weekend free-for-all – February 29 – March 1, 2020

This is Hank and Shadow. They are highly affectionate, bonded six-year-old boys who we are fostering until they find a permanent home.

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: Saint X, by Alexis Schaitkin. Claire is seven when her sister disappears. Two decades later, she encounters one of the men believed responsible — and begins a quest to understand what happened and what it cost everyone around her. This is so beautifully written it’s painful.

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

{ 1,445 comments… read them below }

  1. Nancy*

    I’m looking for epically long books, something that will take me a long time to get through. I like contemporary fiction, literary fiction, I guess more highbrow than lowbrow. I don’t read fantasy, sci fi, or historical fiction. With those caveats, what are your recommendations for a really lengthy but good read?

    1. Anonymouse*

      Do you enjoy Victorian novels, the kind that Henry James once referred to as “large, loose, baggy monsters”? Because there are definitely a couple I could recommend. Ditto the great Russians.

      1. Anonymouse*

        The best contemporary long novel I’ve read is probably Haruki Murakami’s “The Wind-Up Bird Chronicles” — translated from the Japanese.

        He has an even longer novel, “IQ84” but I cannot vouchsafe the quality.

          1. fhqwhgads*

            Sam here. Definite recommend. I believe it was originally three volumes in Japan but then released in English as one super long book, so not only is it GREAT but it definitely fits Nancy’s length criteria.

        1. Lucette Kensack*

          I LOVED 1Q84. And then I read more Murakami and it’s all the same ideas and same characters (not literally, but it’s all men with varied sexual problems, and quirky women, and ugh), and it totally changed my perspective on it. I went from loving it to rolling my eyes about it and everything else he’s written. So disappointing.

          1. Lucette Kensack*

            Also, 1Q84 is… fantasy-adjacent? Magical realism? Fair warning, since you said you didn’t read fantasy.

    2. HBJ*

      Bleak House took me foreeeever. And I’m typically a fast reader who blazes through multiple books a week.

      1. merp*

        Late response but seconding this. Bleak House is looooonnnngggg and bonus, it’s really good! It’s laugh out loud funny at parts, I enjoyed the characters, all of that. Absolutely changed my mind on Dickens, who I had not been a big fan of before reading it.

      1. Anonymouse*

        That was the first book I thought of too, but it’s fantasy AND historical fiction, both genres that OP doesn’t read. It’s a great book too.

        1. Cambridge Comma*

          Read it anyway, OP. If I could only read one book for the rest of my life, it would be this one.

    3. Sara(h)*

      The Stone Diaries by Carol Shields was incredible — maybe not “really lengthy,” but it’s long-ish. Do you like magic realism? 100 Years of Solitude is long, maybe longer than it seems because it’s small font and densely written, in the best of ways.

    4. Her name is Anne, she has no other*

      Depends what you mean by historical fiction and if you’re willing to try something outside your box. My favourite long book is “The Crimson Petal and the White” by Michel Faber.
      Another one I can think of but has lovers and haters (I hated it, I know Alison and plenty others recommend it) is “A Little Life” by Hanya Yanagihara which fits into contemporary fiction.

      1. Anonymouse*

        “Lonesome Dove” is great, and stupendously long, but sadly it’s historical fiction.

        It’s interesting, but I never realized that contemporary literary fiction really hasn’t embraced the long novel format.

    5. Foreign Octopus*

      A Little Life, by Hanya Yanagihira.

      The Goldfinch, by Donna Tartt.

      Kristin Lavransdatter, by Sigrid Undset.

      1. Anonymouse*

        OP doesn’t read fantasy… and even I had a hard time and gave up on “Return of the King” (I’m meaning to eventually go back to that…)

        1. Just Another Manic Millie*

          I don’t read fantasy at all, with the exception of The Ring Trilogy, and I really liked The Return of the King. Give it another chance!

      2. CoffeeforLife*

        I have been struggling to get through The Goldfinch for 2 years. I can only read a few pages at a time…this from a person who can do a book a day! Is the struggle worth it?

        1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

          I read so fast that I almost never give up books, because by the time I decide I don’t like it there’s usually only an hour or so left of it so I might as well, but I deleted The Goldfinch from my Kindle app halfway through with no regrets at all, because it was awful and not improving.

        2. Foreign Octopus*

          Unlike Red Reader, I loved the Goldfinch. I started it and just couldn’t stop. It was my first Tartt book and I much preferred it to The Secret History, which I realise is her first book but The Goldfinch was so well-written and I found the pace of it really good. It’s not for everyone, but I do recommend it.

          1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

            Sorry to bash :) I just generally am not a huge fan of most contemporary fiction, I think!

            1. Foreign Octopus*

              Don’t worry about it! You didn’t like it, that’s all. I’m a bit hit and miss on contemporary fiction as well. Some I really love, like the ones I recommended above, others like The English Patient – ugh.

        3. Cruciatus*

          Give it up. If you were enjoying it you would have finished it. I dreaded picking up that book every single time and I should have just dropped it. If you don’t like it now, you won’t like it later. If you want to feel like a completist, you could always just watch the movie or just read through the plot someone has summarized online. There was no point in the book where I thought “well, that certainly got so much better!”

        4. An Elephant Never Baguettes*

          I read all of the Goldfinch and while I am glad I did, I struggled with it a lot, would never reread it, and 4 years later I’m still mad at it whenever I am reminded of its existence. So honestly- if you’re not enjoying it, it might not be worth it.

          1. Part Time Poet*

            I read the Goldfinch quickly, but I didn’t like it either. I thought the ending was just so terrible, it made me mad. I tried reading The Secret History, but got mad about it and decided it was okay if I didn’t finish it.

        5. alienor*

          I did finish The Goldfinch, but I didn’t especially enjoy it. It disappointed me for the same reason as The Immortalists: they both started off with an interesting premise and then just devolved into people complaining about their lives.

    6. Justforthis*

      Really, really long literary fiction: Proust’s In Search of Lost Time (also translated as Remembrance of Things Past).

      1. Kuddel Daddeldu*

        This!
        Came here to suggest that – it’s practically the proverbial long novel. Even the series title can be read as descriptive.
        Another recommendation (not nearly as long but pretty epic regardless) is Thomas Mann’s Buddenbrooks.

        1. amoeba*

          Yes! I loved Buddenbrooks. You could also try The Magic Mountain (no fantasy at all, despite the title ;)), but I gave up on that one…

      2. Vin Packer*

        Yes, this.

        I’m pretty sure it also provides the epigraph for The Idiot, by Elif Batuman, which itself also fits the description of long, contemporary, literary fiction.

      3. mreasy*

        I recommend hunting down a good translation of the Proust. I think Vintage (?) did one a decade or so ago – Lydia Davis translates the first volume and subsequent volumes were also excellent. Older translations can be quite dry.

      1. another Hero*

        Can’t vouch for Pachinko but I did like Free Food for Millionaires a lot and only didn’t read Pachinko bc of the length, so this strikes me as a good suggestion

      2. Gloucesterina*

        Pachinko is incredible–but also deeply rooted in its historical setting, which may not be the the OP’s taste. But Lee has spoken about her investment in writing in a realist tradition of 19th-century British writers, and that lineage may be of interest to OP!

    7. Traffic_Spiral*

      Hm. Well, you’ve excluded most the really long books, but you can always go read the old Russian classics – Crime and Punishment, Anna Karenina, etc. Maybe infinite jest?

    8. CorgisandCats*

      Gentleman from Moscow by Amor Towles is fairly long and in my opinion, very well written. It’s somewhat historical (takes place after Russian Revolution) but it’s much more focused on characters rather than history. Do you like nonfiction? I have a ton of recommendations for that and they tend to be quite long. Happy reading!

    9. amoeba*

      Paul Auster – 4321
      T. C. Boyle – The Terranauts. But basically anything by him, I like his books but somehow they always take ages for me to read.
      John Irving – A Prayer for Owen Meany, The world according to Garp…..
      Salman Rushdie – Golden House

        1. Rex Jacobus*

          Owen Meay is one of my top ten books of all time. John Irving wrote four beautiful books in a row and this was the best of the lot.

    10. Atheist Nun*

      If 1970s New York sounds interesting (and not too much like “historical” fiction), you can try City on Fire by Garth Risk Hallberg. It is about 1000 pages.

    11. iliketoknit*

      Infinite Jest by David Foster Wallace and Mason & Dixon by Thomas Pynchon are fairly monstrous :) They’re not my personal taste but my contemporary/literary/highbrow fiction reading husband adores them.

      1. Double A*

        I was going to recommend Infinite Jest. I know a lot of people kind of sneer about Wallace, but I always wonder if they’ve actually read Infinite Jest. I think it’s one of the most phenomenal novels ever written. I’ve read it twice, and intend to reread it periodically throughout my life. It takes about 6 months to get through.

    12. Jules the 3rd*

      Umberto Eco’s _Name of the Rose_ and _Focault’s Pendulum_ are good. NotR is technically historical fiction, but it’s really philosophy and art. FP is what Dan Brown wishes he could write.

      1. Kuddel Daddeldu*

        Seconded.
        More on the literary fiction side, Ulysses by James Joyce is fairly massive, in volume as well as in literary longevity.
        Another tome I can spend ages with is Brewer’s Dictionary of Phrase and Fable.

    13. Not A Manager*

      Anna Karenina is my favorite book of any genre. It’s not *historical fiction,* although it is contemporary fiction from another time. But maybe that makes a real difference.

      I like the story of Anna well enough, but I *really* like the parallel stories with other characters, and I especially like the small glimpses that we get into the internal lives of passing characters – even about half a chapter from the dog’s point of view.

      I also like the “historical” snippets that aren’t “worked in for timely color” the way you get in historical novels. They are just actual references that the author is making to the actual way people were living at his time.

    14. PhyllisB*

      I’ve heard Ken Follett books are good, and LONG. Of course if you like fiction, one that comes to mind is Gone With The Wind. And there was one popular back in the 90’s I think; And The Ladies of the Club. I’ll have to check that title/author and get back to you.

      1. Windchime*

        Ooooh, yeah. Ken Follet. I have read both “Pillars of the Earth” and “World Without End” multiple times. They may not appeal to the OP, though, as they are historical fiction. But soooooo good.

      2. PhyllisB*

        I found the info on And The Ladies of the Club. The author is Helen Hooven Santmyer and the book is 1,433 pages long. Someone in a facebook reading group I belong to posted about it I didn’t read it when it first came out because at the time our library only allowed check outs for two weeks with no renewals. I’m a fast reader, but I had small children then and knew there was no way I could finish that in two weeks. Now they allow up to three renewals (six weeks) if there’s no holds. I think on my next library visit I’ll check to see if they still have it.

      3. pony tailed wonder*

        My book club read And the Ladies of the Club and it split the members into two different camps. Several refused to read such a long book and only about a third finished it. I loved it so I checked out the author’s other books and she mostly reworks the same theme over and over again. And the Ladies of the Club si the best one of them all.

    15. Victoria, Please*

      “A Suitable Boy,” by Vikram Seth. That book is so long that the author wrote a humorous poem as a prelude, describing just how long it is.

      1. Ladyb*

        Yes! I think I’m on my fourth or fifth copy as I keep lending it to friends and then wanting to read it again.
        Wonderful characterisation and a sense of India. Absolutely my Desert Island book

    16. Seeking Second Childhood*

      Leaving out f/sf loses you some very interesting crossovers… remember that ‘Handmaid’s Tale’ is argued over whether it’s sf or not. If that ‘future history’ caught your interest, I’d suggest Kim Stanley Robinson’s ‘Science In The Capital’ trilogy.

    17. Falling Diphthong*

      I love Anathem by Neil Stephenson. Of your categories I’d call it sci fi, high brow, literary. Don’t know if the latter two outweigh the first for you. It’s a world in which mathematicians live in seclusion in monasteries while the outside world rises and falls around them. It takes about 300 pages for the plot to start moving, and really picks up around 500.

      1. Tony T*

        Q: Can one wear a falling diphthong at the beach?
        Concur on T.C. Boyle … pounding my way through William Gibson’s “The Sprawl” trilogy …

    18. Aphrodite*

      I’m not sure if you’d consider this historical fiction–it was contemporary when it was written–but I loved, absolutely loved, Anna Karenina. I read it every day and it still took me three weeks to finish it.

    19. Rocky McRockface*

      The Luminaries by Eleanor Catton was great, also check out the Secret History or the Gold Finch by Donna Tartt.

    20. Sarah*

      Robertson Davies – The Deptford Trilogy (Fifth Business, The Manticore, World of Wonders)

      It’s been ages since I’ve read them, but I remember loving them. While they are obviously three books, they are interconnected with repeating characters.

    21. A Sylvia (but not *that* Sylvia)*

      The Shell Seekers by Rosamund Pilcher is one of my favorites. September is also very good but not quite as long. She’s one of my go-to authors when I just need to feel cozy.

    22. mreasy*

      Legitimately loved War & Peace. Also 2666 by Bolano & despite everything, I have read Infinite Jest multiple times & think it’s truly brilliant.

    23. Katt*

      Delightfully long literary fiction: Twin Studies by Keith Maillard, Songs for the Cold of Heart by Eric Dupont.

    24. another Hero*

      You asked for fiction, but because of its epic qualities, focus on a few people as “characters,” and length, The Warmth of Other Suns might be a book you’d find satisfying. It’s an exceptionally good book too

    25. Rex Jacobus*

      Shantaram is a simultaneously a hefty tome and a page turner . Part thriller, part treatise on what makes a person good or bad, and part loose biography.

    26. andy*

      Richard Evans – The third reich trilogy

      It is well written, easy to read and also not a fiction.

    27. OlympiasEpiriot*

      The Constant Gardener by John LeCarre.

      I know his writing is pigeonholed as Espionage, possibly with some Mystery tossed in; but, I find his best books to be marvels of intricate character studies. The Constant Gardener is fairly long, iirc. I read really fast, even in older dialects of English (I sink into Henry Fielding works when I’m sick for long periods) but, I find I slow down quite a bit for his writing.

    28. Seeking Second Childhood*

      Older fiction, recommended by my husband — James Fenimore Cooper ‘The Deerslayer’, ‘Ivanhoe ‘, Last of the Mohicans”, etc.

    29. Olive Hornby*

      We Are Not Ourselves, by Matthew Thomas, seems like it would hit all your criteria. And it’s a beautiful book.

    30. MCL*

      It took me forever to read “The Stand.” Really enjoyed it, though. Not any of the genres you dislike, either.

      1. MCL*

        But if Stephen King isn’t your cup of tea, I’d try Elizabeth Kostova. The Historian has a little fantastic flavor to it but her other two works don’t.

    31. ForcesBrat*

      I realise this comes under historical fiction as it is set in post-partition India, but A Suitable Boy has 591,552 words and the book is one of the longest novels ever published in a single volume in the English language so it would definitely take a long time to read.

    32. Hammy*

      Alexander Hamilton by Ron Chernow. The musical Hamilton is based on this book. I started reading it a few weeks ago. I’m a linguist and have a pretty good vocabulary. I read this book with my dictionary app handy.
      But, it is interesting.

  2. Fanny's mom*

    Last year I adopted my 10-year-old foster failure Fanny, a weird nugget of a cat who yells at me constantly, is afraid of being snuggled, but adores a lengthy petting session. She reminds me of one of my old Jewish aunts who would yell at me for being too pretty, even when I looked like poop. Fanny is hilarious and I do like her quite a bit, but my heart belongs to bonded boy cats. If I didn’t live in a studio apartment, where it’s near impossible to do a safe and healthy introduction of new feline friends, I have no doubt that I would be the crazy cat lady that drives down to Alison’s and adopts her beautiful foster boys. So, fingers crossed Alison that your kits find their forever home!

    1. Cat adoption is great!*

      I adopted a pair of bonded adult cats last year, and it’s the most wonderful thing in the world. Someone warned me the cats would love each other more than me, and that just hasn’t been the case – they play and snuggle together while I’m at work, but are always thrilled to see me when I come home. I get lots of feline love without either of them being without their companion. These boys look amazing – I hope someone adopts them soon so they can experience the joy of bonded kitties who are old enough not to be idiot kittens but young enough to still live life to the fullest.

      1. MistOrMister*

        I wish my cats were bonded! They’re a brother-sister pair and the boy wanted a closer relationship when they were youths but his sister wasn’t having it. They coexist and cuddle together sometimes, but there’s also a lot more smackdowns that my heart would like. A bonded pair sounds like heaven but my cuddlefloofs will NOT allow another cat in the house. We tried and boy, oh boy, was that a disaster.

    2. Seeking Second Childhood*

      These cat photos are tormenting me, a now-allergic former cat companion! (I rented a house for 2 years with someone who had 3 cats…it was sad but good that my allergies turned on before I adopted one of my own.)

    3. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

      My bonded littermate grandcats, who live with me now, will be moving out this summer along with their human parents. Hank and Shadow would have made perfect new cats to fill the void (even though one of them *is* a void!)

    4. NotAnotherManager!*

      We have a bonded pair of foster failures. :) They are my second set of bonded boys, though I believe the first set was Cat A loved Cat B (and, really everyone) and Cat B merely tolerated Cat A because he hoped the vacuum cleaner might get to Cat A first and give him time to escape (you don’t have to outrun the bear, just have one slower friend – Cat A was definitely slower).

      We are now on to Cats C and D after losing Cat A to organ failure last month. I have never seen two cats who love each other so much. They are weird, not well-socialized, and had about zero chance of being adopted, but they are crazy about each other.

  3. AE*

    Ugh, Coronavirus. The USA’s first case of community spread (a woman diagnosed without any known contacts with infected people) occurred in a town about 15 minutes away from me. She’s now hospitalized (and intubated) nearby. Now several undergraduates at the university where I’m a grad student are under suspicion of infection and awaiting testing. I really don’t want to freak out about this but on the other hand, I have a small child and a senior citizen in my home, and I have a chronic respiratory illness that puts me at increased risk if I do get infected.

    My out-of-state family is sending me frantic emails telling me to stay home. But that’s not really an option in my graduate program unless they decide to suspend classes, which is unlikely at this point. Another family member is giving my dogs side-eye following the news of a dog testing positive in China. Not a concern in my book.

    I’m really not sure how worried I should be. I did have the swine flu in college and was horribly ill, but pulled through with TamiFlu and rest at home. I’m being pretty vigilant about hand hygiene.

    What do you guys think about all this? How’s your mental state?

    1. Restless Rover*

      I’m currently living in South Korea where the number of identified cases hit 3000 this morning. We live in an area where they identified about 50 cases so far. And I have pneumonia so I’m definitely more susceptible at the moment. We’re basically hunkering down and staying inside. We stocked up on groceries to cut down on having to be in contact with larger crowds. The schools are closed and my employer put me and my colleagues on leave indefinitely. There are no masks for sale to be found anywhere, the local town governments are actually handing out masks, one per person. While the masks don’t really help a whole lot, they’re better than nothing especially when you already have respiratory issues. We also wash our hands, a lot and we always carry disinfectant when we do have to leave the house.
      There really isn’t a whole lot you can do besides minimizing contact with other people, avoiding large gatherings, avoiding travel, and practicing good hygene. Anyone in food prep should be wearing masks and plastic gloves to minimize food contamination. In our area, most restaurants have switched to take-out or delivery only. I’m keeping my fingers crossed that this will pass without too many repercussions but I’m very afraid for my fellow citizens in the US as it appears that the current administration is severely underestimating this pandemic. Good luck to you and stay safe and healthy.

    2. WS*

      One good thing about this compared to seasonal flu is that children don’t seem to be at particular risk. So worry about yourself and the senior citizen, but not the child this time around.

    3. Tau*

      I woke up this morning with a cough and a sore throat, so it’s been on my mind. On the one hand, I haven’t travelled recently and haven’t knowingly had close contact with anyone who has, and my region has no cases. On the other, I live in the capital city of a country that has had cases and also has lots of tourists, and I commute to work on crowded public transport. So… um.

      My current plan is to stay home for a few days (well, one trip out to stock up on food, which I was planning to do this weekend anyway), see if it gets better, and call my doctor if I get a fever. I’m not sure what to do if it persists as a mild infection, though. My work would probably let me WFH for a longer period, but I don’t think they’d be super happy about it (and I’m still in the probation period! /o\) and – selfishly – I am bad at WFH and it does bad things to my mental health. I am viewing the prospect of “hey, please self-quarantine for a week” with active dread.

      In general, the aforementioned commute on public transport in a major metropolitan area makes me kind of resigned to catching this at some point even if it’s not now. I should be in a low-risk group, and I weathered swine flu etc. OK, so hopefully it won’t be a big deal. I’m more concerned about my dad, who is nearly 70, in a position where he travels a lot and has a lot of contact with people, and has been under a lot of stress of late which can’t be good for his immune system.

      1. Lady Jay*

        For what it’s worth, only about 5% of coronavirus cases have a sore throat. So while corona isn’t impossible, you probably have a cold. :)

        I’m honestly far more worried about the impact of corona on my professional life (I posted in the open thread yesterday) than on my personal life. I don’t get sick easily, and I live in a part of the country where it makes more sense for me to take a car than public transport. I wash my hands a lot, and I’ll buy some extra hand sanitizers this weekend to keep in my classroom. But these massive, rolling shutdowns of entire cities and industries have me a bit nervous – I do education research and “work from home” would be disruptive and/or difficult.

        1. Tau*

          Thanks, I didn’t know that! It’s good to know, especially because I already figured there’s, like, a 95% chance this is a cold. The question is really…
          – what about that remaining 5%, and
          – if it *is* a cold, do I really want to help spread it around at the same time as coronavirus.

          I was listening to WHO recommendations, and they recommend staying >3 feet away from anyone who is coughing or sneezing – which I figure also translates into “stay this far away from people if you have respiratory symptoms”. The problem is really that that distance is physically impossible to enforce on my commute, and public transport is the only way I have to get to work. (I don’t even have a driver’s license, and although I’ve been planning to cycle part of the way once the weather gets warmer it’s too long to do the whole way in both directions.) If it weren’t for that, I’d be less torn.

          But yeah, for me personally my main worry is that I’ll have to WFH for a longer time due to shutdowns or being infected but not seriously ill myself. In principle my industry is very suited to this and I’ve worked with solely or primarily remote employees before, but I don’t do well with it at all.

          1. Milk of Amnesia*

            For droplets you neednto stay 2m away from people. Also I have read that they think the infection rate is much higher as a lot of people have a very mild case of it ot show minimal to no symptoms at all.

            1. Parenthetically*

              Yep, this is what I’ve read as well — that as diagnosis improves we’ll see the fatality rate plummet, since there are likely a huge number of people infected who just think they have a cold.

          2. StrikingFalcon*

            This is what face masks are for! They don’t really keep you from *catching* diseases, other than by discouraging you from touching your face with your hands, but they do help prevent you from spreading respiratory diseases to others. They are sold at pharmacies, although of course, your local supply of face masks is dependent on how panicky your city of residence currenlty is…

            1. Tau*

              I haven’t seen anyone wearing one, so I was going to say “panic levels low”, but then I went to the pharmacy and they actually had a sign up front saying “NO FACE MASKS” so yyeaah. It’s a good idea, though – if I do end up needing to head into work while coughing, I’ll try to organise some!

              1. nonegiven*

                >“NO FACE MASKS”

                Meaning they have none to sell or meaning that you are barred from entering while wearing one?

    4. What Me? Worry?*

      My mental state is fine and I’m excited to capitalize on this hysteria by investing more than I would in the stock market. I am however, annoyed by the media for the level of fear mongering they are doing about all this. Look, if this thing goes full blown pandemic then we’re all screwed although it sounds like a large portion of us already carry the disease in low quantities already so who knows. Look, 50k Americans die each year due to not wearing their seat belts in car accidents so until the virus starts hitting those numbers in America, I’m not even going to bother to pay attention.

      1. Parenthetically*

        I’m about in the same place. Washing my hands more, encouraging my (older, almost-70) folks not to do a lot of traveling, but honestly — this is only making news because it’s new. And even if it does go full-blown pandemic, the huge majority of folks with it are going to have normal cold/flu symptoms best treated with rest and hydration.

      2. Jules the 3rd*

        Looking at the stats, this is not going to be a Spanish Flu situation (1918), but we will lose people we love among our elders. And it is very likely to hit the same overall numbers as this year’s flu. The US goal should be to stretch out infection so that we don’t overwhelm hospitals.

        Morbidity
        Flu 0.1%
        Coronavirus 0.7% (outside of China)

        Morbidity among people over 70:
        Flu 2%
        Coronavirus 8% (in China)

        R0
        Flu 2017/2018: 1.53
        Coronavirus: 1.5 – 6.6 (in China)

        1. Seeking Second Childhood*

          For what it’s worth, “flu” stats will vary greatly depending on strain & levels of previous exposure. 1918 was certainly higher than those numbers.

            1. Lucy*

              m is correctly pointing out that most people will think that “morbidity” is the same as “mortality”. It’s not- morbidity just means having symptoms of an illness. Mortality would be the rate of death from the illness.

      3. Entry-level Marcus*

        People shouldn’t panic, but I feel like the takeaway from these types of arguments is that we should care more about things like raid safety and the flu, not less about coronavirus.

      4. Elizabeth West*

        Just for the record, we’re not screwed in the sense that oh noes, everybody gonna die! We’re not talking about pneumonic plague.

        We would be screwed in that so many people would either be sick or quarantined that normal infrastructure would grind to a halt. If something breaks, you’d likely have to wait a couple of weeks or more to get it fixed. Power goes out? Wait. Going to work? Nope. A lot of folks in China are struggling since they can’t go to work while their cities are locked down. Most people in the US don’t have enough money saved to weather a period of quarantine/non-work either.

        I totally agree about the media; fear means clicks. It’s reprehensible to fearmonger. Of course, with He-Who-Shall-Not-Be-Named doing everything he can to discredit fact-based news sources, panic could break out easily. I’m more worried about that than the virus.

      5. Anon for the moment*

        I am over 50. I have a really crappy immune system. I have lots of health problems. I’ve got several people in my life that I love very much who are either much younger or older also with health problems. Hearing this only impacts the elderly or the immune-compromised does not help me.

        Right now if we can take steps either individually or collectively to keep this from becoming a pandemic, I would much rather take those now, thank you very much.

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

      I’m putting coronavirus in the same category of other things I have absolutely control over and not worrying about it. I work in a public library and commute to work on crush-loaded New York subways, so if this thing reaches NYC and really spreads, I’m probably totally screwed. Hopefully the actual symptoms are not worse than the flu, which kills more people than coronavirus every year.

      1. Clisby*

        We don’t know whether flu kills more people than coronavirus every year, since this is the first year we’ve known of coronavirus. If that’s true 20 years from now, that’s a different story.

      2. That Girl from Quinn's House*

        As it stands, the death rate of the seasonal flu is .01% while the death rate of coronavirus is 2-3%.

        This may change as we get more information and expand testing, but for now, we have to work with the information we have, and that is that coronavirus is markedly more dangerous than the seasonal flu.

        Please stop spreading misinformation.

        1. What the What*

          adExcept that these statistics may be misleading. People most statistics like they’re fact. But we have much better data about the regular flu, meaning our statistical error is much lower. What if the death rate of coronavirus is 2-3% with a 1.9% statistical error rate and the flu has a .01% death rate with a 0.01% statistical error rate? In that case, one of those statistics is highly accurate and the other one isn’t. Do you know what the error rate of your 2-3% statistic is?

          What if the data is accurate, but 50% of known cases forming that statistic are for patients over the age of 80, because healthy adults are less likely to seek treatment for flu symptoms? That would mean it’s not a 3% death rate for everyone, but rather a 3% death rate in a non-representative population. Do you know if the population forming your statistic is representative? What is the death rate among patients diagnosed in the first 30 days of the outbreak compared to the most recent 30 days?

          That’s the problem with statistics. They seem so factual and easily become misleading without the full context of understanding the sample size, population, and other data.

          1. Kuododi*

            I believe it was Mark Twain who said:. “There are lies…there are Damned lies….and there are statisi.”

            Best regards… Kuododi

          2. allathian*

            The corona virus mortality rate will likely go down as time goes on, as infected people with less severe symptoms are identified.

    6. CoffeeforLife*

      My partner has been following it for weeks now and made us buy a ton of non-perishables and we are pretty stocked if there is a rush on grocery stores and/or we need to stay in. I just wish we lived in a Prime fresh delivery area. :/

      1. Falling Diphthong*

        My spouse wants to stock up on non-perishables in case there is a panic–like, he’s not worried about the disease, but about people’s reactions to it. Since we have an unfinished basement, I am not opposed to extra stockpiles of toilet paper and some soup–blizzards are an option where we live, if not earthquakes.

        1. young professional*

          interesting – (don’t mean this to be argumentative in the least) but you are also part of this panic by responding to it! We all get drawed in – I’m not panicking but now I will consider if I too should preemptively buy groceries if others will too.

          1. Oxford Comma*

            As a matter of course, everyone should have a stock of emergency supplies for whatever: power outages, blizzards, natural disasters, health crises.

            Should you go out and buy a case of soup? Probably not. Should you have a few extra containers on hand? Not the worst idea in the world.

        2. Alexandra Lynch*

          I’m not going to run around with my hair on fire, but I keep a couple weeks worth of important things (toilet paper, food, medications, cat food) around anyway because we live where there are blizzards and ice storms, and sometimes if we all have our chronic illnesses flare at once no one is going out for anything even if the weather is fine.

      2. Crazy Chicken Lady*

        I stopped at Costco yesterday around 7 pm. It was just about an hour and a half after our local news announced a local case of unknown origin- the first case in the state. The person works about 5 minutes away from where I live and the Costco is the closest one to there.

        The Costco (!) had like 5 packages of toilet paper left. The space where you’d find Clorox wipes was simply… empty. No tag or anything.

        I think there was a bit of panic buying last night.

        I keep a decent amount of food on hand. It’s a leftover from my seriously frugal days of raising two kids on one income. So I keep rotational stock in my basement storeroom, bringing stuff up as I run out and adding to my shopping list for the next grocery run.

        I made red lentil dal last night and used up a jar of lentils (I buy them in bulk). I grabbed a jar in the basement and noted I had one more left which means I needed to buy about a jar worth from the bulk bin.

        I went shopping this morning at 7; that’s my usual Saturday morning shopping time. The parking lot was packed. At 7 am.

        There were no red lentils in the two bins. Sigh. I found the bulk bin guy and asked him- he said nope definitely out and some woman just spent 5 minutes beating on the two bins to get the last few lentils out.

        I had no idea that red lentils were an emergency supply item. Sheesh.

        1. Seeking Second Childhood*

          This isn’t just a Costco ptoblem. I stumbled across it after someone on a previous weekend grumped about Whole Foods having none right after my store had low supply. Do a Web search — the agricultural economics would be interesting if it didn’t feel so dystopian. It ties to Australian drought, North American floods, US/China trade war, and supplier financial issues… and that was before covid-19.

    7. Catherine*

      I live in Tokyo and right now there are no toilet paper or tissues to be had in the city. The only way I can get toilet paper right now is if I buy it on Amazon from a third-party seller at a markup–and I’ll still have to wait for shipping.

      1. Catherine*

        However, all the grocery stores still have plenty of food. It’s just the disposable paper goods aisles that are decimated due to the collective public rush to stock up.

      2. pony tailed wonder*

        I had heard that in Japan, there is a greater percentage of people having bidets so a toilet paper shortage there strikes me as more serious than other countries.

    8. Pinkie pie*

      I live outside a major international tourist destination and have a kid with asthma. I’m quietly stocking up to be able to stay inside for a month. Husband has bought into it’s an hoax that is driven by media panic. I’m googling how to make hand sanitizer (one part rubbing alcohol, 3 parts aloe). If I’m wrong, he has the pleasure of knowing that Trump was right. When shtf, my daughter is protected.

      1. Jules the 3rd*

        This is a reasonable thing to do. If you don’t have to stay home, you’ll just use the stuff over time. I’m going to pick up toilet paper and tissues this weekend as possible.

        1. Clisby*

          Yeah, if you can afford to stock up, it’s a good idea. You never know what might happen. I’m still using up the hurricane supplies I stockpiled last year, so I’ll be ready to re-supply in June.

    9. Shell*

      It sounds to me like there are still a lot of unanswered questions about this virus. Like, how long is the incubation period, and how many people will get only mildly ill if they contract it, and can you get it more than once? I’m not panicking about it, but I did decide to stock up a bit in case it really spreads and people are asked to stay home. Authorities generally recommend you should have some food and water at home at all times, because disasters (hurricanes, blizzards, etc.) are always a possibility. Despite living in blizzard country, I’ve never really done that, but I went shopping a couple of days ago and picked up a bunch of staples — rice and beans, tuna, peanut butter, canned and dried fruit, soup, pasta, etc. I could probably subsist on a very boring diet for weeks. If anyone else is stocking up, don’t forget to get whatever your pets need!

      1. Jules the 3rd*

        Incubation seems to be 2 – 3 weeks.
        There’s now reports of people getting it a second time. No report on whether that makes them more or less vulnerable, it just got reported yesterday.

        For ‘how many people get it mildly’, that’s the inverse of morbidity, and they’ve got some good numbers on it that make it somewhere between seasonal flu and cholera.

        Morbidity:
        Flu 0.1%
        Coronavirus 0.7% (outside of China; 2% – 3% in China)

        Morbidity among people over 70:
        Flu 2%
        Coronavirus 8% (in China)

        R0 (measure of how much it will spread; higher = more spread)
        Flu 2017/2018: 1.53 (in US)
        Coronavirus: 1.5 – 6.6 (in China)
        Chicken Pox: 8
        Measles: 15

    10. Mimmy*

      I’m not sure what to think, honestly. I think a lot of the fear is because it’s so new and the number of new cases and deaths worldwide keeps jumping up every day. That is alarming, yes. There’s a part of me wondering if everyone is overreacting, given that many people get and die from the seasonal flu and other illnesses. I think I’m just not quite understanding the fear. What I’m amazed at is how it has impacted the stock market! OMG!!

      I have other thoughts too but they’re not really appropriate for this forum. I just hope that things settle down soon.

      1. Rebecca*

        I know, the stock market. Somewhere, someone is making money off of this, but it’s not the little guy, that’s for sure. No one seems to realize the flu sweeps through every year, and 30,000 more or less die from it. And that’s just the flu.

        1. Count Boochie Flagrante*

          The little guy absolutely can make money off of it, investment-wise. Many won’t, because a lot of small investors are easily swayed by hype/hysteria chains. But being a small investor absolutely does not preclude making canny choices. Particularly given that this is coming hard on the heels of the race to $0 commissions last fall in the retail brokerages.

          1. Seven hobbits are highly effective, people*

            Yeah, I’m wondering if I have the energy to get a retirement account opened right now. (I have a pension through work, so I’d been putting off contributing to an IRA or other such thing in preference to dumping more money into savings for house repairs, but also due to extreme laziness.) Seems like a good time to start putting money into something I should be doing anyway given how far the market’s down, but it’s also one more thing involving phone calls and decisions, and I hate both of those things.

    11. MissDisplaced*

      Don’t. Panic.

      I mean, seriously. Take all reasonable precautions for sanitation, but live your life.
      I am traveling to England next month, and while I am somewhat concerned about getting sick (but not really all that much more so than usual when I travel–because planes are gross), I won’t let it stop me from doing things.

      By far I think the greater concern is for people who are elderly or have a compromised immune system due to other illnesses. If that is the case, certainly those people should avoid large gatherings, travel and such.

      Personally, I think this will progress in spread, but reduce in severity. The worst cases being at the epicenter with the first infected. Additional infections will be gradually lessoning in severity. Probably we’ll all get it at some point, and feel nothing more than minor crappiness as we would with any cold.

    12. Lore*

      I was supposed to be traveling to Thailand via South Korea next month. We had just about decided to cancel (due to risk of quarantine more than fear of virus) and now Korean Air has bollixed up our flights so completely that we couldn’t get there if we tried. But they haven’t canceled—they’ve left us with connections where one flights arrives 24 hours after the connecting flight leaves. And they’re completely unreachable by phone, chat, or social media. We have a month to figure out how to cancel so that’s a plus but they are making it very hard. (And not allowing cancellation without penalty.)

    13. m*

      People around me don’t seem too worried. I’m not sure if I find that concerning or reassuring. (Helps to keep me level-headed and not obsess, but I can’t help wonder if they’re taking the necessary precautions of personal hygiene, staying home if sick etc.)

      I do with people would quit making jokes about it. Not so much because they’re offensive, but because all the jokes are so old now. Like, someone comes in with a cold and says ‘it’s not the coronavirus LOL!’ when they cough/sneeze/blow their nose (never mind that colds are also contagious!). Or saying how nice it’d be to have to ‘self-quarantine’ as a way to stay away from work (not sure if they realise that ‘quarantine’ means you can’t go outside, it’s not a paid vacation).

      1. kt*

        My spouse is a physician. He sighed this morning & said, “Guess I better read about this COVID thing.” My non-physician friends are asking, “Are hospitals overwhelmed yet?!?!” and he’s like… no… not here.

        He is worried about the stress that will be put on the system as infection spreads, mostly because we have such a poor care-delivery system in the US (fragmented, unprepared, mostly driven by insurance considerations, not incentivized for public health). That part will suck, he says — if enough old people get pneumonia at once this system is just going to fail and people will die.

        1. kt*

          Reread my comment and want to say that I’m not trying to be flippant about the impact on the older population. If you look at the mortality rates, they are most at risk, and it may be that it’s a viral pneumonia rather than a bacterial pneumonia that co-occurs. Flu generally has a bacterial pneumonia as a complication from what understand, and for bacterial pneumonia you can take antibiotics, while for a viral pneumonia antibiotics are useless.

          I am not a physician, just a STEM person, but if you want to know more about the evidence for this bacterial vs viral pneumonia thing check out “Radiological findings from 81 patients with COVID-19 pneumonia in Wuhan, China: a descriptive study” in The Lancet Infectious Disease, published online 5 days ago.

    14. Sherm*

      I keep having Tom Petty’s “The waiting is the hardest part” stuck in my head. There is value in delaying the spread of the virus, for many reasons, but, man, the experience is like pulling a bandaid off verrrrrry slowly.

      I’m not very concerned about myself, but I do worry about older people in my life. For anxiety, I think one of the best things to do is have a plan. What would you do if you think you have it? What would you do if you had to quarantine yourself? What arrangements can you make if you cannot care for others? Having plans for being sick/stuck inside/on one’s back regardless of reason is probably a good idea, anyway.

    15. AE*

      Well, wouldn’t you know my three-year-old woke up with a fever, cough, and increased respiratory rate this morning. She’s stable and it’s probably just a cold, but given that we live in the SF Bay Area about 15 minutes from the first community spread case I took her in. Urgent care was backed up for 5 hours so we’re at the ER, where we’re roomed but waiting to see a doctor. They are out of masks, tissues, and various other medical supplies. It’s weird.

      1. m*

        Haven’t you been given the advice to stay away from hospitals/GPs if you suspect coronavirus given how contagious it is?

        1. AE*

          That’s not correct. The CDC recommends that if you suspect coronavirus you should stay home except to seek medical care, which is exactly what we’re doing. We’re wearing masks and informed the nurse as soon as we entered the hospital, as they requested, so they roomed us away from other patients. I specifically didn’t go to a GP or her pediatrician even though it would have saved me a $200 hospital co-pay because I didn’t want to expose people in that setting.

        2. That Girl from Quinn's House*

          Different countries, different US states, and different hospital networks, are issuing different guidelines, so you shouldn’t assume your directions are the same as everyone else’s.

        3. cyanste*

          At least one big SF Bay hospital system says to call before coming in so they can triage ahead of time specifically not to risk exposing others unnecessarily.

    16. Elizabeth West*

      The news said there were 20 people in St. Louis city/county who are under quarantine. Tested person in Belleville, Illinois over the state line has been cleared (I don’t know if the two are related). Currently, there are no confirmed cases of COVID-19 infection in Missouri.

      Not too worried for myself, but I live with a relative who is immunocompromised. A few years ago, I bought a couple of boxes of masks to put in my emergency kit for dust and smog protection. They don’t block viruses from coming in, but if I catch a cold, they’ll help block my sneezes, etc. I did get my flu shot before I moved. I keep hand sanitizer in my purse anyway.

    17. That Girl from Quinn's House*

      I’m getting really stressed out too, my mom is basically the textbook definition of people who are dying of coronavirus (senior citizen, diabetes, heart and lung problems) and she’s having surgery this week (so not only is she in the hospital, she’s going to have diminished defenses.) I told her to get masks a few weeks ago and she waited until too late to get any.

      I found a supplier near me and I’ll go pick some up and mail her some, but it’s frightening, between me and my husband we fully expect at least one of our parents to end up in the ICU (assuming it’s not full by then.)

      1. allathian*

        I’m in Finland, with 6 confirmed cases so far in the whole country. One is a school-age child and another is the child’s parent, and about 100 kids have been quarantined for two weeks just in case.
        Even with relatively small numbers, medical authorities are already preparing people for the possibility that elective surgeries may be postponed until further notice if the situation deteriorates to a local epidemic, to ensure there’s enough medical personnel available to treat the sick.
        I’m not particularly worried on my own account, but my parents and in-laws are all in their 70s and dealing with chronic conditions, including respiratory illness, kidney disease, and diabetes, so I’m a bit worried for their sake.
        We have started stocking up on non-perishable foods. I’m lucky in that my employer has a very liberal telecommuting policy, so if necessary, I can work from home for weeks at a time. I hope it doesn’t come to that, but I’m glad the opportunity is there.

    18. The Gollux, Not a Mere Device*

      I think my mental state is okay (or at least no worse than normal).

      Meanwhile, Penzey’s Spices is telling people not to panic, but to stock up on herbs/spices/seasonings to go with that stockpile of basics like rice, beans, pasta, and eggs. I already had pepper and tarragon on my shopping list, but added roasted garlic powder and seasoned salt at my girlfriend’s request, and dropped them off at her place on my way home.

    19. Sparkly Lady*

      I’m calm overall for myself personally. It seems like adults without a history of respiratory problems generally have mild symptoms.

      However, I am very concerned for my mother who has lung cancer. Fortunately, she’s already well stocked with masks and she’s already been avoiding large crowds. But I am having low-key anxiety that I will have a mild or asymptomatic case, not know it, and accidentally infect her. (I live in an area that’s had community transmissions, so this is obviously an anxiety-driven fear, but not an impossible scenario.) So the main thing I’m trying to do is stay on top of the reports from medical sources about how to distinguish coronavirus, common cold, and seasonal flu. I am vaccinated for seasonal flu.

      1. lassly*

        This is what I’m worried about too – that I’ll have a nothingburger case and then give it to someone… With how little testing we’ve done in the US so far I have to figure we’ve got community spread established now, and everyone is looking outward at travel restrictions when we need to be working harder to stop what’s already getting entrenched. At least folks are doing the right thing stopping conferences and such.

        The mortality rate so far among the elderly or ill is pretty scary. Recent study out of China says 8% for folks in their 70s and 14.8% in their 80s. 10% with heart disease. Etc… Could be a real kick in the life expectancy if this just becomes another form of “dying of old age” like the flu or heart disease.

    20. 00ff00Claire*

      Well, I think people will fall somewhere between either 1)hearing that it’s a mild respiratory illness for most people and then carrying on without thinking about it at all or making any changes or 2)hearing “pandemic”, imagining people getting wiped out left and right and society collapsing within a few weeks a la The Walking Dead (I mean, Rick can’t have been in that coma for too long! wouldn’t he have succumbed to dehydration before waking up if it was many weeks?), and stockpiling for the apocalypse. Maybe it’s just me, but the during chatter I hear and see in discussions of “what are we supposed to do?”, the two extremes get the most attention and reaction.

      I personally am trying to land somewhere in the middle, because I do think we should be doing things differently. But I also don’t expect society to completely collapse around me. A relative sent me a link to a Scientific American blog post that pretty much explains how I have been trying to frame being prepared and making changes. It just does a much better job of explaining it. I will post the link in a second comment.

    21. OlympiasEpiriot*

      I’ve already been vigilant about transmission vectors because I got a painfully slow-moving cold in December that many around here got in Dec and Jan. Then a stomach bug seems to have been circulating, too. It seems to have a long incubation period. Despite lots of handwashing, etc, I did get it last week. There’s so much to be worried about that this is just part of the morass. I can’t get overanxious about it.

      Otoh, the complete farce happening at the top in the Cabinet, the CDC, etc…well, THAT doesn’t do anything good for my mental state.

    22. pony tailed wonder*

      I went and got extra toilet paper, allergy medicine, and diet coke and that might do it for me. However, this virus scare is really doing a number on my hands. All the extra hand washing is drying them out. I need to remember to use a lot more hand lotion than I have been using. If anyone can recommend a moisturizing hand soap, I would appreciate it.

      1. 00ff00Claire*

        You can try Cetaphil gentle cleanser, but I’m honestly not sure how it compares to regular soap with removing viruses from your hands. The ingredients include surfactants though, so maybe it does the same job as others.

        I have been using Aveeno cracked skin relief cica balm at night. It is quite sticky and takes a while to soak in. But my hands are better since I’ve been using it. Other really good lotions are Burts Bees Shea Butter Hand Repair and Cornhuskers Lotion (which does not leave hands tacky or greasy at all).

  4. Sleve McDichael*

    Awkward experiences thread! Share the embarrassing things you’ve done this week. We can all laugh and commiserate.

    1. Sleve McDichael*

      Here’s mine:
      I had a first aid training session on Tuesday. When I entered, there were about five people sitting around, none of whom I knew. The trainer asked me my name and I said ‘Nickname’! then, seeing she had a signup sheet for names, ‘Errr oh uh Name’.
      ‘And what’s your role, Name?’ she asked. This was a problem as I changed roles on the 20th of Dec and it’s barely sunk in. My response was ‘Teapot boffin?’ with a rising terminal like I was asking her!
      She tried to rescue me from my awkwardness by joking (in the way we do in my country) ‘Ohhh, so you’re one of those people.’ (The boffins have a bit of a mad scientist reputation). However, I was so caught up in my previous ridiculous response that all the words flew out of my head! All I could think to say was ‘….Yes.’ After that piece of witty repartee I scurried to an empty seat. To my further embarrassment, the seat back was leant forwards so I was curled up like the giant prawn of awkwardness. Desperate, I pulled the lever to quietly adjust my seat. SHUNK! Instead the chair shot abruptly to it’s lowest point. Crimson by this point, I pulled the other lever. THWACK! Now the backrest shot back and so did I, arms flailing in surprise. Nobody said a word. I spent the next minute readjusting my seat in silent mortification until the next person arrived to distract the eyes I could feel boring into my head. I’m not usually so awkward, honest!

      1. Woodswoman*

        I just love that you described yourself as the (not a, but the) giant prawn of awkwardness. That is absolutely going into my cache of ways to describe myself. I don’t have any idea if that’s a reference I’m just unaware of or your own creation, but I love it.

        Also, if it is any consolation, my whole like looks like that situation. I’m willing to bet what felt super awkward came off significantly less obtrusive and more endearing.

    2. overcaffeinatedandqueer*

      Last weekend I was showing a foster kitty to a prospective adopter. All was going well until cat decided to hurry back to me and away from the strange human, which meant getting cat butt close to me as we were sitting on the floor.

      Cat is medium to long haired and had not thoroughly cleaned after last litter box trip, so I got a faceful of stench worst than the most toxic human fart!

      It was so bad that I instinctively said, “Tonks, you smell like hot garbage! Why are you so stinky?”

      Totally forgot the prospective adopter was there and might not want a kitty whose stench rivals that of a grown man who has eaten nothing but beans for weeks!

    3. Jemima Bond*

      I had a close shave – genuinely nearly looked an interviewee in the face and emitted a loud profanity along the lines of “well I’ll be darned”. Reined it in though. Seriously, they had just answered a competency question about interacting with a person and they buried the lead re who it was (the point of the example was how they went about their task, tbf, not the name drop) – when they said who it was, not only was the name a surprise (not a celeb but politically significant in the U.K.) I realised the example was conservatively forty years old.
      My fellow interviewer was 25yo; we had to have a short “Modern History With Jemima” session after we’d finished!

    4. Purt's Peas*

      Got a new haircut–which I really like–but the salon wanted to do before-and-after photos. Before, I had some energy. After, I’d been in the Haircut Experience for literally an hour and a half, and I had no juice left to look good in photos. I didn’t even remember to smile! Boy those “after” photos are ROUGH.

    5. Katefish*

      I misspelled the name of someone I know, like, and deeply respect. She’s well known in our industry, and her name was misspelled on a document designed for her signature. She’s so classy she just signed it without comment.

    6. Emma*

      Not mine directly, but my sweet but slightly careless intern drafted 50 “Authorizations to Contract with Public Bodies” (a form required in my jurisdiction) based on a model I sent him, then sent them to our clients for signatures. The 50 forms came back to me without the “L” in public. Ugh. On the plus side, none of our clients noticed, and the lovely person in our document processing department was able to fix them all (after chuckling “oh, that’s unfortunate”) before I sent them to the government. But I had an awkward conversation with intern on why typos matter in this job.

      1. Fikly*

        I have a work task that I do many many times that involves the word public repeatedly, and my nightmare is leaving out the l, given the resulting document goes out to the public.

        1. Just Another Manic Millie*

          Then why not do a word search for the word “pubic” when you believe the document is ready to be printed/sent out? As long as the search doesn’t find it, you’re good.

          1. Seeking Second Childhood*

            Honestly if I had “public” in my business name, I’d take “pubic” out of my software dictionaries everywhere and check again on every upgrade!

        2. Anon-a-souras*

          In all Microsoft office you can add words to your autocorrect so that if you type “pubic” it’ll autocorrect it to ‘public’ You only need todo this in one, like outlook and it will populate to the others, like word.

          Getting to the dictionary is a little different in each version, so I recommend googling it for your Mac/pc and version.

      2. Elizabeth West*

        If I got one, I’d laugh my ass off.

        I may have told this before, but I used to work at an ad paper (think something like the Pennysaver). This was before my time, but during my training, I was told to check my spelling very carefully, because a few years before I was hired, they had run an ad for a lady who was selling one of those little electric organs. The employee who entered it put Orgasm for sale as the header. The paper then had to run the corrected ad for free until the thing sold. >_<

      3. Buni*

        My friend, a teacher in North-East London, once arranged a trip to take her class to the Epping Forest Field Centre. She did a bunch of paperwork, all the risk assessments, and printed off 30 permission letters. She submitted the lesson plans and risk assessment to her Head but luckily caught the kids’ letters before they went out: her computer had autocarroted every single ‘Epping’ to ‘Effing’.

        1. Seeking Second Childhood*

          I just burst out laughing despite insomnia — both the typo itself and the termost ‘autocarroted’. The latter I will be using, it’s even better than ‘autoINcorrect’ !

      4. Alexandra Lynch*

        I’ve seen that typo in a 90 year old woman’s funeral order of service. In which all were invited to come forward and make a public confession of their faith in Christ.

      5. allathian*

        Ouch! Glad you got out of that one without the proverbial egg on your face… You’re lucky your clients didn’t notice.

    7. KoiFeeder*

      I mean, do you want the part where I busted my sutures by sneezing too hard yesterday, or the part where I wandered back to the apartment and then told someone who asked what the hell had happened to me that I “tore my gallbladder” or the part where my shirt looked like a tarantino movie the whole time and I didn’t notice?

      Sob.

      1. Cottleston Pie*

        Ah, I didn’t think I had anything to contribute until you reminded me of my sneeze-related stress incontinence incident. Fortunately I was sitting around at home so the required change of clothes were close at hand.

  5. appropriating?*

    I have a really weird question, and I don’t want to offend, whatever I choose to do.

    For a good deal of my teenage years, I stayed with my best friend and her family for up to days at a time, and practically lived there in summer (combination of not-good parenting by my own, plus a TON of travel for my mom and brother and a lack of air-conditioning in my home. Bad for allergy-filled me! My dad mostly let me do what I liked). I’m really grateful that I have such a deep friendship to this day, and found a sort of place of safety and support when I really needed it.

    Then my friend and her family packed up and moved literally most of the way across the country when we were 22. I do keep in good contact, but it’s not practical to visit much and you know, life gets busy.

    Thing is, they’re South Asian, I’m white, and honestly, when I catch myself thinking “hey, I miss my “sister”/“mom”, and I can’t call at the time, I’ll do something like go to an Indian restaurant, order a favorite, and listen to the various Hindu dialects that get thrown around. Or I might make a traditional recipe, go to yoga, sit around the house in my one set of salwar kameez, or catch the latest out of Bollywood since my city is big enough to screen some of those.

    I know it’s really the friendship and support that I want to feel, not necessarily cultural stuff, but my brain somehow connected the two, and doing those sorts of things or hearing Hindi/Urdu is really weirdly comforting.

    The discourse about cultural appropriation made me think, though- is that what I’m doing?

    It’s complicated by the fact that making my friend’s home into my sort of second one meant I learned a lot of cultural mores and linguistic and religious basics so I didn’t accidentally offend anyone and because, well, that was the environment that was around. I’m not kidding when I say I probably spent a good third of my teenage years at my friend’s! I mean, can one appropriate a culture one lived with/was raised in? Is it different when you actually understand the meaning behind certain practices and symbols?

    1. A.N. O'Nyme*

      There’s a difference between cultural enjoyment and cultural appropriation. It sounds to me like you’re doing the former, although I am also white so…
      Basically, feel free to enjoy food or movies or even listening to the language, the problem is people claiming to be part of a culture they’re not or using cultural dress as a costume or something.

    2. WS*

      I think it would be cultural appropriation (and rude!) if you treated all Hindu people as surrogate family, or you personally considered yourself an authority on their culture. As it is, you’re just enjoying something familiar to you.

    3. Rohini*

      I’m Indian, currently living in Australia. I get really, really annoyed when people engage superficially and then gush about the “exotic” culture. We’re not zoo exhibits.

      What you’re describing doesn’t sound remotely close to this. I think it’s wonderful that you can engage with and enjoy parts of our culture.

      1. Rohini*

        For me, listening to Hindi songs is a lovely way to connect with the language and with memories of home.

        Do you have any such songs with memories of your friend and her family?

      2. Observer*

        We’re not zoo exhibits.

        Uch! Yes, this so much.

        You’re not going to gawk at people or be an “anthropologist.” You’re going somewhere that helps you feel connected to your friend – and it’s both a legitimate connection, and it’s happening for legitimate reaosns.

    4. Asenath*

      I think sharing a culture naturally by being friends with and even living with someone from a different group is perfectly natural, human and entirely appropriate. And it’s extremely common to be reminded of your past by the sound of an accent or language or music, or the smell and taste of food. Since the memories are so positive for you, I’d just enjoy them, if I were you.

    5. Bobina*

      I think the whole point of appropriation is when people just pick and choose the bits they like or look “cool” or are “popular” with no understanding of any context or cultural awareness.

      What you’re doing sounds nothing like that, I’d say its cultural appreciation which is a lovely thing!

      I live in a place where I’m an ethnic minority and you can very easily tell the difference between people who know anything meaningful about my culture vs those who have just seen bits and pieces.

    6. Batgirl*

      It sounds like you’re doing the opposite? Appropriation always feels like people are pointing a finger at the ‘strangeness’ or outlandishness of the culture. From that viewpoint, they use it as an attention grabbing feature, for shallow variety or as a contrast point to then highlight how well they themselves belong to a dominant culture.
      You are appreciating the familiarity and using it to feel less homesick, which is both genuine and lovely.

    7. Seeking Second Childhood*

      I’m white, grew up with Chinese friends, and for several years lived in a shared house where I was often the only non-Asian. I also shared an apartment in college with someone from India. My mother wasn’t a very good cook, but my Indian & Asian friends were. One guess whose cooking lessons stuck. I visit the big Asian market regularly enough that they’re starting to greet me when I get to the counter. So I will follow along on this thread.

      1. anon here*

        I’m as white as snow myself and went to college in California (coming from a northern clime prior to that). Learned a ton from my mostly-Asian roommates/support system/besties, after having a mostly-Asian friend group in high school too (we were mostly children of immigrants — probably started hanging out because we all spoke not-English when using the pay phone to call home to say we’d be late). This is the culture of America at its best. We appreciate each other. I wore a sari to a big Hindu temple event my friend was in charge of, I learned how to cook tarkari from another friend (with her mom on speed-dial), I learned how good furikake on popcorn is, how to make ramen so it tastes REALLY GOOD, the joys of red bean paste and lumpia (separately), how to make kick-ass steamed buns from an ex-boyfriend’s mother…. These still are to some extent tastes that evoke a certain time in my life, and I still have the sari even though I learned at the temple event why my friend always looked more put-together than me in one: among many other things, her dress had sewn-in pleats and a hidden zipper!! (The older ladies at the temple pulled me into the bathroom & fixed me up.) I’ve learned just as much from white/black/latin@/etc friends from all over the US and world, and they’ve learned about Scandinavian traditions and foods and comics from me. We share what we love.

        Here are my personal rules re: appropriation vs appreciation: If you’re ripping it out of its cultural context & selling it for money like you invented or improved it, you’re appropriating. If you’re taking religious symbols from a group that’s been violently repressed for expressing their religion & wearing them as fashion, you’re being a jerk. That white girl who wore a qipao to prom because it looked pretty? Fine. I’m wearing an African wax print dress as we speak — it’s beautiful and I paid the people who made it well. Re-inventing some new version of yoga or sweatlodges, whitewashing it along the way? … distasteful. Taking the designs of Hmong and Oma artisans and putting them on your Italian-label fashion without acknowledging where they’re from? Not cool, Max Mara — just giving credit would really make a difference! When you sample in a song, you say who you sampled from. Give credit & *don’t erase the people who did the original work*. In your post, OP, you told us a lot about where this all came from. That’s beautiful.

        1. appropriating?*

          Thanks for the thorough post!

          Honestly I usually mess up the cooking and then have to make calls anyway!

          I saw a YouTube skit the other day, a satire called “Desi Moms Helpline”, and laughed my butt off because it started with, “for a verbal thrashing press 1, for cooking disasters press 2…” and had a scene with a hapless guy going, “mom, the rajma isn’t right!”

          Oh well, at least I’m not making my “mom” wonder if I’m going to burn down the kitchen any more.

    8. Falling Diphthong*

      It sounds like the scent of madelines invoking memories of childhood, and you seek that out when you want to feel comforted. The same could be true if you and a trusted mentor had a history of celebrating by getting Happy Meals and so you sometimes sat at a McDonalds when feeling nostalgic.

    9. a little bit homesick*

      I grew up in a similar manner. Really bad parenting, spent almost every weekend of my teen years with a friends family. Basically an unofficial foster situation. I am so grateful to my friend for sharing her parents and culture with me.
      I’d say relax and enjoy the food, the song, and the people. And send letters. Real letters. I know my “sister” loves getting letters from me that describe a moment from our teen years or with her parents who are both gone now.

    10. Blueberry*

      As someone who can come at this from both the sharer and the shared-with sides, I think you’re absolutely fine and totally heartwarming. I hope you get to visit your family of heart soon.

    11. Miranda Priestly's Assistant*

      As a first-generation South Asian American, you’re totally fine. I’m not a huge fan of the way the term ‘cultural appropriation’ is thrown around by supposed progressives. I don’t think anyone has a right to police who can participate in what culture. (I have also seen this lead to awkward things, like people assuming someone is white and guilty of cultural appropriation, when they’re actually from the country they are allegedly “appropriating”.) Partaking in different cultural practices (esp in a place like the U.S.) is normal.

      1. Meepmeep*

        Seriously. I think that this whole “cultural appropriation” idea is set up to exoticize some cultures and does more damage than whatever behaviors it is meant to stop. Why is it “cultural appropriation” for me to wear a sari, but not “cultural appropriation” for an Indian woman to wear jeans?

        And yes, the US is so diverse that it’s impossible to not “culturally appropriate” here. I live in California. My stomach has “culturally appropriated” food from all sorts of places. What, am I supposed to forgo my favorite Indian restaurant and go to McDonald’s instead?

        1. Parenthetically*

          Mm, no, this isn’t this complicated. Literally no one thinks that a white person eating Indian food is cultural appropriation — neither going to a concert where, say, Chinese musicians play traditional instruments, or going to a Nollywood film festival.

          And if you really want to know, wearing the clothing of someone else’s culture as a cutesy costume IS cultural appropriation, but wearing a sari to an Indian wedding you’ve been invited to ISN’T. It’s not hard — someone’s culture isn’t my costume. Power dynamics (and the cultural pressure on ethnic minorities to assimilate) are a huge part of what makes appropriation what it is. White girls who get dreads because they think they’re cute, but didn’t grow up experiencing discrimination based on their natural hair style/texture (like black women did) are appropriating, because they want the aesthetic without the experience. THAT is the bottom line with appropriation — am I adopting a cultural “look” or a cultural practice because I think it’s cute or cool, without having either lived through the marginalization a minority-culture person would have experienced, or without having any background in or understanding of that look or practice? Am I wearing someone else’s culture as a costume?

        2. Beeping beep*

          No. Just, no. You clearly do nit actually understand what cultural appropriation even is.

          You should do some learning before you post crap like this and make a fool of yourself on the internetn. No one wants to read your ignorant ranting.

          No one wants to stop you eating Indian food. They want to stop people reinventing Indian food, claiming it as theirs and profiting off of it without giving credit or recognition to those who actually invented it. You know, APPROPRIATING it,

          It’s not that hard. Do better.

          1. Meepmeep*

            It’s not that simple, really. Taking “white people” out of it, I’ve had Japanese curry, which tastes very different from Indian curry. Is that cultural appropriation? That’s pretty much doing what you’ve described, isn’t it?

            I am a musician. Do I get to only play the music of “my people”? What if I really want to play the sitar? What if I like the way it sounds? For that matter, do I get to play Western classical music if that’s not my background (and it isn’t)?

            It’s not as simple as “white girl in a sari is bad”.

            1. Blueberry*

              Your argument here reminds me of the people I dealt with in college who told me they knew more about Jamaican culture than I do and were the ‘real’ Jamaicans because they wore tam-o-shanter hats and smoked pot.

              But I’m certain you’ll be the best sitar player ever and can totally tell everyone that you truly understand the sitar better than any Indian musician could.

    12. LGC*

      I’m not South Asian, so I’m not the most qualified, but…it doesn’t sound like it’s appropriation. It sounds like you were invited into their culture, and you’re not trying to profit off of it in any way – you’re not out there saying that you’re so cool for owning a salwar kameez! (Or selling them!) It sounds like your “real” problem is that you feel like it’s a part of your culture, but you don’t have the right to claim it as such, and…I think that you’re right in that it would be weird to claim yourself as Hindi. But I also think that you’re well within the rights to acknowledge your experiences with Hindi culture as a part of yourself – you spent a lot of time in that culture! And you can definitely enjoy Indian culture – Bollywood is wild (in a good way), Indian food is absolutely delicious, and you get to derive pleasure from that even if you’re (oh my God) a white person.

      So, tl;dr – you good! Do you! It doesn’t sound like you’re doing anything bad.

    13. Koala dreams*

      I think it’s very common to want the food and the music from your childhood when you miss family. I even like food that I disliked as a child when I’m nostalgic. I’m not sure about the connection to cultural appropriation, missing things from your childhood seems to me to be the opposite of that.

    14. Anonnington*

      I’m white and I’ll defer to minority commenters. But I think cultural appropriation is, by definition, something that’s disrespectful or abusive or involves profiting or otherwise benefitting from it in a yucky way. Other people have cited good examples.

    15. nm*

      In my opinion, the difference between cultural appropriation and exchange is that of ignorance vs. understanding and respect. If you understand and respect the meaning behind the traditions, the reasons for the practices, etc (and it sounds like that’s exactly what you’re doing) then I certainly would never call it appropriation.

      If you were, for example, dressing up in a traditional Indian outfit for a party because you thought it looked cute but it was actually funeral attire or something like that, that’s more like what I would call appropriation.

      1. nm*

        I’m not sure if this is relevant or not but for context, I am an immigrant from south asia to north america.

  6. A.N. O'Nyme*

    Writing thread! How’s everyone’s writing going?
    I just realized some of the dialogues I’ve written sound really awkward when read out loud (handy trick, by the way) so back to the drawing board for those.

    1. OyHiOh*

      Dialogue is my specialty, writing plays and all. When in doubt, get a couple friends to come in and read dialogue sections with you. Hearing other people’s voice attached to the words helps work out the naturalism of the words.

      Me: I’m taking a one act play out on a walk through an open mic next weekend. Handful of actor friends are going to stand around in a circle and give it a development read. In the meantime, picking up a couple projects I started last fall and seeing what I can do to make them better, and finishing a creative enterprises grant that I’ve spent most of the month trying to write well. That’s for a graphic novel project I would absolutely love to shepherd into print over the next couple years.

    2. Claire*

      I finished an end-to-end draft of my novel! The middle section (which I wrote last) needs expanding, but as my agent said, it didn’t need to be perfect, just done. Deadline was yesterday and I emailed the ms. to my agent and my editor at 4:30pm, then I collapsed onto the sofa to binge watch Rookie Historian Goo Hae-ryung.

      Edits should come back in a couple weeks, but at least it won’t be as frantic. I think. I hope.

        1. Claire*

          Thank you! I spent *months* writing and rewriting plot notes for the second half. Then I went to Alaska for a week and all became clear. (This is my story and I’m sticking to it.)

    3. Blueberry*

      Good luck with the dialogue! One technique I find helps is to have people say sentence fragments and cut each other off. That can add verisimilitude.

      1. Elizabeth West*

        Ha, I totally did this in Tunerville in the chapter where my protag meets with a pushy executive who talks over him. It’s one of my favorite parts.

    4. Arts Akimbo*

      I never participate in this thread usually, because I’m a painter, not a writer! But I’ve recently had a “LIFE’S TOO SHORT!” moment and have finally written the introduction to the sketchbook I’ve been putting off Kickstarting!

      Also… I have another art book in the works, which looks like the art wants to be framed and linked together by a novella. I am very scared, because Artist! Not Writer! but I’m going to do it anyway! I have an outline, and the outline has two different possible endings. I will be picking the one which does *not* turn into me rolling enormous obstacles into my own path.

  7. OyHiOh*

    TL/DR Get To The Good Stuff – Link in comments with the NPR segment and Google album with liturgy recording. The NPR segment is 8 minutes and the liturgy recording is a little over a minute long.

    So I mentioned last week that I got to talk with Ari Shapiro of NPR for a series NPR is going to be running over the next twelve months, called Where Voters Are. His first segment aired Friday night and he ended up using pieces of the interview I did with him. Just a couple quick clips talking about the atmosphere here. Four years ago in the fall, I was playing Mrs. Frank in a local production of The Diary of Anne Frank. I cannot begin to explain, in print, how terrifying it was, as a Jewish woman, to play Anne’s mother, mere weeks before the election. Mrs Frank has this monologue in the second act where she talks about hearing “that voice” on the radio. I’d rehearse that scene, then drive home listening to NPR (I don’t like commercial radio, for the most part) and hearing clips that rang like “that voice” (not naming names, more than one rang that way at the time!). It was the weirdest, most eerie experience I’ve had since the day (when I wa 14, mind you) I dragged my head out of a Tom Clancy novel, heard the radio on down in the kitchen, and for a moment was sincerely baffled that the program my mom was listening to did not echo the story I was reading. I can usually keep “story” time clearly separate from “real” time but Anne Frank, in the fall of 2016, was different. Harder. The stress and fear is evident in my voice, moresoe than I realized while I was giving the interview.

    Last Saturday, I discreetly turned on my phone during my very most favorite part of the Conservative liturgy that the other synagogue in town uses. The piece is called Aytz Chayim Hi (the tree of life) and it is the soaring, heartbreaking song that we sing at the very end of the Torah service, after the scrolls have been put away, as the Ark is closed. My therapist is making me challenge things I’ve “always” believed about myself and my singing voice and I have long had a contentious relationship. Recording myself, singing with our cantor, who has proper professional training, was something of a revelation. What my dad didn’t like about my voice was not something wrong with me – it was that the training I had, in choirs and musical ensembles – was different from his operatic soloist style. And there’s nothing wrong with either, just a difference. On the other hand, I can also hear *everything* “wrong” with my voice. The high note I just completely missed. A few places where I did eventually get the right note but kinda blurred my way into it. And completely running out of breath support at the end. But all of those are small things I will fix over the next few weeks. I’m good at pushing myself to do better every time.

    Thursday was an uncharacteristically sentimental day, an anniversary of sorts, though it didn’t feel like a looming monumental occassion. My journal informed me that Feb 27, last year, was the first time Neptune and I met for lunch after Mr Oy died. That first time, we met at a chain restaurant brand known for their pies. We haven’t been there in months but I asked if we could do that yesterday, so we did. Neptune commented that evening, remarking on how much I’ve changed in the year that we’ve properly known each other (we were casual aquaintences before, but not truly friends) “you are wonderful and amazing. So much more than I even expected!”

    Next up, I’m taking a play – a one act – to an open mic next week and having some actor friends do a development read of it. Another challenge, similar to the singing exercise. My perception is that I’m not really connected to the theater world here (LOL!!! OMG brain) and that my friends don’t really want to help a friend develop a new piece of writing. In actual fact, it took all of 45 minutes to go from a “hey, anybody want to read this thing?” text to around 10 or so of my good friends to having four readers jumping up and down going me me me! Prepared a small feedback form (3 questions) for the audience so I can get some written feedback as well as whatever people want to tell me face to face. I’m excited!

      1. OyHiOh*

        I do not have a blog! I don’t have the patience for it.

        I write plays because it takes me around eight weeks to write a full length script (about 90 pages), a week or so to write a one act (10 to 45 pages). That’s about the length of time I can sustain a single creative enterprise before I need to take a breather or do something different for awhile. A blog needs to be maintained weekly at minimum long term and every time I’ve tried in the past, I’ve given up after about three months. So I stick with what I do well!

      2. Middle School Teacher*

        Interesting. I would not have outed myself on a public blog like this.

        1. OyHiOh*

          I’m comfortable with the choice. Where I live has been no secret since Holtzer talked about blowing up our Temple. My name . . . eh. Every NPR listener on the globe who listened during that hour heard so I’m not sure what difference it makes linking back to a public blog.

    1. Ellen*

      I only listen to the radio when I’m in my car. I was driving home yesterday, about a 10 minute drive, when I switched the radio over to our public broadcasting station. I heard something about a small Jewish congregation being interviewed, remembered you saying that you’d been interviewed for NPR, and I couldn’t believe the serendipity that I managed to catch the segment in my short drive! I loved hearing the voice of someone whose story I’ve been enjoying over the last year here on AAM.
      I was disappointed to hear your Congregation President say that he left the Democratic party because he felt they pandered to women and minorities. When I hear comments like that it sounds like they don’t believe institutional discrimination is a reality (and maybe it isn’t for them), and that historically underrepresented demographics don’t deserve a helping hand, which in my mind equates with a lack of empathy for others.

      1. OyHiOh*

        I’m glad Shapiro included that particular perspective – it’s a pov you hear a lot in Pueblo. I think, if you can screen out whatever the specific issue is, it’s a point of view expressing fear of change. Pueblo is really stagnant. There are people like me trying to change things and move this place forward but there’s a lot of resistance. People like our congregation president, who see the rest of the country changing, see Pueblo not changing, and are afraid both of what is happening “out there” and what is not happening here.

        There’s a . . . . let’s call it a psychic connection between the community I grew up in and Pueblo. Geographically, the two communities are laid out similarly in places where two rivers meet. The industrial foundations are similar, they’re both university towns, and then there’s “the story.” A family of German brewers settled in my hometown and started a brewing company and all was well, until one of the sons in the brewer’s family – good German/Catholic stock mind you – fell in love with the daughter of a local merchant. A Protestant, horror of horrors. The resulting schism was so dramatic that the young couple had to leave the community, although the son’s father did set up the son for success. He gave his son copies of the family’s beer recipies. That young man and his wife ended up in the little corner of Pueblo we call “the Grove” and started the family business once more. The original brewery in my hometown was knocked down when I was a teen, a victim of revitilizing a run down part of the city. Most of the brewery here likewise was torn down. However, a corner of their original Pueblo building still stands and some years ago, an ambitious proper son of Pueblo contacted the family and, long story short, he has the family recipes and has restarted the brewery name as a craft beer enterprise with the original recipes as well as new ones.

        The reason I mention that story is because I look at my hometown, which is such a similar community to Pueblo, and I say that the worst thing that happened here is that when industrial manufacturing economy collapsed in the late 80’s, the worst thing that happened was that the steel mill stayed open. My hometown lost their manufacturing plant completely. They had to reinvent from the ground up. The result is a vibrant, dynamic city looking forward, rather than hoping manufacturing will make a comeback. Pueblo is still hoping the steel mill will come back to how it used to be in the good old days when a young man could walk in the day after school let out for the summer and have himself a good well paid job for the summer. People know that in other places, mills don’t function like that anymore. Mills hire people with technical training and experience, not high school boys saving up for college. But they want to believe that here in Brigadoon, magic happens and if we just wait for time to shift, we’ll be able to get back to how things used to be. And *that* is why life long Democrats suddenly started calling themselves independents and voting against their best interests in spite of themselves.

        Shapiro told us when he was at our service that he was originally assigned Colorado Springs, thirty minutes or so north of us. Which makes sense given the size and economies of the other seven cities being shadowed for the series. But he said that when he and Gus (one of NPR’s producers) went there, he felt like Springs is a city most people have a pretty good sense of the shape and perspective of the city and that Pueblo is a lot more interesting. I really appreciate that he noticed!

      2. Seeking Second Childhood*

        I heard you too. You were good company on my trafficky drive home at the end of a long day.

  8. Love Is Blind (Netflix)*

    Love Is Blind (Netflix)

    This show is sooo fascinating to me! Do you believe love really is blind??

    Also, all of those people conform to conventional European beauty standards so all the “shock” at how attractive each other are felt…fake?

    I want to see if love is blind between a extremely tattooed person with short blue hair and a giant 6’8 tall person.

    1. OyHiOh*

      I think about the three men I’ve had serious relationships with.
      For starters, I’m a white woman, probably northern European descent, somewhat taller than average, curly hair, progressive politics
      Guy #1 -asian immigrant from the general region of China although not that specific country. Taller than average, even by US standards. Was almost finished with a doctorate in a medical field but not an M.D. when I knew him.
      Moderate/conservative politics. As an aside, we didn’t have a pretty break up but I hope he’s doing ok right now – not encountering too much nonsense based on profession, skin tone, and country of origin.
      Guy #2 – white “southern gentleman”, very slightly taller than me, military/police background, more conservative in politics than Guy #1 (eventually came to question that decision!)
      Guy #3 – black, slightly shorter than me, finance and business consultant, self described student activist (picked his college based on which of a choice of campuses had the most student political activity) and maverick, much more progressive in his politics

      Any one of these three pairings is a very interesting story. How we found each other, what drew us in, etc. I found Love is Blind to feel very artificial simply because any of the “actors” probably would have found themselves interested in one or more of the others if they had met under more natural circumstances. It’s really only the talking through barriers that creates drama and assumptions, not the expected friction of people with very different life experiences and beliefs feeling drawn to each other and trying to figure out how to make it work and if attraction is worth trying to make the rest work.

    2. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      I haven’t seen the show, but I am entertained by your example because I am 5’5” and heavily tattooed with long mostly blue hair and my husband is 6’6”.

      1. Love Is Blind (Netflix)*

        That brings me so much joy!! I love that my random description is an actual real couple in the world! YES!!

        1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

          I was involved with a dude who was seven feet tall for a few months, before husband and I got together, and while that certainly wasn’t love, it was at least entertaining. :) I drove a Smart car at the time, and got no end of giggles out of the fact that the actual reason he couldn’t ride in the car was that he was way over her weight limit – he FIT in the car just fine, physically.

          (I guess technically right now my hair is mostly purple, but I did blue last time I dyed it, so I still think that counts :) )

    3. Traffic_Spiral*

      [shrug] love may be blind, but personal chemistry is not. That being said, reality TV is fake, so it hardly matters.

    4. Not So NewReader*

      I think that love factors in other things besides physical appearance. Looks can pull people in but there has to be more going on to hold people once they get drawn in.

      To many times I have seen love blossom, not because of a person’s perfections but because of their foibles and humanness. When I met my husband the first time, I was busy… dropping things. For whatever reason, I dropped several things one right after the other. So here I am feeling like a jerk, and he thought, “She’s human, she’s approachable.” He had to be able to see in order to figure out I was dropping things, but it’s how he interpreted what he saw that changed the story line.

    5. Parenthetically*

      It irks me purely on the level that the saying “love is blind” means that we tend to be blind to the faults of someone we love, not that love and attraction are unrelated.

      I think it’s very true, though, that attraction can grow as affection grows, and that instant pantsfeelings aren’t necessary for the longevity of a relationship.

    6. Not A Manager*

      I haven’t seen the show, so I’m not sure what “blind” means. For me, my love has been as blind to physical types as is possible. It has never been blind to things like intelligence and a sense of humor.

      It’s also never been blind to sexual chemistry, but somehow brains and vague nerdiness and a few other things tend to blend together in my mind to say “sex” so I feel like sexual chemistry has sometimes been a bit retrospective w/r/t “first glance.”

      1. Disco Janet*

        They communicate through conversations where they can hear but not see each other. No getting a visual until/unless they get engaged on the show! It’s such a train wreck and I can’t stop watching.

    7. Alexandra Lynch*

      My ex’s grandmother was 4’10”. Her husband was 6’10.
      When asked, she said they fell in love at church sitting down.

  9. Princess Deviant*

    No question but I wanted to let you know:
    I got an ASD diagnosis, almost a year after I requested an assessment. Thanks to everyone for their advice (if you remember! I certainly do, and really, really appreciate it).

    I’m exhausted now, but relieved. I’m also feeling sad because I struggled for so long, with others thinking I was ‘odd’, and now I know why, and others do too. To be clear, I don’t think I’m odd but I do recognise that I’m different and always have been. I’m 46 in a couple of weeks – it’s a long time. And it shouldn’t matter, but it does!, I feel vindicated.

    I have a follow-up appointment to discuss strategies that will help.
    They think I might be ADHD too. I’m surprised at this, but I’ll be interested to see if I am, so I’m going to request an assessment for that too.

    I told my mum and my brothers, and they were really surprised but lovely and supportive about it.
    I am going to wait to tell others, if I do. I want to be circumspect about it.

    Have a nice weekend :)

    1. Danger Mouse*

      My son was diagnosed as high functioning asd years ago but only recently diagnosed as also inattentive ADHD. The reason we found out is he has been seeing a psychologist to get help with recognising social cues and she told us to get him ADHD tested. It was a surprise to us too as we associated ADHD with that bouncing off the walls, highly impulsive type, which is not my son at all. It turns out there is more than one type of ADHD and when the paediatrician explained the traits, we immediately recognised our son. Apparently it is really common to have both ASD and ADHD.

      I missed your original posts however I am assuming you are a lady by your username. Since my son’s asd diagnosis, I have had a number of friends confide that they too are asd. In this very small sample, it is interesting that the girl masked it much better and was also diagnosed later in life where as the males were picked up much earlier (my friends and I are mostly in our thirties). I can’t claim this is a representative sample but it seems consistent with everything I have read on ASD. All the best with your diagnosis and I am glad you have found vindication :)

      1. Princess Deviant*

        I am a woman, yes – and this is what put me off getting a diagnosis for so long, because I didn’t fully fit the ASD profile. I hadn’t realised that women and girls are adept at masking it. Someone on here recommended the book “Women and Girls with Autism Spectrum Disorder” by Sarah Hendrickx, and I found this very helpful. I used some of the scripts in the book to help answer the ASD questionnaire.

        I have been thinking that my ADHD symptoms (such as they are) are really just part of the ASD, so I find it interesting that your son has both but you didn’t recognise it as ADHD because he isn’t hyperactive either!

        Thanks for your good wishes :-)

    2. Tau*

      Congratulations! I think I remember your post, actually. It can be a long hard journey to diagnosis, I am super happy for you that you got there in the end and that your environment is supportive. And I hear you on “it shouldn’t matter, but it does” – I was self-DXed for five years before getting the official one, and I will still defend the validity of self-diagnosis until I’m blue in the face, but honestly my first reaction was “oh thank god people will stop being awful to me about it online”. There’s also a sense of… certainty, once you have the actual piece of paper in your hand, that’s really hard to get without it no matter how secure you feel in your own assessment of things.

      And yeah, I can only recommend circumspection – people can be really weird about ASD, and you are not obliged to put yourself in the firing line for that. I only share with family and close friends at this point.

      Selfishly, I’d be really curious to hear from you about the ADHD assessment if you’d like to share. I’m in the situation where I’m diagnosed with ASD and have major, major executive function problems where I’m like “…is this ASD? could I also have ADHD?” but I’ve never had the energy to see a professional and the symptom overlap is such that I’ve not had much look just doing research on my own, so it’d be really interesting and useful to hear how they go about assessing ADHD when they know ASD is also in the mix.

      1. Danger Mouse*

        I am still getting my head around the adhd stuff and we went through the process for a child but hopefully this helps a little.

        For my child, we did a Connors test. His teacher and I seperately answered 110 behavioural questions. For each, you had to pick an answer ranging between seldom to all the time. They then combined the results and if you scored over 75% in any particular behaviour, you are diagnosed with ADHD and what type. This is not the only test out there and it may be slightly different for adults but I assume the concepts would be similar.

        In terms of adhd itself, the inattentive type is usually the one that slips under the radar. A lot of the traits also have some overlap with ASD so in our case, we previously explained away a lot of our son’s difficulties as being part of his asd. Some of the big ones we noticed in our son are:
        – he has a lot of trouble finishing his school work despite being quite intelligent
        – he can only follow one instruction at a time. Any more and he loses track of them and gets overwhelmed/forgets
        -he daydreams a lot and has trouble focusing on the task at hand
        – does not appear to be listening when you are talking directly to him (maybe ask someone close you trust if you seem to do this. I have had every single teacher comment on this since prep that he seems like he is not listening but he is).
        – he forgets to do obvious, every day things (like taking his backpack to school).
        – he makes a LOT of mistakes in his school work that do not reflect his intelligence. I know he is not an idiot. He can do maths in his head that I need a pen and paper for.

        Admittedly I am not in America but the testing process was very easy. We spoke to son’s doctor, they emailed me a link to the test to complete online. We had a follow up appointment to go over the results. I am currently getting my head around it all and considering if I want to try medication for school days.

        It may be worth biting the bullet and finding out. At least then you know and can move forward. Best of luck.

        1. Tau*

          Yeah, a lot of that sounds a lot like me. :/ And I have major, major, potentially life-ruining problems with starting even very simple tasks or switching from one to the other, along with focus problems that have increased over the years (although I’m not sure I’d call myself forgetful, especially not when I was younger.) This is… really most likely worth looking into, even considering the symptom overlap; I’ll have to investigate the testing process over here in Germany.

          1. Myrin*

            My sister hat sich fest vorgenommen to get ADHD testing done sometime this year. We’re all pretty certain she has some form of it – she’s done all kinds of tests online and gave me one a “close person” has to fill in and they all were like yeah, there’s a 95% chance you’ve got it – but, like you, she wants that official diagnosis.

            She wasn’t really sure about the process but talked with our GP about related psychiatric stuff and he said there’s apparently a new guy in town who is… also a GP but has some kind of really strong psychology background? And he doesn’t have a lot of patients yet and if our GP recommends him, he must be a really kind and gentle person, so my sister wants to get an appointment there sometime soon.

            I’ll keep you posted if you keep me posted, ‘kay? ;)

            1. Tau*

              Deal! :) I’m not actually that familiar with my GP – perils of moving as much as I do – but I can make an appointment and see what they say. Fingers crossed everything goes well for your sister, too!

      2. Princess Deviant*

        I remember your comments, thanks so much! Yes, I am intrigued re the ADHD thing also. When I did the ASD assessment I had to fill a brief questionnaire in for ADHD, and most of the stuff I had issues with seemed like part of the ASD, so I don’t know. I am definitely not the hyperactive type.

        I’m waiting for my ASD report and the second appointment before I see my GP about it, although I guess there is nothing stopping me from asking for a referral right now to get on the waiting list. I’m not sure what good it will do to actually know, though, as I have no intention of going on Ritalin.

        1. Tau*

          It’s funny, because I’m not sure what good it will do to actually know is one of the reasons I’ve been putting off looking into ADHD… but hearing someone else say it, my first reaction is: well, more information never hurts! Even if you don’t want to go on medication, you can still be informed about your potential treatment options including non-Ritalin ones – like, maybe there’s therapy options or the like. I should clearly take my own advice here… anyway, fingers crossed that it all goes well for you and the conversation with your GP goes smoothly. :)

        2. Alexandra Lynch*

          I have both ASD and ADHD. What I found is that the meds I take (Adderall for the ADHD, daily, and Valium as a rescue med for anxiety meltdowns) are not everything, but they’re important.
          For the ADHD, the med is the thing that makes all the habits and routines and lists work. It wouldn’t solve things if I let all that go, but it is just enough to make that all work.
          For the ASD, mostly I can handle it with lifestyle choices, but every now and then, generally at night, I get overtired and wind myself up into an anxiety spiral. And for that I have the med. So instead of having a full meltdown with adrenaline dump and being awake til five am when I have things to do tomorrow, I can take a pill, have a hot bath and a boring book and go to bed, which is the best thing for it. And I have a personal rule that if I use it one day I let 48 hours pass before I use it again. No problems.

          1. Princess Deviant*

            I identify hard with this! Thanks for your perspective… it’s given me something to think about.

      3. Princess Deviant*

        Oh and yes to this :-)

        There’s also a sense of… certainty, once you have the actual piece of paper in your hand, that’s really hard to get without it no matter how secure you feel in your own assessment of things.

        I think I’m feeling a bit sad about this lately as well as feeling vindicated. Up and down.

    3. Smol Book Wizard*

      I have also very recently learned the official autism diagnosis I had suspected for a while. What was the most reassuring was that the psychiatrist said that it was a clear diagnosis… not a narrow margin… as I had feared, because I had had so long of being “normal” that I didn’t know if I really actually qualified. Apparently I do, even when I’m working very hard at people-ing (as I was during my evaluations).
      I found it freeing, and also yes, perhaps a little sad – I wonder what would have changed if I’d known it before, if I’d had some idea instead of just knowing that I was different (and wondering if I just wasn’t trying the right way.
      I’m glad that you have found some peace and vindication in this discovery. :) Solidarity (across distance and generations).

    4. Miranda Priestly's Assistant*

      Happy for you.

      After several years of experiencing life, I’ve slowly accumulated evidence that I definitely have neuroatypical traits that align with traits of ASD and inattentive ADHD, but don’t have a diagnosis. I haven’t been to the therapist in years, but when I find one, I might explore these topics. I know both ASD and ADHD tend to be underdiagnosed in girls, and am suspicious this might be the case with me. I don’t want to self-diagnose or run away with any conclusions, so I’m steadly continuing my search for a good therapist.

    5. Arts Akimbo*

      I’m so impressed you got a diagnosis! I’m an adult on the spectrum, too, and I only found out when I was scoring my child on diagnostic tests pre-school-age and I realized “Hey, I did, like, *all* of this stuff as a kid!” I told my psychiatrist and he said, “Oh, wow, yeah you’re probably on the spectrum!” and that was the end of it. Gah!

      You probably do have some form of ADHD. It’s highly comorbid with ASD.

    6. Close Bracket*

      I’m happy for you! What do they mean by “strategies that will help?” I would have asked whether they could help me be more autistic, but I’m salty about any implication that autism means I need treatment.

      Do be careful telling people at work. I told a few people including direct managers, and I thought it had gone ok. However, when I said it in front of an HR rep, she asked for proof. In the US, you aren’t actually allowed to ask details of a person’s condition, including asking for proof. I wasn’t even asking for accommodations, it was just, this is a thing about me, this is what it means.

  10. A.N. O'Nyme*

    Gaming thread! What’s everyone been playing this week?
    I just finished the WTFWTFWTF chapter in Steins;Gate and now that I know where the Hououin Kyouma thing comes from I kinda feel like a jerk for being annoyed by it.

    1. A.N. O'Nyme*

      Also I am fairly certain I know how and why a certain someone knew they were gonna go public and now I want to see that confirmed. It would also explain the internet thing.
      (Trying to be as vague as possible here so as not to spoiler things for people who want to watch/read it)

    2. IrishEm*

      Replaying Skyrim!

      I’ve decided to roll the Nordliest Nord that ever Norded as I usually go for Bosmer or Bretons and rely on magic/archery rather than tanking.

      1. Sleve McDichael*

        Ahh we all know how that really goes. It’s like the New Years resolution of Elder Scrolls games. Nordly Von Nordington will be stealth archer-ing his/her way through those barrows before you know it!

        1. IrishEm*

          Yep. He’s already started stealthing, but he’s now teamed up with Marcurio who couldn’t stealth if his life depended on it, so I’m going to force myself to tank XD

    3. Damien*

      I’ve been playing The Outer Worlds recently and really enjoying it, especially being able to have two companions at a time (each with a unique special attack). The only thing which bugs me is that the flora in the environment is so attractive and detailed that I keep wanting to pick everything, but it’s non-interactive :V

    4. OccassionallyEngineer*

      I have been travelling for work a fair bit lately and my fiancee got me a switch so I have been binging hard on Breathe of the Wild, Mario Odyssey, and Mario Kart. Honestly, they are all simple fun and having the sheer portability of the system makes life so much easier.

  11. WoodswomanWrites*

    I could use advice about what to do about how my neighbor treats her dog. She lives in the apartment upstairs from me and her small companion is officially an emotional support dog. While the dog is well-cared for physically–he’s fed, has water, and gets veterinary care–she gives him very little attention. She is away on weekdays for 12-14 hours and a dog-walker comes for about 15 minutes a day to let him out to pee mid-day, but that’s it while she’s gone. She takes him out for a few minutes in the morning and a few at night. And that’s pretty much his life, with an occasional longer outing on the weekends, although she sometimes takes more time with him at home.

    The dog cries every time she leaves, and when the dog-walker leaves. He basically has no life outside of that apartment and I feel sorry for him. He used to wake me up every morning with his howling, but my neighbor responded when I talked to her about that. Now she gives him a puzzle toy with food when she leaves, and by the time he’s done with it and starts crying, I’m already awake.

    She commented a few months ago to my other neighbor, who also is concerned, that she was going to try to spend more time with him, but she hasn’t. My other neighbor even offered to have him stay with her in her apartment occasionally, and that worked briefly until the dog’s human became uncomfortable with it and now declines.

    Clearly the dog needs more attention, exercise, and a change of scenery. Having had dogs in the past myself before figuring out how allergic I am to them, it’s hard to watch. My challenge is that I don’t know what to do. She’s had the dog for years and I imagine is unlikely to change. I’m trying to figure out if saying something about his well-being, and offering potential ideas for getting him out of the house, would just piss her off and accomplish zero. I’m a good communicator and wouldn’t be confrontational, but I’m not sure it would accomplish anything. On the other hand, I feel bad watching this poor dog suffer without speaking up at all and that is hard.

    So, should I find a way to bring it up from a place of concern? Should I give up and just accept that this is just how it is? I welcome advice about what to do.

    1. Purt's Peas*

      I think that this is a case where your advice/confrontation needs to be directly proportional to how much work you want to do to help. If you’re interested in offering to walk him and play with him during the day–confront away. If you’re not–perhaps suggest a video about crate-training.

      Overall yes I think advice is likely to piss her off and accomplish zero. Maybe try to remember that although the dog does need more stimulation and activity, he is getting his basic needs met. But boy, the sound of an animal crying like that is heart-rending.

      1. valentine*

        suggest a video about crate-training.
        How would locking him up stop him being lonely?

        I think your neighbor stopped the visits because she’s afraid of losing the dog/’s love.

        1. AvonLady Barksdale*

          Most dogs see the crate as a safe space where they can relax. It’s not “locking up” to crate a dog.

          1. Seeking Second Childhood*

            But 12 to 14 hours is not a standard length of time! I haven’t gotten a dog yet because I hate that she’d be alone 8 hours 4 days a week! (One of us has WFH one day.)

    2. Not So NewReader*

      This is a tough one.

      I think I’d let her know that he is still crying after he finishes with the toy. You could consider suggesting she leave a radio on as company for him. Perhaps some soft classical music would be nice.

      She is taking care of the dog’s basics, so that gives me hope. And it also makes me more willing to try to help out. I can tell stories. This woman so does not fit the stories I have. She is working with the animal and she did respond to previous concerns.

      The other thing you might suggest is doggy-day care say, two days a week. If you think of anxiety as pent up energy, then giving the dog a place to burn up some energy might help with the crying on the at home days.
      I am picturing doggy day care on Tuesdays and Thursdays or what ever makes sense for her schedule, but alternating with at home days.

      I’d suggest coming in from the angle of, “I know you love your pet and if it were me, I’d want someone to tell me that this is still going on.”

      1. Jim Bob*

        Does day care on alternate days help? I’ve been considering day care for mine, but the cost for doing it every day is frankly outside my budget.

        1. Venus*

          From what I understand, doggie day care every day is too much for them. A good place will stimulate their brains really well, and tire them out. Going 1-3 times per week is likely ideal, and is probably based on your dog’s energy level as well as the other dogs there (other dogs aren’t likely to be there every day, so if yours develops friendships with one or two in particular then it might be worthwhile to go on the same days).

        2. School Psych*

          Yep. My dog had separation anxiety when we got her. Doggy day-care 2 times a week and having a walker come for 30 minutes at the same time on the other days, helped a lot. Doggy daycare made her super tired, so she was more relaxed about waiting for company the next day because she was sleeping most of the morning the day after.

    3. Batgirl*

      I don’t think unsolicited advice works, but I think there are two non-lecture-y ways to bring it up. The first is make it about what you want as opposed to “should-ing” her as in: “Thank you so much for giving him a toy and delaying his crying until I wake up; however I still find the later crying really distressing.”
      Even if she thinks it’s no big deal, you don’t have to persuade her it is when talking about your own reaction.
      The second is a bit milder, treating it like of course she’s already on plan to do something about it. “Hey, I heard about this great dog walker/day care and I know you’re trying to get some help with Dogsy. Would you be interested?”
      Given what you’ve said about her becoming uncomfortable, she may prefer paying than freebies.

      1. Batgirl*

        Wait, I only just spotted that a dog walker already comes for 15 lousy minutes. Wow.
        Having arranged for someone to come over but not then stay with the dog is just bonkers.

        1. Jim Bob*

          Well, it’s one thing to pay someone for a quick walk, and something else entirely to pay them for 12 hours of housesitting daily.

    4. WoodswomanWrites*

      Thanks, all. When I talked to her about the dog’s crying and waking me up, I emphasized that my primary concern was his happiness. She knows I care about her dog, petting him when we pass each other on the stairs, expressing concern when she told me he’d had an emergency vet visit, etc. She seems to have a blind spot about the companionship and exercise he needs, and doesn’t seem to prioritize that.

      Valentine, you are correct that she doesn’t want my neighbor visiting with him or taking him for walks anymore. Purt’s Peas, I doubt offering to spend time with him myself would be well-received. Not So NewReader, when we first talked about his crying and I shared my wanting him to be happy, I did suggest taking him to daycare. That’s when she said she would look into getting someone to stop by. Batgirl, unfortunately I think her main purpose for the dogwalker is so he can relieve himself during many hours indoors rather than company or activity.

      Purt’s Peas, I think your advice is spot on that I need to accept this is how things are. In the big picture, the dog is cared for. It’s just hard to watch, and to listen to, him being ignored. Thanks to you all for your responses, really appreciated.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        Ugh. This quickly narrows down the options here. I think I’d tell her that he is still crying and maybe leaving a radio playing softly would comfort him.
        She could also talk to her vet about something for calming, but I am not sure how you’d work that into conversation.
        I am hoping something pans out here because it sounds like she does care she is just not aware. Unfortunately, if you give it one last shot and nothing happens people will probably start putting in complaints.

        I see the dog is upstairs from you. In desperation, I might try talking through the ceiling, “It’s okay little guy, you are okay.” It would take awhile for the dog to figure out you are answering him.

    5. I'm A Little Teapot*

      Unfortunately, there are a LOT of people who just should not have pets. Your neighbor is one of them. I doubt there’s anything you could do that would be effective. I moved out of an apartment once in part because of a similar situation. It sucks.

    6. Arts Akimbo*

      I kinda think she deserves to be pissed off. She knows the dog needs more than she can give, and she isn’t doing it. Ironic that the dog is there to emotionally support her, and she isn’t doing the barest minimum to emotionally support the dog.

  12. Virginia Girl*

    Update on friendship issue:
    She asked on Sunday evening if we could talk. I agreed and she said she was confused about why I had wanted to be her best friend and was now pulling away. I asked her to elaborate as I had never considered her my best friend (my best friend goes to a different college in my home state – I go to school out of state). She said because I was always friendly and excited to see her. I explained that I treated all my friends that way and I figured she knew that as we have many mutual friends. She told me that she could never do anything right in my eyes and I can’t assume she noticed such things because she’s 21 on the outside but not on the inside (she did not elaborate on she meant by that). I told her that I thought she had good luck qualities (like making puns and memes) but there were some things that I needed her to respect. I told her that I had made the decision to block her on social media/phone number because to set boundaries/make myself feel safe. She was upset, told me I was selfish for blocking her, and told me that now she’s questioning all of her friendships because of me. I told her I didn’t care if she thought I was selfish and I thought she was judgmental. I informed that wasn’t my intention to question all of her friendships and I couldn’t answer questions about how others feel. We agreed to be cordial to each other but not friends. Thank you to all who commented last week! Happy Leap Day!

    1. Myrin*

      I want to reiterate what I said last week and really stress that you’re doing awesomely with stating and enforcing your boundaries!

      But also, oh my, what a kerfuffle. Not to be mean, but she seems a bit… socially stunted (equating being friendly and excited to see someone with being best friends? Really?). Or she could be a manipulative person who just likes to force relationships on others (the part where she openly said that she’s basically a child inside to make you more understanding of her behaviour leads me to think that).

      But in the end, it doesn’t really matter, since you made it clear what you want and it sounds like you got it (being cordial but not friends), even if she made quite the fuss about it.

      1. Miranda Priestly's Assistant*

        I think it’s the latter. As someone who is traditionally socially awkward, a socially awkward/stunted person would be embarassed if called out on their behavior, not double down on it. And her trying to depict herself as childish is not something someone would do if they were trying to save their dignitiy. It’s like she is trying to make the OP pity her on purpose.

        1. Arts Akimbo*

          I don’t think this is entirely true that embarrassment wouldn’t lead to doubling down. My son’s ASD and a bit socially awkward, and he reacts very badly to embarrassment. He just doesn’t know what to do with that emotion. I could see him doubling down on behavior out of embarrassment.

          That said, I still think Virginia Girl handled the situation perfectly! Whether the other girl meant to manipulate her or not, the behavior was indeed manipulative. Boundary asserted, yay!

    2. Not So NewReader*

      Eh, she can question her friendships if she wants but perhaps it would be more to the point for her to question what her definition of “friend” is and how that definition fits in the real world.

      This is to say, it’s not your job to help her sort all this. It’s way bigger than anything you should even try to do.

      This is how we learn about friendships and relationships, when others tell us how we are being seen. You did her a service by taking the time to explain things to her. Most people have a few learning experiences about relationships, it’s really normal.

      In her favor, I will say that I thought being in my 20’s sucked. I was tired of being blindsided by stuff on a regular basis. However, we can chose to accept those life lessons and weave the lessons into our ways, habits and general thinking. This is what most people are doing as training for adult life is pure OJT.

    3. Blue Eagle*

      Sounds like a good outcome for you where you both can be cordial but not be friends. It makes me curious about her other “friends”. How was it that she glommed-on to you and designated you as her best friend but didn’t glom-on to those other “friends” and designate them as best friends? Or maybe she did? Consider her a bullet dodged.

    4. Marthooh*

      Oof, she sounds exhausting. I suspect “21 on the outside but not on the inside” means HOW CAN YOU EXPECT GOOD BEHAVIOR FROM A POOR STUNTED WOMAN-CHILD LIKE ME?!? From what I remember of your previous post, this is how she’s learned to get along in the world, and it’s very manipulative in effect, whether she realizes it or not. I hope she figures it out for herself!

    5. SunnySideUp*

      21 is not always “adult.” She sounds exceptionally immature for her age, not self-aware, and quite selfish.

      You did all the right things. She needs to grow up and you did her some a favor by stating your reasons.

    6. Fikly*

      I have heard somewhere that if you go about your day, and encounter one jerk, they are probably a jerk. If you go about your day and everyone you encounter is a jerk, the jerk is probably you.

      Which is to say if she is re-evaluating all her friendships and thinks all of her friends are bad friends, the bad friend is probably her.

    7. Miranda Priestly's Assistant*

      You did the right thing, and you are not selfish for setting boundaries and deciding who you want to spend time with. (She is actually the selfish one for being entitled.)

      Give yourself a pat on the back for doing something difficult but very necessary. It took me until well after college before I learned to recognize and cut toxic friendships (still kind of struggling and I’m in my late-twenties now), so you are well ahead of the curve!

  13. Foreign Octopus*

    Book thread!

    What’s everyone reading this week?

    I started The English Patient, by Michael Ondaatje but stop reading around page 65. I was excited about it (mainly because of the cover, I’ll admit, as it’s gorgeous – one of the Bloomsbury classic covers) but disappointed with what I felt was the slow, overly descriptive pace of the opening – and I couldn’t get on with the lack of speech marks; I like to see clearly when characters are speaking.

    I’ve now picked up Children of the Storm, by Elizabeth Peters, one of the Amelia Peabody mysteries. I’m trying to ration out the ones I have left in the series – only two more, I think, after this. I’m going to be sad to finish it but I am looking forward to reading it all over again. I love Ramses as a grown man but I’m very fond of him as a child and would like to revisit it again.

    1. Sleve McDichael*

      I’m reading The Hunt For Red October. Not very far in yet. I had to laugh when they got all excited about doing computational fluid dynamics on a Cray 2 supercomputer (partly because that’s a part of my job). They were going on about how powerful it was and how it would be super expensive and the results would be amazing. According to Wikipedia the Cray 2 had the computing power of an iPad. Times have changed so quickly!

      1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        I occasionally ponder on how the entire Apollo command module was operated on approximately the computing power of a $1 pocket calculator. (Or at least that’s what the docent at the Smithsonian Air and Space told me.) Usually when I’m doing something useful on my phone that also has me muttering “I love living in the future.”

        1. Fikly*

          The story about how the first manned lunar landing nearly crashed on the moon because the computer doing the live calculations ran out of computing power always gets me.

        2. Seeking Second Childhood*

          If you haven’t read Hidden Figures, you have a delightful bit of early computing to look forward to. I had a special love for that book because my great-aunt was also a computer. She was white during WWII, not black during the space race, but she was a woman with epic math skills in a time when society found that ability surprising.

      2. Windchime*

        I read “The Hunt for Red October” when it first came out, and it was so exciting. I couldn’t put it down, especially during the stealthy cat-and-mouse games the submarines were playing with each other. It is probably one of those books that doesn’t age well, but it was sure a great read at the time!

    2. Retail not Retail*

      I read Ondaatje’s Anil’s Ghost and it was written in a more straightforward style. I liked it so bummer to hear the english patient finds quotation marks unnecessary.

      I can be finicky about stylistic choices. You better be gripping for me to accept no quotation marks! I actually stopped an interesting book because the way it was printed made it so claustrophobic. I looked up plot spoilers and oh my i did not miss anything good – that poor strawberry.

      I’m reading the Holdout and Dancing Naked in the Street. Physical book and ebook. Funny thing about the holdout – i was at an independent bookstore and took note of new interesting titles. Not so I could get it cheaper on amazon, but so i could get it from the library! And then bam 2 days later saw it on the “new book” shelf.

    3. Damien*

      I just finished This Is Going To Hurt by Adam Kay, which is an account of the author’s time working in a hospital for the NHS. It’s sad, funny and frustrating (on his behalf).
      Another book I’ve read recently is The Descent Of Man, by Grayson Perry, which explores “traditional” masculinity and the impact of its toxicity on men and women these days. It’s a small book with some good observations.
      Third book, which may not count, is The Life-Changing Magic Of Tidying by Marie Kondo. Reassuring to read for someone who grew up in an organised hoard and still lives in it now, but i don’t know if my mum will be willing to give it a go.

      1. Seeking Second Childhood*

        Two more that I suggest to go with Marie Kondo: “Decluttering at the Speed of Life” by Dana K. White, and “Coming Clean: A Memoir” by Kimberly Rae Miller.
        Marie Kondo is a little extreme for many people and Dana K. White is more accessible. Kim Miller has simply written an incredible memoir about growing up the child of hoarders. (Not organized ones either.)

    4. A.N. O'Nyme*

      I’m reading Il Giorno della Civetta (The Day of the Owl) by Leonardo Sciascia. It’s a murder mystery set in Sicily and…well he makes it very clear in the first few pages just how strong the Omertá is.

    5. Grand Admiral Thrawn Is Still Blue*

      The Amelia series is really awesome. Ramses is possibly the best character, next to Amelia, and I’m also fond of Sethos. I really don’t like Nefret though, she annoys me endlessly. The most wasted character is Katharine, Cyrus’s wife. She rocked in the first book she was in, but after that she really became a different person. It would have added a lot to her stories if Peters had kept her character as originally written.

      1. Foreign Octopus*

        I’m so happy I discovered it. It’s ultimate comfort reading for me.

        And I adore Sethos; he’s definitely my favourite. I have to disagree with regards to Nefret, I quite like her but I did not understand her actions in The Falcon at the Portal (no spoilers, promise); I got upset at what happened there. Totally agree with regards to Katharine though – I do love the Vandergelts as a whole and I’m interested to see what becomes of Bertie in the last few books.

        1. Admiral Thrawn Is Still Blue*

          Cyrus remained pretty much the same person he always was. He’s a good character too. Glad he finally got a wife.

          1. Scarlet Magnolias*

            Loved all the Amelia Peabody books except the last one, written by Elizabeth Peters (posthumously I believe) and Joan Hess. Dreadful! She ruins the character of Emerson.

            1. Foreign Octopus*

              I’ve heard that about the last book as well so I’m not going to bother reading it. I understand that EP only wrote a few of the chapters before she died so I’m happy with putting it to one side.

      2. Long drives*

        I completely agree. I dislike Nefret enough that I’ve never reread any of the books after THE LAST CAMEL DIED AT NOON. (I’ve reread the earlier books at least 4 times.) I think Peters was intent on satirizing a bit the old romantic stories, and it made Nefret a bit of a ninny.

        Ramses as a child was hilarious. I never quite believed he grew up to be so…conventional? IDK, he just paled in comparison to his parents.

        OTOH, in the later books I did enjoy how Amelia and Emerson were perceived by the younger generation.

    6. Blue Eagle*

      Just finished reading Lady in the Lake. Loved the plot twist in the end, which I did not see coming. Currently in the middle of Birdmen by Lawrence Goldstone – a nonfiction book about the early days of airplane aviation, particularly the feud the Wright brothers had with Glenn Curtis, who was also an aviation pioneer. So far it’s an enjoyable read.

      1. Seeking Second Childhood*

        Oh that sounds like one for me, thanks.
        Do you know the air history museums (yes plural!) in & around Dayton Ohio? The USAF Museum is the only one we got to visit on that trip but I hope to change that some day. (Even if my relative moved out of there!)

    7. Parenthetically*

      Oof, I had to read The English Patient for a class in school and felt very much the same. It was meant to be languid but came across to me as pretentious and dull.

    8. GoryDetails*

      I have several books in progress, as usual, including some really good ones:

      Camille, by Alexandre Dumas fils, the classic tragic-romance-with-courtesan novel, is (to me) surprisingly contemporary in tone, with delightful turns of phrase and little slaps at societal prejudices; I’m really enjoying it.

      The Raven and the Reindeer, by T. Kingfisher (aka Ursula Vernon); I enjoyed her horror novel The Twisted Ones and went looking for more of her work. This one’s a retelling/expanding of Andersen’s “Snow Queen” (the author notes at the end that “Hans Christian Andersen was a weird dude”), with lots of shapeshifting, scenes of lush detail from Finnish and Sámi culture, and a very satisfying new relationship for the heroine.

      The Seep, by Chana Porter – this one’s about a “gentle” alien invasion which seems to result in everybody being much more calm and happy – and with the ability to transform themselves in any way they want, from simply being younger/healthier/stronger to much more extreme changes. The main character has adjusted fairly happily to all this along with her wife and their group of friends, but when her wife decides she wants to become a literal infant again, to be able to grow and learn in this new, kinder world, everything changes. I’m not sure where the story will take the protagonist yet, but I’m enjoying the journey – and of course I had to wonder what use I’d make of the Seep if it were available to me… Not sure if this is going to be a waking-nightmare lotus-eater situation – are the aliens simply curious or do they have a darker agenda? Is the story mainly about the characters’ choices and not about aliens at all? Will find out!

    9. Not A Manager*

      I remember enjoying The English Patient, but I wonder if I would now that the internet and social media have destroyed my attention span. Or perhaps that’s just aging.

      I’m currently in the middle of a fantasy novel that my adult child *strongly* recommended, The Lies Of Locke Lamorra. It’s… okay. Not bad enough to put down, but not good enough that I’m rushing through it. I’ve been piddling around with it for a few weeks.

      He’d talked about it for a while, and I had heard “Loch Lamorra,” so I thought it was going to be some kind of historical fiction about Scots’ hijinks. It is not.

    10. Jules the 3rd*

      I love Amelia Peabody! I re-read the series every couple of years. I also love Lois McMaster Bujold’s Miles Vorkosigan series, Jane Austen, and Terry Pratchett. It’s the humor connection for me…

    11. Virginia Girl*

      Bought Dan Crenshaw‘s book “Fortitude” on pre-order! Doesn’t come out until April but I’m excited.

    12. Nervous Nellie*

      I am not reading anything of note this week, but instead am pining for this new book. I have placed a hold at the library for it when it comes out, and can’t wait! It’s a lively fantasy about wormholes opening up in the display rooms in a Swedish big-box furniture store (no, not that one). NPR just released a great review, and overnight, the number of local library holds quintupled!

      Finna – by Nino Cipri
      https://www.npr.org/2020/02/29/810329436/finna-warns-beware-of-the-fuzzy-chairs

      As for The English Patient, I am with you on the heavy opening. You might enjoy an earlier book of his – Running in the Family, a dreamy, quiet memoir of his life & family in Sri Lanka when he was a kid. I read it every winter for its lush descriptions.

      1. acmx*

        If you want a theme on Swedish big box novels, maybe check out Horrorstör (I read his We Sold Our Souls but not this one yet).

    13. Elizabeth West*

      I hated The English Patient. We read it in college, and it just bored me to tears. It couldn’t have been the instructional setting, because I usually devour assigned books.

      I have a ton of books on my Kindle I haven’t got around to yet. I’m so stressed right now it’s hard to read; I constantly feel like I should be doing something else. Maybe reading right before bedtime would help.

      1. Windchime*

        I do read at bedtime and it’s very relaxing. I have a Kindle that is backlit, so I can snuggle under the covers and read on that for awhile until I get sleepy enough to doze off. It’s my little bedtime routine.

        1. Elizabeth West*

          I used to do it all the time! But all my routines are out of whack right now and likely will be until I’m settled in my own place again.

    14. Bluebell*

      Just finished Hollow Kingdom by Kira Jane Buxton. Quirky zombie apocalypse novel with a crow as the main narrator. Very funny but pretty high gore quotient too.

    15. Seeking Second Childhood*

      I started the next book off my “how did I get this old without reading this” list and I was hooked from the preface.
      “Jane Eyre” is delighting me, and reassuring me that it wasn’the 19th c writing bothering me about in Dracula–just Bram Stoker.
      Something else about me that i just got from the novel — I teared up in the middle of a cheerful bit of conversation with little Adèle, when I suddenly realized I was reading French. All that work in French classes & on my own, and it paid off in reading a piece of classic *English* literature!

      1. pony tailed wonder*

        I loved Jane Eyre and I was speaking about it with a friend who mentioned that she loved the punctuation in it as much as she loved the story. I looked over my copy again and she is right, the semicolons are scattered throughout and it contrasts nicely with modern literature.

    16. ShrunkenHippo*

      I’m reading A Short History of Medicine for a quick start to some research, My Lovely Wife because it was recommended to me, and I’ll be starting on the Lies of Locke Lamora tomorrow. I’ve been having a lot of fun in my research (it’s just for a story idea so there is zero pressure), but I think I need a good run of fiction books to help break it up. My Lovely Wife is interesting but I’m not sure if I’m going to finish it because I don’t really like reading first person perspective. I’m giving The Lies of Locke Lamora a second go because I was not in the mood for a fantasy the first time I picked it up and I keep hearing it’s amazing. My body has been giving me a hard time and I might have a flare coming on so it might be a great week for reading.

  14. Jemima Bond*

    I have been somewhat under the paw of the black dog the last couple of weeks. I took a day off work yesterday for a bit of self care – I did not do any household chores and I sat down to do some sewing – but my sewing machine is on the blink so it ended up somewhat stressful, and now it’s Saturday and I have a bunch of jobs to do including taking my sewing machine to the repair place and once again it all seems a bit much. All tomorrow I have a singing workshop thing for a forthcoming choir concert and although it is useful and necessary I’m not really feeling it; as the music is difficult and modern we’ve already got two extra rehearsals over the term and it’s feeling more like a slog than an enjoyable hobby.

    1. Not So NewReader*

      Ugh. When I hit this stuff, I know it’s time for extra rest. It’s not just that things are uncooperative and hard to work through, it’s also the extra energy that gets burned up trying to get through them.

      Like you are doing call in help where ever appropriate. I had one day a couple weeks ago… Fortunately, I had stopped my vehicle, because the next thing that happened was the running board FELL off. But it did not fall off all the way, it was still hanging on by a bolt. I was just at the end of my driveway so I thought I would just run in the house and find something to deal with that bolt.
      As I went to unlock my front door, I realized there was something odd about the door. Out of curiosity, I took the flat of my hand and slammed the door. Yep, the LOCKED door popped right open. So much for that lock.
      So peach. I have a running board half on the ground and I cannot secure my house. I know what this is, I have hit days like this before, it’s very familiar to me. I called for help. Then I called my boss to say I’d be a little late.

      My friend fixed the lock immediately and he took the running board entirely off the car. The running board problem took a few weeks to get straightened out. I was on my way to work about an hour later, which isn’t too bad considering but I already felt overwhelmed by the day. It’s really important to take some satisfaction in finding ANY solution for a given problem. And it’s important to realize when stuff stacks up like this, it can really be wearing on us. I will say, because I called for help sooner, I did end up less tired by the nonsense. I did get some extra rest that night. Seemingly little things can become a lot of work. Stuff stacks up on us and we just don’t realize how much we are doing to get through a day.

      1. NoLongerYoung*

        NSNR, it sounds like you have some good friends. Sending a hug. I hate car problems and door problems and sometimes, all those adulting things that leave you frustrated and more worn out. But your positive way of looking at it, like “Look self, I was able to tackle this successfully” – turning it around to see the very good (I am able to tackle things and think them through without losing it completely)… is wonderful.” Need more coffee, not articulate yet.

        But the little tiny wins, reminding yourself of each little positive – in your head, out loud, or on paper – are part of what my counselor is trying to help me learn to do. Examples help… thank you.

        1. Not So NewReader*

          I should say that I do pay my friend. I don’t want to be a drain and he doesn’t want to be used, this stuff kills a friendship fast. But it’s also true that stuff breaks. So the answer seems to be accepting the fact that stuff breaks and at the same time try to keep costs down.
          It took me a while to get to this space in my head. And if my friend ran off to Bermuda or whatever, I can’t be certain that I would remain to seem pulled together. This stuff is so very frustrating.
          I do think that the first few years of widowhood are exhausting because one has to build a plan for every. single. darn. thing.
          I met my friend when an evil wind tore the roof off the back of my house. I called random people and no one seemed to have advice. I was pretty scared as it was almost a monsoon outside. I made myself think. I realized my mistake. I needed to call people similar to me – other women on their own. Women who seemed to be handling life stuff. I tried to think of someone who had been on their own for a while- so they had some experience under their belt and could shorten my learning curve. I called my friend “J”, a widow who had been on her own for well over a decade. She said to call “H”, so I did.
          This is funny. Later “H” said that although he did not know me, “J” never referred people to him who did NOT pay him. Unwittingly, when I said “J” referred me I also said, “Yes, I will pay you. I won’t rip you off.” We did not know each other but we both trusted our mutual friend, “J”, so that was enough.

          I muddled through for 4 years on my own before I called “H”. Those were looong years. And I will never forget that time. But over and over I have seen that if we stay in a situation long enough, things change for the better. We get into a better swing of things. It will never be great here, but it is okay. In so many ways I have been just so very fortunate.

          I suspect this is how it will go for you also. The biggest asset you have is that you keep talking to people and you keep reaching out. That alone will change the quality of your life. BTDT, so I know. Isolation is a deal breaker, this is too big a time in life to let ourselves “tough it out” or make ourselves “walk alone”.

  15. Not So New In Town*

    How do you make yourself feel at home in a new town?

    I’ve been living in a new place for almost a year now and we just don’t click. I don’t actively hate it but it doesn’t offer me much of what I value in a city.

    For reasons I cannot move so I really need to feel better about this place. What has helped you connect to a town you first found ‘meh’? I’m sure I’ll be eventually able to call this place home but it’ll be a lot of work and I don’t know where to start. I have done many of the basics (museums, cafes, meetups, learning something new, events but none of it was up to a quality I’m used to from the previous city I lived in – that place also has its flaws but it was much bigger so I could find what made me click).

    1. CoffeeforLife*

      I’m in the same boat. Living here 16 months now, doesn’t feel like home but it’ll probably be for the remainder of his career. I can be honest in that we haven’t tried to make friends because it seems that everyone we meet is the complete opposite of our viewpoint on really divisive topics.

      Yes, different opinions can enrich the tapestry of our lives; no, I don’t want to spend free time debating/defending with you.
      Ah, Virginia… such an interesting mix of people.

      1. Not So New In Town*

        I’m so sorry you cannot find like-minded people and all conversations seem to be turning into a debate. I hope at home or outdoors you can recharge.
        On my good days, having a cosy home helps a lot. I just bought some blossoming plants so at least inside it feels like spring isn’t so far away. (It’s snowing but it’s going to turn into rain very soon.)

    2. CorgisandCats*

      I actually recently read a book on this exact topic! It’s nonfiction and gives advice about how to connect to your new community. It’s called This Is Where You Belong by Melody Warnick, not a long read and it’s interesting reading about the author’s experience trying to settle in and “love” her new town.

    3. Not So NewReader*

      For me, it was the friendships and the neighborlyness of the place.

      You know you best. For me, I have to feel some connection to the people around me. That can be a shared interest or a common goal, etc.

      It could be that this city is not for you. Or it could be that you find what you are looking for in the next city over from yours. I don’t think any place offers everything. I’d suggest looking to see what is unique about this city and tapping that unique thing.

    4. Overeducated*

      Time. My husband and I still fantasize about getting new jobs and moving back to the city where we met, on paper it’s pretty perfect for what we value and we loved our time there. But we’ve been in our current city 3.5 years and even though we can’t see ourselves staying forever (even if we wanted to – houses cost a million dollars), there’s now a lot i will miss if we move. My church, the bike lanes, the few families with kid friends, my Buy Nothing group…it doesn’t seem like much, and it’s taken a long time to get this far, but those little connections are the things we’ll miss when we move.

    5. Origamist*

      One thing that has helped me is to volunteer somewhere. Do any of the museums cover topics you’re passionate about? Any animal shelters or boys and girls clubs? Developing a connection to those places could help you feel more attached to the community.

    6. Elizabeth West*

      Getting out and about helps me, but I haven’t been able to due to lack of money. Right now, I’m staying with family in a location where I do not intend to remain. I don’t care what’s here past the essentials. Once I find a job, I plan to move and then do a lot of walking / driving around my new neighborhood.

      I don’t think I’ll ever love this city or this state and I will still actively continue trying to get out of it and back to where I ultimately want to be.

      1. Not So New In Town*

        I’m crossing my fingers, Elizabeth, that the Universe send some good vibes your way and you’re able to move soon.
        Yes to walking and getting to know your neighborhood. We’re looking into moving within a year to another neighborhood which is not as residential as ours. Can’t wait to have shops and a cafe within normal distance.

    7. Minocho*

      I have a social hobby – tabletop roleplaying games – that used to be pretty niche (not so much anymore, yay!) and I felt would likely introduce me to my type of people, so I went to meetups to meet other gamers and try to make friends when I moved across the country.

      The person I met at the meetup introduced me to his gaming group. Through other online channels I met others here that also played. Some of the people I met have not clicked with me – but members of that initial group and subsequent groups have become more than decade long friends.

      I would try to find groups associated with a hobby or fandom that you feel would tend to attract people you’d like to hang out with, and do your best to meet people that way. This could be meetup groups, religious orgs such as churches or mosques, etc, or conventions in the area.

      Good luck! May you find some awesome new friends!

  16. matcha123*

    Coronavirus is causing some low-key panic here in Japan. Facemasks have been sold out since late January and if a store gets a shipment, people line up before opening to get one package. There have been fights over masks.
    Toilet paper is sold out in Tokyo…and sanitary pads! Lines at Costco literally wrap around the store.
    My office is letting full-time staff work from home a few days a week, but since I’m not a regular staff member, I get to go into work.

      1. Fikly*

        Because when people panic, they buy everything in anticipation of the stores running out, which of course makes the stores run out, which makes people panic!

      2. Eng*

        A friend of mine who lives in Japan said there was a rumor that TP would be turned into facemasks or something like that. So some people were worried it would run out in the future and thus immediately caused a shortage in the present.

      3. antigone_ks*

        If there’s talk of a quarantine, they may be trying to buy enough to last however long that might be.

      4. Arts Akimbo*

        The same thing happens everywhere I’ve ever lived– I think it’s just how humans think in the face of emergency. The first whispers of a blizzard or a hurricane and everyone rushes to the store to buy TP, pads, and bottled water!

        1. Seeking Second Childhood*

          Also, in places where real estate is very expensive, many people stock minimum of regular supplies– thus any anticipated disruption they will want to get more than usual.

  17. Vic tower*

    My husband found out this week he needs major surgery urgently and it’s booked for Wednesday. We then discovered it isn’t covered by his health insurance and we’ll have to pay about 20 grand for it. Meanwhile, I’m 14 weeks pregnant with our much awaited first pregnancy. It’s all a bit much right now.

    1. No Name Yet*

      Ugh, sorry to hear about your husband! Sending thoughts that the surgery goes well, and I hope you’re in a stage of pregnancy where you’re feeling all right.

    2. Not So NewReader*

      Major surgery that is not covered…. oh my.

      Can you contest that decision? I have seen times where if the doctor is informed insurance won’t cover something they will work with the patient to get it covered. Are these options for you?

      1. Parenthetically*

        And many hospitals have financial assistance for situations just like this. The price can absolutely be negotiated and you can apply for assistance given the hardship this will cause!

      2. StrikingFalcon*

        There is often an option to appeal a decision like this. It’s worth calling the insurance and asking about options to appeal, and also speaking to the doctor that ordered it and letting them know insurance denied it. Good luck!

    3. Not A Manager*

      I’m sure you know about this, but many health-care providers offer a “cash payment” option (it’s not really cash, obv.) that is sometimes pretty close to what your co-pay would be. That might apply more to things like imaging rather than actual procedures, but it’s worth looking into. Also, you might need to aggressively break out costs like imaging from costs like surgery or nursing care, in order to explore your options/possibly negotiate them.

      This is so difficult to have to do when you want to focus on supporting your loved one. I’m sorry. Do see what resources your hospital offers in terms of patient advocates or dedicated social workers to help you with this process.

      1. MissGirl*

        The hospital system I work at offers “cash” payments on all procedures. Talk to the hospital beforehand as it’s a better discount rate than after at mine. They also work out a payment plan.

        Definitely talk to your doctor and see if they can appeal the insurance. Don’t wait for the payment to hit your mailbox. Call around for pricing. If it’s a common procedure, you’ll be able to get quotes. Watch out for separate bills. There’s the hospital bill and then there’s the physician bill. You’ll need quotes from both.

        1. cheeseburger*

          100% this. I work with a lot of hospitals/billing departments. If you can’t get your ins to pay (and I agree with others- you should try various routes), and you end up being a “cash” patient, definitely ask for (1) the rate your ins company would pay if they covered the service (the contracted rate). You may be billed this way anyway but double check that you are. You want to be a “zero pay” (ie you have insurance, they just aren’t paying) vs a “cash” patient (you pay rack rates). (2) at least a 30-50% discount. Average is 20% but start at 50%. If you pay up front they are stupid not to agree to this. The stats on unpaid or partially paid medical debt are astounding and most hospitals have a built in 20% buffer for cash.

    4. Wishing You Well*

      You can negotiate. Please consider doing that. It won’t cost you anything to try.
      If all else fails, 20 grand is worth seeing a lawyer about this. They can negotiate for you.
      Best of Luck

    5. Blueberry*

      The hospital where your husband will be having surgery probably has a case management department. Ask them for help with insurance. All good luck! I wish I could bring you a casserole.

    6. Vic tower*

      Thank you all for your advice. We’re in Australia, so the system is a bit different here. He could choose to have the surgery in the public system, in which case we wouldn’t pay anything. But that would mean a delay, probably for several weeks and his tumour might rupture in the meantime, which would have terrible effects. Fortunately, we do have enough money in savings. But it’s a stressful situation.

      1. WS*

        I’m Australian and went private for a similar reason and it was the right decision for me – the tumour was malignant but hadn’t yet spread. Even so, you can often get parts of the procedure covered by your health insurance – I got cover for imaging, the anaesthetist and two extra nights needed in hospital, but not the actual surgery or the first night in hospital.

        Good luck for the surgery.

  18. Batgirl*

    Help! I have to eat gluten for six weeks in order to get celiac testing, and I am so, so nervous about doing this.

    About two years ago, I gave up gluten and it relieved a bunch of symptoms which reappeared whenever I tried to reintroduce it. I didn’t have the first idea I was even intolerant when I first tried the exclusion diet, or I would have gone for the testing first. The diet for me was more about temporarily making room for lots of veggies etc, and I planned to reintroduced everything but never could with gluten.

    For a while I just decided to eat gluten free because it suited me and was keeping my horrid, painful skin condition at bay and resolved my fatigue issues.

    Now though, I’ve been dizzy and tired since December (I do cheat on my diet about once or twice a year and did so at a Christmas party) and my doc says there’s no explanation in my bloodwork, but celiacs could be the culprit and I might have to be much more careful and stringent.

    I’m so scared. Whenever I reintroduce my skin goes to pot in about three days. Six weeks sounds impossible. Has anyone done this?

    1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      My bestie decided not to. She went strict gluten free and her quality of life improved dramatically, and her doc was like “We can test if you want to recontaminate for six weeks, but having an official diagnosis won’t really benefit you, there isn’t any medication you’d be ineligible for, so if this is working, you can also just stick with it.” You can follow a strict celiac eating plan without the diagnosis if you want to.

      1. Batgirl*

        I could. My doctor thinks I need to know because there are so many future health implications. I also don’t know how much I trust him based on a 15 minute meeting.

        1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

          From a US medical health insurance coverage standpoint (I KNOW), because I am a medical coder and sitting in front of my work resources and this thread made me curious: the primary associated conditions we, at least, are directed to be looking for along with a celiac diagnosis (K90.0) are dermatitis herpetiformis, gluten ataxia, or exocrine pancreatic inefficiency. A diagnosis of celiac *would* make a difference (as far as necessity-based medical coverage) for clotting tests, certain iron studies, and fecal occult testing, but wouldn’t make a difference to any other lab testing. However, a diagnosis of “non-celiac gluten sensitivity” (K90.41) gives the same degree of medical necessity as far as getting those tests covered, and that diagnosis basically just requires your physician to document that certain issues went away when you removed gluten from your diet and recur when you accidentally eat gluten, no official testing for it.

          I don’t know if any of that makes a difference to your decision, but I looked it up, so I might as well share the information with you so you have it! Good thoughts, I know my bestie had a heck of a time before she got herself figured out.

          1. Batgirl*

            I’m in the UK so insurance coverage is not a concern. However the NHS is in some ways similarly bureaucratic and they wont give you treatment x, unless you’ve had test y.

            1. Observer*

              There has been some testing on a new test for Celiac that doesn’t require that you go back on gluten. Ask your doctor about it – if it’s available in the UK, you are the ideal patient for it.

        2. Exercise Junkie*

          I agree with Red Reader. I have celiac, and strictly not eating gluten is the only treatment for celiac. I haven’t seen my gastro since I got diagnosed five years ago because I am very strict with my diet. I think you should stop eating gluten entirely and never cheat on your diet.

          1. Batgirl*

            I am so tempted to do this but I worry about doing this myself without doctors and on insisting on non contaminated food when it may not be necessary. Is it hard to be super strict? I worry about restaurants and family members.

            1. Observer*

              It’s a pain. On the other hand, it’s the only thing that works, and the only way you will know for sure is if you try it.

              The only good reasons to do the test are that you may not be able to get certain treatments / tests without the “official” diagnosis (but as Red Reader pointed out, there is a similar diagnosis of “non-celiac gluten sensitivity” which should do the same thing for you – talk to your doctor about that, too) or if your doctor WILL look for other causes if this comes up blank.

              If you go on a very strict gluten free diet for 6 weeks, you’ll have your answer – and you don’t need your doctor’s blessing. Either you will feel MUCH better, in which case this is what you are going to need to do for the rest of your life – and you also need to be aware that you have an autoimmune disease. If you do NOT feel much better, your doctor is going to have to do some deeper digging.

            2. Exercise Junkie*

              It is initially hard because you have to check the label of everything, and I mean everything (spices, meat, everything in a can or a box or a bag); gluten will lurk in very odd places. But once you’ve done it for awhile, you know what you can buy, and it stops being time consuming and frustrating. Cooking at home is no problem for me, and I don’t notice the absence of gluten anymore.

              Restaurants are tricky. You always have the risk of being glutened even when you order the gluten free food. You also have to always research ahead of time to figure out where you can eat; sometimes you have to call if it’s not clear whether they offer gluten free food. It can really be a pain when you are traveling. I have the best luck at chain restaurants.

              You can also never eat at the potluck except what you bring because you don’t know what your coworkers have put in their food. Potato salad shouldn’t have any gluten, but did they use mayo with gluten in it? You can’t know. It can be demoralizing when there’s food at work you can’t eat. You can’t accept invitations to eat at people’s houses without having a conversation about what you can and can’t eat, and that can be awkward or fraught. I will say that this has always made me anxious and then turned out not to be a big deal and the people who host me are willing to accommodate. It can suck if your family is not willing to accommodate and makes you cook your gluten free meal while they eat pizza and bread or whatever in front of you. Or if your extended family isn’t willing to accommodate and you have to bring your own different meal to Thanksgiving (happens to my mom all the time; she also has celiac).

              So, basically, it is hard in some ways, but over time it gets much easier and second nature, and if you have supportive friends and family, it’s not that hard at all.

          2. Seeking Second Childhood*

            At one point there were some interesting studies going on in microbiome research (ie gut microbes). I haven’t been following, but now I’m wondering if something concrete has turned up.

    2. Jane*

      I did it – was gluten free for about 6 months and felt amazingly wonderfully better, but then had to reintroduce gluten to get diagnosed.

      I won’t lie, it wasn’t a great time and it got worse as the weeks went on. I decided to use it as an opportunity to eat all my favourite foods that I wouldn’t be able to once gluten free again, which helped. It was also great aversion therapy, I’m never tempted to cheat on my gluten free diet now and I think how rotten I felt while ‘gluten loading’, as I called it, is partly behind that. At the end of the 6 weeks I had a sinus infection and was close to going off work sick, I felt so ill.

      I DO think it was worth it though. For one, in my country a diagnosis of celiac means you get extra medical testing to check you’ve not developed any complications or related illnesses, and then regular screening for those. Knowing I have actual celiac disease also makes it much easier for me to stick to the diet and be ultra strict because I know if I get contaminated with gluten it actually damages my gut. I’m much more careful with it than I would have been without the diagnosis.

      1. Batgirl*

        This is very helpful and reassuring. I would like to be less tempted by pizza! I can go 364 days without gluten and then get up in the middle of the night because my favourite chicken pastys were in the fridge. True story.
        I also worry that I’d get ‘stay off work’ levels of sick at three weeks in and have to quit without getting anything from it. We’re different people but I somehow feel better hearing you didn’t feel that way until week 6.

        1. Jenn*

          I’m in the UK too, seeing your above comment. Having a celiac diagnosis here got me an iron infusion once when I was very anaemic, struggling with iron tablets and my ferritin wasn’t increasing enough. The coeliac diagnosis was key in that, I have a family member with similar iron problems who can’t get an iron infusion and has to struggle on with iron tablets. I get an annual blood screen to check my antibodies, blood count, liver levels, and some other things I can’t remember. I also get an annual flu jab on the NHS, and a pneumonia vaccine every 5 years, due to being coeliac. I was referred to a dietician after being diagnosed, and also sent for a DEXA bone scan to check for osteoporosis.

          I’d recommend the Coeliac UK website if you haven’t already looked into it, they’re really good and also have things like an app for members where you can scan food barcodes to see if it is safe or not.

          1. Jenn*

            Hadn’t meant to hit send! I agree with your dr that the diagnosis is important. I’ve found huge differences in the level of education from GPs about coeliac, sounds like you have one who is aware of the follow up tests and ongoing monitoring of related conditions offered.

            For me having the diagnosis just flicked a switch in my head and now I’m never ever seriously tempted to cheat and have gluten. I went overboard with the amount of gluten needed during the 6 weeks but I really wanted a definitive answer, I think following whatever Coeliac UK is recommending now would be plenty. I did feel pretty weak and tired towards the end, and I felt like I was deliberately poisoning myself. I’d still say it was worth it though.

    3. Fikly*

      I got a positive Celiac blood test, went strictly gluten free, felt vastly better, and was then told I needed the endoscopic biospy to confirm. I asked why, because if eating gluten free made me feel better, what was the point?

      I never got a good answer. Honestly, this sounds like a classic I have Celiac, ate something with gluten, and now feel terrible for weeks/months after. Next year, don’t cheat, and see if you feel different. Question answered.

      1. Batgirl*

        Yes I’ve been told that they need both tests, which sounds so extreme! I think a blood test plus symptoms should be plenty.

        1. TL -*

          It depends! I have an acquaintance whose mother got diagnosed, felt a ton better, got her daughter to go gluten free, daughter felt better, she goes for years this way and then for whatever reason decide to get tested and daughter doesn’t have Celiac’s, though she does have the genes for it (the blood test). It wasn’t as surprising to me because the daughter had never accidentally been ‘glutened.’ (she was very paranoid about gluten but everybody gets unintentionally exposed once in a while.)

          If you haven’t had the blood test, I’d get that, as it’ll at least tell you if Celiac’s is a possibility. You only have to eat a slice of bread a day for the endoscopy test (I don’t know what your binges are like but if it’s a lot of gluten when you go for it, it could be a really different experience.)
          You can also try getting super strict for a while and see where you want to go from there.

          1. Fikly*

            Daughter may very well be gluten intolerant. If not eating gluten makes her feel better, does it matter why?

          2. Observer*

            Unless daughter went back on gluten before the test, it’s not accurate. Also, there is “non-celiac gluten intolerance”, and that’s a real thing not a “crunchy” conspiracy thing.

            So, I wouldn’t dismiss it so fast. My GP said something very important to one of my kids “If it makes you feel not good, DON”T EAT IT. It doesn’t matter what the tests say.”

            1. Fikly*

              Yes, there is something to the “Doctor, it hurts when I do x.” “Then stop doing x.”

            2. TL -*

              The daughter went back on gluten for the test – it was done by a GI who knew what they were doing.

              I don’t know if she eats gluten now or not, just that she put herself through a lot of trouble for a disease she didn’t have. There’s usually a big difference between avoiding gluten because you’re intolerant and avoiding it because you’ve got Celiac’s, particularly when it comes to cross-contamination risks.

              1. Observer*

                Actually, not necessarily. Many people who have this condition are equally sensitive to gluten, including traces, as people with celiac. In fact by and large, the only difference in terms of diagnosis are the tests that are done for Celiac.

    4. Married to Celiac*

      6 weeks? Eek! Following thread since I have a T1 diabetic celiac husband and I’m worried about testing future babies for celiac. 6 week test? Their colon would be kaput!

      (Also heard I’m supposed to abstain from gluten since med journals say those with genetic predisposition to celiac should get protected early. And hubs diabetes dr said his diabetes was bc he got 7 years worth undiagnosed damage). No idea who to believe…

    5. Cambridge Comma*

      If you’ve been strictly gluten free for two years, it’s hard to see how coeliac disease could explain your current symptoms.

      1. Cambridge Comma*

        Sorry, I meant to add, even after cheating in December. (If you are diagnosed coeliac, my coeliac mother has been told that cheating could be associated with stomach cancer so having the diagnosis could be useful in terms of information.)

        1. Jenn*

          There is a thing called refractory coeliac disease, where the small intestine doesn’t heal and return to normal when on a gluten free diet so symptoms continue. It’s rare, but serious enough that specialist support is needed. The only way to diagnose it is an endoscopy to check the state of the small intestine.

        2. Fikly*

          Actually, any gluten exposure in a Celiac can cause months of symptoms, even if it’s one incident of exposure after years of being competely gluten free. Isn’t Celiac fun?

          1. Exercise Junkie*

            Yep. I am really lucky in that when I get accidentally glutened after being gf for five years, I only get a day or two of acute gastro distress (probably because I was largely asymptomatic when diagnosed; I only got tested because my mom was diagnosed with it and I already had one autoimmune disorder and they’re often comorbid). My mom, who was very sick when she was finally diagnosed with celiac, has weeks to months of bloating, fatigue, gastro symptoms, etc. after an accidental glutening. It can linger for a long time, and everyone is different.

            1. Fikly*

              I have actually found that the longer I am gluten free, the more severe my reaction is to accidentally being exposed. I had a five day ICU stay a year ago from it.

        3. Observer*

          Also, as you know, gluten shows up in odd places. If BatGirl has not been extremely careful, it’s possible that the low amounts of “hidden” gluten are having a greater effect than in the past. For many people Celiac is a bit of a progressive disease.

      2. Batgirl*

        Not strictly gluten free. I am pretty sure I’ve been low grade consuming gluten throughout because of cross contamination. However it could be something else entirely…

    6. Seeking Second Childhood*

      Have you had food ALLERGY testing? I’d do that first if not, because (if I recall correctly) the allergy response would still be with you. Celiac testing needs the renewed exposure because they’re looking for a physical symptom.
      Additional benefit of allergy testing–they can check a span of foods at one time, and some food allergies are linked to inhalant pollen allergies in unexpected ways.

  19. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

    I am a sucker for large breed dogs – like, I’ve said for years now that the next time I am in the market (as it were) for another dog, I would desperately love a Dane or mastiff or similar. However, I promised the third dog slot in my household (I already have two and we collectively agreed that three was the max) to my housemate.

    Well, Housemate came home last week and informed me that he was relinquishing his dibs on the third dog slot to me, because he just picked up his third snake at the reptile show and would prefer to focus his pet maintenance energies on them, plus when I have dogs, he gets all the fun parts and very little of the responsibility parts, which, fair enough. Literally the next day, I found out that one of the Great Dane rescues in my neck of the woods took in an incredibly pregnant mama who gave birth recently and will be taking adoption applications for a litter of nine Dane/mastiff mix puppies starting mid-March, for go-home dates anticipated sometime during June.

    So now I am researching the logistics involved in adding a horse-puppy to my menagerie so I can decide if filling out this application (or, well, let’s be honest, I already filled it out, if *submitting it*) is actually a feasible idea. Not that submitting it guarantees anything anyway, I’m sure they’ll have a gazillion and twelve applications.

    Things I have already considered:
    -food costs for giant-breed specific kibble
    -health risks specific to giant breed dogs such as skeletal issues, bloat/GI issues – I called up my vet and we had a discussion; she suggested a preventative gastropexy to drastically reduce GI risks, which I would definitely consider further if my application was accepted.
    -Other regular veterinary expenses (monthly flea/heartworm, appropriate visits/vaccinations etc), plus I keep a fairly significant emergency vet savings in easily accessible funds.
    -My work also partners with Nationwide to offer their full coverage pet insurance plan (including pet wellness, vaccines, accident, illness, injury, flea/heartworm prevention and other medications, etc, and specifically the gastropexy, all covered at 90% after a $250 deductible) for $60/month, so I’m researching more about that, but it looks like it might be worthwhile. (Specifically, it looks like this puppy would have better health insurance than I do by most metrics. :P )
    -initial start-up costs – adoption fee, a crate large enough for a giant breed dog is about $150 (and once it’s put somewhere it is not easily moving so I’d have to plan ahead for that), collar/leash/tags, puppy obedience classes, etc.
    -Adding a puppy to my herd – neither of my girls is super keen on strange adult dogs, but they both like puppies, so I don’t have too much concern here, and I work fully from home, so I can supervise much easier and more consistently than otherwise. (My boss is aware that this is an impending possibility and is fine with it, she brought home her own puppy a few months ago and she trusts me to get my work done efficiently as long as I send her puppy pictures.)
    -Puppy raising in general: I brought my younger dog home when she was 8 weeks old, so I’ve done the house-training/midnight potty runs/“take that out of your mouth” process before :) and, as a “bonus,” my husband is now passing familiar with what happens when he doesn’t help me maintain training, so he is much more on board with being actively helpful than he was the last time around. (He had a toxic job and unmanaged depression issues at the time, so he’d come home from work and lay down and let her romp all over him and lick his face off because puppy love makes everything better. Three guesses what she does now, if given half a chance. But only to him, thank heaven.)

    I have a large house, 1/3 acre of fully fenced (with a 6’ tall wooden shadowbox fence) backyard, and an SUV. The adoption contract, if I were selected, would oblige me to ensure that puppy went to basic obedience classes within 6 months of adoption, which I would plan to do anyway. I work from home full-time and my housemate does 3-4 days a week, so there’s very rarely a time when nobody is home. I have locking trash cans and a bloodhound who will go counter surfing if I leave anything up there, so I’m already used to deterring that. My housemate and husband are both fully on board and enthusiastic.

    Especially people who have, or have had, giant-breed dogs – what else do I need to consider?

    1. CoffeeforLife*

      Um, it seems like you have it covered. Although I did read an interesting article about pet insurance and how tough it is to get a claim payout. The vet quoted said people should just save the premium payment instead and fully fund their own unexpected surgery costs. We have Banfield as our regular vet and the monthly payments cover all preventative meds (shots, flea, heartworm meds), dental cleaning with anesthesia, and any vet visit: checkup, wellness, she’s-doing something-weird-is-that-normal visit. Well worth the payment. YMMV.

      I just recently found a place, helpinghandsVa that does animal surgery at deeply discounted prices because they don’t do diagnostic services, just the surgery recommended by your reg vet. Maybe your area has a similar facility that makes things like mass removal, or stomach twist surgery affordable.

      1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        I haven’t been super happy with our local Banfield staff in the past, and all my critters have been seeing the same vet since 2014, but her practice doesn’t have a package option like you describe. The reviews that I’ve found, specifically for the insurance package I’m considering, are mostly really good – the negative ones I’ve come across are usually for the packages that are really picky about what they cover, and those ones really are kind of a racket, which is why I never bothered with insurance for the other two dogs. So, yeah, still researching options :) Thanks!

    2. Not So NewReader*

      I had a decent size house and medium size dog. Sounds good so far, but I had too much clutter because of cleaning up estates. I did not realize my dog was having a problem until we went to a friend’s house with a large open room. The dog literally cowered will trying to walk through the wide open room. The dog was used to clutter and did not know what to make of the open space.
      My point is they adjust, but it’s good to keep an eye for just how they adjust. I just started talking to my buddy and reassuring him that he was okay. That was all he needed from me to acclimate to the different area.

      More practically, my friend has very large dogs. I am 5’8″ and these dogs are well up over waist high on me. They reach DOWN to take things off the counter. There is NO food on their counter ever. The taller the dog the higher up we have to go with puppy-proofing.

      1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        I already keep food off the counter unless I’m standing right there and actively doing something with it, because Elder Statesdog will surf for it if she can, but we’ve already planned a refinement of our dishwashing process to ensure that dirty dishes can always be put straight into the dishwasher and never left on the counter either!

      1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        It’s something we’ve considered, for sure, which is partially why the focus on health/medical maintenance, though obviously that only goes so far. But yes, while we’d like our pets to live forever, the shorter average lifespan on giant breed dogs is something that we have factored into our pondering and are willing to accept. Thanks :)

        1. Fikly*

          Totally valid decision! My pets of choice have an average lifespan of about 2 years, but I went into having them understanding that. Yes, it sucks when they die, but I’m not surprised, I know what I am getting in for with them.

          1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

            My husband is vehemently against bringing in small rodents as pets, because his ex used to keep mice and he was like “every time I started to get attached to them, they turned up their toes!” and he’s a big softy :)

          2. Hound girl*

            We have a Great Dane who is just a year old. He is our second Great Dane. Danes are big and goofy. Our first Dane lived to ten and ages are rising for large breed dogs and Danes in particular. This Dane is much more slobbery than our last Dane but does not eat off the table at all.

            The one thing I would recommend is socializing them with Jon-household dogs and people. There is a big difference between a 70 pound dog not paying attention than 150 pound ignoring you.

          3. Arts Akimbo*

            Are you a rat person? I LOVE rats! And yes, we have to cram a lot of love into those two short years!

    3. CoffeeforLife*

      I really wanted to get a Giant Schnauzer because they are:
      1. massive
      2. Look like grouchy old men
      3. Don’t shed a ton
      But I am involved in a foster and probably failing on my latest put. A pocket pit who is, as one person described her, a velcro dog. She is stuck to my side. Sigh, maybe the next dog will be my schnauzer..

      Oh! Furniture. If you are a dogs on furniture home then do you have a big enough sofa to accommodate a dane/mastiff? Slip covers/blankets/tarp for the drool? Hardwood floors for slipping/throwing out a hip? Stairs? My past larger dogs got all goofy going down the carpeted stairs, they’d flat out fall if they weren’t covered.

      1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        We are a dogs-on-furniture home with big sofas and large doggy pillows and blankets all over the place. I currently work from a 1.5-butt armchair in my office because of the Junior Ambassador (who is a velcro-y boxer mix), and am already semi-planning to replace it with a sofa to accommodate everybody who wants up. :)

        My Elder Statesdog (who is a drooly bloodhound) has some arf-ritis and has increased paw slippage in the last year or so, so we have already increased our rug quotient throughout the non-carpeted areas of the house and put non-slip treads on all the dog-accessible stairs inside and out. Right now, her stairs issue is mostly that she waits for someone to come go up and down the stairs with her (which is super cute) for moral support, but I also have an assist harness for when she starts truly needing assistance to go up and down, at which point we’ll block the stairs with a baby gate so she doesn’t try to go it on her own. Horse Puppy will be contained to certain areas of the house via baby gate as well, at least for the first while. I also have a ramp for assisting doggos into the back of my SUV, seat covers for both the back seat and the cargo area, doggy seatbelts for safety.

      2. Seeking Second Childhood*

        A friend with an elderly Great Dane made a dog bed from a secondhand crib mattress , sewed a removable canvas cover for it. Her old fella loved it.

        1. Seeking Second Childhood*

          Also a screen door protection device– one friend got a pre-made white insert to let the dog see the door is closed. Another felt creative and cross stitched something on the screen herself. (I think she had to stitch it anyway to fix the dog-ripped screen.)

    4. Anono-me*

      You should probably come up with a plan for how you will get the full grown huge dog into your vehicle in the event of an incapacitating health issue. A 150-175 # dog is usually too much for most individuals to lift and carry to the car. (Even if one of your household can, everyone else including any pet sitters needs to a way to get Spot to the vet in a crisis. )

      Also you probably want to have a conversation with any pet sitters, dog boarding kennels, groomers, and nail technicians you use to see if they have a max size limit.

      Be aware that many people who are not dog knowledgeable find larger dogs more intimidating. (A frivolous neckerchief seems to help.)

      You may want to check Craigslist for the kennel and other dog supplies. I’ve had very good luck there.

      Lastly big dogs go through what I think is the most adorably awkward puppy stage. You will probably find yourself inundated with picture requests during that time.

      1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        I’ve recently been looking at lift harnesses for my bloodhound, and they do COME in giant-breed sizes, but yeah, that’s still a lot of weight. So that is definitely a thing to be working on. I have a ramp for the car, but that doesn’t help if doggo is truly unable to walk even with assistance.

        Our boarding facility is actually a part of our vet’s office, so they’re down with large doggos :) we use a mobile grooming service, so I will check with them the next time they come by, though one of the things I’d like to do differently with horse puppy is to accustom them to nail trims/grinding at home early so I can do that myself anyway.

        Both my dogs wear colorful scarfs, and a horse-puppy scarf budget was one that my husband reminded me of :) It’s adorable, when they get clean scarfs on every couple of weeks they prance around and pose :) And I am super stoked about puppy pictures for sure.

        I’ll definitely check Craigslist, thank you, that hadn’t occurred to me!

      1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        I already don’t walk the ones I have together. They get most of their exercise in running around the backyard, but yes, we have a good-for-walking neighborhood. :)

    5. NoLongerYoung*

      I did foster for a 160# newf.
      The fencing in the yard was replaced and reinforced (including deep concrete footings) so that any jumping/ ramming / attempt to get neighbor cat/squirrel/ object of interest, didn’t take down the redwood fence. There was a big, nice “rounded” gravel area (with weed cover block under it; weeding a gravel area is tough). That was an attempt (which worked) to have an area for “find your spot” which did not generate muddy paws because the grass had burnt off and into a mud pit. It also protected the small amount of green grass so that it “could” be rolled in and did not have poo on it. We had a huge patio cover over part of it, so that doggo could run out, find his spot, and come back in without being soaking wet.
      Doggo had been raised on a specific raw food diet (actually the foster included the food and dropped it off every two weeks); he lived 2 years longer than most newfs.
      And he had had diligent and consistent training on leash and people skills – he was better behaved than my lab on leash. (they had done dog shows with him)
      The yard re-work was something I would not have thought of without their help. It was not cheap but the fencing was not secure enough, and it paid dividends with the time saved on no-wet-dog and no-muddy-paws for basic rainy weather. (I would walk him but then I was prepared, and not trying to get to work, when he was wet).
      Lastly, he was such a love that he would lean against folks lovingly. This did not work with my elderly mother. And of course, crate training is so helpful as well. He wanted to see the repair man and “help” and often, folks are just not able to get past the size in the short time they are there. And he loved the house crate, taking himself into it for naps as well.
      And… drool. Lots of drool.

      1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        We’ve actually got a plan (regardless of whether puppy acquisition is successful or not) to go around the yard over the next year or so and replace all the fence panels and re-seat and cement all the fence posts! We started with a section that actually NEEDED replacing at the end of the summer last year, and the plan is to finish the rest of it this year. :)

        1. NoLongerYoung*

          It had not occurred to me before the newf. Note, when we moved here, our next rescue head (small but stubborn) butted fence boards near the lower cross bar. This … until they popped the rotting wood part loose from the nails at the bottom cross bar. Fence board swings out, from our yard, like a dog door. Dog exits. Fence board pops back. Dog can’t get back in. Dog is now in neighbor’s driveway – exits towards busy street. Neighbor catches him. (I am at work and husband left him in yard for an errand – which is doggy heaven otherwise). Could not figure out how he got out. Second time it happened, the neighbor did not see him and he wound up at the pound. Next day, I stand around the corner of the house and watch him after I let him out. He runs to that second of the fence and starts to open his “exit door.”
          We were out there with the screw gun, long sturdy screws, and reinforcing boards before he ever got let into that back yard again.

    6. Elspeth Mcgillicuddy*

      We had a 120 lbs mastiff that we got when I was a teenager.
      -The farts are room clearing.
      -Don’t try the sweet potato dog kibble! The farts are most extremely room clearing.
      -Potty training was super easy. I don’t know if he had a bigger bladder, or better early training since he was from a breeder and stayed with his mother. He only had a handful of pee accidents and zero poo accidents and was able to go through the night without a potty breal when we first got him at 8 weeks.
      -Your early training really, really matters. NO pulling on the leash. NO nibbling on toes. NO food aggression. If your chihuahua takes a bite out of your leg occasionally, it’s kind of cute. If your mastiff takes a bit out of your leg, you have no leg. If your mastiff pulls you around on the leash, you are going with him. My mother literally pulled food out of his mouth when he was eating as a puppy so he knew that food aggression was never okay.
      -If your dog has a big jowly mouth, it’s super cute when they have to ‘drop it’ for something small. He’d start trying to work it out of his mouth immediately, but it’d take him a minute to work it up to the front of his mouth to spit it out.
      -They take up a lot of floor space. When we first got him, we lived in a big house and he fit nicely. When we moved, we ended up stepping over him a lot. Also, he’d sleep by the back door and you had to ask him to get up to go outside.
      -He was 8 weeks old when we got him, and already 16 lbs. He was SO adorably, like an itty bitty bear.
      -He liked fast walks, because his big stride ate up so much ground. You know how most dogs trot at your side? You had to be striding out briskly to go fast enough he could do that. He was my bestest hiking buddy though.
      -When he was getting old, we took him hiking one time, and he just gave out 1/2 a mile from the trail head. It was a good thing my brother was with us, because my brother had to carry the poor dog most of the way out. The dog would stagger 50 feet, my brother would stagger 50 feet carrying the dog, then we’d all rest while the dark closed in and the mosquitoes sucked our blood. He was probably only 110 lbs at that point, which is still a lot of weight. So definitely do consider how to carry yours when he gets old.
      -He chewed up one piece of furniture, and also broke a window by slamming into it.
      -He caught an armadillo one time, and put puncture holes in the shell. That big mouth is powerful!
      -You could thump him genially on the back a lot harder than you could a smaller dog. We always joked you could have hit him with a 2×4 and he’d be like, “ooh, get the itchy spot further down.”
      -Water collected in his mouth after he drank. He wasn’t drooly, but right after drinking he’d like to come over and put his face in your lap, and then you’d have a wet lap.

      That’s all the stuff I can think of now. Feel free to ask any questions.

        1. Elspeth Mcgillicuddy*

          It was very impressive. It wasn’t like he was really trying either. Also, he chewed up bones. We got him those giant cow femurs once or twice, and he destroyed them. I think it took him a couple days. Definitely less than a week. Do not let the puppy nibble on your toes!

          A couple more thoughts:
          -We got his tail docked, because we’d heard about the bruising power of a giant tail.
          -My brother wanted to name him Trajan, but we went with a much cuter name. The dog was already intimidating enough; he didn’t need a scary name too.

          1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

            What kinds of toys and chewy things were sturdy enough to hold up to him? Mine are big on bones, and the ones I usually get are leg bones with flavorful “stuffing”, but there’s a few around here that are definitely too small to let a giant doggo at. My toy rules are that I don’t give them stuffy toys or squeaky toys, because I don’t want them thinking that stuffies are for chewing (because I have many) and I don’t much care to listen to the squeaking, hehe.

            Junior Ambassador has a whippy tail that she wags so enthusiastically (seriously, it goes in circles, not just back and forth) that our vet is kind of amazed she’s never hit it on anything and broken it yet. So we’ll definitely watch out for that.

            We have tossed some name ideas around, but so far my dogs are named after kick-butt literary women. :)

            1. Elspeth Mcgillicuddy*

              Hmm, I don’t know that I remember. When he was little and really needed to gnaw on things, he wasn’t big enough to destroy bones. And I think some of the not-so-gigantic bones are actually denser and lasted longer. We also had a big yard, so he had all the sticks he could crunch up. We didn’t do the nylon bones because they get so sharp. I think we just accepted that the bones were consumables.

            2. Seeking Second Childhood*

              Pen names of women who wrote especially before it was socially acceptable?
              George Eliot, James Tiptree Jr, Isak Dinesen, Currer Bell, Acton Bell, Ellis Bell, Andre Norton. Modernly J.K.Rowling & Tabitha King
              Husbands, fathers, brothers, and publishers who encouraged women before it was socially acceptable? Offhand I’m thinking Percy Byshe Shelley and now I’m tickled at the idea of a giant with a poet’s delicate sounding name. (bonus, any nervous kids can be reminded of Percy Weasly or Percy Jackson.)
              A famous male character written by them? Heathcliff, Mr Rochester, Hagrid
              Men who published & assisted the suffragettes?

        2. LavaLamp*

          I have a 2 year old GSD. Thankfully I also live in Colorado so I have access to really cheap GOOD vet care. Big dogs in general have weird health problems. My boy started loosing weight and potty issues. He was down from 90lbs to 60ish. He looked horrid. Turns out, his pancreas doesn’t make digestive enzymes so I have to put out about 100$ a month for an enzyme powder to put on his food. He’s fine now, thankfully. Oh, and nothing on your counter will be safe. I have to keep treats on the fridge or he would get them.

    7. Dancing Otter*

      Haven’t seen this on any of the previous comments:
      Waste disposal. The more they eat, the more they …. However you dispose of the umm output of your current two dogs, figure double the amount with your new giant.

    8. Foster Addict*

      I have fostered many breeds, and would say that the giant breeds have so much drool that it may require having a bib or walking around with a small towel.

      I had one with ‘happy tail’ and it took weeks to heal. I wouldn’t recommend docking the tail without reason, but with a giant breed the effect was horrendous and the one time it opened up indoors the room looked like a crime scene within seconds. In that case the dog had been on the street for some time and his skin was in horrible condition, so I think the tail was injured in the first place because the skin was bad and prone to a wound. The tail arrived with a big scab, and the rest of the body had other small injuries (small scrapes suggesting many weeks or months of sleeping on a hard surface), which all thankfully fixed themselves up with a healthy diet and soft bed.

      I know you said that your dogs don’t often do well with adults, but if they do well with some adults then you might also mention an interest in meeting mom. Offering to do so might improve your chances with the pups too… you might explain that your dogs are picky, but you are open to the possibility (based on my experience they will be more likely to look at your application, and if they read it then you have a better chance at a puppy). Understanding the breed, and addressing the issues mentioned here (drool, counter-surfing, space in the home, money for food bills… ) are all really useful in the application.

      1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        I am totally working on a “cover letter” to go with it and explain a lot of these things that they don’t ask about on the app itself, which is mostly focused toward references and (what should be) no-brainers like “what would you do if the dog behaved poorly: a, return it, b, yell at it, c, ask a trainer or vet for help?”

        My girls do okay with other dogs on (what they perceive as) neutral ground, they’re just not super happy about other adult dogs in their house, so I would definitely be willing to take them out to the foster space or somewhere to meet mom and pups if that was an option!

    9. Anono-me*

      We’ve had really good luck with chew bones from a friend who had a buffalo (Am. Bison) ranch. The bone tended to be a little bigger and seemed to last longer than just the larger size would account for(maybe they are more dense somehow).

    10. MechanicalPencil*

      I’m late to this party, but maybe you’ll see it anyway.

      I have an 85 pound pit/who knows what mix. He’s a rescue also. I missed his puppy stage, but as an adult, he’s flown straight to the old man life stage. He’s got the cropped ears and an enormous chest, and he’s pretty tall, so people are scared of him, but all he wants is cuddles and to give kisses.

      He’s my velcro dog. He stayed overnight after having surgery, and for the next week, I could do nothing alone. We stayed with my mom immediately after and even having her sit with him wasn’t enough. He had to stare at my through the glass shower door, and that was a bit much. Once they’re attached to you, it’s apparently incredibly traumatic for you to leave them and have Things Done To Them. We went back for a followup last week, and he was NOT having it.
      Anyway. He’s nosy. He wants to know what everyone is doing. I felt comfortable training him and basically got him through the “puppy” class on my own, but we still went to classes just to get that nosy streak under control, and what he already knew he totally forgot since “what is my tiny schnauzer friend doing?! Oh, and what is the lab pup up to?! Oh, you want me to sit, sorry…oh treat!”.
      An easy walk harness is life changing. When I first adopted him, I could have worn skates and gone on a merry ride through my neighborhood. Now, I technically could walk through my neighborhood without a leash. People get weird when they see a pit without a leash though.
      This dog loves to sun bathe. Winter. Summer. Doesn’t matter. If there is a patch of sun to be had, he will find it and be a butt about leaving it. I’ve never seen anything quite like it.
      The gas on this dog. I put some spheres in his food bowl to slow him down because he could clear a room. Slow feed bowls also work, but for the amount of food he eats, it’s a little trickier to find ones that work. He also has epic burps.
      There’s a facebook group called Canine Enrichment that I love. A little mental stimulation to enrich what you can do with your dog. For puppies, it’s great because it helps them get past weird quirky fears like water or learn to use their noses to find things, etc. Also lots of great ideas for teething dogs (frozen treats, kongs, frozen dishcloths? I can’t remember all of them to be honest since I’m well beyond that stage). There’s also now a category of dog toys that are classified as enrichment. Chewy is maybe the easiest to find them at online, but TJ Maxx/Marshalls/Home Goods are great places for dog toys/treats/beds. I’ve learned that they get their deliveries for dog stuff on Mondays. Also, Facebook Marketplace is another decent place to find crates and so forth.
      I have a friend with at least 2 (I think the third passed?) Danes who used crib mattresses to make dog beds. Just built a little wooden box to hold the mattress and sewed a nice slipcover for the mattress. I think she threw some extra pillows and a blanket situation in there with it, and the dogs are thrilled. Except now her twin babies are crawling and have discovered the dog beds, so we’ll see how that plays out.
      Oh! Another Facebook group that was helpful for me was called Dog Nail Maintenance. It’s now read only, but there’s some helpful info for learning how to grind/trim your dog’s nails yourself. Paying out of pocket for that gets expensive quick.
      I’m sure you know this, but start with your pup how you mean to proceed. If you let the pup sleep in bed with you then after X amount of time that’s no longer cool because of Y reason, confusion and likely acting out will occur, then pup is frustrated, you’re frustrated, and no one is happy.

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

    Runners of AAM: Where do you buy your running clothes from?*

    Unfortunately, the “skinny jeans” trend which won’t go away seems to have made its way to running pants. The Under Armour and Nike running pants I wore for years, which were perfect, both wore out, and the replacements they’re making now all seem to have tapered legs or are cut super thin. I don’t have the shape of a typical runner — I’m a 5’9″ man whose 165 pounds are mostly in the calves — so I can’t do skinny pants. But that’s all that seems to be out there now. If I want pants with normal straight legs, it seems that I now have to buy pants intended for basketball, which are made of a much heavier material. 

    I finally gave up and bought “training pants” from Target. They’re still a little too heavyweight, but at least have the virtues of not cutting off circulation to my legs, and being affordable ($34, as opposed to the $85 a local running shop wanted for what were basically basketball pants). But I’d rather have proper running pants. Help?

    *Road Runner Sports (online) might be the best place, but they are a bunch of crooks. Twice I’ve been charged for a “membership” that auto-renews at a high price after a year, even though I specifically unclicked the membership box before ordering, and had to call them and go through a sales pitch to cancel it.

    1. RC Rascal*

      I would try Zella & Athleta. Both make men’s. Zella is a Nordstrom brand. I am female but have the same issue in that my legs are muscular and I’m finding the traditional athletic brands I’ve relied on to now be cut too small in the leg. Adidas, Nike, UA— they are all feeling like leg pythons instead of pants or leggings. While I consider Zella & Athleta to be more suburban athleisure brands they seem to be cut for an adult as opposed to a teenager.

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

        Thank you! I never knew that Athleta made men’s clothes and had never heard of Zella, so I’ll check those out.

        1. The New Wanderer*

          I think Athleta’s men’s line is called Hill City.

          Their women’s stuff is fantastic though, I find it all to be high quality even if the styles don’t always suit me.

    2. acmx*

      Running Warehouse? How about ASICS Men’s Core Essential Pant?
      Zappos? Amazon? Marshall’s /Ross/ TJ Maxx (do they have those in NY?).

      Or try ebay /thredup/ poshmark if there’s certain ones you really like.

      Honestly, the only thing I spend more on are my shoes and socks.

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

        All good thoughts, thanks. Clearly I didn’t try enough places before giving up. I did order multiple pairs off Amazon that seemed similar on paper to the pants I had, but now were cut way too thin. The Asics weren’t one of them, so I’ll look at that.
        For the record, I haven’t heard of Ross but we do have Marshalls and TJ Maxx in New York — I actually work right near them both.

        1. acmx*

          Oh check Macy’s online for the Adidas men’s essential three stripe track pants, Nike dri fit knit training pant or therma open bottom training pant.

          Good luck!

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

            I ordered a whole bunch of stuff (thank goodness for free returns). Thanks again!

    3. Vanellope*

      I’m not sure about the men’s side, but I’ve found that Kohl’s has a good selection of women’s gear. Shorts, leggings, yoga pants – lots of different styles – and they are affordable but still good quality brands (Nike, Underarmour, etc.)

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

        Kohl’s was my go-to for a long time, but they stopped carrying decent running clothing, which is unfortunate.

    4. LGC*

      You’re a normal person height, so hit up Running Warehouse. Jackrabbit and Paragon Sports might also be good. I’ve often bought direct as well – and if you buy end of season you can basically get away with highway robbery. (Like, for example, I got two pairs of tights from 2XU for $56 total that would have cost $200 total at list price.)

      I haven’t looked at Decathlon much (they have brands for basically every sport imaginable, but their running-specific line is Kalenji), but they’re supposedly pretty good on price.

      I think part of your issue is trends – a lot of the trend has been towards slimmer cuts and tights. (Which I’m personally a fan of, as I’m the kind of guy who still wears skinny jeans IRL.) I’m personally okay with this (like, I’m in tights all winter, basically), but yeah, it’s harder to find…more accommodating gear.

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

        It’s a trend I really don’t get. I was trained my entire life that running clothes should facilitate free movement and be comfortable, not constricting. Yet everything out there seems to be all tapered, including some of the suggestions for pants I’ve gotten above (thanks, though!).

        Is there an advantage to the manufacturer to cut things so thin? Does it require less material, meaning more profits for them? Or has society seriously reached a point where only skinny people are deemed worthy of wearing running clothing or jeans?

        I’m sorry for a rant at your expense, LGC. In all seriousness, I’ve somehow never heard of Running Warehouse (!) and didnt think of Paragon, which is expensive but did tend to have a good selection when I went there years ago, so I’ll check them both out.

        1. Stephanie*

          Check out thredUP. You can search by brand, if you know some that have worked in the past, and you very well might be able to find some of the older versions of the pants that you like. And they’re much, much cheaper than buying new.

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

            Responding late to this but thank you for the suggestion. This is another angle I didn’t consider!

    5. pony tailed wonder*

      When I had a much beloved clothing item give up the ghost, I checked on ebay for an exact copy and got lucky. Perhaps a quick search there might do the trick? A lot of folks wear something once or twice before consigning it to the back of the closet and sell things in bunches when the need more room.

  21. The Other Dawn*

    I have a crowdfunding question. Any idea what they do to the organizer when someone reports their campaign as fraud?

    My fabulous former tenant, who is lifelong friends with my best friend (they’re no longer friends after the whole eviction/house damage thing) apparently got attacked by a dog (she works for a shelter). She put up a campaign to raise money and named herself as the organizer and my friend as the beneficiary. I found it online when I was looking at one for another friend (she has inflammatory breast cancer). When I realized who it was and what it said, I checked the website’s criteria for fraudulent activity, and this clearly falls under that.

    I told my friend about the campaign and she had no idea. She didn’t know about it because she never checks her email and hasn’t talked to this woman in months. I told her she should either report it, or confront the woman. She chose to confront her first. The woman’s reason for organizing it the way she did? She thought that when my friend got the campaign email and saw the pictures of what had happened, friend “would call [her] to express concern and show her some sympathy.” Needless to say, that didn’t happen. My friend told her she needs to take it down and the woman said she would. Friend said the call then turned into a long diatribe of why everything that happened this last year around the eviction wasn’t her fault. She blamed the house damage on her grown kid and his girlfriend, who hadn’t lived there since late 2018. The call ended with my friend basically telling her that she needs to be a better person (there’s a very long history between them and I know all the awful things this person has done to my friend and others) and she hopes she can make changes in her life, see ya later.

    I’ve checked the website and the campaign is still up. I want to report it, but I’m wondering what they would do about it. Would my friend would be held accountable for anything, or only the woman who organized it? And I assume the woman would have to pay back the money?

    1. Marthooh*

      It sounds like the conversation between them went in several directions at once, so the message may not have been clearly delivered. Talk to your friend first and make sure she has documentation that she didn’t approve the campaign – maybe have her send an email telling FF Tenant to take it down. Then report it if necessary.

        1. valentine*

          Leave them to it. Your friend can report it. Next time you see tenant’s name, click away from it.

  22. SteveHolt!*

    Thanks again to everyone who gave me recommendations for Savannah GA a couple of weeks ago! I’m leaving tomorrow, any last suggestions? TIA!

      1. SteveHolt!*

        Thanks! Unfortunately we’re vegan so the menu doesn’t look promising, but I appreciate the suggestion.

    1. willow for now*

      Go out to Tybee Island and see the lighthouse, then drive around the community, I fell in love with that place – lots of artists

  23. The Other Dawn*

    Someone up top asked about recommendations for very long books. I have the same request, but for other genres (didn’t want to hijack her thread): historical fiction, crime and action thrillers, post-apocalypse and pandemics. If it helps, I like David Baldacci, Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child, Ken Follett, and Robert McCammon.

    Surgery is in a few days and I’d like to stock up on some Kindle books. I’ve been reading a book and it’s taken me a few weeks to get 1/4 way through (I only read in bed and the pain meds knock me out fast), but I’m sure I’ll fly through it once I’m in recovery mode.

    1. A.N. O'Nyme*

      Umberto Eco’s The Name of the Rose (Il Nome della Rosa) is both historical fiction and crime-related, so that one might work. It may be a tough one to get through, however. If you’re not opposed to watching a TV series instead, they recently made one starring John Turturro and Rupert Everett which is pretty good.
      Another good one might be Alessandro Manzoni’s The Betrothed (I Promessi Sposi), which was written in the 19th century but takes place in the 17th.
      There’s also G.K. Chesterton’s Father Brown stories, which are short stories but the complete collection is quite hefty. Keep in mind however that if you’ve seen the TV series, there’s no cozy little village where everyone gets murdered, instead Father Brown just pops up all around the globe.
      Sheridan Le Fanu’s Uncle Silas might also be a good one, if you’re into Victorian-Gothic thrillers.
      On a similar note, you might also like Wilkie Collins’ The Woman in White, which is considered to be one of the first detective novels as we know them.
      And, of course, the old standby that is Leo Tolstoy’s War and Peace.

      1. A.N. O'Nyme*

        Also, while not all that long, I can also recommend The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison, although that one does come with a trigger warning for child molestation.

        1. The Other Dawn*

          Yes, I have. I read it in high school, which was about 30 years ago. (yikes!) It was a huge hardcover and I carried it all over the place with me.

    2. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      *rubs hands together* I gotcha. By my recollection of what you’ve previously posted, you and I have similar tastes in fiction, so here goes. (Caveat: Some of these are not individually long books, but I do a lot of series, which will hopefully meet the same goal?)

      Crime and action thrillers: Matthew Reilly. His Jack West series is sorta … Indiana Jones meets James Bond, ish? And Jack West is trying to save the world. First book is “Seven Deadly Sins”. And his Scarecrow series is more military but similar in feel. The Scarecrow books are more episodic, but there is a story arc through the series. (And there’s a crossover between the two in I think the fourth Jack West book.) First Scarecrow book is Ice Station. His standalone books are also very good — “The Great Zoo of China” is sort of an homage to Jurassic Park (definitely not just a ripoff, the author actually talks about that in the afterword of the book) only with dragons, and “Contest” and “Temple” are both good too.

      Post-apoc and pandemics: Mira Grant. Her Newsflesh trilogy (Feed, Deadline, Blackout) takes place in a world about 20 years after the zombie uprising, which was caused by a pandemic of lab-created viruses that met and detonated. (When she was trying to plan how her zombie virus would have come about, she called a contact at the CDC and said “What if this happened?” and they would tell her. She decided she had a good explanation in place when she called them up and said “So how about THIS?” and the response was “*long pause* Don’t …. don’t do that.”) There’s also at least a half-dozen novellas set in and around the trilogy, quite a few of which are prequels and backstory about some of the characters.

      Historical fiction: Do you like alternative history? If so, Harry Turtledove has two big series. His Timeline-191 series covers 1863-1945 in a North America where Robert E. Lee’s Special Order 191 was not found by a Union soldier and the CSA remains a separate country. 11 books, the first one is “How Few Remain”. (The audiobook versions, if that’s a thing for you, are read by George Guidall who is about my favorite audiobook reader ever, barring some particular authors.) The other one, with a sci-fi bent, is the Worldwar series and involves aliens invading Earth during WWII, and while that sounds like a silly premise, the series actually follows it through REALLY well. 8 books (sorta, there’s a quadrilogy, then a trilogy set a generation later, then a stand-alone, but functionally there’s 8 books), first one is “In the Balance”.

      Also on historical fiction, but hitting up Matthew Reilly again: “The Tournament” is a murder mystery, told from the POV of a young (14? I think?) future-Queen Elizabeth I. I was skeptical at first, but I ended up really enjoying it.

      I believe you’ve already read Ken Follett’s Century series, because I think it was you posting about it that prompted me to go back and reread the first two and pick up the third. :)

      1. Dancing Otter*

        Speaking of Mira Grant, she has another series called Parasitology: Parasite, Symbiont, and Chimera. I’ve only made it through the first one — way, way too plausible.

        1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

          The Parasitology series is good, but not quite as good (I thought) as the Newsflesh series. Her mermaid books are really good too – I think the novel is Into the Drowning Deep, and the novella (which comes first and should be read first) is Rolling in the Deep.

      2. The Other Dawn*

        Yes, a series will fit the bill, too. And yes I ready the Century series, which I really enjoyed. I’ve also read the Kingsbridge series. I really wish the next book was being released now and not in September.

    3. Foreign Octopus*

      A True Novel, by Minae Mizumura – I can’t vouch for this one as though I have it on my bookshelf, I haven’t read it yet, but it’s a loose retelling of Wuthering Heights in post-war Japan.

      Moloka’s, by Alan Brennert – I loved this book so much. It follows a girl from the moment she is left on a leper colony all throughout her life in the early 20th century.

      C.J. Sansom’s Shardlake series – both historical and crime.

      1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        There’s a sequel to Moloka’i too, that was also very good! It follows her daughter :)

      2. The Other Dawn*

        I’ve read the whole Shardlake series and loved it! I’m hoping another book in the series comes out soon.

    4. Traffic_Spiral*

      If you like SciFi, Reamde, by Neal Stephenson is great (so is the rest of his stuff), as is Perdido Street Station. For Post-apocalypse, maybe Steven King’s ‘The Stand?’ Have you read Gold Coast by Nelson DeMille? It’s fun.

      1. Foreign Octopus*

        You just reminded me, and I can’t believe I forgot it, of Seveneves, by Neal Stephenson – both pre- and post-apocalyptic, definitely of the hard sci-fi variety, and a chunky tome to be getting on with. I loved it.

      2. Arts Akimbo*

        Cryptonomicon is my favorite Stephenson! If you’re at all a World War II buff, or interested in cryptology, or computers, or interesting quirky characters in interesting quirky relationships, give this one a go!

        My spouse, who loves Cryptonomicon as much as I do, has recently announced that his favorite Stephenson book is now Anathem! I haven’t read that one, but his declaration made me want to.

    5. Lizabeth*

      And Ladies of the Club was engaging because it had a long story arc, historical fiction set in Ohio after the Civil War.

      1. Runaway Shinobi*

        Robert Harris does historical novels that are long; I read Pompeii recently and thoroughly enjoyed it. Looking forward to Fatherland (alt-history).

    6. Blue wall*

      So so happy to recommend Sara Donati. I’ve just read The Gilded Hour and Where the Light Enters; both wonderful epic looks into old New York and a wile scope of family relationships.

    7. Atheist Nun*

      I can recommend An Instance of the Fingerpost by Iain Pears for genre appropriateness (historical fiction, mystery) and sheer length (700 pages)–but I kind of hated it, which surprised me because I loved Pears’s Roman art history mystery novels.

    8. CTT*

      Rebecca West’s “Birds Fall Down” is SO GOOD if you like historical fiction with spy undertones. It’s set in the early 1900s, and the daughter of an British MP who goes to Paris to visit her maternal grandparents, who have been exiled by the Tsar. She and her grandfather are accosted on a train by a man who’s in a proto-communist organization and they find out that there’s a double agent in both his organization and spying on the grandfather. Because it’s Rebecca West at the point in her career when she was writing way more non-fiction, it’s less action-y and more “let’s go deep on the socio-economic situation of Russia in 1900.” But also, it’s Rebecca West, so it’s very clever and funny in places. And I love that it’s all from the point of view of a teenage girl.

      (I was disappointed I couldn’t rec this in the other thread and NOW IS MY CHANCE!)

    9. GoryDetails*

      I’ll second (third, whatever) the recommendations for Mira Grant’s “Newsflesh” books and for C. J. Sansom’s “Matthew Shardlake” Tudor-era historical mysteries.

      For a variant of post-apocalypse novel that’s more “science fiction where one of the sciences is economics”: New York 2140 by Kim Stanley Robinson. Set in a New York City that’s been flooded by global warming, the story follows a large cast of characters through intersecting storylines as they try to cope with the current state of things while making stabs at gaining political and economic control. (Normally I’m not a fan of too much economics or politics in my reading – it’s hard enough to take in real life! – but it worked in this novel. And the polar-bears-in-the-dirigible scene should not be missed.)

      1. Seeking Second Childhood*

        Oh so much Kim Stanley Robinson. I mentioned Science in the Capital series in the earlier thread. If you’re interested in hard sf, look at Red Mars/Green Mars/Blue Mars. Terraforming with environmentalits who loved the untouched Mars, and an extremely extended lifespan that leads to memory issues.

    10. VirtualLight*

      Two of my favorite very long-form series (15+ books each) are Foreigner books by CJ Cherryh (speculative fiction) and the Aubrey-Maturin series by Patrick O’Brian (historical fiction).

      Foreigner is about what happens when humans land on a planet that’s already occupied by the Atevi people, and follows the adventures of the human emissary to the Atevi. The books are fast-paced with a lot of complex politics- sometimes space-based, sometimes based on feudal politics- in the very well-described Atevi culture. You can skip the publisher-mandated backstory in the first book and start right with the adventure.

      The Aubrey-Maturin books are the adventures of a British naval officer and his dear doctor/scientist (& sometime secret agent) friend as they sail through the Napoleonic wars. A wealth of historic detail (though I skim over some of the sailing technicalities) and based deeply in the personalities of the two men and the people around them. The movie Master and Commander was great because I could SEE how all the ship stuff worked, but really only skimmed the surface of what’s in the books. I have re-read these books multiple times because of their immersive qualities but am still saving the last few books.

      Following this thread with interest!

      1. Seeker of truth and light and grilled cheese*

        So so so so much seconding of the Aubrey/Maturin! I re-read the canon so often I have lost track of how many times!

      1. The Other Dawn*

        I was going to add him to the list previously, but I saw so many negative reviews that I didn’t. Maybe I’ll take a chance anyway.

    11. OyHiOh*

      You might like Leon Uris – he’s most well known for Exodus, which is way more dynamic and complex than the movie, and *much* longer and the rest of his bibliography is equal to or better than Exodus.

      You might also like Edward Rutherfurd. I’ve personally read Paris, Sarum, and Russka. He writes sprawling multigenerational historical fiction where, yes, the people are important but really he’s writing about a physical place people decided was important and began living in and building around.

    12. Always Anon*

      My Dear Hamilton. Historical fiction. Story of Alexander Hamilton told from the point of view of his wife. Good luck with the surgery!

    13. Nessun*

      I have no idea what genre they belong to, but the Titus Groan trilogy is something you can wander into and never find your way out of – Titus Groan, Gormenghast, and Titus Alone. Honestly, I don’t even know if you can find them on Kindle, but the language is incredible and they are Hella Weird. I love them.

    14. Dragonista*

      Pandemics:
      Wanderers by Chuck Wendig
      Swan song by Robert McCammon
      Autonomous by Annalee Newitz

      Post apocalyptic:
      The Fireman by Joe Hill

      For crime I would recommend authors Adrian McKinty ( The Dead Trilogy, Sean Duffy books) and Charlie Huston, ( Hank Thompson books, starts with Caught Stealing) they’ve both written excellent series. Charlie has also written a series of books about a vampire.

        1. Arts Akimbo*

          I just met Robert McCammon in January and he is SO NICE! He went home with an armload of my art, too, so it made me want to buy his books. But my spouse said Swan Song was the scariest book he has ever read!!! Is there one of his that maybe is good for a horror wimp?

          1. The Other Dawn*

            I’m so jealous you got to meet him! He doesn’t come anywhere near my area. Someday!

            Every book of his I’ve read is horror, so I don’t have any recommendations–I’m sorry! I love the Matthew Corbett series, but in my opinion, they’re much scarier than Swan Song (I honestly don’t see that book as scary, myself).

            1. Arts Akimbo*

              Haha! Different strokes, eh?

              Horror that I read is for some reason way scarier to me than horror movies. “Telltale Heart” gave me nightmares, “Carrie” wrecked my world for a while, and that one Sandman story arc where John Dee escapes from Arkham Asylum gave me miserable brainweasels for forever! All of these are probably considered pretty mild as horror is concerned, LOL. I love Gothic horror, Japanese ghost stories from the 17th century, and sort of child-level ghost stories, so I guess that’s about my speed! :D

              I hope you get to meet him someday! And I hope I get to read some of his work someday, LOL!

      1. The Other Dawn*

        We just put the new series on the list of things to watch on TV. I prefer books, though, so I’ll need to give them a try.

    15. Old and Don’t Care*

      Degree of Guilt by Richard North Patterson is a very well written legal-type thriller. The sequel to it is pretty good too.

    16. Anon and alone*

      For action thrillers, might I suggest James Rollins’ Sigma Force™ series. The first book is, technically, Sandstorm and they follow the lesser known enforcement arm of DARPA aka scientists with guns. The latest in the series is Crucible and the story for that starts just after the Inquisition. All of them refer to a historical incident at the beginning and are usually looking for something that links the past to the present. He also has a section at the end explaining what is true in the book. Since you mentioned Baldacci, I figured I would throw Rollins out there.

    17. Reliquary*

      The best historical fiction about colonialism in the Americas, hands down: William Vollman’s Seven Dreams series.
      1. The Ice-Shirt (about Viking voyages – the Norse meet the Mik’maq and Inuit peoples of Greenland, Iceland, and Vinland)
      2. Fathers and Crows (about Jesuit missionary encounters with the Wendat/Huron and Hodenosaunee/Iroquois in Canada)
      3. Argall (about the settlement of Jamestown, Virginia, including John Smith and Pocahontas)
      4. The Poison Shirt (not yet published)
      5. The Dying Grass (about the Nez Perce war of 1877)
      6. The Rifles (about present-day Inuit people, but also about a 19th c. Arctic explorer)
      7. The Cloud Shirt (not yet published)

    18. The Other Dawn*

      Wow, thanks! I’ve added many of these to my “want to read” list in Goodreads, so I should be busy for quite a while! Keep ’em coming. :)

      Of the authors I mentioned above, I’ve read probably 95% of their books and I’ve read “The Stand.” I saw that one mentioned a few times. In addition to the genres I mentioned (forgot to add science), I love series, very long books, and books that span generations (that’s was a big plus for several of Ken Follett’s series). As to what I don’t like, typically I don’t like books written in the first person, fantasy, most sci-fi (though I don’t mind a touch of it here and there), romance, and inspirational.

      1. Seeking Second Childhood*

        Try this for an odd set: “The Good War”, Studs Terkel’s oral history of World War II. With a chaser of “World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War.” I suggest the full cast audio book … brilliant reading in character by famous actors.
        Short but classic post-apolcalyptica are ‘Alas Babylon’ and ‘A Canticle for Liebowitz’.
        Short but memorable historic fiction about an epidemic: “Fever 1793” by Laurie Halse Anderson. My daughter read this for school and made me read it too, and I’m glad.

      2. OTGW*

        If you want true crime, Helter Skelter by Vincent Bugliosi. He was the prosecutor the Manson crimes, though it sorta has first person? Alison Weir is also good for long historical fiction books. Right now she’s writing fictionalized accounts of the six wives of Henry VIII. Really good, and all are at least 600 pages. She has historical nonfic too.

      3. Seeking Second Childhood*

        The husband adds Bernard Cornwall to the list for historical fiction — any of it.

    19. Seeking Second Childhood*

      I was reminded of another — not a very long book, but part of a series if you get hooked.
      Connie Willis “The Doomsday Book”. Time-travel science fiction set in a future England and 14th century England. You might want to look for the novella “Firewatch” that came first, to avoid having to puzzle out the “rules” she creates for time travel. (And Firewatch is a bit of a thriller itself, set in the future and during London’s Blitz.)

  24. Lady Jay*

    Any suggestions on dealing w/ secondhand smoke in my apartment? I increasingly feel as though I’m going to have to move, but so I’m posting here as a hail mary.

    Backstory: About ten days ago, I started smelling cigarette smoke in my bathroom. It got bad, quickly. Now, I keep the bathroom door closed 24/7, and if I have to go in to use it, I plug my nose and get in and out as quickly as possible; if I’m showering, I open the doors/windows to air things out first. I forgot to close the bathroom door yesterday, the smoke wafted around the corner into the living room, and I spent the rest of the day with a sore throat and chest pain. Sometimes I can smell the smoke even when the bathroom door is closed – like right now, actually, as I type this out (the irony!)

    I think I’ve bothered property management about as much as I reasonably can about this issue. “Don’t smoke in your apartment” isn’t a requirement of the lease, apparently, so one email that says, “hey it would be kind if you opened the window when you smoked” is about all they’re willing to do. Also, I don’t know which apartment the smoke is coming from, and I’m non-confrontational and don’t know my neighbours well, so I’m reluctant to start knocking on doors.

    Looked for my lease last night and couldn’t find it, weirdly (I thought I kept it in my locked filing cabinet & even remember looking at it in the last year or so, but it’s not there now), so I’ll get it from the property crew on Monday morning.

    I really don’t want to move – this is a bad time for it (I’ve got a lot going on in my professional / personal life), I love the apartment setup, I really love the location. I lived here for nearly two years before this became any kind of a problem. But it’s only been ten days, and I’m going bananas.

    Short of moving, anything I can do? Or should I just move?

    1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      If throwing money at it is an option, could you put a HEPA air purifier with an oomph-tastic filter in your bathroom and see if that helps?

      Also, if there’s a central location in your building, could you maybe post a sign a la “Dear smokers: You do you, but the building has one ventilation system and your doing you is smoking me out of my bathroom, so could you please crack a window while you do you for courtesy’s sake and the sake of those around you? Thanks so much!” Don’t even necessarily need to sign it.

      1. Lady Jay*

        I love the wording on the sign!! :)

        I’ve thought about a HEPA air purifier but they’re really expensive, and without a great understanding of how effectually they clean out the smoke, I’m reluctant to pay $$$ then spend the next year with an expensive noisemaker and a smoky house. That said, a friend on FB also suggested one, so I should do a little more Googling.

        1. EmilyG*

          I have one of these (GermGuardian) that I got off Amazon for maybe $90. I can’t say how it does with smoke, although a lot of the Amazon reviews are from smokers. I use it for pet fur/dander/other allergens and I think it’s helpful. I keep the cost down by vacuuming off my filter and using it for a lot longer than the manufacturer suggests, which might not work as well if you’re dealing with cigarette smoke or any other kind of odor. I’d definitely try it if you’re contemplating moving.

          1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

            oo, good thought! I have one in my bedroom for pet dander, and I was just thinking it’s about due for a filter replacement, so maybe I will try the vacuuming thing instead of just mindlessly buying a new one and see how that goes :)

            1. CheapIncense*

              Just as a social experiment, you could start burning really cheap, floral-scented incense in your bathroom for hours and then see if anyone complains. If the complaint ever gets to you, you could then say you’re doing it to block the cigarette smoke.

              This falls into the category of – sometimes people don’t/wont recognize the impact their actions have on others until the same thing happens to them.

              Sure, we should all have the wisdom not to stoop to this level, but sometimes its the level people operate on.

        2. Kuddel Daddeldu*

          I’d check the ventilation. If there is an exhaust fan, I would leave it on 24/7, and close up any ingress ventilation grille from the building (duct tape is your friend). You can even affix your own fan to the grille.
          The idea is to create a small positive pressure so your bathroom pulls the air from your apartment and not vice versa – this system is used in clean rooms and labs where one really must make sure all air goes through the filtration system.
          You do not need a lot of airflow, just enough to make sure the air goes out, not in, from the building ventilation duct.

        3. StrikingFalcon*

          I have had this problem and a HEPA air filter made a huge difference for me. It didn’t eliminate it, but it certainly helped. Without it I couldn’t stand to be in the apartment, but with it I could manage (although it was my boyfriend’s apartment, not mine, so I was only there on the weekends)

    2. Purt's Peas*

      For air purifiers–a Mayo Clinic article I found mentioned that an air purifier may not reduce the effects of secondhand smoke, but it may be worth it to try out an air purifier with an activated carbon filter layer for the smell.

      I can’t attest to the effectiveness of air purifiers on tobacco smoke, unfortunately, but I do have two testimonials–mine is great for particulates like cat allergens and I love it; a friend of a friend has an air purifier right by her cat’s litterbox, and it fires up every time some extra stink is about to waft if you know what I mean.

      I have a Coway air purifier recommended by the Wirecutter. It is a bit of an upfront cost but I like it, and trying it would be cheaper than moving.

    3. Parenthetically*

      Box fan. 20×20 filter. Turn the fan on high — the suction will hold the filter on the back of the fan. Buy one that specifically says it will remove smoke. It works really quickly and really well.

    4. AnonyNurse*

      I know this sounds crazy … but maybe talk to the smoking neighbors? They may tell you to eff off. Or they may have convinced themselves that no one else notices, and would be willing to stop smoking indoors. Not a huge chance of success, but before you decide to move, worth it to try.

      As far as your lease goes, you may be able to get out of it with documentation from a health care provider. What landlord wants to fight you on that? Smoking indoors is objectively harmful to everyone in the vicinity, and in a shared space such as an apartment building, very hard to justify allowing it. Nicotine addiction is incredibly challenging and that passive exposure is harmful to others really stinks (haha) — if a neighbor is addicted to opioids or benzos, their consumption does not directly cause harm to others.

      Take care of your health even if it means moving!

    5. Anono-me*

      If you haven’t already; it may be helpful to tell your landlords that this is a big enough deal that you are planning to move to a no smoking building over it. No matter what the housing economy is, nobody wants to lose a good tenant ever. (The hassle of rerenting the apartment and the risk that the new tenant will be a difficult one are always there.)
      Your landlord may be willing to explore more expensive solutions once they realize that the smoke is that important to you and possibly that costly to them. (I’m not saying they are bad or greedy people. It’s just that some people see the smell of smoke as similar to the smell of burnt popcorn or some other cooking smell and respond accordingly.)

      1. Lady Jay*

        Thanks for this, as I’d been reluctant to tell my landlords (I’m concerned they’re going to get sick of me complaining about the smoke and try to get rid of *me*) so I appreciate the advice.

        Would you say it holds true if “the landlords” is a massive company with multiple properties? I’ve been talking w/ the property manager so far, but my sense is that she can’t really do a lot on her own, and I have no idea how I would get ahold of her superiors. I feel much more disconnected from “the landlords” than when I had an actual, one-person landlord.

        1. Anono-me*

          I’m not in apartment management myself, but we have a few family members who have small rental businesses. They really value their good tenants and try very hard to keep them.

          But my advice was predicated on my reading that you really really really do not want to move but might need to move due to the smoking.

    6. Dr. Anonymous*

      I lived next to dedicated chain smokers for three years when I was in residency. The $300 Whirlpool HEPA air purifier was worth every penny. I had to run it 24/7, even if I wasn’t home, or it couldn’t keep up, and it was loud, but I kept it in the other end of the apartment, away from my bedroom. It saved me. HUGE difference.

    7. Secondhand Sufferer*

      Did I black out and write this???

      Next weekend I am (finally!) moving to a smoke-free apartment in same complex after dealing with secondhand smoke from both cigarettes and marijuana since October. As a lifelong nonsmoker who’s always been sensitive to cigarettes, you can imagine this has been an absolute nightmare for me.

      Currently I’m using a GreenTech Small Space Plugin for the cigarette smoke in my bathroom and a Medify Air MA-40 for the weed smell in my bedroom. The weed is SO INCREDIBLY STRONG that the MA-40 doesn’t get rid of it even on the highest setting, but it’s better than nothing when your neighbors are toking at 3 am every single night.

      Unfortunately my current unit is not a nonsmoking one so there’s only so much the management can do. They said they could “try talking to the person if they knew where it was coming from.” I told them I was 95% sure it’s my next door neighbors but I guess the management doesn’t want to go ask them about it. At least when I first reported the cigarette smell they found that one of the big ventilation fans wasn’t working properly. They fixed it, things were better for a week or so, but then they got fed up with me asking them to check the fan every 3 days because I still smell cigarettes.

      So after months of not being able to sleep and sleeping on the living room sofa on multiple occasions, I’M the one forking over hundreds of dollars to move again in less than a year. And you bet I’m flaming pissed about it but since management isn’t doing more I feel like I’ve exhausted all my other options. I would start by reaching out to your property manager but unfortunately you may have to move too.

  25. EmilyG*

    I bet I won’t be the only person this week with a “should I stay or go” question about… travel. I am supposed to go to Mexico (Oaxaca) from 3/9 to 3/17 with some friends. I have spent very little on this in advance. Got my plane tickets on miles and haven’t pre-paid for many activities. The hotel can be cancelled 7 days in advance, after that the full amount is due, so I’m facing a quick decision on whether to go.

    I’m not personally worried about getting coronavirus but I *am* worried about getting stuck somewhere other than home, and being separated from family members in more vulnerable categories. Neither my home in the US nor Mexico is presently affected, of course, but things went downhill in Italy fast.

    I have a strong, 9/11-related tendency to overreact to things like this so it’s hard for me to know what a reasonable person would do. But I think people on this site are reasonable. Would you (a) bail now, (b) wait and see, maybe end up not going but still paying for the the hotel, or (c) just go?

    1. Alex*

      I have a trip planned at the end of March and have no intention of cancelling. I do have travel insurance in the case that travel is shut down or some other problem that literally prevents me from going occurs, but I won’t cancel it myself. 100% going if the planes are still running and the hotel is still open.

      I can’t make a decision for you, but that is my own plan.

    2. Kuddel Daddeldu*

      Coronavirus is currently not a concern in Mexico, so go, unless you are immune compromised, rather sick already, or very prone to respiratory diseases.
      Personally, I think the nCOV is blown out of proportion by media and later politicians who need to be seen as “doing something”. It is about as dangerous as the (real) flu – not harmless by any means but also not the plague.
      On the other hand, check your health coverage and if your finances could support you through two weeks of quarantine at home when you return (can you work from home? What’s your employees policy?)
      And consider the risk of catching a fever by the time you go; the airline or Mexico might reject you if you are running even a mild fever on the day. It might be prudent to take out travel insurance to cover your expenses in that case.

      1. EmilyG*

        Thanks! I do have some respiratory problems (asthma) and a cold right now, which I think is making me feel more pessimistic about things, but I don’t believe I’m seriously at risk.

        Travel insurance is tricky here because I did not buy it in December when I planned this–I had spent so little money it seemed silly. But when I later decided maybe I should, I was not able to get a plan that covered coronavirus because you can only get “cancel for any reason” insurance right when you first book. I did get a plan that covers medical, medical evacuation, etc. and I have good U.S. health insurance so I think that’s the best I can do. Luckily, I have a job that can definitely be done from home–I don’t usually do so, but I don’t see any reason why I couldn’t work from home for two weeks in an unusual situation.

      2. Imtheone*

        Unfortunately, the fatality rate appears about 20 times greater than the flu. It is also pretty contagious and apparently people can spread it before they have symptoms.

        I still would go to Mexico at this point. My husband is off on a work trip tomorrow to halfway across the U.S.

        1. Jules the 3rd*

          Non-China calculations are more like 7x the flu, mostly in elderly / otherwise at-risk. But, I’d think asthma is a major risk factor.

          The bigger problem is that if it blows up in Mexico / the US overreacts, you could find yourself stuck in quarantine at the border. That… would deter me from international trips, especially at a border that’s already overloaded with people in custody.

          Also, from what I’m reading, travel insurance doesn’t cover pandemics.

        2. MissGirl*

          There’s no accurate mortality rate. Many people who have it aren’t showing symptoms or are not very sick. We don’t know how many people aren’t getting diagnosed and simply getting better on their own.

    3. Blue Eagle*

      Probably I would continue with the plan to go, but one thing I would definitely do is obtain a mask and wear it in the airport and on the plane in both directions (which is where people are most at risk {in my opinion based on personal/family anecdotal evidence}). Have fun!

      1. Kuddel Daddeldu*

        We are booked on a cruise to Asia in April but awaiting the notice that the cruise line has cancelled the trip – it’s extremely likely. Two of the three countries on the itinerary have travel restrictions in place; unless this virus is gone as quickly as it appeared, our vacation is toast.

      2. Cherylblossom*

        I don’t know that a mask would help all that much. I was just asking my friend who is a nurse and in health administration about this. She said she’d 100% cancel any upcoming trips and that wearing a mask on a plane doesn’t do much … it’s the same recycled air circulating through and once the mask gets moist from your breath, it’s pretty much useless ….

    4. whocanpickone*

      We have a trip planned for mid-March and are still going. We’ll take the usual precautions (lots of hand-washing, maybe some vitamins), and hope for the best. But if you don’t feel like it’s a good idea, that may be the right choice for you.

    5. Book Lover*

      We’re traveling to Central America in a week. I am more concerned about flights being canceled for the way there (if there are cases here or there) than what happens after we get there. But I have a job where I know they won’t penalize me if I am stuck abroad or in quarantine (we have a doctor stuck in Europe right now actually – he left before it spread and can’t get back). And I am desperate for a vacation. If I were at risk of losing my job if I couldn’t get back I would rethink.

    6. Lore*

      I said this above but more relevant here! I had a trip planned to Thailand via South Korea in early April. We’d just about decided to cancel, more on grounds of being afraid of either quarantine upon return to US or being barred entry to Thailand than fear of virus itself, though I am having major-ish surgery Monday so there were some concerns there as well. But then Korean Air canceled and rebooked one leg on each journey in ways completely incompatible with the remaining legs. Outward journey now leaves NY city Saturday morning, has a 26-hour layover in Boston, and arrives in Seoul Monday afternoon to connect with a flight to Thailand leaving Sunday evening. Return has us leaving Bangkok and Seoul within half an hour of each other and it’s a 7-hour flight. The only contact option they’ve given if “you need help with connections” is their 800 number which has been busy or not taking calls for the past two days. Web chat is also not accepting new entries to its hold queue. I tried messaging on Facebook as well. Right now they’re not generally letting most customers cancel without a hefty penalty, but I feel like if they’ve booked me a literally impossible trip, they have to do something about it…but right now I’m not sure how to work that out. (And even if they were able to book new connections, we’d have lost two
      days of the trip so not acceptable.)
      Hoping to be able to get through sometime this week!

      1. WellRed*

        A flight from NY to Boston and then a 26 hour layover? I think I’d skip the flight and drive or take other ground transportation to Boston.

        1. medical advice*

          The problem is if you don’t check in for the first leg of your flight, they cancel the rest of the booking. (Needless to say–we originally booked this with a 2-hour layover in Boston, but they bumped the Boston-Seoul flight to the next day without changing NY-Boston or Seoul-Thailand.

      2. Kuddel Daddeldu*

        South Korea has implemented travel restrictions. In my company, upon return from Korea I’d be expected to self-quarantine at home for two weeks (work from home as much as feasible, fully paid).

  26. bright as yellow*

    I’ve struggled to manage depression and anxiety (including social anxiety) for many years now, to the point where I can’t remember life “before”. I’ve been working hard with therapy and I am learning to appreciate the good days, to not let the worries of everyday life interfere with my enjoyment of the good parts of life. It’s still bloody hard to deal with the paralyzing anxiety.

    I started dating my current boyfriend two years ago. He was affectionate and dependable and I felt safe and loved. I thought I could tell him anything without worrying about being judged. We had fun, lots of silly banter, and we had quiet evenings where we did nothing. And he was a safe place when I had a depressive episode / surge of anxiety.

    In the last year, he’s had problems with his job (his duties have changed from what he signed up for) and I watched him slowly sink into a depression. My depression comes with an unhealthy dose of self loathing, his just seems like a constant exhaustion and inability to deal with emotions, and a complete inability to make decisions.
    While he acknowledges that he’s depressed, I could see him shut down when I suggested therapy. He said he’d think about it, but I could tell that he really didn’t want to. Another day, I tried suggesting books that i found helpful, but with the same response: a maybe and a hurry to get out of the conversation.

    I have a new appreciation for him dealing with my depression in the first year of our relationship. He feels far away and inaccessible. It feels like there’s a wall of exhaustion between us, every day for at least half a year now.

    I am learning that his problems are his to fix, and all I can do is listen. I’ve mostly figured out how to deal with my anxious thoughts caused by his withdrawal (feeling unwanted, etc).

    But I feel lonely. It was my father’s death anniversary last week, and I woke up upset and cried for two hours. When we met in the evening (we were going to a concert with my sister and her husband), he started talking about how crappy his work day was, and I just couldn’t process it. I interrupted him and said I needed to call my mother (I had previously been busy trying to coordinate logistics with him and my sister and everyone else was late, throwing me off kilter trying to recalibrate plans). I didn’t tell him that I had a missed call from her, and thought it necessary to talk soon because of the date. My mother didn’t bring up my father.

    I didn’t have space to listen to his frustration. But I wish I didn’t interrupt him. I realised later that I had behaved as if he wasn’t speaking at all.

    I never brought up my father with him. I didn’t think he had the space for it.

    This was an extreme example, but I can finally articulate my questions on how to deal with this relationship.

    How could I have dealt with that situation without interrupting him?

    I told him I was sorry for interrupting him two days later, but again, he was exhausted and I didn’t think I could bring up my father, I didn’t know if I should, and in the end there was too much silence and I didn’t say anything more. What was the best way to apologise?

    How can I ask for support on my bad days when he looks like he has no energy at all, every single day?

    I am probably over thinking a lot, and would appreciate any advice, whether specific answers to my questions or any thing else. I’m 29, female, living with my sister in a foreign country and dating a local young man, and this is my first long term relationship.

    1. Purt's Peas*

      I don’t think you’re overthinking it; it’s a difficult problem to have.

      From your letter, here’s what it sounds like what’s happened in the last six months is that he’s started to close off due to his depression and exhaustion. Seeing this, and not wanting to overstep, you started to close off because he’s closed off. You want him to be done with it, which is heart-achingly understandable. He knows you want him to be done but can’t be done with it yet. He’s not doing anything to try to get better or recognizing how hard it is for you–both things which depression makes extremely difficult. It’s alarming to me, and I think deeply troubling for you, that you felt you couldn’t talk to him about how upsetting the day was.

      How could you have dealt with the situation without interrupting? Possibilities might be, having talked to him beforehand about how your father’s death day was coming up and how it would weigh on you; having worked out a signal with him for when you need to stop hearing him vent; not feeling bottled up and like you can’t express yourself.

      You can start all that now, though. This will probably take several conversations. I think the apology for interrupting was an attempt to open up and be honest about your truth right now and he didn’t necessarily take you up on it. He might not be able to take you up on it or fully reciprocate yet but I think you have to be truly honest with him.

      You can tell him you love him and you know your relationship dynamics have changed but you’re still in it. Does he think the relationship has changed? You can tell him that you don’t know how to support him in the way that he supported you, what would he like? You can tell him that you don’t want to be an additional burden on him, so you’ve been avoiding opening up to him. You can tell him that you feel like he’s withdrawn from you, does he feel like that? You can tell him that you want to support him but can’t always listen to him vent, can you have a signal for when you need it to stop or when you need some focus on you? How did he feel when you were going through so much anxiety and depression the first year you were together?

      It’s tremendously difficult to feel like you’re disappearing behind someone else’s cloud of depression. I’ve done it; my husband got through it, and our relationship survived because we were honest with each other and because he still would/could make time for me–two factors that I think are related to each other. (We survived even though, as you can tell, I am an inveterate advice-giver and I kept. on. trying. to solution him out of depression.) Best of luck <3

      1. Purt's Peas*

        ALSO please don’t worry about interrupting him. I’m sure it feels so weighty and so freighted by the worry that your troubles are in competition. It would be unfair of him to be super upset about it. It’s mildly rude to interrupt someone but honestly, only mildly.

    2. valentine*

      You are definitely overthinking it and prioritizing his needs, though you had a need that went unmet. You should not have to walk eggshells or worry so much for so long about an interruption, especially when you’ve apologized, though I don’t think that was necessary. I don’t think he’s as fragile as you’re treating him, but, either way, where is the attention and wanting to know your stuff? Continually holding your tongue, about massive stuff like grief, but also about everyday things that make up your life, will hurt you, and you’re not seeing the effect on yourself because your only concern is for him.

    3. bright as yellow*

      Purt’s Peas and valentine, thank you so much.

      I am painfully aware of how depression can make people self-absorbed. I’m a little horrified when I look back and wonder how many times I did not acknowledge/appreciate his attention in the early stages of our relationship — I tried to be conscious about not pushing him out, but I know I had days when I withdrew from him. I don’t want to fling accusations at him; I did that towards the end of last year, and it only widened the distance. Sometimes I think that quietly being there for him now is penance for my previous mistakes, but I know that martyring myself would only lead to resentment.

      I am very aware that my own needs are currently unmet. I want to be kind when I approach him to talk about this. I needed advice on how to convey this to him, and I guess I needed reassurance that I am not asking for too much. Thank you again. You have given me much to think of. He is currently away on a two-week work trip, and I will talk to him when he gets back.

      Purt’s Peas, thank you for the bit about multiple conversations. I feel much less pressure on getting the conversation “right” in one go.

      This sentence so accurately puts words to my thoughts: “He’s not doing anything to try to get better or recognizing how hard it is for you” He thinks solving the issue at work will magically make everything better, but doesn’t realise that a good therapist could help him with strategies to deal with the issues he’s facing. I don’t know if I’m projecting, but I think he’d find it hard to shake off depression if somehow the problems were all magically resolved to his satisfaction. I know I can’t push him to therapy, but it is so hard to see the invidious hold depression has on his life.

    4. Koala dreams*

      I understand your need for limiting negative talk in the moment, however I don’t think the double standard, where you are listening to all his negative thoughts and only tell him neutral things is useful. It’s better to decide together to limit negative talks, for example to set a time limit or decide to wait until a suitable moment, for example after dinner or one day a week. You can also tell him that you need him to ask you first before starting to vent, since you don’t like to interrupt him. (It’s if course fine to interrupt, if you need to, but it sounds you would prefer an alternative.)

      I think your idea to find other people to vent to is great. You can do this on your own, you don’t need to wait for him to start. Maybe you already have some acquaintances or family members who would be willing to either listen to your troubles or help distract you?

      Maybe your boyfriend will find somebody else to talk to, maybe he’ll prefer to write a diary or do physical activities instead. It’s his decision to make. However, even if he prefers to vent to you, you don’t need to accept. You can say “No, I’m not able to do that”. You can also offer other support if you want, for example watching a funny movie together or find phone numbers to a therapist or a doctor.

      1. Bright as yellow*

        Thank you for the tips, Koala dreams.
        I do tell him stuff, it’s just that I first check how he’s feeling, and try to assess if he’s got the space to listen.

        We need to both do this and make it explicit.

        I don’t mind telling him to stop venting. I have zero regrets of stopping him that evening, just the way I did it. I want to be kind about it. Definitely Not speak over him as if what he’s saying has zero value. It was clearly important to him.
        It’s so obvious, isn’t it, to say “I’m sorry you had a rough day , I am not able to listen about it right now. ”

        And yet it never occurred to me before I read your comment. I was raised in a household where communication was not particularly healthy, and me learning healthy, assertive communication as an adult is hard.

    5. allathian*

      You’re going through a lot, I’m so sorry. I’m wondering, what does your support network look like where you are? In some cultures, admitting to a mental health issue means a major loss of face, people literally prefer to die rather than seek help, if it’s even available. Is this at play here at all?
      Being the primary mental health support person is hard at any time. It’s even harder if both of you are battling your own demons with mental health. It’s not sustainable for you to be the main mental health support person for each other.
      He was able to support you before, I suppose because he wasn’t depressed himself at the time. It’s understandable you’re grateful for that, but it’s not worth martyring yourself. Don’t support him at the cost of your own mental health. If you’re seeing a therapist for your depression and anxiety, please continue to do so for your own sake.

      If his reluctance to see a mental health professional is purely due to personal issues rather than a cultural taboo (that could be too much for him to overcome at this time), I would go so far as to say that his going to a therapist would be a condition for you to continue the relationship. But only if you’re prepared to follow through and leave him if he refuses to seek help. You’re not responsible for fixing him, and especially not if he refuses to seek help.

  27. Oversized t shirt dress*

    Lately I’m seeing more oversized t shirt dresses available. I’d like to wear one but I can’t help but wonder if they look like hospital gowns, tents, terribly unflattering in general? I’m in my 40’s and short. Billie Eilish can make them work. Tall skinny people can make them work. But a short middle age person?

    1. cat socks*

      I’m a short middle aged person and I like the jersey swing dresses from Old Navy. They have kind of a loose fit,, which I like but I don’t feel completely shapeless in them. I’m only 5’0″ so I order petite sizes online. I find they look best on me when the length hits right at the top of my knees.

    2. Parenthetically*

      Yes! With the power of accessories! Cute shoes, a bold necklace or earrings, some bangles. Even a blazer.

      And make sure it’s a great color on you.

    3. Traffic_Spiral*

      Depends on your shape. Hour or pear? You’ll look lumpy, because curved shapes fit awkwardly into the straight lines of a t-shirt dress. If you have a straighter shape that fits better into straight lines? Go for it.

      Alternatively, just go out to the stores and try some on – see how they look.

      1. Sleve McDichael*

        Ugh yes I’m just a subtle hourglass but I look terrible in all of the shapeless oversized dresses and shirts available at the moment *cry*

    4. Kuododi*

      I’m definitely a short lady with “lovely assets.” (I will be 53 on the 18th). Personally I love the maxi dresses as well as the jersey knit swing dresses. The dresses I have are styles which are somewhat form fitting and somewhat loose and flowey. I have found that when I shop for dresses in flattering colors pairing with fun shoes/accessories I truly enjoy my clothes. You’re a beautiful woman. Remember if the clothes don’t fit at first, it’s not your fault. Clothes are clothes and they’re not fitting isn’t a negative reflection on you. They simply don’t fit and it’s time to keep looking. Best wishes. Kuododi

  28. Autumn leaves*

    I am going through a probable breast cancer situation. I just had the biopsy done but it doesn’t look great under ultrasound. It doesn’t look to be the worst of the worst but my anxiety is through the roof. How do you stay calm for your kids, for your family, in front of colleagues…? Are there coping strategies? Thanks for any words of wisdom!

    1. Jdc*

      My mom is in the exact same boat right now. Sadly I think she is a bit in denial and I’m spiraling during an already stressful time.

      Just sending hugs and know that if you need there’s someone out here

    2. Goose*

      I’m sorry you’re dealing with a tough situation.
      It’s understandable to be anxious, and I hope you can give yourself the space to feel your feels. And let your family be there for you, if you need their support.

      I hope others will have advice about staying calm when you need to.

    3. Asenath*

      I just turned my mind from it firmly every time the worry popped in. I had the date the biopsy results were due, so I’d just tell myself “I can’t do anything about that until DATE” and turned my mind to something else. Of course, if I hadn’t got my results by the stated date, I probably would have freaked out!

      And remember that many, many biopsies show nothing to worry about, and even if yours does show cancer, many breast cancers, especially when caught early, can be treated successfully. I’m living proof of that!

    4. OperaArt*

      I was treated for breast cancer almost three years ago, and had a biopsy last month that turned out benign.

      I was able to turn the anxiety off once in awhile by doing something that required concentration and being in the moment. Added bonus if it was fun.

      My best anxiety dampener was ballroom and Latin dancing. No room for thinking about cancer while trying to follow someone’s lead through a fast series of spins and turns while keeping the hip motion right and the core engaged and the arms graceful and not elbowing your partner in the nose and switching between positive/negative hand pressure and remembering to spot and …

      What also helped sometimes was when I decided that anxiety was a perfectly reasonable thing to be feeling in the circumstances.

    5. Not A Manager*

      I’m so sorry you’re going through this. I recommend mindful compartmentalization. Set aside a time when you will, in fact, think about this situation. Maybe before dinner or something. Not right before bed. When the worry pops up at other times, tell yourself that you will think about this at Thinking Time, not now. Then redirect your thoughts.

      Also, for me, planning can be helpful if it’s done carefully. “Planning” can’t mean “spinning out of control imagining every worst-case scenario.” But if you just make a general road-map in your mind about things like “who could drive me to regular treatments if I needed them,” or “what are some easy food options for the kids if I don’t feel like cooking,” then when you start to really worry, you can actually answer yourself. “Well, if in fact I needed treatment, our lives wouldn’t fall apart because [Plan].”

      It’s hard to avoid catastrophizing, but do try to talk back to catastrophic thinking kindly and firmly.

      Please let us know how things are going.

    6. Anon woman with breast cancer*

      First, sending you a big hug if you want it and also some calming vibes.

      I was diagnosed with breast cancer in Oct. 2019, and I have 3 chemos, then surgery, the radiation still. The way I stayed calm then, in October was….

      1. When the doc told me, I cried. But, I knew it had to be cancer oddly. It was unusually fast growing in my case, hormone positive. So, I cried. But then gathered facts and also went on medical leave for a while to cope. I needed the time to deal with the emotions and not doing that at work was important.

      2. I am single, so I had to chose who in my family to tell. I told my brother, and a handful of cousins and such. I did not tell most people and asked that family I did tell to respect that. They have. I chose to not make this a big deal to my whole family as many of them can struggle with boundaries, their own health issues, etc, and I did not need that from them. I told some friends. Same reasons.

      3. I found a counselling service for cancer patients, a local charity here. I see a counsellor. I do mindfulness training and meditation. I read fiction, I sometimes blog politics. I sometimes do yoga.

      4. I focus on my healing during the neo adjuvant chemo. Imagine the tumour shrinking. It has shrunk a lot. I was and am kind to myself and let friends do some things for me. I take walks in nature. Sometimes I take a Xanax or CBD oil to calm my nerves. I sleep, a lot. Which means my apartment is less clean than usual. But the tradeoff is that sleep helps me heal.

      5. Get as much info as you can from your doctor. Info helps lessen anxiety. You can then decide how to share or what to share. You don’t need to be the one who is calm for your kids, spouse, colleagues. You need to be calm for your own health to improve. You need to inform and not scare your kids. Depending on the staging and if there is node involvement, you will need to explain the treatments and options and timing to them, but also know that when you are under chemo especially your body may cope well, or it. may not. – and you will need. them to. be there for you, you will need them to be calm. While you heal. You need to be able to focus on that. A counsellor can help with this too.

      Women too often put everyone else first, then when their health is impacted by something, they do’t know how to ask for help and accept being helped. Your kids, depending on their age, can step up if they are pre-teens or older, and help you if you do have cancer. Your family will need to step up too, or not – tell who you wish and if you are aware of people who will freak out or have too much anxiety and spread it back to you – then take time away from them, clearly tell them you need space, or do not share. It is your right. Your colleagues will need to accommodate your treatments and days off etc. How this is managed by your boss and team will be I hope seamless and easy.

      There are a few women here who have gone thru this and we will support you if you need help or info if we can. I am sending you much love and hope you can rest, which will help you be calm.

    7. Really Anon 4 This*

      Take it one day at a time. Don’t play the ‘what if’ catastrophe game because that only leads to a spiral. Put one foot in front of the other each day and commit to doing your best, whatever ‘best’ is on that day. You could probably ask for an anti-anxiety med from your doctor if necessary, but unless they suspect node involvement, you will likely be on the surgeons table pretty darn quick.

      I dont have kids and live far from family, but when I was going through diagnostics I got up and went into work as always and went home. I had a bunch of follow up exams and tests and once I did snap at a coworker who was being a real jerk about something petty, but for the most part I just kept to my normal schedule and routine. It somewhat helped that my line manager was AWOL, about to quit and didn’t care where I was or what I was doing, so when I finally had to tell my new line manager about what was up, she was shocked I had ‘gone through that without any support’. For me sticking to normalcy has been the best approach – I don’t want ‘support’ and have chosen not to share my full diagnosis with anyone other than my partner. I don’t go to support groups. I don’t think about cancer unless Im at the hospital doing Cancer Things, and I don’t talk about it with my family.

      Maybe its an extreme form of compartmentalizing but it works for me. Its not denial its just managing how much time I give cancer in my life. I choose to give it not much beyond the bare minimum.

    8. Autumn leaves*

      I just want to say thank you to all the kinds responses. Reading them makes me cry which is exactly what I need to do more of. Every time I cry, the anxiety lessons but I’m having trouble doing it because I feel the need to stay strong.

      I don’t often post here but I read almost every day and I’m amazed at how kind and intelligent the people are here. It’s a really nice place to get some anonymous help. Thank you

    9. NoLongerYoung*

      First, my false positive story, then about how I coped with DH’s wait for a diagnosis, then a recommendation on research.
      1) a couple decades ago, I had a diagnosis of DCIS from the mammos (including the specialized ones). Went straight to on the table. The protocol for that surgeon (I researched her).. they do a full “biopsy the whole tumor” during the surgery so they know what they are dealing with.
      Turns out mine was some weird combo of fibrous tissue, calcification and scar tissue (I’d had a previous lump out).
      Everyone was surprised it was not DCIS.
      2) So I when DH had a “tentative” diagnosis, I planned as if it was true, but admitted that we did not know and was able to feel, then release, the fear “until I know for sure.”
      3) And, for me, the planning involves researching the medical journals and protocols and knowing what questions to ask. Information is always control.
      One of the gifts I gave a friend who had to fly to her father – I quickly looked up his diagnosis in the online access I do have (for work reasons), printed out the relevant clinical summaries, and put them in a folder. Hers to read, or not… but she was so reassured by the time she landed, as the survival rate was good with treatment. Rather than being in the air and fretting, she processed.
      YMMV. Sending a hug.

    10. Alice*

      My two cents: if it turns out that you do need to go through medical treatment, don’t turn down non-medical interventions offered by your hospital’s cancer center — discussion groups, acupuncture, art therapy, social workers, meditation garden, whatever. At least, turn them down if you’re really not interested — but don’t turn them down because “they are meant for peope who are sicker than I am.”
      I hope things go well!

  29. Dame Judi Brunch*

    Anyone who has been on an elimination diet, I have questions. This diet was doctor-ordered, due to GI issues. I’ve been on my diet since mid-January, and I expected to feel amazing during the elimination phase, but did not.
    I’m in the reintroducing foods phase, and it’s going ok, not great. When you reintroduced foods, did you experience a reaction at first, but then not again after continuing to eat that food? I’m following the doctor’s instructions to the letter, so I don’t think it’s error on my part.
    I’m just over this whole thing and I just want to feel like my stomach isn’t trying to kill me or embarrass me. My follow-up with the doctor is in March.
    Happy birthday to the Leap Day birthdays!

    1. Chaordic One*

      This sounds familiar. After having so many issues with food allergies during the elimination phase I was expecting that I’d feel great when the truth was that mostly I just feel kind of, meh. OTOH, at least I didn’t have cramps and diarrhea. When I reintroduced foods I had a reaction at first, but when continuing to eat that food the reaction wasn’t as great, although it was still there. I have 3 main food allergies, and the reactions to dairy are not as strong as the ones to tomatoes or soy, but they were still there.

    2. Wishing You Well*

      Yes on your reaction question. There are foods that can cause BIG reactions sometimes and then no reaction another time. It’s frustrating. The best I can do is to avoid foods that are almost always really bad for me.
      Feeling great has more components to it than just diet, so my diet alone won’t ever make me feel great.
      A diagnosis might help you a lot. I hope you feel better in the future.

      1. Dame Judi Brunch*

        This sounds like me, reactions sometimes but not other times. It’s so annoying.
        Regarding the vitamins question below, I’ll check that out! I’m low in Vitamin D and Potassium for sure.
        Thank you all for taking the time to respond, I appreciate it! Your answers made me feel better about this whole process.
        Take care Everyone!

    3. Sutemi*

      My experience with an elimination diet was that I had not change for the first 12 days, then felt amazing. There were not any foods that I was able to reintroduce and become able to tolerate.

      However, are you getting all your vitamins/minerals? I failed to consider that I had an iron-poor diet during the elimination and started feeling run down and blah. When I realized that my iron was low I started taking extra supplements and eating extra iron-rich foods. Within a few weeks I again felt better.

  30. bright as yellow*

    *When I say I never brought up my father with him, I meant that day, or anytime since then.
    I had told him the weekend before that it felt strange to book a concert on dad’s anniversary.

    It took me a while to get into the concert, but I enjoyed it very much. And they played a song that I associate with dad, which I appreciated very much.

    When I asked my boyfriend what he thought of the concert, he said it was alright.

    1. Arts Akimbo*

      May I make a suggestion? It seems like A Thing in first long-term relationships to really really want your partner to pick up hints or read your mind. But the fact is, we all have to learn to use our words, sometimes more bluntly than we would like.

      People, as a species, are a self-centered lot– not usually malignantly so, we just are all kind of existing in our own little world-bubbles and have trouble seeing outside them sometimes. Doubly so for a depressed person. Depression makes the bubbles practically opaque. But it’s our duty in a relationship to do the work of communicating.

      Tell him bluntly things like “That’s the date of my dad’s death. I don’t think I will be up for a concert,” or “Today’s the anniversary of my dad’s death. I am really upset and I just don’t have the bandwidth to hear about work right now. Can we talk about something fun instead?” Say whatever you are feeling, but do preface it with the bald statement, “That’s the date of my dad’s death.” It just won’t penetrate the depression-fog otherwise.

      Don’t let your world-bubbles become opaque to each other. That fog only gets blown away by talking to each other about the things that matter to you.

  31. nep*

    Finally went in for a long overdue eye exam. One of my eyes has shown slightly high pressure in the past so I’ve been concerned about that. Glaucoma freaks me the hell out. But the doc said images looked absolutely fine and the slightly high pressure has not increased much or any since last exam four (!!) years ago.
    How are your eyes? Anyone follow a particular eye-health regimen? (Sure, eye health linked to overall nutrition and health…but I like hearing about things people do particularly for eye care.)

    1. nep*

      (re: ‘freaks me the hell out’–not a good way to put that, and it doesn’t really reflect my disposition. I’d simply have to deal with whatever health issues come along…)

    2. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      I don’t necessarily do a particular thing, but my mom had Fuchs Dystrophy, which is an autosomal dominant eye condition that flares up around early 40s and I am now 39, so I make sure to mention that at every eye exam so my eye doc remembers to do whatever testing might be needed, if anything. I don’t actually remember the overall details of the disorder, but the first symptom is generally floaters in vision, which I know to (don’t say it don’t say it don’t say it) KEEP AN EYE OUT FOR (awwww), but I want my doc to remember in case there’s anything else she can watch for (there we go) on her end.

      :)

      1. Imtheone*

        My mother-in-law had Fuchs Dystrophy, but no other relatives have it. I checked, and it is not always genetically linked. Hers came on following other eye surgery (cataracts) which her doctor thought could have precipitated it. She was over 70 at the time.

        For eye health: do your best to maintain general health. Don’t put things not prescribed by your doctor in your eye, maintain good hygiene when you need to touch your eyes, don’t have unnecessary eye surgery. (By that, I mean things like LASIK. I know that some people have had wonderful results, but people with serious concerns about eye problems should know that eye surgery increases the risks of various eye problems.)

        I also have a daughter with a serious, though unrelated, eye disease.

        1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

          Good to know! My mom’s at least fit all the standard characteristics of the genetic variety, as far as when it popped up and how it presented.

    3. Goose*

      I have been advised to get an eye checkup every year, which I try to follow.

      I have installed software on my laptop that blanks the screen every twenty minutes for twenty seconds to rest my eyes.

      And this might just be me, but I have a blue light filter on my phone that’s always active. I find my eyes gets tired a lot quicker when the filter is off.

    4. Not So NewReader*

      In my own life I have seen such a huge connection between my vision and hydration/rest.

      Recently my vision started messing up, I had to reconnect with water. (I know, odd coming from me, right?) I was really surprised to see that I could down a glass of water and my vision straightened right out in less than 20 minutes. Oddly, a friend went to the hospital because of her vision suddenly acting up. She sat in the ER for 14 hours because the computer forgot she was there. She left the hospital with NO treatment and absolutely exhausted. She concluded herself that the whole episode happened because of lack of water.

      My previous big learning experience was seeing the marked improvement in my night vision because of adequate rest. I am talking substantial difference, going from fearful of night driving to just accepting the idea of driving at night.

      The eye is the quickest healing part of the body. This is good to keep in mind. My suggestion is to keep an eye on kidney function to help support your eyes.

    5. Retired optometrist*

      The best things you can do for your eyes are to wear proper sunglasses outside and to not smoke. If diabetic, good control is a must. Regular checkups, knowing if there is a family history of glaucoma or other eye diseases. Wearing safety glasses when appropriate. Other things are more condition-specific, like eye vitamins for patients with macular degeneration.

    6. Goldfinch*

      I am so prone to moles that I even have them on my retinas, so my eye doctor maps them in the same way a dermatologist does moles on the skin. It’s actually rather interesting, though the photos are freaky looking.

    7. KeratoKat*

      I have a condition called Ceratoconud and so I go to checkups every 3-6 months. They are supposed to measure if my cornea has changed. I have a very fancy implant in one eye which stops the cornea from forming ‚hills‘, but since both eyes are affected they have to be monitored both. Other than that I do nothing for my eyes.

    8. NoLongerYoung*

      I will mention that my mom (90+) has excellent vision – her recent appointment the doctor remarked on how great and stable it was. She is a bit OCD about taking her vitamins (including one for eyes)

      I know I need to start doing that. I was clinically low on Vitamin A, and did have to start supplementing that, and it DID improve my night vision. I had been neglectful of my carrots (love them) and dark/ rainbow veggies (yes, NSNR).

      So I need to look at that.

      I also do the annual, recommended visit, but have to – I’ve had a “almost went blind before caught” detached retina, scleral buckle, and laser surgery.

    9. Dancing Otter*

      Please don’t freak over the possibility of glaucoma. Some people have naturally elevated intraocular pressure without having it, for one thing.
      Second, my mother had it for over 40 years without ever losing her sight. Yes, it has to be monitored. Yes, she had to take eyedrops. Yes, there was a period when the quack she had for an eye doctor messed up her prescription, but that was him, not anything inherent to the disease. Some people need surgery, if they have the “closed angle” version, but open angle is much more common, and the surgery works very well.
      Monitor the situation, and get a second opinion if you don’t completely trust your current ophthalmologist.

    10. StrikingFalcon*

      Get an annual eye exam even if you don’t wear glasses, and make sure you tell your eye doctor about any other diagnoses you have and all medications you are on. Make sure you are seeing an optometrist (primary eye doctor) or ophthalmologist (eye specialist/surgeon), not an optician (only does corrective lenses).

    11. Lost in the Woods*

      Everybody has their own “ideal” intraocular pressure (IOP); some people run high and they’re fine, while others have IOPs within the normal range and still have glaucoma damage. It’s good to get it checked every year, though, since the vision loss from glaucoma is usually peripheral at first and thus hard to notice, since your brain can compensate. I work at an ophthalmology practice and the big thing is coming in to get your yearly dilated exam with all the fixings – pressure check (ideally applanation, which is the blue light and the most accurate IOP measurement), and if necessary some imaging like an OCT of the optic nerve if you have high IOP or suspicious looking nerves, or fundus photos (photos of the retina) of you have a nevus or something. The one thing our doctors recommend to literally everyone is using preservative free artificial tears (in little vials) as opposed to preserved tears in a bottle, since preservatives can actually irritate the eye (kind of defeating the purpose of artificial tears in the first place).

      1. nep*

        Thanks for all this.
        This visit, I had images done with the ‘optomap.’ Is that providing a good look at the optic nerve?
        Appreciate your time and expertise.

        1. Lost in the Woods*

          I believe optomaps are a branded type of fundus photo. We sometimes get fundus photos for people with suspected glaucoma because they let the doctor compare what they see from year to year.

          I am not a doctor, and you should follow up per your doctor’s recommendations. But I will say that if this was in place of dilation, that I would go to a different practice. Fundus photos are great imaging tools, but they should not replace a dilated eye exam. If you don’t feel your doctor is adequately addressing your concerns, then you should get a second opinion from an ophthalmologist.

  32. Chase bank*

    Anyone been having issues with Chase lately for Direct deposit?

    I get paid every other Friday. The DD hits around 2-3 AM on that Friday. I only know this because I was travelling internationally and noticed it was at that time the DD had hit my account.

    I’ve been with them since 2006 and never had an issue. But 2x this year my DD was delayed by hours. I eventually do get paid by 7 AM my time.

    It happened on 1/31 and yesterday 2/28. Since it happened the last Friday of the month, I’m wondering if it’s a monthly thing now with them?

    1. Lcsa99*

      Are you sure it’s a chase problem and not you rwork? I have chase and direct deposit and have gotten it same as always.

      1. MOAS*

        First time it happened I asked @ my job and they said payroll went through as normal. Other coworkers who had chase said there was a delay. The second time I figured it was chase because my other cw said his DD was delayed as well.

      2. MOAS*

        Work has never had an issue paying us. I’ve been with chase since 2006 and never had any issue with them until now. Mystified.

      1. MOAS*

        Lol I hate calling customer service. Plus it was early AM and I got busy into other stuff. Just wondering if it’s As common as I’m wondering.

    2. Blarg*

      This sounds more like a “when the website updates” thing vs actual delay. Delay is day(s). Delay is bounced payments or overdrafts. Not a couple hours that are still very early in the morning in your time zone.

    3. NoLongerYoung*

      I have a similar thing with Wells. My company sends out the link for the electronic check stub on Wednesday. I have the major part into my credit union (main account), part into wells (the former account, keeping for a reason).
      The credit union deposit shows up almost 24 hours before wells. Wells doesn’t even show it as pending until they put it in. I will watch next time for the pattern better. Now that I’m not hand-to-mouth, it is not as big a deal, but in the days when I had DH and he was trying to balance paying late fees on bills vs bounced check charges, it was a problem that I knew I was paid on Friday officially but it didn’t show up when I thought it should.

  33. Kuddel Daddeldu*

    This!
    Came here to suggest that – it’s practically the proverbial long novel. Even the series title can be read as descriptive.
    Another recommendation (not nearly as long but pretty epic regardless) is Thomas Mann’s Buddenbrooks.

  34. Chase bank*

    This has been one of the most difficult decisions I’ve ever faced in my life. My prenatal blood screening test results came back that my baby might have Turner’s syndrome, and I have to decide whether I’ll do a procedure that carries a small risk of miscarriage.

    The doctor and genetic counselor (and google and my facebook groups) all said that the chances of a false positive are high (66%) and that test is NOT accurate for anything except Downs and gender.

    The only way to know for sure is to do an amniocentesis. The genetic counselor described it as “same amount of risk as getting any procedure at a doctor or dentist office.”

    The big Q I ask myself is—would knowing change my mind about the pregnancy? And what is the worst case scenario?

    While it was a surprise pregnancy, it was very much wanted and I will keep her no matter what. But I’m the type of person that always wants to know whatever I can, and be ready and plan.

    My first instinct was to get it done ASAP, I’d rather know than not know. But the risk of miscarrying is scaring me a lot so after thinking it over and talking to husband and family, I decided not to do it.

    But once I made up my mind, I kept going back to the what if? I’d be 98-99% sure, but then think about the other 1-2%.

    Is it really that big of a risk? What if I’m in the 1%? I got lucky with this pregnancy, what were the odds of that happening again? I’m an obese, diabetic, 34 year old woman with thyroid issues. While many of these were my own choices I, think my luck is running out.

    Either way, its a choice–

    if I stay in the dark, I won’t know until delivery. If I’m in the dark how will I be happy and excited if I’m so worried?

    if I get the test to find out, I may not see a happy delivery

    Like….I believe in medicine and science but I also believe in God and however long God decides that I get to keep her… you know.

    On the other hand, this roller coaster has had me not sleeping and bursting into tears randomly. I spent 3 hours (added up) this week crying in a bathroom stall. I feel like if nothing is wrong, all my stress/anxiety will harm the baby too.

    1. nep*

      Sorry you’re having to face this.
      I can see how it’s a horribly tough decision. If you can discern–listening to your gut–which course of action will bring you the fullest peace, go there; alleviating the stress/anxiety will do worlds of good for you and your baby.
      All the best. Peace and best of health to all.

    2. Jdc*

      The chances of miscarriage from an amino are very low. That being said i don’t see the point if youd make the same choice either way. It isn’t the most comfortable thing and there is that tiny chance. I’d really only see value in doing it if the results would conclude in you making a decision one way or another

      1. Asenath*

        I think that in general, there’s no point in medical tests – especially invasive ones with a measurable risk of damage – unless the test is going to give you reliable information that will change your treatment (or in this case, your decision). If the result of the test is not going to affect your future actions, why do it?

        Some people (I am one) find that stress goes way down once I’ve made my decision. That personality trait does mean I might make decisions too quickly (although I think I’ve worked on that aspect enough!), but on the other hand, if you’re the same kind of person, once you make a decision, you might find out that you can put the issue out of your mind and that will reduce your stress.

      2. Traffic_Spiral*

        Make the choice to keep the pregnancy, maybe, but what about all the preparation choices? Sometimes it’s nice to know what you’re in for.

        1. Observer*

          The truth is that there is not all that much you can do in advance, because even if you know for sure that the baby has Turner’s you don’t know how it will play out in terms of the baby’s development. But, Turners generally doesn’t present life threatening risks to the newborn.

          So, I would say only do amnio if you might change your mind about keeping the baby.

    3. Not So NewReader*

      Okay, I am not clear here, is it just a test or is it something that would help the baby before it is born?

      If it’s just a test, then I would lean toward skipping it.
      If it’s something that would benefit the child, then I’d have to think on it some more.

      However, You are saying that you are at least 98% sure you have made the right decision. And you know, that is actually pretty good right there. Many decisions in life do not come with that much certainty. I think you are doing well as you are right now.

      1. MOAS*

        It’s a test to determine whether the baby will or won’t have Turner syndrome – that’s how it was explained to me.

        1. Not So NewReader*

          Ah… Friends opted not to have their baby tested for Down Syndrome. They decided just to accept the child for who s/he was. Yep. The child has DS.
          There is no law/rule saying that you MUST find out now, OP. You CAN choose not to find out.

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

      Can you get a second opinion? I’d ask another specialist, or even a third, just to be sure I’m taking the best decision.
      Hope everything turns out ok.

    5. Anon Anon Anon*

      As someone with multiple disabilities…. I think you should do some research into Turner’s syndrome AND most importantly find people have it an speak with them… it sounds like you’re worried about what it might mean for your child if they do have Turner’s syndrome and I think the answer lies in finding out more about it and what the out comes actually are, and not just listen to the doom and glum reactions of many medical professionals who will only tell you the worst case scenarios not other possibilities… because that’s what they tend to do.

    6. mlem*

      This is going to ramble a bit and I apologize for that.

      My personal policy *for me* is usually that I’d rather know than not-know things … but what does knowing mean? In your case, it sounds like you’ll know for certain once the baby is born. You know there’s a test/procedure that can tell you certain things earlier; what’s the error rate (false negatives, false positives) on that test? (That is to say, if you use it to know now, would you 100% know?) What other things could that test let you know and/or mislead you about? And you know there is a risk — small but measurable — to the test itself. And you know the answer won’t change whether you keep the pregnancy.

      Given those factors, I think if it were me — which it isn’t and won’t be, so huge grain of salt — I would probably break towards deciding the timeframe is “short”*** enough that the extra time of knowing wouldn’t be worth the trade-off; and I would instead try to control worrying by preparing. What would you do differently if you knew for sure? What of that can you do if you don’t know? What of it might prove to be unnecessary but harmless for you to do just in case? Would preparing in this way help you control your stress?

      (***I don’t at all mean to minimize how long a pregnancy is! By “short”, I’m looking at a comparison like wanting to know if I was at risk for dementia in forty years or so and how different those forty years might be if I was working to minimize a risk like that.)

      Regardless: This is a hard decision, and it’s not wrong of you to make either choice. Which is hard, because it’s much easier to feel like you’re choosing wrong! I wish you much luck and peace.

      1. MOAS*

        The genetic counselor broke it down –

        1/1000 chance of miscarriage with amnio

        66% chance that the initial blood screening was a false positive. All sources, including doctor & genetic counselor, have said the blood test isn’t reliable for anything except downs and gender.

        1. Natalie*

          1/1000 chance of miscarriage with amnio

          This is ludicrously low, and some more recent studies put it even lower than that, into the 1/5000 area. Pretty much anyone living a normal life is doing a dozen things that are riskier than this all the time. That said, you can also wait until the anatomy scan at ~ 20 weeks, they should be able to confirm or rule out Turner’s at that time. Since it doesn’t sound like you would terminate regardless, that will give you plenty of time to prepare for treatment if it turns out the child does have the condition. You might be able to get approved for a level 2 ultrasound right away, which is cool. You get a better view and a perinatologist to describe the results to you.

          And just for info, NIPT (the general name for the prenatal blood tests) isn’t diagnostic for any conditions including Downs, it’s a screening test only. Positive results would always have to be followed up by an actual diagnostic test, either amnio or the ultrasound.

          1. Traffic_Spiral*

            >This is ludicrously low

            Yeah, you’re more at risk of getting hit by a car when you walk across the parking lot into the clinic.

            1. valentine*

              You have the option of not risking it and trusting the 66%. When you go to give birth, you tell them there’s a possibility of Turner and they do whatever they can do. If a Turner diagnosis would mean you’d prepare for the baby differently, you can talk to people about that, do those things now, and leave them be.

              I think you buried the lede and the three hours of crying is the piece to tackle.

          2. MOAS*

            True I didn’t think of those odds in that way.

            I did have the anatomy scan earlier this week, at 16.5 and they said everything was fine. I’m scheduled for a fetal echo at 20-21 weeks so later this month. She did mention that there would be more examinations and follow ups than if i were to get the amnio and Rule it out –

            1. Natalie*

              If you don’t want additional follow ups and don’t think they’ll provide you with helpful information, you can decline them. They can’t make you get more ultrasounds or whatever, that isn’t how it works.

              The important thing is to decide what level of information will actually be helpful for you, and then as mentioned elsewhere figure out how to manage the remaining anxiety. It will always find something to hang itself on, so don’t fall for the allure of more information or more reassurance.

              1. Cat*

                You can but if you’re at heightened risk for a heart defect, you probably don’t want to.

                1. Natalie*

                  It sounds like they’re talking about additional follow ups beyond the fetal ekg. If you’ve had a number of screens and exams that show no problems, you’re hitting a diminishing returns point for any additional tests.

    7. SP*

      Hey – I would get the amino done of not knowing is having that effect on you. I read Emily Oster’s Expecting Better (she’s a statistician) and it looks like the amino doesn’t actually have much impact on miscarriage rates – one of those correlation does not equal causation things. It just happens to be a procedure that usually happens during the stage of pregnancy where a miscarriage is more likely to happen and be noticed. And, sadly, when a miscarriage happens, people are going to wonder what they did (usually nothing!) to cause it. Best of luck.

    8. heckofabecca*

      Congratulations!

      The only urgent matter that might come up if your baby does have TS (again, MIGHT—not everyone with TS has this) is a heart issue, but that can be spotted before birth with a more detailed ultrasound (something like a prenatal echocardiogram). And in addition to an actual diagnostic test, your doctors can recommend any other tests that should be run right at birth (kidneys come to mind). *

      If your child does turn out to have TS, they’ll be lucky to have an early diagnosis and a mom who’s dedicated to her own health as well as her child’s! Congrats again and I wish you an easy pregnancy and a joyful birth.

      * I consulted with my colleague/friend Lori**, whose son has TS and who had a prenatal echocardiogram, for the above info—if you’d like to talk directly to her, you can reach her at info@bitssummit.org. Let her know that Becca sent you :)

      **Her bio is the first one on this page: http://www.bitssummit.org/pages/board.html (I used to be on the BITSS board too.)

      1. Chatty*

        My understanding is that Turner’s Syndrome only presents in girls. It is an issue with the X chromosome. Are you sure your friend’s son has it?

    9. Not A Manager*

      It sounds like your primary motivation for the amnio is to alleviate your anxiety. You don’t mention any procedures or medical decisions that rest on the outcome of the amnio. If that’s the case, and if you know for sure that you will carry the pregnancy to term no matter what the results, then I lean toward not having it.

      Can you try to alleviate your anxiety in some other way? What if the amnio were positive? You’ve decided to carry the pregnancy to term, so maybe put some thought into what your life and your child’s life would be like. It sounds like there are some risks for some challenges, but this is mostly a manageable condition like a lot of manageable genetic conditions.

      My advice would be different if you were seriously considering terminating the pregnancy. I do respect your feeling that the amnio might be the only way to ensure your mental health in the next few months, but if you can, you might want to give this a bit of time and see if you can somewhat address the anxiety in other ways.

    10. Cat*

      So I highly recommend reading the discussion of amnios in Expecting Better. 1% is commonly cited but the risk is actually probably much lower than that these days.

      I do know more than one person who got a false positive for Turners with a NIPT. And of course it’s not a catastrophic diagnosis either. Good luck!

    11. KoiFeeder*

      Asenath pretty much already said this, but what changes if the baby does have TS? Will that meaningfully affect your plans for the baby? Will that require you to pursue post-natal medical procedures/checkups that you would not have otherwise bothered with? Will that affect your decision to keep the baby?

      I can sympathize with not wanting to risk even a 1/1000 chance of miscarriage. If knowing won’t be important to you, or to the baby, you don’t have to.

    12. blackcat*

      It sounds like termination isn’t under consideration here, right? (no judgement from me, either way. I’m rabidly pro-choice)

      Given you’ll carry to term no matter what, I’d make sure you get testing (in the form of more detailed ultrasounds) that will identify any heart problems, which is the major complication you’d need to know about soon after birth. Otherwise, it seems that there’s a huge range of Turner’s syndrome, and so knowing 100% before birth wouldn’t really change your immediate preparation. So I personally wouldn’t do it, but that’s largely because people I know who’ve done amnios say they hurt pretty badly.

    13. Snowy2020*

      This is a very stressful situation! I am sorry that you have to deal with it. With your comment about your health issues, and adding that some of these are due to your choices, I am concerned that you feel like it is your fault that your child may have this syndrome. This is not true! There is no such thing as a perfect parent who has no risk factors for anything. If this is part of your anxiety, I hope you can get reassurance that this is not your fault.
      Also, you mention how long you get to keep her — this is just an anecdote but I worked at a senior living building where one of the residents was a woman in her 70’s with Turner syndrome. She had some chronic health issues but was an active participant in the community and a joy to work with.
      If you decide not to do the amnio, I would suggest finding a support group for parents of girls with Turner’s, and ask them what they wish they had known prior to their daughter’s birth.

      1. Natalie*

        There is no such thing as a perfect parent who has no risk factors for anything.

        Beyond that, Turner’s specifically doesn’t really have any risk factors that we know of. It seems to just show up randomly.

    14. Observer*

      I think that the Amnio is not really the issue here. Do it or not, but I don’t think it’s going to help either way. In fact, I think that you should stop doing any more routine tests. Because you will never get to a point of 100% clarity and perfect safety.

      The real issue, it seems to me, that you have a very high level of self blame (no test is going to help that….), a very high level of generalized anxiety (and more test generally don’t help much with that), and a tendency to catastrophize. Therapy tends to help will all three issues, so I hope you really work with someone.

      The other thing here that could make you feel better is to do some reading on Turners – it’s far from the most catastrophic thing that could happen. Of course, I’m not saying that it’s GOOD thing or that it won’t cause difficulties, but you’re not likely to lose the child young, assuming you have generally decent access to health care, which you want for ANY child anyway.

      Also, allow me to point out that the test you took is pretty useless. Calling it “inaccurate” is an understatement. Even for Downs there is a high rate of false positive and negative, but for most other tests, it’s really no better than a coin flip. It’s one of the reasons why I stayed away from them and advised my kids to do so. If you are anxious, all the test can do is to increase the anxiety. And it really doesn’t give you actionable information because of how inaccurate it is.

      1. Cat*

        That’s not a fair characterization of the NIPT. It’s not a diagnostic test and doesn’t purport to be. It’s a screening test and gives you risk percentages. And if you have kids who are old enough to be pregnant now, you wouldn’t have been the option for a NIPT when you were pregnant with them. They’re not that old.

        Also not doing routine tests during pregnancy is a bad idea.

        1. Natalie*

          Eh, NIPT is optional and many people skip them if they aren’t covered by insurance. We only got it because I’m 35 so it was covered, and my care providers are the ones that told me to check first.

          1. Cat*

            It’s fine to skip the NIPT. I just didn’t think that characterization of it was accurate. But the routine screening going forward is things like the anatomy scan which you should not skip.

        2. Observer*

          That’s not accurate at all.

          To start with, anything that has a 66% false positive rate is not even good as a screening test. It also has a high false negative rate, so even if nothing shows up, you can’t really be confident that you don’t have the conditions being “screened” for. (I put that in quotes because it’s such a poor tool.)

          Just because a test is routine, doesn’t make it a good idea. The reality is that medical practice encourages a lot of testing that a lot of medical policy experts believe are actually bad medicine.

          In general, tests that are anxiety inducing without providing real actionable information are not useful. In this case, the results are useless and anxiety inducing. Given the high false positive rate, she doesn’t really know if she actually has a significantly higher rate of of Turners, on the one hand. On the other hand there is really nothing she can do with information. (It’s not like she’s going to need surgeons on hand etc. fortunately.)

          1. Cat*

            It’s not a false positive because it’s not saying the baby is a positive. What it’s presumably saying is that there’s a 1/3 chance the baby is positive for Turner’s – that’s why it’s a screening test. Her doctor is saying that 66% of the time things will be ok not because that’s the false positive rate but because all you ever get from that test is a risk rather than a diagnosis. That’s not actually a poor tool – that’s a significant amount of information that you wouldn’t otherwise know.

            Plenty of people do choose to skip that one especially if they’re under 35. And by all means choose to skip the NSTs later on if you don’t think they’re useful. But when we say “routine” tests in pregnancy past this point it’s usually referring to things like the anatomy scan which is important.

            1. Cat*

              Also I’m not sure where you’re getting that it has a false negative rate. Again, it doesn’t actually say you’re negative. It gives you a risk (e.g, your odds are 1 in 30,000 of Downs Syndrome would be a “goo” result) and then you combine that with information like the neural translucency measurement to determine whether diagnostic testing is necessary.

  35. Oxford Comma*

    I have some older people in my life who are freaking out about an upcoming ban on single use plastic bags. After extensive conversation, the problem seems to be that they find grabbing and holding onto the plastic bag handles easier than the handles of paper bags or the traditional supermarket reusable bags, especially for the ones who no longer drive.

    Does anyone have suggestions for a lightweight reusable shopping bag that is less bulky then the traditional supermarket reusable bag/tote?

    1. Kuddel Daddeldu*

      Haven’t seen them in the US, but in Europe you get good quality reusable bags in a small pouch (about half the size of a pack of cigarettes) made from nylon cloth. They are similar in size, maybe slightly bigger than the single use grocery store bags, very light, and comfortable to carry. Where I live they are sold for €1.99 (about $2.25, including tax), I guess they should sell in the US for $2.

      1. Grace*

        Don’t know about other countries, but in the UK the Wilkos reusable bag (crumple it all down into its own corner and pull the drawstring) is king. I see people using them all the time; I have three or four and just chuck one in my bag when I’m heading out, even if I don’t plan on buying anything.

        Googling “foldaway shopping bag” gets you hundreds of options – I’ve got one that folds down into a little hedgehog that when open is part of a forest scene.

        1. Kuddel Daddeldu*

          This! I’ve got one that crumples into the shape and colours of a strawberry. Got it years ago as a freebie from my neighborhood pharmacy.

    2. Lcsa99*

      This isn’t the answer to your question, but we were able to buy a box of 1000 plastic bags at a reasonable price on ebay. Also saw them for slightly more on Amazon. The problem we have is that we use them for our garbage and bigger bags wont fit down our chute (and no way to dump without using the chute) .

    3. Jdc*

      They make some nice ones with long straps you can put on your shoulder. The one I currently have was a Target give away but it’s amazing. Holds about four normal grocery bags worth of stuff and I can sling it over my shoulder. Much easier for me. I wish they sold them.

    4. Fikly*

      Baggus are amazing. Super durable, crumble into nothing, very comfortable to hold and don’t cut into your hands.

      1. Anon100*

        +1 for Baggus. I got my first Baggu in 2012 and it’s still going strong after being used all the time. (I’ve bought other Baggus in the intervening years more because I wanted a new pattern than I actually *needed* it…)

      2. CTT*

        Your comment reminded me that I’ve been meaning to check out their website, and the first thing I see is a bag that is meant to mimic an NYC plastic grocery bag.

    5. Ranon*

      Chico Bags are the closest to a plastic bag that I have, they’re also a bit smaller which may help prevent overloading which can also be a problem for folks with weaker grip strength. I love my baggus too but they’re bigger than the chico bags so for older folks might not be as comfortable.

      For walking they may find that those little grocery carts or a larger over the shoulder tote bag would actually be more comfortable than carrying a bag by the handles.

    6. Kathenus*

      Bagpodz
      www dot bagpodz dot com

      They’re pricey but great. You can get them in 5 or 10 bag sizes. They are a nylon-type bag in the same basic size/shape as single use plastic bags. They come in a heavy duty nylon tube-shaped pouch that has both a drawstring opening on one end to pull them from and a zipper opening at the top. The nylon pouch has a clip on one end that can go on the handle of the shopping cart so that they’re easily available.

      I got some in a silent auction a year or so ago and love them, got them for some family for Christmas this past year. I highly recommend them.

      1. Life is good*

        I know I’m late to this discussion, but I second bagpodz! We have a pouch of five in each car so we don’t forget them and we love them! In fact, I gave them as Christmas gifts for everyone one year and they were a huge hit! They are exactly the size and shape of the plastic bags at the grocery. You can even tie the handles to contain the contents…like a plastic bag. We’ve been using them for about five years and they show no wear and wash up beautifully. I always hated that the freebie reusable bags would get dirty and would fall apart in the washer. I clip my pouch onto my purse strap so I don’t forget it when I am done at the store.

    7. Screennamesarehard*

      An alternate suggestion to buying reusable bags – if they or people they know happen to have a collection of grocery store plastic bags from past visits, those can just be reused over and over. They will fall apart eventually, but they’ll last a while.

      1. Oxford Comma*

        With one relative, he’s got enough bags he’s been hoarding for this eventuality to last 10 years. With him, I want to try and allay fears.

        The other two it’s more because they don’t drive and I discovered that they’re using these bags to carry not just groceries but other items like pairs of shoes, paper work, etc., because they believe they are easier on their hands (which may be the case, I’m not 70+ and I’m not gonna fight that battle). I was thinking that something reusable would be a sturdy option and also would help allay fears.

      1. Oxford Comma*

        I do too. I have suggested these options also the ones that the supermarkets sell. The people in my life I’m talking about have rejected these as too heavy and too bulky.

    8. anon24*

      I’m not sure if something like this would work:

      https://mightynest.com/shop/reusable-bags/24-7-reusable-shopping-bag

      I have a bunch and highly recommend them. They are expensive for a reusable bag, but fold up very small (about peach sized) and so also are great to keep in my purse or car for those unexpected shopping trips as well as the expected grocery runs. I can fit a lot of stuff in one bag and they seem to do well supporting a fair amount of weight (rated for 35 lbs). The handle is big enough to sling over a shoulder or just grab hold of. Mine have held up well to use and I’ve even turned them inside out and thrown them in my washing machine when something spilled in them.

    9. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      Ikea has good reusable bags (I don’t mean the big blue/yellow ones, I mean normal sized ones that fold up into their own pouches :) ) – in the same general area of the store, they also have fold-up backpacks, if that’s something that might also be beneficial. They unfold to about the same size as school backpacks, and fold down into about a 6-7″ square. I think the regular bags are $1-2 each, and the backpacks are like $5?

    10. KoiFeeder*

      I’ve definitely noticed that it’s harder for me to grip the handles of paper bags with my joint issues, and that sometimes the reusable bags dislocate my shoulders if I carry too much on one arm. My chiropractor has me using a backpack, though, and that’s probably not going to be helpful in your case!

    11. No more plastic bags*

      I love Envirosax bags – they roll up super small and hold up to 44 lbs. Also lots of nie prints and colors…. also last forever. I have one that is over 10 years old and still going strong. They have their own website – envirosax . com – but may also be sold at other stores too.

    12. Dancing Otter*

      Look for patterns for string bags to crochet or knit. Or people who sell such bags (craft fairs, Etsy, etc.). There are different options for handles and sizes.
      I make mine out of hemp yarn, which basically wears forever – hemp is what they used to make nautical rope before nylon and polypropylene. Crochet cotton also works, but I don’t think it’s quite as durable. I also use a fairly open mesh that adapts to odd shaped contents.

      1. Seeking Second Childhood*

        Can you point me to a pattern on Ravelry? I loved crocheting the one I made, but the shape of it is really only good for French bread.

        1. Dancing Otter*

          I‘ve made several of “Liz’s Magic String Bag”. Free pattern from the Chicago Tribune website, but Ravelry has the link.
          It’s knit, though, not crochet, but really easy knitting. In fact, this was the pattern I used to teach someone to knit (after the obligatory dishcloth or muffler).
          To see many, many other pattern options, just type “string bag” into Ravelry’s Pattern Search box. You can filter for knit or crochet, and for free.

    13. mreasy*

      Baggu has really good lightweight nylon ones that have a comfortable strap (can n also go over the shoulder) and fit into a pouch.

    14. Nita*

      They may be living in my area! We’ve got a bag ban starting tomorrow. Slightly off topic, but does anyone have advice on what to do about trash disposal? Right now people reuse trash bags for the day’s garbage, then toss them down the garbage chute. I don’t know if everyone is going to start buying disposable bags specifically for trash (which kind of defeats the purpose of the ban), or start dumping trash into the chute without a bag (that’s probably going to be a mess to contain on the receiving end, and I can’t imagine the smells…) Maybe I’m missing a third option here, would love to hear ideas!

      1. Seeking Second Childhood*

        Growing up my mom used paper bags for trash, and was just very careful with anything damp. But we had a can at the house, no chute involved. ( I have memories of the outside can getting rinsed when she watered the garden, and left open if it rained just after trash day, for odor prevention.)

      2. Oxford Comma*

        I haven’t heard about a ban on the plastic garbage bags people in my state typically buy for trash disposal (these are large and you buy them), but a common use here for the plastic shopping bags is to line your smaller bins with them. For a while now, I’ve been keeping the bags and just dumping out the trash, with the exception of stuff from the bathroom.

        This is the other thing I have heard ad nauseum about. These are all older people who predate disposable plastic. I tried to ask what they did back then, but got nothing for my pains.

        1. Nita*

          Same thing! My family lived abroad when I was a kid, and I’m pretty sure plastic bags were not used often in that time and place. And I sort of recall our building having a garbage chute, but can’t for the life of me remember if we just upended the trash can into it, or contained the stuff somehow, or ignored it and went to the big bin downstairs, or what. My parents can’t remember either. Their experience would be very useful now, but I guess they’ve blocked those memories out!

      3. LizB*

        One option is to use the various plastic bags you get other than the store ones – the bag your loaf of bread comes in, bags from loose produce, the shipping bag your Amazon order came in, empty bag of cat food, etc. Unless you’re already shopping package-free, you may have more plastic around than you realize, much of which can be reused.

    15. Koala dreams*

      Other than the foldable shopping bags people mentioned, there are also foldable backpacks in the same material. More expensive, but better for the hands. Some people prefer using them in front of the body if it’s too difficult to reach for the back.

    1. NoLongerYoung*

      Happy birthday. And I had not seen that line, but very nice and a great idea for an accessories approach.

  36. Victoria, Please*

    So I had a funny and potentially horrifying situation this week: I was getting ready for work and heard a loud pounding from the bedroom. I rushed back there to find that my husband had gotten locked in his bathroom! The doorknob had malfunctioned completely and there was no turning it at all. We ended up having him *climb out the window* and then later on that evening we had to cut the door away from the knob-hole. (And now if any of my colleagues are reading, they know it’s me.)

    Funny, obviously! Horrifying because I usually leave a lot earlier than I did that day, and he didn’t have his phone with him for a quick trip. So what on earth would have happened if I hadn’t been there? He’s not very able bodied due to an old but serious injury, so I can’t imagine he would have safely been able to climb out himself! We were laughing and also cringing at the thought of having to spend the day in the bathroom until I got home. Oh, and he’s on a leave so even his work would not have missed him.

    We realized we probably should have a plan, if someone doesn’t respond on the phone, what does the other do? How do y’all handle that?

    1. Kuddel Daddeldu*

      Due to his injury, I would recommend he should take his phone wherever he goes.
      We made my mother do it and also installed Amazon Echo devices in strategic places around her house; these can be used to call in on family in case of need.
      Note to self: Put another one into her bathroom.

      1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        Or if he has an iPhone, might consider an Apple Watch. As long as it’s in range of the phone or in proximity to any wifi network that the phone can access (because if the phone can access the wifi network, so can the watch, unless its wifi is actively turned off), you can make voice calls or send texts from the watch. The number of times someone in my house has sent a speech-to-text message to the effect of “Can someone bring some TP to the upstairs bathroom?” or similar … :P I mean, carrying the phone would be free, but if he’s prone to leaving it on the table and wandering around the house or whatever … that’s why I have my watch, so I don’t have to carry my phone with me everywhere and still have access to its features.

        (I have no idea if the android-compatible smartwatches have similar options.)

      2. KoiFeeder*

        Quiet off-topic complaint, but I really really hate that so many of these “smart” devices that are so useful for disabled folks also rampantly collect and sell your data. It’s like if companies started making canes that sold your blood information to advertisers.

        1. Miss Pantalones En Fuego*

          I also wish they were a bit more dementia friendly. I thought about getting an echo for my grandma so she could use it to call people, but she’d have to remember to say the word and if it starts talking to her about the weather or what have you it would really confuse her.

    2. Jdc*

      If my husband didn’t get a response by me after a certain amount of hours he’d be home. My mom and I have a pretty standard if you call a few times in a row that means it’s urgent. One call and call me when you can but multiple in a row mean something is wrong. Of course we aren’t using that and harassing the other unless it’s actually an emergency. If she did that and I didn’t reply she’d start trying to figure it out.

    3. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      I didn’t actually answer your question. Normally, if my husband doesn’t answer my messages after a while, I check the “Find Friends” and make sure his phone is pinging where he should be (or in a reasonable place for him to be) and not, like, on the side of the highway in the middle of nowhere. Then, unless it’s an emergency, I roll my eyes and expect to be grumbling at him about not answering his messages when he does get home. He’s currently in Mexico for work and has dodgy phone signal, so he turned on his “read receipts” for me so I can at least see that he has read the message, but I expect he’ll turn that back off when he gets home. If it was an actual emergency, I would call him, and he would answer the phone not “Hello” but “What’s wrong,” because he knows I hate talking on the phone and I think I’ve actually called him as opposed to texting like, twice in the last year. (He called me when he had a black ice incident that totaled his car, but texted me when he drove himself to the ER with chest pain last month. (He’s fine, it was a panic attack.))

      I don’t know what he’d do if I didn’t respond. I’m pretty much always at home, like I haven’t left my house since uh Sunday this week, and even if I don’t have anything to SAY in response to his messages I tend to send a :) or something in acknowledgement, so I expect he’d probably do the same things? And we have cameras to keep an eye on critters in both our offices, so he might check those in case.

          1. acmx*

            You could remove the knob completely.

            Alternatively, keep a screwdriver in the bathroom so he can remove the knob?

          2. Not So NewReader*

            You can put a door pull on the door in place of the door knob. And if you like, put a mechanical lock (slider bar like in public bathrooms) on the inside of the door.

            I have a traditional landline phone here and I keep a cordless extension in its charger in the bathroom. (Walking into the bathroom tends to cause the phone to ring. At least I can see who is calling.)
            But since the hinges are on the inside of my door it would just make sense to keep a screwdriver and hammer in the bathroom if necessary. Punch the hinge pins out and take the door right off the wall to escape the bathroom.

            I hate getting locked in bathrooms. Growing up our only bathroom would have a problem with the lock once in awhile. I lived in fear of that happening to me.

    4. Goldfinch*

      If he was stuck inside the room, couldn’t he take the hinges off? If the door isn’t designed so the hinges are on the inside, they should be.

    5. PhyllisB*

      This happened to my 89 year old mother last week; she got locked in her bedroom somehow and my granddaughter who lives with her was already gone for the day. Luckily, she remembered she had some jewelers’ pliers from her jewelry making days and was able to get the pins out and unlock the door. Must say I was impressed!! I never would have had a clue on what to do, even if I did have the tools.

      1. allathian*

        Good for her! Luckily she got locked in the room where the pliers were stored, too.

    6. NoLongerYoung*

      Thanks for the warning.
      All of our my knobs have Philips head screws (just checked). I have a multitude of the screwdrivers (but they are cheap at harbor freight). I’m going to put one in each bathroom and bedroom/office. (I have a holder with accessories already in each, which include scissors – for that hanging string you see in the mirror, for other issues, clippers,etc).
      No window or way out of the interior bathroom in the middle of the house – that wold require a call to a locksmith.
      That had not occurred to me. And now that I live alone – and work from home some days – without phone I could be stranded for days.

    7. Not So NewReader*

      For a few people who responded, it’s not hard to get the hinge pins out. I bet you can find a video on YouTube. I’d suggest practicing this one, it will only take you about 15 minutes to figure it out and it could save your life. Or at least save you from having a nerve-wracking situation.

      1. NoLongerYoung*

        yeah, for me, the problem room is that one without the window or any access. Any other room, I can get out the window and it’s not a leg-breaking drop to the ground. So I can either add the screwdriver to the kit of stuff in the cupboard, or a hammer and flat blade screw driver to remove the pins. I’ve removed the pins on a door before (I had help with the weight), but it did take something to wedge into the pin and a little work to get them out. Tool helpful. I have plenty.
        For other reasons, that bathroom is a problem – the no window / fan only combined with the shower steam means I have to diligently watch for mold/ keep it dry.
        But getting locked in? had not occurred.

    8. Seven hobbits are highly effective, people*

      I have to say, if there’s a room in my house I have to be trapped in all day, the bathroom is my first choice. The kitchen would also be a solid choice, of course, although in my house I’m not actually sure from an architectural standpoint how that would work.

      I don’t really have a good plan for how people are supposed to know if they haven’t heard from me because I’m busy and hate the phone versus trapped in the bathroom and need help, though. If I didn’t show up to work and also didn’t respond to emails/phone calls/log in to the work systems on a work day I strongly suspect a certain group of co-workers would stop by my house to see why, but we haven’t made a specific plan along those lines. I also suspect that my mom would come by the house if I stopped responding to her texts for multiple days, but there’s no expectation that I’ll always respond same-day.

      I mostly file this under “part of being someone who lives alone” and don’t try to find ways to specifically solve it, since I can’t think of any non-obnoxious ways to do so. My grandmother used to have another widow she’d do a daily check-in phone call with when they both lived alone, though. If the other person didn’t pick up at the scheduled time, they’d call back in an hour and try again, and if they still didn’t get through they called someone else to let them know to check on the person.

    9. fhqwhgads*

      Keep a screwdriver in the bathroom. Usually bathroom doors are hung such that if you’re stuck inside, you’re on the side where you can most easily remove the door. Now, I realize the injury you mentioned might make this not as practical as I think it is…but this is the lesson I learned from a friend who was both young and able-bodied who got locked in a bathroom for HOURS. When someone else finally came home, they rescued her by basically talking her through removing the door herself from inside. She felt silly afterward because she could’ve gotten herself out all along and just never realized it.

    10. Anono-me*

      WD-40.

      I started thinking about this. We have metal nail files and other grooming accessories that could be cannibalized in a pinch to remove the the hinge pins in any of the doors. However it would be a major pain because they’re so old, and the pins have probably not been removed since the house was built. So I am going to WD-40 all the pins in the house.

      I’m sorry you and your husband had to go through this experience. It sounds like an absolute pain. But I appreciate you sharing it, since it made me think about the wd-40.

    11. Victoria, Please*

      Hi everyone, thanks for the ideas! We did remove the doorknob. We did remove the hinge pins. Nope and nope — the tongue assembly had failed for some reason, leaving the tongue firmly in closed position. Removing the knob didn’t remove the bar (tongue) closing the door. Removing the hinges did not help because there was not enough room to move the door over so that the tongue would be clear. I had never seen anything like that happen before. Pretty interesting youtube videos out there about how doors and locks work.

      I reeeeaaallllly don’t want to get devices to sprinkle over the house. Eventually I’m sure we will have to but not yet. Maybe we’ll just say at this point, if I call three times over three hours and can’t get you, I’m coming home, so pick up the phone.

      1. Seeking Second Childhood*

        One door in our house closes with a compression fitting–no knob turning. One of those with an old fashioned chain for privacy maybe? And installed so it can be undone from the outside in an emergency?

      2. Anono-me*

        Actually since all of your knobs and doors and hinges are probably the same model and age, you may want to inspect them all.

    12. Courageous cat*

      I got locked in the bathroom with no one home once. Thank god I had my phone, but it was almost an hour and a half before I was able to get ahold of the maintenance man who had to come pry the door open with a crowbar.

      Now that I live alone, I keep my hammer in the bathroom, always. It’s good peace of mind to know I could smash open the door if worse came to worse.

      There was a story I read about the night I got locked in about a French woman in her 60s or 70s who was locked in her bathroom for two weeks. She was banging on the pipes to try to get someone’s attention and they all kept reporting the noise to the landlord, frustrated that someone was doing plumbing work that whole time. Ha. She was fine thankfully.

  37. MOUSE! IN THE KITCHEN!*

    Mouse update that probably no one wants….. but let me vent a little…

    Total dead mouse count: 5

    Response of the condo office company: acting like the problem was “solved” when maintenance checked the apartment and saw that I put steel wool into the holes I found under the sink…. (that’s after I told them there were 2 mice in traps AFTER I plugged the holes by the way)…. It also means they clearly didn’t look behind the stove like I asked them to because the pest control guy the landlord sent found another hole back there when he checked yesterday! … At least the landlord is listening to me and doing something (he also agreed to send someone to fill the holes more permanently soon)! Pest control guy checked all the holes and re plugged them with steel wool and put down some poison bait and this morning there were no new mice! … but clearly the whole building could be infested and condo office does not seem to care………

    1. Dancing Otter*

      Have you considered borrowing (fostering) a cat? Even if it’s a no pets building, tell the manager Kitty is an environmentally responsible rodent control agent. If they won’t get rid of the mice, your visiting furry friend will do it for them.
      Caveat: if they’re using poisoned bait, don’t let Kitty eat her victims. (Females generally tend to be better mousers.)

  38. Aurora Leigh*

    Shoes question!

    Spring is coming (still snow on the ground here, but you know . . .) and I want to mix up my wardrobe a bit and wear more skirts/dresses. But I need advice for shoes to wear with them.

    I’m a late 20s female, but I have bunions and a narrow heel. I need something comfortable and fairly casual. It needs to be closed toe for work. Tennis shoes are against our dress code, but I might be interested in a pair for weekends. I’m willing to spend around $100 if I can wear daily and will last.

    Current work shoes are a pair of brown leather Klogs that I loooove but I think they’re probably too clunky to pair well with spring/summer skirts.

    Thanks in advance!

    1. AvonLady Barksdale*

      I wear flats with just about everything and I have horrible feet. Check out the sales at Cole Haan– I have never paid full price for their super comfortable shoes.

    2. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      I have a narrow heel and wide toes and wear Rothys round-toe flats with all my spring-summer skirts. I have worn them straight out of the box on a 3-mile walk around my neighborhood, and on 10+ mile jaunts around Disneyworld with almost no issue. (They chafed a bit the day I got caught in a literal rainstorm, but as long as they’re not completely sodden, they’re fine.) But they do not have any stretch to them, pretty much at all, which might? be an issue with bunions. I don’t know, as I don’t have them myself.

    3. cat socks*

      No specific recommendations, but the blog Barking Dog Shoes would be a good resource for comfortable shoes for various types of foot issues.

    4. Dr. Anonymous*

      I put those bulky foam heel pads in the backs of almost all my shoes so the need for a narrow heel doesn’t limit my choices. I get wide toed shoes from Maryland Square and Shoe Mall now the Payless is no more.

    5. Skeeder Jones*

      I have a lot of Maryjane style flats that I wear with skirts and dresses. They are comfortable and still feel stylish.

  39. Rikki Tikki Tarantula*

    Podcast question: About creating them.

    A friend and I are huge Stephen King fans, and we Have Opinions on the various film adaptations. At one point, I said, “We should do a podcast in which we go through the various adaptations and give our critiques.” He agreed it’s a great idea and something we’d have lots of fun with.

    Here’s the problem: I live in CA, and he lives in TX. I am a technical ignoramus, so I have no idea how podcasts are recorded; would we need to be in the same location (can’t happen), or is there a way to record it long distance without it sounding like garbage?

    1. Jedi Squirrel*

      I listen to The What Cast and Mateo is in California and Mike is in New York. Apparently, they record the whole thing over Skype.

      I know nothing about Skype, so I can’t offer advice there, but I know it can be done.

      FWIW, I would love to listen to your podcast!

    2. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      As someone who also Has Opinions about the film adaptations, let us know if you figure out the hoops and make it happen :)

      (I know I have listened to other podcasts where the presenters were in different places, so it’s possible, I just am also unaware of the fine points of how to make it happen.)

    3. going anon for this*

      If you’re recording from two different locations, you’ll want to record only your own audio separately and then combine the two tracks to get the best quality and integrity.

      My cohost and I use Discord to talk to each other and Audacity to record the conversation. We each have decent over-ear headphones on so that we’re not accidentally picking up each other’s voices. After recording we each have only our own voice on our tracks, and then he puts them together. (Always back it up to the cloud!)

      I was taught to count to three together and clap at the start–the clap helps you line up the two tracks in the audio editing program so that they’re synced up and your conversation is properly timed, and you’ll just cut the clapping segment out later. (Do it again after any interruptions, bio breaks, etc to make sure subsequent conversation is also synced!)

      You don’t need a terribly fancy mic or headphones for this but I strongly recommend making or purchasing a pop filter for your mic. If you have problems with echo or the general acoustics of the room you record in, recording in a clothes closet can cut down on the background noise.

    4. WellRed*

      My boss and I are doing a podcast using Skype this week from opposite sides of the country. We are hoping for the best.

    5. nep*

      I produced a podcast series using my computer, recording interviews via Skype–The main thing is to test things out to be sure the ambient sound doesn’t cause a jarring difference between the two of you. (Remember that Skype rules require that you mention Skype.) Used Libsyn platform; I don’t have anything to compare it to, but it’s been inexpensive and user-friendly.
      And pillow/blanket forts!–the poor man’s sound studio. (Truly–there are many ways to get decent quality sound, and it depends on what kinds of spaces/equipment you’ve got. But I did a most of my recordings under a heavy blanket. I did this when I was doing radio journalism overseas as well. It works.) This gives me the opportunity to share one of my all-time favourite TED talks. Link in response.

    6. Sunflower Sea Star*

      Anchor FM is one I know can do that. Someone I know uses it, but I don’t know her well and have never listened to it. She just doesn’t ever shut up about her podcast so that’s how I know she records it with a long distance friend that way.

    7. Tris Prior*

      My partner is a podcaster and often guests on other podcasts, or has guests on his. He does this over Skype – I believe both parties record on their own ends, and then the guest sends his/her recording to the host. Who then, I dunno, performs some voodoo to merge them together.

    8. Anonymous Educator*

      I would do it over Skype or phone using headphones or earbuds, and then use a separate device (could be a smartphone or computer using Audacity) to record yourself and have your friend do the same. Then edit the files together. That way you don’t have one person who sounds local and another person who sounds distant and unclear.

    9. Reliquary*

      Zencastr. It’s way better than Skype, and has built-in automatic post-production. It’s free for 8 hours a month.

  40. Triplestep*

    Anyone have any tips for stopping ads from taking over my phone?

    A few weeks ago, I downloaded a game on my phone that came up on my IG feed. It was too addictive so I deleted it the next day, but now I get ads on my phone that are driving me nuts. Not sidebar ads when surfing the ‘net on my phone – ads that pop up full screen, have sound (if my sound is on) and take a lot of effort to shut down when they do pop up. (I can close one but then another one will take its place immediately. Takes a few tries to competely go away and let me go back to what I was doing before.)

    At first it was just when I was using the IG app, but now it’s pretty much when I use any app that draws data. At first the ads were just for games, and now they are for products as well. Not products I’ve searched for either – random. I’ve also never shown any interest in games before or after that day a few weeks ago. I already have pop up blockers and ad blockers installed on my phone, but nothing seems to work. And of course I never click on these ads.

    What did I activate when I downloaded that game, or what permission did I add when activating it? I think the answer is in the permissioning, but I can’t figure it out. I’d appreciate any thoughts on this … it’s really annoying!

    1. Cat*

      Sounds like the game came with some crap that is still sticking around. I would go check your list of apps/permissions and take off anything that you don’t recognize. On my phone I would go to settings ->Apps&Notifications->App permissions (and See All Apps probably) but it may be different on your phone. I also like to remove any permissions that I don’t think are necessary as well as the ability to use data in the background on most apps. Even apps that aren’t specifically viruses probably sell my data and I’m touchy about it.

      1. Triplestep*

        Thanks, I did remove anything I felt I could safely do, but I’ll go check the permissions again.

    2. Kuddel Daddeldu*

      I do not know what you mean by IG, so may be off here… also assuming that you are on Android. Us techies really want to know these things to be able to help :-)
      Also, do these ads pop up in a specific app (which one)?
      I would
      1. Look at Settings/Accounts. Any you do not know/need? Make a note and delete them.
      2. Check in the app drawer for any unknown apps.
      3. Change your Google (Gmail/Play store) password. You may also delete any payment methods from your Google account for now just to be on the safe side.
      4. Check Settings/Apps/Standard apps. Is the standard browser Chrome or your preference, or any “special” browser you do not recognize?
      5. Check Settings/Apps/Notifications. Disable notifications from apps that do not need to interrupt you.
      Hope this helps!

      1. Observer*

        Worst case, if you can’t get this garbage to stop, it’s pretty easy to back up your stuff and then factory re-set it.

        And, DO report this to google.

  41. Jedi Squirrel*

    CW: Depression treatment question ahead.

    I believe/know I suffer from bouts of depression. When I had medical insurance 20 years ago, I went to my primary care provider and he put me on a high dosage of Paxil. It took care of the depression, but was not a pleasant experience. (Also, he was not a great doctor, as it turns out.)

    I have medical insurance again, and while I like my new primary care provider, it takes weeks to get in to see her. (Which reminds me, I need to start scheduling my annual checkup for June.) Should I try to get in to see her, or should I go directly to a specialist? (My insurance does not require that I get a referral, so this is in the realm of the possible.) If so, what kind of doctor/therapist/counselor should I be looking for? My care network has a “Find A Doctor” phone number, but they don’t list any mental health providers in the “Search Our Online Directory” dropdown on their webpage.

    I am just not very good at navigating these sorts of things, and I can’t take time off from work to spend hours on the phone. Any advice?

    1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      A psychiatrist is a mental health care provider who can prescribe medications (I don’t recall offhand whether they’re limited to prescribing meds only for mental health issues or not) – a therapist, counselor or psychologist is not able to prescribe medications, but can do other types of therapeutic intervention (a la various types of talk therapy, EMDR, etc).

      What I had my husband do, when he was daunted by looking for a mental health care provider, was go to our local hospital system’s website, specifically their behavioral health section, and use the filters there to review the providers. Proximity, areas of specialty a la PTSD vs depression vs anxiety, age specializations (some providers specialize in children or adults or teens), types of treatment (talk therapy, meds, etc).

      1. JediSquirrel*

        Thanks for this. Psychiatrists and psychologists are the kangaroos and wallabies of the medical world for me, so I’m printing this out to refer to going forward.

        I’m sure a big part of this is genetic; I’m also sure some of it is PTSD, so the filtering advice is useful. I appreciate this.

    2. Imtheone*

      For medication, in most states, you need to see an MD, probably a psychiatrist.
      For talking therapy, which can be very effective and is often combined with medication, you can see anyone licensed to treat. Most important is experience and fit with you. Lots of people see a psychiatrist for medication, maybe once a month or every two months, and another therapist for ongoing treatment. PhD, PsyD, LCSW are all possible credentials. (Maybe I’ve missed one.)

      Psychology Today has a “find a therapist” site. You could look there and cross reference with people in your insurance network. Then contact them to see who is accepting new patients. You might be able to email, or if you need to phone, leave a message and tell them that they can leave a reply message on your phone (if that’s okay with you). You can narrow down who is available with making lots of calls at work. Once you find someone, ask them more about their treatment approach, etc.

      1. ThatGirl*

        Any MD can prescribe psych meds, but psychiatrists are better trained on uses and side effects. LCPC is another possible license. Not to correct you, just an addendum.

    3. Dr. Anonymous*

      Also book with your PCP while you try to work things out as most PCPs can offer you some medication choices more subtle than high doses of Paxil, and maybe you can at least get started on treatment while you’re sitting the rest out.

      1. Windchime*

        I agree with this. I’ve been on and off anti-depressants for years, and my current regimen was prescribed by my PCP. She does careful dosing adjustments and has me come in for frequent follow-ups until I’m feeling stable again. It can take up to 4-6 weeks to feel the change from medication adjustments, so that is also important to remember.

    4. Fikly*

      Another option most people don’t know about is a psychiatric nurse practitioner, which is a subspecialty within NPs where they get extra training in psychiatric medications. They can be very good!

      1. Teach*

        And look for a practice with a Psychiatric NP and varied therapists! It’s so much easier to coordinate care under one roof and they can share info if appropriate to save you visits.

    5. SunnySideUp*

      Weeks to see a PCP seems… excessive. I can understand that for a specialist, but you should be able to see your PCP within days.

      1. JediSquirrel*

        IKR? But they are short staffed and very good. I love my PCP, and don’t want to stop seeing her. I just need to plan visits further in advance.

    6. Therapist-in-training*

      Like others have said, psychiatrist for medication, therapist for talk therapy.

      If you’re looking for a therapist to treat depression specifically, I would really advise finding one that offers evidence-based treatment. To get at this specifically, I would ask the following questions:

      1. What kind of treatment do you provide for depression? (Most effective treatments are cognitive-behavioral therapy i.e. CBT-based or for depression interpersonal therapy i.e. IPT has been found to be effective as well depending on the case presentation. If they use specific treatment manuals the most popular for depression treatment include behavioral activation, mind over mood, IPT, and CBASP)
      2. Do you assign specific homework, worksheets, or out-of-session skills practice each week? (answer should be yes, they should be helping you to track and generalize skills use)
      3. How do you measure progress in treatment, and when do you decide to terminate treatment? (they should be able to describe how they generally do this)

      Good luck!

      1. JediSquirrel*

        Thanks for this. I have been keeping a depression journal lately, so the idea of homework is a good one for me. Adding this to my list of questions.

    7. A Frayed Knot*

      Ask if your employer has an EAP – Employee Assistance Program. They may have services to get you started, both with a doctor/therapist for right now and finding someone for the long term (EAP usually only covers a few visits).

      1. JediSquirrel*

        We don’t as such, because we are very, very small (think microscopic—this is one more reason I want out of this job), but our insurance company has offered us a 1-800 number that puts us in touch with resources (bereavement is the one I’m thinking of the most here), so I will call them sometime this week.

    8. JediSquirrel*

      Thanks to everyone who responded to me. I really appreciate the advice, and especially the voices of experience.

      And thanks, Allison, for building this community.

  42. PhyllisB*

    Any car sales people or employees at a car dealership? I have been sorta/kinda been looking for a new car, and to my shock, I’ve discovered new cars don’t come with a CD player!! (Cue the “okay, Boomer.” Go ahead, I’ll wait.) Anyway, what I want to know is; can you have a CD player added as optional equipment? I realize that CD’s are losing popularity, but even if I never purchased another CD in my life I still have a ton of them I like to listen to and occasionally like audio books when I’m on a long trip.

    1. Lives in a Shoe*

      Yes. There are two ways to go. You can either have the stereo swapped out at someplace like Cartoys after purchase or ask the dealership about other stereo options/packages and they can handle it for you. This is a very common request. Enjoy your new car!

      1. PhyllisB