventually gets there.

    16. All Hail Queen Sally*

      I am crocheting a shawl I started ages ago and had forgotten about until I recently “rediscovered” it in the back of my yarn closet. I put it aside when I realized it was going to be way too small for me. I thought (at the time) that I would just re-write the pattern to make it larger. I am a big girl, and if I want more than my shoulders covered, I need a big shawl. However, after looking at it, I realize the design is too complex and I would need a degree in mathmatics to modify it. Plus, I would probably run out of yarn, as the (very distinctive) yarn I am using has been discontinued. So I decided to just finish it and use it for a sample in the crochet classes I teach. The next time I decide to crochet or knit a shawl, I will look for a pattern that contains the words ” repeat rows X thru Y until shawl reaches desired length.”

    17. Isabekka*

      Needle felting, I am currently working my way through some new multi coloured wool roving. It’s so pretty I would take pictures and show you if I could figure out how to post pictures.

    18. Best Cat in the World*

      I’m gradually getting closer to finishing the back of the cardigan I’m knitting. Although it’s seeming never ending at the moment! For a bit of variety, I’m also knitting a scarf my boyfriend’s parents got me for Christmas. It’s cable and I’ve never done that before but now I’ve got the hang of it, I’m loving doing it! It’s taking a lot of concentration but it’s a bit different and a lovely colour :)

    19. ShortT*

      I’m finally finishing a fitted striped wool sweater that I’ve been knitting for what feels like forever.

    20. NewReadingGlasses*

      I JUST BOUGHT A SEWING MACHINE THIS MORNING!! My first project will be setting it up and sewing some random squares to test it.

        1. NewReadingGlasses*

          A Brothers PS200T. It was on sale, and looks like what I want: nice and basic, but not too lightweight. So far I’ve only taken it out of the box and made sure all the parts are there. I haven’t used a sewing machine in literally decades, so I’m reading the manual first.

  14. Speedster*

    I’m a 23 year old female and really want to start understanding politics more and keeping up with what is going on in the U.S.
    Suggestions for reading material to educate myself, and suggestions for unbiased news sources that I should be following?

    Also how can I get involved to help push people my age to participate in voting?

    1. Ranon*

      League of Women voters publishes voting guides and does lots of voter registration/ outreach, they’re likely a good all in one starting place for you, both as a place to learn and as a place to volunteer.

      No national news sources come to mind but if you happen to be in Texas the Texas Tribune does great political reporting for our state.

    2. Ryan Howard’s White Suit*

      If you have a Prime membership you can get the Washington Post for free on your phone. That and NYTimes are good places to start. Vox is left leaning, but has really excellent explainers on current events, both on their site and in podcast form. I also like The Atlantic for their thoughtful analysis from writers of various political leanings. If you have multiple devices to read on, you may be able to avoid a subscription for it. The New Yorker has excellent long form articles, but it also is subscription based, though they usually are running some kind of special.

      As for books to get you started, Jill Lepore’s These Truths is excellent and a deep dive into American history through the 2016 election. There are countless books that go into our current political state, but one I’ve been seeing a lot about and am eager to read is Ezra Klein’s Why We’re Polarized. It’s been reviewed pretty positively across the board. There are also several podcast interviews with him about it, including three on his own show, The Ezra Klein Show.

      Lauren Duca’s How To Start A Revolution was written with young people who want to become involved in mind. She’s very liberal, but if you’re not I think the same advice would apply.

    3. Falling Diphthong*

      I have a subscription to the Washington Post; my daughter (similar age/inclination to you) has a subscription to he NYTimes. I like 538 for “is there any support for this claim” style reporting.

      Re bias, be aware that sources often get rated based on “liked by people of persuasion X” rather than based on whether the information is accurate, fairly presented, and so on. We’re a divided country and I don’t think there is any one “the news source liked by an exact cross-section of the nation, even when it tells them what they don’t want to hear.” Which is legitimately a problem. A source can appeal more to one group while still being accurate. (e.g. I’m not a Christian Scientist, but the Monitor is often cited for good journalism.)

      For voter engagement, I would push the statistic that it’s not like there’s high turnout in swing states and none elsewhere–voting rises as a community and across district borders. It’s about civic engagement and voting because it’s the Tuesday after the first Monday in November, regardless of whether you are super excited by any one candidate. If they are moved by math, point out that with equal voting blocs, one with 80% turnout and one with 20%, the politicians are going to listen to the first one. Even if that group shrinks, it’s got to get really small before it’s worthwhile to appeal to the big group wherein only 20% turn out.

    4. Jedi Squirrel*

      I would also recommend reading history books that aren’t written by old white men (with the exception of Howard Zinn). There are excellent history books of the United States and North America written by American Indian and Latinx historians, and those will provide an alternate perspective on many events that most history books typically gloss over or even omit.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        Books written by American Indians- Oh boy! Yes, do this . It’s very eye opening. I knew things were rotten but I still cried over some of the stuff I read.
        Oddly, my interest got started by reading about the Loomis Gang.

      2. Speedster*

        Thank you for the book suggestions. I’m gonna be getting a library card set up in my new city ASAP

    5. old curmudgeon*

      For a good unbiased news source that really digs into material, my go-to is National Public Radio (NPR). They post their articles on their website, which I prefer (auditory issues make radio difficult for me) so you can dip in at leisure.

      I also second the rec for the WaPo. I’ve got an online subscription and find it both very informative and generally unbiased.

      As to how to get more folks your age involved in voting (and THANK YOU for your interest in that!!), that’s a conversation I’ve had with my niece as well. She just turned 18 a few months ago and was thrilled to be able to register to vote, but was very disappointed that her friends didn’t share her enthusiasm.

      One of the things she tried with some success was to make voter-registration and voting into a shared social experience with her group of buddies. The group gets permission to take the afternoon of Election Day off school, and they all go together to the polling place to exercise their franchise, then they catch a movie followed by a junk-food feast at their favorite fast food spot. That gets the conversation going on who is voting for whom, and why, and how they arrived at their decision, all of which tend to reinforce the notion that Voting Is The Right Thing To Do, Especially With Your Eleven Best Friends (TM).

      She also makes a point of emphasizing that when people refuse to vote, they’re basically doing the voter-suppression work for the old guard that is trying so hard to limit who is allowed to participate in the process. Being rebellious youngsters, that idea tends to stick in their craws, and at least some responded by voting as a “so there, that’ll show you” gesture.

      1. Speedster*

        Thank you for the insight. I have to admit that I didn’t vote in the 2016 election :( so now I’m focused on changing that going forward and hopefully influencing others as well.

      2. Falling Diphthong*

        My daughter was astonished to learn that voter turnout is low in her demographic, because at her college it was such a big thing.

        She now lives in NYC which has Tuesday as a holiday to make it easy to vote. And her school takes off the Monday and Tuesday so people can go vote in their home districts. I wish there was more of that. Or vote by mail, Saturday voting–it’s shameful that we make it difficult to vote.

    6. OtterB*

      I’ve become a fan of Heather Cox Richardson’s daily newsletter. She is a historian (currently at Boston College) and provides historical (recent and distant) background on current issues. Since I’ve been following her, this has mostly been related to the impeachment, but she touches on other topics also. I was looking for something that would help me keep up and understand without flooding me with contextless outrage, and this fit the bill. I’d consider her liberal leaning, but well supported. She has a book coming out in April, How the South Won the Civil War: Oligarchy, Democracy, and the Continuing Fight for the Soul of America.

      Honestly, I have trouble finding a conservative source that I trust any more (and I say this as someone who was conservative and Republican for years). I don’t have to agree with them, but I have to think they’re not just speaking in contempt or ignorance of the lived reality of anyone who is not a heterosexual rich white male WASP. I do read The Economist (though more useful for a global rather than US picture) and sometimes the WSJ; I think they have a bias in favor of big business but I don’t think they’re fake-news liars.

      Re voting, two organizations I’m supporting are Vote Riders, which helps people get ID they need to vote (not always easy) and Fair Fight, which is Stacey Abrams’s organization. Both of those are more focused on making sure that people CAN vote and less on encouraging them TO vote, but they might be a place to start.

      1. Miss Pantalones En Fuego*

        I found Vote Riders randomly by searching and I make a donation whenever I can.

        Another thing that might work for people you know is to register for an absentee ballot. I get one every year because I live overseas but my state started sending them to everyone for every election and it’s so convenient. Usually by the time I get it I’ve already made up my mind on the major candidates, and having the ballot at home means I can look at the names and research the people that I might not know anything about (especially judges).

        I get absentee ballots for local elections in the country I live in, too. I like it because I don’t have to worry about whether I’ll be in a particular city on election day, which is a concern because my profession can be very unpredictable.

        1. Parenthetically*

          Hope this isn’t veering into “sandwiches” territory, but my state among others has really restrictive regulations around absentee ballots — you have to certify that you will be out of your county for all of election day. My folks are from a universal absentee state too though, and it is SO convenient.

            1. Parenthetically*

              Absolutely — just wanted to flag for the OP that there might be some frustrating (intentionally disenfranchising) hurdles. :)

    7. I Go OnAnonAnonAnon*

      I would venture to say there are no completely unbiased news sources, but you can counter bias by reading across the spectrum. Read the NY Times and Washington Post, yes, for well-researched and factually presented articles (opinion pages for both are more left leaning), but also read the Wall St Journal, The Hill, and look at how Fox News (on the political right) and MSNBC (on the political left) are presenting an issue. Read both “The Nation” (left-leaning/progressive) and “The National Review” (conservative).

      Pay attention to your local politics and your state-level stuff, too. Vote in every election in your muncipality. Read the voter guides from League of Women Voters.

      As to getting people your age out to vote: tax about why You think it’s important and the effect you see your own voting having on you and your life. Volunteer at voter registration drives. Volunteer to help get voters of any persuasion to the polls. There’s a ton you can do — mix and match based on your interests and values. And good for you for being interested and motivated!

      1. LQ*

        Cannot strongly back the pay attention to local and state-level stuff enough. Find a local source for something that will get you enough understanding to not vote for your local Political Weirdo who runs in everything and has a common enough name to get votes based on their name. It always worries me when I see my local Political Weirdos getting fairly high up in actual elections because they have very “local” sounding names. Which is BS but I’ve been tied into the local political scene to feel like that’s really the only explanation for why some of these folks get votes.

        If you have local friends you can divide and learn about the local candidates which helps.

        Once you have sort of enough of a feel for when someone says X what they mean is thing I really like, or thing I really don’t like, it’s a lot easier to skim websites for things like judges (which please, at least look at those!!) and municipal level seats.

        1. LizB*

          Also seconding the “pay attention to local stuff” recommendation! If you can, find a good local news source — I’m very lucky that there’s a really excellent writer/blogger in my city who covers allllll our city-level and county-level races, doing profiles of candidates and ballot measures. I don’t always end up voting for the person she endorses, but she gives me enough information to make an informed choice so I’m not just going, “Meh, this seems fine?” or leaving that question blank.

        2. Speedster*

          Good point- I live in a major state so paying attention to local and statewide elections would tie into what’s going on nationally. I am currently moving to a new county so I will start looking through the local news sources there.

          1. Parenthetically*

            Your local paper might do profiles of people running for local elections as well. Mine sends out a questionnaire to each candidate and then publishes the contents — and candidates in important or contentious races get longer interviews/profiles. I tend not to vote for candidates who don’t bother filling out the questionnaire! It’s such an easy way to get their positions out there and not doing it says to me that they’re more interested in pushing a personal agenda than representing the people who elect them.

        3. Miss Pantalones En Fuego*

          And the local politicians of today become the national politicians of tomorrow. So it is good to pay attention to these things! Also people forget, or perhaps never really knew, just how much of the things that affect their daily lives are actually decided on a local or state level.

      2. Speedster*

        That’s actually a really good point about reading across the spectrum- information can be presented in drastically different ways and it would be important to understand the different ways other people are interpreting an issue. Thank you!

        1. RagingADHD*

          Yep, it also helps to see how thoughtful people on the other side of the issue are approaching it, and what their reasoning is.

          Even quality sources tend to oversimplify or mischaracterize the positions of the opposition. It’s important to see what people say for themselves.

          And seeing how most normal people have valid reasons for their opinions helps you not demonize those you disagree with. You can think people are wrong, even grievously wrong, without considering them evil.

          (There is evil, sure. Too much of it. But most folks aren’t. And we are fellow citizens, not enemies.)

          1. Falling Diphthong*

            It’s a genuine problem at WaPo that all their regular conservative columnists went the Never Trump route, and their attempts to find op ed columnists who support the president with sound arguments grounded in conservative principles have been… interesting.

            1. RagingADHD*

              Well, yes. Trying to support the president with classic, authentic conservative principles would be a genuine problem. One might say an impossibility.

      3. Vicky Austin*

        Do NOT watch Fox News. It was deliberately designed as propaganda for the Republican Party, and is often inaccurate and misleading.

        1. Chaordic One*

          Oh, do watch it. It helps to informed about what is being said, but do take it with a block of salt.

    8. Sami*

      Check out Allsides{dot}com

      They post headlines and articles on tons of topics that show how the left, the right, and the center are reporting. It’s really fascinating to see.

      Here’s their blurb:
      AllSides fights filter bubbles and polarization by helping you to gain a broader view. We believe diversity in thought and relationships heals divides. Less polarization allows us to appreciate others and engage in productive problem solving — and ultimately, heal our democracy.

    9. Synonymous*

      Listen to Pantsuit Politics Podcast!!!

      Sarah and Beth do great analyses of news and politics going on in the world. They don’t claim to be unbiased, but they talk through the nuances and details of current events.

    10. blackcat*

      This might sound strange, but I’d pick up a few books on Watergate, starting with “All the President’s Men” by Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein and “Abuse of Power: The New Nixon Tapes” by Stanley Kutler.

      1. Speedster*

        Thank you for the rec! Not strange at all- our history does predict our future so it’s a good idea to learn about it.

    11. Fikly*

      There’s more to bias than which political leanings media might have. Any media that is supported by advertising is inherently biased toward stories they feel will attract more eyes, because that’s what advertisers want. So they are less inclined/devote less space to less “interesting” stories that may be very important to know about.

      Something to keep in mind.

    12. Seven hobbits are highly effective, people*

      One really helpful thing to do when you’re just getting started looking at news sources is to pick a current topic or two and read about them across many different news sites (example: you might look at how each site covered the most recent Democratic debate: there is probably at least one story about that on every news site right now). Look at how buried or easy to find that particular topic is on each site, and which details they emphasize or skip over. Doing this with one topic a week or so will, over time, give you a better sense of how each news site works in terms of bias. (Try to pick a variety of topics in different weeks, so you get a sense of their overall style of coverage.)

      I like NPR for most things, particularly because they tend to “slower” journalism with more in-depth stories rather than breaking news!!!!! that’s less polished. They also do a better job of covering world news from places other than western Europe than some of the other “national news” places, although I’d like to see more about Central and South America than they tend to have.

      Local is harder. I tend to read the website of the least sensationalist local tv news station because that’s the best I’ve been able to do. For actual voting-related opinions in local races, I tend to look at which organizations endorse which candidates and who submits comments for and against ballot measures in the voters’ guide. (There are certain Well Known Fringe Political Figures on various parts of the political spectrum here. If That One Guy submits an argument in favor of something I’m thinking of voting for, it’s a flag to me that I need to do more research on the issue since we almost never agree. Maybe this is the one thing we actually agree on, but maybe I just didn’t think through the implications carefully enough or understand how it would synergize with something else I care about.)

    13. Lockstep*

      To understand politics and how we got here it’s great to look back in history to understand where we came from. If you have Netflix, I highly recommend watching the “Untold history of the United States” series by Oliver Stone.

      It’s a very enlightening series and I believe it should be shown to all students in high school.

    14. Nicki Name*

      Seconding NPR for unbiased news, Politico if you really want to see how the sausage is made, and FiveThirtyEight as an antidote to horserace journalism (all the “X is ahead! No, wait, one new poll says that Y is ahead!” sorts of stories).

    15. Witch in Training*

      I know you asked for reading material, but if you’re into podcasts at all, FiveThirtyEight has a great one that is devoted to politics. I highly recommend it! I also like that they often do “emergency podcasts” after big political news stories/events and break them down in a very balanced way. Many of their politics writers are really talented and knowledgeable, so you could also check out their website to see more political commentary.

      1. Book Lover*

        Personally I dislike the style of ‘news’ that makes everything into whether or not it polls well. But I stopped listening to 538 a while ago so perhaps it has changed.

        1. Ryan Howard’s White Suit*

          Oh, it has not. I still listen, but, as I’ve wondered about theories like Rachel Bitecofer’s, I’ve started to take what they’re saying a bit more skeptically.

    16. Jim Bob*

      I haven’t yet found a news source that’s unbiased and still covers enough detail. The only solution I’ve worked out so far is to read one left- and one right-leaning, and hope they cancel each other: e.g. Wash Post + Wash Times, or CNN + Fox.

    17. Speedster*

      Thanks so much everybody who commented. These are all awesome tips!! Now to just keep myself on track with reading news every day :)

    18. Vicky Austin*

      Oh, and another thing: do NOT rely on Facebook or Twitter for news. Since anyone can post on those sites, the information is often inaccurate or outright lies. Instead, get your news from reliable news media organizations that vet everything before publishing it.

    19. Anonymouse*

      My state has vote by mail and it is the BEST.

      When you register to vote, you check the box YES where it asks if you want to permanently vote by mail. They will mail you the ballots a few weeks in advance of every election, so I sit down with it when I have some time, research various propositions and candidates on my laptop as I leisurely make my way down the ballot. Then I just pop it into a mailbox before the deadline.

      It’s made voting super convenient and low stress, and I think it’s made me a more informed and conscientious citizen because I take my time and do my research as I’m voting.

      I wish every state had this option.

      1. OyHiOh*

        Yup! My state is almost exclusively mail in ballots. We do have physical polls open for people who registered too late to get a ballot in the mail and/or don’t have a physical address. Everyone else gets a ballot three weeks early. I have gotten completely spoiled by my ability to sit on the couch with the ballot in one hand and my computer on the other knee. Look up the less familiar candidates and issues as I go along.

    20. Anono-me*

      I would suggest reading Washimgtom Post, Fox News, NYT, BBC News, Mexico News and Snopes.

      You might also find it helpful to read an actual newspaper occasionally. There’s a lot of stuff that went up in a good newspaper, that doesn’t wind up online.

      The other thing that I think would be helpful is to read a little bit about journalistic standards. Once you know what an ethical article requires, it’ll be easier for you to see the obviously slanted ones. I think it was Molly Irving’s who had a really good essay on it. (But I may be misremembering.) There are tons of textbooks with the standards in them. Also there’s several different journalistic groups that have their standards posted online.

  15. Eyebrow help*

    I have very thin, sparse, dark eyebrows. Each hair is long and thin. They tend to not appear or are very faint in photos. (And I’m getting a new drivers license soon and would like to look like I have 2 natural brows ). Does anyone have any product recommendations? I’m trying benefit foolproof brow powder and it seems okay but an interested in a gel or pomade. The left brow’s hairs grow down while the right one’s grow more sideways so was hoping there would be something that helps the left one look droopy. Thanks

    1. Reba*

      I like powder the best, and a hard light pencil second best. I get the most natural looking results with these.

      Many people swear by the Boy Brow product, for me it was just kinda odd. It’s the only pomade type product I’ve tried. I’m not sure how to describe it, but it made them look “done” in a way that I felt like I had to do more polished make up on the rest of my face, to match?

      One thing someone said that was helpful, since my brows are also pretty asymmetrical: Eyebrows are sisters, not twins! I try to make them both look their best :)

    2. SunnySideUp*

      I lost brow hairs over the years and started thinking about micro-blading (costly and needs re-doing yearly). In researching that, I found an article about castor oil. A drop rubbed over brows every night. MY BROWS GREW BACK. Seriously, I started seeing improvement in about a month, and after maybe 6 months, I stopped using the CO and have maintained my new brows without it. They’re not the brows I had as a teen, but they are quite respectable. Miracle!

      I use Almay Brow Styler ( a gel that brushes on) to enhance. Thrilled with results!

    3. PhyllisB*

      I don’t know if you are in the US, but I like Maybelline’s Tattoo Studio. It has a wand like mascara. Caution: use a light touch unless you like having eyebrows like Groucho Marx.

    4. Auntie Social*

      Those are my brows!! I brow powder to thicken and even things out (including their directions) and a stylist told me to finish them with a baby toothbrush sprayed with some hairspray. And I’ve heard good things about Latisse on brows.

    5. Ludo*

      Glossier boy brow is the easiest product to beef your eyebrows up, it’s basically impossible to mess up

      If you are more skilled and want to draw a new eyebrow on Anastasia dip brow pomade is very popular

      1. Witch in Training*

        Self-identified makeup fiend here: this is great advice. I would add that NYX make some great, affordable eyebrow pencils, mascaras, and pomades, and GrandeBROW seems to work wonders for some people. It’s not a quick fix, but it does promote hair growth over time. I haven’t tried it myself, but you can find it here: https://www.sephora.com/product/grandebrow-brow-enhancing-serum-P419218?skuId=2114817&om_mmc=ppc-GG_6557108146_78386215643_dsa-822567344548__385631182283_9032096_c&country_switch=us&lang=en&gclid=Cj0KCQiAv8PyBRDMARIsAFo4wK1YL0vvibO0Kcx59NdIBbAuAEBemX1oELDpVZkge7L2ci76_mbxarQaAoVCEALw_wcB&gclsrc=aw.ds
        I do a modified “soap brow” technique occasionally too. It has a stronger hold than a gel, so it could give you more control over the shape and direction of your eyebrows that you’re looking for. It takes some experimenting, but you may want to try it out: https://www.allure.com/story/soap-brows-instagram-photos-tips

    6. legalchef*

      You should look into if there’s a place that does brow tinting near you. It takes 10 mins but makes a big difference.

    7. StudentaA*

      Whatever you do, don’t tweeze. Trim with eyebrow trimmers one or two at a time. I love that castor oil worked for SunnySide Up! I do think you should look into microblading. It’s not forever, so you’re not married to your new look.

      1. SunnySideUp*

        I learned that, locally for me at least, microblading was $400-500 and needed several weeks to heal. Then it might fade over several months and need to be touched up.

        I honestly could not be happier with castor oil/brow gel! I feel like I have eyes again ;)

    8. Goldfinch*

      Long term, if you’re interested in antiaging skincare, tretinoin causes hair regrowth. I’ve been using it for about a year, and I’m very happy with how it’s affected both my skin texture and my brows. I never overplucked, but I was starting to see the inner edges fade away, and they’ve come back nicely.

    9. Arts Akimbo*

      Do you maybe have a salon or a Sephora or something near you? If it’s worth it to you, maybe you could get a makeover before going to the DMV for the photo. I’ve thought about doing that! Plus you could get a pro to tell you how to best do your brows.

    10. Vanilla Latte with an Xtra Shot*

      Anastasia Beverly Hills makes excellent brow products. Visit your local Sephora and have one of the makeup artists there try out a few of their products on you. I have personally tried her brow powder and am currently using her pomade.

      For drug store, I like ELF and Colourpop’s brow products, particularly the brow gels.

  16. Ugh*

    I swear, every time I don’t get enough sleep, or my dad tells me he wants to do something in the morning, and it’s too early for me, my dad gets smug about how he gets up at 4 every morning and is fine, and this isn’t early and he can’t sympathize. He gets home from work before 4 and goes to bed at 8. I get home at 11:30ish and go to bed closer to 3AM. This is not a fair comparison. A point which doesn’t seem to take.

    1. Aly_b*

      Does he… want to make plans for a 1 am call sometime? Can you be kind of sanctimonious when you suggest? Sauce for the goose, sauce for the gander.

    2. Whydahgal*

      As someone who has always work PM shifts I can definitely sympathize! I feel like my friends and family with more “normal” schedules are always judging me when I’m just getting up and going at 9 or 10. No advice, just sympathy!

    3. Wishing You Well*

      Sorry.
      I’ve never known a smug person to become un-smug. Save your breath. Just start shrugging when he brings up his sleeping habits. I hope it gets better for you.

    4. The Gollux, Not a Mere Device*

      If you haven’t already tried this, maybe “Dad, you get eight hours of sleep every night. I need that too. That means don’t call me before noon, just like I don’t call you after eight p.m…. Yes, going to bed so early clearly clearly shows you’re a superior being. Please try treating the mere mortals you’re related to more kimdly.”, ”

      Or, snarkier, “So you think people should be able to get by on five hours sleep?” or “Let’s get together Saturday at 6 pm for dinner and a movie. ..That’s not late, you can stay up until 11. You keep telling me that five hours of sleep should be enough for me, and older people don’t need as much sleep anyway.”

      Also, tactically, if you haven’t already, set your phone for do not disturb from 3 a.m. until noon.

    5. Pucci*

      He’s not going to change or see that your life isn’t his. Turn it into a game instead. Make a bingo card for things he says or if those are all the same, reward yourself with a treat after every five times he says it

    6. Sleve McDichael*

      I would consider grey rocking him with a single response to every comment he makes. ‘Dad, when you get up at 4 I have been in bed for one hour’.

      Repeat ad nauseam. He will get bored eventually.

    7. ShortT*

      My mom is like this. It’s the reason I set my phone to DND all the time, only allowing calls from my SO to go through.

    8. Arts Akimbo*

      All the sympathy in the world here! My mom’s side of the family were all farmers and other early risers and used to performatively shame me and my brother, whose biological clocks tell us to fall asleep at 2am and rise at 10am. The fact that your dad knows you don’t even get home until almost midnight is really rich. I would be sorely tempted to call him at 1am and tell him all about the movie you’re watching. “What do you MEAN you’re in bed? You can’t stay UP this late? GASP! I’m not even going to bed until 3!” But he would likely miss the point.

    9. Out of the box thinker*

      Start inviting him to do things at midnight. Clearly if he can get up early midnight won’t be a problem at all ;)

  17. Blue Eagle*

    Reading thread
    What is everyone reading this week. I just finished “The Body is Not an Apology” by Sonya Renee Taylor. The author wants us to celebrate our bodies regardless of shape, size, gender, ability, color, attributes, etc.
    Here is her mantra.
    I love my body.
    I am a vessel of radical self-love
    My body is my ally.
    I have the body I need to live my best life!
    Here’s to everyone in the AAM commentariat being able to celebrate our bodies as they are.

    1. PhyllisB*

      I’m rereading a book I read many years ago The Summerhouse by Jude Deveraux. I was telling someone about it and they expressed an interest in it so I decided to reread to see if I still liked it. I do, and since it was 18 years ago when I read it, it’s like reading a new book again. Right before that I was reading a cozy mystery by Jenn McKinley from her Library Lovers Mystery series. These are fun because she mentions different books that sound interesting, and throws in random research tidbits and facts about different authors.

    2. Foreign Octopus*

      I’m reading Catch and Kill, by Ronan Farrow that details the journalistic investigation into the allegations surrounding Harvey Weinstein. It’s a hell of a read and whilst I know that the sort of behaviour being discussed in the book has gone unpunished for decades, it’s still a little shocking to read about just how many people closed ranks around HW to protect him. Woman after woman was abused by people in high levels of power did nothing even though they knew – and it’s so obvious they did know because it looks as though it was an open secret. It’s a very interesting read but it is making me angry at the cowardice displayed by certain people, Noah Oppenheim being just one of them.

      1. Retail not Retail*

        I read that too and I’m currently reading She Said, about the NYT investigation. So harrowing and it helps me consider my interactions with male coworkers.

      2. Belgian*

        It is such a good read.
        I was really disappointed when my professor described the Weinstein case as “a couple of women who have accused him of sexual harassment” and how this is the reason the Weinstein company went under. I wanted to speak up and tell him how much worse it was, and how many people were involved in covering up his assaults.

    3. OtterB*

      The body, it’s a theme! I’m reading Twyla Tharp’s Keep it Moving: Lessons for the Rest of Your Life. She’s talking about remaining engaged with your body and with your life as you age.

    4. WellRed*

      I’m reading Whisper Network, fiction having to do with sexual harassment. Not sure what I think of it. Or of Reese Witherspoon’s taste in books ; ) also picking up at library today something about Silicon Valley recommended here two weeks ago and wanted to say Susan Fowler, who wrote the Uber blog heard round the world just published her memoir.

    5. Tortally HareBrained*

      I’ve finally finished my first book of the year- which is crazy as I normally read 70-90 per year.

      Really enjoyed Nature’s Best Hope by Douglas Tallamy about how conservation needs to begin at home on a small scale to make larger changes.

    6. I Go OnAnonAnonAnon*

      Just finished Nnedi Okorafor’s “Who Fears Death” — it was excellent — and just started Ellen Forney’s graphic memoir, “Marbles: Mania, Depression, Michelangelo, and Me”. Also excellent, in a very different way. It’s her story of being diagnosed with bipolar disorder and working through treatments and cycling to a place that “Okay”. I have a loved one who was recently diagnosed with bipolar disorder, so this is helpful for me to understand them better.

    7. Llama Face!*

      I just finished Courtney Alameda’s Seven Deadly Shadows which I’d been waiting to get from my library for ages. Unfortunately I was underwhelmed. :( The characters didn’t seem very fleshed out and the quest/Big Bad was too easily resolved/defeated.

    8. The Gollux, Not a Mere Device*

      Right now, I’m reading _How to Hide and Empire: a history of the Greater United States_, which is about US expansionism and imperialism, including all the bits mos Americans don’t think about and/or didn’t know, like the Philippines and lots of small uninhabited islands that were taken over for guano and/or as naval bases.

    9. The Other Dawn*

      I’m reading Crooked River by Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child. I was trying so hard to save it for recovery next month, but I just couldn’t help myself.

    10. Bluebell*

      Have you ever listened to the podcast By the Book? They try out self help books, and a few years ago they did The Body is not an Apology. They both liked it.

    11. GoryDetails*

      I’m enjoying a couple of very different horror novels:

      The Twisted Ones by T. Kingfisher (a pseudonyum of Ursula Vernon, author of the marvelous “Digger” graphic novels among other things): it’s a modern day story in which the protagonist winds up an a remote North Carolina hamlet, to declutter her late grandmother’s house. Turns out the late grandmother was a hoarder – and, much worse, the house is located near the entrance to an eldritch Otherwhere, into which our heroine stumbles… Some found-document bits that I enjoyed (including a strong nod to Arthur Machen), and some delightfully snarky humor from the protagonist.

      For a different tone, there’s The Chill by Scott Carson. It’s also set in the modern day and involves a remote rural community, but the story’s about vengeful ghosts – some haunting a town that was drowned to make a reservoir, and others haunting the huge water-supply tunnels that link other reservoirs to New York City. Who’s haunting what, and why, makes up some of the story, with the main characters discovering how they fit into the pattern. [Some nice nods to the unfortunate tendency of government to ignore infrastructure decay until a disaster happens; much easier to raise funds after a flood than for ongoing maintenance…]

      I’m also enjoying the newest volume in the manga series What Did You Eat Yesterday? by Fumi Yoshinaga. It’s about two middle-aged men – they’ve both hit their 50s by this volume – as they try to balance work and home life. One of them’s out at work and the other is not, but there hasn’t been a lot of drama along those lines; it’s more of a gentle slice-of-life story mixed with food-porn, as each story includes detailed recipes, mostly from the lawyer as he does the shopping, food prep, and actual cooking before his partner gets home. Very charming series, sometimes touching on heavier issues – ailing, aging parents, etc. – but mostly quite sweet.

    12. Gatomon*

      I just finished The Hobbit last night, which I enjoyed a lot more than The Lord of the Rings. I’m trying to decide what about it made it more enjoyable for me, but I’m honestly not certain yet. I do wonder why Gandalf has a habit of disappearing at critical moments for the party and then arriving at the last minute to avert catastrophe. Also the final battle felt a bit rushed, but I don’t know how you’d fix that since Bilbo wasn’t much of a fighter and spent the last bits unconscious anyway.

      Tonight I’ll be diving into Dune, after a solid decade of pestering from a friend. I’m not sure what to expect but the first few paragraphs are intriguing.

      1. Kuododi*

        Original Dune is an iconic piece of literature. I would recommend pacing your self. With books such as Dune, I find processing such a large volume of material a bit much for one large binge. (Baby steps is the best process for my reading.). Enjoy Kuododi

      2. allathian*

        The Hobbit was written as a book for young people before YA lit became a thing, so it’s much more of an adventure story than The Lord of The Rings. I love the language in LotR but it can be heavy going sometimes. Tolkien was first and foremost a linguist, and that shows clearly in LotR and even more so in his other works, such as The Silmarillion. LotR is so complicated it can be hard to follow at times, while The Hobbit is pretty linear storytelling.

    13. Best Cat in the World*

      I’m reading ‘War Doctor’ by David Nott this week as my main read. It’s compelling reading and written very much as he speaks.

    14. Elsie*

      I’m really grateful to the person who recommended ‘Gideon the Ninth’ a while ago- unusual si fi/fantasy necromancy worlds. I’m looking forward to the second in the trilogy !

    15. Retail not Retail*

      I’m bouncing between She Said in ebook form and The House of Sand and Fog in physical form. Just started the latter, so far it’s pretty gripping. Switching between the 2 is hard because I want to read both!

      I like having an ebook going for those times a physical book is a hassle or inappropriate. We have downtime at work (the truck is dead, standby for instructions!) and looking at my phone doesn’t seem as self-absorbed.

      I also bought 3 books at the local indie bookstore yesterday AND got a community library card at the local public university so I now have 3 stacks of library books – my town, the city, and the school. And don’t forget the FOUR overdrive accounts. I don’t need recs! I’m good for quite awhile! Also I am super spoiled – this last year marks the first time I went to the library by car so I was not physically limited.

    16. Shirls*

      I’m slogging through The Curse of Chalion. I love, love, love the Vorkosigan saga, but I’m not as into the world of Chalion. I’m about 100 pages in right now, and I think the set up for the meat of the story just happened, so for now I’m planning to stick with it.

      Just finished The Last Olympian (Rick Riordan), A Duke by Default (Alyssa Cole), and The Yellow House (Sarah Broom).

    17. Stormy Weather*

      I finished two books this weekend: The Museum of Desire by Jonathan Kellerman, which was great. Deliciously complicated. The other was Meg Gardiner’s Into the Black Nowhere, which was pretty good, but I think one more pass by a better editor would have made it even better.

      This week I start the new Rivers of London book by Ben Aaronovich. I’m also waiting for the second Dark Tower Book and the sequel to The Three-Body Problem to come off reserve at the library.

  18. Isn’t this relaxing*

    My husband’s parents invited us and 3 or 4 other family members/ their close friends to their house for a birthday brunch. (Husband’s birthday). We suggested we go out somewhere casual (and we are happy to foot the bill) but mil insists their home would be more relaxing. They have a very nice home. It is spacious and is good for entertaining. But mil and fil cannot work in the kitchen together. He’s in charge of the eggs. She does everything else. They constantly fight over who has the right away in the kitchen and it is stressful and tense to watch. The food is always cold because nothing is timed to get to the table at about the same 20 minutes. We try to help but more bodies in the kitchen aren’t helpful.

    And afterwards she always ‘isn’t this nice and relaxing’. Is there a way I can say ‘no. You’re yelling at each over who gets the stove, the counter space closest to the stove, access to the sink, etc. ‘. And everything is always cold. ‘?

    ( I am not a fan of cold eggs. )

    1. Lizabeth*

      Can you talk to her about doing all her stuff first then vacate the kitchen for fil do the eggs last? I have always consider eggs to be the “last” thing to do unless it was something baked.

      1. Traffic_Spiral*

        Yeah, see if you can get your spouse to pull his dad away and keep him occupied while MiL does her stuff in the kitchen, maybe have a discrete word of “it’s always awkward when you two argue in front of us – can you just do the eggs after she’s done?”

        But, honestly, it’s not your parents, birthday, circus or monkeys. If your hubby is fine with this for his b-day (or at least, doesn’t want to do his own fighting over it) Id let it go. Sit back with a mimosa (preferably out of kitchen hearing range) and pass on the eggs when they come out. Then you can take him out to a quiet celebration later.

    2. fposte*

      It sounds like it may be what she finds relaxing, though, because she much prefers it to going out and she’s not bothered by bickering with her husband. I wouldn’t argue the plan based on that statement. I’d find a nice socially acceptable untruth like “We feel rotten always making you do the work, though, so this time it’s on us–no arguments!” and then don’t cave when MIL tries to insist (assuming husband be able to withstand his mother).

      1. OP*

        Thanks. It could be. I read the atmosphere as tense, intense, awkward with raised voices, terse replies, snipping and sniping. And maybe to her this is normal. But it seems like SO much effort for very little payoff.
        Husband tried to convince her to go out to one of her favorite restaurants but she insisted.

        I may just eat a pre- brunch breakfast beforehand and accept any mimosas that are offered

        1. fposte*

          That could be a plan.

          But I’m little wondering about “she insisted.” I’ve rejected lots of things that people insist on. If this is overall a low-stakes thing it might not matter, but his response could mean anything from “It would have turned into too big a fight” or “I genuinely thought she wouldn’t get into the car” or “She said no very firmly and I was uncomfortable not accepting it.” So if the “she insists/son accedes” pattern happens a lot, I might drill down into the “insisting” and consider whether you two need to strategize a more successful response to it.

          1. valentine*

            wondering about “she insisted.”
            This might make sense if it were FIL’s b-day and you felt rude saying no to this performance. In that case, I would just text him, send the wishes with my spouse, and do literally anything else.

            But it’s your hubs’ b-day and there’s no reason MIL needs to be the cruise director. Why on Earth does she get to decide you have to do what she wants? She extended an invitation. You can decline it. (Even now!) Even if it felt like a summons, that circle can’t close without you. Let the last time be the last time.

            (Why must there be eggs? You’d think she’d come up with an eggless menu so she could have the kitchen to herself.)

        2. LGC*

          That’s hilarious because I just went through the same thing myself…except I was in your MIL’s position. Sometimes you don’t realize how harsh you sound because that’s the way you talk to that person or the way they talk to you.

    3. Jedi Squirrel*

      mil insists their home would be more relaxing

      Yes, but it’s not more relaxing for you, and if that’s the case, I doubt it’s more relaxing for everyone else. But I suspect they’re quite comfortable with their fighting in the kitchen, and may not even view it as fighting or realize that it makes everyone else uncomfortable.

      Your options are three, as I see it:

      1) Explain to your MIL exactly what you laid out above, and risk hurt feelings.

      2) Choose not to attend, and risk hurt feelings.

      3) Volunteer to cook the brunch so that they can spend their time entertaining, and again, risk hurt feelings.

    4. LGC*

      Happy birthday to your husband!

      …do your in-laws realize that everyone can hear them fighting and that it sounds like they’re fighting? Like, they can just genuinely be jerks to each other in the kitchen and be fine afterwards but it looks like it’s a battle royale to everyone else.

      Which isn’t to say that you’re being oversensitive – just the opposite, actually! They’re not being sensitive enough. Although….I’m not sure how strongly you (and especially your husband, since they’re his parents) insisted on going out. Reading this post, it seems like this has happened multiple times.

    5. Not A Manager*

      I think you can either insist on going out, using whatever true reason or white lie you prefer, OR you can go to their house and put up with bickering and cold eggs. I don’t think you’ll ever get them to change their MO. If it were me, I’d do a combination of both.

      But when you are at their house, try to be chill about it. Use the “anthropologist on Mars” strategy. The eggs WILL be cold, and there WILL be bickering. So just accept it and look forward to brunch out next time.

    6. Washi*

      Does your husband dislike this type of visit less than he would dislike saying something and/or declining the invitation? With my in-laws, if my husband is happy and nothing is outright offensive, I consider my choices to be either going and making the best of it, or having him go alone if it would suck too much for me.

      When I go along with something I’m not thrilled about, I consider it my gift to him, and when he makes excuses for me not being there, that’s his gift to me. I’ve had better success with this attitude than with trying to change my in-laws.

    7. Not So NewReader*

      You may have to just say, “No. It’s not fun watching the two of you fight.”

      Every year my husband got scolded for not putting the ornaments on the tree correctly. (????) One year, I heard the question, “Isn’t this fun putting up a tree together?” I could no longer contain myself. I said, “No. It’s not fun being called stupid. We have 15 more minutes to wrap up and leave. We have other stuff to take care of.”

      Sometimes you just have to go ahead and point out the dead horse on the dining room table.

        1. Not So NewReader*

          The reaction was dead silence.

          I have learned that sometimes silence means I won. And that silence is the only indicator I will ever see. No words, no actions follow, just silence.

          We never put up the tree again. She decided she did not need one. If crankiness is a measure of fatigue then she was very tired putting this tree up because gosh she was cranky to the point of insulting.

          My husband was on the other side of the tree and he was bent over double from laughing so hard. I quietly said, “You’re NEXT!”

          We got out to the car and I said to him, “Don’t let people call you stupid. I don’t care if the Pope comes all the way from Rome just to call you stupid. Tell the Pope that he is out of line and his words are unacceptable.” I said, “Tell your mother that you don’t talk to her that way for a reason, you don’t expect to be spoken to that way.”

          My husband grinned. Because he understood that underneath all this, I was on his side.

          The tree challenge was over. But we had other challenges such as the pencil sharpener challenge and so on. It never really stopped.

        1. Not So NewReader*

          Honestly, I did not feel heroic. It was one of many skirmishes. I felt beaten and worn down. I targeted the worst of the worst behaviors and let the rest go. I think I remained aware that we all lost something here.

          FWIW, my husband had one of the most brilliant minds I have ever met. He read so much about nuclear science that he could explain how a nuclear reactor worked. (Yeah, he was not in favor of those things.)
          So he was very far from being stupid, very far.

          I still think of that part of my life as being very difficult.

    8. BethDH*

      Could you place a catering or pickup order and have it served at their house? It wouldn’t work well for eggs unless you want quiche or maybe a casserole, but lots of other options hold well. Then your mil could have the relaxing environment she prefers and be “host” and you could avoid too much going on in the kitchen. If she wants to do something, she could still handle drinks etc.

    9. Filosofickle*

      A few years ago my mom started being weird about going out for meals and didn’t want to do stuff “out” as much. My parents have always favored cooking at home to eating out, so it took me awhile to realize this was different and connected to her declining hearing. My partner’s mom also hates to go out for the same reason. Neither of them can hear well in restaurants, so they prefer to be at home. While this doesn’t answer your question or improve your experience, it was worth noting there could be a hidden motivation in there.

    10. AnonToday*

      Bring a pre-made breakfast casserole and put it in the oven to heat…?

      I have no better advice. We have a BIL/SIL in our family who pick at and nag/talk angrily to each other ALL.THE.TIME. and it’s awful.

    11. Jessica (tc)*

      But…it’s your husband’s birthday, right? So why does she get to insist what he does to celebrate? His birthday = his choice, so I’d just have your husband say, “I’ve decided that I’d prefer to go out to this place for my birthday this year. They have my favorite X, and I’d really love to enjoy that on my birthday.”

      She can decide where to go on her own birthday…

      1. They Don’t Make Sunday*

        +1. Or if the (above) possibility of restaurant noise being a hidden problem resonates here, your husband could say, “Thanks for hosting, we’re bringing my favorite breakfast casserole, we’ll just pop it in the oven when we get there, no arguments, it’s what I want to eat on my birthday and we already bought the ingredients. Looking forward to it!”

    12. Jen in Oregon*

      Next year, take control of the plans from the start. Invite everyone and make a reservation before the in-laws offer to host. Happy birthday to your hubby!

    13. Koala dreams*

      If your husband like to eat brunch with his parents, you can decide to celebrate with him for dinner or something else, just the two of you, or with guests you two have invited. If your husband also don’t like the brunch, he can decide to host his own brunch in a restaurant and invite people himself.

      I also dislike arguing. I find it helps to go home and relax, and then call the arguing people later when things have calmed down.

    14. Senor Montoya*

      Don’t watch.

      That sounds flippant, but I mean it seriously. Stay out of the kitchen. They’ve got their routine and while the bickering bothers YOU, it’s their thing.

      Offer to set the table, arrange flowers, clean up, whatever. Offer to bring a big bag of bagels, cream cheese, lox. Or croissants or danish — whatever is tasty and room temperature.

      If the eggs are cold, don’t eat them. Just push them around on your plate. Or fill your plate with other stuff and don’t take any eggs.

      Here’s the thing: is the purpose of the brunch to eat fabulous food? Or to get together and talk with the family.

      (This advice comes to you from many years of getting tense listening to my folks bicker in all sorts of social situations— finally my sister said, why are you upset about it? They’ve always been like this, they’ll never change, and we can go out for drinks later)

      1. Senor Montoya*

        Forgot you said it was for your husband’s birthday.

        Bring a Birthday cake. Let your MIL and FIL make their crazy times brunch — so that they can feel they’re doing something special for their son. You can go have a nice lunch or dinner with him later or on another day.

  19. PX*

    Its black history month so I feel like this is appropriate. It was the Brits this week and Dave, a fantastic UK rapper, updated his single Black during the live performance with a new verse and called out the prime minster for being racist. And then he won album of the year.

    I love him so much. The album, Psychodrama, is amazing. It also won the Mercury music prize last year (aka the ‘serious’ award for music in the UK). And he’s the ripe old age of 21.

    Everyone should watch the performance and listen hard to the lyrics.

    youtube . com/watch?v=mXLS2IzZSdg

    1. General von Klinkerhoffen*

      It was an incredible performance even before you considered the content. People have been watching it over and over again.

      And then I gather that Question Time pretty much proved his point.

    2. 123456789*

      Thanks for the recommendation; this song was very powerful. I also admire that he was able to say it like it is.

  20. chicken*

    I don’t have any friends or family I could turn to so anonymous board it is.

    I lost it with my mom today. We barely talk as it is, as things are strained. I just feel like no matter how hard I try, I’m no good and will never be. I had a therapist but I’ve reached out twice and no response.

    I bought tissues last week
    “Why’d you bring them? We still have so many”
    She needed a tweezer I gave her one-“its cheap and sucks”
    I buy her a tweezer that’s $25 “no how could you buy something so expensive return it!”
    “How dare you forget your brothers birthday?” – I didn’t, he’s in a diff time zone and I was waiting for the right time to text him.

    Every time I say something it’s “WHAT? HUH!” She doesn’t do that with anyone else. So I respond back louder because maybe she’s hard of hearing and she quietly says why am I so mean.

    It’s like as soon as I start stand up for myself, she spirals into the “woe is me I’m a weak old widow and you’re a mean loud child/you’ll miss me when I die” rhetoric

    “All I said was we had tissues, what’s wrong with that”
    “I don’t deserve expensive things”
    “You could have reminded me it was his birthday”

    She’s alienated everyone.

    The only family on my dads side that still talked to us? Where they spent all day with her in the hospital and she was calling them her daughter despite me losing time from work to constantly taking her to Dr appts and being there? – theyre terrible

    The family she stayed with and took care of/was taken care of by all her life/after my dad died – they’re terrible

    I know if she were to stay with my brother she would be just as miserable but I also just feel like she hates me or loves me less than my brother.

    And the massive guilt I feel—I had a mini panic/anxiety attack last night and just had to feel through it because I can’t take Xanax during my pregnancy (Drs orders). That how will I be a good mother if I can’t be a good daughter? I have to remind myself I’m not a bad person, I have reasons for being this way. I was just as annoyed with my father all the time before he died but now that he’s gone I only miss him and never think of the bad things.

    1. StrikingFalcon*

      You cannot make your mother be a nicer person by being a “better” daughter.

      Your mother has choices about how she interacts with you and she is choosing to be mean.

      I don’t think your mother’s definition of a “good“ daughter is achievable. It sounds like no matter what you do she will move the goal posts because she has chosen to play the victim rather than make an effort to have a good relationship with her daughter.

      You can choose to prioritize your own health and well being, and you will not be a terrible person for choosing this. In fact, now that you are pregnant and after your child is born, you will have to make some choices for the well being of yourself and your child that she will not like. This will also not make you a bad person. It will in fact make you a good mother.

      Do not light yourself on fire to keep another person warm, especially a person who is going to spend the whole time complaining about how your self generated fire isn’t good enough for her.

      I’m sorry you’re dealing with this.

      1. tangerineRose*

        Yes, everything that StrikingFalcon says. She’s being mean and manipulative and always trying to put you in the wrong. Stop trying so hard to please her. And you’ll be a good mother because you won’t do the things your mother did to you, or if you see yourself doing that, you’ll stop and apologize to your kid.

        1. valentine*

          Being a mother and a daughter aren’t comparable because of the power difference, especially when your mother abuses her power to drag you down. It’s your child who will determine what kind of mother you are. Your mother has it out for you, possibly because you’re female, and you can’t change how she feels or acts, only how you respond to it.

          You need to put yourself first. End the living situation. I can’t imagine you want her influencing your child, and she has far too massive an impact on you. You deserve peace and safety. Panic attacks ain’t it.

          Books that helped me: Emotional Blackmail, The Emotional Incest Syndrome, My Mother, My Self. I plan to read Will I Ever Be Good Enough?

          1. Nervous Nellie*

            I would add – Daughter Detox by Peg Streep – lots of actionable steps to examine Mum’s impact & her effect on your thoughts, feelings & interactions with her and all others. She will not change and you are already good enough! Hang in there! We’re all cheering for you here. Many of us have the same issues.

      2. Fikly*

        Yes, the issue isn’t that you’re no good (you clearly aren’t). The issue is that your mother has cast you as no good. These are two very different things.

        And unfortunately, there isn’t anything you can do to make her see you.

    2. Asenath*

      Sometimes you just have to detach and disengage, which is a lot easier to say than it is to do. Detach meaning you do not let the other person’s opinion on anything from the tweezers to your worth determine your opinion, and disengage, meaning you do not get into any kind of debate about the tweezers or the kleenex or her opinions about the people she’s alienated. Some people simply cannot be made happy by other’s actions, so their unhappiness is not the responsibility of other. Sometimes I think that no one’s happiness can be created by another person – unhappiness, yes, sometimes. Moments of joy, sure. But not happiness; that comes from within. The measure of being a “good daughter” is not making your mother happy, although it’s nice if it works out that she is happy; it’s treating her well, which means seeing she has what she needs to the extent you can, right down to the kleenex and the tweezers, and not twisting yourself into knots if she finds fault unreasonably.

    3. Not So NewReader*

      There are many books out there on mother-daughter relationships. I’d highly recommend them as a good use of time. It’s important to understand you are not alone and it’s important to find your own sense of self in all this chaos.

      Continue on with your therapy. It sounds like you live with your mom? It might be time for her to move on, or you to move on if it’s her house.

      You have already lost parts of yourself and you are continuing to lose more. Not much oxygen in the room when she is around.

      I do suggest a full physical including all the medications she is on. But I don’t think that will happen. So the best you can do is extract yourself.

      Of course she wants you to think she loves your bro more. That way you will work harder to win her love— that she will probably never give you. Meanwhile, she would do the same thing to your brother given the chance.

      She’s not going to change what she is doing. So the next move is up to you.

      1. Wishing You Well*

        I agree. You can’t keep living with your mother.
        The baby’s pending arrival is the perfect impetus for the transition. You and your baby must be your 2 top priorities.
        Really wishing you the best on this.

    4. Stephanie*

      I’m sorry you’re dealing with this. Your mother sounds a lot like my grandmother. She was…difficult, and downright abusive at times. I watched my mother twist herself into a pretzel to keep a relationship with my grandmother, and it was just never good enough. Now, I have a fairly difficult relationship with my mother, too. She’s not nearly as bad as my grandmother was, but there is still a lot of “I’m never good enough, no matter what I do”. So, I feel you, truly.
      I highly recommend this book: “Will I Ever Be Good Enough? Healing the Daughters of Narcissistic Mothers” by Karyl McBride. I found it very helpful. Captain Awkward is also a great resource for this kind of stuff.
      Please, please do not buy into the “bad daughter” crap. It’s just not true. Don’t let yourself think that you are. She doesn’t sound like a very good mother, to be honest.

      Also. I have two kids. They are 18 and 21. I think I’m a pretty good mom. (We all have our flaws, of course.) I often found myself doing the opposite thing that my parents did with me–in lots of varied situations–because of the way some of their decisions effected me. Your parents can be examples for you when you’re a parent, they’re just sometimes an example of what NOT to do. Trust your gut, parent from a place of love and acceptance. When you’re not sure what to do in a parenting situation, ask yourself “What is my goal, here?” and act accordingly.
      The fact that you’re worrying about being a good mom tells me that you’ll be fine.
      I hope this helps, even a little bit.

      1. Job Hunter*

        “What is my goal, here?”

        That’s a great question to ask yourself before taking any important action, really.

    5. Sunflower Sea Star*

      You will be a good mother because of things you learned from your mother, even if it is what NOT to do.
      You will also be a good mother if you seek out good role models (friends, extended family, etc.) who mother in a healthy way and who can mentor you.
      You will be a good mother because you care about being a good mother! It’s not a passive, automatic, helpless thing. You can break cycles by wanting to be better (and you’ve got that already!) and by consciously thinking about how you parent and identifying the cycles/patterns you want to break.
      I had to cut ties with my mother completely. I had to work to break patterns and cycles. And I like to think I’ve done a fairly good job of it. 2/3 of my kids are adults and I have healthy relationships with them. Very little fighting, and they come to me sometimes for advice/support/validation/empathy. And sometimes do the same for me, which warms my heart.
      The very fact that you care about being a good mother IMO means you will be a good one!

    6. Goldfinch*

      Your mother is a GD nightmare, and the fact that you’re putting so much mental energy into this proves that you will be a good mom. Do you think your mother ever sits down and self-reflects like you’re doing here? I’d put good money on “no”.

    7. General von Klinkerhoffen*

      Can you have a think about what a Good Daughter is, and what a Good Mother is, in the abstract, without reference to your relationship with your own mother?

      Because (1) I would say they’re completely independent and asymmetrical roles, so a person could easily be one without being the other, or both, or neither, and (2) I bet your definitions would differ from your mother’s.

      Perhaps you’ll agree with me that a good mother puts the needs of her children first, validates their emotions and desires, supports their ambitions, admires their achievements. By extension, her grandchildren and great-grandchildren (etc).

      Speaking as a mother, I would declare that my children don’t owe me zip. That’s a culturally informed opinion, of course, but again I think it’s a thoroughly asymmetrical relationship. All the obligation is from me to them, not the other way round. I gain immeasurably by their existence, and it was my decision to have them. It’s a “pass it forward” thing, if there’s any debt to pay. And part of the obligation I have is to protect them from harmful teachings and relationships they won’t benefit from.

      You care deeply about how other people think and feel. That’s the foundation of being a very good parent.

    8. Sleve McDichael*

      Dude! You will be an excellent mother because you are learning all of these ways NOT to behave and how NOT to treat your child. Don’t stress your child out for no reason and stomp on its boundaries like your mum is doing and you’re already ahead of the pack! Gold! And the best thing is, it’s really easy not to do something so you won’t even have to try hard. Go you!

    9. Book Lover*

      Well, you are going to be having a baby. And that sounds like a miserable situation to be in right now. I would be investigating all options to have her gone before the baby comes. The last thing I would have needed at the end of a pregnancy and with a new baby is someone who makes me feel that way in my home. Hopefully you are working on some of these issues with a therapist.

    10. RagingADHD*

      You are a perfectly fine daughter. Your mom is a manipulative asshole.

      You will be a good mother because your baby will not be an asshole. (Well, babies are assholes a little bit, but they grow out of it.)

      You are kind beyond belief to continue being there for your mom. Nothing she says is true.

      Keep on with the therapy, hang in there.

      1. RagingADHD*

        Oh, and when I say “hang in there,” I mean in your life and feeling your feelings.

        It’s time for Mom to be in a home that is not yours. You & the baby do not need this kind of stress. It is all kinds of bad for you both.

        It was your mom’s job to protect and nuture you. She didn’t just fail, she refused. It is not your job to absorb her bs. It’s your job to take care of yourself and your own kid.

    11. Thankful for AAM*

      As striking falcon said,
      “You cannot make your mother be a nicer person by being a “better” daughter.”

      Also, you have permission to not talk to your mom if you dont want to. I let my mom go, I dont really call her or interect unless asked to. Life is much easier now!

      You can respect and honor her for bringing you into the world and let the rest go.

    12. Oompah*

      There are many layers to peel here and I really encourage you to talk to a therapist to get into it all properly. But what I do want to add is that even if you give your 100%, that’s still only 50% of your relationship with her. There is nothing you can do or not do to change her attitude towards you.

      Being a good mother isn’t accepting whatever crap people hurl at you. It’s showing your kids how to create healthy boundaries and how to walk away if the situation requires.

      I invite you also to read Boundaries by Henry Cloud and John Townsend. It has taught me a lot on how to identify and navigate manipulation that exists even in generally healthy relationships.

      Good luck to you. You don’t deserve this.

    13. Observer*

      You are NOT a bad daughter.

      Are you living with your mother or the other way around?

      If you are with your mother, then I think you need to make arrangements to move out ASAP.

      In the meantime, your mother doesn’t love you less than your brother – I doubt she loves ANYONE, to be honest. But even if she does love him (in whatever way she is capable of) more than you, that says nothing about you. Because her love, such as it is, has nothing to do with what people do or don’t do. Look at how she talks about other people who have helped her.

      And look at her behavior to you. Nothing about her behavior is a reaction to what you are doing, right or wrong. It’s all about her.

      For your own protection, don’t play into her mind games. For instance, you know she’s not hard of hearing, so don’t say things more loudly. Repeat yourself ONCE and then walk away if she continues this nonsense. You bought tissues and she wants to know why? Because I wanted to. Walk away. It’s easier said than done, but you’ll feel a lot better.

  21. LGC*

    The Olympic Marathon Trials are coming up in…a week from now. One of my friends is running it (and…err…might be a dark horse candidate to make the team). So I’m a bit excited by proxy for it!

    Conversely – I’m actually really bummed about Tokyo cancelling the mass race for the Tokyo Marathon (and I believe Nagoya cancelled their mass marathon the following week) due to the COVID-19 outbreak. (Which I keep reading as CORVID-19, and crows don’t deserve to have that associated with them.)

    1. Three owls in a trench coat*

      Best of luck to your friend (and you, by proxy!)

      Japan is very cautious when it comes to this kind of infectious disease and takes preventing the spread of them very seriously. I traveled to Japan with my college back in ’09 during the height of the H1n1 “Swine Flu” scare. When we landed, our plane was temporarily quarantined and we were made to put on face masks while a crew in full protective gear came on and checked every passenger’s temperature using infrared. We were then required to submit forms saying where we would be staying in Japan and how we could be contacted if anyone on the flight ended up testing positive for H1N1.

      After we got off the plane and arrived at where we were staying, we were met by a representative from our partner college, who gave us all thermometers and required us to report our temperature twice a day for ten days. They also cancelled the overnight stay we were supposed to have with a student host and their family, which was disappointing, but in its place they gave us a fantastic all-day tour of Tokyo and the surrounding area with a delicious Japanese bbq lunch.

      The whole thing felt like something out of a movie, but fortunately no one in our group got sick and we all enjoyed our time in Japan.

      1. Avasarala*

        Yes–imagine millions of people crammed into an island, mostly in one larger metropolis with lots of packed trains and old people and a culture of communal bathing. I just hope this doesn’t affect the Olympics too (though it already will financially)

    2. Jedi Squirrel*

      crows don’t deserve to have that associated with them

      Okay, I’m not the only one who keeps reading “corvid” and feeling bad about those wonderfully intelligent creatures getting a bad rap here, if only in my own mind.

    3. Emily*

      Good luck to your friend! I’ve recently gotten interested in the elite/sub-elite running scene (not as a participant…yet), and am looking forward to watching the Trials broadcast next Saturday. The women’s field is particular seems excitingly hard to predict – so many strong contenders!

      I understand why Tokyo cancelled the marathon, but I also understand how tough it must be on the people who prepared to run it (especially those who were coming in from other countries, etc.).

  22. Myrin*

    Has anyone heard of neverjaunty and Princess Consuela lately? I think the Princess has only been MIA for the last week or so so she might just be busy but I feel like I haven’t seen neverjaunty around for months, but I’ve also been somewhat busy lately and might simply not have caught either of them.

    1. fposte*

      I’ve missed neverjaunty too. She’s popped up on Captain Awkward occasionally (once just last week or so) so I think she may just be busy or redirecting her time. If you’re reading, neverjaunty, hi, and thinking of you!

      (I’m assuming PCBH is just temporarily busy too–hope so!)

      1. Myrin*

        Yes, I remember that she had some bad online experiences and cut way back on internet time, but I can’t recall whether she said she’d like to come back eventually or whether she just wants to do away with this part of her life completely. In any case, she is someone whose insights I very much miss, as well.

        1. valentine*

          she had some bad online experiences
          The issue was people were hate-reading this site and trashing her on a hate-reading forum, so, if she’s around, I suspect she won’t use the name.

          1. Sleve McDichael*

            What that’s a thing? That’s so bizarre. What a small, sad way for people to spend their time, trashing random people on hate sites.

            1. Traffic_Spiral*

              Who has so much free time that they start an “I hate X site” board instead of just finding another site to be on? although now I sorta want the link to the site out of morbid curiosity.

  23. A.N. O'Nyme*

    Writing thread! How’s everyone’s writing going?
    I honestly didn’t do much other than jot down random stuff in a notebook this week, due to being busy with the Thing That Shan’t Be Named In This Thread.

    1. Foreign Octopus*

      I have a question that feels a little silly but has been popping up in my mind a lot recently. I’m writing a sequel to a multi-chapter fanfic that I completed last year – I’m using this as a way to try out some new ideas I’ve got from my Masterclass subscription (but I maintain that writing in the first person is not for me no matter how many people tell me to give it a try) – and I’m wondering if it’s possible to write too much. My first completed fic came in at about 400,000 words, this one looks like it’s going to be 600,000, and I’m just worried that it’s too long even though I think everything in it is relevant – it’s more a series of short stories with a thread of connection linking the chapters to each other.

      Is it possible to write too much, or for a project to be too big?

      1. Tau*

        Hi, fellow mammoth fanfic writer! I have a monster that’s currently sitting at around 300k-ish but which I suspect will be over a million once it’s done. And ideas for two sequels.

        The beauty of fanfic is that it doesn’t have to be commercially viable. If you were writing for publication, this would be absolutely untenable – my understanding is that no agent would pick it up and no publisher would buy it. But you’re not writing for publication, which means you can do whatever you want, and that the end goal is not money but your own fun and satisfaction. If that means writing a story in the high six digits as far as word count is concerned, then you can!

        The thoughts I have on this:
        – is the story right, like this? Is it the way it wants to be told? I’ve considered trying to trim down my own monster, but IMO it would require cutting out a lot of the things I am writing for and making the project no longer fun. The story in my heart involves a lot of meandering and four different plot threads running in parallel plus extra sidetracks added as misdirection because I’m actively trying to hide one of those from the reader plus cool worldbuilding details Just Because. If I was writing for publication, I’d have to somehow cut that into a shape that a publisher would touch, but see above.
        – what do your readers say? If you have a dedicated readership, even if it’s small, then clearly what you’re doing is working for someone.
        – last and probably biggest: are you willing to make this a priority?

        IDK, maybe you write at the speed of light, but 600k is… a lot. That’s a lot of time to spend writing, editing, plotting, making character notes, etc. etc. etc. That is time and energy you cannot spend on other things. Are you willing to do that, say “no” to other projects that cross your path? Is this story that important to you?

        In my case, the answer is yes, but I’m aware this means sacrifices. I don’t think I will ever write any other novel-length work. I’ll never sell a book. I’m disabled and struggle a lot with executive function, and I use one of the few, precious functioning routines I have in order to write – even when I know there are major quality-of-life-improving things I could be using it for instead. I do this because I’ve decided I want to finish this story before I die, and so it’s worth it. Is it worth it for you?

        1. Foreign Octopus*

          Hi Tau, thanks for your thoughtful response.

          You make an excellent point that something like this would be way too big for traditional publication, absolutely. I think the thing that you’ve really touched upon that gets to my worries is this:

          IDK, maybe you write at the speed of light, but 600k is… a lot. That’s a lot of time to spend writing, editing, plotting, making character notes, etc. etc. etc. That is time and energy you cannot spend on other things. Are you willing to do that, say “no” to other projects that cross your path? Is this story that important to you?

          I have a lot of fun writing fanfic, we all do otherwise why would we do it, but at some point I do want to break away from it and try original work and maybe see if I can get that published. I love writing for the sake of writing, but I do worry that maybe I’m wasting my time with something like this. Then I think, is it a waste of time if I enjoy myself? Part of me also thinks that I’m using my desire to complete this story as an excuse not to break out of something that I feel I’m good at and try my hand at something (original work) that I may not be good at. And then I think, well, how many people really do get published? Maybe I’ll be wasting my time doing that.

          (As you can see, I’m going round and round in circles a little bit here and it’s driving me crazy.)

          Your questions are definitely something to think about – thank you for putting them in a way that makes it much clearer to me.

          1. Tau*

            I’m glad it helped! These are thoughts I’ve wrestled with as well, as you can tell :) In my case, I decided that being traditionally published is not worth it to me. Sure, I still have the occasional daydream of seeing my name in stores, but realistically I am happier with my day job than I’d be as a professional writer, I’d have to give up the community interaction and feedback which I love about fanfic, and getting published is not just not a given but also requires a lot of stress re: making your work publishable, edits, finding an agent, etc. So I’m sticking with it as a hobby, in which case I can just keep writing fanfic and all the benefits from that.

            There are no right answers here, obviously! I would however think a little about why you want to get published and what you want from that. Money? A wider readership? The status and ego boost of being a published author? All of these are absolutely valid desires, I just think it’s worth interrogating. I’ve spent over fifteen years writing fanfic and find that people tend to… dismiss? the idea of writing solely as a hobby and assume that if you write, publication must be the end goal. (Don’t get me started on people who evaluate fanfic solely based on how well it works as a stepping stone to original work.) It’s really easy to internalise that, even when – as for me – trying to switch to selling original work actually makes no sense given the reasons you’re writing.

            1. Claire*

              Published author here, and I strongly agree with everything Tau says. Ask yourself what you’re looking for–are you happier writing for yourself and/or the fanfic community? Or if you want to write original fic, think about whether you’d prefer self-publishing, or small presses, or one of the big publishers*.

              * You aren’t stuck with only one of these, by the way. For example, lots of pro authors write novels for the big publishers, but then self-publish novellas that tie in with their books.

      2. Fikly*

        It sounds like you wrote the first one as a novel, and are writing the second one as a novel too?

        Have you thought about the episode format?

        1. Foreign Octopus*

          I have but honestly it doesn’t feel write when I tried to write it that way – it felt incomplete and like I wasn’t doing it properly. The first one I wrote as a novel to see if I had the stamina and dedication to finish a novel-length project. This second one is just because I enjoy it and, as I said above to Tau, I think I’m using it as an excuse not to risk rejection and “failure” if I write an original novel and get no traction on it.

      3. OhCanary*

        I gasped out loud at 600K! (I work in publishing and am a traditionally pubbed author myself.)

        Obviously, if you’re not seeking publication, then it’s a moot point overall. But if your goal is to improve your writing, honestly, you’ll need to improve your editing, too.

        There are lots of great editing tips out there. One of my favorites is: go to page 100 in your book. Delete pages 1-99, and now page 100 becomes page 1. It’s neat to examined what that would look like for a project as long as yours is.

    2. Junimo the Hutt*

      Still working through the Artist’s Way (I’m about a week behind due to starting it two weeks before a very, very packed vacation). More and more, my morning pages are filling with ideas about the book series I’ve promised I’d write, and rather than dreading it, I’m starting to feel excited again. Haven’t tipped over to actual writing yet. But I’m feeling less blah about life in general (might be due to pairing up my morning page time with sitting in front of a light box, and regular sleep). So…still recovering, but hopeful!

      1. Hazy days*

        Really pleased to hear it’s going well! A friend of mine is going it now and really finding it sparking some of that energy and creative vision again.

        1. Junimo the Hutt*

          Oh, excellent! Has your friend reached the reading deprivation week? I’m about to embark on that and am dreading it more than a little.

    3. Shrunken Hippo*

      Through some random conversations with friends I have narrowed down what basic plot I really want to deal with and I got a bunch of books from my library so help with some research. I’m also using my university’s online resources because thankfully I get to have access to them even though I’ve graduated. If I lived in the same province I would be able to use the physical library, but seeing as it is very far away from where I am now I’ll content myself with the online resources. I tend to get a little too into research but I end up with a really solid grasp on the subject which will help me overall.

    4. OhCanary*

      I read these writing updates every week but never add my own! Hi fellow writers. I wrote 11,000 words M-F this week, which was 1K over my goal. (I’m a trad published author and this book is due March 20!)

      However I think I wrote myself into a corner yesterday…literally ended up with a character who was meant to discover a secret tunnel but halfway through I realized I didn’t want to reveal the secret tunnels yet, so I changed it into what appears to be a root cellar, which makes no sense. So I’ll have to fix that on Monday. LOL. (I even ended up googling root cellars. There are some amazing ones out there! Magical! But they don’t belong in this book.)

    5. Hazy days*

      I’ve been seeking out ways to get positive feedback to energise me as I send out poems to journals. No submissions accepted yet, and a few declined.

      However, I performed some poems at an Open Mic last weekend and they were hugely well received – so I’m performing again this weekend.

      I also sought out time with established poets, which I think is important to build that network. We’ll see how it goes. :-)

    6. Claire*

      I’ve been stuck on plot points for this novel for SO LONG. But! Last month I took a trip by myself to Alaska to relax, eat seafood, drink beer, and see the Arctic Circle. And it worked! Halfway through, I suddenly realized where and how everything had gone pie-shaped, and how to fix it.

      In the past month, then, I’ve reworked the plot for the second half and written 5+ chapters, with 2 1/2 more to go. Some of these last chapters will turn out rough and sketchy in places, but as my agent said, It doesn’t need to be perfect, it just needs to be finished.

      1. Lee*

        I’m trying to write again, after many, many years of not writing. But everything I write is so bad, it just depresses me. Then I stop writing. Which is why I originally stopped. I mean, I know I’m not going to write any award winning material, but I just want to write something that is readable and enjoyable. My mother says it is, but you know, my mother.

        1. Elspeth Mcgillicuddy*

          My mother started writing several years back. It was pretty bad. Not absolutely awful, mind you, but definitely not readable and enjoyable. She dropped that novel halfway (and good riddance too, the premise was quite bad), completed her second novel (not bad, but also nothing particularly good) and her third one is, in my totally biased opinion, a good story well written.

          That is to say, just because the stuff you write now is bad, doesn’t mean the stuff you write in a few years will also be bad. At least if you keep writing.

        2. Claire*

          There’s a saying that “A writer writes a million words* of junk before they write well.” Even after that, our first drafts might turn out dauntingly rough, but luckily we can always revise, and get feedback from writer friends, then revise some more. Just remember that with every story you create, your skills with prose and plot and characters are getting better.

          * Give or take several hundred thousand

  24. A.N. O'Nyme*

    Gaming thread! What’s everyone been playing this week?
    I actually swapped out Steins;Gate for Amnesia: Memories for a bit. Sometimes you need something a tad more light-hearted (well, not that someone having tried to murder you is all that light-hearted, I suppose). And none of the characters use voices that trigger some Pavlovian response in me. Seriously, “Hououin Kyouma”‘s voice has the same effect on me as a vacuum cleaner has on a dog.

    1. Alan*

      Just finished playing Astologaster on my iPad. It’s a very comedic game set in Elizabethan England where you play a doctor/astrologer diagnosing various patients. I would highly recommend it as it’s very very funny.

    2. Masquerade*

      I just started Outer Worlds! It brings back Fallout nostalgia for me a bit and I like the story so far (maybe 2 hours in). I didn’t love the art style at first but its growing on me. I’m going to play more tonight and am really looking forward to it.

    3. Best Cat in the World*

      At the moment, I’m mostly playing mobile games, mainly Dino Park (oddly addictive!) as I’ve not had much time on my xbox.

      I’m debating about getting a switch lite but I’m not sure and reading tons of reviews and comparisons!

    4. Smol Book Wizard*

      I am delighting in Gris! I love that every time I am like “Okay, I will never get this part” I then proceed to get it. Somehow. (Sometimes with googled tips.) And it’s so beautiful in design.

      My mom says that math is good for its own sake because it trains your brain to think (I swear this is relevant). She also disapproves heavily of computer games. I’ve discovered recently that spatial puzzle games are my calculus, or what calculus seems to be for the rest of my family – this cool mystery of thinking where the solution clicks into place beautifully at the last moment. So I go on, settling cities in Islanders, jumping around on trees in Gris, having my great time.

    5. Millennial Lizard Person*

      Untitled Goose Game!!! It’s so cathartic, and it’s cute. You’re a goose who causes mayhem >:) it’s on xbox gamepass right now, so I downloaded it for free and had a blast.

      1. Arts Akimbo*

        OMG I looooove Untitled Goose Game!!! It is so funny, I just laugh all the way through, and occasionally shout “Noooooo!”

  25. Misty*

    What do you do when you can’t relax? How do you get out of your own head and breathe deeper?

    I’ve literally been going nonstop for the last five weeks. Even when I do have free time when I could relax, I choose to work on something productive instead (like homework or exercise or cleaning or errands). It’s like I literally can’t turn off.

    Any advice?

    1. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      You have to force yourself away from those moments you’re choosing to not relax. It’s hard but you can override that decision. Grasp the moments you’re in control because they’re so limited. Remind yourself burning the candle at both ends has real consequences to your health. Mental and physical!

    2. LibbyG*

      Huh. Can you turn relaxing into a task? Like, put going for a walk, or pleasure reading, or browsing the library or the internet for a new hobby on your list as an errand? A lot of errands support short-term well being (laundry, groceries, cleaning). Maybe frame a relaxing activity as an investment in long term well being.

      This might be irrelevant, but if you find it satisfying and restorative to exercise and get things done in your free time, then maybe you don’t need to tweak your routine. Sitting on your sofa and daydreaming isn’t the only way to relax.

    3. StrikingFalcon*

      Is this a new thing, or have you always been like this? I used to do this all the time when I was younger – just filled every minute with “productive” things – and it turned out I had an undiagnosed anxiety disorder. I couldn’t stand the sound of my brain at rest so I stayed too busy to hear it.

      I had to work at relaxing and learn that down time and rest *are* productive. One of the things that helped the most was every time I caught myself thinking something negative about myself for resting, I deliberately changed the narrative. “I’m just going to be lazy for a bit- no, I’m just going to rest for a bit because I am tired and need to rest.” It took a few months for the changes to stick, which is less time than I thought it would! It’s made such a difference.

      1. Misty*

        It’s a new thing. It’s def anxiety based.

        I got asked to speak at my state’s house meeting about a specific issue and I think that’s a large part of it. On top of other big changes that have happened in the last five weeks (school, housing, job, friends, basically every major category possible lol)

        Yeah I think I just need to force myself to try to rest and breathe rather than filling every minute with being “productive.” I was going to try to go to a movie or something but nothing new is out.

    4. old curmudgeon*

      This is going to sound so stupid, but I use the Solitaire game on my computer as a way to get my brain to let go. At least the way my head works, Solitaire uses just enough of my cognitive processing that it’s hard to simultaneously carry on a coherent conversation (with anyone else or inside my own head) when I am playing, but it doesn’t get me caught up in an hours-long quest or battle like some computer games, either. When my inner squirrel-brain just won’t stop racing, I can spend 20 to 30 minutes playing Solitaire and be at the point of literally falling asleep in my chair – which is the cue to go to bed.

      My elder kid uses meditation to deal with her squirrel brain, which I have heard is also a successful method for those who meditate. I’ve never had any success at meditation, but if you have, you might give that a try.

    5. LQ*

      Scheduled downtime. Like written on my calendar and as a task or chore that must get marked off. Make it routine and the same thing and then don’t let it get over written. I don’t manage a lot but Sunday morning in bed reading. I have rules around what does and does not count. Only fiction counts. Only fiction that wasn’t recommended by someone I feel obliged to counts. I have to prep on Thursday or Fridy evening by finding a couple that I might like to read.

      It could be scheduling meditation. Or doing a lower key exercise (taking a walk at a not bruising pace) but not listening to podcasts or reading an audiobook for work, etc. Just a kind of walking meditation to breathe.

    6. Other Meredith*

      You could try doing yoga as your exercise. If I truly focus on what the teacher is saying (I like Yoga with Adriene on youtube, but there are a ton of videos online), I find it very relaxing as well as physically a good workout.

    7. Stephanie*

      I know it can feel like yet another task, but I find yoga to be very, very effective for anxiety and stress. It forces you to focus on your breathing, and slow down. I always feel very loose, mentally and physically, after a class. If you have a hard time justifying just sitting on your couch, yoga might be a good way to reset.

    8. Wishing You Well*

      Exercise before quiet relaxation. Whatever you’re willing to do.
      Downtime is akin to “sharpening your saw”. It’s essential for optimal performance on your other tasks.
      Some people run themselves ragged, get sick and lay in bed to recharge. Don’t do this!
      Good luck!

    9. Sparrow*

      Can you spend some time in nature? Or as close to nature as you can get? Walks in forests or by lakes or streams always help me feel more calm and relaxed. City and local parks and small corner gardens or even a tree lined street can have this effect as well, if you have limited transportation

    10. Not So NewReader*

      Taking walks.

      So simple and so powerful. If you have a LTR take your partner with you. Talk about things going on today, talk about life, talk about hopes, talk about upsets, just talk. If you are not partnered, then look around, look at the homes and their plants, maybe they have a pet or two. Just look around your neighborhood. What this does is help with big picture focus. It’s time away from the immediate stuff, you stop running from thing to thing hoping it will all fall together some day. It allows you a moment to think about how all these things fit together and what is actually important and what is not actually important.

    11. Kuododi*

      Personally, when the brain squirrels won’t stop doing their thing I will either spend time with my two Daschunds simply cuddling and being silly. Or if it is really bad then I will sit in the bedroom in the quiet with a playlist of Chopin, Lizst, Beethoven etc. Best regards. Kuododi

    12. Chronic Overthinker*

      If you can find it, I recommend doing Float therapy. It used to be called sensory deprivation therapy, but it’s been rebranded. I’ve done it a handful of times and want to do it more, but it can be a bit pricey. Just imagine you are in a pool of water that’s salted so heavily that you float. The water is body temperature. The room is enclosed. There is gentle music playing and soft light, but you can choose to turn off one or both. If you choose both, you suddenly have no external stimuli and your brain has no choice but to relax and shut off or it will create other things for you to feel/see. I’ve had so many strange experiences, but it’s all felt like a meditation session. It’s really mind-altering. You should check it out, if you think that might work for you.

  26. Llellayena*

    Anyone else at QuiltCon in Austin this weekend? All the pretty quilts! (And the diminishing contents of my wallet!)

    1. SpellingBee*

      “Envious, party of one, your table is available!” I wasn’t able to go (found out about it too late and we already had another trip planned). I did go online the other night and order some Kaffe Fassett fabric that I’ve been coveting, to be there in spirit. However, discovered that next year it’s going to be in Atlanta, which is about an hour away from where we live, and I’m already planning to attend! Did you do any of the workshops? I’d love to hear some boots-on-the-ground feedback.

      1. Llellayena*

        I did one of the long-arm workshops my first day. I enjoyed it and got some practice time in, but I don’t think I learned anything new. I’m signed up for two more, I’ll try to remember to write about them.

  27. Myrin*

    I don’t know if I’ve mentioned this before but we have three holiday apartments in our house, one below us and two above us. Our landpeople (who live in the other half of this house) decided to, upon retirement, venture into some unknown kind of entrepreneurship and have been working towards this for years. And today, the very first guests arrived. While our landpeople are in Australia (we’re in Germany). I could tell you a lengthy, somewhat-ranty story about that and I probably will do so next week or so but I actually just wanted to say that the guests – a married couple with five-year-old twins – are absolutely lovely so far. As someone who has some experience with guests because of one of my part-time jobs, I know that it could’ve been a lot different and I’m just super glad that these people seem like reasonable and friendly individuals. They’ll be staying for a week, so I’ll report back during the next open thread whether it continued to be that way or not.

    1. Arts Akimbo*

      I’m so glad to hear it’s good so far! As someone whose quiet residential neighborhood has exploded with Air BnBs and the like over the past few years, I empathize.

      I had to call the property management company of the short-term rental next door to my house a couple of times, after the very drunk and raucous men staying there were super-loud on the front porch late at night, then hit on me when I came over to ask them nicely to keep it down because my child and husband were trying to sleep. (“Are you single?” “No.” “Well, could you be single tonight?” “…No.”) But it has been pretty quiet after that. I hope you continue to get lovely folk!

    2. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd (ENTP)*

      They sound great — I worry though because it seems like you are now facing a succession of rotating and unknown ‘guests’ who most likely won’t all be as nice as these people. Sorry to say but I expect what you will find is that this couple/family continued to be nice during the week, but subsequent guests might not be… is this an Air BnB type of set up (no idea if you have that in Germany, sorry) in which case you potentially have 3 x sets of guests rotating every week.

      I may be speaking out of turn (I usually do!) but it seems your landlords don’t have to deal with it personally as they are far away so are putting profit above people — How many other house holds are there in your position i.e. proper tenants (I’m assuming) rather than holiday home guests?

      1. Myrin*

        No worries, you’re not speaking out of turn – I’m very aware of this possiblity myself. As I said, I have experience with hospitality through my workplace and have heard all kinds of crazy stories this year already, and it’s only February.

        And our landpeople are going to be here in the future. We made it very clear even before we moved here that we don’t mind helping out (we’re getting paid for that and are the only proper tenants) but that we won’t take on more than [x tasks we talked about beforehand] – no one in my family is in the hospitality business, and that’s intentional! However, landlady had a medical emergency while in Australia in January and had to have surgery which made her unable to fly for six weeks, which is why they aren’t here yet – the setup as it is now (thankfully) wasn’t planned like this at all.

        (It’s not an AirBnB situation, which I’m told do exist here but more in, like, big cities, and I’ve never encountered them myself, but I assume the same concept applies regardless. It’s kind of hard to explain in English because there’s a set expression for this kind of setup in German which really only translates to “holiday apartment”, but I don’t know if that conjures up the same image to an English speaker as its equivalent does to a German speaker. The flats are very high-quality and pretty expensive because of that, though, and we have full control over who gets to rent them and when and how and so far, no one else is scheduled to arrive until the landpeople are back.)

  28. The Man, Becky Lynch*

    I found a good remedy to my advancing levels of “do not want to leave the house, just leave me here.” It’s forced hermitude. Even my depression symptoms don’t like to told “I have to” stay inside.

    I sprained my knee from a bad fall out of the shower. And I’m finally getting mobile again. Right in time for the rain to come back LMAO argh.

    1. My Brain Is Exploding*

      Well, you found a remedy… Not sure it’s a good one though! Hope your recovery is quick (both physical and mental).

      1. The Man, Becky Lynch*

        Thank you. I’m still struggling to find a doctor. I had a referral but they weren’t taking new patients. And that just basically told me to keep trying. It stinks. But I’m still looking for an opening. Severely lacking mental health docs even with insurance!!

        Def not a good remedy but at least I got a bit of a spark back.

      1. The Man, Becky Lynch*

        Thank you! Getting better by the day.

        But being stuck in limited positions is aggravating my sciatica issues grrrrr but at least the anti inflammatories help make it so that doesn’t do a full flare up.

    2. Not So NewReader*

      I sprained my knee, too. Yesterday it functioned like any watermelon would (in other words, it did not function). Today it’s down to feeling like it’s cantaloupe size. My aim is to be able to go to work on Monday. It’s my right leg so I kinda need it to work the gas pedal…. sigh. So flippin’ annoying.

      I hope you have a speedy recovery. I do worry about falls getting out of the shower. Are you going to change something so it’s a little safer? I have grab bars. But I have been thinking about putting in one more.

      1. The Man, Becky Lynch*

        I’m sorry you’re still at a cantaloupe size :( mine took 48hrs to deflate. I couldn’t even get to my bathroom in a crackerbox size apartment the first day. Thankfully I got crutches same-day delivered from Amazon.

        Did you go to the doc? Naproxen has been a game changer for my recovery. No more crutches.

        Thankfully it was my left leg so I could drive myself to the urgent care after I got crutches. I’m too egotistical and stubborn to allow anyone to help lol.

        I hope you’re mobile by Monday!

        I got a nonslip mat. That was the culprit. I also have a new better mat for the floor. But mostly I was just being reckless and didn’t take it slow. I was leaning for a towel before I was fully out, I know better.

        1. Not So NewReader*

          Thanks, I went to the docs on Thursday, it wasn’t terrible but it was Not Good. (A friend was going to go running errands with me and he got roped into driving, unfortunately.) Friday was watermelon day. I don’t remember which day I did it- Monday or Tuesday. I am taking turmeric which is saving me right now. A friend stopped by today and she thought it looked a little swelled. It’s more of a feeling like it just. won’t. move. dang. Mobility is coming back. I am sleeping a lot.

          Perfect on the mats. I know what you mean, I get to hurrying to the next thing and ughhhh…..It’s so easy to do. And so very annoying when it happens.

        2. RC Rascal*

          Sorry to hear about your knee. I broke my foot 10 years ago & still have back issues that originally developed from being on crutches a really long time. As soon as you can switch to a cane; it’s easier on your back.

          Find a good physical therapist; they can make a world of difference in getting you back to normal.

  29. Ktelzbeth*

    Exercise thread and question

    I tore a muscle in my calf a week ago. I’m usually an avid exerciser, but the pain and the boot have me very limited right now. I need good ideas for how to get heart rate up with upper body only (may include one leg). I can do it briefly on an arm ergometer, but can’t sustain for long. NuStep, which is doable with one leg, doesn’t get my heart rate up. I got somewhat reluctant permission to very carefully try swimming, probably pull only, but my shoulders are going to be a problem with sustaining that, though I am a regular swimmer. Other thoughts? Yes, I understand that easier training sometimes is okay, but if I go two months (probably) without accomplishing any cardio, my mental health will suffer. Thanks!

    How’s everyone else’s exercise program?

    1. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      Can you speak with a trainer? It’s an expense but they’ll be so much better at getting you the results you’re looking for that will work with your current limitation. It’s a lot safer for you too since they’re professionals.

      1. Ktelzbeth*

        I’m medically trained in the right area to know what is safe, once I have an idea. But that’s a great idea for getting ideas! I think I get a trainer session with my gym membership every month that I never use because I’m always enrolled in some other training program.

    2. Pool running*

      Can you do pool running? I’ve done it when I had Achilles tendonitis and and a friend did it when she’d had stress fractures in her lower legs/feet (she also had to wear a boot). Basically you can have a noodle or a floating belt to help with floating and you move your legs as if you were running; you can vary the speed and length of the stride to get different effects on muscles and heart. You can mostly stay in place so a corner of a pool is all you need.

    3. T. Boone Pickens*

      Would TRX bands be an option for you? I haven’t used them for a couple years but if I remember correctly, you could do a ton of different exercises that should allow you to isolate your upper body without putting your calf at risk.

    4. Filosofickle*

      So much sympathy over here! I tore my calf in the fall and it was such a drag on my mobility and my mood. Good luck!

    5. Elspeth Mcgillicuddy*

      Would Indian club exercises be good? My parents are into them, and I’ve tried them and enjoyed it.

    6. Boldly Go*

      I’m not a trainer.

      When I broke my leg last year, once I was (reluctantly) semi-cleared to go to the gym, i did my own version of weight training – mostly sitting or on my back, mostly machines (some free weights). I didn’t at the time but I would look into water aerobics. If you can do a circuit routine, your heart rate will go up, but you’ll have to accept that it’s not going to be as much as power walking or biking.

    7. Ktelzbeth*

      Thanks all! I found a cross country ski machine at the gym that only does the arm motions and that plus the arm ergometer give me two options. I can try pulling in the pool tomorrow, but can’t do anything that would make me move my ankle–it’s movement problem not a bearing weight problem, so the pool doesn’t help as much as you would hope. I have an appointment set with a trainer, but we couldn’t find mutual time until Saturday.

  30. Oompah*

    A few weeks earlier I attended the wedding of my friend Bob. He held the wedding at a venue where our mutual friend, Joe, works. Joe arranged a GIANT discount for the wedding package. Think penthouse suite for the price of backpackers. It was a lovely wedding and everyone had a good time. Or so we thought.

    Joe’s manager recently called him in for a private meeting. It turns out Bob emailed Joe’s Top Dog Boss a long, scathing complaint about his wedding. The complaints were honestly stupid and along the lines of “one of the air conditioner remote controls ran out of battery”. He demanded a full refund for all of his woes.

    Joe emailed Bob mentioning the complaint email. Diplomatically he asked Bob if there were any issues he wasn’t aware of from the wedding because Bob had never mentioned any of these “problems” earlier. Instead of replying to Joe, Bob sent a follow up email VIA HIS LAWYER saying Joe’s company breached privacy laws by sharing his complaint with Joe, requesting additional compensation for the trauma. The lawyer is Bob’s sister, but still.

    Did I mention Bob is a wealthy professional who has partially retired in his late 30s?

    Joe’s direct manager is being kind and understanding but she got lots of flak from the Top Dog Boss. Joe feels terrible. His whole team knows about this.

    While this hasn’t directly affected me I am livid and disgusted with Bob. I don’t think I can even be friends with him anymore.

    (Not a work dilemma but a friendship one so I hope it can stay here)

    1. fposte*

      Yeah, I’d be done with Bob. Honestly, if I were Bob’s new spouse I’d be second-guessing what I’d done.

      1. university minion*

        +1 to all this. I lived with a Bob, and this sort of delusional entitlement is, among other related things, why I left. You can’t speak reason to this sort of narcissism.
        He’s not your friend. The moment you’re not useful to him in some way, you’ll never hear from him again.

        1. Gatomon*

          He’s not your friend. The moment you’re not useful to him in some way, you’ll never hear from him again.

          Can’t underscore this enough. Bob is an entitled jerk and will not get better as long as he has the money to throw around letters from his lawyer over remote control batteries.

    2. Jedi Squirrel*

      Bob is an entitled bag of bungholes.

      I have news for you: you are not friends with Bob. You are but one of hundreds of minions he gets to do his bidding. How he treated Joe is how he will eventually treat you.

    3. Misty*

      Weddings are so expensive that I would think Bob would just be grateful that he had such an amazing friend that could help him get a discount!

    4. T. Boone Pickens*

      Bob is a fucking asshole. I’d be really hard pressed to not treat him with utter contempt from this day on.

    5. The Other Dawn*

      Bob is an asshole and has shown his true colors. I’d absolutely not be friends with someone like this. What an entitled jerk.

    6. General von Klinkerhoffen*

      Bob planned this as soon as Joe set it up. He thinks they’ll back down out of embarrassment.

      Don’t be like Bob.

      Honestly I would want to lose Bob as a friend, and I would make sure Joe knew why, even if I chose to be discreet more generally.

        1. valentine*

          I guess Bob wanted a free venue? What a weirdo. And his sister’s no better. I would cut Bob off.

          I wish Joe’s employer would support him and happily tell the story of the man for whom a 95% discount wasn’t enough.

    7. Not So NewReader*

      I can’t see where there is a privacy breach because lawsuits are a matter of public record.
      Even IF it were plausible that he had trauma, he would have to prove that trauma with doctor’s statements and such.
      Additionally, Joe’s manager might want to bring Joe in as a witness on his behalf so Joe would have been told one way or another.

      Bob is Bob’s best and only friend. He does not need any more friends, he feels he’s all set. Feel free to move on.

      Wait for it to all shake down, Joe’s manager might be able to counter-sue for the full cost of the venue. Who knows. Hopefully the manager contacts his attorney.

      1. Fikly*

        Also, Joe works for the company that Bob was complaining about and sent the complaint to, if I’m understanding correctly. Discussing a customer complaint internally is not a breech of privacy.

      2. WellRed*

        There’s no lawsuit, but I agree, there’s been no privacy breach. I really hope the venue doesn’t settle and fights this. has this come out of the blue? Or has Bob always been a bit douchey?

      3. Oompah*

        Bob is a reasonably well known figure in his industry so I doubt he’s going to tarnish his reputation with a lawsuit even if there were legal grounds for it. But he is absolutely the type of person who will raise merry hell to get his small amount of money back even though he got a luxury wedding at a fraction of a budget.

        I am sorely tempted to publish his full name and occupation here (I want to, but I won’t). A couple of our other friends are saying one of us should leak the story to the media (we want to, but we won’t). If ever there was a situation that calls for public shaming this is it.

        1. Observer*

          One of these days, he’ll manage to publicly shame himself. He’s not just a jerk, he’s a STUPID jerk. Those types tend to eventually score “own goals”.

    8. Not A Manager*

      If we’re on the topic of frivolous lawsuits, Joe should sue Bob for intentional infliction of emotional distress. Turnabout is fair play.

    9. ShortT*

      I couldn’t be friendly, let alone friends, with anyone who would consider treating people as shamelessly as Bob does.

    10. My Brain Is Exploding*

      I feel like someone could ask Joe if it would help if a bunch of people who were at the wedding communicated with Boss/Big Boss and tell them Bob is full of crap.

      1. Oompah*

        The “complaints” were so outlandish that anyone reading them will see it was written by a greedy idiot looking for freebies. So it’s not a matter of disproving the complaint.

        1. Swordspoint*

          Bob is a complete asshole. I would absolutely drop him as a friend.

          (If I ran the wedding venue company, I would be sorely tempted to answer Bob’s communications by politely declining to offer any refund (on an already greatly discounted service!) and end the letter with “We suggest in the future you may be happier working with one of our competitors, and we invite you to consider them for your next wedding.”

    11. Miss Pantalones En Fuego*

      I feel like maybe you and all the other guests should get a lawyer to write letters to Bob demanding any gifts be returned and compensation for the distress of having attended the wedding of a colossal jerk.

      1. Not A Manager*

        I LIKE this. Or breach of contract. “You represented that you are a decent, well-socialized human being, and we gave you gifts in the understanding that you would act like one.”

    12. Out of the box thinker*

      It’s not a breach of contract since joe handles the discount and there was a problem. I recommend you and all your fellow friends who attended send letters to the venue thanking them and Joe for the wonderful time you had. If you all do it, it’s a lot easier to show Bob’s disconnect. Did Joe attend? I’d say that the company might have valid grounds to see for intent to defraud

      1. Ron McDon*

        I agree – if all the guess write letters saying how wonderful the wedding was, it will help if it does get as far as court.

        Poor Joe – Bob is most definitely an asshole, and I wouldn’t be able to speak to him again if he were a friend of mine.

  31. The Francher Kid*

    There’s a YouTube channel called More Life Health Seniors done by an Australian Seniors’ Specialist Physiotherapist named Mike. Many of the exercise series are done seated, and those include full body workouts. Although the channel is aimed at seniors, the seated exercises might work for you while you’re healing.

    1. Pam*

      Excuse me while I go re-read all my Zenna Henderson.

      And thanks for the referral- I’m back on my feet post-surgery, but know lots who aren’t.

      1. The Francher Kid*

        I’ve just started re-reading The People. Those stories never get old, and I always end up wishing there were more.

  32. fposte*

    Super low-stakes question about scented products! In this case it’s liquid hand soap. I am not fragrance sensitive and really like fragrances. But I like them in the moment, not as, like, permanent roommates. I bought some liquid soap this week (Mrs. Meyer’s, whose kitchen stuff I’ve liked) and holy crap, the scent is like a solid object in the bathroom that keeps trying to escape down the hall, and that’s from one sample pump yesterday.

    So I will guiltily toss a nearly full container, but how do you find out in advance the difference between “has fragrance” (fine by me) and “is a household thug that will chase you around and beat up your nose” (bad). I couldn’t smell anything on the bottle before opening, so that’s no help. I like Method stuff so I’ll probably just use some of that, but sometimes it’s nice to try something new–but not if it’s going to be a nose bully.

    1. OtterB*

      I don’t have an answer to this, but I wanted to say that your writing amuses the hell out of me here. “trying to escape down the hall … chase you around and beat up your nose.” Love it.

    2. Jedi Squirrel*

      I do not hesitate to open in a container in the store and give it a whiff if I can do so without damaging it. Some products have a safety seal that prevents that.

      Rather than tossing it, is it possible to dilute it with an unscented hand soap? Or even a bit of water?

      1. fposte*

        I gotta say I’d be wary. Rose is exactly the kind of scent that companies maximize and that doesn’t quit when they do. (My current offender is honeysuckle, FWIW.) It’s unfortunate also that it was okay on a first pump and only made its force known by lingering the next day. (Okay, I had a small dribble left on the kitchen sink, but I’m literally 40 feet away from there.)

        On the other hand, if you’ve got a dog that’s rolled in something terrible and you want to fight back, this might be an excellent choice.

        1. Stephanie*

          Oh, I like the Mrs. Meyers stuff, including the handsoap, but I am definitely not a fan of the honeysuckle scent. It’s really strong, and not my scent. Oddly enough, I usually HATE anything lavender scented, except for the Mrs. Myers products. My favorite Mrs. Meyers scent is the geranium, for what it’s worth.

        2. No fan of Chaos*

          Douche powder mixed with kitchen soap-I use Dawn-really removed horrible smells from the dog.

        3. Nom de Plume*

          I love mrs Meyers stuff. I do have a sensitivity to fragrance (I think party because I’ve been sensitized to formaldehyde through repeated exposure doing lab work), and their products normally don’t bother me, but the floral ones are too strong and are sickly sweet. Their scents like lemon, basil, rosemary are good, in my opinion.

    3. SpellingBee*

      Oh, I feel the same way! Mrs. Meyers products seem to be prone to this. I once tried some of their lemon verbena bathroom cleaner and actually had to open all the windows and vacate the house for a couple of hours. As far as hand soap, I like the Method ones also but my current favorite is Trader Joe’s French Orange Blossom Honey liquid soap. Lovely light fragrance that doesn’t overwhelm.

      1. Filosofickle*

        Method Grapefruit is awesome for me, a rather scent-sensitive person. Smells nice then disappears. Recently I desperately needed dish soap but all the little organic market had was Mrs Meyers and I had to nope out of there. Can not let that stuff into my house! The worst.

        Essential oil and aromatherapy trends are making life very difficult.

      2. Forget T-Bone Steak, Let’s Eat T-Rex Steak*

        TPTB started putting Mrs. Meyers lavender hand soap in our bathroom and the odor overwhelms me every time I walk in. I made the mistake of using it once and lasted a whole five minutes before I had to go re-wash my hands with the unscented soap in the kitchen. It’s one of the few scented products that has made me feel physically ill.

        1. Windchime*

          I love smelling actual lavender plants, but I hate lavender scented things and loathe tea that contains lavender. It’s just one of those scents that is too strong for me when it’s not the actual plant. I have a friend who buys that “theives” handsoap and it smells so strongly of cloves that I can hardly stand it. I prefer lighter, fruity scents like grapefruit or orange.

      3. Seeking Second Childhood*

        Interesting…using Method handsome makes everything I eat or drink taste like soap for hours.

    4. Myrin*

      I can tell you what I would tell a hypothetical customer at my drugstore part-time job (where I’m part of the “body care” department) if she asked me that question:

      See if you can open the bottle and take a whiff at the store. With pump soaps, the… pump-y part (I have honestly no idea what this is called) usually has a mechanism you have to break in first before you can use it, so don’t do that, but you can generally unscrew the whole upper part and smell it right at the store. Some (usually more high-quality) soaps will have a little plastic seal, making this impossible, but most don’t (at least here). I don’t know if any kind of thug would be apparent that way since you won’t have actually used the product, but it might be worth a try.

      Other than that, at least in my store, you could totally ask one of the workers and they should be able to help you pretty well. We are a drugstore, though, with people specialising in the products of their departments and attending lectures and stuff, so we might be more of an exception – I don’t think you’d be able to get that kind of in-depth advice in a regular supermarket. I don’t know too much about American stores and how they operate, but maybe there’s something similar somewhere near you, too?

    5. legalchef*

      I’d get a thing if I scented soap and just mix some of the scented in there, so you don’t need to toss it.

    6. Parenthetically*

      I’ve found Mrs. Meyer’s stuff to be like that as well! Insanely over-scented. (And shampoo! Shampoo fragrance is the bane of my existence. After years of smelling like I’d dunked my head in five gallons of Intense Synthetic Citrus/Floral, I finally found one I love that is very lightly and pleasantly apple-scented, like someone nearby slicing into a perfect gala apple — so clean and nice.)

      I brazenly smell in shops, but 100% of our hand soap is Dr. Bronner’s baby mild, diluted for a foam pump, that I fragrance myself with my ridiculous backlog of essential oils.

    7. Wishing You Well*

      If you can open a soap container before buying without breaking a seal, try that.
      I’ve thrown out a new bottle of soap because it reeked of black pepper and I’m allergic to black pepper. (It didn’t matter if it actually had black pepper in it; I was having a bad emotional response to the smell.) I don’t feel guilty about protecting my home from bad smells. Perfume samples in the newspaper immediately go outside in the trash for the same reason.
      Protect your home! :-)

      1. Honoria*

        Forgive me for asking, but do you remember the name of the black pepper soap? I promise not to wield it at you!

    8. Please Don't*

      I accidentally bought toilet paper with a lavender scent. Left it in the trunk with a couple of boxes of Kleenex. The tissues spelled like lavender. Fortunately it wasn’t too strong but I did keep the toilet paper in the garage and only brought a roll in when I needed a new roll in the downstairs bathroom.

      1. Windchime*

        OMG. I bought an entire Costco-sized box of kitchen garbage bags that stink of Febreeze. I can hardly stand them.

    9. Goldfinch*

      Is it the honeysuckle? I tried the countertop spray, and had to open all the windows in January. It made me feel ill.

      Back when I had non-stop migraines, I followed a few migraine blogs and they talked about scent-free products that wouldn’t trigger headaches. Might be worth some Googling.

    10. Seeking Second Childhood*

      About the soap — do you have a shelter or senior center near you? This is something they can always use or give clients. Unlike food, soap doesn’t go bad.

    11. fhqwhgads*

      This won’t always be an option – and I don’t mean to shill a particular store – but one handy thing about Bath & Body Works and that type of store that has lots of scented soaps and sprays and whatnot is you can wash your hands with it once, in store using a sampler. I know you got lots of suggestions to unscrew the top and smell, and that’ll help if the issue is liking the smell or not, but it may not help from the perspective of “is it super strong and never dissipates”. Using a single pump in store would probably help somewhat. So that may be an option. Otherwise, it might be worth a quick google to see if you can find many online complaints about the particular brand and scent you’re considering. If folks have had similar experiences to the one you described and are trying to avoid, you’ll find it easily.

      1. Kuododi*

        Seconding your comment about BBW. I have what DH calls “a bionic nose.”. Long story short, I don’t have problems with the scent of their products in general. (I do have major issues with eucalyptus scents and some of the heavier fruit/flower scents). I tend to load up during Fall/Winter season when products are more spicy or foody types. I find those to be much easier on my senses and much less overwhelming. Hope this helps.

      1. Dee-Nice*

        Came here specifically to say this! A lovely burst of scent *while you’re washing*, and then it’s gone.

    12. Quandong*

      I am super sensitive to fragrances of many types, so I buy unfragranced products as much as humanly possible.

      My suggestion is to search for groups online who discuss allergies and fragrance sensitivities, and look into their recommendations.

      In Australia, the National Asthma Council created a not-for-profit named Sensitive Choice – this org advises people with asthma and allergies about asthma and allergy friendly products. I wonder if there is an equivalent organisation in your country?

      I’d also highly recommend starting a list for yourself of fragrances to avoid so you can check labels if there’s no tester available for you to sniff before buying a product.

      1. Wired Wolf*

        Reply to edit: I’ve mainly found it at Whole Foods/natural stores. Nice variety of scents, all natural, that don’t chase you around.

    13. leukothea*

      Don’t throw it away — give it away on your local Buy Nothing group! Someone will be thrilled to have it and you’ll be keeping it out of a landfill.

    14. Miss Pantalones En Fuego*

      I’ve used products that were too strongly scented as toilet/bathroom cleaner, although this might exacerbate your problem!

  33. Grand Admiral Thrawn Is Still Blue*

    I find stories of “other” fascinating. I’ve been listening to podcasts at work; I just finished all the archives of Into the Fray with Shannon Legro (she is seriously awesome!), and have been through Lore, and Myths & Legends. I just started on Unexplained with Howard Hughes. He’s different than the other podcasters, as he has a very long history and career in journalism and broadcasting. He’s British, and I just love listening to his voice. I found him through Shannon’s site.

    She described him as being so polite when he called out someone for being a liar, which is totally true. I’m jumping around in time on his site, and found an interview he did with an American, who I refuse to name because I’m still mad about him, and won’t give him any more publicity. His story became so preposterous and unbelievable, and Howard just kept hammering him on certain points ever so nicely. It’s a very special skill to be able to handle people this way, and it’s one I will never have.

    It should take awhile to listen to most of his archives. It’s so sad when you find a podcast that is great and then get caught up with the past eps.

  34. WeirdQuestion*

    So, once in a while someone (mostly one friend) will text me a weirdly specific question with absolutely no context. Like…Do you have a food processor? What was your bachelor’s degree in? How many house plants do you have? Isn’t there a Target near you? Do you ever read self help books?

    I find it annoying because some of it feels like a trap. (Like they’re going to ask me for a favor if I answer in a certain way.) And some of it is so random it leaves me curious. (And then my curiosity might never be satisfied if they don’t respond to my answer, even if I ask, “Why?”)

    Would it be rude to start asking why they’re asking before answering?

    1. Jedi Squirrel*

      No, it wouldn’t be rude, but it’s how you phrase it. “That’s an interesting question. Why do you ask?”

      I suspect they have moments of social awkwardness, and this is their attempt to be less socially awkward, but…this is a text message. Which could mean that they are going to ask you for a favor, but could just be social awkwardness on a whole new technological level.

      On the other hand, reading your question, I started thinking, “Do you have a food processor? What kinds of things do you make with it? How useful is it? How hard is it to clean? Did you buy it at Target? What do you mean you don’t live near a Target? How is that even possible?” Yeah, I kinda get where they’re coming from.

      1. WeirdQuestion*

        Yeah, with the food processor question, if they had asked what I use it for, how hard it is to clean, where I bought it, what brand I use, etc. that would have been fine. But they were asking because they wanted to borrow it, and then I had to go back and forth a few times because I didn’t want to lend it out (I don’t lend stuff out except to my best friend and family because I’ve had bad experiences doing that before). If they’d known I wanted to borrow it to begin with, I might have fibbed about it being packed away or broken.

        And when they asked about Target, it was because they wanted me to go there and pick up something for them.

        So it kind of feels like sometimes they’re trying to see if I can do a favor for them before actually asking me to do the favor. (And then I’m like more obligated to do the favor or something because I already gave a “yes” to the first question.)

        1. Jedi Squirrel*

          In that case, feel free to shut it down early. Do they do this in person, as well? Do you have any other interactions of them that are of value?

          1. WeirdQuestion*

            No, they don’t do it in person. We hang out occasionally, which is fun, but I don’t feel so close to them that I am willing to make a random trip to Target to buy something for them. (I don’t ask ever ask them for favors.)

        2. LQ*

          Oh! It sounds like this is a little more disingenuous based on the history. You can definitely ask why. You can also delay the response which may help for someone like this.

          (The get a small yes is a sales trick so you’re not wrong about that.)

            1. valentine*

              You can ignore those as well. You can also tell her you’re not her personal Task Rabbit. You don’t have to lie about your food processor or go back and forth. What are you afraid will happen if you give her a flat no? Or a (softer?) “No, thanks,” which works for everything she might want.

              Her: Do you have an x?
              You: No, thanks. (Alternative: Neither a lender nor a borrower be.)

              Her: Isn’t there a Y near you?
              You: No, thanks. (Not a lie because you’re including the unstated “And will you go fetch me something?”) (Alternative: I’m not available to run errands for you.)

              Is there more to the friendship? This is so one-sided, it’s fine if you just drop her.

            2. Sleve McDichael*

              You can also start out with assuming the question. ‘Yeah I have a food processor. I’m really protective of it so I don’t let people use it though. I believe they sell them at ….’ They can’t ask to borrow it if you just told them it’s not for lending. And if they ask anyway, well, ‘No’ is a complete sentence.

        3. WeirdQuestion*

          Wow, two bad typos. I meant, “If I’d known they wanted to borrow it to begin with, I might have fibbed about it.”

    2. Misty*

      It wouldn’t be rude to ask why they are asking.

      I am *that* friend. I literally will have a random thought and ask someone something like ‘how did you pick your college major’ or ‘what’s your favorite flowers’ but on the other hand, my random questions have nothing to do with me asking for favors. It’s literally just my brain thinking about random stuff.

      1. The Other Dawn*

        Yup, same here. I’m not fishing for favors. I’m just voicing a random thought or making small talk.

      2. WeirdQuestion*

        Yeah, I have random thoughts and ask random questions too, but I always give some sort of context or reason. When they asked what my bachelor’s degree was in, I was wondering if they were going to suggest a job for me to apply to, or if they had questions about Teapot Design, or who knows what. And then they just didn’t respond to my answer so I have no idea what was going through their head and it feels like they left me hanging.

        1. Miss Pantalones En Fuego*

          My sister does this sometimes, and then she’ll take like five days to respond to my follow up question. It’s usually that she was talking to someone about subject X but then got busy with something else.

    3. LQ*

      Not at all rude.

      I do this sometimes and I’ve had people do it to me. Often it’s sort of I’ve already started a conversation in my head. Oh! WeirdQuestion would totally be the right person to ask this because they are so well-read and they always have some interesting factoid and I trust their opinion. “Do you ever read self-help books?” (And occasionally the, they wouldn’t possibly care about the 4-hour backstory that I have no idea how to condense down and start a conversation in a human place part of it too.)

      It’s kind of rude to do this, but if you can go oh it’s this one weird quirk my friend has and ask you’ll likely get an answer. You are definitely not rude by saying “Why do you ask?” Or “I have OPINIONS on this! How did it come up?” Or whatever is a you thing to say.

      1. LQ*

        The last bit, is the person who launches in with a question out of nowhere is the rude one. Sorry that wasn’t clear.

    4. Wishing You Well*

      It’s not rude to ask “Why do you ask?”
      “Single frame of reference questions” can be annoying or traps. I’ve been skewered more than once by these questions, so I hear you.
      A more thoughtful questioner would add “and the reason I ask is…”. I tend to be interrupted by other people a lot, but I’ve NEVER been interrupted when saying “and the reason I ask is…” So fascinating.
      With some people and some circumstances, you’ll be comfortable just answering, but give yourself permission to answer a question with another question. It’s fine.

      1. WeirdQuestion*

        I don’t literally say, “and the reason I ask is…”, but I always give context. It helps get better answers faster. :) Aside from vague questions being annoying/traps, they’re actually pretty inefficient.

      2. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd (ENTP)*

        Yeah I tend to seek out opinions from co-workers and friends a lot (factual stuff like “I had this problem with my central heating, what should I do?” through to subjective stuff with family etc) and I will usually phrase it as “Hey, do you know anything about X? bc I’m having Y problem…. I’m asking you because Z”

        Sometimes with work or non work interactions I’ll start with a more indirect question that isn’t really the one I wanted to ask, but then quickly rephrase it to the direct version.

    5. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      Absent the rest of the context and the follow-up bad behavior, I would LOVE people to just randomly ask me questions, like, all the time. :)

      However, given the rest of the context, I think I would start answering with something like “Is that the actual question you want the answer to, or is there more to it than that?”

        1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

          I think he suspects, but the real question is, does he have the fortitude to do what needs to be done about it?

          1. Something Blue*

            I think he has a scheme. But so does Eliot! I’m waiting to see who figures out whose scheme first.

            ( to any bewildered AAM readers, this is from the tv show The Magicians. )

            1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

              Oh! I’ve never actually seen The Magicians, I was just making up an answer to a random question :)

            2. Miss Pantalones En Fuego*

              Ooh, is this based on the novels? I read them a while ago and enjoyed them but I forgot the details already!

    6. Not So NewReader*

      Instead of answering the question say something like, “Well, that’s pretty random. What’s up?” Do that each time, without exceptions.

      To me it sounds like they think they are googling, not talking to a real person. Maybe after a few times you can shorten it to, “What’s up?” When they don’t answer, don’t make yourself reply to their first question.

    7. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd (ENTP)*

      Wait, so “someone (mostly one friend)” does this? So are you saying there is more than one person around you who does these kind of oddly specific questions? I wonder if the others are acquaintances of the friend or something?

      I would definitely respond with a variant of “yep [I have a food processor, is there a Target near me, whatever]… curious why you want to know?”

      I have had to deal with these type of people (one in my immediate family which makes it more awkward I think) who ask these kind of “hinting” questions when they actually have something else on their mind (e.g. I want this thing from Target but there isn’t one near me, can I get Captain dddd to buy it on my behalf and ship it to me? or whatever) It can definitely be a trap, yes!

      I’d be guided by how these kind of interactions have panned out in the past, like when you said your bachelor’s degree was in Llama Husbandry or whatever, what did that lead to..

    8. Out of the box thinker*

      My answer would be Why? If they try to beat around the bush just repeat-why?
      If they ask to borrow-answer is No. (they can do the same things with a $2 knife n a little time). Can you go get something (either answer is No. /no I’m not going there. Or it’s I am going there, pickup n delivery fee is $X in advance. )

  35. MOUSE! IN THE KITCHEN!*

    Warning: Mice, and related anxiety about germs and the like…this is a rant but if anyone has any actual useful advice or has gone through the same thing I’d appreciate it.

    So yesterday I realized there was in fact a mouse getting into my apartment… I wasn’t entirely sure last week when I found the top to a small tupperwear container in the sink (moved from the drying rack) … but yesterday the top was all the way behind the drying rack where it couldn’t have just fallen – a mouse had to have moved it…. AHHHHHHH! So now I’m cleaning all my dishes (the ones I’ve been using that I assume are now contaminated and the like) in the dishwasher (which I’ve used maybe twice sine I moved in). The drying rack is in the trash which is probably an over reaction but at the moment I don’t feel comfortable leaving anything out on the counters ever again….

    And I’m not entirely sure what else needs to be cleaned…. My brain says everything but when I think about that too much I wonder what the hell to do about my sofa and my recliner and I want to throw those in the trash (what if a mouse makes a nest in there!?

    I’ve gotten traps and I’m going to put them out in the hope that I get the mouse that’s been getting in… I’m not sure what else I can do. My mom keeps saying to by poison but I’m not sure about that in an apartment complex — if the mouse gets into the walls and dies there what then? I’m not even sure how they’re getting into my apartment – might be under the sink but how are they getting onto the counters from there? And even if I trap one there’s nothing stoping more from coming and how would I know it!?

    And of course this means I need to wipe down everything before I use it from now on… the counters and the coffee pot and everything… because there could have been a mouse all over it during the night/day…. YAY! Not that it matters that much since I’ve been eating off mouse contaminated food for who knows how long… I’m probably going to get sick and die of some mouse related illness anyway….

    And to think I was just getting to the point where I could handle dropping something on the floor and picking it up without immediately thinking it needed to be scrubbed down with a Clorox wipe (or rewashed if it was clothes or towels)……

    I’m half way tempted to get a cat which would hopefully keep mice away but then there’s the problem of the cat being everywhere – including the bathroom behind the toilet (and its own letter box for that matter) and then walking on the counters and getting them just as dirty from the bathroom floor… so nah….

    1. londonedit*

      Have you seen a mouse? Are there mouse droppings around? I really wouldn’t take the Tupperware lid as solid mouse evidence! If you have a mouse there will be obvious droppings on any surfaces the mouse has been on. They poo everywhere.

      Also, if you do have a mouse, know that it’s not because your kitchen or house is dirty. Mice get into the tiniest of spaces and they go for the tiniest crumbs of food. So basically what you need to do is make sure any food is stored in mouse-proof containers (glass, metal etc) and you don’t leave food out on the counter tops.

      If you do go down the poison route, what the poison does is basically kill and desiccate the mouse. So the mouse will go off and die somewhere, and its body will just desiccate so there isn’t a smell.

      Having said all of that, please make sure you’re not worrying yourself over nothing! This is a big reaction to have when you haven’t actually seen a mouse or mouse droppings with your own eyes!

      1. MOUSE! IN THE KITCHEN!*

        There were droppings in the drying rack this time. That’s why I wasn’t totally convinced the first time… This time I’m more sure. I’ve got some traps – if I actually trap a mouse I’ll get some poison. Is there a certain kind to look for or are they all the same?

        1. fposte*

          I’d let pest control set baits rather than buying my own, unless your landlord is refusing to get them in. If you do get poison, get the kind in blocks rather than the granular kind and put it in your most basementy-atticky crawlspacey areas, because you really don’t want to encounter a half-dead mouse or have them die outside where they’ll be eaten by something else. While the poison is a dessicant, mice do smell for a day or two when they die, so don’t be freaked out by that. It’ll pass.

    2. fposte*

      Okay, first, take a breath :-). This isn’t a lethal emergency; it’s a situation that most of humanity lives with. You can too.

      Second, if you’re not seeing any poop, it’s not that likely to have been a mouse. They don’t hold it in. It sounds like your brain goes to that because it’s your most dreaded scenario.

      However, traps–cheap snap traps–are a reasonable response just in case, because they’re inexpensive and won’t likely damage anything. Put down a couple and see if you catch anything. If you do catch mice in the traps, I’d start with your landlord and see what they’ll do for pest control, because a pest control person will have a better idea than you will of what needs to be blocked up. (And cats aren’t a reliable deterrent. Only get a cat if you’d enjoy having a cat even if you have mice.)

      It’s not impossible for humans to get a disease from mice, but it is pretty rare, especially considering that humans and mice coexist pretty much everywhere. You’re also not going to catch anything just from the mice just being mice–they actually have to carry the hantavirus in the first place before they can give it to you. Wash your counters just in case and have a look around your kitchen, but if you don’t see any poop and don’t catch anything in the traps, it’s not likely to be mice.

      1. MOUSE! IN THE KITCHEN!*

        I as I told the other person – there were droppings so I’m a bit more sure… though it was one dropping in one spot. I have a feeling its one random mouse making the rounds of the complex because the top of the container wasn’t moving every time – just those two times…. other days it was exactly where I left it which was weird.

        Every website I visit about mice talk about how you can get sick from them…. (though I guess it’s the “abundance of caution” exaggeration thing)….

        I’m going to keep cleaning the dishes at least sine I already started. It will make me feel better. Everything else in the apartment can wait and see if I actually catch anything I suppose.

        1. fposte*

          Websites aren’t epidemiology :-). Many of them also want to sell you something, or are written by people with anxiety about these things, or written by people who don’t know what they’re talking about. Only specific kinds of mice carry the hantavirus (deer mice, not house mice), and it’s nonexistent in some parts of the country; also, even in deer mice most don’t carry the virus and it doesn’t last very long outside of them. Mostly when you have mice it’s just gross and annoying.

          But since you’ve got poop, definitely consider calling the landlord on Monday to see about getting pest control in, whether you catch any in the traps or not.

          1. MOUSE! IN THE KITCHEN!*

            I already let the main office know and there only reaction was to drop off a trap that doesn’t kill the mouse (which I used last night but didn’t catch anything for which I’m kind of glad because I wasn’t thrilled with the idea of having to get that trap open to let the mouse out – it would not have been easy to open it)…

            I’m going to email my actual landlord today about it though. I live in a complex that’s mostly condos with some rental units so the complex has an office but then the rented unites like mine have their own landlords.

            1. fposte*

              Sounds like you’re doing all the right things. And while I understand the desire to avoid killing stuff, the live traps just bring their own set of problems–like where you’re relocating this mouse to and whose problem you’re making it instead.

              If your landlord isn’t helpful, you could call some local pest control to see what they’d charge if you called them out. Check Yelp, etc. for reviews (often a local is better than a chain). In my area for an apartment visit it would probably be under $100, depending on what they did and where they had to go for it, and it might be worth it for peace of mind.

    3. alex b*

      Ugh, I’m sorry. I had a terrible mice problem for a month or so at my last apartment in Queens. As others said– you will see droppings (LOTS! like, not just 1 speck) and find food bags torn and nibbled at. I’m not sure about this Tupperware moving thing; that doesn’t match my mice experience. We saw all clues very low to the ground. And we also saw an actual mouse a few times running along floorboards.

      What worked for us were electronic traps, though they are kind of traumatizing, and I always asked somebody else to take care of the aftermath. You can google it but the brand we used was Victor.

      I understand being grossed out, but you’re going to be fine. They’re not going to nest in your furniture! And at least it’s better than roaches.

      What I will say is it might be worth doing a full-scale pest extermination. All my NYC apartments have had sign-ups for the monthly exterminator visit. Do you have that option? Ask the Super; they don’t want this problem any more than you do, and the property owner will probably pay for it. It’s NOT your fault!

      (Also don’t get a cat just for this reason!)

    4. LuJessMin*

      I have two indoor cats and several outdoor ones (strays that know they can come to my house twice a day for meals) and I have mice. I thought I had gotten rid of them – it had been over a week since the last one trapped, but I saw one this morning. I’ve put down a new trap baited with peanut butter – now it’s just waiting time.

      1. LuJessMin*

        Update: My girl Minnie (who also answers to Mousie) caught the mouse this evening, which is quite a feat because she only has about 3 teeth. After she dropped it, my boy Jesse picked it up and I was able to grab a towel and get it away from him. I threw it to the outside cats, and Fluffernutter walked away with it.

    5. MOUSE! IN THE KITCHEN!*

      Update: There’s DEFINITELY a mouse! Just checked the trap under the sink that I put down earlier this morning and there was one big fat dead mouse…. I put the second trap one I have down there too in case there’s another one that comes looking….. I’ve been in touch with the landlord for my unit and I’ll update him with the fact that I caught the mouse under the sink. That’s likely where they’re coming in as there are a couple holes. I’m kind of hoping its one adventurous mouse but of course that’s wishful thinking.

      Also I should be clear – I have no intention of actually getting a cat for the reasons I already said — they’d get everywhere and anything “gross” on the floor would be on the counters too. AND I see from other comments they’re unreliable mouse control.

      1. londonedit*

        Mice will chew through just about anything, but plugging any holes with wire wool can help. Otherwise you’re doing the right things – you basically need to make your kitchen the least appealing one in the building, so any mice realise it’s not worth their while coming into your house. They go where the easy food is. So keeping surfaces clean and free of crumbs, and making sure food is stored in mouse-proof containers, is the most important thing.

        1. MOUSE! IN THE KITCHEN!*

          I’ll have to see about getting some wire wool – is that steal wool too? The stuff you can use to scrub certain pots? I’ll look it up either way since it would help temporally at least until the landlord sends someone in to patch the holes more permanently.

          Might as well go get some now since I only have one trap left.

          1. GoryDetails*

            Yes, I was going to recommend that too – steel wool can help block the little mouse-access paths. I had some old Brill-o pads that I wedged into the hole around the plumbing pipe last time I found mice in my kitchen. I used snap-traps to get rid of any mice that were stuck on the kitchen-side of the blockage, and that took care of it. (I think the Tomcat brand of snap-traps is a bit easier to use, though I’ve also used the classic wire-on-a-board ones.) Good luck!

            1. MOUSE! IN THE KITCHEN!*

              Just stuffed a bunch of holes this morning with steal wool — hoping that will at least slow them down. A mouse did manage to spring one of the traps last night but was not caught. Also helped itself to the peanut butter that was in the trap…… new trap is in its place.

              1. E*

                I learned by trial and error that sometimes it helps to stick something in the peanut butter, like a piece of dog food. Then they end up pulling on it more and set off the trap, instead of just eating the peanut butter off the trap.

          1. Miss Pantalones En Fuego*

            They will chew through that pretty quickly if they want to. That said, our pest control people used a combination of steel wool and spray foam.

    6. mreasy*

      We had mice and a peppermint oil diffuser made them go away! Not sure if this helps in your case but apparently it’s an effective repellant.

      1. Blueberry*

        I was about to suggest this. Peppermint oil and large sealable plastic containers helped us get rid of our mous problem.

    7. Miss Pantalones En Fuego*

      Don’t panic! I’ve been having an ongoing problem with both mice *and* rats and I’m not dead yet. They are resourceful little critters so they can find their way into all kinds of places. There’s probably a tiny gap somewhere like under the counter where the water or gas pipes come in. If you can put things up in a higher cabinet or something for a while I’d do that.

      I’d look at how much it costs to hire a professional company to come inspect and plug any holes they might find. Here in London or was quite reasonable. It might not last forever but it will help.

    8. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd (ENTP)*

      There are 2 things to look at here – as you rightly identified. 1) Mice in the apartment and 2) Anxiety about germs, surfaces, food prep areas, etc.

      1. Mice

      Can you set up a camera to record the area in question when you’re not there? (they can be had quite cheaply these days and come with their own motion sensing app etc) At least you could catch them “in the act” and be sure what you are dealing with then.

      I’m not saying you don’t have a mouse, but I am pretty sure a mouse can’t move a container lid in such a way that it couldn’t have just fallen (i.e. maybe it’s possible that the mouse was running around there and knocked it over… but I get the sense it was in a position where it had to have been “put”) And this has happened twice… so there is something going on here.

      Yes put the traps out, but be prepared for the possibility that they won’t trap anything. Mice can be quite elusive like that.

      If a mouse could have gotten over your dishes etc I think it’s good to put them in the dishwasher — I don’t think you need to throw out the drying rack (especially if that can be put in the dishwasher as well) but don’t blame you for throwing it out!

      Probably until you find out what’s going on you will want to wipe down everything.

      2. Anxiety about germs from the mice

      I’m not a doctor and I don’t want to “armchair diagnose” but I get the sense that you already alluded to anxiety about germs and so on (that now you can handle dropping something on the floor and picking it up not thinking you have to wipe it with disinfectant stuff).

      I have ‘suffered with’ (I put in quotes because I know a lot of people challenge that terminology and I can understand that… but I did suffer) anxiety for most of my life, currently well controlled, but hasn’t always been (in my adult life). I remember coming home to my apartment and finding a slug in the kitchen floor (still no idea how it got there!) and going all out on slug killing treatments etc.

      My anxiety manifested many different ways but often, like yours, with the suggestion of a ready made resolution “scrub down with Clorox wipes” “get a cat” for example — for each thing there’s an immediate response and reaction. As I say I’m not a doctor etc but the “get a cat” suggestion seems to be just replacing the unknown (germs from mice) with something known (cat walking on the counters).

      3.

      Why did you jump to assuming it was a mouse? “yesterday I realized there was in fact a mouse getting into my apartment… I wasn’t entirely sure last week” You seem quite self aware so it may be worth thinking a bit more about this.

      Btw mice mostly don’t just leave one dropping (ask me how I know — my cat brought a mouse INTO the house and then lost track of it!) so are you sure you have identified the dropping correctly?

  36. Can't pet every cat*

    Cat lover and potential first-time cat owner here!

    I would love to adopt a kitty, but as someone who grew up around dogs and dog owners I know almost nothing about cats. Any advice for a first-time cat owner (or rather, cat servant)?

    My main questions right now are:
    – How much space do cats need? I currently live in a 950 square foot apartment.
    – Is it better to adopt two cats at the same time so they can keep each other entertained while I’m at work during the day?
    – Where do you put the litter box? My bathroom doesn’t have the floor space for a litter box, and I don’t have a laundry or utility closet either. Maybe just tucked away in a corner of the living room?

    Thank you all!

    1. Jedi Squirrel*

      Most of the apartments in my complex are right around 950 square feet, and when I go for a walk in the evening, I see a lot of kitties peering at me from their cat climbing thingies (my mind is blowing a circuit trying to remember what those are called) in the window. So yes, I think that is plenty of space.

      From what I’ve read, two cats are better than one if you are going to be gone to work for a large part of the day.

      I have no idea about #3, and I am interested, as I also live in a similar apartment and have been thinking about getting a kitty.

      1. Jedi Squirrel*

        I just texted my friend, and he says he and his girlfriend put the litter box in the front hall closet with the door half closed. It gives the kitty some privacy. They also use rather expensive kitty litter and plug in diffusers to mask the smell. I’ve been to their apartment and never noticed the smell, so this works.

          1. Can't pet every cat*

            I have two hall closets, so putting the litter box in one of them is a great idea if the cat needs privacy and doesn’t like having the box in the living room. Appreciate the litter tip too – I’m on a budget but am willing to spend a little more for something that’s worth it, especially if it helps control smells.

            1. Venus*

              A cheaper option is to mix some baking soda (which is used in fridges to absorb smells) into the litter. My best suggestion for smells is to get a clumping litter (I prefer one of the biodegradable ones, but clumping clay tends to be the best by far for a budget) and clean it daily.

    2. Plus Ultra*

      Long time cat owner here. When cats are younger, they need places to climb and run. Investing in a few taller cat trees (they are expensive but they last forever) makes a huge difference in their well-being and it also saves your furniture from scratching (I’m vehemently opposed to declawing cats because it’s a cruel practice). If you’re going to be away for super long stretches of time, it might be good to get two, but you can start with one and see if he/she needs a buddy. Ideally, you’d adopt two who are litter mates becuase that tends to cut down on the aggressive new cat vs old cat battles. Our first cat needed a buddy but when he passed a few years ago we realized our second cat is much happier as loner.

      You put the box where it’s convenient for them, but not in your way. We’ve put boxes in the corner of the kitchen (easier to clean up), in the bathroom, in the office, in the living room. I suggest a covered box. Gives them privacy and it’s a little less in-your-face that you have a cat.

      1. The Other Dawn*

        Another longtime cat owner and self-identified crazy cat lady here. I agree with all of this.

        950 square feet is plenty and giving them a few cat trees so they can climb and scratch will be good for them. Some cats love to climb and be up off the floor.

        In regards to the litter box, you can try a covered one and see how the cat(s) likes it. Some cats don’t like a closed box, because they feel trapped, while others prefer it. I’d put the box wherever it’s most convenient for them.

        1. Can't pet every cat*

          Thank you, this is very helpful! I have a lot of wall space so my plan would be to put shelves up for the cat(s) to climb on in addition to the cat trees.

          1. The Other Dawn*

            Oh, that’s an awesome idea! it would make good use of your space. I really want to do that in my house, but my house is very old (280+) and there’s really only one room where I could realistically do that.

          2. General von Klinkerhoffen*

            If you’re having multiple cats (which I would recommend – and shelters will often advertise bonded pairs as such) then you will need multiple litter trays.

            Many people keep the litter tray in the bathroom. Ours has one by the back door and one by the recycling tubs. We have hooded trays and they contain litter and smells very well.

          3. I'm A Little Teapot*

            Just make sure to anchor shelves into studs. Cats may not seem big, but when they’re jumping around they can land with a lot of force.

        2. Auntie Social*

          Cat trees are expensive but you can find them for very little on Nextdoor or Craigslist. Make sure they’re in good shape. I’ve bought trees from older ladies going into nursing homes (so me in 30 years) who rehomed their cats and I got all kinds of toys too.

          1. The Other Dawn*

            Yes, cat trees can be very expensive! I usually get mine at the local warehouse club or places like Ocean State Job Lot. Not a big selection, but if you want something at a somewhat decent price, they often have them.

      2. tangerineRose*

        About declawing – it amputates the first digit of each “finger” on the cat’s paw, which changes the way they walk (which can cause health problems). Also, while the cat is healing, the litter in the litterbox will probably hurt their paws, and the cat may start avoid using the box. (I learned this from watching Jackson Galaxy and reading kitty books; my cats have always kept their claws.)

        I’d suggest getting 2 kitties, especially if you can find littermates or a bonded pair of cats. Shelters like adopting bonded kitties together, and it can be tougher for them to find a home for 2. Plus, this way you have 2 kitties who like each other and can be company for each other.

        Litterbox stuff – some cats don’t like scented litter. Some cats do and some don’t like covered litter boxes. Some of this is about trying stuff and seeing what they like.

        1. Can't pet every cat*

          Definitely against declawing and will not be putting any cats I have through that.

          I’d like to get a bonded pair or two littermates, but I’m not sure if two cats are in my budget at the moment. My apartment charges a pretty hefty deposit fee per pet. So I’ve been considering if I want to get just get one cat, or wait a while until I know I can afford owning two.

          1. The Other Dawn*

            What you can do is tell the rescue you’re looking for a cat that needs to be the only cat in the house. They often have a hard time placing cats that don’t like other cats/pets, so this would likely be music to their ears. (I volunteer with a cat rescue.)

          2. TL -*

            My kitty is an only cat and I got her at 11-12 weeks.
            I had a lot of time to play with her (and stairs, which really helped) and that was great for a kitten in lieu of a playmate. She is grown now and not so much a fan of other cats; if she were to get a new owner, would definitely prefer to go to a single-cat house. So getting an older cat would be my suggestion if you don’t have time to burn energy off a kitten.

            That being said, I really liked raising her from a kitten; she is very well-behaved, and responds to a couple of commands, including “no ma’am,” really consistently.

          3. AcademiaNut*

            There’s also the option of adopting an older cat that’s past the excessive energy kitten phase, and happy sleeping most of the day.

          4. Venus*

            Definitely agree with The Other Dawn: there are a lot of cats that need homes, so talk with a rescue about finding the right match for you.

            There are shelter- and foster-based rescues. Shelters are great as they can help a lot more cats (and dogs), yet they aren’t always ideal for first-time adopters as they don’t have a lot of info about the cat. Although some shelters do have fostering programs, so you might be lucky. Foster-based rescues require you to go to someone’s home to meet the animal, which is a bit more work for the adopter. They can also be run by some rather quirky personalities, so you might want to do some research and look at online reviews. Facebook is really popular here with rescues, so you can learn more about the people and cats before actually approaching them. With the right foster-based rescue you will learn a lot about each cat’s preferences, and they should help you find the right match. Our rescue will get requests for friendly and/or cuddly cats, or ones that are good with kids, cats, and/or dogs, or the people who insist on a calico… we can’t help with every request, yet if you are looking for a ‘young cat that does well on their own yet wouldn’t mind a buddy in future’ then they should definitely be able to help. If you don’t get a helpful response from the rescue, or if the foster home doesn’t know much about the cat, then I encourage you to try a different group (some are better and take more time than others). Some cats like others, and some are more loners, and others either need or can’t be around other animals, so it’s all about finding the right balance for you.

            No matter what animal you are adopting, it is all about finding the right match for you. Take a bit of time, feel free to ask questions, and when you find the right cat then it will be one that makes you excited for who they are. Don’t settle for ‘I guess this one is okay, except for… (they’re really noisy / too quiet, not very cuddly / too pushy, too playful / too lethargic)” because you have many years together and you should love every bit about them.

            Good luck!

          5. Senor Montoya*

            Get a good pair of cat clippers. If you start when they are young they get used to having their front claws clipped.

    3. lick my paws*

      well, I live in an 800sq ft apt with two other people and a cat, so you’ll be fine. Put the litter box where it’s convenient for you. I put it in the foyer. It will smell, and while you will get used to the smell, your guests may not. One or two cats depends entirely on their personality. We got our last two cats as singles, and they were fine. you do have to play with them, though.

    4. RC Rascal*

      Some cats demand litter box privacy. At one of my apartments my mom sewed kitty a privacy curtain to make him happy.

      I suggest putting the box somewhere on a hard surface. Some kitties have poor aim, especially the boys.

    5. Lockstep*

      Be sure to adopt a kitten that has been hand raised: they need a lot of interaction with people prior to 12 weeks of age, otherwise they’re not very loving or cuddly.
      It doesn’t mean you can’t adopt an older cat, it just means the cat will probly be standoffish for quite a while.

      1. Ask a Manager* Post author

        This really varies by cat. Tinykittens.com is doing some really interesting work on this, showing that feral cats can be socialized and end up very loving and affectionate. It just depends on the cat and how much time you’re willing to put in. (Our Eve was semi-feral when she came to us at about 5 months old, and she’s now the most affectionate cat in the house.)

        1. Can't pet every cat*

          Would this research happen to be Grandpa Mason, the old feral cat that ended up being a sweetie who loves fostering kittens?

          1. I'm A Little Teapot*

            He never got truly friendly with humans I think, though he did become more tolerant. He LOVED the kittens. TinyKittens has been doing a ton of work in general with several feral populations, Mason was just a very visible individual. I’m quite impressed with their work in general, and the open sharing of information they’re doing.

            1. Ask a Manager* Post author

              Yeah, that’s true, so Mason maybe isn’t the perfect example after all! His love of kittens blinded me. But they’ve had lots of other previously feral cats who are now friendly with humans — with Sloaney perhaps the most dramatic example of a before and after. Skye is another good one (loves humans).

        2. Seeking Second Childhood*

          I’ve helped bring in two formerly feral cats–one adult who had escaped as a kitten in my neighborhood, and one born to a feral mama. Both ended up snuggly lap cats–but not with me. One tolerated me… the other fled if she even heard my voice on speakerphone. I think I was so associated with the trapping trauma and initial vet visit that they never forgot.

          1. Worked in IT forever*

            Hello fellow feral cat person! We adopted two feral cats out of a colony that we helped with. One was an older kitten who lost the feral wildness after a couple of weeks and eventually turned into the most laid-back cat ever. She passed away a couple of years ago, and we miss her dearly. The other was a young pregnant adult who was a much harder case. She was very wild and and scared of humans for much longer. After a while and work on our part, she got to the point where she was fine inside but a bit skittish around people and not interested in coming for attention. Eventually, she turned into a sucky cat. She comes for attention and likes to sleep with us. She’s an old cat now, and I don’t want to think about losing her.

            Both cats were absolutely worth the time and effort. I would definitely consider adopting another feral.

        3. Lockstep*

          I just watched a special on Nova called “Cat Tails” where they covered hand raising kittens to acclimate them to human interaction.
          I agree that working with cats of any age will improve sociability with humans if you have the time.

        4. Venus*

          In my experience, an adult feral cat that is truly feral will not become too friendly with humans. They may eventually tolerate humans, and a kitten under 6 months can become friendly if worked with (males more quickly than females), yet I suspect that many adult cats who become friendly were socialized with humans before 12 weeks and then later abandoned. I have been involved with numerous rescues in a couple cities that have trapped many very scared and feral-seeming cats, yet in short time quite a few of them become loving house-pets. In some cases microchips have allowed us to determine that they started as loved pets.

          Good rescues bring in trapped cats and actively work with them for a few months. If they improve then they get adopted out into new homes, and in some cases they are clearly not happy with humans and go back outside as a TNVRC (trap, neuter, vaccinate, release, managed colony). Feral queens can be kept in a safe spot and the kittens are worked with quite a bit (held daily from a very young age) to ensure that they aren’t taught any bad habits – fear of humans – by their mother. Once weaned then mama can be worked with (ideally by someone else, as they can be protective of their kittens so a new home is a new start).

          Every cat deserves a chance at a spoiled indoor life, but not every cat will be happy that way. Thankfully there are a lot of people who work hard to give them that chance, yet it is only with effective spay/neuter programs that the source can be addressed (especially any programs focused on low-income communities, where people with big hearts want to help yet quickly end up with unmanageable colonies when they can’t get the first cat spayed. The best programs not only offer to get the cat fixed cheaply, but they also arrange volunteers with cars as people without much money are rarely in a position to take a day off work and many don’t have a car (although the US might be different as cars seem to be everywhere)).

          I’m not familiar with the online work (I have seen tinykittens mentioned, but don’t know anything about them, although I had heard of Mason). Many cities in my country have their own rescue community where people help each other out. I learned about feral cats years ago from someone who came over to my home and spent hours with a few volunteers who hadn’t yet worked with a true feral, to show us how to work with them (it was an old mother cat, who ended up being a TNR, and her adult son who eventually learned to tolerate people). Now I help out new volunteers in my community, in addition to many others who do the same. Twenty years ago the ‘crazy cat lady’ stereotype was really strong, where someone working with trapped cats would be viewed as very strange. Now things are changing, and I am really hopeful that in the next 20 years the spay/neuter programs will have an effect and it will become a rarity for kittens to be born outside. It happened with dogs – in the Northern US they are importing dogs from the southern US because spay/neuter worked and there is a huge demand for rescue mutts – and I am strongly of the belief that cats will one day be equally lucky.

      2. tangerineRose*

        I adopted a young adult cat (a few years old) who had apparently been a stray before being taken in by the shelter. He’s very cuddly and even pretty demanding about it sometimes (which is cute!), but when I first met him, he was quite shy. He still is shy with most people.

    6. Roja*

      -They don’t need much space. I’ve lived everywhere from 600 square feet to 2400 with my current two cats and they actually seem to like the smaller spaces better. Just make sure there’s things to explore–a windowsill, a cat tree, toys, whatever they personally like. We don’t spoil our cats with stuff (just kisses haha) but they seem to like sleeping spots in the sun, bonus points if they can look out a window at the same time. But don’t feel like you need to fill up your house with cat stuff. It’s really not necessary.
      -Yes, in general. If you don’t feel up to getting two, get an older cat who doesn’t get along well with other animals. But if you get a kitten, get two. It really does help. Especially if you work long hours or travel, it’s awfully hard on them to be alone for so long and a second cat will take care of most of that issue.
      –Depends on the space. In 950 square feet, do you have an extra bedroom or a den? A foyer of any kind? There’s lots of nice furniture you can find that disguises the box if it’s out in the open. I wouldn’t put an open box in the living room if you can help it. We had to do that for a few years and it’s not ideal. Don’t fall into the scoop once a week trap regardless of where the box is, but also because it’s in a public place and needs to not stink. Be fastidious, scoop every day or twice a day, get high quality litter, wash the box consistently, and also feed your cat high quality food. There’s no need to have a nasty odor if you’re taking care of things well!

    7. Count Boochie Flagrante*

      Whether or not you need multiples really depends on the cat(s) involved. Without really trying, I’ve mostly wound up with loner cats; the late Dame Fluffles HAAAATED other animals in her space and had the happiest years of her life when it was just me and her. Her successor, Lady Scamper, seems a little understimulated as an only child, but is a lot more affectionate and carefree than she was living with another cat, so I’m still trying to decide if I ought to get her a companion or not.

      Age also plays into it a lot. Younger cats are more in need of a buddy to help them burn off energy and play, while older cats who really just want to lie around and chill can probably do better on their own.

      950sqft is fine for a cat, especially one who leans on the chill side.

      The biggest consideration for litterbox placement, imo, is really to make sure that it’s not anywhere near the cat’s food & water. That will upset them big time. My apartment has a linoleum entryway, which is where the box is parked. Last place didn’t have an entryway, so I just shoved it in a corner of the living room. As long as it works for your space and isn’t near the food, you’re probably fine.

    8. Fikly*

      Vertical space is actually much more important than square footage – if you give them trees, or perches on windows (they make beds that attach to window sills) or some shelving they can climb, they will be very happy.

      The younger they are, the more important it will be for you to get a pair. If you get a senior, they might be content by themselves, but younger = more energy = they need a play partner.

    9. Gatomon*

      – 950 sq ft is plenty, I had a cat in 595 sq ft for years.

      – Some cats like other cats, some don’t. Ask the shelter staff how the cat is with others, or try to find a pair already bonded. Solo cats are fine too though.

      – You can put it in the corner of the living room. I had to do that in my apartment. It sucked, frankly. I really liked Tidy Cats unscented for odor control and Litter Genie to hold the clumps between garbage runs. But there will be dust and cat litter scattered about. A robot vacuum helps.

    10. Seeking Second Childhood*

      Friends used to have their litter box under the bathroom sink — they took the doors off the cabinet base so kitty could never got locked away from her box. I think they had it face sideways so she walked over a bath mat before exiting the closet, which kept the litter from getting onto the main floor.

    11. Sleve McDichael*

      Two cats means 3 litter boxes, so remember that. If you get two cats, I would recommend getting two that are friends already as it’s a lot of work to socialise two cats and I wouldn’t recommend it for a beginner. If you just want one, go to a shelter and ask for a cat that likes people but hates other cats. That will show up reasonably young and there will be a few of them. They’re often very affectionate as they’re getting all their interactions from you, and cat people are less likely to adopt just one, sadly.

      Litter box rules is number of cats +1. Stick to that. It doesn’t matter what litter they’re were using at the shelter, you don’t have to match it when you come home, that’s a fallacy. You only need to match the style of box, which will probably be a tray, and only for a few weeks.

      Paper stinks, is hard to dispose of and you have to get rid of the whole tray. Don’t do it. Crystals are bad for kittens, especially scented ones as they damage the respiratory tract because they’re close to the stuff. Older cats are fine, but I think they stink like perfumed poop so I avoid them. Clumping clay is great because you just remove the clumps, not the whole box, so it lasts a long time. Make it deep though, otherwise the wee leaks to the bottom instead of forming a ball and you have to scrape it off the bottom. If you can, get it with charcoal. Charcoal is a scent-free deodouriser and it works really really well. Everyone who comes to our house is amazed that our bathroom doesn’t stink.

      Clean your tray twice a day. Cats are prone to kidney problems and part of that can come from holding on if they don’t like the box. They’ll also stop drinking to avoid weeing and that will hurt them. We use compostable plastic bags so I don’t feel guilty about binning a bag a day. Yep one bag, night and morning then binned.

      Sorry that’s a lot, I tried to cover the stuff people don’t usually mention to new cat owners. Cats are actually very easy, and very affectionate when you learn how to listen. Have fun!

      1. Can't pet every cat*

        Thank you, this was all very helpful! I was hoping someone would mention things that don’t usually get mentioned to first-time cat owners. Especially since I’d have no idea where to begin when choosing litter.

        I don’t have the space right now for 3 litterboxes, which means one cat would be better. Potentially dumb question here, but does one cat need one litter box, or two? Just want to be as prepared as possible when the time comes!

        1. Millennial Lizard Person*

          While a rule of thumb is (# of cats)+1 = # of litterboxes, I have 2 cats who grew up together since they were kittens, and we’ve only ever had 1 litterbox. Cats who are introduced later in life tend to Not Want To Share Bathrooms.

          1. Senor Montoya*

            Same here. Good sized box tucked into a closet with the door taken off, I scoop it in the morning, when I get home from work, and before bed. Change out the litter at least once a week. I use feline pine non-clumping little.

        2. TL -*

          I’d start with 2 if you can – my cat has two but one is really big and she’s transitioned to just using that. Previously she’s preferred two.

        3. Venus*

          I foster a lot of cats and tend to go with a litter box per cat. The recommendation is for more, but if you clean them regularly then it doesn’t really matter. Just be forewarned that some cats can be quirky with their use, although those tend to be exceptions, yet they still exist. For example some cats need two boxes – one for pee and one for poop. Others want covered, and others need to look around them (covered ones can get smelly, and for the same reason ‘self cleaning’ can get really stinky). Never use scented litter! Most cats really don’t care, but if you get one that does then it can be a bit of a trick to figure it out.

          I use clumping, but not the clay as environmentally it isn’t great, and there are some nice biodegradables (grass-, wheat-, corn-, nut-, … -based), but I used clay for years just fine when I was on a limited budget. Avoid anything synthetic, and the wood and paper pellets (Yesterday’s News) are good for a shelter (cheap) but aren’t as good about covering up smells and need to be fully replaced much more often (which happens anyway in a shelter, which is why they like them so much).

          1. Lizzie*

            I read somewhere to always avoid clumping cat litter for kittens, as they may eat it.
            My cat was eight when I got her, and whenever she uses the litter box (an open tray) she will miaw loudly and frequently, until I go and remove the offending clump. I put bicarb soda in the bottom of the litter tray, and (unscented) clumping litter on top, and (under instruction from her) remove any clumps several times a day. She will sometimes supervise the immediate clump removal, and then use the tray again; if I had room for 2 trays she might approve that. I presume she is shouting “STAFF!” when she miaws after using the box.
            My previous cat, who always had indoor/outdoor access, would run down the garden and up the hall to use her box, apparently toileting in the garden was NOT ON. She was three when I got her, and completely bonded to using a large plastic storage container (no lid) which had one end partially cut down so she could step in more easily. The container sides were about 15 inches/40 centimetres and certainly reduced the amount of litter that got kicked around.

        4. J*

          We have one cat with one litterbox and she is fine with it! We do clean it twice a day though. This does depend on your cat’s personality–some cats don’t like peeing and pooping in the same box. We have also found that sWheat Scoop is the best litter for us/her. It’s made out of wheat, so it is completely biodegradable and if you have a good enough plumbing system, it is also flushable, which makes it much easier for us! It’s worth seeing if your cat will like it just for the environmental factor alone. It is also helpful to get one of those little tracking pads for just outside the litter box to limit the amount of litter that comes out of the box on their paws.

        5. Forrest Gumption*

          I have two large cats and one jumbo litter box, and my cats do fine with it. I just keep it very clean. I have to clean it at least once, sometimes twice a day. I honestly do not have space for two or even three litter boxes in my tiny apartment.

          1. Sleve McDichael*

            The trouble is, if a cat is ‘holding it’ until your litter box is cleaned (and sometimes they don’t go straight away even then), you can’t really tell until they get a uti or kidney damage. Especially as a new cat owner which OP is. Cats are stubborn. My two cats use the trays enough that I have to clean them twice a day but if I ever don’t clean them they don’t get any fuller and that’s not good. You have your cats now but if OP can’t fit at least 1:1 litter boxes for two new cats I would suggest just one. Or rats instead, rats are lovely!

        6. Windchime*

          I have one cat and he only has one litterbox. It’s tucked away in the laundry room, and it’s a covered box because he flings litter all over the place otherwise. If I had to put it in more public place, I would probably choose a closet or something. In the past, I had two cats and two litterboxes. It was not an ideal situation; one cat would stare agressively at the other when she used the litterbox. But they never really got along anyway.

    12. Star Nursery*

      That’s exciting! Cats are fabulous pets and very entertaining! Some thoughts:
      Each cat has a different personality so you can find some cats love sitting on your lap and purring and some will play fetch, some are vocal (Siamese) and meow a lot, some are quiet, some are crazy energetic and some are very chill (Ragdoll). Kittens are adorable but have more training needed and energy. They usually learn to use the litter box within a day and if there are accidents outside the box it’s usually either because the box is not clean enough or because of stress or health reasons.

      There are a variety of types of litter. I used to like clumping non scented and lately I’ve preferred pellets since less of the little ends up scattered around the house. Most cats prefer a clean litter box and can start having accidents outside the litter box if it’s not clean enough.

      If you get a kitten, get a pair so they can play and get their energy out with each other.

      I highly recommend a pet water fountain. Cats love running water and it also helps cats get more water / helps cats that may have kidney problems.

    13. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd (ENTP)*

      Owned by 3 cats myself (for 10, 7 and 7 years). I have a similar floor space to you, although mine are ‘outdoor’ cats I think if you have a variety of “distinct” spaces in your apartment (like separate rooms / walled off areas rather than everything open plan) or have build up spaces for cats to avoid each other when needed then it will be ok.

      If there is a “pair” of cats (who are already attached) at the rescue that would probably be a good option. One may get bored by themself during the day but it depends on their personality (rescue will be able to advise you on this). My oldest cat was an “only cat” for 3 years and happy with it as she is a total couch potato and happy with her own company, sleeping a lot during the day, or making her own entertainment with toys. She likes the other 2 but I think she was equally happy as an “only cat” as she is now. Some cats are happy to get on by themself for 10-12 hours!

      Put the litter box wherever it suits as long as it isn’t close to their food. I’m not sure who told you to put the litter box in the bathroom but that’s just one option — I have 3 litter boxes and none are in the bathroom, they are in the entrance hallway (sounds grander than it is), my office (spare bedroom) and my partners office (other spare bedroom). It sounds obvious but you need to show them where it is, maybe a few times.

    14. Out of the box thinker*

      Well I’m trying to find homes for several cats that were my grandfathers. (The current number is too high for my grandmother-we r trying to get it down to just 7 cats) He died in Dec. problem is cats showing up and getting taken in has occurred for yrs. so most of my relatives and friends already are at max cat capacity.

  37. Anon4Today*

    At what point do you turn the corner from “hanging out” to “dating” ?

    I’ve recently become very close to a friend of mine, who I met last year through a larger group of people. Tonight will be the third time that we’re hanging out just the two of us (the previous two Saturdays being the first and second). We’ve been texting every day for the last month. Sounds like all the steps towards dating, right? Except we’ve never acknowledged out loud that that’s basically what we’re doing, no feelings have been expressed, and so far the hangouts have ended with “cool, seeya later” and then we continue to text as early as the next morning.

    I have no experience with dating whatsoever, so I don’t know what a normal timeline looks like. Any insight/advice would be appreciated!

    1. Misty*

      I think it really depends on the people.

      I had a friend where we hung out once and then we literally started dating a few hours after that officially. On the other hand, I had a friend where we hung out almost every day for a year and everyone thought we were dating and we never started officially dating. And I’ve had other things in between like someone hung out with me and thought I was interested in them but I really just thought we were friends, and vise versa.

      So I really think it depends on the people? Sorry this prob isn’t a helpful comment.

      1. Misty*

        Also sometimes gender and religion plays a part. For instance, I’m gay so usually I’m just super upfront about if I like another woman or not because if I’m really interested in her, I don’t want her to assume I just want to be friends. But when I thought I was straight, I would usually just wait for guys to ask me out. I have some female friends who wait for guys to make the first move, and I have some guy friends who wait for females to hint that they are interested before they ask them out so they don’t have to deal with rejection. (But a large part of this could be age also as most of these people are low to mid twenties).

    2. Anonymous Educator*

      Except we’ve never acknowledged out loud that that’s basically what we’re doing, no feelings have been expressed

      Do folks still use the term DTR (Define the Relationship)? Sounds as if you might need to have one of those talks soon.

      I have no experience with dating whatsoever, so I don’t know what a normal timeline looks like.

      I don’t think there’s a timeline anyone strictly adheres to. It’s whatever works for you / you two.

      1. Myrin*

        Do folks still use the term DTR (Define the Relationship)? Sounds as if you might need to have one of those talks soon.

        Agreed. Because the thing is, what you’re doing isn’t a surefire way to dating. It could just be… well, becoming close friends. I always feel like there’s a cultural difference in these things between my home and the US but here, it’s totally normal to just hang out one-on-one with a friend or to text daily. I’ve done both of these things, and I’m not one for extremely close friends or relationships!
        It’s not about what you do, outwardly, it’s about whether you’re actually developing feelings – romantic, sexual, or simply “I want to date them” – towards that person.

        So yeah, think some clarifying thoughts and have a clarifying talk, I’d say!

    3. The Gollux, Not a Mere Device*

      As others have said, there’s no single timeline, and you don’t have to be on what I’ve seen called the Relationship Escalator if that’s not what you want.

      So, first: do you want to date this person? If so, you should probably say something, like “Name, I really enjoy these hang-outs and would like to date you” or “would you like to go on a date with me?”

    4. WeirdQuestion*

      Texting every day and hanging out one-on-one doesn’t sound like steps toward dating to me. With no other details, it sounds like you’re just becoming close friends. Are they touchy feely or flirting a lot or something?

      I’d just let them know you really enjoy hanging out with them and want to know if they’d be interested in dating.

      1. WeirdQuestion*

        Just saw a post on Reddit that reminded me that men can misconstrue closeness (like texting everyday and hanging out frequently) as romantic interest, whereas women just think of it as a normal friend thing. So, if you’re a dude, you really need to just talk to them instead of assuming they want to date you.

    5. OyHiOh*

      It depends? And I don’t think there’s really any such thing as a “normal” timeline because it really depends on the lives and circumstances of the people involved.

      Here’s mine: Met the man professionally in spring 2017. Started having friends lunches with him end of February 2019. Started chatting regularly about June, last year. Did a thing that looked like a date beginning of July. Actually *said* we were going on a date a month later. Took a sideways swipe at “oh guess this is a relationship” in the middle of September. We’re coming up on the anniversary of our first friends lunch and we still don’t say we’re dating. Jokes about being terrible at dating, despite the amount of time we spend together or talking.

    6. Traffic_Spiral*

      Friendship is rarely a precursor to dating, or vice-versa. While it sometimes can be, the general progression of relationships is that you start dating and continue romantically, or start hanging out and continue platonically. So if you want to go on a date, you gotta say “hey, I really like you – would you like to go on a date sometime, or something like that.”

      1. Hrovitnir*

        That’s so funny and presumably culturally-specific. It’s very common IME in NZ for friendship or friendly overtures to be a precursor to dating, and dating per se is less of a thing. A dude I knew from the US was lamenting about how poorly his intentions of taking someone on a date conveyed to NZ women, even.

        Yet despite my intense disinterest the idea that you should start all romantic relationships via an explicit attempt to see if you’re compatible, I think we’re agree that the core issue is that talking a lot and spending time one on one is on no way inherently sexual or romantic.

        So if you are attracted to the person that needs to be voiced clearly. There is no magical falling into a relationship, it needs to be discussed and clarified, I’m afraid!

        1. londonedit*

          It’s the same here in the UK. We’ve never had a ‘dating’ culture like the US – before online dating you’d meet someone at school or uni or work or in the pub and you’d get to know them and if it was a more-than-friends thing then you’d have to have a conversation (or you’d probably just get pissed and end up kissing each other and that would decide things either way!) The idea of going on a date with someone you don’t know, with the intention of possibly ‘dating’ them until it becomes a relationship, is quite alien here even with the advent of online dating.

          1. Myrin*

            Yeah, same in Germany as well. In fact, I was astonished when I learned – not that long ago, actually, like three years or so? – that “dating” and “in a relationship” apparently aren’t the same thing. Funnily enough, I learned that in an open thread here on AAM where someone asked how long people usually date until they decide to be exclusive and in a committed relationship. And I was blown away because that “intermediate” phase simply doesn’t exist here at all. Like. German doesn’t even have a word for that. You’re either together or you aren’t (arrangements like FWB notwithstanding). It was very illuminating to learn that because I’d never before thought about how culture-dependent even stuff like that is.

            (Tangentially related, I saw a post on tumblr once lamenting the lack of “friend dates” where you go and do stuff with one friend, like going out to eat or to the cinema or have a coffee or something. And I was like… that’s something people here do all the time. And it doesn’t have anything to do with any kind of hidden romantic interest. Very fascinating.)

            1. allathian*

              I guess with online dating it might be changing slightly here in Finland, but I haven’t been able to do it. If I’m interested in someone, I’m exclusive with him right away, and expect him to do the same. I just don’t have the emotional resources to invest in more than one person at a time. Just as well I’m happily married and don’t have to put myself out there.

    7. Coco*

      What’s the vibe like? Is it the same as when you’re with your regular friend group? Does the other person treat you like they do others in the friend group? But just sees / texts you more often? Cause this sounds more like close friends.

      Or Is the other person affectionate, flirty? Cause this could be precursor to dating.

  38. PhyllisB*

    Happy weekend!! Never did give an update on visit to Son in rehab. It went well. He looks good and sounds good and says he’s really happy there and is thinking of joining the staff when his time is up. (Not as a counselor, but doing other things.) Haven’t heard from him this week, which for him is a good sign. He’s not a phone person and doesn’t usually call unless there’s urgent need.
    This weekend I have a houseful of grandchildren. #2 grandson is having a birthday, and his big brother got to be here. This is the first birthday Big Brother has been at in three years. Past years he was in juv. or jail. Younger Brother is over the moon. So bottom line, life is good this week, and we have lots to be thankful for.

  39. Anon Woman with Breast Cancer*

    Good weekend all… thanks again everyone for supportive comments here. I have 3 more (YAY) taxols to do (March 5, 12, 19), then a scan on 24th, then lumpectomy mid April. And I hope to have this &^%$ port out too mid April, if scans and pathology on sentinel node shows all clear. It has bugged me for most of the time I have had it (3 months) and the physiotherapist said the lymphedema (mild) and pain (mild/medium) should not be happening so next week I get an x-ray to see (finally) what is up. Not much to be done, as it is close to my end of chemo (YAY) but I just want to see wth is going on.

    The good news is it is a nice weekend, and moderately warm – so today I walked 6.5 miles through the farmlands near my place. Sunday I will go to the botanical garden to chill out too.

    Now, self care time today will include a hot shower, more tea, more CBD cream for my neck, and some mindfulness meditation. Wishing everyone here a grand weekend and loads of good health vibes to those who are not well and especially those impacted by corona virus stuff, or flu or other lurgy things.

    1. NoLongerYoung*

      Botanical garden sounds wonderful, and the progress good…. sending you continued warm, encouraging thoughts.

    2. Kuododi*

      Blessings to you!!! I’m delighted to hear the good stuff happening in your life these days. Best wishes. Kuododi

    3. Mimmy*

      So nice that you got a lovely walk yesterday. Enjoy the botanical gardens today. Crossing fingers all is okay with your port.

  40. The Other Dawn*

    I’m happy to report we had the closing on our old house and I’m free, free, FREE!!!! Oddly, though, it doesn’t feel real yet. I think once I see the mortgage payoffs post, I’ll feel the weight lift. I rewrote my budget this morning and selling the house has eliminated SIX bills!

    We had our closing with the attorney on Wednesday, which was an exhausting day for me (many errands in prep for surgery), and the buyer had hers on Thursday (weird how closings work these days, but very convenient). While signing our papers the attorney asked if there are smoke detectors and CO2 detectors in the house. I couldn’t remember how many smoke detectors, plus the tenants told us they’d taken them all down (no idea why…) and I didn’t know if they’d put new ones in, but I told him the house had them. I told him there weren’t any CO2 detectors, though. He said we could either pay the buyer 250.00 (!!) or we could run over to Home Depot, grab a few, and then install them after the closing. Obviously we chose to go buy some and install them. After that we had a last look around for any odds and ends we might have forgotten to remove and then we left. I admit I shed a couple tears–it was our first house and we lived there for 18 years–but ultimately I was happy it was over, as the last six years sucked big time with two sets of tenants we had to evict, worrying about repairs, and having to clean up after the last set of tenants. I was happy to see the landscaper drive up so we stopped to say goodbye to him. (His business is across the street and he was always so friendly, helped us out with snow plowing, etc. so it was great to see him again.)

    Now I can concentrate on getting ready for surgery–only 10 days away! I have so much to do and no motivation to do it.

    1. My Brain Is Exploding*

      Wow! Glad that got wrapped up. Even though you have lots to do, I hope you can just take a little time for yourself and let the rest of the stress from the closing dissipate.

      1. The Other Dawn*

        We’re taking my in-laws out to dinner tonight as a “thank you” for them helping us out with the house. We live 45 minutes away from the house and they live within five minutes of it, so they’d go over to keep an eye on it, meet the carpet installer and exterminator, park a car there to make it look like someone’s there (not a good neighborhood anymore), etc. Even though it’s for them, the fact that we’re going to a steakhouse (Ruth’s Chris) I’ve been wanting to try is all for me. :) And my husband and I are going to the casino tomorrow to blow off some steam since it’s going to be a while before I can do that again.

  41. KR*

    I live on a federal base and the ID requirements for getting on are irritating. They started requiring Real ID for a visitors pass, but there is 0 information about the requirements on any official government pages. Call the people in charge one day, they give me one answer. Call another day they gave me another answer. My visitor called they gave her a different answer. Everyone I talk to says, “Oh they can just bring their passport!”. Well, my visitors much like many Americans don’t have a passport because they’re very expensive and up until now, unnessecary to travel freely in the contiguous United States. It’s so irritating, I feel like I live in a police state here. End rant.

    1. Ranon*

      Most state drivers licenses should be compliant, if they aren’t your visitor should be getting notices from their state agency about it (mine isn’t compliant and I’ve gotten like one a month recently telling me to come in and renew early if I want a compliant one)

      1. Llellayena*

        Not every state. NJ is not compliant and has been dead silent on updating, even if you ask specifically. Grrr.

        1. Fikly*

          NJ is now issuing compliant real IDs. They have a very clear website with all criteria needed, and which DMVs will issue it.

    2. Jdc*

      I fail to comprehend the problem. Every state will require real IDs soon. It may be inconvenient for those who don’t have them yet but ya know kind of important that bases stay secure. Coming onto a base is not a right, it’s a privilege and they can make any rules they wish. Your friend or family visiting will have to get new IDs soon enough anyway so looks like if they want to come see you that time line has just moved up. Passport or Real ID. You won’t be able to even fly without on or the other in a few months. They’ve been transparent about this change for years.

      1. The Gollux, Not a Mere Device*

        The problem is that the people in charge at the base can’t or won’t tell KR which IDs other than passports will be accepted. I live in Massachusetts, where some but not all of the drivers licenses and non-driver IDs the RMV issues count as “real ID.” I had an easier time getting the “real ID” than my husband did, because I did some freelance work in 2018 that meant I had a 2019 W-2 form, and he didn’t. If someone needs that license to drive legally, and can’t produce enough paperwork at the right time, they’re going to settle for the “non-real ID” license.

        A lot of this is security theater: it may look impressive, it may provide jobs, but it doesn’t actually make anyone or anything more secure, and it adds time and inconvenience for a lot of people. (Bruce Schneier is a good source on this subject.)

        The best advice I can give KR is, tell your visitor(s) to check their state government (or motor vehicle department) website, if your visitor has a license/ID card that doesn’t explicitly say “real ID.”

        1. Fikly*

          But KR said real ID is required. So…it does seem like they are being clear as to what the requirement is.

          1. Jdc*

            Exactly. They said passport or real ID. There’s the answer. Just because they want the answer to be different doesn’t make it so.

        2. Clisby*

          A Real ID issued by a DMV doesn’t necessarily say “real ID” – in SC and FL, at least, it’s indicated by a gold star. I’m not sure if that’s true of every state.

      2. KR*

        We are stationed in an economically depressed area with inadequate housing market, high rent, and inadequate BAH. We would not live here if we could afford it. I’ve heard the “coming on base is a privilege not a right” before but I got to tell you, they don’t give us much of a choice. The problem for me is that requiring Real ID (especially so far ahead of the deadline) is a burden for escorted visitors and to be frank, a pain in the ass.

      3. Chaordic One*

        Another big problem is that with the states in charge, the standards for issuing real I.D. seem to vary from state to state are not consistent and it might be easier in one state than another. It does seem to be easy enough for someone who was not adopted as a child and who has never legally changed their name (most men and women who never married or adopted their spouse’s last name).

        Some states are making a big deal about having supporting paperwork for children who were adopted and also for women who were married and then started using their husband’s last names and it is a real hassle trying to find that paperwork, if you still have it, or to get it from various state agencies. It’s even worse if you have to get that paperwork from outside of the U.S.

        A radio program I listen to had a guest who lived in California and reported problems because after she was born, she was legally adopted by her mother’s second husband, then married and divorced several times and she didn’t have copies of all of the paperwork documenting her name changes and she was having an extremely difficult time trying to get certified copies of everything she needed to get her Real I.D.

      4. Old and Don’t Care*

        I don’t believe it is true that all states will require Real IDs. My state is issuing both, explicitly states the differences between them, and there is nothing state related that requires a Real ID. I’m sure my relatives who never fly will not be getting a Real ID.

    3. Fikly*

      By government pages, are you meaning federal or state?

      Each state has individual requirements for what documents you need to get a real ID, as each state issues a real ID. My state has a website which takes you through all your documentation options to help you learn in advance if you have what you need to get a real ID.

      I’m not sure what you’re confused about, it sounds like they are being clear – you need a real ID or a passport.

      1. Clisby*

        It was really easy in my state (SC) for me, my husband, and son. Also really easy in Florida for my daughter (actually, I’m not sure they even issue non-Real IDs there; she just took the documentation the DMV website specified and ended up with a Real ID.) We all have passports, but a Real ID can’t hurt.

        Adding … Just going on what I’ve heard … one hitch for getting Real ID in SC can be documenting any name changes. When I went to the DMV and showed them my documentation, one of the first things they asked was whether my name matched the name on my birth certificate. I was like, “Of course it does.” Turns out, getting a RealID has been a problem for women who changed their name by marriage (or even changed it more than once through marriage, divorce, marriage, etc.)

        Fortunately, I had never even considered changing my name when I married, so I was OK. It sounds like here (SC) it’s been a real hassle for some women.

        Reason #6,187,542,282 NOT to legally change your name after you marry.

        1. KR*

          That was the issue one of our visitors had. She must have had a marriage certificate years ago but can’t find the notorized copy, so can’t prove she’s the same person.

    4. Goldfinch*

      I will have to take a PTO day to get my Real ID and I am SO pissy about it. I was turned away the first time I went for not having my camera card, when the person on the phone assured me that I wouldn’t need it as long as I had everything on the Real ID checklist (which I did). My parents and two of my colleagues did NOT need their camera cards.

      The difficulty of obtaining government documents should NOT depend on the anal whims of whoever is manning the desk that day.

        1. Goldfinch*

          In my state, we must have a new photo taken at every license renewal (every four years).

          You get a license renewal form in the mail. You then either pay your renewal fee by mailing a check with the renewal form, or by paying via credit card online. The state then mails you a camera card that you take to the DOT center to have your photo taken.

          Per info on the gov site AND per the gov employee I spoke to on the phone AND per the experiences of my family and colleagues, you do not need to wait for the camera card if you’re getting a Real ID. The woman at the desk of the DOT center disagreed, and I had no recourse.

          1. Anono-me*

            That sounds absolutely positively ridiculous and unnecessarily complicated. In the states I’ve needed to get a driver’s license/I’d, I paid at the time.

  42. Ludo*

    Ever since starting my new job I’ve been struggling with weekend anxiety where starting Saturday morning I start watching the hours tick by thinking that’s one hour closer to Monday

    I used to work fourteen days straight at my old job and never even minded so this is new to me

    I hate it because I feel like I don’t even enjoy the weekend I just fret about how quickly it goes

    1. misspiggy*

      Why are you anxious about Monday? Do you hate the thing we don’t talk about on weekends? Or is it more that Monday has become a focus for your anxiety?

      1. Ludo*

        I think I’m just so stressed out about the thing we don’t talk about on weekends that instead of allowing myself to fully enjoy the weekend I just fret about it and then fret about the fact that I’m fretting about it, one of those circles you can get caught in

    2. Jane of all Trades*

      Do you have a routine of things you enjoy doing over the weekend, so that you can focus more on the “now” than on Monday morning? A sport, brunch, kids soccer game, whatever excites you?
      Separately, can you take a look at whether there are factors at the place we don’t talk about on weekends that you dread or that cause you anxiety?

      1. Ludo*

        A couple sundays ago I had a lovely day with friends where we got brunch and went to a park and a museum and I was in a great mood

        Which is clear evidence that doing things like that more would be good for me!

        But I get stuck in the trap that leisure time at home is what I really need so when I do do fun things on the weekend in my kind I’m like “oh no I just wasted a whole day of leisure!”

        Which is backwards thinking but hard for me to get out of

  43. Sled dog mana*

    PSA: If you are going to a funeral and don’t know the deceased well enough to know that they only had sons (or don’t bother to retain that from the obituary), or don’t know who the person is, don’t ask who someone is just say sorry for your loss and move on to the next person.
    Also please don’t ask if the small child running back and forth between people in the receiving line is my only child. I don’t want to get into it in a receiving line at my grandfather’s funeral so I’m going to say yes, and cry even harder later because I don’t have the emotional bandwidth to cope right now.

    This week sucked, my grandfather (who I was very close to) passed away last Friday, his funeral was Wednesday. Then yesterday we decided we had to put the dog down because of how her cancer had spread.

    1. NoLongerYoung*

      Sending you a virtual hug. No words can adequately help from this distance, but know you are thought of….my sympathy.

    2. Sled dog mana*

      Ugh, now I read my comment and realize it doesn’t make much sense.
      My point is, if you are going Dow a receiving line at a funeral and can’t figure out who someone is there’s no reason to ask just express your condolences and move on. Chances are the person is already so emotionally exhausted that they won’t recall who was there or not.

      1. NoLongerYoung*

        Yes, for one of the more emotional ones, my mom had to go back and look at the guest book to even process who was there. She was worn out from being the primary caretaker, the long illness, and her only concession was a chair so she could be seated at the end of the receiving line. If it were not for the guest book and the cards, she really would not have “remembered” who came.

    3. Wishing You Well*

      I’m sorry.
      People say such dumb things at a funeral. I hope you’ll take good care of yourself this week.
      Sending healing thoughts.

      1. Sled dog mana*

        I think part of my frustration was that my grandfather was a well loved and respected Human Resources director (he always called it Human Resources never HR because it was important to him to remember the human part). Many of the people who showed up only knew him as the man who hired them for their first job or in some cases their only job. I must have answered “ now are you his daughter or granddaughter 50 times”

    4. Seeking Second Childhood*

      My condolences, on both your losses. I’ve been through something similar and the loss of a family dog at virtually the same time felt like the universe kicking me when I was down. I’m so sorry.

    5. Auntie Social*

      If you don’t know the deceased that well, that means the family doesn’t know you, so introduce yourself—“I’m Emily, I worked with John at Apache.” The family is either numb, or they feel like they’ve been hit by a truck. Forgive the blank stares—this will be the stupidest we’ve ever been, from grief, no sleep, no food, etc.

  44. overcaffeinatedandqueer*

    I have a super weird friendship situation and I’m not sure how to navigate it, ugh.

    So last fall I attended a weeklong German language immersion program for adults. One even takes a German name! While I was there, I made a good friend, and we exchanged contacts. She’s been sending me funny animal pictures and memes, and I have been sending back pet pictures!

    But the thing is, she had a very serious cancer that is likely to eventually take away her ability to speak, and a few days into the program she got a call that it was back. So I don’t know if I should or can ask the most basic social questions like “how are you?” in case it’s a painful topic, or ask if she’s attending the program again this fall. She hasn’t mentioned her health. Mostly I have been trying to tell her funny things my pets do, etc.

    1. WeirdQuestion*

      Personally, as someone who has a chronic illness, constantly getting asked “how are you doing?” type questions is tiring. (Especially if I’m not doing well and then I either have to lie or reassure other people that I’ll get better or it’s not that bad.) If she’s not mentioning her health at all I wouldn’t bring it up.

      1. valentine*

        You can ask: “I just wanted you to know I hope you’re doing well. I trust you’ll share if you like, but do let me know whether or not you want me to ask after your health. Your body, your rules.”

      2. StrikingFalcon*

        I’m a fan of “how are you holding up?” for both myself and others during rough periods. Because it’s not the standard “hi how are you” it shows that (a) they know things aren’t good and (b) they actually want the real answer. Otherwise I’m left doing the calculation of ‘do they know? What do I share? Are they safe to be honest with’ etc.

        But it’s good to have people in your life where things are just light and fluffy, especially in rough periods. I would follow her lead in general – if she’s keeping it light, I would do the same. You could offer once “hey if you want to talk, I’m happy to listen” but I wouldn’t offer more than once unless she gives some indication of wanting it. Especially if your conversation with her is in German – it’s so much harder to have deep conversations in an unfamiliar language, even if you’re at a conversational level in it

    2. Beatrice*

      I think telling her funny stories about your pets is a great idea! I have a similar situation right now with a work friend, so I try to keep her posted about big stuff at work (promotions, departures, new babies, etc.) I also try to ask her about weather (“it was so nice out today, did you sit out on your deck?”) and local news stuff (“did you hear about that fire in Next Town Over?”), and I know a little about her family so I try to ask after them here and there.

      1. overcaffeinatedandqueer*

        I got a 10 gallon fish tank and 7 fish. Also have four cats! It’s hard keeping them away from what they see as Giant Live Sushi Buffet. I even caught my fat cat sitting ON TOP OF the plastic tank lid! He bent it. I’ll feel really weird going to the store and asking “hey, do you have a solid steel lid?”

        Things I never thought I would say before cats:

        1. Stop traumatizing the fish!
        2. Do not lick the inside of my ear!
        3. Don’t eat each other’s/your own puke!

        1. Fikly*

          Things I did not think I would say before gerbils: Stop non-consensually grooming your sister, that’s why she’s biting you.

          1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

            I have two dogs and three cats in my house, and my friends have four children under the age of 7. We have joked regularly that we could make a game out of “was this said to a pet or a child?”

        2. The Other Dawn*

          “3. Don’t eat each other’s/your own puke!”

          I have one that does this–Marty. There’s been times where one of them has puked, I’ve gone to get paper towels, and I come back to find it has mysteriously disappeared. I then look over to see Marty doing his after-meal grooming ritual. He seems to like a hot lunch. I mean, it’s gross, but at the same time I’m thinking, “Cool. Now I don’t have to clean it up.”

    3. Kuododi*

      The best gift I was given after my cancer diagnoses was the friends and family who got together with me for coffee or a meal. They specifically communicated their wish to spend time with me and I had the lead about topic of conversation. Blessings to you and your friend during this time.

    4. Stormy Weather*

      A suggestion that comes out of personal experience. Friends with chronic illnesses have told me they don’t particularly care for, “I hope you feel better soon.” They might be sometimes able to manage symptoms, but ‘better’ really isn’t a thing.

      This was especially true for me when I was undergoing radiation treatment after a lumpectomy. The side effects were only going to get worse over the seven weeks. ‘Better’ was a word I just did not want to hear.

  45. The Other Dawn*

    Anyone have recommendations for a swivel car seat cushion? When I went for my pre-op appointment last week the nurse said I’m going to have to learn how to get in and out of the car without twisting. Someone on here mentioned a while back that there’s a “lazy Susan” for the car. I Googled it and there are many different ones. Some of them look like they’d be too flimsy to swivel well, while others seem too thick and small to be comfortable. I don’t want to feel like I’m sitting on a small, hard surface. I haven’t seen these in the store, so I’ll have to buy online and hope I like it.

    1. Parenthetically*

      Well, FWIW, my dad had the same situation after a surgery, and his doc just told him to put a plastic shopping bag on the seat. Don’t know if it would work for you but it’s a pretty cheap fix — I used it myself during my first pregnancy when I had pelvic instability and round ligament pain and it worked well.

    2. Bad Back*

      After my back surgery, I put a large trash bag on my car seat. It let me just slide in and out of the car without twisting.

    3. Atchafalaya*

      If you have leather seats, a bath towel will work very well. The plastic garbage bag is great for fabric seats. You could make a hole along the bottom of a second bag to put over the headrest and back of the seat as well. Good luck!

      1. The Other Dawn*

        I have fabric seats. I’ll try out a plastic bag before next week and see how it feels/works. Thanks, all!

    4. MysteryFan*

      I second the garbage bag idea. I bought one of those swivel seats for my Mom after she had a stroke, and it did NOT work in my car. It would probably work well on a dining room chair or other flat surface, but most car seats have slightly contoured seats that just completely stymied the thing! I have a friend with MS and she uses the garbage bag, and it’s amazingly effective,

  46. Bobbi*

    My parent was been diagnosed with Lewy Body dementia. Any insights, suggestions and advice would be greatly appreciated.

    1. Laura H.*

      No advice except if you’re able to, love them, and try not to get annoyed when they repeatedly ask the same question. (Family is complicated) I have a relative with that diagnosis so sending you all the good vibes and well-wishes.

      I enjoy the moments when my relative starts to ask but then remembers on their own! (Granted it was a simple “what’s for dinner at your thing?” last night, but take joy in the little victories)

      It’s hard, because relative’s memory has always been like a safe! Only one thing is guaranteed. Life changes and goes on.

      Good luck!

    2. Former Caretaker*

      I don’t have experience with Lewy Body dementia, but I did take care of someone with another type of dementia. Someone – on here actually – recommended reading The 36-Hour Day: A Family Guide to Caring for People Who Have Alzheimer Disease, Related Dementias, and Memory Loss and it was super helpful. It’s a comprehensive guide that pretty much covers everything.

    3. Kuododi*

      DS (darling sister)and I have been trying our best to help Mom and Daddy. Mom has dementia secondary to TBI. Self care, maintaining good boundaries between which is and isnt possible to accomplish. it’s also crucial to not take any dementia related behavior personally. Emotionally, persons with dementia tend to lose their social filter anf respond to feelings/stressors much in the fashion of a toddler. You and your family will be in my heart. Blessings Kuododi

    4. MysteryFan*

      As a person who cared for my Mom with dementia, my main suggestion would be to “go with their flow”.. if they’re talking about going to see a relative that has died etc. it serves No purpose to try to remind them that so-and-so is dead. Who cares? It’s just bringing up an upsetting topic for no good reason (IMHO) Just say, “that’s a good idea, maybe we can make a plan later in the week”.. just flow….

  47. Teal*

    I can’t seem to get a straight answer online, but how long can I leave my toilet water shut off? (Am I even asking this correctly?)

    My downstairs toilet was running, so I shut off the water to that toilet yesterday. After an hour or so the tank had drained to nearly the bottom. There is maybe a half inch of water left standing. I’m debating whether I should try an address this myself (flush valve replacement?) or if this is truly a plumber call. I have AHS home warranty for one more year, but I feel like they contract these jobs to the lowest bidder, who then charge me for extra sht that is conveniently not covered (e.g. my garage repair two weeks ago).

    I want to leave it off until I decide what to do.

    …I’m trying to be the ‘strong, independent woman who don’t need no man’ which I can do 98% of the time, but these house repairs send me into insecure, weepy sad land. Husband’s 11 month deployment turned into a 20 month deployment/training/school. Seven months to go? F word!

    1. tangerineRose*

      This happened to me, and I was able to turn off the water and leave it off for at least a few days until the plumber came. I also used AHS home warranty. The plumber didn’t charge for anything extra but also wouldn’t do anything extra, but he fixed the toilet.

      As a strong independent woman myself, I think we need to be able to release ourselves from the idea that we need to be able to do everything. Everything is a LOT. I’m human; there are some things that I’m not good at or where learning to do them would be much more expensive (at least in time and energy, and in this case probably toilet parts) than just hiring someone who already knows this stuff.

      1. Teal*

        Thank you :)

        This, and all the great comments and advice below, felt like a nice, reassuring hug!

        It’s a huge relief to hear I can just leave it off and take my time. I think I can fix it too!

    2. Jedi Squirrel*

      If your toilet is running, chances are the flapper valve might need serviced or replaced. This is the rubber valve in the bottom of the tank that lifts up when you flush the handle.

      It could be bad, or it might just not be seating properly. Try taking the lid off the tank and checking to see if the valve is seating properly. Sometimes the chain that lifts it up when you flush gets hung up on the other apparatus in there.

      If after fiddling with it for a bit, the toilet continues to run, then it’s simple to replace. They cost between $3 and $5, and you can probably find a how-to video on YouTube.

      –Former plumbing department manager at Menards.

      1. Jedi Squirrel*

        I’m trying to be the ‘strong, independent woman who don’t need no man’ which I can do 98% of the time

        YouTube really is your friend.

        When I was working as a plumbing manager, a woman came in with a YouTube video on how to replace your kitchen sink. She told me she knew nothing about it, but needed me to help her buy all the parts and tools she would need to do that. We watched the video together, we walked around the department picking up what she needed, and she was on the way. A week later, she came back to say that she had managed to replace her kitchen sink over the better part of an evening.

        She was not the only one, either. Find good YouTube videos, and find a home supply store with people working there that you can trust.

    3. I'm A Little Teapot*

      I get the insecure weepy sad land. Totally have done that myself. In fact, did exactly this when my toilet was running. However, this one is actually fairly easy and you can fix it.

      First, turning the water off is NOT a problem. You can leave it off for an hour or a month.

      Second, the water draining away is probably a bad flapper , and that is also very possibly the running toilet problem. They’re rubber, and they tend to wear out. They are REALLY, REALLY easy to replace. The hardest part is getting a new flapper that fits your toilet. so, take pictures of the toilet – you want to see the brand name. Then open the tank and just look at the flapper, maybe take a picture of it. then go to google and type in “toilet insides replacement”. Watch some videos. Get familiar with the names. Not going for expert here, just some level of comfort.

      Go to the hardware store and find the plumbing section. Find the flappers. Read all the packages, they should say things like “compatible with” or “works with” the toilet brands. Find ones that list your toilet brand if possible. Then, start comparing what the flapper looks like. The new one should be similar. Hopefully, you can find one fairly easily.

      Take off the older flapper. They’re rubber, they kinda hook onto little things covering the hole, then they attach to the chain which connects to the handle. Disconnect all these things, then put the new one in place. It can be a bit fiddly. Swearing is perfectly acceptable. Once you’ve got the flapper in place and the handle seems to be operating it right, turn the water back on and test it a few times. Sometimes extra adjustment is needed on the chain once the water is back on.

      Once you’ve got it working, rejoice because you are strong independent woman. Who sometimes has a moment over plumbing. :)

    4. Aurion*

      If your toilet tank is continuously draining into the bowl that’s not an issue unless your toilet is clogged (because it will overflow). But if the tank’s water is shut off? No problem. If you have another toilet to use, Teal, confidently turn off this toilet for a week/month if you want. You can “flush” the toilet without ever using the tank too (just dump a big bucket of water into the bowl), so go ahead and turn that water off for as long as you need to fix the tank’s leak (which is probably a bad flapper – see the other great comments).

    5. Gatomon*

      Eh, mine is acting up again in my master bath and it’s been shut off for at least 2 weeks now. It’ll be fine like that, I had it off for at least a month before I attempted to fix it the first time. Now it’s running again after a few months so I’m just procrastinating on getting a plumber in until using the hall bath annoys me enough to take action.

    6. Sleve McDichael*

      I left the upstairs toilet off for a couple of months while I was waiting for the plumber-in-law to have time to come and fix it. It turned out to be nothing but a loose fitting, all he had to do was tighten it! Murphy’s law.

      By the way, I’m a mechanical engineer and Mr McDichael is a maritime engineer but we didn’t want to break a toilet. So don’t feel like you’re letting down your ‘strong independent self’ by bailing and calling a plumber. It’s official. As project manager, you’ve now consulted an engineer and she said summon a plumber.

      Ask around friends and rellies, usually somebody knows a plumber who will be willing to do small jobs for beer or food if you’re worried about cost.

    7. Old and Don’t Care*

      I’ve had one of my toilets turned off for, I don’t know, years? It runs, I had a handyman replace the flapper, it still runs, I turned it off. Someday I’ll get around to calling a plumber. You will be fine until you decide what to do.

      (I do turn it on and flush it every couple months.)

      Home repair isn’t everyone’s bag. As Peg Bracken said about cooking in the I Hate to Cook Book: “Don’t worry for a minute because it’s a little more expensive to buy these things than to make them. Maybe you’re hell for housecleaning. Or maybe you do your own wallpapering instead of paying vast sums to paper hangers….or maybe you’re just plain cute to have around the house.” We’re all good with some things and not others.

  48. tangerineRose*

    I love the kitty pictures! If there’s such a thing as a blue tuxedo cat, I think Wallace might be one. A blue tortiseshell is really gray, so I figure a grey tuxedo cat would be a blue tux :)

    Wallace looks so cute and happy!

    1. Jedi Squirrel*

      He does!

      I find it amusing that so many people recognize all of Allison’s cats by name. I’m just waiting for the “Allison’s Cats” fanfiction. :)

  49. Staying grounded during stress*

    I will be visiting some family soon and it is going to be very stressful. What do you do to help you stay grounded and remind you of yourself? I have things that work usually but I will be in a hotel room, and would like to have lots of different strategies and ideas. I’m thinking broad, from journaling to a specific book.

    1. Seeking Second Childhood*

      I like to bring a really simple knitting or crochet project–something in the round is perfect vbecause i just knit or crochet the same stotch so it’s totally muscle memory.
      If nothing else, it gives me something innocuous to talk about when we need a topic change.

      1. Avasarala*

        Yes. “Sorry, can’t talk, I need to count my stitches.” When they start to reply, “Oh darn, lost count and have to start over… 51, 52, 53…”

  50. The Gollux, Not a Mere Device*

    Email and/or text checkins with people you care about can help. If there’s someone you can text to say “please call so I have an excuse to walk away from this conversation for a bit,” even better. (You might want to set up some kind of code, like, if you text Fergus with a message that starts “Hello Lucinda” he calls, regardless of what comes after that.)

  51. NotOnAWeightLossJourney*

    “You’ve lost weight!”
    How would you respond to this comment/(intended compliment)?

    I get this comment a lot (especially in the workplace!). I am a young woman, muscular. I used to be anorexic and have severe body dysphoria, and therefore already feel self-conscious about my weight. Currently, my BMI is 25 so “technically” I’m on the cusp of overweight, although have a lean build. So this adds to my discomfort – I don’t know if I am overweight or not. I get VERY uncomfortable when people say this to me. What baffles me is that my weight rarely changes, so it makes me feel like my body is under constant scrutiny.

    I know that this comment is supposed to be well-intended, but these are the thoughts that run through my head when I hear a comment like this:
    “Why did this person [a coworker] comment on my body instead of the work accomplishments I’ve had?” “Why is this person watching and commenting on the most minute changes in my body?” “My body is NONE of your business!” “This person is a bit archaic in their thinking.” “Did you think I needed to lose weight?” “Why do you assume I’m trying to lose weight?” “I just got over a stomach virus that I had to go to the ER for – glad that you’re more focused on my weight than health!” “What did I look like before?” “I wasn’t trying to lose weight.” “If I gain even the slightest amount of weight, I’m sure this person will notice that too!”

    I see a therapist and clearly have work to do in my self confidence, but seriously it’s such an inappropriate comment disguised as a compliment. I’d never say these things out loud – usually I just stand there and say something like “Oh!” while looking surprised. I never say thank you, I just move on quickly. I’m curious what other people think is an appropriate response that does NOT involve a Thank You, but also acknowledges the good intent of the comment and does not unnecessarily cause awkwardness, because I do realize that the person did NOT mean to be inappropriate. (also if AAM has written about this before, I’d love to read about it but can’t find it in the search function.)

    1. BRR*

      “I know you mean well but [let’s not talk about my body.] anyways the X report.”

      I’m not as sure about the part in brackets but something that says, my body isn’t a topic for conversation. I think the key thing if you want to politely let them know this is off limits is to change the subject after so any awkwardness isn’t hanging in the air. Or if you don’t like someone let the awkwardness hang in the air.