weekend free-for-all – February 8-9, 2020

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

Book recommendation of the week: Excellent Women, by Barbara Pym. I find Barbara Pym cozy and funny, while my sister finds her depressing. I don’t know what that says about us. In any case, this is the story of Mildred Lathbury, who is leading a quiet, boring life when excitingly modern neighbors move in downstairs and things are thrown into disarray. You should read this while drinking a lot of tea.

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

{ 1,284 comments… read them below }

    1. MissGirl*

      I just read Wife after Wife. It takes Henry VIII and puts him in modern times. I found it surprisingly engaging.

      1. Not a cat*

        Just placed a hold on this, thank you for the recommendation. Question: is anyone else’s library system notifying them they they can’t get more copies from the publisher because of new agreements (basically the publishers are sticking it to the libraries and limiting the copies they can procure and how many times they can be loaned)? I’m running across that in the LA system and it is really frustrating! I’ve got a book on hold w/ a wait time of 6 (!) months

          1. Fikly*

            I cannot . Either you own the book or you do not.

            Well, I mean, I understand the publishers motivation, but that’s nonsense.

        1. Jack Russell Terrier*

          It’s for Macmillan ebooks because the publisher can control them in a way they can’t with actual books. I do have sympathy that it costs almost as much to publish an ebook yet they can’t charge as much yet it’s appalling on many levels. Mainly I get huffy because it goes fully against the point of having public libraries misunderstands how people make the decisions to buy books. I don’t think it will help them and hurts libraries hugely.

          Libraries and library associations are up in arms.

            1. Jack Russell Terrier*

              They really don’t do they? People are not suddenly going to go off and buy the book if it’s difficult to get from the library.

          1. Jackalope*

            I can’t see why they don’t have the option of charging full price for ebooks (or full price minus a small amt that otherwise would have gone towards paper and ink). If the cost to pay the author, editor, publisher, etc. is the same then make the cost to the public the same.

    2. Adele*

      E.F. Benson Mapp & Lucia books. There is an omnibus edition that has them all in order. They are very, very funny but still part of the Austen/Pym tradition.

  1. Enter_the_Dragonfly*

    Hi everyone! I’d love some help with finding a certain set of books please! When I was little I had a beautifully (color) illustrated set of kids’ books that were the simplified story of ‘The Water Babies’.
    They were little hardback books, 4 or 5 of them, in pastel-ish colors. Tom had straight brown hair, Ellie had blond wavy curls. Does this version/edition sound familiar to anyone? I got them about 25 years ago so they were brought out at least that long ago.
    I have such fond memories of them, they were one of the things that helped me start to love reading and I would love to get a set for my kids.
    Professor Google and the libraries and librarians in my area haven’t yielded any useful results so I turn to you, oh AMA community! Thanks for any advice or tips on how to find them.

      1. Enter_the_Dragonfly*

        Thank you, but unfortunately that’s not it! It’s closer that anything else I’ve found though, so I feel like it’s already getting closer…
        The book covers themselves were more cartoony, and had borders of blue, pink, green, or purple.

        1. zaracat*

          How about The Water Babies (A Good Night, Sleep Tight Storybook) set published 1996? There are some for sale individually on Amazon but doesn’t look like anyone has the full set.

    1. zaracat*

      There’s a 4 volume set published by Harper Collins in the 1970’s – Collins Colour Cubs: The Water Babies. I posted another comment with a link to a set that’s available for sale on a Serbian website but it’s currently in moderation because of the link.

    2. Jen*

      Have you tried Reddit? The /r/tipofmytongue subreddit is really good at this. You can also try /r/whatsthatbook.

    3. HBJ*

      Are you on goodreads? They have a forum/group called “what’s the name of that book?” where you can post about any book you’re trying to find. I did that for a children’s book I couldn’t remember. I’d done various google searches for what I remembered – nothing. My post was super vague. And, turns out, I actually had the plot slightly wrong! But someone was able to ID it for me within a couple days. I was so surprised. Definitely try there.

    4. Healthcare Worker*

      I cant help you find them, but I remember having these too! I was a child in the early 60s so the ones I’m thinking of are older. Good luck! They were beautiful books.

      1. Enter_the_Dragonfly*

        Oh my goodness, this is it, I can’t believe it! Thank you so much, I can’t tell you how long I’ve been looking *super happy face*.

        1. Owly*

          That’s awesome! Good luck finding the rest of them! And I’ll consider starting a second career as a detective…

    5. spec_ops_librarian*

      If it’s the edition published by Granddreams ltd, illustrated by Dorothea King, in -96 there seem to be some available from sellers on Abebooks. Awesomebooks is also worth taking a look at for second hand books, although I only saw the first one in the series available there at the moment. Hope you find them!

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

      I’m glad the mystery got solved! From a selfish perspective, the suggestions on this thread for where to look have been super helpful. I don’t get the “I’m looking for a red book from 1974 that was about a horse” question often, but that’s the question that tends to keep librarians awake in the middle of the night.

      1. Quickbeam*

        I am so grateful for the internet. I spent decades looking for a childhood book that meant a lot to me. I just could not remember the title. Once Google came into being, I found Tatsinda with the Irene Haas illustrations in about 3 minutes.

  2. hands*

    Does moisturizing really help ward off wrinkles on your hands? My hands have started looking older and I’m wondering what I need to do / if anything really works.

    1. zaracat*

      Moisturisers will change appearance short term as they make the skin hold more water which plumps out the wrinkles. If you have dermatitis, treating that will help, which may include use of moisturisers. Sun protection is probably what will make the most difference – broad spectrum sunscreen +/- wear gloves especially when doing manual work outdoors.

    2. Not So NewReader*

      Staying hydrated can make a huge difference in the appearance of all parts of a body. I had a cohort who was rushed to the hospital. They found her problem was dehydration. I think she ended up with an IV. Anyway, the change in her appearance was like night and day. When I saw her next she looked 20 years younger. I couldn’t believe the difference and I am very aware of the problems stemming from dehydration. The difference was that huge. The wrinkles/aging disappeared from her hands and face.

      Other people prefer different formulas. This is the formula I work with: Take your body weight and divide by 2. The answer is the number of ounces we should drink per day. I measure it out in mason jars in the morning because I am not good at keeping track. So let’s say I weigh 160. Divide that by 2 and the answer is 80. I should aim for 80 ounces of water every day.
      If you are no where near close (many people aren’t) then work your way up over a period of time, such as a week or two. Don’t try to accomplish this in one day.

      Happily, proper hydration will help with all sorts of things such as keeping the organs (esp. bowels and kidneys) working correctly, it will help with minor aches and pains and it will help with the appearance of the skin.

      1. Anon PhD*

        This is great advice…and in line with what my massage therapist always says “more water!”. I don’t think I hysrate enough, I think I may try your approach.

        1. Not So NewReader*

          I woefully underestimated the necessity of drinking water before and after a massage. If ya think of it as a massage loosens muscles and gets things moving around, it’s easier to see that “Yep, I am going to need some water here.” And a nap. I like to go home and take a good nap. ;)

      2. Elizabeth West*

        This this this this. ^^^

        My sister sent me a hilarious picture of Baby Yoda holding a photoshopped sign that said “Don’t forget to drink water today you stupid b!tch.” I sent it to a friend, who said, “A spanking Baby Yoda needs!” :’D

      3. tangerineRose*

        I keep water at my desk when I’m working so that it’s easy to take a sip here and a sip there.

    3. Seven hobbits are highly effective, people*

      In addition to drinking more water, and making sure to only use certain soaps because my hands hate everything, my hands seem to do better when I get enough sleep. I’m not sure if it’s directly the additional sleep that helps, or just having 8+ hours “off” from the various routines of washing hands and/or touching stuff, but it does seem to make a difference.

      1. Jean (just Jean)*

        OMG, yes, having enough sleep makes everything better.
        It’s an ongoing struggle. My latest insight is not to stress too much as long as I don’t lose sleep two nights in a row.

      2. Not So NewReader*

        There is one really good dish soap that a lot of people like. It really cuts the grease and saves wildlife that have been caught in an oil spill.
        But it can do a number on drying out our hands. I have a much milder soap that I use for most of my stuff. I keep the good grease cutter for just the dishes that actually need it. This reduces my contact time with this grease cutting soap. Once I made this change my husband and I stopped having problems with our hands cracking and bleeding in the winter. YMMV, of course.

        1. Sleve McDichael*

          Dishwashing gloves are so much better for your hands if you can wear them. I always get the cotton lined, they’re so much more comfortable. Latex-free ones are also a thing. My skin is way too sensitive for regular contact with dish soap and the hot water for grease cutting is too hot and it hurts.

        2. Seven hobbits are highly effective, people*

          I use various brands of perfume and dye free dish soap (right now I have Wild Harvest, but I just buy whichever brand the store I’m at that day has, so sometimes it’s Planet or Seventh Generation if that’s what Grocery Outlet or Winco happens to have that day). I have one bottle of regular Blue Dawn that I use for soaking things if they seem particularly grease-covered, but I don’t use it for actual dish washing. (I also wash almost no dishes by hand – my first “splurge” purchase upon buying a home was a nice, fancy dishwasher to replace the ancient dish wetter the house came with, and I run pots and pans through that as well as dishes to save my hands from dish soap.)

    4. Chaordic One*

      Moisturizing certainly helps, but it has its limits.

      As the others have commented, use sunscreen to prevent dark spots on the backs of your hands. Especially when driving. Historically, up into 1960s, women and (even a few gentlemen) wore dress gloves for this reason. (And if you had age spots on the backs of your hands, the gloves covered them up.)

      Wear gloves to protect your hands when doing chores. I wear work gloves when gardening and when doing things like moving furniture or painting. When washing dishes by hand or cleaning the bathroom or washing the car, I wear rubber gloves which prevent my hands from becoming dried out.

      I’ve had good luck moisturizing my hands when sleeping by slathering them in petroleum jelly and then wearing socks over my hands. When I wake up 8 hours later, my hands really seem to soft, plump and smooth.

      1. Goldfinch*

        I find it impossible to keep sunscreen on the backs of my hands all day (constant washing at work) so I’ve been thinking about getting driving gloves. I have an hour commute, so the exposure really adds up. (Actually, right now it’s fully dark both ways, but for 9.5 months, it’s a lot of sun.)

        1. Stormy Weather*

          That makes a lot of sense. I had a car with no a/c for several years and often drove with my windows open and an elbow out the driver’s side. There’s a reason I have more freckles on that side of my body.

    5. Arts Akimbo*

      I get eczema on my hands, and per dermatologist’s advice I slather mine in Vaseline every night and put cotton gloves on. In the morning I wake up to much, much happier hands! :) Petroleum jelly might not be the best lotion for everyone, but if your skin is severely damaged, I swear by it, personally.

    6. Anon Story*

      I second all the recommendations to stay hydrated (and healthy in general). For topical stuff, wear sunscreen and/or gloves at all hours of daylight. For moisturizer, I recommend anything with hyaluronic acid (retains moisture), ceramides (builds and repairs skin barrier), vitamin B3/niacinamide (same), and retinol (increases cell turnover and thus reduces fine lines.) Also, avoid anything that overly dries your skin, and definitely moisturize after showering because water dries out your skin.

    7. Vicky Austin*

      It can prevent wrinkles but nothing is going to make your veins look younger. They get bigger and puffier with time.

  3. _Hopeful_*

    I’m a long-time reader who would really appreciate some advice. My DH took the huge step of admitting to me that he thinks he could have depression, something I’ve suspected for quite a while. This is an especially big deal as he was raised in community without a lot of sympathy or understanding of mental health issues. I’ve started doing my own research of course, but does anyone here have any suggestions or resorces that can tell me how best to support him? I want to help and give support without implying ‘I know how you feel’ because how could I possibly? Any suggestions on resources for him would also be awesome. I just want him to see he’s not alone in going through this.

    1. Junior Dev*

      “Ring theory” comes to mind here—I absolutely hope you take care of your own needs, maybe find friends or family members or a therapist or clergy person you can talk to, and make some sort of standing commitment to do a hobby or self care thing that is separate from the issues with your husband. Meanwhile, keep in mind that caring for a spouse with health problems is absolutely hard and sometimes frustrating, but your husband is not the person to vent to about that. I’m not saying walk on eggshells or don’t bring up issues that bother you, but try your best to find other outlets if you just need to vent or need advice. I will link to an explanation of ring theory in the next comment (it’ll take a minute to get through moderation).

      I will also link to an essay that I (a person with severe depression) found really true and relatable in its depiction of depression. Trigger warning for suicide and for cruel statements about people who die by suicide. It’s about David Foster Wallace and some crappy comments made about him, and it both addresses some nasty stereotypes about mental illness while also providing one of the best descriptions I’ve seen of what it’s like to live with depression every day and how exhausting it is. Even if your husband isn’t suicidal, I think it’s a really great and compassionate explanation for what depression feels like.

      I’ll include some other sources I’ve found true to my experience of mental illness as well.

    2. Junior Dev*

      “Ring theory” — your husband is at the very center ring, you are one level out from that


      David Foster Wallace article, trigger warning for suicide and cruel stereotypes about it


      “ Depression lies. It lies relentlessly and seductively and convincingly. The lies, like the fire of Wallace’s parable, separate you from hope, from faith, from your loved ones. Imagine the worst day of your life. Maybe someone you loved died, or betrayed you. Maybe you lost a job you loved or were publicly humiliated or failed some essential obligation. Remember how it felt? Imagine, for a moment, feeling that way almost all of the time. Imagine it’s always there, a hard angry fist in the pit of your stomach, from when you wake to when you sleep. Imagine that the few moments when you forget and don’t feel that way offer little solace, because suddenly you remember, and the pain and hopelessness surge back like a tsunami. Imagine hearing inexorable lies in your own voice, telling you that you’ll never feel better, that you deserve no better, that if there are people who love you, it’s only because they don’t see how worthless you are, and that they would all be better off without you. Imagine that you can’t conceive of any way that the pain can end unless you die. It’s not cowardly to fall prey to that. It’s human. Resisting that, persevering, excelling, creating art when you feel that way, like Wallace did? That’s goddamned epic. Wallace isn’t a coward for falling; he’s a hero for standing as long as he did.”

      Depression part 1 and 2 from Hyperbole and a Half



      How to Survive the End of the World (when it’s in your head)


      Also, a note. I don’t know if your husband is doing meds or therapy or what. Often people who don’t have experience with mental health problems think that getting on meds or starting therapy will be easy and straightforward, that the only thing stopping it is people’s pride or embarrassment, and that once you start taking meds or going to therapy you are “better” and shouldn’t be affected anymore. None of these are true. Finding a psychiatrist or therapist can take months (of looking for one that takes your insurance, or of getting on a wait list) and often it’s a process of trying several before you find a good one. (That’s not a reason not to try; it’s a reason to start now and do what you can to support your husband with the logistics, research, and phone calls.) Often therapy makes you feel worse before you feel better, especially if you are talking about traumatic experiences for the first time, or if you are unpacking long-held thought patterns. It can be exhausting. Often the first medication you take doesn’t work, or has intolerable side effects, and sometimes you have to be on it for a while to realize that’s the case; it’s all trial and error, and meanwhile you have to live your life and try your best to function in society while potentially really weird stuff is happening with your brain and body chemistry. That’s not to discourage you; it’s to give you a sense of what you’ll be supporting him through. Please try to be patient and understand that getting better is a lot of work and it’s not at all easy or straightforward.

      1. Not a cat*

        I’d like to add that unfortunately, you don’t always click w/ your first therapist. It took me a few tries to land with someone whose style worked for me.

    3. Moop*

      When I was clinically depressed, there wasn’t any one specific thing that my husband said/did that was “right”. It was the knowledge that he loved and supported me throughout everything. When I was crying he would hug me and acknowledge how hurt I was – even if it was over something stupid. He also came with me to see the GP to get a referral to the psychologist. We didn’t have a lot of money at the time but he strongly encouraged me to continue my visits with the expensive psychologist. I always knew he had my back.

      I also want to add, though, depression isn’t something you can carry him through. It is an illness of the mind that needs treatment from an appropriate professional. If he had a broken arm you can support him by sympathising with his pain and help him with the practical stuff he can’t do around the house; but you wouldn’t be able to treat his broken bone – only a doctor could do that.

      Lastly, much respect to him for acknowledging his depression. It can be scary to admit you are struggling with mental health if you are not familiar in this area. But trust me, *everyone* has mental health issues at some point in their lives. And it is really not a big deal to seek treatment for it. Depression is very treatable and there are many avenues of support out there.

      All the best for you guys.

    4. WS*

      Depression can make it very hard to start doing anything – if he expresses that he wants to do something (see the doctor, see a therapist) but can’t do it, or doesn’t do it, ask if he wants help. Help might be something as simple as looking up the number to call, but it’s often paralysing to take that first step.

      1. old curmudgeon*

        Hard agree – one of the biggest tells for me is when my spouse starts struggling with executive functions that would normally be straightforward and easy.

        He is damnably good at hiding his emotions, but when I see him unable to organize himself to, say, plan his next business trip, or call the plumber to arrange for a service call, or even put a lunch together for himself, that’s my cue to say “hey, you seem down, can I help you get an appointment set up with your PCP to talk about meds?” When he’s really deep in depression, I wind up taking over essentially all of the planning/organizing/coordinating, both for routine household stuff and for tasks like researching counselors, setting up appointments and checking insurance coverage.

        Sending thoughts of support and reassurance to both you and your husband – I hope that you and he can successfully navigate this together.

      2. Parenthetically*

        Yes! And it’s particularly frustrating that so many of the things that actually do help most — for me, exercise, reading rather than veging out in front of the TV for 100 years, eating a damn vegetable instead of living on a diet of fried carbs — are the hardest things to do. Having someone there to offer to take on steps A&B just to get the ball rolling can be a massive help. Like, I can go to the gym twice a week because my parents help take care of my kids long enough for me to get a session in. And my husband mostly plans our meals and keeps track of grocery things so it’s not such a big hurdle to make a nutritious dinner. Etc. Being that person is a priceless gift for someone with depression/anxiety.

        1. Washi*

          Ahh, sounds like we have very similarly presenting depression! My husband knows things are not going great in my head when I come home and immediately want to turn the TV on, instead of reading or doing my hobbies. I know intellectually what helps, but it’s like my instincts have amnesia when things start to go south, and everything that would make me feel better (seeing a friend, going outside) sounds insurmountably difficult.

          It’s super helpful when my husband notices this and does basic things like suggesting we go for a walk, or have a friend over for dinner.

          1. Parenthetically*

            “it’s like my instincts have amnesia” haha yes! Or like they’re rebellious teenagers refusing to do what’s good for them.

            “have a friend over for dinner” THIS IS MY LIFELINE.

    5. Retail not Retail*

      Yeah, there isn’t a one size fits all answer. Being there for him and finding out what activities help or hurt is good.

      When mine was bad, my mom showed up at my dorm and took me driving at like midnight. Another time, my friend and I went to fontana dam and saw gorgeous fall colors.

      But I was the type who crawled the walls when I was inactive.

      Also! Watch when he starts a new med – he may not be aware of bad mood side effects but you will. I mean you should discuss this with him, but a wrong med can mess with your head and you may not know.

    6. Aspiring Chicken Lady*

      Be there, and give the kind of support that isn’t suffocating, intrusive, or excessive. He may need gentle nudges to keep pushing through. If he resists, he’s probably not resisting YOU, he may be struggling with the process. Don’t take it personally. Instead, you can say “You just skipped another appointment, what’s going on?” Then don’t guess for him. Let him find words … or have space. Your process with this is separate from his process.
      Good luck to both of you.

    7. Not So NewReader*

      Just a general approach to any problem I have tried to help people with, I have asked, “Well what do you think you might like to do here?” Many times they will say, “I dunno.” So I suggest baby steps. Try one thing, see where it puts you. If it helps keep it, if it does not help then ditch it. Then try another another thing. And again, keep it if it helps, ditch it if it doesn’t. And keep going like this until things seem different. Notice, I did not say better. Sometimes the best we can do is get stuff to shift a little bit and that gives enough relief that we can actually begin to handle whatever is going on.

      I especially like this approach when I have no idea what it is like to be the other person. Typically, people will feel that their life has just spun out of control and it’s really important to open up paths where they can feel that control coming back.
      And I don’t want a role where I have to push for this idea or that idea. I don’t want to be “mom” or a “nag” or any similar role. So this is helpful for me too.

    8. Washi*

      I think one thing that is really important in the long term is making sure that while you might be extending more support than usual, trying to hold onto the dynamics of an equal partnership where your needs are just as important as his. My husband really struggled with this in the beginning of my most recent depressive episode (the first big one since we’ve been together) and his instinct was to drop everything and do absolutely ANYTHING to help, even when it would take a huge toll on him.

      Even through the fog of depression, I could see that happening, and it just made me feel guilty about everything I was putting him through. We had a couple conversations about it, and it was much better for both of us when he was able to honor his limits and lean on friends when he needed it. I’ve also supported friends with depression, and I think it’s ultimately better for both of you if do only what you can with a glad heart, and leave the rest. It’s an act of hope that things will eventually improve, and an investment in your relationship when that day comes.

    9. To Lurk, perchance to Post*

      Here! DH has bipolar type II with major depressive episodes. He’s had this since before we met.

      While he’s currently on a treatment plan that’s effective for him, it was a looong road to get here. Many times, treating mental illness is trial and error. It’s hard not to give up, but please don’t! Also, disordered sleep tends to make any type of mood disorder much worse. As he seeks treatment, prioritize a regular sleep/wake cycle for your husband.

      You have gotten a lot of resources here, so I will share 3 things I wish I realized long ago:

      1) Depression is a chronic illness. You can’t cure it. But often it can be very effectively treated. We consider my husband’s depression to be in “remission.” We are aware it may come back and debilitate him. So we watch for signs.
      2) I very much love my husband, and I very much hate his disease. Learn the difference. It’s important.
      3) It’s cliched, but take care of yourself too. Gather your resources and take a break when YOU need it. He is important but so are you. Arrange for respite care. Understand he may he depressed, but that’s not an excuse to be belligerent with you. I cut that shit off right away. Remove yourself when needed for your own sanity.

      Good luck! I am rooting for you and him!!

    10. Thankful for AAM*

      National Alliance for Mental Illness (NAMI) is excellent. We took family classes with them, they have peer to peer classes, etc.

    11. Falling Diphthong*

      Primary care physician, and consider trying an antidepressant. He doesn’t have to stay on it, forever or for a month, but it can help to add that data point. What I found so useful was that it quickly reset my baseline to normal, so when I started sliding away from that I could recognize what was happening and tell the doc we needed to try something else. (Third one, welbutrin, worked long-term.) Depression often comes up very slowly, so this week feels like last week and so on–you forget what it feels like to feel normal. Reminding your body of that can really help.

      One of the nasty aspects of depression is that when it’s raging you feel helpless to do anything; when it recedes you figure it’s better and so no need to do anything. Then it surges back and you feel helpless to do anything…

      (I spent far too long rationalizing that if I just walked the dogs more (exercise, sunshine) surely that would be enough. It really wasn’t. After a couple of years on an antidepressant I went off it and was fine.)

      1. ThatGirl*

        I definitely would suggest longer than a month (it can take a few weeks to even build up in your system) but you’re right that it may not need to be a lifetime.

  4. Deb Morgan*

    Home owners: how did you know you were ready to buy your first home? Was it saving a specific amount for a down payment? Was it just a feeling of wanting to put down roots? A combination of factors?

    1. Lemonwhirl*

      It was having the deposit plus a feeling of being done with renting. We bought a house in 2002 knowing that we would only stay in the area for another 3-5 years but we really didn’t want to rent anymore. (We knew that we wanted to move back to my husband’s home country.) We sold the house in 2005 for a nice profit – not quite as much as if we’d tucked the rent money into a savings account but close. Of course, I have plenty of friends who ended up underwater on their mortgages after the financial crash in the late 2000, so it’s not a foolproof plan.

    2. gsa*

      Saving a specific amount.

      When we got married we knew we want to buy a house and agreed we should not buy until we could put down 10%.

      We lived in small inexpensive apartment for one year and were able to save the down payment. We were newly weds and had not developed any expensive spending habits.

      This happened from ‘95 to ‘96. I would like to think we could the same if we were married in 2020… Who knows…

      At the time, our biggest bill was a <$500/mo apartment. No school loans, no car payments, and no cellphone/internet bills. Total utility bills, electric/telephone/cable were ~$100/mo.

      Today: house payment @ $2,250/mon, utilities @ $600…

      Our income has only increased by 3.5 in the same time period. COL is definitely exceeding increases in income…

      Good luck!

      1. Epsilon Delta*

        We did something similar a few years ago.

        We were living in a house that my husband’s parents owned, so the rent was slightly discounted but not outrageously low. We saved 25% of our income and had enough for a 20% downpayment in three years. This was with other debts (~$500/mo, now all paid off) and a daycare payment, albeit on two engineers salaries. So it can be done, but not without some determination and a high enough salary.

        We wanted to buy a house to get out of the house we were renting (why not rent elsewhere? My husband has a lot of “toys” and wasn’t willing to downsize to an apartment). My husband’s parents needed to sell this house, and we wanted to move. Ironically, after a year of looking, we realized that all the houses in our price range were either garbage or being bought so quickly for more than they were worth (this was 2017-2018), that we were better off buying the house we lived in. So here we are two years later, owners of the house we were trying to move out of!

        This is a really good article that explores the financial benefits and downsides of renting vs buying. Highly recommend if you are considering purchasing a house! https://affordanything.com/is-renting-better-than-buying-should-i-rent-or-buy/

    3. Asenath*

      I suppose a desire to put down roots. I badly wanted to stay in a city I knew well, liked, but had only a contract job in. That ended, but I still had hopes of something. I knew my landlord was thinking of selling the house I rented, and that it would be cheap – I was well aware of it’s flaws. I got some money as a payout from my contract, figured that if I kept the job in the location I didn’t like but which paid well, I could manage the payments. Against that advice of my friends, I bought it. It worked well for me. I had it to return to when better job didn’t work, and eventually sold it & not for much, but enough to really help when I bought the apartment that was more what I needed as I aged, and am very happy with my choices. It was a risky move, and could have gone badly. Sometimes I wonder where I got the nerve to do it.

    4. PX*

      Going through this right now. I live in one of the most expensive parts of my country and house prices have gone up massively in the last 10 years so for a long time I was happy renting as my rent is quite cheap. But honestly I think having one bad roommate (I share a 2 bed flat) really tipped me over into wanting to have my own space. Sure I could rent a studio or one bed, but I doubt I’d be able to find something as affordable now, and I’d much rather start paying off a mortgage as soon as possible.

      I’m lucky I have no debts and parents who can afford to help though, because if I had to do it all on my own I definitely wouldnt be able to afford something in the part of the city that would actually make me happy to live in. I’ve saved up quite a decent deposit, but as a single person, the way it works here – getting a mortgage for what I’d need would basically be impossible.

      1. merp*

        I could have written this same comment. My roommate situation is……. slowly killing me so when I started to think about living alone *and* having a cheaper mortgage than rent (bc rent is so high here), it very quickly became clear that the time was now.

      2. Other Meredith*

        That’s what happened for me too. I couldn’t handle having roommates anymore, and for the amount of my mortgage on a row house with a nice yard, I could have gotten a really crappy studio apartment. So I bought. It will definitely be more of a pain when I decide to move, but overall it’s been a great experience. I love having my own space, and it’s let me have people come visit me, too, which I could never do before.

    5. RC Rascal*

      My apartment building was sold to a developer. He kicked our all of us long term below market tenants so he could make the place fancy. Building was safe & affordable housing located in a highly desirable area. Rents were so high at the time it cost less to get a mortgage.

    6. T. Boone Pickens*

      Currently going through this right now. For me it was a mix of not wanting to buy/build a house until I was in a spot financially to get a house that I loved. I‘m pretty happy in my apartment as it checks off almost all the boxes for me. The stock market has been doing so well that I was more interested in making out my investments versus saving for a house too. Plus there is the desire to get into my own space.

    7. Doc in a Box*

      I knew I wanted to buy a house with my first permanent (faculty) job. By the time I was done with school and training at age 33, I had moved 5 times in a decade (I’m not counting college, as I was living in dorms all 4 years so didn’t have furniture or anything substantial to move). I really hate packing, moving, and unpacking, so I wanted to just be done with it. I was moving to a new city anyway, so I went on a couple house-hunting trips, telling myself that if I didn’t like anything I saw, I’d rent for a year or two as backup, but strongly wanted to buy.

      I lucked into a great little house in a fantastic area, just a couple miles from work. It’s not a “doctor house” by any stretch, but it’s well-built and feels right for me. Despite 3 years of aggressive saving (25% of my take-home pay into the downpayment fund) I still only had enough for 5% down, so my parents were amazing and loaned me the rest so I wouldn’t need PMI. I’ve been here for almost two years now, and barring any unexpected changes with the job, I could see myself living here into retirement.

    8. Not So NewReader*

      I wanted a house the way some people want kids. I talked about having my own house for ages. When my husband and I got married, I told him that a house was an important goal.
      My husband was less than convinced. lol.
      So the deciding point came when the stars were in alignment. We had a little savings. We found a mortgage company whose criteria we met.
      Our next step was to find a modest house. This involved crying, as we looked at so many places that I would never, ever even consider.
      Then we found it. We went to an open house. We were maybe half way through the house. The realtor turned her back for a second and we nodded at each other. That nod was the entire discussion we had, we both wanted THIS house.
      Back to the stars being in alignment. The mortgage went through, the savings we had was just enough to get ourselves into the place.
      It took a few years and finally my husband said, “I am so glad we bought this place.” phew. I was glad to see him finally happy with the decision. The punchline here for couples is that at least one person has to be a bit of a visionary. For folks on their own, being able to picture yourself in a place and being determined to manage it is definitely a great clue to go for it.

    9. The Cosmic Avenger*

      I mostly wanted a house for financial reasons. Mortgages and real estate prices were pretty low in 1999, and I wanted a basement where I could have a freezer and a pantry, so we could buy in bulk. We also wanted a little more room, and the rent for a bigger apartment would probably have been higher than our mortgage payments. We also were planning on having kids within 5 years, although I know plenty of people brought up in apartments, our house is in a better school district than the apartment we moved from.

    10. I edit everything*

      We were relocating and realized that we could pay less each month for more house/yard if we bought than if rented, especially with pets. I’m not sure we were really ready, and it’s been a mixed blessing. But I think we made the right choice.

    11. Ali G*

      I bought my first place at the bottom of the market in 2008. I was renting one of the more affordable options in my area, but I knew that wouldn’t last. I wanted stability in my living situation. Also, I knew I would be in the area a while, so it made sense.
      I didn’t put 20% down, it’s just important to know you can afford all the monthly payments. A few years later when I had enough equity and the market was better, I refinanced to get rid of the PMI.

    12. MissDisplaced*

      Steady, secure job
      Ready to stay in one place
      Liking the area
      Saved enough for down payment
      A general feeling of wanting to nest / have comfortable things and pets

      This is assuming you want the house to live in versus using it as an investment property.

      1. MissDisplaced*

        Least understood thing:

        You have to learn how to fix things yourself or be willing to pay a lot to get them fixed

        Taxes! Insurance! Don’t underestimate

        Amount of things you suddenly need: from lawnmowers to tools to appliances

      2. Katefish*

        One thing I should have done… Figured out existing rents in the area and multiplied by 75%. I’d recommend not having your total mortgage payment (including taxes and escrow) exceed that number in case you ever need to move and can’t sell right away. (The 75% is a lending guideline for repairs/turnover/costs.)

    13. Seven hobbits are highly effective, people*

      For me, it was a combination of feeling secure in my job (been there long enough in a unionized environment that I was very unlikely to be subject to layoffs since they’re seniority-based and getting good enough performance reviews to be unlikely to be fired for performance reasons) and an absolutely out of control rental market. I’d always wanted to own a house (I don’t like change and I own a lot of books, so I really dislike moving), but I probably would have put it off for another five years or so if it hadn’t been for the ridiculously high rents where I am.

      I was able to get help from my dad with a down payment, and my mortgage payment is lower than rent on something much smaller would be. The extra money ends up getting put toward home repair/maintenance, so I’m probably not “really” saving any money in terms of my yearly budget, but it’s nice to have the stability of a fixed rate mortgage rather than a one year lease and at least on paper I’m building equity in an asset. (Assuming my job and life situation doesn’t change, I don’t plan to move for a very, very long time, so building equity in my house versus the lack when renting doesn’t affect my immediate finances much and is more of a “third-tier emergency fund when retired” thing.)

      Also, the last apartment complex I lived in decided to remove almost all of the visitor parking and instead rent those spots to tenants with extra cars, and one of the three main reasons I’d picked that particular complex over a few others was so I could easily host visitors due to the parking situation, so I was sick of having no control over that sort of decision. (They also removed the complex pool, but that has less impact on me personally.) (I will add that they went right on increasing the rent while removing these amenities, because of course they did.)

    14. Gatomon*

      I reached a huge level of frustration with renting, and while I could afford to rent other apartments that addressed some of those issues, the price was close enough to a mortgage that it didn’t make a ton of sense. The additional costs of a better place would’ve eroded my ability to save a downpayment. I lived in my last apartment for 7 years so I think I was ready for more permanence. Waiting on the yearly renewal offer and cost increase, and dealing with a degradation in the quality of my neighbors and neighborhood, pushed me to make it work.

      I didn’t really follow the books and deliberately save up a down payment over the years, but I took a first time homebuyers class and found out I could make it work with my savings and income now instead of waiting. The housing market in my town is drying up under $200k so I decided to purchase if I could to avoid getting locked out as a single earner here. I am really happy with my decision and lucked out with an affordable place in a great location I can afford to slowly renovate. I don’t really see myself moving unless I leave town. The class was really invaluable and helped me feel more ready for the process and did get me a break on the PMI.

    15. Parenthetically*

      I was able to make a downpayment thanks to my own savings/investments and some gifts. Rates were cheap, home prices were cheap, and I was sick of renting. I bought a condo, which was the perfect choice for me at the time (single, non-handy person who hates mowing grass).

    16. I'm A Little Teapot*

      I wanted to be able to paint, wanted to do the yard work, etc. Yes it’s nuts, but I was just tired of renting. It’s my house, I can do what I want and if you don’t like it then you can lump it. I painted my front door blue and everyone else thinks that red is better, but I like it. It’s my door.

      I also had a down payment saved, and was financially stable.

      1. Pennalynn Lott*

        OMG, all the yesses to being able to do whatever the heck you want with the house and landscaping. (Assuming no HOA because HOAs are evil).

        1. ThatGirl*

          Hashtag not all HOAs, ha :) we live in a townhome and the HOA covers all exterior maintenance, yard work, replaced our roof, replaced our driveway, lowered our homeowners insurance costs… for us it was worth it and they are really pretty reasonable folks.

          1. Pennalynn Lott*

            Yeah, now that you’ve said townhome, I realized I meant detached-single-family-home HOAs. The ones that exist just to tell people that the color of their curtains shouldn’t be visible from the sidewalk. Not the ones that provide actual services and maintenance work. :-)

    17. Pennalynn Lott*

      I was sick of apartments and having noisy strangers above me, below me, and beside me. For the year before I bought my home, I rented a house with two roommates. We likely would have stayed there longer but the owner’s kid got married and we got the boot so the newlyweds could move in. I couldn’t bear the thought of living in an apartment again, so I bought a house. I was so thrilled to have a space that was 100% mine, especially the massive backyard. I hated hanging out in the green spaces in any of the apartment complexes I lived in because there was zero privacy. I just wanted to sit outside and read a book without ever being interrupted by a nosy neighbor, a chatty dog walker, a creeper dude, etc. And I wanted to be able to leave my laptop, Kindle, cell phone, what-have-you outside while I went indoors to refill my water.

    18. Lockstep*

      FInancial reasons or me. I watched my father build almost 3 million dollars in retirement funds by buying multiple homes throughout his life, from LA to Michigan to the SF Bay area.

      Bought my home in the San Francisco Bay area in 1996 for $200K. House payment was almost triple the rent I paid on 2 br apt. It is now almost paid off and valued over one million dollars.

    19. Falling Diphthong*

      We had a preschooler and my husband finished grad school. Bought a house in an excellent school district near his new work. So response to life changes.

      We wanted a single family house with a yard, for space from neighbors after our city apartment.

    20. Nacho*

      My grandparents gifted me $100k, which made buying something kind of a no brainier for me. What else was I going to do with all that money?

    21. Ismis*

      Having some money in savings and reading that older single women are the fastest growing group most likely to become homeless or home insecure. I’m also in my early 40s and it will just get more and more difficult to get a mortgate. I haven’t bought yet but have started looking and hopefully this year is the year!

    22. Jemima Bond*

      For me it was largely a financial decision. With the deposit, I could get a mortgage for a modest flat where my monthly repayment was less than my rent had been, and it was an investment with a return; years later when I sold it to move in with OH I had a tidy sum that will enable us, this year I hope, to buy a reasonable house together. We’d be nowhere near that without the money my flat earned (ditto for him; he owns his). Because you pay the rent and you say goodbye to the cash; you haven’t bought a few bricks back off the mortgage lender.
      Of course house prices being what they are certainly in the U.K. means what was possible for me some 15 years ago is not possible for many now; property prices have outstripped wages and many young people feel hopeless about ever owning. I’m just saying that if you can, it makes financial sense.
      Plus you can maintain a property you own a lot better than many landlords would, you can decorate and do DIY to your own tastes and needs. So no magnolia woodchip wallpaper and manky bathrooms.

      1. Freckles McGee*

        “So no magnolia woodchip wallpaper …”

        Preach. I finally bought my house just before Christmas after 20 years of renting and magnolia walls. I moved in over the holidays and the very first thing I did was put some damn colour on my walls. My mother thinks I’m crazy, but I love my sage green sitting room and teal bedroom.

    23. Massmatt*

      For me and partner it was being sick of renting, of living in someone else’s space. And in our area it’s hard to have more space/privacy without buying.

      We saved lots and looked at a LOT of places and “kissed a lot of toads“ as we say, which gave us a good feel for prices and what we wanted and didn’t want. When the right place came along we were sure.

    24. Millennial Lizard Person*

      We live in Northern Virginia. The day after Amazon announced their Crystal City HQ, hubs turned to me and said we needed to buy.

    25. No fan of Chaos*

      I wanted a washer and dryer and to quit going to the laundry mat. That sealed it for me.

  5. OperaArt*

    The biopsy I told about last weekend came back negative. No indication that my breast cancer had returned.
    I, of course, am over-the-moon happy and relieved.

    1. frystavirki*

      I’m so happy for you! I hope that continues! I’ve been bothering my dermatologist to get me my skin biopsy results for two months and still don’t know if anything’s wrong, so…wish me luck with that.

        1. frystavirki*

          It’s somewhat my fault because the combination of ADHD and being nocturnal means I’ve only called them three times, but on the other hand they haven’t called me back once. We’re thinking of going in to the office to see if they will tell me what’s going on, since I obviously need to plan for MOHS surgery if there’s something wrong.

          1. OperaArt*

            They should have contacted you proactively as soon as the results came in. This is not your fault.
            Compare this with my experience where I received a phone call from the radiologist, a secure online message from the oncologist, and a letter in the mail.

            1. Massmatt*

              I agree, their not contacting you with the results is a big problem, as is their no5 returning your (three!) calls. I would fire them and find a new doctor if possible. Good luck!

    2. Falling Diphthong*

      Wonderful news. Congratulations, and eat/drink/dance whatever makes you feel truly celebratory.

  6. YouwantmetodoWHAT?!*

    I read that The Not Mad But Occasionally Irritable Scientist* met Edward Gorey – would you please tell us that story?

    1. Massmatt*

      *I* met Edward Gorey!

      It was at the ART theater in Cambridge, they were doing a stage adaptation of his works (it was HILARIOUS!) and he was in attendance. No fur coat (I believe he stopped wearing them in the late 80’s due to his animal welfare beliefs, plus it was summer) but a canary yellow t shirt, tennis shoes, and many MANY rings on all fingers. When we came to say hello and congratulate him on the show he was in the midst of describing how some of his favorites were brass curtain rings found at thrift stores.

      It was a brief interaction but he couldn’t have been more charming.

      Any fans visiting Cape Cod should stop to see his home, which has been converted to a small museum. Lots of the various oddities he collected, from antique doorknobs to the many rings he wore. “More than two on each finger is vulgar” LOL.

  7. Junior Dev*

    I need help finding plus size pants that actually fit, not just say they’re my size. I know sometimes people recommend work pants here so I figured I’d ask. I know this is pretty specific of an ask.

    I’m 5’9” and 250 lbs, and the jeans that I can fit into from Target seem to be somewhere in the 18 to 24 size range; when I buy tights or skirts it’s usually 2xl or 3xl. I’m a cis woman and I tend to prefer a style that’s more androgynous and straight leg or fitted (but not, like, jean spandex).

    I’ve mostly been wearing skirts or tights lately because I cannot seem to find jeans or slacks that actually fit my body. I don’t know how to describe my shape exactly but it’s not a case of wide hips, narrow waist; my stomach sticks out a fair amount and this means that when I wear a belt tight enough to keep my pants from falling down when I’m standing, they dig into my belly and constrict my breathing when I’m sitting. I suspect the solution will be something like a high rise jean with super stretchy front panel; I wear a lot of flared skirts and their waistband tends to sit on my natural waist, then have loose fabric below that, which is comfy. Maternity jeans might work but I have no idea what to look for there.

    I do not want something that squeezes me in to make me look thinner. I do not want my butt to be showing when I sit down. I want real pockets. I don’t like “distressed” or torn clothes or excessive embellishments, and I prefer a darker color. Basically I want to look like a grown-a$$ adult and not like I’m wearing an ill-fitting version of last year’s teen trends *cough*Torrid*cough*

    I’m willing to spend more if the store has a good return policy. I’d prefer to order online and send things back if they don’t work but I could go somewhere in person so long as they actually have the full range of sizes I mentioned above (it’s humiliating to try and squeeze myself into the largest size at the store and come away empty handed).

    Any suggestions on brands or stores? Please only answer if you have specific experience with this sort of thing; it’s not hard these days to find brands that have some sort of plus size offerings but it’s really hard to assess whether they’ll fit my body type comfortably.

    1. Yum Yum Sauce*

      I can’t be much of a help for specific brands here, but I would suggest following some plus size fashion bloggers on Instagram. A friend of mine (roseybeeme) shows off some super cute looks, and she is a fountain of knowledge on all things plus size clothing, with the added bonus of being SUPER body positive! Good luck :-D

      1. valentine*

        Try the Full Beauty family. They are size 12+ and have a tall range. They also have a line marketed to men: King Size. I don’t know how the fit might feel.

        Old Navy has a women’s plus range, but I don’t now if the length will suit you.

        1. Dancing Otter*

          Check their return policy first.
          I’m not buying from them currently because I was so irritated by the return shipping charges for an item that was absolutely not the size it claimed to be.

    2. RebeccaNoraBunch*

      So I’m not plus sized but that’s only because I’m 4’10” so my “curvy” is plus sized for ladies of, heh, normal height – I’m apple-shaped and about 140lbs. I’ve had a lot of luck with jeggings from Old Navy – they’re stretchy and fit my waist while also being flattering on my hips and not too wide on my legs, either. I think they were Rockstar jeggings. I also found jeans at New York & Company that fit well, too. It annoys me that everyone thinks “curvy” or something similar means “tiny waist, big hips” because my hips aren’t big but being apple shaped means I carry weight in my stomach…fun times. I know what it’s like to not be able to find pants!

      I just remembered I’ve also found work/dress pants reliably at Kohl’s. Best of luck!

    3. Lena Clare*

      As I get older and my body shape’s changed, I’ve found that Diane Gilman jeans are comfy, not tight, and reasonably priced. I really like that the waist band is high and that there’re pockets.
      I can wear them just sitting on the sofa and they don’t dig in, which is an impossibility with other jeans.

      I don’t know where you are based. I get mine from QVC online.

    4. A.N. O'Nyme*

      Ulla Popken might work, it’s a brand that specialises is plus size fashion. I don’t know what their availability is in other countries though.

    5. Nancy*

      Authentically Emmie has a really good blog that covers plus-size clothes. You might find some good ideas there!

    6. WS*

      I am also plus sized and I don’t like belts because they always dig in. I’ve found that pants with some elastic in the waist, preferably at the back, fit best because my waist is so much smaller than my belly that gaping is very likely without elastic. The other option, because I can sew, is to put elastic in the waistband to gather it a bit. This is a really simple alteration and something that could be done cheaply if you find pants that fit comfortably otherwise but gape at the waist. Recently, I’ve been buying from eShakti because they will alter to your size, but even then I sometimes have to add elastic to the waist.

      1. PX*

        Seconding this. I’m not plus size but have a similar kind of shape and honestly, when I found the Uniqlo pants that have elastic waistbands at the back, it was a revelation.

        Otherwise my default terrible behaviour is to just roll around with the button of my jeans undone (not a fan of belts) because otherwise it digs when I sit down.

    7. Lifelong student*

      Not long ago I discovered/was told about a solution to needing a belt to keep pants from gaping in the back while being the right size to fit in the front. There are what look to be elastic half belts at the fabric store- they clip to the belt loops in the back to pull the back in. Worn with a top that is not tucked, this creates the right look and fit without adding a buckle in the front.

    8. Queer Earthling*

      My favorite jeans are a size 18 black Lee Riders skinny jean from Walmart. They have a little stretch, though I’ve noticed it more in the thighs than the waist, and don’t *look* stretchy. I sometimes wear a very soft fabric belt with them, but like you, I have a lot of tummy and don’t like things digging in–the belt isn’t tight enough to hold them up, it’s mostly there to keep them from rolling funny when I sit down.

      tbh I find Walmart really helpful in fitting things on my chubby body without feeling like I have to wear sacks. Other stores’ plus size sections are either expensive or work on the assumption that I want to hide my body from view.

      1. Rebecca*

        I was going to suggest Walmart, too, I recently found Terra Earth brand jeans there, they are stretchy, but they don’t look like they are, 4 (count them!!) 4 real pockets, and they don’t zip up but have a giving waist band. I usually wear a 20W pant, and this brand’s 18w-20w combo size fits great, and is long enough. They also had black, dark denim, and a lighter denim with straight legs.

        1. Lady Laura*

          Yes, Walmart’s (I know, I know) Terra and Sky line has been a godsend, OP—we sound like we have similar body shapes. I wear their bottoms (leggings, jeggings, and jeans) almost exclusively now. I’m a teacher, so I never need suits or real office wear—I hope this is helpful to you anyway!

            1. voluptuousfire*

              I bought a cute pair of leopard print wide-legged pants in x0 petite from Terra and Sky. They were $15! The same pants in Torrid that were virtually identical, I would have had to have hemmed and were $60.

    9. Savannnah*

      universal standard! Investment prices but good quality and inclusive sizing. I’m 5’6 and about 250lbs and they are the only work pants I wear.

      1. Not So Little My*

        Yes! I am size 16/18 with biggish hips and a lumpy belly, and US jeans changed my life!

        The UNIQLO ankle pants are good for work pants.

    10. I edit everything*

      I’m 5’9”-ish and also have middle bulge. I actually find low-rise jeans more comfortable than high-waisted varieties. The waistband sits below my bulge, and I don’t have to deal with the “sitting down now” discomfort. I have always liked L.L.Bean jeans, and they have lots of different cuts and waistband styles these days.

    11. MCL*

      I am an 18/20, and I actually do wear jeans from Torrid but I like Lane Bryant’s better. LB definitely has stretch in the waist though, which I find helps keep their shape but sounds like you don’t prefer? I have looked long and hard for quality plus size technical pants (quick-dry for canoeing and hiking, plus good for travel), and my favorites are from Duluth Trading Company (flexpedition pant). I know they make jeans but haven’t tried them. I also have some pants from Land’s End but don’t always love them. You might also try Talbot’s. Unfortunately cheaper priced jeans from Target etc I find always fit me poorly so I always look to spend $70 to $100 on a pair but they usually last a long time. Good luck.

      1. old curmudgeon*

        Oh, I forgot about Duluth Trading – they’ve got some really good products, definitely geared to function rather than appearance, and they’ve added a lot of options to their line of women’s clothing in the past few years. They wear like iron, too (my spouse has a bunch of stuff from there).

    12. MissDisplaced*

      I’m a petite plus, which is difficult to find. I have to say, I don’t find Target good at all!

      I have had very good luck at JCPenny (of all places) for nice dress slacks and jeans and office clothes. They have wide ranges of plus, but also petite and tall plus. The Liz Clairbourne line is really great. Sadly, JCP‘s seem to be hurting and are harder to find nowadays. :-( They’ve been my goto for work pants, don’t know what I’ll do if they close.

      1. saf*

        Talbot’s does petite plus – my friend who is shorter than I am goes shopping with me there and we can both get stuff.

    13. Cinnamon*

      I carry all my weight in my stomach and Old Navy jeans have worked well for me. I’ve had the same issues with belts and found an adjustable elastic belt on Amazon that has a flat plastic clip for a buckle. It works really well and I don’t get stomach aches from a belt digging in!

    14. NoLongerStuckInRetailHell*

      I am pretty close to the same size and shape as you, and I found that the Men’s dress slacks (George brand) from Walmart worked great when I was in Management. They had a generous enough fit and sturdy enough construction that I could be very active in them without risk of tearing and had VERY generous pockets (unlike women’s slacks). For jeans I liked the Lee and Just My Size women’s that Walmart used to carry, but now they have the Terra & Sky brand that doesn’t fit me as well, but might be worth it for you to try on. They are very generous sized—the pair of 20W jeans I have in T&S keep falling down on me, while my 20W in other brands are tight on me. Hope this helps :)

    15. old curmudgeon*

      My daughter is plus-sized, 6 feet tall with about a 36″ inseam, and she loves pants and jeans from Lane Bryant. They make jeans with some stretch to them, which she finds very comfortable. She is in an IT field and spends a lot of time at a desk, and comfort is really important to her as well.

      I am also plus-sized, though not as tall as my daughter, and I prefer pants and jeans from LL Bean. They have several styles with elastic panels in the waistband, which I find more comfortable.

    16. Granger Chase*

      I recently bought a couple pairs from Wild Fable (purchased at Target) that fit really well! You and I sound like we’re about the same size, although more of my weight is carried in my thighs than anywhere else. Wild Fable had skinny jeans but also had more straight leg cuts. The black denim jeans I bought from them were maybe $10 and are hands down the comfiest black jeans I’ve ever owned (I find those tend to fit a bit tighter). They have a lot of flexibility in the stomach area and are more of a high waisted cut. I bought a size 18 and they are roomy but do not slide down.

    17. Lucette Kensack*

      Not Your Daughter’s Jeans. Expensive but SO GOOD.

      I also love Kut from the Kloth, but I think I’ve only had “skinny jeans” from them so can’t vouch for their other styles. (I’ve had skinny, straight leg, boot cut, and trouser jeans from NYDJ and all have been great.)

    18. Miss Pantalones en Fuego*

      Sounds like I have a very similar body to yours. Personally I find high rise to be too uncomfortable when I’m sitting down so I prefer mid rise, but I also have a tilted waist so YMMV. Do you have a Kohls near you? I’ve bought a lot of jeans and such there over the years. I can’t compare them to to Target because I don’t think I’ve bought any clothes at Target for years (I didn’t even realize they did anything in a 24!). My favorite jeans brand is the Lees comfort waist line, which I used to buy at K-Mart but I think they also carry them at JC Penny and Dillard’s, but I’ve recently bought Vera Wang jeans on sale and they are pretty good. Ross, if you have one, has also been a good source of clothes for me for decades but it’s hit and miss.

    19. Atchafalaya*

      Old Navy high waisted Rock Star jeans are wonderful. I am shaped like a potato on toothpicks, big boobs, big waist, small hips and thighs. These old navy jeans are comfy as pajamas and don’t stretch out and sag. Good luck!

    20. Short Time Lurker Komo*

      I don’t have a brand suggestion, but for consistent plus size fit, I love shopping at Catherine’s (in the US, not sure about other countries). Their smallest size is 1x – they are a pure plus size store that do have simple returns as far as I know. They are in the more expensive side, but their clothes have lasted me years. Good luck in your search!

      1. Windchime*

        I only recently discovered Catherine’s, and they’ve been a godsend. I wear their ponte knit pants to work almost every day. I did buy some of their jeans this summer, but they were capri’s. I loved the way they fit in the waist, though. They were comfortable around my big tummy yet didn’t gape at the small of my back. And best of all, there was room for my butt and thighs without the jeans being skin tight. I also have a pair of their jeggings which are comfortable and look like jeans, although I maybe should have sized up on those.

    21. Just Another Manic Millie*

      Try Alfred Dunner pants. They come in petite, misses, and women’s sizes. They are proportioned short, medium, and long. They are sold at JC Penney and Macy’s and most likely at other department stores. I love them.

    22. Apt Nickname*

      I’ve had very good luck with the pants and jeans in the St John’s Bay line at JC Penney. I discovered this the weekend I packed lightly to visit a smaller town and my jeans tore catastrophically. Anyway, they’re very reasonably priced and available in a decent variety of sizes and colors.

    23. Old Biddy*

      I have a similar shape as you and have had good luck for dressy work pants and jeans at Christopher and Banks.
      If you want to take a risk on some inexpensive jeans from Costco.com, the Gloria Vanderbilt ‘Amanda’ jean fits me pretty well and they carry an extensicve range of sizes and lengths.

      1. willow19*

        I love the Amanda jeans – the women’s sizes (like 18W) have a generous sized waist. and they come in short, regular, and long.

        1. Alexandra Lynch*

          YES! I am a very curvy woman with a belly in front, and the Amanda jeans fit thighs, hips, crotch, and rear, and don’t dig into me. Currently I’m an 18. I was delighted to find that as I lose weight down into straight sizes I can still get that cut of jeans.

    24. em*

      I’m a similar size to you and my favorite jeans from the last few years have been Lane Bryant’s skinny jeans. If you want to try maternity jeans (they are SO comfy) pay attention to the waistband – some have a regular zipper, some have like a wide elastic band that is meant to go on/under your stomach, and some have a stretchy tights-style panel that goes over your whole stomach up to your bust. You’d just choose whatever size you typically wear/what the size chart suggests would fit best. (And be aware that a dedicated maternity store will likely have prompts for your baby’s due date and might put you on a mailing list for baby product coupons, so you’d want to try to find a “this is a gift” option or opt-out to avoid junk mail!)

      1. em*

        Oh, and I’ve heard a lot of good things about Universal Standard and JibriOnline for plus size styles but don’t have personal experience with either.

    25. Jaid*

      I’m an apple shape – big belly, no ass. The jeans that fit me are the Gloria Vanderbilt Amanda ones. They have high rise and mid rise waistbands and are slightly stretchy. They’re on Amazon and some local department stores.

      Good hunting!

    26. saf*

      Talbot’s Plus.

      I”m 5’6″, 235. Talbots has a lot of things that fit me. Not everything is cut the same, so you have to try everything on, but I have found a lot of good professional and weekend stuff there. If you are in the DC are, they have a clearance store in Springfield, not far from the mall, that has a very good plus size section. Weird selection, because it IS a clearance store, but worth a visit.

    27. Anono-me*

      I’m plus-sized and about your height. I do well with Maurice’s private line of jeans. A lot of them are bedazzled and preripped, but some of them are plain.

    28. Destiny’s Child*

      Hello! I am a size 22. My best luck is Torrid’s jeans, particularly their black ones are amazing. It’s on the more expensive side but worth it. As far as work pants, I use Nordstrom and Loft. Loft goes up to a size 24/26. Their work pants are super high quality and they have a great return policy. I also like online plus size boutiques like Kervology for fun dresses. For work dresses I really like Talbot’s. Follow @katiesturino on insta as well.

    29. Sharkzle*

      I’m right around your size and have recently broken up with Torrid too, it’s too young and honestly the quality is bad for what you pay for. I’ve got a big butt and a belly to contain while trying to also be comfortable. Most of my recommendations are for skinny jeans. Check out Celebrity Pink, I’ve seen them on Amazon and at Macy’s. I have a couple from Good American that are amazing. They have a nice selection and variation in sizes, wait heights, occassions, but they’re prices start around $100. I found a pair there that I love that were very much worth the money. If you want a “triender” pair of pants you could try out Madewell which has a few extended sizes. I feel you and totally know whas a struggle it is to find a nice pair of jeans/pants that not only look good but also are comfortable, good luck!

      1. with a comma after dearest*

        I have success with Macy’s JM Collection, called something like “Magic No-Gap” pants.

        I just looked and can’t find that they’re made anymore, grrr, but found this on EBay. https://www.ebay.com/sch/i.html?_nkw=jm+collection+no+gap&_trksid=p2380057.m4084.l1313.TR5.TRC0.A0.H0.Xjm+collection+n.TRS0

        This brand always worked for me when I was plus sized because I had the same problem – if it fit in front, it gaped at the back. Hence the “no gap” pants.

      2. Not a cat*

        Not your size but wanted to endorse Good American. I am fussy, fussy and they make my favorite pair of pants.

    30. Red Sky*

      For all of us following this comment, please report back if you find something that works for you!

    31. Junior Dev*

      Thanks everyone who commented. I ended up ordering some jeans from Lane Bryant, which has a good return policy, and I’ll look at some of the other stores if that doesn’t work out.

    32. Aurélia*

      For non-jeans, I love MM LaFleur. My favorite pants of theirs (the Oshimas and Fosters, the latter or which I’m wearing today in black) don’t have pockets, but they have a side zip and a fit great. A number of other models have pockets, and they have great customer service and a return policy. I’m in DC and would recommend their show-room, when I went the first time they had a sort-of pre-appointment survey to curate some pieces for you. Highly recommend.

    33. Stormy Weather*

      I haven’t done this in a while, but Woman Within online sometimes has some good options for pants. They have a lot of different brands, too.

      I believe the Dia subscription service also has plus size, but I don’t know how far up they go. While they are pricey, they pretty much expect some things returned. Amazon also has a wardrobe subscription now, though I haven’t tried it.

      I’ve bought Briggs pants off Amazon, which are a little stretchy. I’m a 16 in those, but that only means I’m a 16 in those pants, not in any other brand, because the fashion industry is a bunch of idiots and won’t standardize sizes.

    34. Mme Pince*

      I am very apple shaped and also tall (almost 5’11”). I have to wear a belt because I don’t have any hips to hold up pants. Since The Limited went out of business, I’ve really struggled with work-appropriate pants. I just recently bought two pairs of the mid-rise column pants from Express in size 18, and they’re pretty good. They have real pockets and the regular length is long enough for my everyday shoes. For heels, I would order the longs, but I only really need a 33″ inseam. This doesn’t get around the issue of that being the top of their size range, but I will say that even after washing, they’re roomy 18s. I think could probably order 16s and not need a belt, and I’ve really needed 18s everywhere for the last couple years. For reference, I wear 18 regular or long jeans from Target (Universal Thread) and 18 regular or long pixie pants from Old Navy (which I love, but they fade soooo fast in the wash).

    1. Anonymouse*

      The only way out is through the pain, I’ve unfortunately found.

      A good night’s sleep and hydrate well. Mostly the sleep: if I don’t sleep well and deep enough, the migraine lingers.

    2. Vincaminor*

      Once a migraine has its claws in me, all I can do is declare the rest of the day a wash and go to bed with an ice pack on my face.

      A friend who gets much worse and more frequent migraines than I do have me a pro-tip (as in, came from actual medical professionals) to head them off, though: if you feel you’re getting a migraine, take 900mg of aspirin with caffeine, if you can. Apparently migraines paralyze your stomach, which is why taking regular doses of painkillers doesn’t work.

    3. Ysa*

      Migraines are super hard to get rid off.
      A family member of mine used a journal to keeps track of all possible triggers (food, cycle, sound, lights etc.) to identify what triggered their migraines.

      1. Massmatt*

        I am fortunate not to suffer from them but several friends and family do, I second the figuring out what your triggers are. For one it’s flashing/strobe lighting, which sounds easy to avoid but she noticed she would often get them while driving. It turns out it wasn’t the driving it was the sun flashing through trees and branches as she drove. She altered her route and used the sun visor and sunglasses and that helped.

        For others there are dietary items to avoid but alas, sometimes they just happen no matter what The precautions. Good luck.

    4. WS*

      Migraine medication (both preventative and for when it hits) has advanced greatly over the last 10 years or so. If you haven’t been to the doctor about this specifically in the last few years, it’s really worth going.

      My partner occasionally gets migraines and 900mg of aspirin works very well for her, but I’m allergic to aspirin so I can’t do this. I take a prescription anti-emetic so I don’t throw up, take painkillers that make me sleepy, and go to bed.

    5. Enter_the_Dragonfly*

      I hope your migraine’s gone by now but just in case here’s something that often helps me. If you get cold hands and feet with your migraines, put them in warm/hot water for 10 minutes or so. It can really mitigate the pain of the ‘headache’. Also, a dark room with a talking book on super-low volume. Good luck to you!

    6. Penguin*

      Depends. Definitely talk to a doctor; there are prescription medications that can stop or lessen the length/severity if taken early enough (like when you first notice the pressure or pain building).
      Reducing light (if they make you light sensitive) or sound (if they make you sound sensitive) can help; a dark, quiet room helps me. So can wearing colored lenses- I’ve heard anecdotes of both yellow and green lenses helping migraine sufferers, so talk to an optometrist about that possibility.
      Also, scents can help sometimes- I get some relief from peppermint (I burn a beeswax candle imbued with peppermint oil) (but be wary of “room aroma diffusers” as sometimes the various additives can make things worse… ask me how I know!).
      If you get migraines from overexertion, be mindful of what you’re physically doing, and try resting (eyes closed, lying down) when one happens.
      If you get them from eating/drinking something in particular, try reducing or eliminating that (for instance, caffeine can trigger mine, so no coffee or tea for me… although I can do moderate amounts of chocolate, thankfully).

    7. Not So NewReader*

      Run through all the basics. I was able to get rid of most of my headaches, with hydration and with avoiding sugary foods and adding in plenty of veggies and fruits. Make sure bowels and kidneys are working properly. If your stomach is bothering you also, take something for your stomach. (Pain in one area can crop up in other areas. It’s pretty random, but it’s worth putting energy into.)
      If you have not had an eye exam lately, you might want to consider that.
      I worry excessively about natural gas. If your home or workplace has natural gas that might be worth a moment to see if the system(s) are working correctly.

    8. Jim Bob*

      Triptans for one already in progress (needs a prescription), and tracking possible triggers to prevent recurrence. There are also studies showing certain supplements help prevent them (I take B2, magnesium, CoQ10). If you have lots, there are preventative drugs that can be prescribed, including a new class of biologics.

      Treatment has advanced quite a bit in the last several years.

    9. Legally a Vacuum*

      I get hormonal/menstrual migraines. If I take 600 mg ibuprofen as soon as I have the very first hint of a migraine, it dramatically reduces severity. Nothing I do once they’re in full swing helps.

      1. lasslisa*

        Yes! If it’s the right time in my cycle for a migraine, I am much more careful about headache attention and taking Advil right away. If I miss the window…

    10. foxinabox*

      I do excedrin and lie facedown in a 100% dark room without moving and bar anyone else from coming in or moving the bed in any way and usually am lucky enough that about six hours later they go away. I know people who have severe chronic migraines, though, and if they’re like THAT it can often involve daily medication, specialty treatments, botox injections, hospitalizations. So I guess it depends on where you are in the spectrum–I hope you find a solution and if need be, a doctor who is prepared to listen and help!

    11. Lilo*

      When I feel mine coming on I slam it with caffeine and ibuprofen. That works some of the time.

      My sister takes a benadryl and some painkillers. The benadryl usually knocks her out for a nap and it seems to work.

    12. Impska*

      Chronic migraine sufferer here. Daily, hard aerobic exercise, where I sweat and breathe hard for at least 30 minutes is my #1 migraine prevention tool. I don’t know why it works. It actually does often work to get rid of a currently active migraine, but it can be really difficult to go to some dance aerobics when you have a migraine.

      Once a migraine is here:
      Food and hydration.
      A very hot bath – as hot as you can stand.
      Lying down and sleeping/relaxing in a dark room.
      Aerobic Exercise.

      If all else fails… I take Relpax. But you’re not supposed to take migraine medication too often in succession, or you risk rebound migraines. Regular over the counter stuff doesn’t touch my migraines.

    13. Ravenahra*

      There’s a tea called Sleepytime tea that always helped me. I’ve suggested it to other people with migraines and they’ve agreed it helps. It won’t get rid if it but helps take the edge off and helps with nausea because it has mint in it.

      One of my migraine triggers is weather change and I take magnesium every day which helps prevent migraines if that’s a trigger for you.

      Hydration mentioned by others is a big help too.

      Once I had one before I had my medication, darkness and cold compresses help a bit.

      If you haven’t yet, check with a dr about getting a scan of your sinuses to see if the cause of the migraines is something that can be corrected like a deviated septum or a bone splinter. My doctor’s migraines were permanently resolved by having a minor sinus surgery so she insists on doing a nasal MRI for all migraine patients before she starts them on medication just in case the problem can be permanently fixed.

      Hope you feel better soon.

    14. Reader in ND*

      I don’t know how I could have survived with a prescription for Relpax and Imitrex. Sometimes I will have the weirdest things seem to work but then I can’t repeat them. Like once I ate a bunch of really salty popcorn and a huge glass of chocolate milk and that seemed to help. Was I needing salt that day or something, I have no idea. But sometimes heat on your feet and cold on your neck or head will draw the blood to your feet and you may feel less pounding in your head. I agree with others that say mixing caffeine with a pain killer can really help. Other people I know get nearly instant relief from a chiropractic adjustment or eating a big chocolate bar with some caffeine. Do you have any jaw problems or TMD issues? I knew I did but I didn’t know that apparently TMD and neck issues/migraines are all very much related. So I’m starting the process of changing the shape of my jaw/teeth and how my top and bottom teeth come together in my bite. I do not have a ton of knowledge on this but after suffering from migraines way too often for too many years I’m pretty desperate. This process will take years (to improve my bite) but if you have TMD issues you should seek out a dentist that has attended classes at the Las Vegas Institute (LVI dentistry). They advocate non surgical methods that are supposedly bringing relief to lots of people (according the the facebook group I’m on about this). Oh and this process also improves the space your tongue has/how well you can breathe at night, because getting enough oxygen when you’re asleep is also important. If you wake up with headaches, it could be you’re not breathing well when you’re sleeping. I hope you find something that works. Migraines are very complicated and I have never figured out any specific triggers besides my period.

      1. Reader in ND*

        I literally was just informed of something called the sphenocath procedure. I may look into it but I’m not sure if the docs in my area offer it. But it sounds pretty simple and easy so you could look into that too. Best of luck.

    15. Ali G*

      Everyone is different. In addition to sleep and hydration, I have found I need to eat my way through a migraine. I don’t know why, but it works for me.

    16. MissDisplaced*

      Putting cold packs on my head and temples where it’s throbbing always helps, but may take awhile.

    17. YouwantmetodoWHAT?!*

      Gatorade and a quiet dark room, is what helps me. They always last longer if I don’t do both.

    18. RagingADHD*

      My husband gets migraines from time to time, and he’s had success recently in heading them off or cutting them short with a salt & lemon concoction:

      Approx 2 Tbs lemon juice, 1-2 tsp himalayan salt, mix into a big glass of water and chug it.

      I think it’s something to do with the interaction of the juice with the minerals? Not sure, but I have seen it work.

      I’m not sure if it absolutely has to be the pink salt, that’s just the recipe he found.

    19. That Girl from Quinn's House*

      A good OTC remedy is Benadryl at bedtime. It really helps and I hear hospitals use it if you have an ER visit due to your migraine.

      Otherwise, get a prescription for one of the triptans, they are *fantastic*.

    20. mrsSquid*

      chronic migraine human here.. hydrate.. if you normally have caffeine make sure you’ve had yours.. dark room.. had intermittent luck with dark chocolate and benadryl.. but really check in with your doc.. i’m a Relpax girl.. and i started the Ajovy (preventative) shots last summer.. and my doc just had me try the stupid new abortant – Ubrelvy.. (haven’t made up my mind on that)
      good luck!

    21. Jaid*

      Sinus migraine, I drink coffee, take Tylenol, and slap a heating pad over my eyes.

      I wish you well.

    22. Senor Montoya*

      Dark and very quiet room
      Crapton of ibuprofen (the only med that works for me) at first sign of migraine, don’t wait for it to get bad.
      Very hot bath — submerge self completely, w just nose sticking up. Lights off in bathroom. Heating pad on face or part of head that hurts the most is an ok alternative. (My migraines feel like an ice pick through my eyes, so one the face is helpful for me)
      Partner /roommate/ kids who will stay away so that there is no noise

      Identify triggers if you can and then do your best to avoid them. When I was younger, cold dry wind was one thing that would set off migraines, so I’d wrap my head well with a warm soft scarf at such times.

      So sorry to hear you are suffering from migraine. It hurts more than childbirth, in my experience!

    23. SteveHolt!*

      Definitely get a prescription! I take generic sumatriptan (brand name is Imitrex) but that’s an older med so I’m sure there are more advanced ones available now. Maxalt is another triptan that comes in a meltaway form, which is good if you get very nauseous. But there’s no need to suffer through these things now that there are effective medications! I spent my entire childhood getting migraines and trying to treat them with Excedrin, which was never successful. It’s like a miracle now!

      1. Windchime*

        Imitrex is a godsend. Back before it was generic, it cost like $9 per pill (that’s *with* insurance), but it was worth it. Now it’s generic so I don’t have to save them up like they’re diamonds.
        Usually I try to take an imitrex right away and that will help, but sometimes I also need to use ice or heat. If I can make myself get into a hot shower and let the hot water run over my head for 10 or 15 minutes, that can really help. Other times I will wrap a heating pad around my head. Sometimes ice helps, too, but mostly I have good luck with heat.

    24. lasslisa*

      My migraines often come with a side of tension headache, and the combination of cold on my forehead and heat on my neck is like receiving a blessing from heaven. It’s magical.

    25. Taking The Long Way Round*

      Thanks, am limiting my screen time. Still got it, but will try some of the heat/cold suggestions.
      Have a good weekend :)

    26. Alexandra Lynch*

      Dark room, hydrate, sleep for several hours, eat food that you find comforting when you wake up, and avoid loud noises and bright lights when you get up.

  8. Kuododi*

    I got the word last week that all my scans are clean as a whistle;). I’ve been bumped down to every 4months check up with the MDs.

    That being said, I have had a difficult time with the emotional aspect of the recovery process. It’s as though the relief of the positive outcomes regarding my health have opened the floodgates to begin addressing the emotional aspect of recovery. (Lots of grief, increased irritability.). DH has always been my rock while dealing with the multiple stressors of cancer recovery. He certainly does not deserve the brunt of my rage.

    I’m also extremely sleep deprived since back when I first got my diagnoses. I’ve been running on 3-5 hrs sleep/ night, waking up between 4-5 am. (Historically that NEVER happens. I’m certainly hopeful that resolving this will help considerably. Between my Drs as well as other support persons I’ve been seeing, I have a wonderful network of people (including AAM!!!) cheering for me. Im mostly writing this as a way of update/venting rather than data gathering. Thanks to this community for all of your kindness. Blessings, Kuododi

    1. zaracat*

      There’s a great podcast on “the new normal post-cancer treatment” by Two Shrinks Pod (it’s episode 14).

    2. StellaBella*

      So good to hear on your update!!!! Yay!!!! I am not sure on the irritability, but getting more sleep will help with this. Would a bit more exercise help for making you more tired? Congrats again on the all clear!

    3. WS*

      Ha, yes, I’m the same – during the hard health stuff I cope okay, then when it’s over I start to feel it emotionally. Do you have something physical you can do to help work off the anger? I find weeding very helpful!

    4. OperaArt*

      Fantastic news about the scans.

      I understand about the post medical crisis emotions. It’s happened to me several times. You experience the medical thing, slog through it, deal with the chaos, feel the fear and pain, do what needs doing, and make it out the other side to either your old normal or a new normal. And then BAM. A release of all the emotions that couldn’t be dealt with at the time.
      My approach has always been to dive into the emotions and feel them and hit them and hug them.
      I wish you the best in getting through this next part of the recovery process.

    5. Not So NewReader*

      Nothing like sleep deprivation to cause emotions to run all over the place. Not the same as your setting, but to say I get what you are saying- I remember running on 1-2 hours sleep a night for months. I ended up not liking me very much. I was cranky and that is an understatement. We definitely lose parts of ourselves when we don’t have enough rest.
      I hope with all my heart that you start getting good rest very soon.

    6. NoLongerYoung*

      Sending you a giant woo hoo and a gentle hug. Somehow the adrenaline push-through fades, and the feelings that were barricaded have permission to eek out (or flood out). They were there, just as valid… waiting.
      So very glad the news is good, and trusting that you will ease through this stage/ these waves of feelings with the same grace and understanding you’ve so ably demonstrated throughout this tough process. Warrior Queen, you are.

    7. Falling Diphthong*

      Do you have any sort of cancer support center? I was referred to one nearby my multiple doctors (so many doctors I see now) and it is a godsend. Support groups for those at different stages, art and yoga and such for people with cancer, practical help with both fighting for your disability insurance and explaining different treatments. Not just for stuff you know you need, but for suggesting stuff you hadn’t thought of that would help. e.g. They connected me to a volunteer organization that walks my dogs, something I hadn’t thought to ask for that has been huge.

  9. A.N. O'Nyme*

    Writing thread! How’s everyone’s writing going?
    I’m still on the fanfic, because at the moment it’s all I can actually move along with.

    1. Elizabeth West*

      Now that Tunerville is out in the world, I’m starting to revise and edit Book 2. I just read it through after letting it sit for a while. Someone who reviewed it on Amazon said they couldn’t wait (nervous that nobody will like it). I have pages and pages of notes; I just need to do the work. It’s so hard to focus on anything right now, I’m so damn stressed.

      1. Elizabeth West*

        Oh, I forgot to add, I applied for and got in the Goodreads Author program! Except did you know they charge authors $119 to do a giveaway?! I did not know that. :(

    2. AngelicGamer, the Visually Impaired Peep*

      My biggest win this week was that I got through another chapter of my current story. It’s a ownvoices Robin Hood retelling and I can already see where I’m going to need to take the editing scythe to. It’s exciting that I can see that because it feels, to me, that I have leveled up as a writer. I’ve also been editing my dhampir novel and… well, I got feedback that gently went “dear, you’re in the wrong genre…” and it’s been mind blowing helpful.

    3. Alexandra Lynch*

      I’ve been researching a character, which means I’ve been reading the book “Holy Anorexia” by Rudolph Bell and studying up on migraines.

      I mean, they decide she’s a saint. We who look at it in the 21st century would classify it differently, so I have to do it right.

    4. Stormy Weather*

      Mine went on hold due to mass amounts of stress in November/December. Now that I have a new job, I’m hoping to spend more time on it.

  10. A.N. O'Nyme*

    Gaming thread! What’s everyone been playing this week?
    I’m still on Steins;Gate, story is moving along nicely now. As for Rintaro…sometimes I think he’s going to be less annoying. Then he starts talking.

    1. Emyn*

      I’m playing Tacoma again – lovely wee exploring game set in space I’ve never played Steins;Gate before – would you recommend it?

      1. A.N. O'Nyme*

        If you like scifi set in more or less our time (well, about ten years ago now) with a massive conspiracy, the story has got you covered. It is, however, a Visual Novel in the purest form (games like Ace Attorney or Danganronpa are actually adventure games), meaning there is very little interaction. However, instead of the obvious choice system VNs usually go for Steins;Gate has it’s interaction occur through text messages, and for the moment I can’t tell what effect they’re gonna have (although given Rintaro’s warning in the beginning I’m assuming the effect will be bigger than I think – it seems like they’re actually applying the butterfly effect correctly here).
        Also, so far all of the science is entirely correct and figuring out what some of the slightly changed names are is actually quite fun (although I do wonder what IBN stands for – International Business Network maybe?)

        1. A.N. O'Nyme*

          Personally I am loving it so far, but I do enjoy Visual Novels a lot so your mileage may vary. Also, Steins;Gate Elite uses parts of the anime instead of CGs if I get it correctly, and also has a DLC (Linear Bounded Phenogram) but I’m playing the original version. If you think Visual Novels aren’t your jam, you might want to try the anime, I’ve heard good things (anyone who has seen it wanting to weigh in here?)

          1. CollegeSupervisor*

            So, so good. Though I would recommend the dub if you’re not well-versed in Japanese culture. There are a TON of cultural references that will completely go over your head in the original Japanese, but are translated into similar references that are more relatable to American audiences in the dub (keep an ear out for a Doctor Who reference in the first episode). Be warned though: while the first half of the show is a more-or-less lighthearted mystery, it quite suddenly turns dark and depressing for the second half and if you have a hard time keeping yourself from internalizing a show’s emotions, you will likely struggle here. I would not have been able to finish without my husband repeatedly reassuring me that there IS a happy ending, against all odds.

    2. Sorgatani*

      I’m playing To The Moon this week, as part of a “game of the month” club thing a streamer I follow is doing.
      I’m not very far in yet, but so far I LOVE the sound design.

        1. Sorgatani*

          I finished it! Absolutely loved it.
          Story, soundtrack, characters, and references; all in all a poignant creation.

    3. Zephy*

      I’ve been watching my bf play through Pokemon Sword. Nice of Nintendo to finally make a game where EXP is automagically shared among your entire party – I remember playing through Red and Blue as a wee child, within a few hours my party would just be a Blastoise and an assortment of random baby (lvl 10ish) pokeymans that I’d pull out when my Blastoise was out of moves.

      Opinions from the Pokemon-playing commentariat: What are Ghost-type Pokemon? Do dead Pokemon (or, perhaps more horrifyingly, dead people) turn into Ghost-types when they die, or are Ghost-types simply attracted to places where people and/or Pokemon have died or been mourned (see: Lavender Town in G1)? If it’s that second thing, where do they come from? The question of what Pokemon are and where they came from more generally has pretty much been ??? from the beginning of the franchise – even back at the very beginning, there were Pokemon that resembled animals and Pokemon that resembled inanimate objects – I know Japanese folklore has several examples of either inanimate objects coming to life or demons that resemble inanimate objects, so that in itself isn’t too out-there. But what about the ghosts, though?

      1. A.N. O'Nyme*

        There are a few Pokémon that are explicitly stated to be spirits of dead Pokémon/people (yamask comes to mind). I think the XP share has worked like that since X and Y, if you have it turned on it’ll automatically share the XP with the entire party instead of just the Pokémon holding it. I thought it worked like that in Gen 1 too?

        1. Zephy*

          Dreepy is also explicitly the spirit of a dead (ancient) Pokemon. What I’m wondering is what they were before they died; Dreepy is ancient, so in its case, maybe a long time ago there was a population of living Dreepy and they just persist as ghosts now.

          On XP: In the early gens I believe there was an item you could purchase, relatively late in the game, that would share XP among your entire party. Around gen 3 or 4, IIRC, there was an item a Pokemon could hold that would do it, but it would only share XP between that pokemon and the one(s) that had participated in the battle. In Sword, it’s automatic and includes everyone, whether they participated in the battle or not – no item needed. The whole XP system in general in Sword/Shield does a better job of keeping all of your active Pokemon relatively close to each other level-wise, and catching up Pokemon that have been in storage for a while. There’s less grinding required, I guess, would be the best way to put it.

    4. Nicki Name*

      I’m playing Thea 2 and fighting my urge to Do All the Things the way I would in a story-based game (Thea 2 is a civilization-building/roguelike hybrid). I’ve probably started and prematurely ended 7 or 8 games at this point, but it does let me accumulate points toward unlocking better starting options, and I’m learning more about how things work in it, and I do still love the mini-stories that are scattered through it.

    5. Elizabeth West*

      I seriously need to settle into a place of my own; so many games I haven’t played that are sitting in a box!

    6. Arts Akimbo*

      Pokemon Go: I am trying to power up three Machamps to fight Team Rocket Go leaders, and I have no Fast Machines or Charge Machines, and ohhhhhhh do my Machamps have such incredibly sucky movesets! Sigh.

      On the happy side, I love my Milotic buddy! (…I’ve maybe spent all my stardust powering her up…) Anybody else power up their pokemon to reward them for doing well in battles? X-D

    7. CollegeSupervisor*

      Honest curiosity here: how do visual novels compare with standard video game formats? I knew there was a visual novel that the anime was based on, but I never really thought of it as a game in my head. I was blown away by the anime (though I admit it took serious effort to get through the second half of the show without internalizing the despair), so I hope the visual novel is just as good and you’re enjoying it!

    8. Stormy Weather*

      Tabletop RPG player here. I’m in a weekly Shadowrun game which is a ton of fun. Our crew just heisted some art and theoretically got away clean. My character is a hacker who escaped from a cult.

  11. Birthday*

    I’m turning 35 today.

    It’s giving me thinky thoughts.

    I don’t think I have the same issues with getting older that I hear as common – I am fine with the idea of getting older, and aging.

    What bothers me is that it reminds me that I lost 13 years, 21-33, to a medical nightmare, that kept me from working during that time. It kept me from doing anything, really, aside from dealing with those medical issues. I am still dealing with lots of medical issues, but at this point can work full time, and am living an “adult” life on my own, for which I am intensely grateful.

    I keep thinking, though, of those 13 years that I just cannot get back. That’s 13 years of interest and retirement savings I do not have. It’s seeing people a decade younger than me at the exact same point in their careers, and thinking about running out of time at the other end. It’s feeling bitter and resentful at having those years just stolen from me, through no fault of my own.

    Has anyone else been through something like this? How do you not let it consume you?

    1. Asenath*

      Time and more time, with support as needed – and I appreciated my closest friends and relatives, but sometimes a good outsider helps more, like a counselor. I was about a decade older that you are now when I ended up unemployed. I salvaged what I could, but was declared ineligible for medical benefits. Then I thought I’d never work again, would die in poverty and damn it I deserved those benefits. But I plugged on, one day at a time, followed advice about changing my life when I could, eventually got first contract work and then a steady job. At some point in that process I realized that I hadn’t given all those financial losses a thought in some time, and I actually liked my new life more than my old and better paid one, mainly because I liked the work. Someone told me back then ‘normal is overrated’, and he was right. I can have a good life without following the normal work and financial path through life that I once thought was so important.

    2. Anon for this*

      I developed cancer at 23 but it wasn’t diagnosed until I was 25, and treatment wasn’t complete until I was 38. I still have some very bad and unresolved feelings about not having kids (and my partner therefore also not having kids) and of course I still have related health issues. But at the same time, I can’t guarantee what would have happened in those years even if I hadn’t had cancer: would I have been doing all the travel I missed out on? Would I have had kids? Would I have actually saved money? I definitely wouldn’t be in the same place I am now, and there really are good things about that. And you don’t know what’s going to happen in the future, to you or those other people.

    3. Anon PhD*

      Hi, I can relate, but not on a medical level, on relationship level. In my early 20s I wasted close to 7yrs in a committed relationship that should have been over by year 4 or 5, at least we didn’t have kids, but still. I am still working through some of the emotional baggage from that time in therapy and I still blame myself for not getting out sooner. And I am regretful, because it probably robbed me of some truly fun years I could have had instead of hanging on to that guy. I also wonder if in that way I would have found Mr. Right sooner, had a better,more exciting career to-date (still haven’t found him…but whatever), but as my previous therapist said, can’t change the past, she could only help with the future; this has always been a great reminder statement. For me, a therapist helped a lot, as well as creating other educational/career/personal life opportunities/new hobbies (again, with the therapist’s help and good friends) to keep moving well forward. I send you the warmest wishes and all best.

    4. Not So NewReader*

      There are no certainties in this world. I have a setting where medical bills wiped out most of my assets and I will work for the rest of my life. I can’t retire. Prior to the health issue, we were underway to have a safe retirement.
      There are all kinds of boulders in the road as we walk through our lives.

      It so easy to think “If only X had not happened, I would be so much better off.” It’s an easy pit to fall into because there is some truth to it. Notice I say “some truth”. What is missing from the sentence is the fact that we are creative, resourceful, thinking beings. While you may not retire with millions in the bank, that is NOT the same as saying you will retire with NO money at all. There is a middle area.

      I think the trick lies in knowing where our assets are and working those assets to the best of our ability.
      Check this out: An asset can be ANYTHING! It does not have to be money in an account some where. It does not have to be something tangible.

      So what are your assets? I can see a few just from what you written so far:
      You are a survivor, you pulled yourself through the bad hand you got dealt.
      This means you are probably pretty clever about handling difficult stuff.
      You probably think things through pretty well or else you would not be where you are now.
      You do have gratitude despite the bad hand you have been dealt in life.

      These are flippin’ huge assets. Don’t think so? Read about the lives of some Hollywood stars. Their lives are a hot mess and what is lacking? Cleverness/resourcefulness in bad times; ability to think things through; and gratitude.
      And I can tell you first hand that these types of assets will carry you farther than $1M in the bank.

      You are justified in being angry, you got shorted definitely. Anger is NOT wrong. It’s what we do with the anger that can become a problem. Don’t let your anger defeat that creative, clever, strong mind of yours. Because anger can do that, it can shut down our lives. Get a punching bag, if the docs allow it. Put on the gloves and hit that bag with all you got. Get that anger out in the open and face it.
      Then cry. Behind most anger is tears, tears cause chemical reactions in the brain that help the brain to be healthy.
      Then realize, you have made it this far and so it shall continue to go. Your life is forever changed because of illness. Not all the changes will be bad. You will have good things happen to you. Because of your trials you will realize that in some ways you are ahead of your peer group. You will find some things quite easy by comparison and you will walk right through them. And you will watch others struggle with those things and shake your head.

      Your story isn’t over. Your illness and continued battles are a PART of your story but they are not your whole story. But it takes time for that to become clearer. Decide that you are going to keep your eyes wide open for opportunities and you are going to grab as many opportunities as you can manage. As you go along, offer opportunities to others where you can. Helping others can be very helpful activity, we can heal parts of ourselves by helping someone else. I don’t mean physical parts of ourselves, I mean our thinking and our heartaches.

      You already have something going for you and I bet you are not thinking about it too much. You read AAM. You have found a huge opportunity right here to tap the collective genius of a huge group of people. You can pick the best of the best here and adopt it as your own. In some cases you may leap frog over stuff that you would have found difficult if you had not been reading here.

      Just my theory, but I honestly believe that the quality of our lives is mostly based on the decisions we make when the chips are down. And the chips can get really down. You have a point here where you can be (justifiably) angry OR you can go build some quality into your life. I’d argue that you did not pull yourself through all that medical stuff just go give in to anger now. You pulled yourself through it all because a part of you believed life will get better. You were not wrong for believing that. Matter of fact, you were right on target. Just have the brass to work through the (justified) anger and keep moving forward.

    5. Miss Pantalones en Fuego*

      I am a decade older than you but find myself in a similar place of regretting lost time. I haven’t had health problems but I went down a professional road that ended up being a protracted waste of time. Sometimes I wonder what would have happened if I had stayed and continued to work with the people I knew before, or else quit when it became clear I wasn’t making progress and tried something else.

      At this point I haven’t had a steady full-time job in 20 years and I will never retire, because I don’t have anything to retire *from*, just endlessly looking for the next fixed-term contract. I never imagined that at this point in my life I would have nothing much to show for all my academic efforts. I’m fortunate that I married someone with a better financial outlook but I still feel bad that I haven’t managed to make a sustainable life on my own. If I didn’t have my spouse I would be living with my parents or my little sister right now.

      I don’t really have any advice for getting over it. Right now I am pondering re-training in some way so that I can change directions. I have a feeling things are about to crash in my industry again and I’d like to have an escape route.

      1. ampersand*

        Oh wow, I could have written this. I’m a few years younger than you but lately have felt bad about where I’ve ended up (or haven’t, which is the problem) professionally. It helps to hear I’m not alone in that.

    6. Wishing You Well*

      You’re still losing time to your medical nightmare. Now it’s time to do something about your thoughts.
      I have lost years to a medical condition. Try assuming most people have lost years to Something. I don’t know anyone who had a straight shot to “success”. What is success, anyway? Maybe it’s that we’re still here, breathing. Survival might be the only success story that really counts, if you think about it.
      A lot of people also gain something from their struggles: wisdom, compassion, patience, perspective, etc. Try to find even a small silver lining in your experience and cling to that, if it helps. Also, try gratitude for being in a better situation. Some people never get better medically.
      Younger people do not have the life experience you have. You’re looking at only one aspect of their lives; you’re seeing only one page of their book of life. You can’t know what they’re suffering with now or what they will suffer in the future.
      I am older than you. I have struggled very hard in my life and it’s only because of those struggles that I am now in the best phase of my life. Seriously, no personal growth is possible without suffering. I hope you will come to look upon yourself as successful because success is a matter of opinion and your opinion of yourself is the only one that matters.
      Keep chugging away. It’s worth it.

    7. Arts Akimbo*

      I’m so glad your health is better now! <3

      Re: lost income, interest, retirement savings– I made the decision to pursue a career in the arts. It's one of those things that I would have been incredibly miserable if I didn't do. I've achieved a lot of recognition for my work, been published a lot, won a lot of awards. But my personal circumstances are such that I will never be able to retire and I greatly fear that my old age will be very, very hard. Like, "will I have money to pay for the medicines that treat my chronic condition and still buy food" hard. And in some of my relatives' eyes, this is inexcusable, because I could have just gotten "a real job like a normal person," and therefore I deserve everything I get.

      So I'd say you're not alone in fear for the future, but I would also say you're only 35 and you've still got plenty of earning years! True, you won't be as far ahead as if you'd started 13 years ago, but 35 is still a fine age to start saving! Really, truly, you're going to do fine.

    8. YouwantmetodoWHAT?!*

      Yes! I have had health issues my whole life. And all the doctors would ask me 2-3 questions then say that all my issues were due to depression from my crappy childhood. But the meds didn’t work and the therapy didn’t either.
      FINIALLY got an excellent doctor, and when I told him I was tired of being sick, tired and in pain he said ALL the tests and we start with blood work.
      Turns out that I allergic to wheat, egg whites and soy (and a few others). Eliminating those from a diet has been a life changer. Like WOW!
      But I’m angry because I’ve been asking for allergy testing for 20+ years. And I want that time back.

    9. Just Another Manic Millie*

      I can relate on a relationship level. Not a romantic relationship, but a relationship with my parents.

      My mother came down with Alzheimer’s Disease shortly before I turned 30. She died shortly before I turned 45. So that was 15 wasted years. I moved back home and helped my father take care of her. He took care of her when I was at work, and I took care of her after I got home and all day long on Saturdays and Sundays. I had previous romantic relationships, but I did not have a romantic partner at the time, and meeting someone new at the time was impossible.

      I was limited to the kind of job where I never had to stay late, because my father would have had a fit if I got home very late. In addition, I worked in New York City and lived in New Jersey, and the buses ran only every half hour beginning at 6:30 PM. Once I interviewed for a job but had to turn it down because the hours were 10:00 AM to 6:00 PM. If I left work at 6:00 PM, I wouldn’t get to the bus station before 6:30 PM, and the line for the bus would be so long that I would have to get on the 7:00 PM local. The 7:00 PM local would take me 1 1/2 hours to get to my stop, and then I would have to walk about a mile to get home. The interviewer was very annoyed that I turned him down, because he didn’t see what a big deal it was to work until 6:00 PM. So I had to make sure that I didn’t take a job where I had to stay after 5:00 PM.

      One company had a party every Wednesday night at Tavern on the Green. I couldn’t go, because Wednesday was the night my father had Lions Club dinner meetings. The job advice books always said that you should go to an office party even if you could stay there for only half an hour. The parties began at 5:30 PM. If I had stayed until 6:00 PM, I wouldn’t have gotten to the bus station in time to catch the last express bus (at 6:25 PM), and I wouldn’t have been able to get on the 6:30 PM local, so I would have had to get on the 7:00 PM local, which, as I said earlier, would have gotten me to my stop at 8:30 PM, and then I would have had to walk approx one mile home. If my father had waited for me to get home before going to the Lions Club meeting, dinner would have been over long before he got there.

      What annoyed me was that I kept reading about how much freedom I had, being single. Well, I didn’t feel like a had a lot of freedom. Once, on Good Friday, the office unexpectedly closed early, and I made the mistake of opening my big mouth and calling my father to tell him so. I told him that I wanted to run over to Madison Square Garden and buy a ticket to the circus. My father said that I couldn’t go to the circus, that I had to go home right away, because he had to go grocery shopping. So that’s what I did. And I asked myself, “If I have so much freedom, then why am I the only person who works here who has to go home right away because his/her father wants to go grocery shopping?” After that, I never let my father know when my office closed early. I just went shopping or to the library or to a bar where I could relax and feel like a regular person for a little while.

      Several years later, my father got too old to live independently. I wound up quitting my job to take care of him. He was too far gone to go into assisted living, and I didn’t want to put him in a nursing home. My mother had been in a nursing home for six weeks, but it wasn’t much of a break for us, because my father spent every hour there that they were open, and I spent every hour there possible after I got home from work and all day long on Saturdays and Sundays. The place was so terrible that we took her out of there after six weeks.

      I quit my job to take care of him so as to save money. It would have taken more than my take home pay (less bus fare) to pay for an aide to be at the house from 6:00 AM (when I left to catch the bus) until 7:00 or 7:30 PM. So that’s a lot of Social Security money that I will never get. In addition, I was responsible for paying all the bills, and I wound up using all of my savings and having to withdraw money from my IRAs and 401(k) (and pay a big penalty). My father’s money was tied up in an annuity, and the annuity company said that he had never told them when he wanted to start receiving payments. He refused to talk to them, and I didn’t have any kind of power of attorney for him, so I didn’t know what to do.

      When I ran out of my money, I started using those convenience checks that your credit card companies send to you. I had to use convenience checks from one credit card to pay off the bills that I got from another credit card. And I had to remember to pay off everything on time, so that I wouldn’t get socked with having to pay off everything at 25% interest. My credit rating went way down. Getting my father on Medicaid wasn’t an option, because he would have to spend down everything (which he already did), and they would take his house after he died, and I would wind up living in my car.

      After he died, I used the annuity money and his life insurance proceeds to pay off all of those convenience checks. I even managed to find a job at the age of 56, even though I hadn’t worked in an office for years. Unfortunately, the company went out of business less than a year later, and although I tried very hard to find a new job, I didn’t succeed, and I finally stopped trying and decided that I was retired.

      They say that what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. Well, it practically killed me to take care of my parents, but it didn’t actually kill me, but it certainly didn’t make me stronger. I don’t think I’ll ever reach the point where I can say, “Hey, I lost all of those years, but you know what? It’s okay!” But what I have tried to do is to make up for all the time that I felt deprived of fun by trying to have as much fun as possible nowadays. And I have had a lot of fun. But I don’t think I’ll ever find a romantic partner. That ship has sailed.

    10. Pennalynn Lott*

      I lost ~15 years of my life in a not-healthy relationship. We own a small company together and I initially thought that would be my retirement plan (it’s big enough now that we have employees doing the things we were doing in the beginning, so the ongoing income stream was supposed to pay retirement bills). But when it became clear that staying in the relationship would sacrifice my mental (and thus physical) health, I went back to school at age 48 to finish up my Bachelor’s and get a Master’s. I’m 53. I graduated with the Master’s last May and started a new career. I have exactly $3947.50 in retirement savings. I work with people 20-25 years younger than I am, from peers to senior management.

      What keeps me from mourning and obsessing over those lost years is how grateful I am that I’m no longer beholden to my mentally ill ex-partner; that I have my own career; that my starting pay is ~$20K higher than my cohorts from school (because of all my prior professional experience, including before the relationship); that I have new friends (who are also 20-25 years younger than I am!); and that I am capable of not only surviving but thriving.

      So, basically, I focus on celebrating my accomplishments. And I’ve quit comparing myself to other people. Would it have been great to graduate with a Master’s when I was 25 and have built up a successful career and retirement account over the past 28 years? Of course! It would have been great to win the lottery, too, but neither of those paths was mine. We each get handed a set of cards that are different from anyone else’s. It is what it is and stressing over “What if. . .” or “If only. . .” won’t change the cards and won’t help you maximize what you do have going for you.

      If it helps, instead of looking at those people who are a decade younger and at the same career point as you, look at people like me — almost two decades older than you — who is also pretty much at the same career point as you. I would *love* to be starting my new career at age 35!

    11. Thankful for AAM*

      What I wish I told 35 year old me – just keep going, do the thing. Every feels some version of I wasted time, is it too late, if only. Some people spend 15 years saying its too late and they could have gotten a degree, started over, done the thing, etc in those 15 years instead of lamenting that they did not.

      It does sting and you did miss 15 years of savings and you can go forward from where you are. Wishing you every adventure!

      1. Pennalynn Lott*

        My junior high school PE teacher (Coach Barley) once told all of us girls to sit down in front of her. She pulled up a chair and told the story of her friend’s mom. Coach Barley and her friend went to the mom’s house. Somewhere in their conversation, college came up. Mom lamented that she’d never gotten a degree. Friend encouraged her to go back to school. Mom said, “I can’t! Can you imagine? I’d be too old; in four years I’ll be 50.” To which Coach Barley replied, “OK, but how old will you be in four years if you *don’t* go back to school?”

    12. Paris- Berlin -Seoul Express*

      Most people don’t live their lives in a linear fashion. If you look around you will see many people who are trying to find their way, meandering through life ‘wasting’ time on bad relationships, bad decisions and sometimes like you dealing with medical issues and other things beyond their control. It is part of the human experience. Some people are more fortunate than others getting to where they want to go, some people never arrive. Your feelings are valid. Give yourself some time to mourn and maybe get some therapy to assist you. But also think about where you would like to be for the future. Don’t compare yourself to the people around you and beat yourself over the head that you’re not where they are. Many people start over several times in life, maybe because like you they were railroaded due to illness or they divorced, became single parents, or because they were just unhappy with the life they were living. You still have many years of life left to live, to go back to school if that’s what you want (I got my law degree when I was 48), start saving money (I didn’t see the light until again I was in my late 40s). At your age, everything is still possible. I totally reinvented my life when I was almost 50 and it turned out better than I ever imagined. Please, don’t spend any more of your time being bitter and resentful. It’s a road to nowhere. Use your energy to plan the life you would like to have and then get cracking.

      1. Not a cat*

        I have a friend that got her law degree at 75! Ten years prior, she was homeless and sleeping in her car.

    13. MOAS*

      I can relate on a medical level.

      I recently found out I had a genetic disorder that was the cause of my 3 miscarriages. Doctors didn’t give a shit, just said I’m fat and work on my diabetes. Stop being fat. I had hypothyroidism for 2 years. I complained to Endocrinologist And she shrugged and said lose weight. I’ll be 35 when I have mine and while I am so grateful for my rainbow I am still angry that this could have been figured out before. I could’ve had a brood of 4 by now. I’m Angry at doctors for dismissing me and angry at myself for not advocating for myself more. I’m angry at the endo who ignored my TSH levels which could have affected my baby. I feel like for this I lost 2 years of being exhausted and just blaming myself for being fat and diabetic.

    14. Meepmeep*

      I felt that about my romantic life. I lost 12 years to a romantic relationship that was controlling, unhealthy, and just no good for me. When I got out, I was 35. I never had any dating adventures, I never had a family, I never had kids. The latter one hurt the most.

      I realized, after getting free, that I could spend the rest of my childbearing years consumed with regret for what might have been, or I could spend them doing all the things I’d missed out on. I am now married and our daughter is 4 years old.

    15. Meepmeep*

      I went through something like this in the romantic realm. I lost the years from age 19 to 34 to a really horrendous relationship. Didn’t explore and date around. Didn’t have a normal relationship. Didn’t get married. Didn’t have kids.

      When I finally got free, I decided I could dwell on the past or I could look ahead. I decided to look ahead. I am now married and our daughter is 4.

      Oh, and of all the losses in life, money is the easiest to restore. My parents emigrated to the US with no money and no jobs at the ages of 47 and 50. They are now comfortably retired, they own their home free and clear, and they have plenty of savings. So don’t fret too much about “starting late”. You’re starting, you are taking your finances seriously – that’s already a great thing.

  12. Easy Bake Coven*

    Low impact work out ideas for people with chronic pain? I want to be more active and feel stronger but also not feel like dying. Used to run when I was younger and loved it, but can’t do that anymore.

    1. Effie, who gets to be herself*

      Yoga, Pilates, barre, and aqua aerobics! My local YMCAs have all four options – not sure if you have this; if you do then it’s an affordable way to try all four and decide if there’s one or more that fit in your lifestyle and workout needs and take it from there. Hope this helps!

      There’s also aerial yoga and yoga with foam rollers for more specialized options.

    2. Fikly*

      I struggled for ages to find cardio that both didn’t hurt me and didn’t bore me out of my mind. What it turns out I love is biking (on a stationary bike, so no fall risk) while reading on my phone or listening to a podcast/audiobook.

      Ellipticals can also be good for low impact, but it really depends on the proportions of your body – I just do not fit them well, and have never found one that doesn’t make my joints hurt.

      1. Arts Akimbo*

        I love ellipticals, but they make my feet fall asleep! I have never known why, but maybe it is just some kind of body proportion issue– like my weight distribution is off because the foot things are too far apart or something?

        1. Fikly*

          Totally could be! It seems weird to have things fall asleep when you are not lying on top of say, an arm, but you can actually pinch things without realizing it during movement, which might be what’s happening.

          My issue is that I’m short to begin with, but then my legs are long compared to my torso and it just does not work from a geometry standpoint.

    3. Retail not Retail*

      Seconding the Y as an option. It may be worth a personal trainer session as you can explain your goals and needs.

      I got so so so lucky when I saw a physical therapist at a gym because she said do xyz to strengthen this and keep your hips aligned.

      Now the hip pain has roared back alas so I’m too inflamed to do anything outside of work except walk the dog.

      1. Falling Diphthong*

        Completely anecdotal: sister-in-law saw an osteopath and he was able to correct the chronic pain she’d had due to a misaligned muscle in the hip.

      2. Kuododi*

        I also have been very happy with the Y. At my particular location, they have a couple of recombent stairstepper. I have really enjoyed using them for cardio. Design wise, they work on the same principal as the bike machines. (One is stairs and the other is bike riding.)

        The Y is also cost effective and offers financial aid as needed. Hope this helps. Kuododi

      1. Lilo*

        I swam a ton when I was pregnant and was struggling with sciatica.

        I would also recommend a gentle yoga class.

    4. Kathenus*

      I got one of those mini trampolines, low impact way to do some cardio while watching TV. My critters think I’m nuts when I’m using it, but it’s fun and helps get me motivated.

    5. cat socks*

      I like the workout videos from Fitness Blender. You can search for low impact videos. I believe Body Project also has low impact videos. They are both on YouTube.

    6. The Gollux, Not a Mere Device*

      Have you tried resistance bands (Theraband or similar)? I find it easier not to overdo things with the bands than when I’m doing more or less the same exercises with free weights or exercise machines. (And yes, it’s possible to overdo it with these too).

      I also use an exercise bike, because it’s low impact but better cardio than walking.

    7. Pam*

      I do Zumba- to my own beat. I have foot issues, so I just step back and forth to the music, or if need be dance sitting down.

    8. Jack Russell Terrier*

      Yoga – seriously, depending on why you have chronic pain there might be yoga specifically for that eg yoga for arthritis. It does not have to turn you into a pretzel or make you feel like you’re dying. I teach yoga and focus on women in midlife (I’m 52). The right yoga is great for low impact (as in, slow with long holds and not pounding your joints) and for connecting to and hearing your body in a more positive way. There are lots of good, free youtube yoga – I’d recommend Brett Larkin (I belong to her pay membership but you don’t have to) or Yoga with Adriene. You can check it out from the comfort of you own home.

      1. Falling Diphthong*

        One of the doctors I saw this week (so many doctors) specifically recommended yoga aimed at older people because she felt they had the better instructors, used to dealing with people with middle-to-late-life health limitations.

        1. Jack Russell Terrier*

          Ohh that is interesting and heartening. Private yoga would really be ace and I would check out some online options. Another option to check out is yoga international – they have a lot of really fantastic teachers but I would suggest that you do some in person as well, at least to get you up to speed. If private yoga is not in your budget, I hope you’re in an area where you can test drive different studios / teachers. Studios and gyms vary hugely. I would look mostly for – older teachers (as in late 30s and 40s, you will jive much more with them than the 20 somethings), a diverse group of clients and beginner classes. Good luck – I love the way you’re thinking.

    9. Mrs. K*

      I’m 45 and had to stop fitness walking and exchange it for water aerobics as my chronic back pain and issues worsened. I agree that the Y was a great resource. Mine has various classes (including aqua exercise for arthritis) where I learned a bunch of stretches and exercises that I can now do on my own. The pool offers a way to keep moving even on not good pain days.

    10. Parenthetically*

      Nthing aqua aerobics. It’s a surprisingly great workout (though, like most classes, you get out what you put in).

    11. YouwantmetodoWHAT?!*

      Aerial yoga! So much fun and the silks support so I can do things that I can NOT do on my own. It’s still hard – due to health issues I was not able to do any exercise for at least 5 years (couldn’t even walk for any distance), so I’m coming back from that. And my eldest had health issue and is borderline obese. She loves it.
      It really builds your core strength!

    12. Falling Diphthong*

      1) If you have access to a pool, I like deep water running. (Most pools have the flotation belts for the aqua aerobics classes.) No weight bearing and a balanced use of muscles.

      2) I like Barre 3, online, where you can find videos of different lengths, the shortest 10 minutes. (Which you can usually talk yourself into having time for.) Usually they have an instructor, someone showing how to take it farther, and someone showing how to modify–for example, right now I can’t physically get into plank or onto all fours, but they have variations I can manage.

    13. Nickels, Dimes, and Quarters*

      What has helped me:

      Therapy pool exercise class (water temp is mid 90s)
      Any water aerobics class
      Followed by jacuzzi

      Also, lots of walking, always take the stairs, drinking water, and a stand up desk.


    14. Alexandra Lynch*

      Yoga, definitely. Days where the trigger points in my back are active, I do floor poses on the bed.

      I am getting a lot of pain relief out of using machines and doing very easy weight training. Just until I feel I’m working at it, then I stop. I do not break a sweat or get out of breath. And I do that for a week. But the next week I can do more. And more. And more. And it means that when I do have a flare I don’t feel great, but I don’t feel as unremittingly awful as I did before. And it also seems to mean that I am having fewer flares. I like this.

  13. Effie, who gets to be herself*

    For those who have trouble ending a relationship, how do you get over the inertia and fear and cut the cord?

    I’m seeing a man who doesn’t have the time and emotional bandwidth I need and deserve to feel safe and secure, even in a casual relationship. I’ve come to accept that I can’t change that, only control my own behavior, and I’d like to stop waiting and hoping for change and leave. We’re very casual. But the only time I’ve been able to end a relationship is with an abusive ex. Other than that, I’ve always been the one who gets dumped, even when I’m ready to end the relationship. I considered doing a slow fade, since we are very casual, and I feel like that would drive me crazy mentally. I’d rather just get it over with. So how do I just…let go? Text and then block? He’s dealing with a big family thing right now so that seems really mean, but maybe I’m just making an excuse not to do it. And part of me is still hoping he’ll make more effort. I can’t wait for her to stop hoping before taking action, and it sucks in the moment.

    1. Moop*

      Does it help to frame it as being beneficial for him, not just for you? When Alison advises LWs about giving critical feedback or firing someone, she mentions it’s actually doing them kindness to let them know they are not meeting the requirements of their job – in actual fact, it would be pretty crappy to continue to allow them to keep working in a job that’s a bad fit for them when it’s obvious things aren’t going to work out. Likewise, it would be unkind to your boyfriend to continue dating him when you know in your heart that you’re only dating him because it’s too hard for you to break things off.

      I definitely understand why it can be harder to dump than be dumped, though. To break things off with a SO you need to take initiative and be confident enough in your decision to deal with the inevitable inner second guessing. These things do improve with more experience.

      1. valentine*

        Text and block. See how it feels. You might give him 24 hours to respond, unless you think any response would make you backtrack.

    2. PX*

      Think of it as self care and making space in your life for someone who will hopefully meet your needs.

      Personally I’m a fan of text and ignore/block. I know a lot of people think once a relationship has gone beyond X amount of time you should do it in person/over phone, but I personally think text is good as the other person can then have the time to process/deal before responding (if they choose to respond). In your case, if you’re casual, I say text and let it go.

      Plan something nice for yourself as a treat once you’ve done it! (I personally am big on rewards for when you’ve done hard things :D)

    3. Incessant Owlbears*

      I was once in a similar situation. He was far too busy to see me; I couldn’t get any time on his calendar for weeks and weeks at a time. I told myself that it was fine, but it really wasn’t fine! One frustrating thing is that I wanted to talk with him in person about how he was never available in person… and obviously that hit a road block!

      Finally, I sent him a grave sounding email saying that I had something important to discuss about our relationship, and would he prefer to talk about it in person or do it over email? He chose email, so I sent a polite message saying that while I wish him well, the relationship was not working for me and I was ending it. He wrote back immediately saying he understood. So it was a relatively painless breakup, even though I had to do it over email, which I swore I would never do to someone.

      Confusingly, he then kept writing to me every week just like he had been when we were dating. I just never replied to any of those messages and eventually they petered out.

      I see on social media that he found someone who is a much better fit for him, and I found someone who is way better for me and who actually makes time to spend with me!! So it really was a happy story in the end.

      1. Elizabeth West*

        I like the idea of giving the other person a choice. Personally, I think texting if you’ve been seeing someone for a while, even if it’s casual, is kinda dismissive and rude (unless they’re unsafe or they did something egregious). If they choose to talk in person, you have a little time to prepare what you want to say.

        Of course, if you’re ending a relationship that has been exclusive and somewhat serious, it should be done in person. Obviously that wasn’t an option in this case.

    4. Parenthetically*

      I think a text saying, “Hey, do you have time for a call at (X time)?” And then a brief, to-the-point phone call. You could even write out a script — short, as little explanation as possible, and a decisive end to the conversation — and read it out a few times beforehand, anticipating different responses and how you’ll react to them. I really dislike the concept of a text breakup in an ordinary circumstance. Presumably this isn’t a bad guy, just a bad fit or bad timing, and I think it’s a kindness to break up with him with a call. (On the other end of the spectrum, I also dislike the in-person breakup, particularly on a pre-arranged date, because it can be such a major emotional whiplash to go from Fun Romantic Date mode to Oh Shit I Just Got Dumped mode. I just think a phone call splits the difference in the right way.)

    5. Viette*

      Something that gets brought up frequently in advice columns for breaking up with people is that you don’t have to do much during the breakup. You just have to tell them, “this isn’t working for me. I wish you all the best, but I’m ending this relationship.” And then it’s over. Text him and say you need to talk about something serious and does he want to talk on the phone, in person, or over text message? And there is no good time to dump someone so never mind about his family thing.

      I think from what you’re saying, the hardest thing is going to be letting that be it. “…maybe I’m just making an excuse not to do it. And part of me is still hoping he’ll make more effort.” There’s a decent chance this guy isn’t going to say much besides, “Okay” and then never text you again. So be ready for that! Block his number if that keeps you from checking and rechecking that maybe he’s texted you that he’s sorry he treated you badly (he should be!! but he ain’t); make a bunch of set plans with friends to do stuff that gets your mind off the topic. It’ll fade in time and you’ll be moving on already.

      1. Effie, who gets to be herself*

        You’re right, letting go is not natural for me. It’s something I’ve been working on the last couple years. Trying to see this situation as just the latest practice for the good of my mental health :)

        1. Viette*

          It might make you feel better to know that it’s hard for almost everyone! I’m very direct, and I’ve dumped people (who needed dumping), but I still thought about them a lot afterward and had to let time pass before I really got over it. This is a great chance to practice your practical techniques for moving on!

          1. Effie, who gets to be herself*

            The funny things is that I’m actually very direct normally! I’m just having a hard time letting go for romantic relationships. Accepting that there’s nothing I can do is a big step on the way to bring able to let go. I’m making progress!

    6. Nom de Plume*

      I was in a similar relationship with a guy who had no time for me. I texted him on my way out of town for vacation and he never responded. When I got back, he ignored my “hey I’m back” text. I finally called and left a voicemail dumping him. Not sure if he even listened to it, but a few months later he texts me an “I’m sorry” text. I had deleted his phone number, so I was like “who is this?” Lol. I blocked him then. What was funny about the timing of his I’m sorry text is that I received it a few minutes after getting a text from my now fiancé who texted me after our 3rd date saying that he intended to date me for as long as I would allow him to. <3

      I guess my point in all that is you do what would make you feel best. Don’t worry about what he feels; he’s doing just fine thinking only of himself. If closure would make you feel best, send a text/voicemail/email/letter. Or, maybe just don’t contact him ever again or respond if he contacts you. Sometimes silence is deafening.

      1. Effie, who gets to be herself*

        Hahahaha, you’re right that he’s doing just fine thinking of himself. Thank you for making me laugh. And encouraging me to put myself first.

    7. Old Biddy*

      Please break with him on your time frame, not his.* I had two exes break up with me once they’d finished their big stressful work thing. It created a really terrible mix of stress and anger in me while I was trying to be nice and give them the benefit of the doubt.

      * maybe consider making an exception if it’s death or sickness of a close family member,

    8. Effie, who gets to be herself*

      Thank you everyone for your perspectives, you’ve given me a lot to think about!

  14. Foreign Octopus*

    Book thread!

    What’s everyone reading this week?

    I’ve started The People in the Trees, by Hanya Yanagihara and I’m loving it. I really, really enjoyed her A Little Life, which I read over a year ago. I know that People is her first novel and Life is her second, but it doesn’t feel like it. Her writing is so poetic and engaging that I’ve just fallen into the book and it’s difficult to get other things done. I’m really looking forward to whatever other work she publishes.

    1. Sleve McDichael*

      I’m reading through David Eddings’ Belgariad. It’s old but I’m really enjoying it because the women are all realistic and different.

      So many fantasy series are great except for the poorly written women and it annoys me greatly. Case in point, Patrick Rothfuss’ Name of the Wind has great reviews, but all of the women bar 1 (who is implied to be mad) are exactly the same person in different skins.

      I’d love recommendations from people of more fantasy books with properly written women.

      1. Grace*

        I suspect Eddings’ women are good because they’re not just written by David Eddings but also by his wife, Leigh. So much work involving women is made better by being made in collaboration with women. Try the Eddings’ other series – the Mallorean is the sequel series, and then there’s the Elenium and Tamuli set.

          1. CollegeSupervisor*

            Interlibrary loan, my friend. The most I’ve ever heard of it costing is a dollar per transaction, and some public libraries even offer it for free. Or your library might have an Open Access agreement with a larger library you can take advantage of.

            1. Cruciatus*

              Or a local college library. I probably suggest this every week, but I work at an academic library and we do offer library cards to people outside of the university. Even better if that library is part of a larger system–that means you’d probably have every one of the university libraries at your disposal–the more chances to get the book you want.

      2. Queer Earthling*

        I used to reread the Belgariad annually! I don’t care as much for the Mallorean but it’s still worth a read or two.

        Not only are the women realistic and different, but they were written as such in the early 80s, when fantasy women pretty much consisted of “pure and stately elves,” “sexy baddies,” or “tavern wenches.” David Eddings actually has a book about his (and Leigh’s) writing process as well as a lot of the early notes for the Belgariad called The Rivan Codex. It goes a lot into what fantasy tropes of the era he avoided and which ones he cultivated.

      3. old curmudgeon*

        Have you read any of Mary Robinette Kowal’s books? She combines (incredibly well researched) history with her own unique story lines to craft some amazing stuff. Her characters are very believable, very authentic, and impressively diverse – she actually keeps a spreadsheet of characters for each work to ensure that she represents non-male, non-white, non-straight, non-able-bodied characters proportionally to the way diversity works in the real world.

        I absolutely adore Kowal’s “The Calculating Stars” and “The Fated Sky,” though they are both more on the SF end of the spectrum than fantasy.

          1. Not a cat*

            Elizabeth! I found your book on Amazon! Amazing! I’ve been a (tech-non-fiction) writer for about half my life and I could never pull it together to write fiction. Congratulations!

            Sorry for the derail. I just wanted to tell you I remember years back when you were writing (here) about writing.

        1. CollegeSupervisor*

          Love, love, love her stuff! I really need to read The Fated Sky. I was so in awe of how accurately she portrayed anxiety in The Calculating Stars – so rare to find a character who struggles with anxiety actually accomplishing a great deal professionally!

    2. Loopy*

      I’m reading the Raksura series by Martha Wells. I loved her Murderbot Diaries and this is so different but I was shocked at how soon into the book I was completely and totally absorbed. I tend to be picky in my fantasy so I’m pleasantly shocked this is the PERFECT fit. I tend to want to fall somewhere between high fantasy (LoTR) and urban fantasy. I really like fantasy with other races and magical creatures but need them to be well developed and fleshed out so… this is a rare surprise!

      1. foxinabox*

        LOOPY! If you didn’t know already, there is a Murderbot NOVEL coming out in a few months. I’m so excited I could cry tears of killer cyborg relatability.

      2. OtterB*

        I’m a long time Wells fan and love the Raksura books as well as Murderbot. You might also try some of her other backlist. Wheel of the Infinite is my favorite (somewhat grumpy older heroine, southeast Asian kind of feel, a city of temples sort of like Angkor Wat) and City of Bones is also excellent.

    3. The Other Dawn*

      I’m finishing up One Good Deed by David Baldacci. I usually love his books, but I’m really kind of iffy on this new one. It’s just too far-fetched. I mean, I know it’s fiction and fiction tends to be like that, but…I don’t know. I really don’t know how to describe it. I think it’s, in part, the dialogue, which seems unrealistic, and that the protagonist comes across as pretty naive for someone who is a WWII veteran and former prison inmate (he was innocent). If Baldacci writes another book with the character I’ll give it a try, though, to see how (if) he evolves.

    4. annakarina1*

      I’m almost done with The Luminous Dead by Caitlin Starling, a horror thriller about a cave spelunker in a smart suit who is being guided from a company representative above, and things get really weird as she goes further through the cave based on the representative controlling her suit and her hidden agendas. It’s pretty good, and the whole novel is just the two of them interacting via video chat. It feels like a story that would make for a good movie, and passes the Bechdel test completely.

      1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        That kinda sounds like the Lifeline mobile games, actually, in which you play the equivalent of the guy up top.

    5. GoryDetails*

      Several good books in progress for me:

      In Praise of Slowness by Carl Honoré, looking at different ways to challenge a too-fast lifestyle; some interesting examples from around the world.

      Bless Your Mechanical Heart, edited by Jennifer Brozek, a SF anthology themed on robots/androids/AIs who acquire feelings – for better or worse.

      Twenty-five Books that Shaped America by Thomas C. Foster, his own selection of pivotal American works – so far it’s thought-provoking and often amusing, as he admits that not all the influential books are to his taste (looking at The Scarlet Letter there!).

    6. foxinabox*

      I’ve been SO good at zooming through book after book this year, but now I’m a little hung up, so I’m a little ways into a bunch of things. My goal this week is to actually read through to the end of something. I did just finish two upcoming books, Veronica Roth’s first adult book, CHOSEN ONES, and Zen Cho’s new novella, THE ORDER OF THE PURE MOON REFLECTED IN WATER–and as soon as you can get ahold of these I really recommend them both!

    7. Lilo*

      I keep falling asleep reading The Starless Sea. It just gets kind of messy toward the end and I am not feeling it.

      I realize the Night Circus had a similar issue. She’s great at descriptions and imaginative worlds but her plots are lacking.

    8. PhyllisB*

      Right now I’m reading All This Could be Yours. Not loving it but not hating it either. Anyone else read this? Thoughts? I know Alison recommended it but I’m having trouble getting engaged.

    9. Lucette Kensack*

      I loved, loved, loved A Little Life. Like, maybe loved it more than any other book, ever.

      I… can’t say that I enjoyed The People in the Trees, exactly. It’s beautiful writing. But it’s incredibly traumatizing. Like, there aren’t enough trigger warnings in the world for the content. (A Little Life, too — she really knows how to put her characters through the wringer). Be prepared!

    10. Lucette Kensack*

      Oh, and I just finished Tiny Beautiful Things, a collection of the Dear Sugar columns by Cheryl Strayed. I am floored. I needed this book right now. I rarely keep books — I mostly read library books, and I tend to pass along books that I own once I’ve read them. But I’m going to buy myself a copy and keep it by my bedside.

    11. Zephy*

      I’m reading Spook by Mary Roach, and also fighting the urge to go spend my whole paycheck on the rest of her books. I love her writing style.

      1. GoryDetails*

        Mary Roach’s books are awesome! She’s on my “acquire each new book as it comes out” list – though you can probably find them in the library if the budget’s too tight {wry grin}.

    12. Seven hobbits are highly effective, people*

      Tor released a bunch of their short stories from 2019 collected into a free ebook a while back, and I’m trying to work my way through that to see what I’ve been missing by not reading short stories much lately. I’m still not a fan of ebooks and prefer print, but I’m hoping to get ideas for more authors to follow this way since I’ve kind of been in a rut of reading the same authors over and over. So far I’m only two stories in, so we’ll see if I can convince myself to keep reading it even though it has the dual disadvantages of being an ebook and being authors I’m not familiar with.

      1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        Oo! I found a page with them all (short stories and novellas) listed, but I didn’t know they did an ebook. Must look.

        1. Seven hobbits are highly effective, people*

          It’s called “Some of the Best from Tor.Com: 2019 Edition”. I grabbed it on iBooks, but it’s likely available plenty of other places too, since Tor is certainly a big enough publisher to know how to get an ebook into the various stores.

      2. AcademiaNut*

        Check out Tor’s eBook of the month club. A free, multi-format eBook once a month, usually highlighting an author that has something new coming out. You can sign up for the list, and you’ll get an email when it’s available.

        Also, Baen’s free library; they also do a yearly short story anthology, and some assorted free first books of series.

    13. Elizabeth West*

      I’m reading a horror novel by Jeremy C. Shipp called The Atrocities. It’s kinda like Turn of the Screw but way freakier. The concept is so good I wish I’d thought of it.

    14. Free Meercats*

      At home I’m reading Tunerville by A. Elizabeth West.

      At work I’m reading The Vanishing of Flight MH370 by Richard Quest.

      And my bedside book is Sunk, The Story of the Japanese Submarine Fleet, 1941-1945 by Mochitsura Hashimoto (the commander of the sub that sank the USS Indianapolis.)

          1. Elizabeth West*

            Oh, I was thinking you sat around and read them, lol. Never mind, I’m a dork!

            I had a temp job once where there was nothing to do. Someone had left a Reader’s Digest Condensed book on the front desk and I just sat there and read it.

    15. Texan In Exile*

      Circe, by Madeline Miller. I wish this book had been around when I was in 8th grade and we were studying mythology. Just the chapter on how she turned the men who raped her into pigs would have been worth it. But the whole book is great.

    16. Sarah-tonin*

      I started Tweet Cute the other day and I am loving it! It’s a Young Adult (YA) novel (which I am trying to read more of) about two teens who run their parent’s company’s twitter accounts. They’re competitors, so that’s a great mix. There’s obviously a lot of pop culture references in there and it’s just a cute, sweet read (although I’m only about 80 pages in, with many more to go).

    17. Nancy*

      Me too! Loved both of them, in different ways. I found it interesting that they were both such disturbing novels, but in different ways. I was absolutely devastated to get to the end of A Little Life.

      1. Nancy*

        Forgot to add, one book that’s also gripped me is The Overstory by Richard Powers. One of these multiple storyline novels – but it REALLY works, I think!

    18. Seeking Second Childhood*

      My husband just finished “Little Big” by John Crowley and I’m trying to decide if I’m game to tackle it… Anyone out there read it willing to give me an independent opinion? Husband was perplexed, an old college friend of mine is a big fan, and I am wondering what I’m getting myself into. It’s really long….but as an audiobook it would make sense for me and my 45 mile drive to work.

    19. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      Not a thing I am reading, but — a couple weeks ago, someone was asking about James Patterson books. If that person is still looking for them, there are apparently quite a few of them on one-day-sale for Kindle books on Amazon today!

      I have read several novellas by P. Djeli Clark this week – I really enjoy the ones set in the alternative universe with djinni. Also currently reading one of Julie Andrews’ memoirs.

    20. Bluebell*

      Just finished Unmarriageable, which is a Pakistani version of Pride and Prejudice. An easy read. Also read The Book of Essie, which centered on a young woman who is part of a reality TV show religious family, who navigates through an unwanted pregnancy. I liked it.

    21. ShortT*

      I’m reading Cookies by Dorie Greenspan. I made a brownie recipe from it with my preschoolers the other day. Best Brownies ever. I’m trying to decide what to bake next.

    22. CollegeSupervisor*

      Two things at once: Book 5 of the Cat in the Stacks mystery series by Miranda James, and another re-read of the Atlantis Grail series by Vera Nazarian (halfway through Qualify right now). Well, maybe technically three things. Since I checked out Understanding Comics by Scott McCloud to read on my supper break when I forgot to bring something to read and it was entertaining enough I intend to finish it once I finish with my public library books (I get way longer with the books from the academic library I work at).

    23. Stormy Weather*

      I finished Steven Kings The Institute this weekend. I also wrapped up Laura Anne Gilman’s Devil’s West trilogy. Gilman does some of the best fantasy worldbuilding out there, if you ask me.

  15. Loopy*

    Thanks to everyone last week for amazing book recs! I am now stocked up on four different books (meaning four potential series to dive into) and plenty more recs to explore.

    Now if only I could get anxiety!brain to shut up at me it would be a glorious Saturday morning! >.<

  16. The Other Dawn*

    I got the pre-op call for surgery #1 yesterday (anterior lumbar fusion), and oh man does it feel real now! I can’t believe it’s so close! I have to be at the hospital at 6 am, but I’m very happy I’ll be the first surgery of the day. Next week starts all the pre-op appointments, so it’s going to be a busy couple weeks leading up to surgery.

    I’ve decided to pick up my blogging again so I can post about surgery and all that goes along with it. I figure it will keep me occupied while I’m off work, which will be a bare minimum of about six weeks, and maybe it might be helpful to someone else thinking about going through with fusion. Although, since I’ve slacked off big time on posting, I don’t have much of an audience anymore (not a big one to begin with). With having to deal with the eviction of the former tenants at the old house, the sale of that house (closing on 02/20!) and all the BS and house damage I had to deal with as a result of these tenants, dealing with back pain, and just general laziness, I’ve posted maybe three times in the last four to five months. I would have loved to post about the tenant and house situation, but I didn’t want to risk anyone showing it to her (obviously there would have been no names attached, but she’s a friend of my best friend and we have a lot of the same Facebook friends, though I’ve blocked her by now of course).

    I think I’m pretty well stocked on edibles for after surgery. They’ll all be portioned out and put in the freezer this weekend. I can’t believe how good MMJ edibles are! I just picked up some peanut butter bites and I’m excited to try those. If you Google “peanut butter cup cookies” you can see what they look like. It they weren’t labeled as MMJ, you’d have no idea that’s what they are. (Actually, that’s true with all the edibles I’ve bought so far.) They also have a new raspberry bar I want to try, though I’d have to cut it up pretty small because they’re absolutely packed with THC–I can only handle about 5 mg. Bought a new disposable vape pen, too. This time I’m trying sativa to see how I like that. I’m told this one is brand new and it’s supposed to be uplifting with none of the racy feeling that usually goes along with it. The one I have now is 1:1 indica/CBD and I really like it. It really helps quiet the mind when I’m starting to worry or obsess over something, like the surgery, and makes me relax without feeling high.

    I’m also starting to compile a list of books I want to read. A new Agent Pendergast book just came out and I’m trying really hard to wait until after surgery, but I don’t think I’ll be able to.

    1. Pam*

      Good luck! I had a major surgery last year, followed by two weeks in the hospital. I recommend reading the book now. That way, you can reread it post surgery, when your mind will be a bit fogged.

      1. Fikly*


        I learned that if I hadn’t read it before, well, I certainly had no idea what I was reading while on the drugs.

    2. Elizabeth West*

      I need that Pendergast book but I’m waiting until I actually have a place to put it. Tried to cull those when I was moving on the pretext that I could just borrow them from the library if I wanted to read them again, and I just could not do it. Sorry, everyone who has to move them!

  17. Just a PM*

    I need advice on exercising/working out… I have a 12-hr workday (including commute, so 6am to 6pm-ish). How do I fit in a workout and keep myself motivated? I can’t get up earlier without basically going to bed the moment I finish eating dinner. Thanks in advance!

    1. Alex*

      That’s really tough. If I were you and really wanted to start a workout routine, I’d probably try to find someplace near work I could go to directly after, before getting too hungry for dinner. Bonus points if you can find a class or something to sign up for so you feel more obligated–I mean motivated!–to actually go when you are tired from work.

      For me, telling myself I’ll go out again once I get home is just one big lie. I have to do everything while I’m out. Once I get home, the shoes come off, the bra comes off, and I’m not going anywhere!

    2. HQB*

      Try High-Intensity Interval training (HIIT, or tabata) which should let you get a full workout in in 10 minutes.

    3. LGC*

      Hm. Are you able to fit in some workout time during the day? If there’s a gym by your job, you have that as an option.

      To look at it from a different perspective: how do you commute? I’ll admit I normally fit in a small amount of activity on my commute by cycling. (Bikeshare.) But I use public transportation and I work in a small city with a bikeshare program…and in my case, biking is often one of the fastest options for the last mile.

      Finally: I’m in a similar situation. What keeps me motivated is external goals – like, right now I need to get back in shape because I have a lot of races this spring. I’m single and have no kids so I’m able to set aside time to go run after work. And I’ll often not do much – maybe a half hour. I think in some ways, it’s better to just set aside 15 minutes per day instead of deciding you’re going to the gym for an hour.

    4. Zephy*

      Seconding the recommendation to make the gym a stop between work and home, if at all possible – I, too, can’t commit to coming home and then going back out again. There’s a gym about 3 miles from my house that isn’t too far out of my way coming home. I have a gym bag that more or less lives in my car during the week; I bundle up my gym clothes into little rolls with a shirt, bra, and socks rolled up into a pair of leggings, and just keep 4 such bundles in said gym bag along with my gym shoes, water bottle, towel, deodorant, and a lock.

      If there’s not a conveniently-located gym near your commuting route, can you take 5-10 minutes a few times a day to, say, walk a lap around the building, inside or outside? Or would you be able to get in some light cardio like that on your lunch?

    5. Cheesesteak in Paradise*

      If you get an hour lunch, you could possibly workout for 30 min if you bring a lunch you can eat quickly after. You could look into gyms near your work.

    6. Mimosa Jones*

      What can you do during your commute and work day? I’m not suggesting bicep curls at your desk, but can you take a 10 minute fresh air break and take a walk outdoors, or work some walking into your commute. I had co-workers who would lap the stairs for 5 minutes. Just enough to get the heart pumping but not enough to break a sweat. Even just arranging your day to involve more movement can help.

      And I second the HIIT/Tabata suggestion.

      1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        I actually have a set of pedals under my desk, like a little set of stationary bike pedals in a frame. I work from home, so I don’t care if I’m sweating, but I do higher velocity for 30 min. Reviews had a lot of folks who did low velocity for a couple hours, basically just to get some extra movement in their day, like walking a lap around the office vs going for a true jog. I got mine at Target’s website for $25.

    7. The Cosmic Avenger*

      I know this is a bit of an investment, but I have a standing desk and a mini-stepper at work. The biggest surprise issue is that, even trying to oil it a lot, it still squeaks sometimes, so it really helps if you have an office with a door. But they can be used sitting down, too, under your desk. It’s also really easy if you have one at home to get on it while watching TV, and they’re so small it’s easy to store.

      There are plenty of other solutions, but a lot of times the barrier is the amount of effort, and the amount of effort to stand there and bob up and down on them is pretty low. :) I no longer use the one at work because I have finally found ways to make yoga and elliptical workouts fit in my schedule, but the mini steppers were a great start for me.

      1. Seeking Second Childhood*

        Adjustable sit/stand desk, yoga ball to sit on = both surprisingly more energy. Not a yoga ball in a chair frame BTW, a sphere on the ground. Inspect it frequently–I found a gouge on mine when I came back from a vacation, and that means retiring it. (I never did find out who played hard with it, either.) I didn’t replace it because our new cubes are too small to stash it when I’m not using it.

    8. Aly_b*

      If you’re home at, say, 6, you might be able to bring a snack to work to eat late in the afternoon and then hit the gym on the way home so you get home at 7 instead of 6 but having already burned off some steam and switched gears into not-work. If you could do that 2 weekdays and go 1 weekend day, you’re into a very solid workout routine. I actually used to go home (6pm), eat dinner (6:30), and then hit the gym from around 7:30-8:30, which still gives me time after to watch some tv or whatever before bed. For a couple nights a week, and then going whenever on the weekend, that worked well for me.

    9. Other Meredith*

      The thing that has helped me was to come up with a workout I could do while watching TV. Because there’s a 95% chance I will watch some TV at night to relax, so I combine those the TV time and workout time. For a while I had a stationary bike, so I’d ride that while watching. Now I do my own made up aerobics/weight routine (based on a workout video I did in college, adjusted for my aging body and for the fact that workout videos are boring). You may need to check out a few DVDs or youtube videos of workouts before you get an idea of what you want to do yourself.

    10. Other Meredith*

      I should mention that there’s no way I would ever go to a gym. I want to go home! So if it’s the gym that’s stopping you, home workouts are totally possible.

    11. Extra anonymous today.*

      Look at Fitness Blender or Hasfit home video workouts–you can search Fitness Blender by level, equipment, workout type, and duration. Promise yourself 10-15 minutes a day and do it right before whenever you normally shower.

    12. Drtheliz*

      I find that exercise makes me sleepy, so I often do a quick bodyweight workout right before bed – for me, 20 (knee) press-ups, 20 sit-ups, 20 squats and 20 leg-lifts (each leg), then quick stretches and straight in to bed. I’ll then fall asleep like the tide going out, which is great because I usually take 20 min+ to drift off. If it’s getting too easy I’ll add five reps to each exercise. YMMV, though, and I’ve a friend who finds exercise wakes her right up.

    13. The Gollux, Not a Mere Device*

      I used to belong to a gym near my office, and went on my lunch hour. My employer was OK with me leaving at noon, working out, coming back at 1 and eating a yogurt while I worked; they also had what they promoted as a 22-minute lunchtime workout, using a set of resistance machines that were reserved for that use. After I changed jobs, I went to the (same) gym after work, and often snacked on a banana or a package of nuts on the subway home afterwards.

      Alternatively, does it need to be a workout in the sense of doing a lot of exercises at the same time? Now that I don’t have an office job, I tend to do some stretching and a couple of exercises at home, go do something else for a while, then another exercise or two… The perfect can be the enemy of the good: one exercise is better than none, eight reps when I was planning two sets of ten is eight more than not exercising.

    14. noahwynn*

      Something is better than nothing. My personal trainer keeps trying to beat that into my head, and it’s been a hard lesson for my perfectionist self. For the days I have to work 12 hours, that might mean I spend 15-20 minutes doing bodyweight exercises in my living room while dinner is in the oven. Also, for me, planning makes a big difference. If I put it on my calendar I’m more likely to get it done.

    15. Alexandra Lynch*

      My boyfriend handles it by taking the bus to work on dry days. The bus terminal is about a ten minute walk from his office, and then he walks during his lunch break. When he changed jobs to one that required a car commute, and no walking, he put on ten pounds. He now tries actively to get jobs downtown so that he can keep doing this, because otherwise when he gets home he is way too tired.

    16. Avasarala*

      I’ve been using Ring Fit on the Nintendo Switch. If you already have one for video games it’s very easy to pick up and do in your living room for <10 min, and feels like a workout. It does all the planning for you and gamifies it so you feel like you're making progress.

      I've also used apps to similar effect, like Blogilates calendar/8fit. Anything that tells you what series of body-weight-centric exercises to do in your living room for 10 min. I like that I can peel off PJs/clothes, workout, shower, then put on clothes/PJs–fits right into my morning or evening routine.

  18. Kali*

    I’m proposing on Sunday!

    I’m making a game – just got the last section to finish today – and I have an origami rose with “will you marry me?” on every petal and the ring waiting in a drawer nearby.

  19. Strongly flavored decaf tea*

    Hi. Speaking of drinking tea while reading, does anyone have recommendations for a strongly flavored decaf black tea? I’ve tried a number Pg Tips, Yorkshire, Harney and sons, etc and it seems Barry’s has the deepest flavor. Does anyone know of any other good strong black decaf teas? Prefer them to be more like English breakfast or Irish breakfast in flavor and not earl grey, cinnamon, herbal, etc. just a classic basic black tea. Thanks.

    1. HQB*

      Bigelow English Teatime decaf. They also have English Breakfast and Premium Black in decaf but I haven’t tried them.

      1. Kuododi*

        I haven’t had Bigelow’s in ages!!! I do remember that they carried a mighty flavorful cinnamon tea. YUM!!!

      1. fposte*

        IME, decaf Twinings is especially prone to the “fishy” problem that sometimes plagues tea. But that may be a local water + tea thing.

        1. foxinabox*

          I never noticed but I will surely pay attention the next time I drink it! Caffeine is not an enemy to me so I mostly drink full caff everything. :)

    2. Arts Akimbo*

      This may not be new information, but for me the only way I’ve been able to get a strong flavor into a decaf tea was to heat my cup full-to-the-brim with boiling water, letting it sit for a minute, then pouring it out and THEN putting in the tea bag and new boiling water. Only water that’s as hot as possible can extract the deep flavor from a decaf tea bag, as far as my palate is concerned!

    3. Jules the First*

      My go-to is Clipper – they do a caffeinated Everyday that I’m very fond of, and a decaf version with no nasty chemicals that has a very similar flavour profile. I like my morning cuppa to hit me over the head (tongue?) with a shovel, and Clipper delivers.

    4. Stormy Weather*

      Mighty Leaf has a Decaf Breakfast. I haven’t tried it, but I will swear by the caffeinated version.

    5. Garland Not Andrews*

      Very late to the party! Edinburgh Tea & Coffee Company offers a decaf loose leaf tea. I’ve not tried it, but I love their Highland Blend (lovely strong tea) and their Scottish Breakfast tea which is lighter.

  20. Crazy Broke Asian*

    Around a month ago I asked for advice on what to wear to my first trip to the ballet. Well, I ended up NOT wearing the violet dress :/ I’d gained weight since the last time I wore it, which was a couple of months ago, and the dress clung to me in all the wrong places. Instead I wore a pair of work trousers and my best blouse. It was disappointing because I really looked forward to wearing a different outfit than my usual style. The blouse and trousers were more comfortable though, and in the end I can’t say I regret wearing them.

    Anyway, I’d never been to the venue, so I went super early so that I could check it out beforehand. Open gate was at 6.30 pm, but I showed up there at 4. I was so early the security guard thought I was a crew member!

    There was a Starbucks nearby, so I went there and settled down with my book. At 5 I went back, and there was a small crowd already. At 6 the VIP guests went inside and could hang around the lobby, but us normal people had to stay outside until 6.30. Some commenters said that I was overthinking my outfit, and they were right. No jeans, but most people wore semi-formal or smart casual. The only one wearing an evening gown was the ambassador’s wife. Even the ambassador himself wore a normal suit, not tuxedo or fancy suit.

    (I’ve mentioned this before, but for reminder: the embassy hosted the performance, and it was the first time a ballet company came to my country).

    The best seats were reserved for the VIP guests, but my seat was good enough. It was an aisle seat, so I was in the middle of the theatre (there were only right and left sections). I had to look up slightly, but I could see the way the dancers’ sleeve ruffled and heard the thump they made when they landed after a jump.

    It was a small venue, and the performance was a showcase for the up-and-coming members of the company. One was a Balanchine piece, which looked slightly familiar – maybe I’d seen it before on youtube? The other pieces were contemporary works, and there even was a humorous piece, ala The Mistake Waltz!

    Guys, it was magical. I had this huge smile on my face the whole time, and my palms hurt from clapping so much.

    And there were two POC dancers! Dark-skinned ones too! It was a very pleasant surprise. Two women in front of me actually pointed at the female dancer, which was a bit rude.

    After the performance, the host went up the stage and said that there’d be a meet-and-greet session. I got autographs and pictures! I also got a chance to talk with the black dancer. I told her that it meant a lot to me to see her on stage. I actually took ballet lessons when I was 5, back when my parents could afford it, but all the other girls were light-skinned and hairless. Dark, hirsute me stuck out like a sore thumb. An older girl actually did a double take when she saw me in class. I quit after two months, because at that age I had a new interest every week, but sometimes I can’t help but wonder, what if?

    Anyway, I spent the whole trip home smiling and basically replaying the whole night over and over again. it’s been two days and I still break into a grin whenever I think about it. Thank you for the outfit advice!

    1. Queer Earthling*

      This was wonderful to read. I’m so glad you had a good time and it meant so much to you!

    2. Emily*

      Yay! I remember your question about the outfit and am glad that you went and had such a good time!

    3. Blarg*

      This is such a great story, and a perfect example of why cultural exchanges are so important, why representation matters, and why the arts aren’t just for the elite. Delighted you had such a good time and I’m hopeful that you’ll have other occasions to expand your style choices!

    4. Elizabeth West*

      Yay!!! I’m so happy that you enjoyed it!!! It sounds like the outfit you wore was just fine.

    5. Jack Russell Terrier*

      What a lovely update. I’m so glad that you were able to kick back, enjoy the performance and connect with the dancers that way. Thanks so much for posting.

  21. Beancat*

    Thank you all for the kitten advice last week! I’m happy to say our boys Tulio and Miguel are settling in nicely. They’re adorable little troublemakers but they are so lovey. It totally fills my heart to have them curl up next to me or follow me and peep until they get scooped up!

    I ended up buying baby locks for the kitchen and bathroom cabinets, and the only interest they have in them is when they’re open for me to get something. They get gently redirected and then have no interest. They’re a bit nippy but when I get nipped or clawed, I just say “ow, that hurts me” and give them a toy instead for a little bit. They’re just babies, so I’m not upset. They’re learning!

    The best thing is watching them gallump around the apartment together. I’m so so glad we were able to adopt a pair!

    1. Queer Earthling*

      I’m so glad you’re enjoying your new kittles! Also: CHOICE cat names, that’s one of my favorite movies.

      1. Beancat*

        We debated for a while about fandom pairs and this was the pair we could finally agree on! Miguel is definitely the more outgoing boy and Tulio is a bit sneakier about the trouble he gets into :)

    2. merp*

      Awww this description reminds me so much of when my two cats were just babies. Have so much fun with them!

        1. merp*

          I know all cats have their own personalities, etc, but also oh my gosh, these two are going to be so bonded to you and to each other since they’ve gotten to stay together and because you got them so young, it’s the best feeling to have their trust like that!

          1. Beancat*

            Miguel has gotten to the point where any time I touch him he purrs because he’s expecting pets! He climbed into my lap and fell asleep and my heart just fluttered!

            1. New Normal*

              Oh my goodness, there is no better feeling I’ve found than having a sleeping kitten curled up in my lap. Our “kitten” (now 15 months old) would fight sleep until finally she collapsed in my arms and she’d sleep like the dead for a bit before waking up full of energy again.

              I’m so glad you all found each other! Enjoy the chaos of kittens. They’re nuts but it’s such a brief time. I love my cats to bits and I don’t think any of us would have survived a longer kittenhood but I’d be lying if I didn’t say I miss that stage every so often.

  22. Retail not Retail*

    We had our first snow of the season! One area school district had a 2 hour delay and there were ice wrecks. I discovered what “bridge ices before road” means and I’d really rather not do that again, especially in the dark!

    It got above freezing but there are still snow patches on grass.

    I hope we get more snow!

      1. Retail not Retail*

        Back to 60s next week. I just want some darn consistency.

        Last February we didn’t get snow but we FROZE with multiple days below freezing. And as I chipped my car free, I muttered to myself this is not why i put up with southern summers.

    1. Lady Jay*

      I’m enjoying watching the snow fall this morning.

      Considering the whole rest of the week has been significant, roads-are-underwater flooding, it’s a nice change of pace.

  23. Down The Rabbit Hole*

    Looking for a polite way to ask well meaning friends to butt out of my medical treatment.

    I’ve always known that being overweight was contributing to breaking my bones but now I have a diagnosis to go with that little quirk: osteopenia, which is basically a step below osteoporosis. I’m setting up to meet with a specialist but from reading online and talking with my primary physician, the best treatment is to get my weight down so my fragile bones are under less stress.

    The trouble is that I have a friend (similar body size and weight to me, both in our 30s) who climbs a soapbox any time the topic of weight loss comes up. She says that weight is a number pressed on us by the standards of fashion and as long as you’re healthy, it shouldn’t matter what you weigh and so on. When I have mentioned that my weight is affecting my bones, she said that doctors blame everything on weight, I shouldn’t change myself, beautiful the way I am. I know she’s trying to support me in her own way but it’s really not helpful. When I’ve said that I’m going to trust my doctor, she insists that I should ignore her.

    It’s not a topic that comes up often but since I’m going to be actively working on my weight loss for this express purpose, I anticipate push back from my friend. How can I nicely ask her to drop it and let me do what’s best for me and my health?

    1. The Other Dawn*

      Easier said that done maybe, but just don’t engage with her about it. Don’t bring up anything about weight. If it does come up, just tell her, “It’s not about my looks, it’s about my health. What works for you doesn’t work for me.” If you’ve already told her something to this effect and she still talks about, I don’t really see why you have to be nice and polite about it. Just be blunt. You don’t need to be a jerk, of course, but I wouldn’t worry about hurting her feels or making her feel awkward. Why are her feelings more important than yours?

        1. valentine*

          as long as you’re healthy
          She’s not following her own rule here. She’s projecting, which you might mention to her. No more weight talk with her.

    2. Queer Earthling*

      “You are not my doctor, but thank you.” Or just change the subject, and try not to discuss weight loss with her. Some people can discuss it neutrally, but most people can’t.

    3. Jedi Squirrel*

      It sounds like your friend has some insecurities about her own weight, and she’s grasped onto you as a mirror of normalcy. Thus, if you lose weight, she suddenly feels heavier.

      I would agree with her on those points that you can, and then gently push back on all other issues. “I know I’m beautiful the way I am, but my knees don’t agree with that.”

      Also, the phrase “Please don’t confuse your google search with a medical degree” may come in handy at some point, should you need to set some firm guidelines.

    4. Jen in Oregon*

      “I’m not discussing this with you.”
      “Stop bullying me. I’m not talking about this ”
      “You need to leave me alone about this. ”

      You’re both trying to make each other understand….stop doing that. Just shut that convo down and switch the topic immediately. Cut/threaten to cut the visit short if you have to.

      I wish you the very best with your health goals!!

    5. The Gollux, Not a Mere Device*

      “I won’t tell you to lose weight if you won’t tell me not to.”

      Yes, some doctors blame everything on weight, but if you have a history of broken bones, that’s relevant even though she may have run into the sort of doctor who says “yes, I know you were just in a car crash, but clearly the real reason you have a broken bone is that you eat ice cream.”

      Do see what the specialist says, and in particular whether they agree with your primary physician: online strangers are as prone to being wrong as your friends are, and it’s not easy to identify useful web sites for information. Specialists see things in narrow ways, but they may be more up to date on their fields than your primary physician, because she’s trying to keep track of so many things.

      There are things that tell me that a web site isn’t trustworthy (like suggesting diet can cure everything, or recommending reiki), but even then, that doesn’t mean that they’re wrong about everything and the opposite of what they say is true. It means “ignore these people altogether”: if someone says “the earth is flat, and you should eat more green vegetables,” I don’t conclude that I shouldn’t eat vegetables.

      If your doctor recommends weight loss for everything, she might be wrong about it being relevant for any specific case, including this one. If she doesn’t talk to you about diet/weight loss on most visits, she’s more likely to be right about it being relevant here.

    6. OtterB*

      I think you’ll have to set a hard boundary on discussions of the subject with her. I would say something like “We’re going to have to agree to disagree on this one. You do what’s right for you, I’ll do what’s right for me, and let’s just not talk about weight or diet.” Then change subject to some shared interest. Repeat “Let’s not go there” and change subject as needed.

      Good luck with improving your health.

    7. Hmmmm*

      I find it odd that osteopenia would be related to constant fractures v osteoporosis, which is worse. Hope you are going to see an endocrinologist who will evaluate you thoroughly and set up a good treatment plan.

      1. Fikly*

        Well, setting aside the issue that people with lower bone density fall into two groups, those who have a higher fracture risk, and those that do not, and we do not know how to tell them apart – it’s not relevant here, because clearly Down the Rabbit Hole is fracturing – osteopenia is lower bone density than standard, and osteoporosis is even lower bone density. Presumably the fracture rate would be even higher if they had reached osteoporosis. It not yet being that bad doesn’t mean that osteopenia isn’t a problem in and of itself.

    8. Not So NewReader*

      There are times where a doc will tell a patient that a limb or organ cannot be overworked. It will not tolerate that. Overworking a limb or organ can be any number of things including weight gain. I am thinking of diabetes and heart conditions off the top of my head.
      If a doc said, “Hey your pancreas cannot hack all that sugar” or if a cardiologist said, “Losing some weight will help your heart to function better”, they have reason for saying these things.

      If you are up for the conversation, ask her what she thinks you should do. Tell her “My setting is different from your setting. My bones will break if I carry too much weight. What other options do you think I should follow up on?” Show her pictures (google) of healthy bone vs bones in osteopenia or osteoporosis. Ask her what she thinks the doctor should do/say here.
      In this technique you are expecting her to THINK, not simply regurgitate some general statement she saw in the news/online. Sometimes when people told we expect them to think they change their tune.

      She maybe one of those lost people. You may not be able to get through to her. I have a friend who told his doc, ” I weigh x pounds and that is what I will continue weighing. YOU need to adjust your thinking.” Meanwhile the doc was trying to say, that my friend’s pancreas was barely functioning and he needed to shed some pounds so the pancreas would work better. The doc doesn’t have to adjust anything except my friend’s meds to accommodate all the crap my friend is eating and my friend’s weight increases.

      I had another friend who told the doc, “You can’t call me names!” The doc told my friend that he was morbidly obese.
      In the end, it’s my friends who are laying in the hospital bed, not the doc.
      Some people don’t get it and never will.

      If you don’t feel like having the longer conversation, tell her to call up your doc and argue with him not you. Tell her you have looked things over and you have decided to try to do what the doc says. If she can’t find supportive things to say, then perhaps the two of you can just find other subjects to talk about. It’s your body and you get to decide how you want to handle things. You can add something like, “If you find interesting, supportive articles on osteopenia and you want to share I would love to look at them.” A statement like this leaves the door open for a different conversation later on.

    9. RagingADHD*

      Just tell her your health is not up for discussion and you don’t want her opinion.

      Then follow through by refusing to discuss it. If she brings it up, remind her that you are not taking a poll.

      If she won’t drop it, leave or hang up the phone.

      When people start arguing with philosophy and emotion against medicine, you cannot reason with them or persuade them to stop. They are like anti-vaxxers or climate change deniers. They are putting feelings and ideology above physical facts.

      All you can do is train them to keep their opinion to themselves, by withdrawing your attention and presence when they berate you. They will either change or end the friendship.

      Which is a win-win for you, because anyone who openly decides that they prefer their soapbox to your company was never a real friend at all.

    10. Senor Montoya*

      Put your friend on an information diet! Don’t talk about your weight loss plans or efforts with her. Don’t talk about your osteopenia. Don’t talk abOut anything to do with your health or body.

      She is not a supportive friend where your body and health are concerned. She cares more about her own opinions. I’m not saying she’s a bad friend over all, just WRT this issue.

    11. Sleve McDichael*

      If she comments when she sees your weight loss (even if she’s on an info diet) I’d say something like: ‘My weight loss is not about looks. It’s kind of like moisturiser. Some people wear it because they’re worried about wrinkles and they think wrinkles will make them less beautiful. Other people have to wear it because they get painful dry skin or rosacea. I’m in the dry skin camp, except for broken bones.’

      I think reframing it with comparisons to a different medical condition might help, especially since skin problems are so much more visible than bones, but skin is also a target for a lot of ‘beauty’ critique.

    12. Anon attorney*

      I don’t think there’s any way to get her to see your point of view, because it’s not actually about you, it’s about her projecting her feelings about her own body on to you. That isn’t something that can be fixed by rational debate, so the killer argument that will get her to understand you doesn’t exist. I think the suggestions here about stonewalling the discussion are the best option. Sometimes we have to just agree to disagree and stop discussing something in order to maintain a relationship, if that’s what you want to do. Good luck in your treatment. I am halfway through trying to lose 20kg or so for the sake of my knees, so I can understand where you are coming from.

    13. Purt’s Peas*

      I wouldn’t talk about weight loss to her at all. She’s right, and you’re right: often physicians blame weight for over the real root cause of an illness; but in your case, losing weight is the right decision.

      Frankly I don’t know if you’ll need to have a big talk if you don’t talk about your weight loss efforts, but I might say something like: “I appreciate the reassurance, but this is a medical decision for the health of my bones. I want weight loss talk, whether it’s me talking about losing weight or you talking about how I shouldn’t, to be off the table.”

      It’s scary to be in the midst of illness, and your friend is not being helpful. Sort of the opposite pressure of “just lose weight, you’ll be fine!” but no less pressure.

  24. Oompah*

    I have officially lost respect for my friend Carol. She is wealthy but also stingy. She is forever borrowing small amounts of money when she “doesn’t have cash” but doesn’t pay back unless pressed. She has not once bought me a cup of tea in our 15+ years of friendship even though I’ve treated her to meals. She kept asking me for rides home to save on Uber when she knows that dropping her off means going the opposite direction.

    I’ve overlooked these as a quirk of hers but today I’m hurt. Carol just got married. She previously told me she wasn’t inviting my husband because her wedding was immediate family and close friends only. She said she wanted a small and intimate wedding and only have people who are extremely close to her. I understood and said it was fine. Well, at the wedding she had 60-70 guests, several of whom were partners of friends. She says I’m like her sister but she’s penny pinching when it comes to inviting my spouse to her wedding? I can’t believe she invited all those coworkers and their partners – yet me, the only non family to do a speech on her side, who attended *all* of her pre wedding cultural ceremonies and spent hours setting up everything – I’m not allowed to bring my husband so she can save a few bucks. As a wedding gift I paid for the photographer, which would more than cover the cost of both me and my husband at her reception.

    I didn’t want to ruin her wedding so said nothing and smiled all the way through. But yeah. This sucks. She sucks. I don’t think our friendship will recover after this final straw.

    1. The Other Dawn*

      “She sucks. I don’t think our friendship will recover after this final straw.”

      I agree. I personally wouldn’t continue a friendship like this. It seems very one-sided.

      1. valentine*

        She sees you as a bank. If you wanted to give her a chance, not giving her any more money or rides would quickly show you what her interest in you is.

        A friend and I always paid each other back. No reminders. I probably wouldn’t do that with anyone now, but she was solid.

        1. Observer*

          Yeah, *IF* you want to see if the friendship is salvageable, this is the way to go. Because if you keep on being the one who pays and pays and pays, it’s not going to last anyway.

    2. WellRed*

      Even without all the background, I think it’s bizarre not to invite your spouse. That’s just…not done.

      1. Cora*

        Agreed. There were partners/spouses of friends and family members of mine that I had never even met before. Not inviting someone’s spouse is really just not a thing most people do. There are very few people whose weddings I would even consider going to if they told me my husband couldn’t come.

      2. Parenthetically*

        Yes. It’s one thing to limit plus-ones to serious partners/spouses only, but to specifically exclude a spouse (especially in the name of saving money) is, you’re right, just not done.

      3. Clisby*

        Exactly. If you were single, she’s under no obligation to offer you a random +1 invitation if the idea is to limit the size of the wedding. But at least according to traditional etiquette, a married or engaged couple is a unit. If you invite one, you invite both.

      4. Oompah*

        She told me repeatedly she wanted a small and intimate wedding. I can understand if that was the real reason for not inviting my husband. But it clearly was not an event exclusive to her nearest and dearest. She didn’t invite him because she wanted to keep costs down, plain and simple. If I were a random acquaintance it wouldn’t bother me. But why would you behave that way to someone you say is like family. It’s like she is counting costs and trying to maximize returns from our friendship.

        1. Observer*

          No one does that, even if they want a truly “intimate”. The fact that she said that should have been a sign that something is very, very off.

          She means “like the kind of family that gives you money then can’t chase you for repayment because faaamiliy”.

    3. Jedi Squirrel*

      Based on your description, it sounds like Carol doesn’t have the same understanding of what a friendship is as the rest of humanity. It’s best to simply end it and move on.

      I’m sorry for your loss. 15 years is a long time. And a lot of tea.

    4. Elizabeth West*

      Why are you friends with this person? Wealthy or not, she’s a user and a mooch. That’s not a “quirk;” it’s toxic as hell.

      I would divest myself of Carol as completely as possible.

    5. Parenthetically*

      “As a wedding gift I paid for the photographer”

      Literally what the HELL. No, get away from this inexplicably-freeloading weirdo!

    6. Wishing You Well*

      Oh, Oompah.
      Your “friend” sounds more like a leech. Cut her loose, enjoy your freedom but please consider taking assertiveness training classes. I’m very concerned you can’t tell people “no” and that it took you 15 years to bail. You’ll need this skill with the next friend, even if they are a great friend.
      Best of luck in the future

      1. Not So NewReader*

        Agreed. This is a leech.
        The friendship was probably done a while ago. But now you have the straw that broke the camel’s back.
        Wish her luck and say good-bye.

    7. Oompah*

      Thanks all. We have been friends all these years because she also has a long list of qualities I admire. There have been many occasions when I felt weird about her selfishness but my brain made excuses. When you have a good friend you want to give them the benefit of the doubt.

      But this episode has forced me to look at the overall pattern of her behaviour: that she mooches, she is inconsiderate, and unappreciative about what I do for her.

      Her family has all sorts of crazy fights over money. Her father was abusive and one of his tactics was to withhold necessary financial support when she was growing up. She’s now in a legal battle with her relatives over her deceased family member’s estate. So I can understand why she is weird with money. But that does not excuse her behaviour towards me or make it any less hurtful.

      1. Sleve McDichael*

        When I think of couples I always think of their money as belonging to both at once. So by my frame of reference she declined to invite the person who paid for her photographer. Even if you think of the money as split, your spouse paid for half the photographer. You don’t decline to invite the person who paid for your photographer.

        Don’t make it a drama though. Just slowly pull back more and more over time. Maybe send Christmas cards so you can think of yourself as being on the high ground but no more than that. Best of luck bringing more of YOUR kind of people into your inner circle this year!

        1. Avasarala*

          I wouldn’t even slow fade with her. Not inviting someone’s spouse to a wedding is a severe cut. Especially a friend who did something as generous as pay for the photographer (hundreds to thousands of dollars). Personally I would call and say how hurt I was that she invited everyone else’s partners but not mine, even though we had been friends for 15 years and I did all these things for her. And I’m not sure I can be friends with someone who has such little consideration and respect for me and my family.

      2. MysteryFan*

        It does not excuse her selfish behavior at all. In my opinion, such struggles as she may have had growing up “should” have made her a more generous person, not less! But, in any case, I, too, think you have rightfully come to the end of the trail with her. I hope your life is better without her in it!

      3. Observer*

        You could give this one last shot- but you need to think carefully before you do that, if you really like the other qualities enough to try. And if you do decide to give it a last chance you need to move forward with one inflexible condition – you never let her mooch. You never lend her money, you don’t give her a ride unless you are going in that direction, you don’t do anything for her that takes more than 5 minutes out of you week (not even out of your day), etc.

        I’d be very surprised if it works though. So, you might want to skip that and just end your friendship.

  25. The Other Dawn*

    “She sucks. I don’t think our friendship will recover after this final straw.”

    I agree. I personally wouldn’t continue a friendship like this. It seems very one-sided.

  26. bassclefchick*

    Well, it’s that time. I need a new phone. Mine is OLD (LG K8 v). I was very concerned about my new Fitbit Charge 3 not working because my phone is too old. It does work, but it was a hassle. I have two concerns. First is that the thought of looking for a new phone and trying to pick one fills me with anxiety. TOO. MANY. CHOICES. I know I want to stick with Android, but after that? IDK. The other problem? I’m on my in-laws plan. I don’t pay for our phones at all. So, I don’t know what the proper thing to do is. Ask MIL for something different? Ask her if I can pick it out and I’ll pay for it? More anxiety. Help? TIA

    1. The Cosmic Avenger*

      Do you pay her for your portion of the bill? If not, you can ASK her if you can get an upgrade, but unless you’re willing to pay for it, that seems like too big an ask to me. If you’re paying your portion of the bill, then you might need to figure out a few phones you might like first, and then ask her to log in and look at what upgrades to those phones would cost. Because the monthly payments on the bill for a particular phone might vary somewhat, depending on her credit rating. But you can probably start by going to the cellular provider website and pricing phones without logging in, the difference shouldn’t be THAT big. Personally, I’m very partial to Samsungs, particularly the Galaxy and Note lines. But it will probably depends on your budget and your preferences, so it’s hard to advise you without more information.

    2. Zephy*

      I don’t know who your carrier is, but I have AT&T, and pretty much every “new” phone I’ve gotten for the last 10 years has been a deal where the store still has units of the last generation of whatever sexy new smartphone just came out, so they’re selling them for a fraction of the original price. You could go to your carrier’s local retail shop and ask about that. You’ll probably need to have the account holder with you – if that’s MIL, then yeah, you should plan to say something along the lines of “Hey MIL, I really need a new phone. Let’s go down to the AT&T/whatever store tomorrow and see what they have.” It would also be polite to offer to pay for the new unit, yes.

      As far as deciding what new phone you want to get – that is definitely something that, while it is daunting, will be easier to do in the comfort and privacy of your home than in the moment with a salesman squawking at you. Your carrier’s website should have a catalog that you can look through to see what they have available.

      1. 653-CXK*

        That’s what I did when my old Motorola Z2 Force died…I went to the AT&T shop, got a late-model G6 Play for $1 a month, and have seen my phone bill go down a good $20 per month. The G6 is almost the same as the Z2, but actually has a headphone plug (whereas the Z2 had a USB-C plug requiring adapters)

    3. Hazy Days*

      There’s a Fair Trade phone (I think it’s called the FairPhone) made without child exploitation, that my techie friend speaks very highly of.

    4. bassclefchick*

      Thanks! She’s in Florida and I’m in Wisconsin, so no trips to the store together. I’ve been hearing good things about Samsung, so I’m leaning that direction. We don’t pay much toward the bill. I would absolutely ask her before doing anything. I’ve been on Verizon’s website and tried to compare models, but that hasn’t been helpful. Sure, the tech specs are important but that isn’t everything I need to know before getting something new.

      1. General von Klinkerhoffen*

        I have a Samsung A20e – it’s not the latest or shiniest model so it was relatively cheap to buy outright. It runs quickly and smoothly and there are lots of cases available.

        I would recommend buying outright rather than putting the cost into the contract.

        1. Squeark*

          We bought a Motorola Moto G7 as a travel phone I have to say I really like it. I’m not going to drop my long years of using iPhones for regular duty, but the G7 is inexpensive, extremely well-made, and has all the bells and whistles you need as an android user.

      2. Seeking Second Childhood*

        I’m in the same boat, although mine is because my old waterproof Samsung lost its battery cover and I’m noworking dreaming of it going into the drink.

  27. coffee cup*

    I posted last week about thinking I might try SSRIs and asking for advice. Thanks for everyone’s comments! I was not able to reply last weekend but I did read them all and found them really helpful.

    I started taking them last week and so far it’s been OK. Not really side effects except I’ll feel pretty up all day and then in the evening I seem to crash into exhaustion. Also a bit nauseous but I knew to expect that, I just keep trying to eat enough to ward it off. And my tummy is a bit unsure. But I guess these will all settle down soon… I hope! I know they take a while to work but even just starting them has given me some hope that I might feel a bit less sad eventually.

    I guess I should also look into counselling to go alongside, but I really have never liked or got much from it. I will have to do some research.

  28. Washi*

    I don’t really know how to describe my eating habits. After learning about factory farming about 10 years ago, I stopped eating meat 99% of the time. However, my parents live in a rural area with good access to low environmental impact, humanely raised and slaughtered meat, and so when I visit them twice per year, I typically eat meat there. That kind of meat is expensive and hard to find, plus I don’t love how I feel physically when I eat meat, so my husband and I just don’t eat meat when we’re at home.

    I’ve just been calling myself a pescatarian and leaving it at that, but then sometimes I feel like I’m lying, because I’m not strongly opposed to eating non-factory farmed meat and I do occasionally eat marshmallows and mozzarella. But even simply stating that I don’t eat meat (when asked directly about it) seems to often elicit a defensive reaction and people explaining to me why they still eat meat, even though I don’t care and didn’t ask what they eat.

    Part of me wants to get stricter with my diet just so I feel like I’m not “cheating” when I describe myself as a pescatarian. But I like the way I eat and feel good about it, just not sure how to describe it.

    1. MinotJ*

      I’m in a similar situation and I never know what to say. I’ve been a vegetarian for 25 years, but I’ve recently started eating a friend’s spent laying hens. So I get about ten chickens a year and I treasure them dearly (I turn them into food, but also schmaltz and broth). My close friends know the details, but I try to just not discuss it with anybody else, and hope that nobody mentions that I’ve ordered a vegetarian dish or that my lunch is chili with tofu. I feel like a liar if I say I’m a vegetarian, but nobody needs the long drawn out story of what I do and do not eat.

      I think people have gotten nicer about it, or maybe I just live in a nicer place now. I had so many people get belligerent at me when I mentioned it in my 20s. So weird, like I was insulting them by not eating meat, and they could make it all better by convincing me to eat it right then and there. I get it – meat is delicious! But I usually don’t eat it.

    2. The Cosmic Avenger*

      I would call that “mostly pescatarian”. Lots of people have specific differences, like they won’t eat octopus, or they only eat dairy and eggs from free-range animals. It makes a lot of sense to me; I wish I could do that, although we do try to buy supermarket meat that is free-range, and when our local farmer’s market is open, I like to buy my meat there, because that meat comes right from the type of farm that you describe in your parents’ area.

      But remember, you don’t ever owe anyone an explanation or reason; most of the time, if someone demands one, it is to try to tell you why you’re wrong, so often my first response to that kind of demand is my own demand, “why do you want to know”, or even “why is that any of your business”. As long as you’re civil about stating your dietary preferences, you should expect at least the same in return.

    3. Zephy*

      “I can’t eat much meat, but I love fish” might be a way to phrase things that gets people off your back. For the people defending their own dietary choices to you, “Why are you telling me?” and look confused. Or, if you’re feeling saucy, bring out your inner Samuel L. Jackson with “I don’t remember asking you a goddamn thing.”

    4. Emily*

      I would probably call your diet “mostly pescetarian.” Like The Cosmic Avenger said, you shouldn’t have to justify your diet to anyone, but you could qualify it a little if it helps you feel more comfortable and less dishonest.

    5. I edit everything*

      Edits Nothing had a coworker once who was a “happy-tarian”: she was mostly vegetarian because she didn’t want to support factory farming, but would eat the game her rural family got hunting. I think ethically-raised farmed meat would also apply.

      1. Jenn*

        I love this. I say ‘I only eat happy meat’ if pressed – I’ll eat ethical fish, and meat from my rural family’s farm (once or twice a year when I visit). Otherwise I’m vegetarian, but feel odd using that term. I was strictly vegetarian for 15+ years, but even then didn’t have an objection to people eating ethically raised and well treated animals.

    6. Lives in a Shoe*

      Flexetarian is a valid thing. So is simply acknowledging to yourself that your body and your choices are your own. If you find yourself unable to avoid conversations about it, just say something like, “I’m mainly a pescatarian, but occasionally eat other things as well. ” Simple, honest and direct.

      1. Dr. Anonymous*

        This is a beautiful way to describe it. Remember that ”mostly pescetarian” is just a short easy term to describe the way you eat for people who might choose restaurants or cook for you. It’s not a spouse and its feelings won’t be hurt if you cheat on it. Very few people will be watching you to see how consistent you are. It’s helpful if they do because it’s nice to know which of your friends are judgy busybodies who need more hobbies.

      2. Old Biddy*

        Seconding this. I’m one of those non-vegetarians whom people always assume are vegetarian because I eat a lot of veggie burgers, tofu, etc. I used to explain that I don’t eat a lot of meat, but once I learned the term ‘flexitarian’ I started using that instead.

    7. fposte*

      Is this just random conversation rather than somebody working out what to make you for dinner? If so, I really don’t think we need to taxonomize ourselves. What if you just didn’t have a term? “I don’t eat much meat” might cover you.

      (I realize that the defensiveness isn’t great, but I think that if two people are having a conversation wherein one identifies the role meat plays in their diet, it’s okay for the other person to respond with the role meat plays in their diet.)

      1. Seeking Second Childhood*

        This. It’s totally valid to prefer vegetables. And ‘there’s no acounting for taste’ becomes enough to answer any objections.

    8. Millicent*

      Is the need to have an accurate description coming from yourself or others? I mean, is there anything wrong with just eating how you eat? I think the last few times anyone asked if I was a vegetarian because I had ordered a vegetarian meal, I just said, “no, I just really like vegetables.” No one ever asked a follow-up question.

      If people ask you directly if you eat meat, you could say, “sometimes” and just leave it alone. If they ask more questions (“well, but WHEN do you eat meat??”) and you don’t want to get into the whole explanation, just be as bland and boring as possible – “when I feel like it” and change the subject.

      It sounds like a lot of your tension around this is because you don’t know what to call yourself, to the point where you are considering changing your diet (which works for you!), so that it fits more neatly into an already well-understood category. But I think it is ok that there isn’t really a name yet* for this kind of eating. You know the best way for you to eat, so just keep doing that.

      *(I think maybe there are some names, like flexitarian or ethical eater, that could apply but these would probably cause more questions to be asked.)

      1. Courageous cat*

        Yeah! Agreed, you don’t need to call yourself anything. Just describing (“I don’t eat meat often”) is more than sufficient were someone to ask. Don’t pressure yourself to fit into a label because there’s no need.

      2. Miss Pantalones en Fuego*

        This is what I would do, unless for some reason you need to have a label. Just saying “I don’t eat a lot of meat, I prefer fish and vegetarian foods most of the time” would be fine. If someone really presses for information then a little bit about ethical or environmental concerns about meat and the circumstances in which you find it acceptable might be warranted.

        A lot of people are reducing the amount of meat they eat these days, without it necessarily being a switch to a particular diet or a big grand change. It’s just deciding that actually, the mushroom risotto sounds better than the beef lasagna tonight, thanks, and leaving it at that.

      3. Washi*

        So this is mainly in describing what I eat to work and to new friends. Bad it I have this fear that I’ll say I’m a pescatarian and then someone will see me eating a marshmallow and think I was being super inconsiderate to call myself a pescatarian and want a meat free meal.

        Which has never happened! So maybe this is just an irrational fear.

        1. Miss Pantalones en Fuego*

          In that case I don’t think I’d bother to give myself a label in the first place! But anyone who would give you a hard time about occasionally eating something that isn’t in their understanding of your particular food choices is not someone whose opinion you should worry about. Or just say you’re “mostly pescatarian” and if someone wants to attack you for a marshmallow just shrug and say “I said mostly. I wanted a marshmallow.”

        2. Drtheliz*

          I think just “pescatarian” for casual acquaintances/work peeps, then clarify if it comes up. I keep kosher but tend to be “basically vegetarian” in public. If people “catch” me eating kosher meat I’ll explain that “I keep kosher. What that means for me is that I don’t eat meat that I didn’t buy special and cook at home, so rather than ask anybody else to care about all those rules let’s just say I’m a vegetarian.”

        3. blaise zamboni*

          If you feel strongly enough to avoid most meat products unless you know the animal was treated humanely…I’d say you’re a vegetarian! And you can tell people such. If they give you a hard time, they’re kind of a jerk. Presumably in a work setting, you don’t know how the meat was sourced and you’d like to avoid it, which is so reasonable and not at all hard to understand if you want to share that information. But you aren’t obligated to; you can just politely decline based on your diet.

          I’m mostly-vegan now (my goal is to eat vegan 5/7 days) but I make allowances for eating out with my very not-vegan partner, and for getting team meals and such. In that case I’m ‘just’ vegetarian. Outside of that, well-meaning coworkers offer a lot of food that I turn down and they’re now under the impression (from their own questions) that I’m strictly vegan. For simplicity’s sake I just go along with it. But they’ve seen me eating cheese on my cheat days and nobody gives a F. It helps that none of them are veggie/vegan, but if you meet a like-minded coworker, they’ll probably be happy that you just eat mostly-meat-free anyway.

          However, for new friends, if the relationship seems promising I would mention your dietary beliefs whenever it comes up naturally. Friendships, especially new ones, tend to involve a lot of shared meals and that’s something you can bond over, whether they share your views or not.

    9. Nicki Name*

      It would be intuitive eating if you can drop your guilt about it. Being able to eat what your body is comfortable with and feeling good about it is a real accomplishment in our society.

    10. Nom de Plume*

      I’m not sure you really need to have a simple label to describe the way you eat. I mean, I love vegetarian food. I normally get the vegetarian option at work lunches because it’s just yummier. But I eat meat too. I’ll often say to people who ask if I’m a vegetarian, “I do eat meat but I really love vegetarian food and feel best when I eat lots of veggies” Literally no one has questioned that.

    11. Not So NewReader*

      Dunno how helpful this is: For myself, I try to aim to eat mostly whole foods. My meals are simple, with not a lot of ingredients and not a lot of steps in preparation. I do indulge in some less than healthful choices from time to time but I try not do it regularly.

      I think you are looking for one or two words to describe what you do and, yeah, that can create internal conflict. BTDT. It’s better to use more words and aim for better accuracy in what you are saying. Shortcuts don’t work out for the some of the reasons you show here.

    12. RagingADHD*

      If someone’s ordering or making a meal for you, or if you’re agreeing on a restaurant, you can say “I rarely eat meat, but any kind of seafood or vegetarian option is fine.”

      If it’s just you, you don’t have to label yourself at all.

    13. Double A*

      You could say, “I’m vegetarian unless I’ve personally met the meat I’m eating.”

      Also can I ask why you eat fish? The fishing industry is more destructive and unsustainable and as factory farming. I was vegetarian for years, now back to eating land animals sometimes, but something I’ve always been consistent about is that I don’t eat fish.

      1. Washi*

        I don’t really eat big chunks of fish but I do cook with fish or oyster sauce sometimes, and I don’t worry if fish products like those are in my food at restaurants. So my consumption of seafood is fairly minimal.

        1. Reba*

          FWIW I would not consider that “pescatarian”!

          I call myself a vegetarian and have been for a decade. Mainly for reasons of sustainability plus it’s the food I like. But like you, I sometimes eat meat when I know the animal has had a good life/is sustainable consumption, though I don’t seek it out. It’s just that if someone makes something for me, I’ll almost always eat it!

          And if the Thai restaurant (or whatever) can do all-vegetarian, that’s great! But if there is fish sauce in the curry paste, I consider that such a small quantity of actual fish that it’s ok :)

          Finally, I try hard to avoid gelatin but the occasional Haribo is still a weak point for me…

    14. Sleve McDichael*

      Flexitarian is a good descriptor in my omnivorous opinion, but if you know meat gives you a bit of an upset stomach could you not just say exactly that? ‘Meat gives me a bit of an upset stomach a lot of the time so for safety I tend to skip it.’ sounds a lot less like a moral judgement so people might feel less like they need to defend themselves. (Even though it’s caused by your meat avoidance for moral reasons you don’t need to mention that bit). You will have to brace yourself for people going ‘Oh yeah, I get you. Weet-bix give me gas and my cousin has……’ though. But you might find that preferable.

  29. Thinking about Kids*

    For those who have kids:
    When did you know it was the right time to start trying for kids (versus “I want kids someday”?)

    We have a house, our kitten is *knock on wood* thriving. I’m just waiting for hubs to do genetic testing (celiac/type 1 diabetes), for a Spring project to be renewed for sure (work) and we want one last trip (e.g summer). We have some kid savings (a fifth of my salary) that could last a year and a half since we’re trying living on one salary. Our combined maternity/paternity leave is great considering the country we live in.

    We do know friends who traveled for years or are in stressful jobs our age who’ve had lots of pain, sadness over miscarriages and infertility—counterbalanced with me feeling like no matter how much we try to save for kids, it will never feel like enough…

    1. Oompah*

      There is never a convenient time to have kids because kids are hugely inconvenient! My husband and I had our kids young-ish. (mid 20s). Now in my 30s I am done with babies and I get to concentrate on my career. I had easy pregnancies and no difficulty conceiving at that age. We still travel – sure, we have extra logistics to consider when taking kids – but enjoy it just as much as when we travelled in our early 20s before having children. Especially now since our kids are older and easier to take around.

    2. kz*

      I don’t have kids yet, but I’m currently pregnant with my first. For us it wasnt just about finances (you are way more set there than we are!), but more of a gut feeling about where our lives and relationship are at. Last November we had a “what if” conversation (sort of, if we were going to do this when would be a good time?) and as a result realized it was something we both wanted sooner rather than later. We had to figure out how it would impact my career choices, but ultimately it was more about being ready for a change and a big challenge, and feeling confident that my husband and I have a strong enough relationship that it will weather the chaos of raising kids. Everyone always told us that you’ll never truly feel like you have enough savings, and we were just finally ready to believe them!

    3. TypeFun*

      I don’t have kids, but I also have Type 1 diabetes. Are you financially prepared for the possibility that your child might have diabetes? That’s always been a big concern for me.

      1. Thinking about Kids*

        Yup, that’s definitely been a cause for concern. We have enough to get us through except I do worry that any ER visits/diabetes stuff would bankrupt us since we’ve heard horror stories. Hence, genetic testing to assess celiac propensity for future generations/T1, since the doctor said his years-long undiagnosed celiac led to T1 at age 9.

        We do both have decently solid *knock on wood* jobs each with 1 day/week telework if appts are needed, and mat/paternity leave is 6 months total so we could carefully monitor said child.

        Diabetes/celiac could bankrupt a middle class family nowadays, I’ve heard horror stories.

    4. Fellow Traveler*

      When we got married, our priest said to us, “You will never feel like you have enough money to have children, so don’t let that be the ruling factor.” He was Catholic, so take that how you will, but I do think that there is something to the idea.
      We have three children, and I don’t know that we really planned any of them, but we did start late (I was 34, 38, and 40 when they were born), and I do wish we had started sooner. I feel like getting pregnant can be such a crapshoot- we had three miscarriages between the first two kids- you never know what is going to happen so you may as well start sooner rather than later. My philosophy has always been to take things as they come and not dwell too much on what might be or what will be or what should be.

    5. Parenthetically*

      I think it can be helpful to consider the timing of “someday” in your mind, and the age of kids you’re picturing in that “someday,” and work backwards from there. So when you think about having kids someday, are you still fairly youngish, going on family camping trips with your three elementary-aged kids? Or are you happily rocking a newborn in your late 30s, content with one child? Interrogate your “someday” a little and I think it’ll help you settle on a timeline.

    6. Apt Nickname*

      For me it was partly a calculation on how old I would be at various life stages of my children and partially a gut feeling. Plus add in that it could take longer (or shorter!) to conceive than you plan on, and you really just need to be OK with a wide range of outcomes. With my second child I wanted them about two years apart so we start trying about 9 months before child #1’s birthday and I got pregnant right away. I was actually a little cranky about it because I’d assumed it would take a little longer but surprise!

    7. RagingADHD*

      We’d been married a couple of years and were financially stable. I’d gotten some health stuff straightened out. I was 34 and realized that if I waited for my career or any outside circimstance to give me permission, it would never happen. So we might as well go ahead, the timing was as good as it was ever going to be.

      We figured it would take a few months to “stick” anyhow. Surprisingly, only 2.

    8. Incessant Owlbears*

      There’s no good time. If I’d waited until I was totally financially ready for kids, I would be waiting until about 75!

      I knew it was time when we were married and had a house. Now I’m in my mid-40s, and I’m so glad I got pregnancy and childbirth out of the way in my late 20s when my body was still my friend. :)

    9. zaracat*

      There is no really *good* time, but it is a *bad* time if you don’t truly, actively want children. My partner was way keener on children than I was – not that I definitely didn’t want them, but I kept putting it off and then felt kind of backed into a corner when I ran out of reasons not to. I ended up struggling enormously, with post natal depression, grieving for the loss of the career path I’d been intending to pursue, plus having a child to care for brought up a whole lot of painful and difficult issues from my own childhood. I love my (now 24 year old) daughter dearly, but all of those problems did impact on her wellbeing and I wonder if I might have just been better not to have children, or at the very least to have explored my ambivalence a bit more deeply before making the decision.

      1. KoiFeeder*

        Seconding this. My mom waited until she was in her forties to have children to make sure that she was emotionally ready for them, and I can say that knowing that my parents took the time and effort to be sure that they not only wanted me but were going to be capable of loving me is really special.

        And then I turned out to be a medical horror story, so taking the time to be sure was a really good move on their part. If you want a kid but don’t want a disabled kid, and all, probably best to not go there.

    10. Maya Elena*

      Without judging other people’s circumstances, I am a big proponent of err on the side of yes, earlier, more than 1. Long post with my thoughts below. Below I’ll explain the motivations that should guide your decision, my reasoning, and my personal background.

      **Motivations: I think if you have serious risks of relationship instability, financial instability, psychological instability, major physical health issues, or the child’s physical health (e.g. 99% chance of bad genetic disease), then you should try to resolve those issues first or have a really GOOD backup plan before kids.
      HOWEVER: if you’re generally fine, then I think postponing kids due to “I need a house first with separate rooms for us.” “I need to have $10,000 in savings.” “I need a car,” “I don’t know if I’m ready.” are ones you can consider putting aside and taking the plunge. As my mom says, when all is said and done, you’re more likely to regret NOT having one than YES having one.

      **Reasoning for why younger and more than one. I think that a child doesn’t actually have to rob you of the rest of your life if you don’t let it; and having them younger is just more optionality: you aren’t as set in your childless ways; you suffer lower opportunity costs if you choose to “lean out” for a year or two; your body is healthier; you’re more fertile, and have the option of another one later; you have more energy for them. You can enjoy them when they’re 20 and you don’t yet old really.
      Reasoning for >1: it forces all the adults to not focus on just the one child, which is on balance not beneficial for them, in my opinion. It also creates a built-in companion and takes the onus off you as they get older (but two babies/toddlers at a time is HARD!)

      **My background: I was raised by two parents, secular, both college-educated. My mom was a SAHM for many years, but entered the workforce eventually; I think this benefited me and my siblings in a lot of subtle ways. All of my parents’ friends were married professional couples with at least one child. I assumed that “get married and have kids” is the default of what you do — no judgment, again, on people who choose otherwise, but it’s like the default of having a steady job and a house.
      I have two kids right now, and we started out when one of us was in grad school, in a little apartment. We managed even though we didn’t have all our cards lined up. Now in our 30s, we see everyone else in our social and professional circles is just starting the journey, and we’re several years in…. it’s lonely but it feels good to be this far.

      So I’d say go for it.

    11. Falling Diphthong*

      You want kids, you’ve got a partner who wants kids, you have savings and jobs. I would go ahead and start trying, don’t wait for a sign that this is the perfect time–the thing with infertility rates is that they apply to the population as a whole, and you don’t know whether you’re going to have an easy or rough time until you start trying. If you discover it’s tougher for you, then you can’t time travel back to start trying several years earlier. So my advice is once the pieces are in place, go for it.

    12. Overeducated*

      I was worried about my fertility because my mom had had trouble getting pregnant for many years and multiple miscarriages. My husband wanted to finish his PhD first, so as soon as he did, we started trying to get pregnant and succeeded the second month. We wanted another but couldn’t afford two in day care for several years. As soon as we hit an income level where we could, we tried for #2.

      And that’s where we are now. No house, only one of us has a permanent job, but those things can happen at any age and kids are time sensitive. Most of my friends who waited longer do have better careers and houses, but a lot of them also went through months or years of fertility treatments. So my take is if you know you want them, and have a basic floor of financial stability, do it.

    13. Meepmeep*

      The earlier the better. Sleep deprivation is hell when you’re older, and kids take a lot of energy. If you’ve got some money saved up and decent parental leave, go for it.

      Also, if you want more than one kid, start early. We waited too long and now have only one kid. If we’d started earlier, we may have had another one.

    14. Marzipan*

      My situation is very different to yours, but I will say that it took me five years, and a LOT of money, to get pregnant once I’d decided it was something I wanted to try for – and it was a situation where, had I been in a position to start earlier, that may well not have been the case. So I would generally err on the side of suggesting that if you know a family is something you want, and there aren’t any significant barriers to prevent you going ahead, then go ahead!

    15. General von Klinkerhoffen*

      We reached a point where a pregnancy would no longer be catastrophic, and that was a weird realisation. But that was not when we started trying.

      A much loved older family member suddenly died who was all about family and surrounding herself with her descendants. I was immediately devastated that she would never know my children. So spouse and I had a long talk while visiting for the funeral, and again on our return, and decided to go for it. We were young (25) but had been married for several years and anticipated difficulties because of family history on both sides of miscarriage etc.

      We needed a certain amount of planning because I was on birth control and wanted to remain on it for a couple of weddings and similar events that summer, but then we were officially Trying.

      I live in a country with good maternity provision and free healthcare so the financial considerations are long- rather than short-term. However, we had deliberately chosen a smaller mortgage than we were offered (~75%) and cut our housing cloth accordingly, and this turned out to be an excellent idea as the 2008 crash occurred between conception and birth.

    16. Jenny F. Scientist*

      I get the impulse to try to make sure everything will be okay, but when it comes down to it, everything is not going to be okay all the time. So, are you okay with a long commitment and limiting your life in exchange for a kiddo? (I have three! They’re wonderful and I wouldn’t trade them for anything but also they are an 18+ year commitment and a huge amount of work, because they are children).

      The genetic testing seems like you’re really anxious about chronic diseases? Because neither of those are strongly genetically controlled conditions. (Check out the Celiac Disease Foundation’s a info on HLA variants; there’s also a recent NPR article on the T1D-associated HLA variants. The diabetes HLA variants are less than 50% predictive, for example.) It’s scary to think that chronic illness is so unpredictable, and I think it’s natural to want assurances, but unfortunately we mostly don’t get them.

      Also, just in general, I don’t think you can expect kids to stay out of the ER. Mine have been three times in ten years, with one hospitalization, and they’re generally really healthy kids.

    17. How soon is now?*

      Do it now! I wish we had had our kids earlier, but my husband and I met later in life. So I was 34 and he 42 when our first was born.

      It’s not all about finances – but since no one has mentioned this yet: If you have kids later you very well could be looking at college expenses and retirement at the same time. We are now experiencing the great joy of unexpected early retirement for my husband at 61 just as our oldest has gone off to college… It would have been nice to have college out of the way before retirement age so we could save up again. But on the other hand, we will (hopefully) be ok as we have a lot of equity in our home that we can tap once the kids are out.

      But whenever you do it will be the perfect time! :)

    18. CollegeSupervisor*

      Not sure I’m a great example. It was mainly a case of intense baby fever on our part. Hindsight, I probably would have taken a few more years to focus on paying down debt/enjoying the freedom to have a social life, but then we wouldn’t have the exact kid we have now, and now that we have him I can’t imagine life without him. Do what feels right for you. If everything works out and you don’t struggle with infertility, that’s a happy thing. If you do struggle, it is NOT your fault. I am wishing the best for you!

    19. Dancing Otter*

      Speaking as the offspring of older parents…
      My parents waited until my father felt secure enough in his career to afford children. I understand the thought process, since he grew up in an orphanage. Unfortunately, they did not “catch” right away. My father was old enough to have been my grandfather. None of their friends had children my age to be my friends; none of my classmates’ parents were of an age to be my parents’ friends. It was isolating.
      My father had his first heart attack when I was six. He couldn’t teach me to ride a bicycle, or fly a kite. When it was time for me to learn to drive, he had his nitrostat (heart pills) open in his hand the whole time.
      It is NOT about how old you are when the baby is born, however much medicine makes it safer for later child-bearing. It’s about how old you will be, what you will or won’t be able to do, as your children grow up.

    1. Teapot Translator*

      I went swimming twice this week. I can’t relax while swimming. I just keep thinking about what I’m doing wrong. I just watched a video on breathing and it doesn’t answer my question.
      I try to exhale in the water, but I still need to exhale the last of the air when I turn my head to breathe (so, turn head, exhale fast, inhale fast). Is this normal?

      1. Ktelzbeth*

        You should be able to get virtually everything exhaled while your face is in the water. I usually have just a tiny bit of air left when I turn to breath because I need just a little something to keep positive pressure in my nose so all the water does not run in. I can’t tell you for sure what the official answer is, but I’ve been swimming for decades and I can’t see any other way to make it work.

    2. Emily*

      Mostly running so far this week (still half marathon training), but I went indoor bouldering on Monday. I’ve recently started back after several months’ hiatus, and am happy to report that my strength is already starting to return!

      Also, it finally snowed in a big way where I live, so I’m planning to rent cross country skis and go to a nearby park this afternoon.

      1. Searching*

        Hi fellow running climber (or climbing runner)! I’m mostly a top-rope climber but I tried bouldering again recently after dabbling at it about a year ago. I did better than I expected, but it’s still scary to me – love the climbing part, but the coming down part not so much. So I’m sticking to V0 and V1 problems that I can down-climb.

        Still dealing with my chronic foot pain but managed to stay on schedule for my half marathon training with an 8-mile run yesterday. It was a slow slog but got it done and the weather was beautiful. 10 weeks to go until the half!

    3. Zephy*

      I’ve gotten to the gym 3 out of 4 days I intended to go this week! I wasn’t feeling well Tuesday, but otherwise, I got in there and did *something* for a while Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. I posted a while back about switching to the new Planet Fitness that just opened near my from my former-Gold’s-now-bougie-boutique gym; I did that, and the PF is so much nicer. New equipment, better facilities, and far less crowded, even at 6:30 PM at the beginning of the year. I didn’t think “gymtimidation” was really a thing, but it turns out it’s hard not to feel some type of way when you’re struggling on a recumbent bike and there’s an absolutely jacked lady doing one-armed handstand pushups five feet away from you. And, people know and understand how to use the 30-minute circuit section, which was a problem at the last PF I belonged to.

    4. nep*

      ‘Active rest’ day. Just shoveled for a bit. Going to stretch, then some ‘cardio’ at a thrift store later.

    5. AceLibrarian*

      I joined a gym about a month ago and I’ve been /trying/ to go every other day. I mostly manage to go three times a week after all the scheduling issues. I spent some time on an exercise bike yesterday and actually felt like it was harder on my knees than the treadmill. Does anyone else feel like that? I try to keep it low-impact, but if I keep feeling as wobbly as I did yesterday I might just have to write the bike off….

      1. A New Normal*

        I don’t know about others and maybe it’s my technique, but bikes have always hurt my knees more than any of the other aerobic machines.

    6. Pam*

      I just got back to the gym and personal training after several years off due to medical issues. It’s good to be back!

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

      After a week of ice packs, wearing running shoes (even at work) and a neoprene brace, my right knee healed at last. I went to the swimming pool last Wednesday and did my usual 3km walk this morning without pain. So far so good.

    8. londonedit*

      I did my usual two weekday runs and a Pilates class this week, but I’m having a rare weekend off running! Had a night away with my other half last night, so no parkrun this morning, and there’s a big storm forecast to hit the UK tomorrow so I thought I’d give my Sunday run a miss too – I don’t fancy trying to run in gale force winds and rain!

    9. A New Normal*

      I joined a gym two weeks ago and so far I’ve been able to keep it up and enjoy it! My goal is to do a virtual 5k this June so I’ve been spending a good amount of time on the treadmill working up my endurance. My gym also has an equipment circuit so I’ve started doing that when I can to build up my woefully underused muscles. Every time in the past when I’ve tried to get to the gym regularly I HATED it and didn’t feel like I was getting any benefit from it. I don’t know what changed, whether it’s having a goal or getting so winded on our last trip or just having good wireless headphones this time, but I’m actually enjoying it this time. I can’t go on Fridays or Saturdays due to my second job and I find myself truly missing it.

    10. Parenthetically*

      My bestie has started coming to the gym with me every week! I’m putting together full-body workouts based on heavy dumbbells/barbells/kettlebells, supplementing with a few exercises on the cable machines and stuff (side note: I’d love some inspo for this! Always looking for good resources!). I do the same routine both days I’m there each week, and I’m tracking how much I’m lifting so I can track my progress this year. I absolutely adore heavy lifting and am really excited to see my strength improve through the year after a long season of not working out.

      I’d love to do a pullup one day, and I’m starting work this week on improving my pushup numbers. Currently can do two strict military-style pressups and would like to get to 20.

    11. Fikly*

      I walked 30 minutes to physical therapy this week, from my new apartment, and made the whole trip! Crutches, boots, knee brace and all.

      Took transit back, but proud of that accomplishment.

    12. Pennalynn Lott*

      I started a new job this week and joined the company’s on-site gym. Normally I steer clear of gyms because I’m fat and out of shape and have never once felt welcome in a commercial gym. BUT my company is big on health and the on-site gym is staffed with degreed health/fitness professionals (and interns!) and during the tour yesterday I never once felt like I didn’t belong. I’ll get free personal training from the interns, which I need, and hopefully, working with them will keep me engaged enough to stick with it.

      Also, the company has a “walking guide” that shows how many miles (or fractions thereof) several of the walking paths are. Like, the [indoor] circuit from the lobby of Building One to the lobby of Building Two and back is 1/3 of a mile. The sidewalk that loops around the two buildings and their respective parking lots is 1.83 miles. I like that they’ve put hard numbers to the various paths because now I know that three trips between the buildings is a mile. It makes it more of an accomplishment (in my head) than if it was just “getting up to stretch my legs” three times a day.

    13. Seeking Second Childhood*

      Need more. I am still dealing with ear issues that keep me out of the pool and off my bike. Might try the indoor exercise bike with a book after my husband finishes up biking in front of The Expanse.

      1. Seeking Second Childhood*

        The exercise bike has started clicking n every revolution. Grr..that means this one’s about to lose a belt like the last one did, so I need a different brand semi recumbent… suggestions for one that is rated to 250 lbs? And can be set far enough back for my 6ft tall husband?

    14. CollegeSupervisor*

      I made it to one of my personal training sessions, but not the other. I’m still really struggling with the motivation to exercise when I’m not scheduled for personal training. It’s hard to find things to do that don’t require leaving the house and going to the gym, and leaving the house with a 13-month-old in winter without a car is a struggle.

    15. Alexandra Lynch*

      I am working on a four day on three day off routine, because apparently when I do that I can see my weight loss on the scale. (I am calorie counting at the same time.) My lower body is pretty strong due to carrying me around, and I’m flexible, but I’m having to work more on my upper body. It is showing results. That really makes me feel good.

      Plus, so far this year I’m down fifteen pounds and one size.

    16. blaise zamboni*

      My office has an on-site gym, and I’ve been going religiously during my lunch hour for a few months now. I love my routine — I enjoy the break from work on the weekends, but I end up really missing my gym time!

      This past week, I added some more ‘advanced’ (to me) exercises to my routine, namely the bench press and bench chest fly. I started off just doing the stationary bike, then added some leg exercises, and most recently added upper body workouts. My upper body is pretty weak, so the arms/chest workouts I do are relatively low-weight and I feel silly doing them. The day after my first round of bench press & flys, my chest and upper arms were SO sore. I felt like a t-rex with how limited my range of motion was. The day after that, I did the exercises again, and though I started at a lower weight to warm up I was able to work my way to 1-2 sets with the initial weight even though my muscles were still pretty sore. So that felt like a huge success to me! It has been incredibly gratifying seeing how my muscles progress with the different workouts. Every time I try a set at my normal weight and it’s too easy, I feel so encouraged to keep at it and maintain the progress I’ve made. I feel so lucky that I get a free gym that’s so convenient for me – it’s a huge perk!

  30. Zephy*

    A few weeks ago I posted about having friends coming to stay with us. They ended up staying for two weeks. The partner turned out to be just as lovely in-person, we had a lot of fun, but I’m glad to have my house back.

    The partner, J, taught my kitten a trick (give paw), but now the little guy gets so excited for treats that he half-asses the give-paw part and then tends to pinch fingers in the process of taking the treat, so now I have to work on perform trick-wait-take treat gently. The kitten is too smart for his own good; he’s trying to generalize the trick to “gently place my paw on the nearest appendage, then start screaming for treats.” If I go over to the cabinet where treats are stored, I’ll suddenly feel a little paw on my foot, swiftly followed by the loudest mews he can manage. Meanwhile, the adult cat is, I think, just a bit too dim for tricks; I’m trying to shape a behavior he already does when he wants snackies (headbutts) into a trick he’ll do for treats, and he gets distracted by the hand holding the treat.

    Cats, man.

    1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      My dog used to do that when she first learned to high five – run up to someone, skid to a halt, and basically whack them with her paw, expecting treats. (I felt really bad the day she ran up to the plumber and basically punched him in the gonads.) We referred to it as “trying to shake the treat dispenser.” (Which sounds a lot dirtier than I meant it, in the context of the previous sentence.)

      She also tried it on the cat, which was particularly entertaining – I looked over and she was just sitting there basically bonking the cat over the head with her paw.

      1. Zephy*

        My friend’s dog–actually the same friend referenced above, funny enough–would run through every trick she knew if you had a goodie and she wanted it, whether you asked her to or not. Half the battle when getting her to do tricks for treats was getting her to focus long enough to listen to what you wanted her to do. At one point, she didn’t know “speak,” but another friend was trying to get her to do that in exchange for a tiny piece of pizza crust. She sat, she laid down, she spun around, she gave both paws, she spun around the other way, she rolled over. But she didn’t make a sound, even as she got increasingly frustrated about not getting the treat! She was doing all the tricks, please give!! It was both hilarious and adorable to watch.

        (The dog is still alive, I just haven’t lived with her in years so I don’t know if she still does this in her old age, hence the past-tense.)

        1. Seven hobbits are highly effective, people*

          I call this “demo mode”. One of the dogs I used to dog-sit for was not good at differentiating the commands for the various tricks she knew how to do and would resort to this when she couldn’t figure out what you wanted. (There are various training strategies you can try with your own dog to get them to better differentiate the commands, but for a dog I only dealt with in weekly spurts a few times a year I’d just enjoy the show.)

        1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

          Bwaa :)

          She’s my Elder Statesdog. She also has trained my husband that when she comes in from outside, both dogs get carrots. So now the Junior Ambassador will go bark at the back door, the Elder Statesdog will go see what’s going on, and I go open the door for them. Elder Statesdog goes out and Junior Ambassador goes back to the bone she was chewing on (or sometimes Elder Statesdog’s bone). Elder Statesdog eventually comes back in, not having figured out what Junior Ambassador was on about, and Junior Ambassador will beeline for the fridge so she can be first in the carrot line, because When She Comes In There Are Carrots.

    2. Lizabeth*

      Change the location of the treats on a regular basis might be helpful instead of keeping them in one place.

      1. Fikly*

        There is a theory out there that humans never actually domesticated them. I’m not entirely sure it’s wrong.

    3. That Girl from Quinn's House*

      I trained my cat to load into her carrier without a fuss by putting a treat in there first. After awhile, she figured out that if she went in the carrier, she’d get a treat. Then awhile after that, she started going and sitting in her carrier on her own and staring at me like, “Ahem where is my treat? I got in my carrier.”

    4. Ktelzbeth*

      I tried to teach my cat to use the scratching post instead of anything else by giving her a treat after she used it. Now she does what I call “performative scratches.” Sometimes they involve actual scratching, but sometimes they are a very token effort at touching the scratching post while gazing meaningfully at me.

    5. dumb cat mom*

      “Meanwhile, the adult cat is, I think, just a bit too dim for tricks”
      Had a guest over for dinner last week, and my cat started to scratch at the kitchen cupboard doors. The guest said: “I guess that’s where you keep the cat food.” Me: “nope, the cat’s just too stupid to know where we keep the cat food.” Also, the cat’s bowl was full, but kitty just scratches on the cupboard doors for … more food? She’s a lovely cat, just not so bright.

    6. KoiFeeder*

      I taught one of the koi to eat from my hand, and the problem is that she’ll just try to engulf the whole hand. It’s a really good thing that koi don’t have teeth.

  31. HannahS*

    Quasi-regular HannahS is getting married, give me your opinions thread!

    What problems did other people invent for you? I’ve found that other people’s anxiety is sometimes expressing itself as fears about my wedding. It’s been hard to find it funny, because in the case of my extended family, it’s really stress about one cousin’s divorce and another cousin’s serious illness, but there is something laugh-cry ridiculous about assuaging my grandma’s fears that one of my cousins, a lawyer who’ll fly to another province to watch a baseball game, can’t afford to come to the wedding unless his father pays for it. Also, at that point I hadn’t seen him for four years and we love each other, and if he doesn’t come we will continue to love each other from afar.

    Also, this conversation:
    Me: “I don’t think we’re going to have speeches, actually.”
    A relative: “WHAT?! No speeches? I think it’s a mistake. This is your one chance to say something really meaningful about each other! etc”
    (a few minutes later)
    Me: Ok guys, lay it on me. What’s the worst thing you’ve ever seen at a wedding?
    The same relative: “Oh man, I’ve heard some speeches…”
    (To her credit, after she told the stories, she said that maybe it was a good idea that we weren’t having speeches.)

    1. The Cosmic Avenger*

      Mostly invented drama. My parents said certain cousins HAD to be invited or certain OTHER cousins (first-degree relatives of the first ones, I think?) would be HORRIBLY INSULTED and would NEVER FORGIVE us. I said I was not cutting friends in order to invite people I hadn’t ever met, or hadn’t seen since I was in elementary school, and I wasn’t cutting back on our plans for the reception in order to accommodate people like that either. We were already doing what would now be considered a pretty frugal reception; we had a caterer, but everything was buffet style, so we didn’t have to pay servers, and we used someone’s backyard and rented tents, which was cheaper than renting a hall.

      We also had it in a nondenominational setting, and the most “spiritual” of the readings done by the wedding party was Khalil Gibran. This scandalized the mother of the MOH, who was quite religious, but thankfully we only heard about it afterwards.

      Oh, and from the wedding we went to a hotel in my FIL’s car (frugal, not cheap; it was a nice, relatively new car), and the “best man” decided to “decorate” the car, even though we had talked about NOT doing that. Luckily it was all shaving cream, I think, but I was a bit embarrassed, as my relationship with my FIL did not really get close until years later.

      1. HannahS*

        Oof! We’ve given my fiance’s roomate permission to decorate the car, because he asked, but we suspect he’ll give up on tying empty cans to the bumper while wearing a suit in favour of drinking and dancing. Hopefully.

    2. londonedit*

      When my sister got married they had a very, very small wedding (it was literally just close family and there was no reception, just a lovely family dinner at the same hotel where the ceremony was held). And let me tell you, people could not deal with it! The family were fine, but she had friends and colleagues telling her she’d regret not wearing a ‘proper’ wedding dress, and they were aghast at the lack of speeches as well. But I think the weirdest one was the assumption several people made that she wouldn’t wear her glasses for the day, and were very perturbed when she told them that she absolutely would be wearing them as normal. She’s worn glasses since she was about 8 years old, and she was totally baffled by the fact that people seemed to think it was imperative that she should wear contact lenses for her wedding!

      1. Zephy*

        I dunno, I don’t think people assuming she’d ditch the glasses is that weird. People expect brides to transoform into other people entirely for their Big Day – wear contacts, get a manicure, get hair extensions, lose 25 lbs, get your makeup done…Personally, when I get married, I want to look at those photos later and be able to recognize the people in them. (Also, importantly, nobody is going to ask my future-husband to do any of those things.) If that’s going to mean there’ll be a bespectacled, short-haired, fat, bare-faced bride in my wedding pictures, well…I’m a bespectacled, short-haired fat woman who doesn’t wear much makeup, so where’s the problem?

        1. Zephy*

          edit to add: Also, I’m no expert, but I would think that contacts would be way less comfortable to cry in?? Maybe your sister isn’t much of a crying type, but I’m pretty sure I’m going to be on the verge of tears for the entire duration of my wedding.

          1. ThatGirl*

            Nobody should switch to contacts just for one day, they take time to adjust to. But contacts are perfectly comfortable to cry in. In fact I find it easier than when I have my glasses on, because I have to take those off to wipe my eyes. That said I also only teared up once during our ceremony, it’s not like I was crying the whole time, I don’t think most people sob through their ceremonies :)

            1. HBJ*

              I’ve worn contacts for longer than I haven’t worn them. I’d say glasses are quite a bit more comfortable to cry in. The crying is fine, but afterward, my contacts feel quite dry and gritty. But I also didn’t cry at all at my wedding.

              I agree, I think it’s so odd when people completely change it up for their wedding. I wore the same amount of makeup as normal. My hair was a bit fancier than normal, but no extensions. I did wear my contacts, but that’s because I literally (yes, literally in the most accurate sense of the word) never wear glasses.

      2. Texan In Exile*

        she’d regret not wearing a ‘proper’ wedding dress

        I wore a sleeveless red and white dress I got from Macy’s on sale for $39. I still wear it. I regret nothing.

        (And we have only immediate family, although that was because we were scared of the potential for Drunken Drama with Mr T’s parents and didn’t want to subject our friends to it. Also, because we didn’t want to spend a lot of money.)

        1. Parenthetically*

          Yep, I wore a gorgeous peacock-colored dress I ordered online and for SURE do not regret my non-“proper” wedding dress! I look terrible in white and absolutely never wear it. 90% of my clothes (that aren’t black or grey) are either some shade of turquoise or a deep jewel-tone. Why on earth would I wear the color I look least good in on a day when I’m going to have more photos taken of me than at any other point in my life?

      3. HannahS*

        Yes! So, I don’t have an engagement ring, and one of my fiance’s coworkers had this whole conversation with him about how of course I really DID want one, and how would people know I’m taken if I don’t have an engagement ring?

        (His response was, “I trust her and she’s not my property,” so, points to fiance.)

        And I will 100% wear my glasses. I like that there’s a timelessness to wearing contacts, because glasses styles change, but also my astigmatism is just not compatible with contacts and I get headaches when I wear them.

      4. KoiFeeder*

        Every so often, a random person (always a stranger!) will take it upon themselves to comment on my cane and say that I should ditch it before I get married. The glasses thing seems like an extension of that.

    3. Cora*

      My in-laws were incredible at manufacturing drama and disagreeing with every choice we made. For example, we decided to do electronic save-the-dates. My sister came up with a cute design and we emailed it out. My in-laws were horrified. If anyone cared, they didn’t say anything to us, but in-laws insisted that it wasn’t “proper”, etc.
      They also spent months trying to force us to invite every long lost relative that my husband hadn’t seen since he was a young child. Again, if anyone was upset, we didn’t hear anything about it. My advice is to just let everyone’s anxiety and opinions roll off your back. They are welcome to do whatever they want at their own weddings.

      1. HannahS*

        Oh, that’s rough. We’re fortunately not slammed with traditionalists, but some people feel the opposite and want to say it loudly–wedding dresses are a waste of money, get something you can wear again! Don’t serve this food or these drinks, it’s a waste of money! Don’t get a tux, it’s a waste of money!
        Which, guys, the whole damn thing is a money sink, and crucially, it ain’t your money. We’re saving in some areas (restaurant catering, venue is a synagogue yard and social hall, e-invites, minimal decor, etc.) and spending in others (I want a long white dress! I’m making it myself, and it’s cheaper than buying, but it’s still a lot more expensive than that short one on Modcloth that many brides use.)

        1. Avasarala*

          SO true! I see so many people acting superior for NOT spending money on their weddings. Spend what you think it’s worth (or what the industry tells you it’s worth). If you want to get married looking nice in a nice venue instead of looking normal in your backyard, that is fine!

    4. Lucette Kensack*


      People will make everything your problem: how your wedding is different or the same from their wedding, whether the date conflicts with something on some extended relative’s calendar, what your father-in-law’s work colleagues will think it’s tacky, how they will get from the ceremony to the reception. Weddings make people — guests, too, not just hosts — crazy. I don’t know why.

      My advice:

      1) You’ll get a lot of pressure from everyone to have the wedding they think you should have. You will also get a lot of supportive push back/backlash that reminds you that “it’s your day.” Neither of these are right. Your wedding is a party you are hosting to celebrate your marriage. That means that it’s both “your day” and that, as host, your goal should be the comfort and enjoyment of your guests. Make the party something that you love, but don’t in doing so sacrifice your guests’ comfort or enjoyment. (Don’t, say, have an outdoor wedding in August which will look beautiful in pictures but will leave everyone sweaty and sunburned. Don’t have a destination wedding if you’ll be hurt if people don’t come. Etc.)

      2) I promise, promise, promise you that the little details won’t matter. If you love the details, by all means dive in and enjoy how gorgeous they make your wedding. If you don’t love the details, happily give them up. Nobody but you will notice how perfectly coordinated your invitations are to the floral arrangements. Nobody will care whether the table assignments are beautifully hand lettered.

      3) The things that go wrong will be your happiest memories. I swear to God this is true. My wedding was fabulous, and there are lots of things that went right that I love. But my favorite memories are these: I lost the handkerchief that my mother-in-law and three generations of women before her had carried down the aisle with them, so my brand-new husband and I drove back to the ceremony site in the middle of the night after our reception and hunted around on the ground in the dark until we found it. My husband’s best man left my ring in the trunk of his car, which we realized standing in front of everyone, seconds before the ring ceremony. We forgot to have the marriage license signed, so after our officiant and witnesses (my sister, my husband’s brother) left, we made a mad dash down the highway and rendevoused with them in front of an L.L. Bean store to scratch out signatures on a stone wall. My brother-in-law’s rented tuxedo was like three sizes too big and so he looks like a child wearing his father’s clothes in all the pictures. Etc.

      1. RagingADHD*

        Yes, my flower girl niece was probably too tiny for the job. She got halfway down the aisle and veered off into the pews because somebody waved at her. My brother (her dad) had to go scoop her up and carry her down front.

        Her mom is a perfectionist and was horrified. It was so freaking adorable, one of the sweetest things all day.

      2. heckofabecca*

        Ahahaha we forgot to get our marriage license signed too!!!

        Other memories/advice:
        – We didn’t send an invitation to our rabbi, so he didn’t know we were planning on him to stay for the reception/meal. Iirc, you’re having a friend officiate so this will be a non-issue for you??
        – We didn’t have bridesmaids or groomsmen, I had my best friend as MoH and he had his brother as his BM, and then we just had the people holding up the chuppah (of which they were two).
        – A lot of my drama with actually with my ex-husband, who was aghast that I was spending money on things like flowers… Be more aligned with your spouse than I was xD
        – The real drama for my wedding was that my brother didn’t speak to my father, so I was basically in a spot of having to have one or the other there… I stopped talking to my father a few weeks before the wedding, so uh… that solved itself?
        – If you are inviting someone you’re worried might be a drama magnet while there, see if you can get someone who knows them to be a watcher of some kind to keep an eye out if they’re causing trouble. Hopefully you don’t anyone like that, but it helps if you do.
        – Have someone pre-appointed to be your point person the day-of to solve any last minute problems that come up. An extra person shows up from Argentina and you can’t turn them away, e.g….
        – If you don’t tell people what you’re doing til it happens, they can’t complain about what you’re planning!

        Essentially, make sure the wedding is YOU above all, and people will love it because they love you :)

        1. HannahS*

          To your last point, I agree completely…we’re less than four months away and have not yet told one of his moms that there won’t be flowers, and my parents that I’m making my dress!

          My fiance had the excellent idea of getting some taxi chits to his best man and to his former-colleague-from-politics-who’s-being-our-coordinator-as-a-favour so that if anyone gets too drunk, they can be swiftly handed into a taxi and sent home. We’re having a rabbi officiate, but luckily we remembered to invite him and his wife! And the other rabbi, who is married to another rabbi. And my dad and one of my future MILs, who are a cantor and a soloist-who-does-weddings, respectively. So we did the opposite, and have invited as many officiants as possible! I’

      3. Fikly*

        Agreed! One of my favorite memories from my sister’s wedding is when the 2-year-old ring bearer refused to hand over the rings because he was fascinated by the box (they used a snitch, from Harry Potter). So my brother-in-law crouched down and negotiated: he got the rings and toddler got to keep the box. It was the best.

        1. HannahS*

          Aw, that’s super cute! We have a lot of kids coming, and I really look forward to the shenanigans that they’ll inevitably get up to.

      4. Loopy*

        3) The things that go wrong will be your happiest memories.

        Seconding THIS SO MUCH. My own examples:

        1) My husband messed up our vows. The words he was supposed to repeat were: “I will be your comfort IN disappointment.” He paused, gave our officiant a weird look a obediently said what he heard: “I will be your comfort and disappointment.” The Officiant was like no, no, “IN DISAPPOINTMENT” Husband: “Oh. In disappointment” The whole audience was laughing. I’m so glad I have it on video.

        2) I was proud of myself for not giving into spending too much money on centerpieces. Unfortunately I went too cheap and my floating candles started melting the dollar tree plastic bowls and the staff had to try and discreetly blow them all out in the middle of dinner. It was funny because I had been so adament about not putting too much thought into centerpieces that I put too little We all laughed about it. Maybe not the venue staff.

        As to your question: I was lucky most people didn’t invent anxiety for me except for YOU HAVE TO INVITE ALL THE COUSINS AND ALL THE AUNTS AND UNCLES. ALL OF THEM. EVERY SINGLE ONE.

        Or the family would be forever divided.

        I ended up caving because the number wasn’t high enough to quibble about but somehow, I think others have survived not inviting every single relative in a certain category. I’ve heard it’s been done without disaster.

        The other anxiety I had was if there would be good enough food and drink. People were flying into where I live to attend so this seemed like some transactional thing to my Dad that it had to be good enough since they put the effort into flying down. I think it was but I didn’t jump through any hoops to make it super fancy.

      5. HannahS*

        Thanks! Yeah, I’m lucky with someone level-headed, and so before we dove into planning we had some great conversations to suss out what we cared about. Do either of us care about having flowers? Well, they’re pretty, but instead of having them at the wedding, we could just buy ourselves flowers every Friday for the first year of our marriage and still spend less so…no flowers.

    5. Free Meercats*

      When we got married we asked literally no one’s advice. We planned a small wedding in Vegas so everyone could come and stay in the level of accommodation they liked and we didn’t have to entertain them (family and friends are scattered coast to coast, and flights to Vegas are relatively inexpensive.) My uncle got a family “rehearsal” dinner comped for us, we rented a bus and picked up everyone at their hotels, had the wedding at a drive-up-wedding-window on the bus, then had the driver deliver everyone to the hall we’d rented from the UU church where we did the receiving line as they got off the bus. We catered the whole thing from Costco; so buffet picnic style. When the reception was over, the bus driver delivered everyone back to their hotels.

      We only heard of one complaint, and it was from the date of a friend who when they got married, spent at least $50,000 on a wedding when the relationship was doomed to last less than 2 years. She was obsessed with The Way Things Are Supposed To Be Done. She though we were “tacky”; and oh yeah, we weren’t invited to their wedding…

    6. Wishing You Well*

      Every wedding is unique. Do what you want! Mine was as small as you can get without eloping. It was PERFECT for us!
      To avoid some problems, consider an alcohol-free reception or a cash bar. Unlimited free alcohol causes problems. A close relative’s wedding saw 2 in-laws get drunk and fistfight at the reception in a grand, historic house. I wondered how many people drove home drunk that night and if they made it home.
      On a much lighter note, don’t have your initials printed on the wedding napkins. I never understood the reasoning behind having your guests wipe their mouths and noses on your initials. Wha?
      Make your wedding YOURS! Congrats!

      1. Observer*

        Don’t do a cash bar. If you have reason to worry about people getting drunk you do have other options.
        You can have a bar and ask the bartenders to keep their eyes on who is getting to much to drink.

        You can limit how much alcohol you serve (at many orthodox Jewish weddings you’ll see a bottle of liquor on each table. And that is IT.)

        Or you can just skip alcohol altogether. No one will be harmed.

      2. HannahS*

        Thanks! We are 100% not going to put our initials on the napkins. We’ve read a lot of A Practical Wedding, which is really helpful. By contrast, I read The Knot’s guide to weddings on a plane last week, and…oof. They strongly recommend getting monogrammed cocktail napkins as a fun detail that your guests will remember! My goodness. If we need little paper napkins for snacks, we will hit up Ikea. Or the local catering supply store.

    7. Arts Akimbo*

      We planned a flagrantly Wiccan outdoor wedding (except in regular wedding dress and tuxes). I waffled about whether to say anything about the service to the conservative Christian extended family of the groom, but at MIL’s suggestion, we said nothing. By all accounts, it came across as a nice hippie wedding, and the Wicca stuff was only obvious if you already knew about it. The only drama that ensued was after the fact, when someone apparently said the words “Pagan wedding” within earshot of my spouse’s more conservative grandmother, and she got upset until other people reassured her in whatever way. But really, it was nothing! Drama averted by my awesome MIL!

      1. Arts Akimbo*

        Oh, and my advice is, (1) sometimes there is no drama if you don’t make it drama, and (2) often just ignoring the voices of the known drama llamas is enough to make a wedding go awesomely! :)

      2. HannahS*

        That’s hilarious! Wow, a stealth Pagan wedding! There are some parts of the wedding that I think people will be surprised by, which we will not be warning them about. Namely that it’ll be a more traditional and religious than some people in our family are expecting. But HAHA it’s not their wedding and this is what important to us.

    8. Old Biddy*

      Mine was about ketchup and mustard.
      We did a low key wedding (courthouse/take family to dinner/have big barbeque two days later) so we didn’t have any drama from relatives. The only drama was that this was the first time I realized my husband goes way overboard when buying food for parties. He was being a groomzilla about not having enough condiments. We had three of those large multipack condiment sets from Costco and he was convinced we needed another.
      We’ve been married 3 1/2 years and just finished the last of the wedding condiments a few months ago. I even gave a few of the unopened ones to my grad students.

      1. Parenthetically*

        We had a situation like this at my old workplace — every event somehow required a 3-pack of condiments from Sam’s Club (ketchup, mustard, SWEET RELISH FOR SOME REASON!?!) and the number of bottles of sweet relish in our fridge defied comprehension.

      2. HannahS*

        Too funny! I feel like I’m going to overbuy on paper napkins and snacks at Costco. Like, we’ll estimate how much we need and I’ll panic and get double. But, but, when you’re at Costco, things don’t look as disproportionately enormous, because everything is big!

        1. Observer*

          This kind of thing is still an issue for us, decades into a marriage. My thing is, if it’s something we’ll be able to use later, then I don’t really care (as long as I’m totally not blowing the budget.)

    9. Parenthetically*

      The drama my family invented for my wedding was nonstop, total, pure elation that I was FINALLY getting married and wasn’t going to end up an old maid! (I was 33.) Bless them.

      1. HannahS*

        Oof. That’s…well, it’s a bit of a backhanded compliment. I know I’d get tired pretty quick of that!

    10. RagingADHD*

      My mom, bless her.

      We couldn’t have the rehearsal dinner in a lovely garden pavillion, because the guests would all die of West Nile virus.

      We couldn’t have the guests blow bubbles as we left because someone would slip on a spill and break a hip. We tried to assuage her by using birdseed instead, but then she was afraid the guests would be attacked by birds. (This was in a country chapel in the woods, not some pigeon-infested urban plaza).

      We couldn’t possibly have a champagne toast because my husband’s brother, the minister, would be horrified and might refuse to marry us. (1- that guy would more likely be horrified if the brand was too cheap for his palate, and 2- there were so many clergymen on his side of the family and ordained church officers on my side, we could have lost 50% of the guest list and still had dozens of legal officiants on hand.)

      It just went on and on. She was a very anxious person anyway, and despite her enjoyment of helping me plan and doing mother-daughter bonding things, she was overcome with fears of “losing” me and being forced to acknowledge that I was a grown-up woman.

      She was wonderful with children, but had always had difficulty navigating relationships with other grown ups.

      Fortunately, I was old enough to at least partly see what was going on, and mostly just reassure her without getting sucked into irrational arguments.

      Weddings make you a lightning rod for other people’s wierdness, unfortunately. I think it’s the modern equivalent of a shivaree.

      1. HannahS*

        Yes! Yes, this is what I’m facing. Not from my parents, thank goodness, but from relatives whose concerns are so divorced from reality that it’s ridiculous. Like you, I just smile and give lots of reassurance.

        It makes me laugh, though, that we are in a similar boat–our wedding guests are, like, 8% officiants. If we lose one, we have multiple back-ups.

        1. Observer*

          This is where the Captain’s primary piece of advice is so useful – just don’t tell them!

          It’s good advice for a lot of things in life.

    11. Nom de Plume*

      That’s a riot! I’m also planning my wedding, but I’ve decided on a planned elopement because I just don’t want to deal with other people’s opinions on what my wedding should be like. I’m still getting opinions though. My mom wants to pay for a caterer, but I think I’d rather just buy a bunch of stuff at Costco. We are inviting no guests and our “reception” is a party at our house on the 4th of July. I’m trying not to worry if folks can make it or not. They’ll come if they can. I got engaged just before Christmas, and apparently looking for a wedding dress “only” 6 months in advance is a tight timeline, which is annoying.

    12. Equestrian Attorney*

      Yes, my grandparents had a massive fit about how we had to invite GreatAunt X (who I met once in my life and was a complete cow at my parents’ wedding) because I am inviting GreatAunt Y (who was a regular visitor at our home and always sent me gifts for my birthday) and you MUST invite all relatives of the same degree apparently.
      People who had really specific food requests (I asked to specify dietary restrictions on the RSVPs, but somehow a few people took this as an invitation to say they didn’t really like mushrooms or they wanted their salad with cucumbers or whatnot – people, this isn’t a restaurant, I can’t make 200 different food options).
      Cultural differences – my father’s family is French, so they thought everything was happening too early, but the Americans and Canadians all complained about how dinner was so late. In general, each family comes with very specific expectations of a wedding and will try to tell you that you’re doing wrong, and you just have to make peace with the fact that you can’t make everyone happy.
      The very specific requests from vendors. My DJ kept calling me to ask if I wanted the dance floor lighting to be amber or pink or purple or whatever. I was so overwhelmed at that point I may have screamed WHATEVER I DON’T CARE DO WHAT YOU WANT at the poor man. I still don’t remember what he did with the lighting, but the music was great!
      (Real talk – I am now divorced and contemplating wedding #2, and honestly it’s going to be a backyard BBQ with an off-the-rack dress because the big fancy wedding thing was not for me. What really matters is that you’re marrying the right person – in hindsight, a lot of my wedding-related stress was due to the very real cracks in the foundation of our relationship and feeling like we were putting on a show to please our families. But also, it was an absolutely beautiful day in the end, and despite what happened after, I still remember it fondly).

    13. Alexandra Lynch*

      Last time: My husband’s mother was a raging narcissistic controlling bitch. She reacted when he told her he was marrying me as if she was his wife and he had said “I’m leaving you for my girlfriend” complete with setting all his stuff in boxes in the yard in the rain and other dramatic displays. He had friends whose wedding job was to Handle Mom if she showed up. She did not, but we didn’t know til the last minute if she would or not.

      This next time he’s just going to put on his interview suit and I’m going to put on my dress for the symphony, and we’ll collect his parents and my mom and my sons and go down to the courthouse. Then we’ll all go out for lunch. Much simpler.

      1. Bluesboy*

        The last wedding I went to I and two other friends had ‘Handle Mom’ duty.

        We worked hard all evening to keep her under control. Finally at 2am I went to bed (also because my son needed to get to bed; he’s ten and was falling asleep.

        Woke up the next day to find out she had kept drinking, assaulted the bride, fallen over and broken her leg. The bride, as the only person who didn’t drink, was the only person who could drive her to the hospital, and so spent her wedding night in a hospital babysitting a drunk woman who had just assaulted her.

        I’m glad it worked out better for you!

    14. AY*

      I am also planning a wedding right now! I always thought I’d have a courthouse wedding, but I had a big change of heart about five years ago. Within about 14 months, my grandpa had died of heart disease, my aunt died in a mental hospital, my uncle died from complications of alcoholism, and my 8-year-old cousin died from a seizure. To say our family was reeling would obviously be a massive understatement. My brother got married in the middle of this time, and it was such a blessing to actually celebrate with my family instead of mourning with them. Planning has been going great so far, but I try not to lose sight of that–this is an opportunity for our families to celebrate and build good memories.

      That said, I’ve been driven to distraction by the bridesmaids dresses. I initially wanted everyone to pick their own dresses, but then after some complaints, agreed to pick one out to make selection easier. Then, my fiance’s sister refused to wear the one I picked out. I’m sick of hearing about and thinking about the dresses.

  32. Snail Mail*

    I’m organizing my collection of postcards from friends and family into a binder with clear pocket slots so you can see both the front and the back of the card. Question is, how should I order them in the binder? Most aren’t dated so I can’t go chronologically. By location, by sender?

    1. Selmarie*

      I personally would like them by sender, to give a narrative to their life as well as our relationship. By location could also be interesting, with different quick impressions of scenery, culture, etc., but my first vote would be by person and as chronological as possible.

    2. fposte*

      I’d focus on what would get you the most use out of the archive. For me I’d never look by location; I’d either go by person or by date, if postmarks are readable. But this is you–do you want to look at pictures of a region grouped together, do you want to see where a friend has been over the years, or what?

    3. Not So NewReader*

      How do you reference them most often?
      I want to see all of Sally’s cards.
      I want to see all postcards from PA.

      If that doesn’t work, what type of a system would be the easiest to maintain? Which one can be added to quickly and accurately?

  33. Wyrd Atheist Lesbian*

    Has anyone tried TMS (transcranial magnetic stimulation) for depression? I (and my psychiatrist) am looking into it. While I’m not clinically depressed (yet), I know the signs and I’m rapidly heading that way. Like most people, I’ve dealt with my depression with pills and while they work, they only seem to work for a few years before I have to up the dose or add another booster.

    1. ThatGirl*

      We’ve looked into it a little for my husband but not done it at this point, but The Bloggess (Jenny Lawson) did it for treatment and blogged about it, you can find it on her site (thebloggess.com)

    2. Yes*

      Hi – I tried it. It didn’t work for me, but it does work for some! I cannot take SSRIs due to an intolerable side effect, and my chronic depression is very resistant to most medications. Sadly, the TMS triggered my OCD terribly, and now my OCD is worse than it’s been for many years, even 6 months after stopping treatments. This is rare, though, and in fact TMS can often *treat* OCD, but nonetheless this was my experience. TMS also a huge time commitment. But if your insurance covers it, give it a try!

    3. Misty*

      YES. I did TMS twice, once in 2018 and once in 2019. I personally think it changed my life. I had tried over 13 different depression medications before it and I had horrible side effects.

      I had an amazing TMS treatment team and saw my therapist twice a week while doing it. I commuted an hour and a half a day monday through friday every day for six weeks in order to do it.

      After ten years of depression, I’m back in college and back working full time. I’m actually pretty happy these days. However it wasn’t all just the TMS. I have an amazing therapist who I see every week and I also did EMDR right after I did my final round of TMS.

      It was honestly one of the best experiences of my life. Feel free to ask me any questions if you want to talk about it.

  34. medical advice*

    Has anyone had a laparoscopic or vaginal hysterectomy? What’s the recovery like? I am having fibroid-related bleeding issues and tried to have an ablation yesterday, which unfortunately failed. (My body failed the cavity assessment required by the device in order to operate, if anyone is interested; reasons for this could be scar tissue from a previous ablation, submucosal fibroids in an unfortunate spot–which is what I think–or who knows what.) My doctor doesn’t know of anyone currently performing an ablation using any other technique in the area right now, so that means the options are carrying on bleeding 100 percent of the time (on a high dose of progesterone, it’s not the ER-level bleeding I had last month but it’s still been almost constant since October with the exception of one two-week break right when I started the progesterone). Anyway–it’s looking like the two options are grit my teeth and hang on till menopause or have a hysterectomy. The problem is I have some pretty major travel plans in early April, and while my doctor seems super-confident that a four-week recovery window would be adequate unless I’m climbing Mount Everest, that makes me nervous. But it also makes me nervous to consider the possibility of hemorrhage-level bleeding on a 12-hour flight to Asia. Any thoughts welcome!

    1. Zephy*

      I’m not a doctor, but if it were me, I would probably not want to be bleeding on a 12-hour flight to Asia. If you can get the surgery done soon, I’d go for it.

      1. valentine*

        It may really be a six-week recovery, or four weeks until they can clear you for a low-energy job (but you might want half days at first) and then a second visit at six weeks to assess the vaginal cuff. If you’ve never been on Rx pain meds, expect to do little but sleep and eat. Don’t try to get stuff done around the house just because you’re there. Really dedicate yourself to recovery and follow doctor’s orders so that, if anything goes wrong, you’ll know that’s not why.

        You will want to hold a pillow or something against your abdomen when changing positions and move slowly. You might order a lot of food, if no one’s cooking for you.

    2. Dr. Anonymous*

      Everyone is different. You’ll have some tight ligaments that soon after surgery, so although I think you may be okay making the trip I think 12 hours sitting up in an airplane will not be very nice at all and you may be miserable for one or two days after. If you can afford the big bucks to travel business class so you can lie down, then sure.

      There are little bursts of exhaustion after hysterectomy, but if your trip is partly walking around and partly lying around like a big princess, you may be just fine. You will need more help with your luggage. Things you can normally lift you can still lift; you won’t find out until the next day that you shouldn’t have.

      I recommend the Hystersisters Web site for tips on recovery.

      Also ask about Uterine artery embolization if anyone does that in your area.

      1. Medical advice*

        My dr thinks embolization isn’t a great choice for my situation—a lot of small fibroids and 2 sub mucosal—because he says the benefit there comes mostly from shrinking the fibroids and for me it’s location & quantity that’s the issue. He’s willing to refer me if I want to try it but isn’t sure it will make a huge difference.

        1. Extra anonymous today.*

          Fair enough. He knows better than I do, for sure. If you do fly, get up all you can, so you’re mixing sitting and standing, and don’t be embarrassed to lie down in the aisle for a minute if you get sore.

    3. fposte*

      Setting aside the trip timing for a moment, I wouldn’t necessarily abandon the ablation just because your doctor doesn’t know anybody. What I would do, if I strongly preferred that to hysterectomy, is expand what I thought of as “the area” and contact the nearest decently ranked teaching hospitals in gynecology, asking if they perform ablation through different methods. That’s obviously dependent on your insurance and also on your distance and your willingness to do some travel (I do a 3-hour distance regularly, but I don’t know if I’d have the energy to do much longer).

      1. Medical advice*

        I’m in NYC and this doctor a specialist surgeon at the major teaching hospital (who I found after my regular gyn was stunningly unhelpful). So I think he probably knows what he’s talking about…but I’m also nervous about timing in trying to find someone else because there’s generally 3-4 week waiting period for a new patient appointment around here so then scheduling another ablation would be tight. I’m also not sure if my insurance will cover a third opinion or a second go round on a failed procedure but that’s a good thing to investigate.

        1. fposte*

          Oh, yes, if you’re already at a major center that’s a different matter! I don’t have any locally, so I’ve gotten a lot of “Nobody does that” that proves untrue when I check with a major metropolitan center.

          And yeah, I can see with the timing it might make sense just to do the hysterectomy anyway. I just like to note the possibility of looking elsewhere, since not everybody realizes it’s a possibility.

    4. SUPER Anon for this because reasons*

      I couldn’t have either a laparoscopic or vaginal hysterectomy because of the location and size of my numerous fibroids. I ended up having an abdominal. I was in pain for a few days (but that was vastly, VASTLY outweighed by my relief about the final end to my epic bleeding).

      I was back home after a few days. I followed my doctor’s advice about making sure I walked every day, and I was fully recovered after four weeks. By six weeks it was hard to believe I’d had such major surgery. I was 46, by the way, and not particularly fit or athletic, if that makes a difference. And the relief I felt? Priceless. Best decision I ever made.

    5. OtterB*

      I had a laparoscopic/vaginal hysterectomy about 4 years ago for very early stage endometrial cancer. I’m trying to remember the recovery period … I could walk upstairs as soon as I got home (the next day), though I did try to plan my day so I didn’t have to make any extra trips up and down the stairs. I didn’t go in to work for several weeks but I think that was a restriction on driving; I worked from home part time fairly early on, with nap breaks. Didn’t need the pain meds for very long. I had some hormonal bounces but that was because they removed my ovaries as well. One of my small incisions took a while to close but I’m diabetic and that wasn’t unexpected.

      I think I’d go for the surgery over the chance of heavy bleeding on a long flight or while far from home.

    6. Cora*

      I’d recommend going for the hysterectomy. Most GYNs that I work with prefer laparoscopic or laparoscopic robotic over vaginal. Assuming everything goes well, I think a 4 week recovery time should be plenty, but it really depends on the person. Definitely find a surgeon you click with, and I strongly recommend someone who spends more time doing GYN surgery than delivering babies. In my experience, most OB/GYNs are good at either delivering babies, or GYN surgery, but not both. Good luck!

    7. Veruca*

      I had a robot-aided laparoscopic hysterectomy and it was the best thing I’ve done for my health. I had no idea how much the endometriosis was affecting me. I felt better one week post-op than I did the day before surgery. If I had any idea how much it would help, I would have done it years ago.

      I was down for a couple of days, driving in 5 days. Pretty straightforward recovery.

      1. Lockstep*

        Did you have the single-site surgery where only an incision is made in the belly button? I’m very amazed by the devinci surgical robot from Intuitive Surgical.

    8. StellaBella*

      I had a laproscopic hysterectomy in 2013 for similar reasons, BEST decision I ever made. My recovery was about 5 weeks tho, but I am a slow healer.

      1. PharmaCat*

        I had a laparoscopic hysterectomy. One you get past the first week, recovery was quick. Just be aware though, and take those lifting/pushing weight restrictions seriously during your trip. Get a real commitment from your travel partner to wrangle the luggage.

    9. Red Sky*

      Had a laparoscopic hysterectomy last year in my late 40’s due to fibroids and it took at least 2 weeks for me to feel not exhausted All-The-Dang-Time, at four weeks I could have taken a low key trip pretty easily if it didn’t involve too much activity, both strenuous and non-strenuous. The hardest part for me was the first 3 days. Due to another chronic illness (interstitial cystitis) affecting my bladder, I had a lot of pain and difficulty emptying my bladder, but by the 3rd day the pain was easily controlled with just ibuprofen and tylenol and I pretty much just slept all the time for about a week.

      I really wish I could have had this done in my 20’s things, are sooo much easier now.

    10. RemingtonTypeType*

      I had a laparoscopic assisted vaginal hysterectomy November 11. I traveled two weeks after for thanksgiving and I was still pretty tired but I did fine. I traveled again for Christmas and at that point I was perfectly fine. It took about a month. I had to get back into my routine after 1 week, it was not fun and I’d recommend taking as much time off as you can.

      I, too, had a failed ablation and ridiculous bleeding from fibroids. I am so happy that I did it and have put an end to the horrid monthly messes and pain.

      I also bought all new underthings that will be stain free forever. Whee!

    11. XxXxX*

      Late to this thread – but, bleeding is a thing of the past. No more bleeding – ever. That part of your body is long gone.

    12. Been there too Anon this time*

      You are getting great replies here. The surgeon who did my complex hysterectomy was an oncologist (endometriosis, adhesions). He joined my gyn, led the surgery and then turned my care back over to my gyn specialist team all at the same teaching hospital. It was an open abdominal surgery but recovery time was good. Adding him to the team wasn’t a 3rd opinion, rather a consult and reviews of existing tests plus a treatment plan meeting between the surgeon, gyn and myself. Wishing you good care and good health.

    13. Paquita*

      I had an abdominal hysterectomy in early 2017. I had been diagnosed with fibroids years ago but never did anything about them. I was already in full menopause by this time. When I started spotting I just mentioned it to my primary care doc. Next thing I knew I was seeing my (former) gyn, utrasound, then an appointment with a gynecological oncologist. Two weeks after the first appointment I was in surgery. Six weeks off of work. When I had the first followup at the surgeon’s office where the removed the staples this is what he told me. Verbatim: “Your biopsy reports came back. They were good. You had cancer.” It was very early endometrial cancer. No more treatment needed. :) I had everything removed: uterus, tubes, ovaries, and cervix.

    14. fhqwhgads*

      I’ve had the laproscopic. I felt the worst the three days after. Beyond that, I was mostly easily exhausted more than in pain/unwell. I was told the official “recovery” period was 6 weeks, but that was in terms of my (very minimal) activity restrictions. Most things as soon as I felt up to it, I was allowed and able to do. The main concern with your trip I’d have is luggage. I was told not to lift anything over 15 pounds for six weeks. I also had zero complications. There’s always a risk, however low. You’ll probably feel fine for the trip but you’d need to either pack really light or have someone with you to carry things.

    15. Dancing Otter*

      Don’t count on menopause to stop it. I was still bleeding pretty constantly (a few days off per cycle) up to age 62, when I finally had the bl-y mess removed. I am so, so glad that I did, and wish I had done it years earlier.
      Laparoscopically for me meant three tiny dots; I’ve had mosquito bites that were bigger. Not by any means painless, though I had a fairly rapid recovery. The doctor told me in advance that a lot of his patients were able to go home the same day, but I’m convinced that was just to make me less scared.
      I wasn’t allowed to drive for two weeks, but my boss had a coworker come get me midway through the second week. (My job was stressful but not physically taxing.) I won’t say I was completely out of pain by then, but I didn’t need the Rx painkillers at that point. Maybe a more physical job would require the full six weeks.

    16. All Hail Queen Sally*

      I had a vaginal hysterectomy in 2004 at age 47 due to fibroids. I was a college student at the time so my dr scheduled it at the beginning of winter break. He had asked me if I wanted ALL of it out (ovaries and tubes), but I had heard that the sudden menopause was rather rough. So we decided that if they came out easily, he would remove them, if it would require invasive procedures to get to them, he would leave them alone. They did not want to come out, so I still have them. I had no ill effects or complications. The most difficult part was coming out from under the anesthesia. The first few days after, all I did was sleep. Then, in an effort to make myself wake up, I forced myself to sit up and watch tv instead of going back to bed, and to stay awake, I crocheted 18 scarves. I had discomfort after the surgery, but no real pain. I never filled the prescription for pain pills that he gave me. I do not remember having any post surgical bleeding. I had to have my follow up appointment a week or two earlier than usual because my dr was going on an extended vacation (sailing around the world!), and that exam was painful–OUCH! When the dr asked me about post-surgical pain, I told him that what he had just done to me was the most painful part of the whole process. The rest of my recovery was uneventful, and just fine. My periods had been so heavy (hemorrhaging, really) that my surgery was a life-changing event. I have no regrets and wish I had done it years earlier.

  35. merp*

    Hey all, looking for baking inspiration. I haven’t had any time to do anything other than bare essentials (prev posts re: cat care – Mabel is still doing ok!) but that should *fingers crossed* be coming to a close at the end of the month, and I want to bake again so badly! First thing on my list is a really good cake but open to anything. If you have a favorite recipe to treat yourself, please share!

    1. BRR*

      If you search “Tartine almond lemon tea cake” it’s one of the best cakes I’ve ever tasted. It was republished from another place, my apologies for not remembering the original source.

      Stella parks almond cake on serious eats is also very delicious. Her chocolate (and regular) Swiss butter creams are perfection.

    2. Fikly*

      My recipes are all gluten free these days, but if you are feeling chocolate cake, look for a recipe that uses buttermilk, it’s the secret ingredient.

    3. Elspeth Mcgillicuddy*

      Thank you for reminding me about one of my absolutely favorite cakes while I am at my mother’s and can get the recipe.

      Banana Chocolate Cake
      2 1/2 c. sifted flour
      1 t. baking powder
      3/4 t. baking soda
      1 t. salt
      2/3 c. softened butter
      1 1/2 c. sugar
      2 eggs
      2 oz melted chocolate
      1 t. vanilla
      1 c. mashed banana
      1/2 c. sour milk or buttermilk
      Sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Cream the butter and sugar until fluffy. Beat the eggs in well, one at a time. Add the chocolate and vanilla. Then add the banana and milk alternately with the dry ingredients. Bake at 350F for 30-35 minutes in two 9″ rounds or one 9″x13″.

    4. ThatGirl*

      I made salted triple chocolate chunk cookies a couple weeks ago and they were amazing. It’s a Wilton recipe, I’ll post a link in reply.

    5. Searching*

      Smitten kitchen just posted an amazing looking cake.

      Also her Guinness chocolate cake is a fav.

    6. Sprechen Sie Talk?*

      The salted caramel banana bundt cake at Cafe Sucre Farine. Always a winner for work charity bakes!

    7. Old Biddy*

      The Cook’s Illustrated chocolate chip peanut butter pretzel cookies are really good if you like a sweet and salty mix of flavors

    8. Loopy*

      I’m in a similar spot. Not a specific recommendation but Sally’s Baking Addiction does a monthly baking challenge that can be fun. It often takes something people are intimidated by and makes it as approachable and easy as possible. I’ve seen bread once at least and this month is Swiss Meringue Buttercream frosting. It’s fun because other bakers post their results and tag them on Instagram so it can be a communal thing!

  36. Lucette Kensack*

    Health update & a repeated PSA.

    Last week I posted about going to the Mayo Clinic to have a mass on my neck removed. I am incredibly lucky to be able to say that my mass was benign. After recovering from my surgery, I will be fine — no further treatment needed.

    But I am in the minority — most neck masses on adults are malignant — and so I want to repeat my PSA:

    If you have a new lump on your neck or throat, go see a doctor immediately and be prepared to advocate for yourself.

    I’ve learned through this experience that masses on the necks of adults are usually malignant. (I am a rare, incredibly lucky case.) But if you are a woman, under 40, and/or a non-smoker, some doctors will dismiss the possibility that you could have head and neck cancer. Until the last few years, doctors believed that young, nonsmoking women just didn’t get head and neck cancers, but there is a newly emerging epidemic of HPV-related neck cancers that at first glance look and act like benign cysts.

    You want your doctors to refer you to an ENT and order a CT and/or biopsy. They should treat the mass as malignant until proven otherwise, and not just send you home with antibiotics or steroids and call it a day.

    For those who asked, I went to the original/main Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota. I had good care all along, but my local doctors were unable to diagnose my mass. Everything changed once I got to Mayo; they still didn’t know what it was (that is the problem with what I had; it is indistinguishable from a metastatic lymph node until it is removed), but they made a plan and communicated it clearly and I went from terrified and confused to comfortable with the plan of attack.

    1. fposte*

      Lucette, that is wonderful news. And thank you also for the information–I wasn’t aware of the malignancy rate in neck tumors at all.

      Enjoy your recovery!

  37. PhyllisB*

    Going to see Son in rehab tomorrow!! This will be first contact since he went in the first week of January. Actually, I think that’s a good thing; he needs to concentrate on his recovery not checking in with us. My daughter’s detox unit has a business relationship with this place so the counselor has texted her a time or two to let her know how he’s doing. So far he’s doing great.

    1. Not So NewReader*

      I can hear the happiness in your writing, and I am so happy for you, Phyllis. This is great. I hope you two have a wonderful visit tomorrow. I think of my friend saying, “I am meeting my adult son for the first time.” I hope this happens for you also.

  38. Falling Diphthong*

    What are good things to watch while walking on a treadmill?

    Background: Recovering from major surgery, which is the one time I think treadmills make a lot of sense–I can stop as soon as I’m struggling, and they don’t get covered in ice. I am bored by most TV on the monitors, and particularly cable news, but I found on my first visit that moving down to the TV I thought was showing Survivor (turned out to be a clip show) really did up my ability to keep going by giving my brain something to engage it. So watching some videos with subtitles on my phone might be good; however, because I usually don’t watch videos on it I have a small phone that readily fits in my pocket. Any good, say, Netflix things?

    I realize podcasts could work but I will need to buy some tech stuff for that, and am looking to work with what I already have.

    1. Mimosa Jones*

      I like home improvement and cooking reality TV for working out. There’s no plot or snappy dialog to miss, each show follows the same formula so you don’t have to be always watching, but there’s still enough of a narrative to keep it interesting.

      1. Falling Diphthong*

        Ah, good idea! I have downloaded a couple of GBBO episodes, which I have already seen so it’s okay if I miss some plot details.

      2. Parenthetically*

        Totally agreed! HGTV and Bake-Off are perfect for the treadmill. I also love Homestead Rescue for background while I’m folding laundry or cleaning or whatever.

        I’d also add: YouTube cooking shows! Alex French Guy, Binging with Babish/Basics with Babish, all the Bon Appetit test kitchen shows.

      3. RagingADHD*

        In this genre, the Repair Shop on Netflix is great. They restore family heirlooms of many different types, and always get the family story along with it.

        Also Big Dreams, Small Spaces if you like pretty gardens.

    2. The Cosmic Avenger*

      Sorry for the tangent, but if you have a treadmill then it’s certainly a good idea to use it, but if you’re still looking, and depending on the type of surgery, consider an elliptical machine, they are much lower impact, very easy on your knees, and if you use the handles they can give you a core workout, too. Using one has helped my core and eliminated my sporadic back issues.

      Anyway, I like to save conedies for my workout, particularly comedy specials. It’s easier to start and stop, and it’s more immediately gratifying, Nextflix has a ton of them, but “The Standups” are mostly good, otherwise a lot of it depends on your taste. If you’re looking for a series, have you seen The Good Place? I’m currently rewatching it, and laughing out loud (luckily this is at home, not a gym!).

      1. fposte*

        I love my elliptical! I’ve had it for over a decade and definitely gotten my money’s worth out of it. (Helps that it was cheap.)

      2. Falling Diphthong*

        I have very limited use of one arm, so it’s treadmill or bike for a while. I’m exercising at the gym, no large machines at home.

        1. The Cosmic Avenger*

          OK…not pushing, just addressing your concern, that I do sometimes just not use the handles, and on many ellipticals you can even set the tall handles to be fixed instead of moving with the pedals. My machine at home actually has an additional set of fixed handles down by my stomach that has a pulse meter built into them.

          But as I said in another thread (about the mini steppers), the important thing is you start with what feels easiest/best for you, since that is usually the activity you’re less likely to drop. IOW, you do you. :)

          1. Falling Diphthong*

            I plan to ask a trainer about using several machines, but want to start with a trainer through the recovery center who specifically does post-surgery. I can ask him about elliptical; thanks for the suggestion.

    3. Lucette Kensack*

      I don’t have any suggestions, but why would podcasts require new tech (given that your phone can already play videos)?

      1. Falling Diphthong*

        I would need wireless headphones. (I have an Iphone so no headphone port, and good over the ear wired headphones I use with my laptop.) And I hate earbuds, but suspect trying to get athletic (beyond my current slow flat walk) doesn’t mix well with over the ear ones.

        1. Fikly*

          I don’t have an iPhone, so I don’t know if this exists for them, but my Pixel also does not have the port, but there’s a super cheap adaptor that fits into the power port that you can plug any headphones into.

          Although this won’t solve your problem of what to fit on your ears.

    4. Seven hobbits are highly effective, people*

      Have you considered old sitcoms or children’s shows that you feel some nostalgia for? The idea is to pick something that you’re already pretty familiar with and that is fairly formulaic so you’re not worried about missing details or trying to figure out a plot arc, just sort of following along as you go. Personally, I’d probably look for 80s cartoon shows or else Mr. Belvedere, but that would vary based on your own nostalgia.

      1. Elizabeth West*

        I was going to suggest this. When I was in college while working full-time and had limited mental bandwidth to concentrate on shows, I would flip on Nickelodeon and just be entertained without having to think about anything.

      2. Arts Akimbo*

        If you’re into fun kids’ shows, Superhero Girls on Netflix is hilarious!! Light, fun, and perfect for exercising.

    5. Sleepless*

      I’ve been watching Criminal Minds on the treadmill. A slightly predictable but fairly interesting cop procedural has been just the thing. I’ve also gone back and watched old shows I watched in the 90s like ER and Deep Space Nine. And discovered that I started losing interest in them both at about the same point that I had before.

    6. Dave*

      Thank god for Netflix. I’m watching Designated Survivor and the 40+ minutes gives me the 2 miles at 3 makes the dreadmill tolerable.

    7. NewReadingGlasses*

      I like to watch nature documentaries while working out. I learned interesting things about bird migration today, for example.

  39. nep*

    Foreign language. Use it or lose it.
    I could have done better in recent years to create/find opportunities to speak French so as not to lose my fluidity. (The current Meetups around here are in bars…not my thing. Guess I could form my own, but my complex about my occasional bad breath holds me back in any case.) I worked for years in a region/setting where I spoke French 24/7. That was about five years ago. Not looking back…no use spending my energy on regret. From time to time I see people with whom I can speak French. Beyond that, each day I just speak French by myself. Like my usual talking to myself, but in French, just to practice.
    Share with me your experiences with foreign language…having to use it after years of rarely speaking it.

    1. Wandering*

      Bumped up against seriously rusty French this winter when someone showed up at a program who needed an interpreter. I’ve since been listening to some French radio, some video clips on newspaper articles, etc. Hasn’t brought me back to fluency, but has sped up my listening speed & built stairs into the basement where my French was stored.

      It was fascinating to see what rose easily from the basement, what foolish mistakes I made (tried to say her own/proper something & instead said “propre” – which means clean), & how smart the other person was in seizing on what I did communicate & bringing the conversation further than I could on my own.

      1. Reba*

        Actually your use of “propre” to mean own/emphasis was correct :)

        I love your image of going down into the basement where that memory is stored.

        And I know what you mean about having a willing conversation partner. Some years ago I had a kind of breakthrough in self-consciousness about speaking, that probably came from talking with people who *wanted* me to understand them and who wanted to understand me. I realized that when I heard people speaking my native language with an accent, or with some mistakes, sure I noticed but I didn’t lose any respect for them! and I understood them fine! Then I got better about speaking easily, if not perfectly correctly.

    2. nep*

      To add to this–If anyone out there would like to or knows anyone who would like to chat in French once in a while for practice, let me know. I don’t have enough funds these days to pay anyone, so I’m just looking for any opportunity I can find to use French. I could call friends in other parts of the world more often, but that gets expensive.
      I love listening to French radio and news shows (I really like C’est dans l’air). But of course I could comprehend perfectly and still lose the ability to speak it well if I don’t use it. It’s the oddest feeling to search for a word, and not knowing whether I’m forgetting or just never knew it.
      (As Reba said, you were right with ‘propre.’ It has both meanings.)

      1. Belle di Vedremo*

        Have you looked into “what’s app”? Friends of mine use it daily to stay in touch with family in some out of the way places overseas. I’ve not used it, but understand it to be free or nearly so & includes talk & text.

    3. noahwynn*

      My Spanish took a horrible hit when I stopped working part-time in an airline customer service role at the airport. I used it all the time there talking to passengers, and it was super helpful keeping me somewhat proficient. I didn’t notice until I went to Mexico last year and really struggled.

      I started watching tv and YouTube videos in Spanish. Even hearing the language and having to translate or think through it has helped a lot. I also found out that one of my coworkers is from Puerto Rico, so we’ve been going to lunch and she talks in Spanish with me.

    4. Jackalope*

      This isn’t quite answering your question but here’s what I’ve found helpful for not losing French. I listen to French radio stations online – you can get France Info if you want news or Chante France if you want all-French music. I also read books in French which are starting to be more readily available in bookstores and libraries. Not the same as speaking but I find that singing along with the songs helps me practice the feel of the language in my mind and my mouth.

      Whenever I’m going back to a country with a language I used to use all the time (let’s use French again), I’ll spend a couple of weeks beforehand listening to CDs of music in that language to get used to hearing it all the time, and that seems to help get my brain back in the right space.

    5. Ismis*

      I jump back into Duolingo from time to time. I don’t know how good it is for learning a language, but I find it very helpful for refreshing my memory/vocabulary for languages I already have the grammar/vocabulary basics in. French isn’t one of my languages, but I do have conversations with myself and I think it helps.

      A few weeks ago I went to a meetup where you got stickers (flags) for the different languages you speak and then wandered around looking for the flags. I don’t mind bars, and I don’t know why they are not your thing, but I found it less about the booze and more about the chat. Quite a few people were drinking water or soft drinks and it was easy to stay as long as you wanted or head off early.

      Good luck!

  40. Nonprofit Nancy*

    I am reading a cool book right now I got from the library. It’s called All That’s Bright and Gone by Elisa Nellums. It’s a mystery and the narrator is an imaginative six year old girl, but the voice isn’t at all sentimental. Really enjoying it.

  41. Environmental Compliance*

    Finally got a shipping notification for my MIA shawl (magazine took nearly a year to the day to ship it back…)! She should return to me Monday. Woohoo!

    Plus, got my yarn for the shawl that will come out later this year. Very excited!

    1. merp*

      I’ll be watching this thread! Haven’t had time lately but feeling the need for a creative outlet. I played around with embroidery last year and that was fun, and plan to get back into baking soon, but overall I just haven’t lost myself in some project/hobby/something in quite a while.

    2. OtterB*

      I’m thinking of taking up knitting or crochet, both of which I once knew on a beginner level but neither of which have I done for many years. There are some sampler afghan patterns that appeal to me. But I don’t know…

    3. Lizabeth*

      Had an opportunity to sew during a ski holiday…worked on an unfinished Christmas wall hanging that was already cut out. Finished two blocks and have two left to go, I’m trying to schedule 30-60 minutes a day for sewing to keep the momentum going.

    4. wingmaster*

      I picked up shooting as a new hobby about three months ago. It was originally something I wanted to do for self defense, but going to the indoor range every week to practice, I really enjoy the challenges. Besides learning the techniques to target shooting and safety, it has taught me patience, which is something I really lack overall.

        1. Coco*

          A yorkie and a toy poodle. Working on a 20’s style red dress with fringe. And thinking of a little headband with red feathers

    1. Randomity*

      Me too. I wish you weren’t also feeling lonely, but I’m glad it’s not just me. Sending support, and hugs if you want them.

    1. Mandy*

      I use the Medela pump in style, it was covered by my insurance. A couple of things I learned about making sure the pump is as effective as it can be-
      – the cones have sizes, there’s a diagram in the manual that shows how much of your nipple should be in there and how it should look. I had to order a different size online because the two common ones they include were too large. This made a HUGE difference in pumping output.
      – with my first, I also had a bit of a learning curve of when to switch from that initial phase to the regular pumping phase. I was trying to do it too soon.
      – make sure you’re pumping for like at least 15 minutes, don’t just stop when the milk stops. You can get a few more ounces if you get a second let down.
      – pump maintenance- if it’s been a few months and things seem to be declining, for my pump this means that it’s probably time to replace the membranes and trim the tubing to make sure I’m still getting good suction.

      Good luck! Pumping kinda sucks, I just have to keep reminding myself that it’s what I have to do to keep breastfeeding

      1. Cat*

        Also if money was no object (but isn’t it always), I’d buy a Willow or Elvis. I gather they’re not as powerful but the flexibility would make it not matter.

    2. Fellow Traveler*

      I have a Spectra S1, a Hygiea Enjoye, and a Freemie Liberty. The Hygiea is the most efficient for me- I can pump in 15 mins, whereas the Spectra takes 20 mins. (the Freemie takes forever, but I use it to pump while commuting so the longer pump session is not a big deal) The Hygiea doesn’t have all the fancy buttons and memory functions of the other pumps, and it’s not as well known, but I find it is the best for me.
      Mandy has some great tips above. I would also say, massaging while pumping helps me empty- and sometimes using the manual pump empties me better than the electric ones.

        1. Fellow Traveler*

          Yes, I believe so. I got it as a hand me down from a friend- which was fortunate because I never would have tried it otherwise.

    3. Anonymous Maximus*

      You might want to request a hospital grade breast pump. It might be covered by insurance based on a recommendation from your doctor.

      Two side notes:
      – I found that cutting a hole into a sports bra creates an easy hands-free option for much less money than a pumping bra.
      – Watching videos of my child made for much easier pumping.

    4. Call me St. Vincent*

      OMG get the Spectra! I used Medela with my first and Spectra S1 with my second and there was no comparison! Spectra I got more than twice the milk as with the Medela.

  42. PhyllisB*

    alex b, if you’re on here today, I did respond to you a bit ago. I couldn’t here because this is not a work thread.

  43. Hey Quiznakit! (Pokémon Go stuff)*

    This is a looong shot, but it’s the only place I know to get in touch with you. We exchanged friend codes here, and now we’re about to reach Ultra Friends status in Pokémon Go. I was hoping we could schedule a time so we can both use a lucky egg. Maybe Monday at 8 pm Central? I doubt you’ll ever see this, but hey, stranger things have happened. If you do see this, let me know if you’d prefer a different time.

    1. Cruciatus*

      You can just use the egg on your end before you open their next gift. It doesn’t have to be done at the same time. Hopefully the other person is paying attention to your friendship timeline if they want to use a lucky egg for the extra XP. But I didn’t actually use an egg for ultra friends, I saved it for best friends (namely because I had so few eggs at the time).

      1. PG Fan*

        I know, but I wanted both of us to get double points if possible. I have a gift from Quiznakit and so will control timing, but I’d feel bad if I didn’t at least try to schedule it.

        Ugh, but you’re right, we’re already Ultra Friends and are about to be Best Friends (when I open that last gift). I always mix those up. Ultra sounds like it should be the top level, not best.

  44. Persephone Mulberry*

    I’m going to be in Milwaukee next weekend, by myself. I have a few hours Saturday afternoon/evening and all of Sunday morning until mid-afternoon open. I’ve been told by two separate people to check out the Safe House….any other must-see suggestions?

    1. Ali G*

      It’s outside of downtown, but I was pretty impressed with the Zoo when I visited there. Their enclosures do a great job of getting you close to the animals, without them being caged. I watched a leopard stalk a kindergartner from behind a pane of glass.
      You could check out brewery tours and see if the AB Clydesdales are in town.

    2. Texan In Exile*

      MKE resident here. The MKE Art Museum is stunningly beautiful. Go just for the building and the view.

      Next weekend, there will be ice sculptures downtown (walking distance from the art museum): “Visit ice sculptures at 310W (3rd & Wisconsin) and Chase Tower at Water & Wisconsin. Ice sculptures will remain installed as long as weather allows.”

      I agree on the Pabst Mansion – if you don’t have a car, it’s a straight shot from downtown on a few bus routes.

      The Lakefront Brewery tour is really fun – it will remind you of Laverne and Shirley.

      It’s not hard to find good food in MKE. You can go fancy (any of the Bartalotta restaurants) or simple at the Public Market or Cafe Benelux. (And you might be able to find beer here. :) )

      1. AliceCW*

        Highly recommend getting a Bloody Mary with brunch! My favorite at Cafe Benelux is the Milwaukeean and then you are just a short walk from some fun shops in the Third Ward (I love ModGen and Broadway Paper).

  45. HQB*

    I need to digitize some negatives, and get some old backups off of old laptops and external drives (ca 10 years old). Where are the best places to do this, or what is the best way to find the best places? I could get the backups off myself if I had the right equipment but I don’t and I don’t want to buy it just for this. For the negatives, there are a lot, so I don’t want to do Legacy Box. Bonus points if I can do it without sending them through the mail.

    1. merp*

      I don’t know of any specific places myself but for the negatives, if there are any historical or genealogy societies near you, they might have places to recommend! Or for the laptops, might see if there are any digital archives folks you know who would have advice for legacy media.

    2. fposte*

      I just searched “digitizing photo services near me” and got some hits. However, you might get better results with a non-local service; look at thewirecutter dot com for reviews (looks like there are better ones than Legacybox nowadays) and compare the good ones there to whatever you can find locally to make your decision.

      The old digital files may need a different vendor, though; I’m not clear what needs to happen with them. If this is just about the PITA of plugging a bunch of stuff in and dragging and dropping, that should be easy to outsource locally (around here I’d probably hire a diligent student); if it’s dead equipment/unplugginable equipment or converting old formats that current software doesn’t recognize, that’s a higher technical challenge. If there are indie computer repair places of good repute around you, I’d start with asking them and also ask if there’s anybody around who specializes.

      Good luck! It’s a problem that many of us face.

    3. it happens*

      You said you had a lot of negatives- would you consider DIY scanning? There is a point at which buying the good flatbed negative scanner is cheaper than the send out service. Epson Perfection scanners come with photo negative holders and special dust reduction software. It’s not a crazy-fast solution, or cheap, they run $700-$1,100 new, but may work for you. You can also look on Craigslist for someone selling the scanner after their own adventure in personal archiving (and sell it after you finish…) If you got the DIY route, purchasing extra holders for the negatives is very much worth it.

      1. JediSquirrel*

        I was thinking something similar. I’ve been thinking about buying a Kodak Scanza for $160 from Amazon, but that won’t be until next month.

        It just takes time, is all.

  46. Jane Doe*

    It’s been a weird week and I just want a spot to anonymously vent/ask for advice or sympathy.

    So I’ve been dating this guy I met in grad school for a few months. I liked him, but wasn’t really looking for anything serious. So we weren’t exclusive just talking/seeing each other or whatever the kids are calling it these days..until about a few days ago when he got a girlfriend.

    Want to know how I found out? Facebook! I happened to be online at the same time he changed his status to “in a relationship with Some Girl” and then I clicked on his profile and found that he immediately unfriended me. Out of curiosity I clicked on the girl’s profile and the boy’s mom commented on her post from that day “it was so nice to meet you yesterday” So either he met this girl and moved really fast in one week or she doesn’t know he’s also been seeing me. The last time I saw him was about two weeks before the Facebook was updated and I accidentally left a piece of jewelry that I really liked at his place and I had been trying to find a time to get it back but it was hard to find a day we weren’t busy at work or on holiday or something.

    So a day or two after he and the girlfriend were Facebook official I text him to let me know when he’s home after work and I’ll drive over and get my things back. When I got there he was SO weird. Normally he’s very friendly but that day it was like talking to a stranger. He barely looked at me or said anything other than rushed one word answers. I asked if he was alright, anything he wants to talk about, did he have a good weekend. I should’ve confronted him but I could not believe he wouldn’t come clean and I didn’t want to look like a crazy Facebook stalker. The next day I texted him and asked if he was ok because last night he seemed off….no response.

    Honestly, I was very hurt at first. My first thought was “he thinks I am so worthless I don’t even deserve a text message to call things off.” My second thought was “he thinks I am so stupid that I would never find out.” After a long conversation with my best friend I realized I was more upset with the way he handled things than losing him. We were NOT exclusive so it should not have been hard to say “hey, I met someone else and don’t want to see you anymore.” Instead he decided to be a snake. He comes off as a really nice guy when you meet him but after looking back on this event and other interactions with him with me and throughout grad school I realized he’s only nice when it’s easy or there’s something in it for him.

    Not something I would expect from someone who is almost 30! Pathetic. I haven’t tried to contact him again and I don’t plan to. I hope he grows up and treats his girlfriend better than me.

    1. Laura H.*

      Internet hugs if you want them! No advice except the usual be gentle with yourself. :( I’m sorry this happened.

        1. valentine*

          I would text him goodbye so that, if he tries the “crazy ex” routine, there’s proof you aren’t hanging on or looming out there.

    2. Be the Change*

      “He comes off as a really nice guy when you meet him but after looking back on this event and other interactions with him with me and throughout grad school I realized he’s only nice when it’s easy or there’s something in it for him.”

      That’s a really significant insight and now I am going to think of that as a guide for my own behavior. As in, NOT doing that, of course.

      I’m sorry he was so crummy to you, and that you’ll miss his dog. Sending warm thoughts.

    3. Vicky Austin*

      Wow! What a jerk! I could understand his behavior if you had only been on two or three dates with him, but several months is too long for him to act the way he did.
      Stories like this make me SO glad I was married before Facebook became a thing.

    4. Not So NewReader*

      FWIW, I thought you were very kind to him. He probably feels like a bigger jerk just because you were so nice. And he should.

      You got class. He…. so doesn’t.

    5. Pennalynn Lott*

      My ex-BF of 17 years lied all the time about his extracurricular online activities. He’s 54 and still lying. Age has nothing to do with this type of have-your-cake-and-eat-it-too personality. 30 or 70, they’re all the same.

    6. RC Rascal*

      He’s a conflict avoidant coward. Not bothering to break up with you, or be honest with you, was easier for him.

      Be glad you are not his girlfriend. She isn’t getting a prize.

  47. wingmaster*

    My challenge this month is to do grocery shopping with a $30/week budget at Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods. I was mainly inspired by the YouTuber Mind over Munch, where she meal prepped for the whole week with TJ’s groceries. Yesterday, I went to Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s and spent $28.84, and I’m excited to see if my meal prepping for this upcoming week will be a success.

    I got a rotisserie chicken at WF. The meat of the chicken will be made in one set of meals, and then I’ll use the bones to create a broth for another set of meals.

    Another tip I found was to utilize the hot foods/salad bar to get the veggies, if you’re only cooking for one.

    Anyone else have ideas how they grocery shop on a budget?

    1. Ali G*

      Do TJs and WF have advertised sales? I always meal planned around what was on sale. Also when meats go on sale, I stock up, food saver, and freeze it.
      Save the ends or bread loafs and make bread crumbs. They stay forever in the freezer. I also freeze herb stems, and veggie scraps (or if something looks like it’s going bad and I don’t have a use for it) to make stock.
      Basically my freezer is my best friend.
      I love that salad bar idea! Less waste too.

      1. ThatGirl*

        Trader Joe’s does not have specials, pretty much ever. They just have pretty reasonable prices on everything, and seasonal products that can come and go.

      2. wingmaster*

        WF definitely has sales, and if you have Prime, you also get an additional discount on top of the sales.
        The bread and veggie stems are great ideas that I didn’t think of. I’ll definitely adopt the veggie route for future stocks!

        Yes, the salad bar idea was a tip I read on a blogger who also did the $30/week at WF/TF challenge. Food waste was definitely a concern of mine every time I bought produce.

    2. JediSquirrel*

      I love Trader Joe’s! (Soy chorizo FTFW!!! Fry it up with some potatoes. Or mix with beans for a burrito filling. Yummmmm. I have two packages in the frig right now, just for emergencies.)

      I do the rotisserie chicken thing, too. I debone it, and everything that isn’t going to be eaten goes into a pot and I boil that for half an hour or more and strain it off. The broth has so much gelatin in it, it sets up in the fridge. I get chicken fajitas, chicken soup, chicken nachos, and chicken salad out of it. I’m only cooking for me, so that one chicken can easily last four or five days.

      I have found that my Instant Pot really is a time/energy saver. A bag of dried beans becomes beautiful cooked beans in about 45 minutes. It’s probably the equivalent of two and a half cans of beans at half the cost and without all the extra sodium.

      Also, I’ll buy the big package of ground beef at Sam’s Club or Costco and cook the entire thing and then freeze it. I’ll get tacos, meatloaf, chili base (just fry it up with green peppers and onions), and sloppy joes out of it, and then freeze them in roughly half-pound portions. It’s a bit easier to meal plan if I’ve already got something in the freezer that I just have to reheat.

      (And FWIW, heating up meatloaf in the air fryer is probably the best way to heat up meatloaf ever!)

      Seriously, cooking from raw ingredients is the best way to save money. If you do it in bulk, you can save quite a bit of time, too.

      1. Overeducated*

        My husband and I are not fake meat lovers and we even like the soy chorizo. Makes great sweet potato tacos.

      2. wingmaster*

        I’m making my rotisserie chicken bone stock right now :)

        I haven’t had the chance to go to Costco yet because I just did a major move and don’t know anyone to split membership nor do I think I go there enough to even get one.

    3. fposte*

      I’m surprised to hear the Whole Foods part of the challenge. My first thought for grocery shopping on a budget is that I’d steer clear of premium brand stores and probably hit up Aldi’s or other inexpensive local stores, where my dollar would go a lot farther. I’d do a lot of beans (which I do anyway, because I love them) and rice (ditto) to stretch out veggies and focus on cheaper, more stretchable veg available now: broccoli, onions, potatoes, carrots, etc. I do a lot of making and freezing of soups anyway and I’d definitely focus on that–two bean soups would cover me for a week if necessary, and that’d be around $15 while still leaving me with some onions, carrots, and celery for following weeks. Those are the centerpieces, and then leftover money would go to cheese, fruit, meat (depending on what’s on sale, but it’s for adding to soups, so anything freezable in small amounts, like bacon, is a good contender).

      1. JediSquirrel*

        We don’t have a Whole Foods here, but I’m thinking they may have good sales. We have a Fresh Thyme which is ridiculously expensive, but if you just shop the sales, you can pick up some good bargains.

        That said, Aldi is just across the street and I do quite a bit of shopping there. I sometimes wish the selection were bigger (why can’t they have dried navy beans?), but the basics are always a good buy and they have a lot of limited time offers that are usually a treat to find.

        And yep—I grew up on beans and rice and will always go for a good dish of that over meat any day.

        1. fposte*

          Glad to hear that they might have less expensive options! I only encounter them while traveling (none in my area either) and I use them only for splurges.

          TBH, I don’t shop much at Aldi around here, but I would if I had to tighten my belt.

        2. Parenthetically*

          Whole Foods’ sales can be quite good, but their Prime Member Deals are eye-poppingly good. Pasture-raised ground beef for $3.50/lb., whole organic chickens for $.99/lb, etc. We only shop there once a month or so for specific things they have that we love (their 365 brine-packed feta is GORGEOUS), but I always stock up on their Prime deals.

      2. wingmaster*

        The challenge was inspired by other bloggers and YouTubers I’ve read and watched who have done the same with TJs and WF. So that’s why I wanted to focus on these stores. I don’t have any Aldi’s near me. I don’t even think there’s one at all in the state I live in. :( I’ve also been doing soups too because it covers most of my meals for the week.

        1. OyHiOh*

          Yeah, I’m in the same boat with Aldi, lol. There’s not a single one in our state. A couple organizations in our city are concerned about food deserts and I’ve suggested, multiple times, that they need to reach out to Aldi corp (doubt they have; our community is ridiculous . . . . ).

          I’ve been surprised by how often I can get vegetarian staples and spices at Dollar Tree. Very often, can get 2 lb bags of pasta, beans, lentils, rice there for less, per ounce, than the major grocers in the area. I’ve even found packages of shelf stable gnocci there (I love gnocci but hate making it and I’m quite willing to use the shortcut). Obviously have to go elsewhere for produce and meat but it makes a difference!