weekend free-for-all – March 7-8, 2020

Wallace loves foster cat Hank.

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: Something That May Shock and Discredit You, by Daniel Mallory Ortberg (now Daniel Lavery) of The Toast and Dear Prudence, whose writing is always a delight. This is the story of his transition, and it’s funny and smart and moving and goes in directions you don’t expect. Highly recommended.

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

{ 1,345 comments… read them below }

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      We are still fighting it! Currently I’m trying to convince myself it’s in their best interest not to share their humans with four other cats. (That’s difficult though because they like other cats.)

      1. The Other Dawn*

        So then the argument becomes, why would you want to deprive them of being with the other cats? (I know, that doesn’t help. LOL )

        1. Worked in IT forever*

          Yes, Wallace and Hank look like best buds. And Hank is so handsome and looks so at home. He’d be irresistible for me to keep. And of course, he couldn’t be split from Shadow, so I’d need to keep him, too.

          I know I’m not helping either.

      2. Lena Clare*

        Well I absolutely adore them and if I could take them I would but I’m not even in the same country let alone the same state! I wish you lots of luck with whatever decision you make :) im sue there are no shortages of living homes, including yours.

      3. Koala dreams*

        I’m sure they’ll find a loving home somewhere else, too! They are adorable.

      4. MsChanandlerBong*

        It’s totally your decision, but I’d argue that they would have a better life with you and four other cats than they would in some homes with just one other cat.

      5. Lcsa99*

        I think you just need to think about what your reaction would be if you got the news tomorrow that someone else wanted them. Would you be happy and maybe even a little relieved or would you be heartbroken. I think that will give you your answer.

        Personally, I hope you do keep them cause it would warm my heart to see them every week. They are such gorgeous, sweet cats; but none of us would have to care for them.

      6. CC*

        But if you adopt them, will you be able to keep fostering? (Since 6 of your own is a lot before you add fosters.) So, it might be better for them to find a new living home together & you to keep fostering to save the lives of more cats.

        1. Ask a Manager* Post author

          We’ve decided we can’t continue fostering regardless — this keeps happening and we’re clearly not cut out for it. The rescue group we work with has something called “virtual fostering” where you give money to support other people’s fostering, and we’re going to do that instead.

          1. tangerineRose*

            That makes sense. I vote you keep Hank and Shadow – they’re cute, and you love them.

          2. Stormfeather*

            Yeah, this is a reason I’d never even looked into fostering because I know once I bring an animal into the house, it’s pretty much a black hole.

          3. Tea and Sympathy*

            If you’ve decided to give up fostering anyway, and you have the money and the space, and everyone gets along, then why wouldn’t you keep them? It seems like they already belong.

      7. Heffalump*

        Does Hank have some Maine Coon in him? Both my cats (Ashbury, 1976-1994, and Sasha, 1998-2015) were Maine Coons.

      8. Lizzo*

        I would like to assure you that six cats is a totally reasonable number of cats to own.
        It’s similar to bicycle ownership: n+1 is the perfect number of bicycles to own. :-D

  1. Lord Ye old*

    Anybody ever took a passport photo, seen the result and be horrified like “omG is this how everybody sees me? I look like an Igor!”

      1. Lcsa99*

        My husband actually has a decent passport photo, but he’s kind of earned it cause for years his drivers license and work Id were the worst I’ve seen. He’s taken a new drivers license photo recently but they refuse to retake the work photo even though its gotta be over 10 years old.

        1. Wired Wolf*

          My work photo sucks; it was taken before I’d had any coffee (and I’d just been whacked in the head by a falling box not five minutes prior so was grumpy). I can’t get them to retake it and they won’t accept a personal photo–all that’s required is a clear headshot on a blank background which I can do.

      2. Candy*

        My last photo was so good I splurged for the ten-year passport. The woman at the drugstore who took it was amazing, kept re-doing it, telling me to lift my chin, blotting my brow… seriously she was hilarious but it was worth it. She made me look like Elizabeth Taylor. I might just frame it once it’s expired lol

        1. Former prof*

          LIFT YOUR CHIN! The magic words for a passport photo that doesn’t send you into despair!

      3. Wired Wolf*

        I had to get one of the new RFID passports (don’t get me started on those) and I don’t know what they did to the photo but it looks horrible. Way too….pink and grainy. And shiny. My home photo printer could do a better job than whatever equipment they have.

      4. Marion Ravenwood*

        My first adult passport, I looked like death warmed up (pale face, massive dark circles under eyes etc). Granted I’d been out the night before and it was an early start, but still…

        However, for my current passport photo, I used the tips in Sali Hughes’ (Guardian beauty columnist) book Pretty Honest for taking a good picture and it actually came out really well! I can’t remember many of the suggestions though other than wear red lipstick (I checked beforehand and this is apparently OK for UK passports. but YMMV in other countries) and hold a sheet of white paper under your chin to help reflect light.

    1. LDN Layabout*

      I had to do one while I had a fever once, so I was pale and super light sensitive as well and I was literally like…why does this bowl of mashed potato have a nose?

    2. Jdc*

      So you’ve see my most recent drivers license? Ha. Oddly I usually take horrible normal photos but great ID photos. My mom jokes i was going to the dmv for my wedding photos. This time, yikes.

    3. Alex*

      Don’t worry you probably don’t look like that! Some people just look terrible in those kinds of pictures.

      A friend who I think is gorgeous recently showed me her driver’s license picture. OMG. I barely even knew who it was, and it wasn’t old either. I hope the horror on my face didn’t show.

      Really, in real life she’s very beautiful. She looked half dead in this picture.

      So don’t worry. They are not good representations.

      1. PhyllisB*

        These comments remind me of a joke I read in Reader’s Digest years ago. (Y’all know I love RD jokes!!) A nun had gone to have her license renewed. When she got the new license, she looked at the photo and said, “With this photo, you have made sure I will never be stopped for speeding.”

    4. Rebecca*

      For some reason, my passport photo doesn’t make me look like someone on the 1o most wanted list! I am really happy with it! For reference, my conceal carry permit photo was so bad for one 5 year period that I hid it and hoped I’d never have to use it as second photo ID, it was awful. So glad when I got it renewed the deputy actually took several and I was able to choose, now I look like a normal person and not an escapee from a Stephen King novel. Come to think of it, even my driver’s license photo isn’t awful, so I guess that’s the trifecta of not awful photo ID’s!

      1. Windchime*

        My Costco card photo makes me look like an escapee from the womens’ prison. I look like I could cut a bitch.

        1. Helena1*

          My passport photo really does make me look like famously-hatchet-faced British serial killer Myra Hindley. Something about the angle of the lighting throws awful shadows around my eyes.

      2. gsa*

        “my conceal carry permit photo”

        That was never a quote I thought I would read on this website.

        I am in the process of getting mine. Next class is in April. I live in an open carry State. It’s a one hour class and then qualification.

        The range l use allows people to pre-qualify, so I will. Standing around waiting for people with firearms, to shoot at paper targets, is not my idea of a good time.

        1. NoLongerYoung*

          I am from a family with lots of law enforcement and/or military; I’m one of the few that doesn’t. I should get the permit, though.
          However, I grew up in a state where gun racks were standard in the multitude of pickups (ours included). And, back when I was in high school, frequently there were guns were in the racks. In the student parking lot.

          1. Rebecca*

            Yes, gun racks are totally normal here, and when I went to high school, kids would leave their hunting rifles in their cars or trucks in season so they could hunt after school on the way home. No one thought anything about it, just that John was going deer hunting after school.

      3. allathian*

        When I was complaining about my last 10 year passport photo (they changed the system when they introduced biometrics and now you can only get one for 5 years) one of my friends said, “don’t worry, by the time this passport expires you’ll be thinking it looks great,” sadly, she was right…

    5. Ali G*

      I did my makeup for mine since I always look terrible in photos. I had to walk to the place to get my pic in like 90 degree heat. I joke that my pic is a celebrity mugshot, complete with smeared eyeliner and mussed hair. It’s terrible.

      1. Auntie Social*

        I got a really bad first photo, so I did my face and hair and went to a better photographer who’s in a not-great part of town. I looked like a hooker on the street—got catcalls and everything–but my photo is now okay. I’m really pale and normally wear just a little mascara—I felt like a Vegas showgirl.

    6. Max Kitty*

      I always laugh (with recognition) at the title of Erma Bombeck’s comedy book When You Look Like Your Passport Photo, It’s Time to Go Home.

      1. Woman of a Certain Age*

        Oh, dear! Your age is showing just a bit.

        In a similar vein, I recall liking the title of Joan Rivers’ book, “Having a Baby is a Scream,” in which she documented her pregnancy with her daughter, Melissa.

    7. annakarina1*

      They either look like mugshots, or, in the latest one I took where I had my glasses off, I looked like I didn’t know how to focus my line of sight and looked confused.

    8. Texan In Exile*

      Yes, and then be even more horrified when people say, “Oh it’s not that bad!”

      I want them to say, “Holy smoke you look nothing like that! NOTHING!”

      1. MarzipanDragon*

        My mother, who has snow white hair, was once made to take an ID photo in front of a white background. It wasn’t a high quality photo and her hair blended into the background so perfectly that it looked as if her head ended just above her eyebrows. It was so bad that it crossed the line into comedy. She didn’t even mind showing it because it was so weird and off.

        1. KoiFeeder*

          One time I had a college ID photo taken in front of a white background that they photoshopped out and it literally just removed my entire face. All it was was hair.

          It was great.

        2. Panthera uncia*

          Our DOT used to use a school-yearbook-style mottled beige/gold background for license photos. One year they switched to a white background, so in my white button-down I looked like a floating head. Four years later, keeping that in mind, I wore my favorite sky blue blouse, and AGAIN ended up matching the background that had been changed to blue.

    9. Anonnington*

      Yeah. I look like a creature from a horror movie in my DL photo. I actually dressed up and wore makeup for it. But then I had to wait for four hours in a packed DMV with standing room only. (And that was on a “slow day” for them!) Then the woman who took the picture was really rude. She kept yelling at me and making fun of my facial features. She kept telling me to stop smiling, pose differently, all kinds of weird stuff. But the results are horrific. I can’t wait to upgrade to a Real ID and (hopefully) get a new photo.

      1. Wired Wolf*

        My RealID photo is decent, but I think that’s because of the facial recognition camera they use (if it can’t register a face, you’re told to not smile, turn this way, remove glasses, etc). Candid pics where I’m smiling look good, if I’m told to smile it doesn’t turn out well.

      2. allathian*

        We aren’t allowed to smile on our passport/DL/ID photos. That’s why most of them look awful. I’m reasonably happy with my work ID because we were allowed to smile.

    10. fposte*

      Oh, yeah. But I figure it’s probably a reasonable match for when I arrive at customs after a night of international travel.

      1. Parenthetically*

        Yep, this is what I figure as well. You want customs to recognize me? Okay then, here’s me in what are effectively pajamas, hair in a maximally messy ponytail, looking as bleary-eyed as humanly possible while still being vertical.

      2. TechWorker*

        Aha my friend had that problem – her ID is super made up, hair done, and she’s had cashiers refuse to sell her alcohol because that’s not how she looks during the weekly shop lol

        1. Helena1*

          I’ve had that issue with customs – my photo is about five years old, but now post-baby I rarely bother with contact lenses or makeup on a flight, hair is usually scraped back, and I usually look shattered.

          My son’s photo is even funnier though – it was taken when he was a baby, he is now three, photo won’t be updated until he is five. So immigration officials are checking this preschooler’s passport, seeing some random eight week old baby’s photo, and going “yup, you are definitely the same child, through you go”.

    11. KimmyBear*

      I’m really pale. I’ve had multiple ID photos (even this week) that had to be retaken because I reflected the flash too much.

    12. Two Dog Night*

      I once had a passport photo taken after sitting in an ER with my husband for 12 hours. It looked like I’d just come from 12 hours in an ER. I renewed that passport a year early because I couldn’t look at that photo any longer.

      My last one isn’t great, but it’s not *that* bad.

    13. roisin54*

      My birthday is in the summer and the last time I had to renew my driver’s license, it was hot and the line was so long it went outside. The tiny office was also not very well air-conditioned. My face is so shiny from sweat in the photograph that I look like I’m covered in grease.

    14. Sherm*

      My passport photo is actually pretty good! My drivers license picture, on the other hand, is a lesson in horror.

    15. MRK*

      You mean any of photo ever?

      Doesn’t help my state wants glasses off in their license photos (which I need) so I just have to face the correct direction and hope for the best. Those hopes have never once worked, I always look confused and vaguely cross eyed

        1. Nessun*

          ‘Any photo ever’ would work for me…which is to say, on the best face/hair day ever, if I let someone take my photo, I will later ask who let me leave the house looking so BAD.

          I am NOT photogenic.

          1. MRK*

            Yeah, if I’m being honest ID photos are more like a particularly bad subset of photos in an overall terrible collection

      1. Panthera uncia*

        I had the opposite problem once–the DOT tech kept asking me why I had no glasses, where are your glasses, you need glasses! Your license says “corrective lenses required!” Lady, have you heard of contacts? I had to stick my eyeball basically in her face and point to the line.

    16. Llama Face!*

      My one Walmart passport photo had such bad colouring and angles that I looked like a zombie extra from an apocalypse movie. Full on grey skin and dead eyed gaze!

    17. Just Another Manic Millie*

      I’m 69. I got my first passport when I was 24. I have saved all of my passports, and when I look at the old photos, I wish that I looked like them nowadays. I wonder how old I’ll have to be to look at my current passport photo and wish that I looked like it. My last drivers license photo was beautiful, but it’s because I was allowed to smile. I couldn’t smile in my current photo, and it’s BAD. I look so much better when I smile.

    18. previouslyVT*

      I just got a new passport. When the woman at Walgreens handed me the photo, she apologized and offered a free redo. Lol. I always look like human garbage on official government id’s. I did get a double take from airline staff checking into a flight recently. Lololololol

    19. LucyJo*

      My youngest child’s original passport had a photo taken when he was 10 weeks old – he couldn’t sit up so I was just out of shot holding him aloft like baby Simba. In that photo he is wearing a cardigan knitted by a dear friend, and he has a gravity-defying fluff mohican. It’s the best photo of any human, ever.

    20. Cute Li'l UFO*

      Yep–I showed up in a low cut velvet tank. You couldn’t see cleavage but it looked like I just had a motorcycle jacket on. Leather, chest tattoo, no smiling or glasses allowed, and my hair was enormous for some reason. I showed my boss and he said I looked like a biker outlaw–his dad was one!

      I hadn’t slept either as I’d been kicking myself for not renewing it sooner and I had an impending emergency overseas trip. But it’s done!

    21. Tris Prior*

      My passport photo is horrifyingly bad, I look at least 20 years older than I am. It didn’t help that I was told not to smile when I had it taken (which, I guess, technically you can smile but just not with teeth?). I have resting “someone just died and I’ve been crying hysterically for days” face if I don’t smile.

      And the clerk at the post office who took my passport application was just….. I turned in my expired passport, which was 17 years old, and she looked at my old passport pic and said, “wow…. you look a LOT different now.” WTF? Do most people not visibly age in a 17-year timespan? Thanks, lady, for making me feel like even more of a hideous troll.

      Oddly, my driver’s license pic came out fine this last time. Not great, but fine, and I don’t look elderly.

    22. WinterHasCome*

      I’m of the opinion that the more passport pictures look like a mug shot the more the government likes them.

      1. scarlet magnolias*

        I look like Gwyneth Paltrow’s head cut off in Contagion in my passport picture, and I am not a big fan of Gwynnie’s.

      2. Wired Wolf*

        My state ID when I was in college (New Mexico) is probably the best state-issued picture I have; they began using the face-sensing cameras before a lot of other states. Unfortunately they cracked down hard on residency requirements so I had to let it expire a few years ago (my dad still lives in NM and I wanted to keep my ID active in case something happened and I had to go out there for a long period).

    23. ShortT*

      Not just one. Two. (I’m a dual citizen, so, I have two long-term reminders of how much I hate being photographed.

    24. Ron McDon*

      I recently got a new passport photo – I went into the shop feeling really good about myself (hair looks good, nice make up), got the photo and felt so deflated. I was just staring at it and the man in the shop said ‘is everything ok?’ and I just blurted out ‘I didn’t know I look so OLD!!!’.

      That was a bad day.

    25. Lemonwhirl*

      I’ve long been convinced that passport photos as specially designed to make you look as terrible as you will after a 16-hour red eye flight next to an out-of-order restroom.

    26. NoLongerYoung*

      I did hear of a woman who got refused return into the country, as the photo was before her weight loss surgery, etc. (she had to get additional documentation, the change was so dramatic).
      So when I went from huge and a redhead, and started the journey down, I actually got a replacement DMV photo ID with at least the blondish hair at the “chubby but recognizable” stage of high weight/2#. (It was mail-in optional that year, I chose to at least get a photo in person so I could have some documentation there was a change).

      But yes, my first passport photo for the semester abroad in college? I had it taken at the local jail, which is the only place (at the time) that had the right format “the day I needed to turn it in.” It truly was a mug shot.

    27. Seeking Second Childhood*

      I had one I liked at work — but when they added the Six Sigma Greenbelt glyph in the corner, it got distorted and now I look like a mushroom.

  2. CoffeeforLife*

    I realized this morning that I was wearing underwear that is 10ish years old. I keep postponing buying new stuff (combo of delayed gratification, self denial, reward/incentive?)

    What’s something you need to replace but don’t-even though you can afford to?

    1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      I have (and I think I’m also wearing) 10 year old underwear — in my case it’s because I’m crazy picky about the style and it was discontinued for the longest time up until a couple months ago. I’ve bought new since they un-discontinued it, but I can’t bring myself to get rid of the old because it’s still in fine condition and what if they discontinue it again? (Really the solution is to buy a bunch more of the current version and just get rid of the old stuff, but.)

      1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        Step one (order a dozen more pairs of new underwear) accomplished! … now to move on to step two (dispose of the old stuff) — that’s the hard part.

        1. Not So NewReader*

          I have an unopened package. “Must wait until the elastic is totally shot.”

          I think it’s pretty normal to stretch the life expectancy of things that are not seen publicly. I sewed a rip in a sheet to make it last a bit longer, but my husband said he was not comfy with the seam. I did toss a hammer that had a problem with the head falling off the wooden handle. It did not make sense to keep it.

          1. CoffeeforLife*

            You can tighten the head! I know it’s too late, but for the next time. Easier to watch a video then for me to explain but you basically tap the top shim in.

          2. Koala dreams*

            Or you can use old underwear and sheets as cleaning rags. That’s what my grandparents did.

            1. Parenthetically*

              I have an old baby wipes box full of cut up sheets, t-shirts, etc., that we use instead of tissues! They get washed and dried in with towels (on hot, dried hot) and reused — we’ve had the same 30 squares of fabric for 7 or 8 years.

              1. Milk of Amnesia*

                Unless you get that dryer and washing machine up to sterilize temperature, you are literally creating bacterial soup if the stuff coming out of your nose is anything but clear. Make sure to run a wachine machine cycle with just bleach to clean all the nasties out. You can get biofilms growing in places you cant see and they are next to impossible to get rid of.

                1. Parenthetically*

                  Oh yep, we have a whole system because we also cloth diaper. But good tip for those who might not know!

            2. WellRed*

              Call me weird, but using old underwear as cleaning rags is a big no for me. I just can’t.

                1. NoLongerYoung*

                  Ah, well, I have sewing scissors; I cut off everything that reminds me of it’s origins. So make “cotton knit squares” of things. Socks make great dust clothes. Which, of course, only helps if you actually dust.

                  I did insist on getting a washing machine with the “sterilize” capability, back when we bought it. When husband got the infection in his foot that required expensive IV antibiotics because the stuff was so hard to kill, I threw away everything that touched that foot, but also washed everything else that his hands touched/ anything on the sterilize cycle with Lysol (brown bottle) and/or bleach. So grateful I insisted on that capability.

            3. RC Rascal*

              I use cut up t shirts as cleaning rags. They should be cotton. the kind from college or that you get from different Walk/Run for Disease events are good for this.

              Old socks are awesome, too. Old sweatsocks are the best way to clean blinds.

            4. Inigo Montoya*

              Using old underwear to clean something is one of the most disgusting things I’ve heard in a while.

              1. Drama Llama*

                That is such an interesting disconnect. Unless you only wear disposable undies, you are putting ‘disgusting’ washed undies on your body for hours everyday. She has already said the undies have been sterilised; there is no bodily fluids or fecal matter on them. It is just a piece of material.

                1. WellRed*

                  Logically I agree but to use a word that’s overused on this site, the optics aren’t good.

                2. fhqwhgads*

                  If the undies were well and truly sterilized, fine, but generally normal clothes washers don’t do that. We put mostly clean washed undies on our bodies for every day. Those are designated clothes for touching that particular area of bodies. It’s best practice to always wash undies by themselves – not with other clothes because there will likely be some transfer. Not enough to do major harm in most cases. I know most people don’t bother always washing towels separately from anything else, and undies separately from anything else. But for ideal reduction of germ transfer, that’s best. So no, repurposing old undies as a cleaning cloth is not a good idea, unless you’ve bleached the hell out of them.

              2. Ron McDon*

                Even if the old underwear has been washed before being used? I don’t understand why you feel that’s disgusting, could you elaborate?

                1. Inigo Montoya*

                  Honestly if you are questioning why it’s disgusting, there’s no way I’ll be able to explain it. It seems like common sense. I mean, it’s not like there aren’t a thousand other things you could reuse as cleaning rags.

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

          I did a total underwear cleanup during our Holidays break. I threw away a lot of unusuable… stuff.

      2. Panthera uncia*

        Half of my wardrobe is in shambles because my favorites are all discontinued, and I’m wearing what I have until it turns to dust and blows off my body in a stiff breeze. Victoria’s Secret stopped making my underwear and yoga pants, LA Made stopped making my extra-long tissue tees, Calvin Klein stopped making my bras…

      3. Clementine*

        I’m contemplating, and have been for a while, whether to replace my 25-year-old or so towels. I mean they are totally functional as towels, right?

        1. Seeking Second Childhood*

          Possibly better than new. When my then-boyfriend bought his house, my mother purged her closets of some gaudy 1970s towels. Her Replacements? She kept replacing them because they didn’t suck water worth a damn. We’re still using 2 of those big flowery Fieldcrest towels.

        2. allathian*

          I’m still using some linen tea towels that my paternal grandmother hemmed and embroidered for her trousseau. They’ve got her married initials on and everything, and they’re really the best. My grandparents married in 1940, so they’ve seen 80 years of continuous use and are better than new. Much better than the tea towels my parents gave as a wedding present to us. Those needed about 10 washings to get all the chemicals out of them so they’d be any good for actually drying things. To be fair, I mainly use them to dry off residual water when I empty the dishwasher.

      4. Elaress*

        My car. It’s old and makes interesting noises. I can afford a new car, but I’ve always hung on to cars until they are absolutely dead. I stay on top of safety and maintenance issues and I don’t put a lot of miles on it. But I’d rather spend $1000 a year on repairs and maintenance than have to get used to different car. My spouse and my kids try to get me to replace it, but I think I can get a few more years out of it.

        1. Daphne*

          Same! I’ve had one car for over 6 years, it was already second hand when I bought it. I’ve driven other, newer cars but just like how mine handles and actually feel in control.

          1. Seal*

            Yep. I have a 13 year old Honda Civic with 111,000 miles on it that I love. It still runs well and looks great, although it does make some odd noises when it’s very cold out. While I’ve been contemplating a replacement I have other things I need to pay off first so I don’t want to take on a car payment if I don’t have to. Besides, buying a new car sooner than once every 15 years feels like an indulgence.

            1. Seeking Second Childhood*

              My husband & I both had Civics that went over 200k miles — both vehicles had the heat shield come loose at one point. It sounds like death but it’s a cheap repair, so worth having them look at it. (I got the diagnosis from someone else’s call to Car Talk.)

            2. NewReadingGlasses*

              My Honda Civic went to 189000 (approx) miles. I only bought a new car because the civic didn’t have air conditioning and I moved to a warm climate. Take a picture at 111,1111 miles and throw a car mile party. Next party to be at 123,456 miles because numbers are fun.

            3. andria1079*

              I still have my 2000 Honda Civic EX that I got new! Over 200k miles, but still runs. Currently saving up to get a tie rod??? whatever that is, fixed, and a radiator hose. I have another car, it’s one whole year newer (lol) and I use that whenever my Civic needs maintenance. But, I loooooove my Civic :)

    2. Jdc*

      I’m in the underwear category. Most aren’t that old but uncomfortable, don’t fit right, etc.

    3. LibbyG*

      An umbrella. I just live with my broken lopsided umbrella, in part because I forget all about it as soon as I put it away.

      1. Noblepower*

        I keep using my broken but functional umbrella because I have learned that I’m evidently unable to accurately determine if I have cleared the gate I walk through at work…

    4. The Cosmic Avenger*

      I couldn’t think of anything I *need* to replace, but then I realized that I don’t feel like I need to replace anything if it’s still functional! So stuff that I think normal people would replace:

      I have work clothes that I bought when I started an office job over 20 years ago. They’re in good shape, but they’re very baggy (they’re not stretched out, I was about 70 lbs heavier), and to me it’s obvious which are old and which are recent by the way they fit. I could replace them, but it doesn’t seem worth it, as I bought good quality clothes, and the tops only get worn once every 6 or 7 weeks now, what with telework days and casual Fridays.

      Also, my spouse and kid have replaced their electric toothbrushes in the past year or two, and mine is still from the year we all decided to get one, probably from about 15 years ago or so. The battery still works fine when I take it on a trip for a long weekend, so I don’t see a reason to replace it. (Of course, I’m replacing the heads every 6 months.)

        1. The Cosmic Avenger*

          Thank you for the encouragement! I do have some new work clothes, my plan has been to kind of phase in a few new articles of clothing every year on average, and when I do I donate some of the old ones. My wardrobe is probably about 1/3 to 1/2 somewhat old and loose at this point. And I do like the way the newer ones look now that I’m much more fit than before. But I think I’m probably the only one who notices the difference in the outfits anyway, so it’s hard to be arsed to do more than a slow, gradual shift. :)

          1. ThatGirl*

            I mean, I think 70 lbs is significant enough that people might notice, but hopefully would not say anything. And doing it for yourself is still worth it – I always feel better about myself when my clothes fit well.

          2. Restless Rover*

            Unfortunately, people notice and judge. Usually not to your face. But more importantly, you deserve clothes that fit you.

          3. WellRed*

            people notice. Not to make you feel self conscious, but you lost 70 pounds. That’s significant (in so many ways). Don’t underestimate the power/feel of well fitting clothes.

          4. Ladyb*

            My beloved kept a lot of good quality clothes after he lost a lot of weight. He didn’t look good in them, and he wasn’t planning on gaining the weight back, but he couldn’t let go.

            What helped for him was realising that someone else could benefit from the clothes when he couldn’t. He made a larger customer of the charity shop very happy.

          5. allathian*

            I think you definitely should invest in more new clothes and donate the old ones. They’re quality stuff and could be a great fit for someone else.
            I have the somewhat opposite problem, I’ve put on some 50 lbs in the last 10 years and although I’ve bought new clothes to fit my current figure (clothes that are too small will make you look even bigger than you are), I still have some old stuff left that I keep hoping will fit me sometime in the future, but at the moment I’m just not capable of focusing on that weight loss.

      1. T. Boone Pickens*

        Oh wow the electric toothbrush is a good one. I have a Sonicare from a long time ago and honestly, until that thing dies or they stop selling replacement heads for my particular model, I’m keeping it. My electric razor is the same, it’s probably due for an upgrade but I’d rather order replacement parts.

      2. WellRed*

        I agree with That Girl. You are totally worth some better fitting, good quality clothes.

    5. Caterpie*

      For me its sports bras. Mine are all stretched out and make excercise uncomfortable. I guess I just don’t know where to start in finding new ones that will work! Plus I don’t want to spend the money (even though I can).

      Thanks for this question, I’m hereby taking recommendations for high intensity/ high support brands if anyone has some they like!

        1. ampersand*

          These look great, but—how do you get them on? I have the hardest time finding sports bras that are put on like regular bras (with a hook in the back). So many of them you have to pull over your head and they’re near impossible to get on and off and then I find myself getting irritated. (My level of irritation with this must be pretty high, as I’m getting annoyed just thinking about it. Ha!)

          1. NoLongerYoung*

            I found I’ve been pretty happy with my new Wacoal (cup sized) sports bra. My multi-size ones just aren’t good for high impact/ no bounce now that I am trying to do cardio. And I donated those “tug over head” ones with awkward contortions to get them fastened.

            I haven’t tried Freya’s sport bras, but I do like their cup-sized swimsuits, so the next time I make a lingerie order, I will try a Freya sports bra. (I am just starting to replace the multi-size that I don’t like…. I sort of cheaped out here and regret it. If it doesn’t have enough support for work, it definitely doesn’t for active exercise).

            I am with you on this. Check out the online lingerie (her room for example) places. The reviews are helpful.

          2. Koala dreams*

            I’m the same, I only buy sport bras with regular clasps. They are not that hard to find, but usually the selection is much smaller. (I guess maybe your size is outside the usual limited range?) You can try and see if some online stores have a wider range of sizes.

            1. Seeking Second Childhood*

              Brands please? My daughter & I both hate over the head bras and lumpy look of front fasteners.

      1. Cora*

        My favorite sports bras are from Target actually! They have a bunch of different styles, including some nice high-intensity ones.

        1. Pharmgirl*

          I love the target ones! I have a couple that I’ve had for probably 5 years that are still in great condition, and I work out pretty regularly.

      2. Ranon*

        For very serious high intensity that fits a pretty decent size range I like shock absorber (I have the ultimate run but as a brand they’re generally good). They’re spendy so if you’re not fussy about color finding last season’s colors is a good bet, and definitely read some reviews about how their sizing runs as they’re bra sized but not true to size for most people.

        1. Oxford Comma*

          Reunited with my computer so I can expand. I really like their stuff. They have bras for the more well endowed. All kinds. I found them really supportive and while I have never gone running or jogging, they stood up well to aerobics.

      3. NoLongerYoung*

        Check out the reviews on HerRoom dot com? You can map the reviews to your size and age, if that makes a difference. (Different styles… don’t work as well for me).

        I was so excited to move up to real exercise bras that work well. I moved the best of the old ones to laundry day. Note, they were NOT worn at all. We won’t discuss my exercise habit – or lack of – here. This is to remove excuses.

    6. Overeducated*

      Bras and my computer (I am borrowing someone else’s for job applications, that’s how bad mine is). Replacing worn out underwear and falling apart shoes have been a marker of no longer living paycheck to paycheck in my household, and I finally replaced a lost pair of glasses after forcing myself to wear a backup pair i hated for a year and a half.

      1. Ranon*

        I bought a new bra last weekend after putting it off for literally years after it needed doing and it is so much better. Bra shopping is pretty much my least favorite but new bras are really pretty great.

        1. cat socks*

          I had been limping along with two ill-fitting bras for years, but I recently went to a Soma store for a proper fitting. Cue the heavenly music when I finally put on bra that fit. It was a world of difference. And now I don’t immediately want to rip my bra off when I get home from work.

    7. Asenath*

      I postpone buying new stuff any time I’m lucky enough to find something that I like – and when it comes to clothing, what I like is very specific and hard to find (fits, mostly or all cotton, plain, comfortable, easy to wear – and when it comes to winter boots, I have even more criteria!). I also dislike shopping, and although I do shop online, getting the right size is even trickier if you don’t know the site, and some don’t let you filter by fabric. So I have, say, a pair of slacks that are getting a bit faded. Oh, they’re still OK to wear. Then I notice wear on the hem .. maybe I should think about replacement, but they’re fine if I’m not going to work. And the waistband starts to go … I will eventually replace them, but I’m sure by the time I eventually do, anyone with a pinch of fashion sense would think I couldn’t afford to buy clothing. I can afford clothing (although I’m pretty cheap about it and prefer sales); I just don’t want to discard something that’s really comfortable.

      1. Intermittent Introvert*

        I’m picky and hard to fit. I finally learned when I order something that I end up really liking I order more in different colors.

      2. Windchime*

        Just don’t do what I did recently: I had a pair of black knit pants that I wore to work probably twice a week for 6 or 8 months. Super comfy, went with everything. I didn’t really notice any wear happening. Until I took a break at work at walked a block to Starbucks and back with the entire leg totally ripped out. It wasn’t until I got back to the office that someone pulled me aside and told me. It was a 8 inch tear that went from the middle of the back of my thigh all the way to the inseam. So most of my inner thigh was exposed to the world. Yikes.

    8. Buni*

      I have a flat-screen tv that was *given* to me, gratis, and it’s sitting in a box in my front room because my current (18″-deep cathode tube) tv still works fine. I am physically incapable of throwing out / updating something when the original is still functioning.

      1. not my real name*

        Just go ahead and set up the flat screen. You don’t have to get rid of the old one. Go ahead and enjoy the new one and keep the old one for when the flat screen dies.

    9. Pharmgirl*

      Pajamas! I usually go to bed in an old t-shirt and shorts. I have some that are from college that are starting to get holes, and even one from *seventh grade* that is actually holding up!

      1. Elizabeth West*

        This is me. I have a rotation of t-shirts. They last a long time because I damp dry them and then hang them up.

        New ones go on hangers in the closet. Then they go into the folded, less nice pile. Then they either become workout shirts, or I wear them to bed until they’re all holes and a neckband.

        1. Sam I Am*

          Oh my, yes!
          I lost a hoodie at a show one time, and it was cold out, so my friend lent me his long sleeve shirt (he’d dressed in layers) and the loaner was presented as “this is such a special shirt to me, I’ve had it forever…” and I put it on and fount it to be a neck, some torso coverage, and a lattice that went down my arms to the cuffs on the sleeves which had grown “thumb-holes.”
          I tried to let the warmth of such a personal loan make up for the deficiency of the structure of the garment.

          1. Elizabeth West*

            Hahahaha!

            I had a shirt like that I wore to sleep in. I got it at Atlantis Fantasyworld, the comic book shop in Santa Cruz that was in The Lost Boys. It was more hole than shirt by the time I reluctantly let it go.

      2. TechWorker*

        Ha this reminded me – I have two pairs of pyjama bottoms my mum bought me to go on a school trip ~18 years ago that are going strong. I grew out of the tops that originally matched before I was 18 but god knows how big the bottoms must have been originally!

    10. fposte*

      I’m fairly good about purging underwear because I like the trick of packing worn old pairs for travel and throwing them out after you wear them rather than bringing them home.

      But yeah, sports bras. Also lounge pants. So what if there are bleach spots and holes? I can still lounge in them. It has made me understand my father’s weekend clothes a lot more.

    11. Parenthetically*

      My Converse! I’ve had them for 5 years, and I’m hard on shoes. The soles are worn through, they’ve got holes and cracks, the fabric at the heel is threadbare… and new ones are only $50!

      1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        I have a pair of Converse that I’ve been wearing for literally 20 years. They might be more duct tape than shoe at this point, and now I only wear them to do yardwork and mow the lawn, but someone is gonna have to pry them out of my cold dead fingers.

    12. Bex*

      Socks. I’m awful about replacing my socks. I wear work boots almost daily, I need good socks, and socks are NOT expensive.

      But look. Mine are fine. I mean, yeah, the heel is more hole than fabric, and the elastic is worn out so the socks keep sliding. But it’s fine. It’s fine.

      Now excuse me while I go send $80 to an animal shelter and continue to wear my six year old socks.

    13. RC Rascal*

      Socks. Peach colored Outback Red socks from junior high? I’m looking at you.

      Tank tops I use for layering.

      Belts. Especially those that shrunk in the closet (ahem)

    14. Alex*

      If it is still wearable, it doesn’t matter how old it is. I have plenty of things that are that old. Even, for sure, a few pairs of underwear.

      But if it is full of holes, go treat yourself!

    15. Aly_b*

      I finally replaced my 15 year old towels and got some really nice ones like 2 years ago and they keep bringing me joy every time I use them. Now the trick is to remember to replace them another dozen or so years! I finally realized I needed to go for it when we were finding a dog towel and said “oh, not one of the nice new ones” about a towel that was about 12 years old by that point… then I waited a few more years till we had more spare cash.

      1. Silly Janet*

        Next time you need to get rid of towels, check your local SPCA if they accept them. My local one is always desperate for large towels and that is where I always bring my old ones.

          1. Aly_b*

            I still have the old ones and use them for sports games in the rain and friends’ dogs and stuff :) but good to know for next time!

    16. JerryLarryTerryGarry*

      It’s almost harder to get rid of crappy stuff, because no one will want it. Useful unlocked items, someone else could use if donated, worn socks, not so much.

    17. PhyllisB*

      Underwear, specifically bras. I know I need to buy new because the last ones I bought are at least 6 years old and I’ve put on weight since then, but…also old t shirts and PJ bottoms.

    18. KR*

      I postpone buying new clothes and shoes until the ones I have are literally falling apart or can’t fit anymore. This has posed a problem in the past because I’m still roughly the same size as I was when I was 14. A lot of my clothes are age-inappropriate, out of style, not my personal style anymore, or not in great shape. I need to get better at just replacing things instead of not wearing half my closet. I have a hard time getting rid of the clothes because a lot of times they’re too worn out to donate but don’t make good rags for a variety of reasons, and I feel terrible just throwing the clothes away.

      1. AGD*

        See if you have textile recycling bins nearby! A lot of H&Ms have them (mostly because H&M clothing itself lasts about a month, but still).

        1. KR*

          You’re right – I need to go through my clothes and make a “recycle” pile. I love H&M clothing so I’ll have to bring a bag next time I trek out to the mall! Thanks for the encouragement.

    19. The Other Dawn*

      Socks. The brand I like no longer makes the style I want and I can’t seem to find something comparable. (I can find a comparable style, but not the exact thickness I want.) I’m super picky about socks so I don’t buy them online. I just keep putting off trying to find something I like because I don’t feel like making the effort.

    20. Nacho*

      My furniture. I’ve had the same chest of drawers and night stand since I was a preteen, and the drawers are child sized and no longer fit my clothes, but I’m way too lazy to haul either of them to the dump and replcae them, so I just keep my clothes in the laundry hampers after washing them.

    21. Old person*

      I am still using the stones are that my parents got for their wedding registry. If you want to see how old it is, go to eBay and look for casual ceram galaxy stoneware. I also still have as my only tv set, one that my mother won in 1978 at the Sisters of Charity fund raising raffle for a building that has since been torn down. It has a 12 inch color screen and a remote control. I remember how excited we were over the remote control. I can’t get cable or anything but it does hook up to my vcr so I’m good.

    22. Seeking Second Childhood*

      The roof. Its age was one reason this house was so reasonable – but we’ve had so much going on that the task of finding a good roofer is overwhelming. (At least I talked my husband out of doing it all himself, that took half a year. If it were a one-story drop to lawn all the way around fine — but it’s not.)

      1. Corporate Cynic*

        My husband I are hosting a dinner/game night tonight for our grad school alumni friends. We invited 19 people. 10 were scheduled to show up, then 8, now 7. Still excited but a little bummed…I guess that’s what happens when you try to hold something during cold & flu season….

    23. Aphrodite*

      Well, I did replace them for Christmas but it was bras. I had two that had kind of stretched out and gotten gray-ish (they had started life white). So as a treat to myself I ended up buying about two dozen. These are comfortable and in all cheery colors: plum, bright red, sky blue, rich royal blue, matte gold, white, black and a beige one. I wish I could find some more colors like sunny yellow, emerald, rich teal, aqua, melon, and so on.

      Come on, bra and underwear manufacturers: if you try out these fabulous colors, some of us–maybe most–will buy them not as necessities but as fun things. Oh, and make them cotton and in various cuts; high-cut French briefs for me, please.

      1. Aphrodite*

        I buy Jockey underwear. I love the fit and the fact they are all cotton because I won’t wear anything else (except silk and those are too pricey and too delicate). I once asked a customer service rep to pass my suggestion for multiple color a customer could put together because I’d go in and order at least 30 of them. Alas, nothing has changed. Jockey doesn’t want my money, I guess.

      2. Wired Wolf*

        Take a look at Coobie bras. They have some fun colors/patterns. The pads are removable for easier washing, the downside to that though is after too many washes they tend to bunch up/migrate.

    24. Seeking Second Childhood*

      I can afford a new wool sweater but I can’t find one that is as comfortable as the old lambswool one I’ve had for years. I’ve patched rips and knit patches for threadbare spots and only wear it around the house or yard. I should just retire it but it is so soft I can wear it without a shirt underneath as pajamas!

    25. The pest, Ramona*

      Apparently I rarely replace anything. I always wondered why I never made any money at group garage sales, and finally realized I don’t like shopping (even on line). I tend to use things till they are way done being useful. And by the time I get rid of them no one else wants them either!

    26. ...*

      Lol. Underwear. I had a pair in regular rotation ate age 24 purchased at age 12. My friends literally came to my house and took them and threw them away. Honestly they were fine I wish I still had them.

    27. anon for this*

      I realized recently that I’ve had my one pair of tweezers for 14 years. The panels that were once glued onto the sides fell off so long ago I’ve nearly forgotten they were ever there. Still working well otherwise, though, in spite of the fact that they’ve been used heavily and, you know, came from Target.

      1. CC*

        Revlon makes lighted tweezers – mine are from Target but I know Amazon has them too. (Tweezers with a built in light). Definitely worth upgrading too! I like the extra light even for using them with a lighted make up mirror – because it helps make sure you don’t get shadows on the hair you are plucking.

    28. LucyJo*

      Our bread bin. It’s battered and basic and doesn’t go with anything else in the kitchen.

      But it was a wedding present from a friend who then died (in his twenties).

      It’s going nowhere.

      1. Wired Wolf*

        Nothing in our kitchen goes with anything else, and I think I’m still using some of the bowls I had in college…

    29. NewReadingGlasses*

      A haircut? My hair continues to extrude from my head, and I can’t seem to make time or a priority to make it stylish. It just feel like stupid way to spend money, yet I liked other people’s nice haircuts, and I can afford it if I want to.

      1. KR*

        This!! I do this. My hair is SO long right now and would look much better with a basic cut but the process of making the appointment with the stylist and moving around work commitments just seems too much. So here I sit with split ends galore.

  3. The Cosmic Avenger*

    So I’m up earlier than usual, since tonight we set the clocks ahead (grumble grumble)…am I the only weirdo who has been going to bed earlier for days in preparation?

    1. StellaBella*

      We don’t change here til the end of the month (am in Europe). I really dislike the time changes. Your idea of preparing is a good one!

      1. allathian*

        I’m also in Europe and the changes throw my system out of whack twice a year. It literally takes me two months to get over the “jet lag”. It doesn’t even matter if it’s spring or fall, I’m equally exhausted by the change in either direction. I just wish they’d settle on either DST or standard time but quit switching.

        I’m at 60 N so we get 4 hours of daylight in December and 4 hours of twilight (no true darkness) in June, so the change doesn’t really pay off here.

    2. Loopy*

      Oh I so wish I had thought to prepare with something like this! I start a new job Monday and it would have been particularly useful this year.

      1. The Cosmic Avenger*

        I don’t find the need to do this for the fall, but I’ll try to post about this in an open thread a week or so before next year’s spring forward! ;)

        That is, assuming we haven’t FINALLY gotten rid of it by then! [fingers crossed]

    3. Rebecca*

      I wish we could move them ahead tomorrow and leave them alone from now on. It’s nice having late summer evenings! Why we have to change them for November through February is silly.

      1. PhyllisB*

        Actually Rebecca, they tried that one time (In the seventies I think? It’s been a long time, so don’t remember.) No one liked it, especially people with kids going to school because they were having to catch the school bus in the dark. Personally, I hate DLS. It always sneaks up on me so I never prepare like some of you smart folks do, and it takes me at least a month to not feel half-dead when I wake up.

        1. Fikly*

          But what about all the people who live in states or counties that do not switch back and forth and do like it? They are hardly no one.

          1. PhyllisB*

            Firkly, I meant states that do switch and did not like the experiment. I realize there are states that don’t change, but don’t make me name them!! :)

          2. Clisby*

            In the US? I’m not aware of any that are on permanent DST. Arizona doesn’t switch back and forth, but except for the Navaho Nation, doesn’t observe DST. Some states, including mine (SC) have approved staying with DST, but actually doing that requires congressional approval.

            1. RC Rascal*

              Indiana didn’t observe DST for many years except for counties around Chicago & Evansville. Not sure if this changed.

              1. Old and Don’t Care*

                The days of fast time and slow time are over, as Indiana now observes Daylight Savings Time.

        2. Rebecca*

          Selfishly, as an office worker, I like longer light at night and since buses around here pick up kids right at the door, light doesn’t matter. The poor kids across the road get picked up at 6:55 AM!

        3. nonegiven*

          They needed to change the time school started so people weren’t walking to school in the dark.

          — was in high school at the time.

          I just wish they would pick one and stick with it, making adjustments in whatever they need to that is the reason for changing it twice a year, now.

          1. Old and Don’t Care*

            I was in elementary school, and I remember my mother putting strips of reflective tape on our coats.

          2. General von Klinkerhoffen*

            I never understood that argument.

            British schools just I guess don’t start until daylight? And our local public services such as recycling centres or parks vary their hours by daylight as necessary.

            And farmers get up when the livestock need them, whatever the clock reads.

            The abrupt change is surely more disruptive than the gradual seasonal change.

            The EU is dumping non-daylight savings time next year iirc – so the clocks will go forward in March 2021 and not go back. I wish we were adopting that.

      2. Lena Clare*

        It goes back to how it should be October to March :-) I’d prefer we didn’t change at all!

    4. SaraV*

      I have to be at That Which Is Not Talked About in this thread at 5a tomorrow.

      And, found out last week that the in-laws are coming into town from 10 hours away, so I can’t just relax and nap today.

      I’m thinking it’s going to be a venti sized coffee tomorrow.

    5. WellRed*

      So, one thing sleep experts have recommended to reset your internal clock for the spring change is to get outside tomorrow morning in natural light. I’ll try anything.

    6. Courageous cat*

      No, I just sleep an extra hour and be done with it. It’s great. I love this time change so much. I love evening light so much. I love being able to go for a run when I get home from work because it’s not pitch black. Ahhhhh I’m so excited.

      1. Seeking Second Childhood*

        But this is the direction we lost an hour of sleep. Or do you mean you’ve got a flex start Monday?

        1. Courageous cat*

          Right, so I sleep an extra hour to make up for the hour lost, get a slightly later start to my day (but with the same amount of sleep), and move on.

    7. Seeking Second Childhood*

      Nope — I’ve been waking up at 4 or 5 am for half a year, even weekends. Come join me in my time zone.

      1. Seeking Second Childhood*

        Mind you, this isn’t entirely under my control — my alarm goes off at 5:30 on weekdays, and I’m Just. Waking. Up. the rest of the time. Unless I have an insomnia night, then all bets are off.

    8. Dancing Otter*

      I wish! A relative came over to pick up some papers on Thursday. She said “sometime after 7:00”, then arrived after 10 and stayed until midnight. After which, I still had to prepare for guests at 9:30 Friday morning. So very little sleep Thursday night, followed by a long nap Friday, meant not falling asleep until late on Friday. I mean, I like that relative, but her sense of time is not like most people’s.

      1. WellRed*

        I would have shut all the lights and gone to bed early to make a point. And certainly to preserve my sanity.

        1. General von Klinkerhoffen*

          Yeah, I’d have handed them over on the doorstep in my pyjamas. Ugh.

  4. Socks!*

    Yesterday’s thread reminded me, can I get some sock recommendations?

    I have tiny tiny feet. I wear girls size 4 shoes (US). But my calves are adult women sized (though not huge). Typically I wear medium girls socks, but I need some socks that are knee high, and the child-sized ones are too tight in the calves. I’ve tried looking for tube socks, but I have had a really hard time finding any locally, and the ones I’ve ordered online have all been too tight.

    I do not care what they look like, athletic is fine, and I’m not picky about fiber content, either. Help please?

    1. Dumpster Fire*

      Do you need actual one-piece socks, or might calf sleeves work, along with low socks? There are calf sleeves that aren’t specifically for compression if you don’t want that.

      1. Socks!*

        Oh, excellent idea! I need coverage from foot to knee, but there’s no reason I couldn’t combine an ankle sock with a calf sleeve! I shall google that, thank you!

    2. LibbyG*

      Maybe kids’ soccer socks? Maybe the extra room for shin guards would make them fit over an adult calf?

      1. Clisby*

        I was about to suggest that, too. I could wear my son’s soccer socks when he was 10-12 and I (obviously) was an adult.

      2. Seven hobbits are highly effective, people*

        I have found soccer socks to work well for me in similar circumstance. As a bonus, many athletic socks come in more sizes than general socks do, so you may have better luck getting them in your actual size.

        (I have feet that are right “between” typical men’s socks and typical women’s socks, so I buy a medium in athletic and hiking socks. They generally come in unisex small/medium/large rather than women’s/men’s, and may even come in xs/s/m/l/xl depending on the brand and what your store carries.)

    3. Oxford Comma*

      Long shot, but do you have a skilled knitting friend in your life who would either give or sell some to you? Or who knows of someone who would make and sell some for you? A good knitter could make them to measure. Wouldn’t be real cheap, but it’s a thought.

      1. Seeking Second Childhood*

        I have awkward feet so I got a good knitter to calculate a recipe for me and get me started….but he moved out of state before I was ready to turn the heel. Sigh.

      2. Traveling Teacher*

        Seconded! There are many lovely knitters and crocheters on Etsy who would love this kind of commission. You could get one or two pairs made for you for “best” and occasions, then complete with the soccer socks for everyday?

    4. Margaret*

      Girls size 4 = women’s size 6 shoes. The standard women’s sock size is for shoe size 5 – 9. To be fair, that means you’re still on the smaller end of the range and the heel might not quite perfectly align with your heel, but unless you’re specifically looking for compression socks that need a more precise fit, I don’t see why women’s socks wouldn’t work. I can fit in a kids size 4 – 5 (depending on brand), and women’s socks are a good enough fit to me.

      1. JerryLarryTerryGarry*

        Girls’ size 4 = Mens’ size 6. Most Mens’ stuff starts at 7 or 8, but you might get the width you need doing a search.

      2. Socks!*

        No, a woman’s size 6 is far too large for my feet. I can’t wear a woman’s 6 or 5. I wear a 3 1/2 or 4 in girls. And I have tried many many women’s socks and the heel is two inches above my heel.

        1. usually lurks*

          This still might not help enough for you but I’ve started only buying socks available in a Small; the standard “one size” end up being medium in those lines. I’m a woman’s size 6 shoe and that standard size is too long for me no matter what the sizing says. Things like SmartWool, Darn Tuff, and Bombas have that sizing.

          Knee highs too tight at the calf, though, that’s not a problem I’ve really solved.

    5. YouwantmetodoWHAT?!*

      My daughter has tiny feet and quite large calf’s. She really loves the socks from Sock Dreams.

  5. LGC*

    So I’ve found myself obsessively reading news about the COVID-19 epidemic and…much like touching my face, I can’t seem to stop doing it. Help!

    Basically, what happens is that I’ll read the latest news and then read the comments, which often tend to be doom and gloom, and then I feel awful after. And then I end up repeating the cycle. I’m pretty good at avoiding this cycle with other things, but in this case I keep falling into the same cycle over and over again.

    1. Ranon*

      Change your news source? Like, if you must feed your content brain, switch over to something technical and science based like the This Week in Virology podcast or something, where it’s so technical all your googling will be for biology terms you’ve never heard before or something.

      There’s also an app/ plugin called “Shut Up” that blocks comment sections on websites if that helps (you can still unblock Ask a Manager!)

    2. Book Lover*

      I accidentally discovered that I can block comments with my adblocker (when I found myself unable to read comments here and on YouTube). Maybe that would be worthwhile for you if you don’t want to stop checking the news entirely. I believe you can block some site comments and not all.

      1. LGC*

        Honestly, I should! Or I should just not read the comments on one particular site I favor – the writers and articles are excellent, and while the comments section is often interesting…on this subject the most popular comments are basically, “We’re all going to die because the US is a terrible country.”

          1. Miss Pantalones En Fuego*

            Probably 50% of the websites I’ve seen discussing the matter have a comment like this. Reddit is a good example.

    3. Grand Admiral Thrawn Is Still Blue*

      I’ve started using a jumbo paper clip at work to scratch my itchy face.

      1. Tris Prior*

        This is a great idea! My face has never been so unrelentingly itchy since the warning to stop touching it!
        …. I guess this wouldn’t work so well for my constantly-itchy-and-irritated-from-contact-lenses eyes, though, haha.

    4. bunniferous*

      I got reassured after watching a video about it that our local hospital put out. It was very calm, not fearmongering, and gave basic facts as to what to do. Quite a contrast to the rest of the media I have seen out there.

      1. LGC*

        Yeah, like…I’m already kind of worried about my aunt who’s in her late 80s and not in great health to begin with, and even my parents (who are in their 60s, albeit in pretty good health for the most part). FUD is the last thing I need in my life.

    5. Elizabeth West*

      I keep doing it too.

      They just announced the first positive test in St. Louis County. A 20-year-old who had gone to Italy. My hands are so dry from washing, I swear.

  6. Loopy*

    Has anyone else had years that they are just at odds with their body? This year has been a weird one for me between sickness, back issues, weight gain, inability to exercise, and fluctuating motivation/energy. I just dont feel right in my skin, energy levels are off, my hair even seems thinner.

    I’m not sure if I’m looking for advice or commiseration or both. I just can’t seem to get back into a routine where I feel like myself again! I feel like I am grasping at straws for some solution, do I up my vitamin regimen? Get more sunlight? Meal prep? Change up my wardrobe? AUGH!

    1. Anon for the moment*

      I am with you on this. I looked in the mirror and didn’t recognize myself. I haven’t felt like myself in a long time.

      I am trying to modify a few behaviors: walking more, cooking more. The key for me is “more.” I started with small goals. I started by making lunches 2 days a week, cooking 2 dinners rather than takeout. Walking 5 minutes. I bought really good bras and started buying clothes that feel right for who I am now. Those kinds of things. But all small achievable goals.

      Tai chi is low impact and all my doctors cleared me for that. That seems to be renergizing me and it has health benefits. Maybe something to look into?

      1. Loopy*

        I definitely thinks some of those ideas would be helpful. I do well about making lunch but dinners are kind of thrown together based on how well i grocery shopped that week, which is always a toss up. I think right now my life feels haphazard and what you wrote sounds much more organized and mindful.

      2. allathian*

        Tai chi is great, at least with the right instructor. I’ve been going one a week for about a year, and I fear that without it I would have exhausted myself this year. I’m working full time and studying for a certificate, so I haven’t been able to decompress as much as I usually do, as I’ve been studying most of my weekends and vacation days. It’s low-impact but you need to focus on your forms. It’s really effective in shutting down my inner voice…

    2. LDN Layabout*

      Sunlight and outside was a big win for me. I live in a big city and I’m not overly active, so instantly becoming /more/ active was not going to happen for me. What did help was finding a sedentary, calm, outside activity that could be done for the full summer.

      I had sun, I was outside and there was a (vague) purpose to it.

      (I appreciate the actual activity won’t probably help because cricket is not a thing in the US, but seriously, outside, sunlight, everything gets better)

      1. Loopy*

        I also think the improving weather and being outside will be helpful. I am so rick of rain/cold. I love being outside on a nice day (nice = warm).

    3. Jdc*

      Yes! You are not alone. I’ve been sick, still sick, constantly, injures, received more stitches than ever, my weight just won’t stay normal even though I’m doing everything I always have and there’s no medical reason (well age probably). I have a whole closet full of lovely clothes i used to love dressing up and now I’m leggings and sweatshirt woman. I so understand.

      1. Loopy*

        It’s so hard because from the outside it looks and feels like I’m the only one just being like UGH WHAT IS WRONG WITH ME?

      2. TechWorker*

        I get the injury thing. I don’t think there’s been a period of more than about 6 months since I was 16 where I’ve not had one injury or another – I feel like I get over one and then immediately do something else. (Atm I am grumpy cos I’ve signed up and paid for some things in advance that I’m going to have to be careful at at best and sit out and watch at worst).

    4. Not So NewReader*

      For me my body decided to walk out on strike at age 34. It’s been walking a picket line ever since.
      However, yes, do all these things that you mention. Do them one at a time so you can see what is working and what is not working. I found it helpful to decide that I will be making tweaks to my routines for the rest of my life.

    5. Colette*

      I assume you’ve seen a doctor? (Some of what you describe matches thyroid issues.)

      1. Loopy*

        I’m pretty healthy, a lot of it is easily explained by a history of back issues/scoliosis, diet (lazy vegetarian), and some bad luck. I think I’m just starting to realize my body requires more upkeep and more effort to be healthy as I get older, and it’s alarming!

        1. Colette*

          Could be! There are a lot of thyroid issues in my family, and weight gain, tiredness, and hair loss are all symptoms. (They’re also usually easily treated.)

            1. Juneybug*

              I agree about the vitamin deficiencies. If I don’t take daily vitamin D (good ol’ pacific northwest), B (anxiety issues), C, probiotics (digestive issues), and multivitamin (that’s the foundation but I still need the extra B, C, and D as well), I am miserable!! I can get out of bed but I am so, so tired that you would think I was the walking dead.
              Also see if your dr can check your iron levels (often folks have lower iron levels than they realize).
              I hope you feel better soon!!

        2. All Hail Queen Sally*

          When I was in my late 30’s, I started hearing that dreaded phrase from my doctors ” That’s what happens when you grow older.” when I would have various health issues. I would get so annoyed–I was not old! Now, I am in my early 60’s, and the little health issues have multiplied exponentially, and some days I feel every one of those years! Other days I feel quite young, but some days I feel like I am 100. I was joking with a friend the other day about how everytime we talk, we are talking about our aches and pains.

      1. Loopy*

        I am between health insurance for about 3 weeks, but my daily vitamin provide 250%- I just need to be much better about taking it!

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

      Last year I realized I gained a lot of weight. My family, of course, is being super passive aggressive about it, but I’m sort of… done with it. I’ve been dieting since I was eight y.o., forced by my mother and grandmother, who removed most of the foods a schoolkid likes, removing me from any social life a kid may have. (Because no one wants to be near the weirdo that eats apple slices or yogurt instead of lollipops during recess) I’m trying to recover for my sake, but it’s super difficult.

      1. Dysfunctioning Meatsack*

        Oh no! I’m so sorry. Society (and families) are so very good at causing issues with eating and diets. Ignore the family as best as you can. I suspect they’re the only ones who care, and given your use of ‘realized’ may be the only ones who even notice!

      2. Loopy*

        I am so sorry- any sort of judgement on weight is terrible. No one comments on mind whatsoever and it’s still something I struggle with so I can’t imagine having to deal with others chiming in. It is really hard to reach that healthy AND happy place!

    7. Dysfunctioning Meatsack*

      Yes, I’ve been battling a bunch of health stuff, but this year has been especially brutal. I’m paying thousands of dollars more in health insurance just to be able to see all of the specialists this year and hopefully sort some stuff out. I’m cautiously optimistic with my current med mix (7 pills every morning, oof.)

      What do you mean when you say you can’t exercise? Is it a motivation/habit issue or do you actively feel bad when you do it? After years of trying to figure out why I feel so TERRIBLE when I try to work out, I’ve been diagnosed with vestibular migraines, which cause dizziness and motion sickness (and not necessarily with a headache.)

      I nth. the other commenters suggesting you go to your doctor about this. This seems like there could be an underlying (and hopefully easily remedied!) medical issue at play.

      1. Loopy*

        Ah, I cant exercise right now due to back pain/issues that I am seeing a chiropractor for.

        I do think a lot of this is probably me needing to be much, MUCH better about diet/nutrition. I’m a vegetarian who loathes (LOATHES) all cooking/meal prep and has a crippling sweet tooth. So when I get lazier than usual between food and not being on top of vitamins, it tends to affect my energy/weight quite easily. Alas. I just want to win the lottery and hire a personal chef.

        1. Dysfunctioning Meatsack*

          Ouch! Yeah a bad back will certainly do that. Maybe not an option for you at all, but if it is: water aerobics is extremely underrated! When I went, it was all folks in their 50s and under, and a ton of fun.

          I’m also terrible about keeping a healthy diet (namely: vegetables) myself. It’s not super cheap, but I bought some soylent as ‘depression gruel’ when I just need sustenance, and it honestly has helped me a lot — whether or not i’m in a depression spiral. There are other variations on the meal replacement dealio as well, but IMO it’s best to treat it as a supplement, not an actual meal. I feel markedly better when I’m lazy about healthy food and use it.

    8. A*

      Weight gain, fluctuating motivation/energy, and thinning hair are signs and symptoms that frequently occur in people with diminished thyroid gland function (hypothyroidism). I would mention all of these to your primary care physician, and some blood work for thyroid hormone levels could be helpful.

      1. Megaladondon*

        Sadly a lot of those symptoms could be just getting older. I’m there, I get it and it sucks. However you can combat all that by reducing stress, eating a diet with more whole foods, exercise and getting enough sleep. It sounds like a lot, but incremental changes. Go for a walk. Get a meditation app. Just ten minutes a day of consistent meditation has helped my anxiety and sleep a lot. Make simple meals in the crockpot and box up leftovers for lunch. It sounds like a lot, but pick one thing from above and stick with it. Once you start to feel better, you will have more energy to add other things. It takes time to dig yourself out of the hole. Be patient with yourself. You will get there.

  7. Oxford Comma*

    I am in the market for a gaming chair or a really good office chair. Any suggestions? They have to be able to ship to the US.

    1. Lcsa99*

      We are really happy with the office chair we found on Amazon 4 years ago and it looks like its still available (link to follow). Its comfortable, and I love how easy it is to adjust the height (our last one you had to spin forever before you realized you were spinning in the wrong direction and had to do it again.)

    2. Ranon*

      Office chairs are pretty personal in terms of fit, if there’s a decent second hand office furniture store in your city (most major cities will have a few) that’s a good bet for a place to try out all the fancy chairs fashionable with the latest fancy companies that went out of business for a pretty serious discount. Steelcase, Knoll and Herman Miller all make quality stuff

      1. T. Boone Pickens*

        Yup Herman Milller chairs are terrific. The Aeron model is outstanding. If you can find one for a discount, even better.

    3. Gatomon*

      I splurged on a Steelcase Leap 2 a few years ago and it was absolutely worth it. I’m debating whether to buy one for myself at work. (I’m sure work wouldn’t be willing to spend that much, unfortunately.)

      I think it’s better to put more money in a proper office chair than the gaming chairs – I’m not impressed with the ones I’ve seen and tried in the office. (That’s what we get budget-wise if the regular crappy chairs don’t work for you.) The office chairs should last a long time, but most consumer chairs fall apart in a few years.

  8. coffee cup*

    I’ve had a cold for a couple of days. Yes, just a cold! But it’s wiped me out and I’m exhausted this morning despite sleeping over 7 hours. I basically want a nap already. I really don’t feel 100%, mainly because I would usually stay at home when I feel bad but I *had* to go to work on Thursday for a company meeting, unfortunately. One of my best friends is having leaving drinks tonight and she’s about to go travelling for months. I do want to go because I love her, but the thought of driving an hour, being sociable, then driving home is exhausting me right now. I will also see her during the week for lunch before she leaves, but I don’t want to be a bad friend and miss her party, plus it would be nice to see the others too. Not quite sure what to do. I’m quite aware that people probably don’t want my cold either, but I would only stay a short while and not touch anyone… If I don’t fall asleep!

    1. Max Kitty*

      If your friend is going to be traveling, you’ll be a MUCH better friend by staying home if you’re at all possibly contagious. Really. Seriously. And all the other people at the party will thank you too. People do not want to be sick, especially now.

      1. Anon5775*

        I second this. I feel we just don’t know enough about it yet but we do know it is deadly to some people, so I would not want to be at a party with a sick person right now.

      2. coffee cup*

        I know. I don’t feel as bad as I did on Thursday, and so I probably was contagious on Wed when I saw her last, but didn’t realise I was getting sick. I would normally never go into work the way I felt on Thurs, either. I just always miss out on fun stuff and I will really miss my friend (I know this isn’t a good reason! It’s just why I have been even considering it).

    2. OperaArt*

      Be a good friend and don’t risk sharing your cold with her just before her big trip.

    3. Alex*

      Stay home. You aren’t a bad friend for getting sick….but you would be a little bit of a jerk for getting your friend sick right before a big trip, especially now. Even if it is just a cold, if she gets it, she could have difficulties traveling if she has to encounter any medical screening.

      Also, 7 hours probably isn’t enough when you are sick. Go back to bed, take care of yourself!

      1. coffee cup*

        I really don’t want and would never want to give my friend the cold. I saw her on Wed (her last work day) when I didn’t realise I was getting sick, so hopefully I didn’t pass it on then. She didn’t seem bothered about me coming even when I have a cold, so that’s why I had been considering it, plus sometimes I still feel slightly anxious when I ‘miss out’ on fun things (even though I secretly often don’t want to go!).

        I had an hour nap earlier… and don’t feel less tired! What is with that.

        1. Seeking Second Childhood*

          When our heads are stuffy we don’t breathe well… when we don’t breathe we wake up. So basically with a bad cold we’ve got short term sleep apnea.
          If your dreams have been really vivid, long, or memorable, that adds more weight to my speculation.

    4. Nynaeve*

      Could you Skype or FaceTime in for a few minutes just to say hi to everyone? That might be a good middle ground: check the socializing box, but at a level you can handle without infecting anyone.

  9. StellaBella*

    Anyone have tips on spring cleaning that you do?

    Here is the thing: I need to start doing some donations/purging (of clothes, books, stuff) and also want to do a big clean…but am a bit paralysed in terms of order to do things. Should I clean and purge at the same time (shelf by shelf, drawer by drawer?) Or clean everything, then sort into piles/bags?

    1. LDN Layabout*

      Do you have enough time/place to start doing it piecemeal? I find that if I start a big everything clean, it does get done, but I still have to /live/ within the mess zone while it’s happening and my self-hatred always hits very high levels.

      What works better for me now is to assign a section (e.g. a few shelves, a chest of drawers) and do everything for it, but then save the donation/throw-out step until I have more things ready, to make that step worthwhile?

      1. valentine*

        Purge, then clean what’s left, so you don’t miss what’s gone because you have what you wanted: clean, clear space.

    2. Lcsa99*

      I would clean and purge at the same time so you aren’t cleaning stuff you aren’t keeping. I also like multitasking (it drives me crazy to go back over things two or three times).

      1. Not So NewReader*

        Agreed. I take the time to create my bags or areas for piles. I have 3 categories, garbage/recycle or donate/ give to a specific person or tag sale items.

        The garbage and recycle areas are always set up, so no problem there. I put a plastic tote out to collect the tag sale items and clear a corner out. The stuff to donate or give to a specific person goes by the main door I use. I take those things with me as I go through my week and get them to their proper spot.

        I hate handling things twice. Making a big pile means I have the same headache all over again.
        On the other side of the coin, because I work this way it takes me a tiny bit longer so I try not to be too critical of myself if I don’t get everything done in one day that I think I should. My satisfaction comes in knowing that something is thoroughly done.

    3. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      I clean and purge one shelf at a time, and if I REALLY want to get rid of stuff, I set a goal. A couple weeks ago, I went into my closet and told myself I wasn’t coming out til I had five things for the goodwill box. I miscounted and came out and realized I only had four, so I sent myself back in to finish the job plus a penalty item. :)

    4. Jdc*

      I like to do sections. One drawer, pile for toss, pile for donate, organize drawer move on to next. Wash and repeat with cupboards, closet sections.

    5. Washi*

      I live in an apartment (as opposed to a whole house) so I always purge first, then rearrange and clean what I have left. I like the Mari Kondo order of doing things, just because it gives me some structure. I do the decluttering all in one day and then I usually spread the cleaning out over a few days and do one room at a time.

    6. migrating coconuts*

      It’s overwhelming when you think about it all at once. I usually start with one dresser, or one closet, etc. Pull everything out, sort it, clean the piece of furniture and then put back only what I’m keeping. And be ruthless. Everything I don’t want is either put in the trash or put in bags/boxes, put right in my car to drop off at the thrift store next time I’m near it. Sometimes I’ll do a second area, but not always. Then stop and reward yourself.

      1. Marion Ravenwood*

        This is what I do, only I clean first and then sort (although this is where I think only focusing on one area helps). Stuff being kept goes back in, and then I have two bags – one for trash/recycling, one for donations. Recycling goes to our recycling bins straight away, donations go to the charity shop the next day (I often like to do a cleaning session like this if I have a free Friday night – rock and roll, I know – or Saturday afternoon).

    7. Asenath*

      I don’t do formal spring cleaning, but I do think piecemeal is the way to go. If I try to clean everything at once I get overwhelmed and give up because everything is in a state of chaos and I don’t see the end. I also keep a bag for donations that I toss things in when I decide to give them away, so the potential donations don’t pile up – when the bag is full, it goes.

    8. LuJessMin*

      When I cleaned my garage this week, I was going to pull everything out, sweep the garage, and then sort through the stuff I pulled out. Instead, I dealt with each piece as I picked it up. Stuff to keep went to one pile, trash in a bag, and donation items to the curb (in my neighborhood, if it’s on the curb, it’s fair game.) Today I’m dropping off the last pieces (paint cans, bottles of cleaning stuff, cans of oil) at the hazardous waste facility.

      Now, if I could just figure out what to do with the big box of DVDs. I don’t want to throw them away, and no one will buy them.

      1. Texan In Exile*

        Is there a VA by you? We donated an extra DVD player and a bunch of DVDs there a few years ago. I don’t know if they still want that sort of thing, but I also can’t imagine the VA having enough money to pay for Netflix.

      2. Annie21livinginusa*

        You could check with Military groups, I know that they send them to soldiers who are deployed!

    9. CoffeeforLife*

      Check out Apartment Therapy’s spring clean list. Every day is a new task with the goal of getting it all done this month. There is a complete list so you can see what works for your needs but it’s broken into reasonable tasks.

      1. ArtsNerd*

        There’s also Unf*ck Your Habitat (the web site is uncensored, so if profanity isn’t your thing, this might not be your thing.) It’s even better for me than Apartment Therapy in recognizing how overwhelming cleaning can be, and providing clear structure and support to get you through.

        1. General von Klinkerhoffen*

          I follow UFYH on Twitter. There are regular “why not do this [bitesize household task today?” tweets which are generally gently phrased, manageable, and useful.

    10. fposte*

      It’s very individual, I think. I lean strongly toward piecemeal–I describe it as the augur approach, where you circle around and go deeper every time. I also think that, for me at least, having short completion points helps avoid getting overwhelmed and stalling out, and it means I can do some even on workdays.

    11. Not A Manager*

      I use two different methods, depending on the task. One is to choose a location, purge it, clean it, and then organize what’s left. I don’t do it shelf-by-shelf or drawer-by-drawer, but more like “the entire laundry room,” or “the storage cabinets in the garage.”

      The other is the Marie Kondo method of purging by category. For me, this is the best method for things like clothes and books. I have clothing stored in various parts of my house (sort of by type/sort of by how often I need it), and if I just purged one drawer at a time I would probably keep too much because each item would look like it was one of a few instead of one of many. Same for books.

      There are times when I hybrid the two methods. My laundry room, for example, also has some extra storage. Two things I keep in there are extra meds and extra grooming supplies. So when I’m cleaning that portion of the laundry room, I will also pull out my bathroom stuff, and vice versa.

    12. LQ*

      This is what I do for clothes and jewelry especially.

      Do my best to have everything washed and sort of ready-ish. Then I just wear through my closet as far as I can for that season (no washing, everything gets one wear and then it goes into the laundry pile, but does NOT get washed yet – you could wash and leave in a ready to wear state, but it’s cheating, same with jewelry and whatever else (I’ve done this with kitchen items too)). Once I’m annoyed and feel like I have nothing to wear I basically swap. Everything I DID wear and use heads to cleaning. Everything that I haven’t worn gets pulled out and dumped into a heap and then I go through and get rid of as much of that as I possibly can. You can leave the not worn pile for a while and pull out stuff when you realize you may actually need it. An alternative of this is just to box/bag all that stuff to go and then let it sit there for a month or more, if you don’t go looking for a specific item you don’t need it. But you have to actually get rid of it at some point.

    13. I'm a Rabbit*

      I have a method I developed that combines Marie Kondo and a few others like the minimalists and project 333.
      1. sort by items –
      pull out all the books and purge them, all the clothes, all the tools, whatever category. Put all the books or whatever category in one place, purge them. Sometimes what brings me joy helps me know what to keep, sometimes that does not help. Sometimes what helps me decide is the Minimalists’ 90/90 rule (have I used in in 90 days, am I likely to in the next 90 days) or their 20/20 rule (can I get it for under $20 in less than 20 minutes).
      2. Space!
      Decide where the books or clothes or whatever category will live in the house. Clean that, put the things away. Space helps me purge too. I have one cabinet for books. That is all the space I am willing to give to books. If I get a new book, one has to go as they must fit the cabinet. I have one rack in the closet for clothes, they must all fit there. If I get more clothes, something has to go.
      3. shopping in my own stuff to get over the emotion of tossing things and fomo.
      Project 333 says to pick 33 items to use for 3 months, pack everything else you own and at the end of 3 months, shop in your own stored items for 33 items for the next 3 months. I live in the south and all my clothes are one season so I did that but after 3 months, I got over the fear of tossing things and I just settled on the space I was willing to give my items.

    14. Fikly*

      The method I have found works best for me, because I tend to get overwhelmed and also distracted by figuring out the best order to do things in, is to simply pick a spot and start working on whatever is in front of me. When that space is clear, I move a foot over and begin again.

      Anything that is trash gets thrown out. Donate or keep gets put into piles, but not into permanent places. Once a whole room is clear, donations are packed up, and things get put into permanent places. Once I start it’s easier to keep going, it’s the starting that’s the hard part.

    15. Dancing Otter*

      I work on one spot at a time, for example a closet. I haul everything out and pile it on my bed, so I have to deal with it before I can go to sleep.
      I wipe down surfaces and change the cedar or lavender sachets (moth repellent) before I start sorting.
      1. Things I want to keep, that don’t need cleaning or repair, go back in the closet, neatly. (Maybe new hangers, if appropriate.) Winter or summer things (Depending, spring or fall cleaning?) go at one end of the closet, to be put away for the off season as soon as I’m sure I won’t need them again.
      Things that need cleaning go in the dry-cleaning bag or the clothes hamper. Mending is in another area, by the sewing machine.
      2. Discards not worth donating go to the trash every time I get an armful, no delay.
      3. Discards worth donating go in grocery bags or delivery boxes, then down to the car. I go near a delivery drop-off spot once a week, so that’s convenient. Plus, out of sight, out of mind. If I have second thoughts, the things are available for a few days but not convenient.

      Bookcases are harder, because I keep finding stuff I want to stop and read again. I’m lucky to finish one shelf at a time, and I have six bookcases. Someday, I’ll get to the cedar chest.

    16. AcademiaNut*

      My technique is to clean *inside* stuff first, doing the purging as I go, then when the insides are clean I do the scrubbing. And I’ll do it over a period of a week or two, with one major thing per evening.

      So one night I’ll empty out my drawers and closets onto the bed, wipe down the insides and let it dry, and then only put back what I want to keep. Donations go in a bag or bin, things that I want to keep but need mending go in another. Same for books – pull them off the shelves, dust the shelves, then dust the books as I put them back, reserving out the ones I don’t want.

      Usually clothes take one night, books two or three, the linen cupboard another, the pantry/food cupboards another, bathroom + bedside table another.

      Generally, before starting, I set up bins for stuff. One for paper recycling, one for food compost, one for non-paper recycling, one for clothes, one for donations, one for garbage. Then it’s easy to sort.

      When the insides are all done, it usually takes a weekend to do the vacuuming/mopping/scrubbing/washing of the rest.

    17. Traveling Teacher*

      If the overwhelm is the main blocker, myI suggest checking out UFUH? “UnF***YourHabitat) It’s online but also available in book form and was a lifesaver for me when I was struggling with severe PPD and had two under threes to deal with as well! It meets you where you’re at and gives you strategies for when you only have 10 or 20 minutes at a time to clean. I did it on and off for awhile and things gradually got back into shape instead of doing one big marathon clean like I was used to doing pre-kids!

      1. ArtsNerd*

        It’s helped me so much with my shame around my messiness (It’s not just me!), and the observation that for most folks, it’s dishes/laundry/trash upkeep that are the main struggles and habits to focus on for maintenance.

        I’m almost a month into putting dirty dishes into the dishwasher right away (and emptying after a load) and it’s a world of difference. I’ve got a ways to go before it’s an automatic thing vs. a decision i’m actively making but I’m optimistic. I don’t have to warn my friends that my apartment is literally a health hazard anymore.

    18. Seeking Second Childhood*

      FWIW, this post changed my ‘bring up the clean laundry’ task into ‘sort the closet’. (Shrug) it needed to be done.
      For me, I keep things I wear to work separate from “play clothes”– when I add a new piece of work clothes, I retire something. And if it’s moved to play clothes category, I pitch something from there– oldest or most uncomfortable or WTF-est item. It’s Dana K White de-cluttering, basically.

    19. NB*

      Certain elements of Marie Kondo’s method work for me.
      (1) purging by category
      (2) asking “does this spark joy?” or similar–whittling down my possessions to only those items that a like rather than hanging on to items that I think I “should” keep even if their presence in my home are burdensome.
      (3) decommissioning — Kondo advises saying “thank you” to the items you’re purging. I don’t do this exactly, but when I’m tempted to feel bad about getting rid of an item, I sometimes find it helpful to acknowledge that an item was useful for a time, but we’re done now.

      One of my big problems is not finishing. I’ll work for a while, but then I get interrupted or I run out of time, and then I never quite get back to the project. Piles live on the floor for ages; shelves remain disorganized; blah!

  10. Washi*

    You all give great wardrobe advice, so I wanted to throw this out there: I am looking for new black ankle boots. I wore my last pair for 10 years but the ankle part is faux fur that has now stretched out, so there’s no point in re-soling them for a 3rd time. They don’t make that boot anymore, so I’m on the hunt for something with similar style and longevity! (Link to a picture of old boots to follow.)

    I’m looking for something with a relatively low heel, black, that looks good with leggings+skirts. I like the slightly vintage-y look of lace-up boots, but I don’t want anything too combat boot-ish, which is mainly what I see when I google. I’d also like to spend less than $200, but for that kind of money, I want to be sure that they last! Any recommendations?

      1. Seeking Second Childhood*

        Google it just like you typed it–I see hits in other sizes on ebay and poshmark.

    1. Washi*

      (The lace up thing is not a requirement. I would love to see all recs for black ankle boots with a low heel that would look good with skirts!)

      1. Curly sue*

        I don’t know if you have a Naturalizer store near you, but I picked up a pair of black ankle boots from them in January that fit your criteria.

      2. cat socks*

        I bought a pair of Rockport boots from Zappos. It’s been a couple of years, but they have a low heel, padded foot bed and are very comfortable. I like the look of Blondo, but they were a bit too narrow for my feet.

        I think the brand Miz Mooz has more interesting styles.

        I go on Zappos or DSW and filter by my criteria to help narrow down the options.

    2. Call me St. Vincent*

      I haven’t tried them but I have been dying for a pair of Thursday boots!

    3. Pippa K*

      Ariat’s lace-up paddock boots are great. They’re for riding, so they’re sturdy and practical, but they’re also really, really comfortable and not terribly expensive (the Heritage paddock boot is about $120). I wear them with non-riding clothes all the time. Even with regular riding and barn wear, they last for years. Best money I spend on boots, no question.

    4. ArtsNerd*

      I struck ankle-boot gold on Nordstrom Rack’s website — it looks like there are a few options there that could really work for you.

    5. Texan In Exile*

      I have gotten some really nice shoes on eBay. If you don’t get grossed out by wearing other peoples’ shoes, then eBay is the way to go. I have gotten Ferragamos and other Italian shoes and boots with very low mileage for under $50.

      Also, I don’t know if it’s possible to shop by country of origin, but we were just in Spain and the shoes there are amazing. They are leather and made in Spain. Super high quality and very low prices compared to the US. (Did I mention made in Spain? As in, not made with Chinese slave labor?)

    6. Atheist Nun*

      I bought black ankle boots (and, off topic, brown ankle boots) with a low heel and side zip closure from Spring Step, and I loved them. They lasted 5 years. I did re-sole them once. I would buy again from this web site.

    7. IAmOnlyHereForThePoetry*

      I have a new pair of Tara M brand boots from the Walking Company that are very comfy and I like a lot. They are currently on sale for 99. I’ll post a link in a comment. If the style isn’t right there are other styles on the site with that brand.

      I also have a pair of Romiko ankle boots that are also very comfy but they are several years old.

  11. Jdc*

    Husband realized he had some use it or lose it vacation time so he took this Friday (only four hours) and the next few off. Nice long weekends. We went to Lowe’s yesterday and bought wood for some flower boxes and veggie boxes. Mainly we will plant stuff the bunnies like in those. I suspect part of this is to not use chicken wire after I required stitches in my toes last year from tripping over it. Yes I have learned my lesson to only wear closed toed shoes in the garden. Husband made my flower boxes already and for the base of the other boxes started. I painted my flower boxes a very taupe pink (kind of pink in the right light) color that looks so good against our grey and white home.

    Ok here’s the horror, well besides it officially being spring break and the kid being home non stop for two straight weeks.

    I went to grab pizza at our normal place last night across the street. There’s this young guy who often works there who we call perma stoned guy. I mean, he barely can form a sentence he sounds so stoned. Pretty sure he’s actually stoned and nothing is actually mentally wrong with him. So I go in and he says it’ll be about 2 mins. Ok. While I wait I watch him take cash from one customer, lick his fingers, take CC from another then go make a pizza with his bare hands. You can guess that no hand washing was involved. I stood there in shock. So I decided not to get the pizza obviously. Husband thinks he is the owner but I’m not sure. Mainly because he seems so young. One could own a business at that age but it wouldn’t be very common. I know it’s a very small place so trying to figure out who owns it and if I can contact them. I looked into contacting the health department but couldn’t find much unless you are already sick but there’s a number I can call today. I’d rather speak to the owner, if i can figure out who it is, or manager, before calling. Husband thinks the kid may be the owner because in years other than the delivery driver he’s the only one we’ve ever seen there. We are very friendly with the delivery guy but not to the point i can contact him of course. I was hoping he’d pull up when I was there but no luck.

    1. Bobina*

      Controversial but if all the touching is pre-cooking, wouldn’t any germs be killed in the oven?

      I am also quite blasé about a lot of food hygiene things so probably not the best person to comment here.

      Either way, finding some kind of food standards place to report them to probably isn’t a bad idea.

      1. Jdc*

        That’s what husband said and I’m not one who obsesses over that stuff usually. It just was too much even for me. I mean, at least pretend to do it sanitary when people are standing there even if you don’t always.

        1. Clisby*

          I’m pretty casual at home, too – but I figure all of us who live this house have already shared our germs around with each other. I’d take extra precautions if I were cooking dinner for other people.

          1. valentine*

            What is your goal in reporting him? Food service workers are going to lick their fingers and touch their faces and anything else you can think of. (Maybe with gloves on!)

            1. Jdc*

              Uh because that’s illegal. People are going to robs banks to but we attempt to stop them.

        2. oranges & lemons*

          Yeah, I would say that if this is the level of hygiene he thinks is acceptable for the public to see, who knows what’s going on behind the scenes. Then again, I’m a minor-league germaphobe.

      2. misspiggy*

        Pizzas cook pretty quickly, I’m not sure the combination of temperature and time would be enough.

      3. A New Normal*

        In this case I’d be more worried about what I’m NOT seeing – if he’s this afoul of basic health codes where people can see him, what else is happening there?

      4. WellRed*

        The problem is, once you see it, you can’t unsee it. I had a bartender dip her finger into the mango puree she was using to make drinks. I’m friendly with the manager so brought it up in a “might need a bit of retraining” sort of way.

      5. KoiFeeder*

        I mean, sure that’s something that people know logically. It’s the emotional bit that’s harder to deal with. I probably would not be able to handle eating a pizza from that place again- my brain would play that scene on a loop forever.

        1. allathian*

          Agreed, and I’m not particularly germphobic. I saw an interesting documentary on things that disgust people. They did an experiment where they asked people to spit into a clean glass, pour some orange juice in that glass and then drink it. Most people just couldn’t, even though it was their own spit in the first place. People are weird and often instinct beats logic.

    2. Not So NewReader*

      Here in NYS they have to use gloves. They should wash their hands before putting the gloves on but that is hard to prove or disprove. Not wearing gloves is pretty easy to prove.

      1. AGD*

        I was once at a bagel place in a train station upstate and watched the employee handle cash, machinery, and THEN both of my bagels in a row. I accepted the bagels but discovered after I got on my train that I really didn’t want to eat them, so they went in the garbage. Should have filed a report.

        1. tangerineRose*

          I was at a sandwich shop, and the person who made my sandwich had been sweeping and then put on gloves without washing hands. I didn’t know what to say. At the end I went home and threw out the sandwich.

        2. Seeking Second Childhood*

          At a long-ago cafeteria the person at the counter would wipe the knife on a towel between cutting bagels and sandwiches. One day I saw brightly colored jelly transfer to the towel at breakfast. At lunch I saw the same jelly stain and got out of line to call for take out. We didn’t have a stomach bug going around the building–it was food poisoning. I didn’t trust myself to stay civil about it so I just stopped eating there.

    3. Jedi Squirrel*

      That is seriously gross, and a violation of health codes.

      Contact the health department. Now. If this is what you can see from your side of the counter, just imagine what’s going on in the kitchen. Do their employees wash their hands after going to the bathroom? Are the coolers cleaned on a regular basis? Is food rotated regularly? Is the kitchen washed down thoroughly every night? Are you willing to find out these things now, or after you spend a weekend in the hospital having your stomach pumped?

      It doesn’t really matter who the owner is. The owner obviously doesn’t care. The owner could be the kid, or the owner could be someone who uses this place to launder money. But it doesn’t matter one whit. If this kid is a stoner and ends up with hepatitis, are you willing to risk this for you and your family?

    4. CastIrony*

      I am so sorry! Once, I ate this mashed potatoes and cheese thing that my boss back then made for me with his bare hands that he licked/sucked food off his fingers from.

      I had mild diarrhea for like four or five days, and I couldn’t go home on the worst day.

  12. Foreign Octopus*

    Book thread!

    What’s everyone reading this week?

    I’m coming to the end of War in Val D’Orcia, by Iris Origo. It’s a war diary kept between 1943-1944 by Iris Origo who was British-American but spent most of her childhood in Italy and married an Italian man. They bought La Foce (has it’s own Wiki page) and set about renovating and restoring it, but war broke out and instead they took in up to thirty refugee children and helped to hide escapees from the German army and helped to supply the Partisans with food, clothing, and shelter. She’s pretty amazing from what I’ve been reading on her but a bit that did make me laugh was when she was detailing the possible invasion of Rome in one entry and the next was, very simply, “Daughter was born”.

    1. GoryDetails*

      Some good reads for me recently, including:

      The Lost Tiki Palaces of Detroit by Michael Zadoorian, a collection of short stories all set in Detroit and revealing different aspects of life there. I found them delightfully varied, and really enjoyed the book.

      A is for American by Jill Lepore is a mix of history and biography, centering on seven people who did significant work with different forms of communication – Noah Webster and the first American dictionary, Sequoyah and the Cherokee alphabet, Gallaudet’s work in introducing the teaching of sign language to the deaf, and more.

      I’m also re-listening to Hilary Mantel’s Bring Up the Bodies, the second “Wolf Hall” book, in preparation for the upcoming release of the third book in the trilogy.

    2. Anon5775*

      Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand by Helen Simonson is a delightful book that I would compare to A man Called Ove by Backman.

    3. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      I just a few minutes ago finished rereading The Outsiders (after the stay gold post earlier), and next up is Peter Gatien’s memoir, “The Club King”.

    4. Nynaeve*

      The Paper Menagerie by Ken Liu (a book of science fiction short stories with Asian characters and themes), Lumberjanes (a comic series about preteen girls at a dinner camp where magical shenanigans happen), and Bottle of Lies by Katherine Eban (about corruption in the generic drug industry).

    5. WellRed*

      IN desperation at the airport yesterday picked up Elin Hildebrand (Winter in paradise). Hard to believe she’s so popular.

    6. cat socks*

      A while back I discovered the Cat in the Stacks mystery series from Miranda James. I’m reading Arsenic and Old Books, which I think is book five or six in the series. It’s one of those “cozy mystery” type books and is an easy read.

      1. allathian*

        Thanks for the rec. I need something easy to read as I’m a bit worn out at the moment and can’t handle any heavy stuff…
        I guess I should re-read some of my favorite “The cat who…” mysteries by Lilian Jackson Braun. They’re fun cozy mysteries.

    7. RussianInTexas*

      The latest book in the Peter Grant series by Ben Aaronovitch (modern magic series, known as Rivers of London).

    8. HamlindigoBlue*

      I just finished The Other Mrs. I didn’t know anything about it before starting it, only that it was recommended on Goodreads. As far as suspense/thrillers go, I liked it. I’m just a little disappointed that I figured out the main twist about 1/3 of the way through.

    9. Foreign Octopus*

      Updated to add, since I finished War in Val D’Orcia this afternoon, that I’m now reading The Seedling Stars, by James Blish.

      1. allathian*

        It’s been ages since I read that one. I have an omnibus edition with Galactic Cluster as the second novel. Both are good but I like The Seedling Stars better. Still a good read after nearly 60 years.

    10. Seeking Second Childhood*

      Honestly, I’m impressed she had energy to put anything down the day she gave birth!
      I read ‘Adrift: 76 Days Lost At Sea’ this week. First-person survival tale by Steven Callahan. Fascinatingly harrowing events, but it could have used an editor making it shorter. It didn’t catch me or my middleschooler. I finished it, but I skimmed a lot and mostly skipped the how-to pages of survival tips. You know how a dream can be vivid and fascinating but not to someone else when you try to relay it? It was kind of like reading someone else’s dream. Nightmare, rather.

    11. MsChanandlerBong*

      “The Good Liar.” I’m 30% through and think I’ve figured out the “big twist,” but we’ll see.

    12. Skeeder Jones*

      I used to read all the time and several years ago I suffered from a head injury that made reading hard, and then I got out of the habit. The brain healed but the habits had changed. Recently, I decided I missed reading, just totally being so caught up in a story that time stopped and I decided to make time for it. I now take a lunch break (my normal habits are to just eat at my desk) and read and made the habit of going tech free one night a week to get back to reading and it has been great! Right now, I’m working my way through the Cemetery of Forgotten Book series by Carlos Ruiz Zafon. I finished The Shadow of the Wind, The Prisoner of Heaven and The Angel’s Game. Working on the 4th and final book. I highly recommend!

      1. Upstater-ish*

        I all but stopped reading a few years ago because of the allure of my phone. I got a Kindle for Christmas that does nothing but let you read and I have read 7 books this year already. I am really enjoying it.

    13. Lemonwhirl*

      I recently finished “The Dreamers” by Karen Thompson Walker, which was one of Alison’s recommended books last year. I find it oddly comforting right now to read pandemic storylines.

      Today, I’m reading “The Ghost Factory”by Jenny McCartney. It’s set in a Loyalist neighbourhood in Belfast in the mid-90s, just as the ceasefire was happening. The main character is a young man whose developmentally-delayed friend is a subject of a punishment beating for stealing a packet of biscuits from the wrong guy’s shop. I’m 100 pages in and it’s very good.

  13. Lupin Lady*

    Public Safety Announcement:
    Putting a toothbrush in a toilet bowl can become a criminal charge (in Canada) of mischief under $5,000.
    Please don’t roast me for being that petty, I lost my head when I realized who it was that he had been cheating on me with. I think the real pettiness is getting your ex arrested over a toothbrush.

    1. Not So NewReader*

      Not familiar with Canada law, but I am wondering about the thinking behind the law such as it demonstrates deliberate malice. I remember when spitting at someone was first thought of as assault- the intent behind here, “Here let me infect you with Whatever Disease.”

      1. Lupin Lady*

        I think the primary thinking is that it’s property damage. And he knew I had done it, so “here’s a disease” doesn’t factor. Though it’s a very valid point that I hadn’t even thought of. Remember- lost my head.

        1. valentine*

          Though you were wrong and have confessed here, fight the charge all the way.

          (Hopefully, he won’t think to look here and make this part of the case.)

    2. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      So … you put your ex’s toothbrush in the toilet bowl and they called the cops on you, or the other way around?

      Either way, putting the toothbrush in is petty and gross but calling the cops over it is even more petty and also silly. Good heavens.

      1. WellRed*

        Right? What a waste of public resources. Lupin Lady, next time hit the gym or call a friend. Or come here and vent to us.

    3. fposte*

      It sounds like you guys are better apart at this point. I’m also a little concerned about “I lost my head”–if you find your anger means you can’t control what you do, I’d definitely consider seeking counseling for that.

    4. Speedy*

      Wait, how did he find out you put his toothbrush in the toilet and how did he prove it to the police?!

      1. Not So NewReader*

        This is the type of thing you either leave the brush in the toilet OR you tell the person AFTER they have used the brush. The satisfaction comes in to play once the toothbrush owner knows.
        It’s a violation in trust, also. I heard of a couple where he threw out her prescription, knowing she had very little money to get a new one. Certain things should be safe around one’s SO like toothbrushes, scripts, credit cards, pets and so on.

        1. Speedy*

          This is the type of thing you either leave the brush in the toilet OR you tell the person AFTER they have used the brush. The satisfaction comes in to play once the toothbrush owner knows.

          That makes sense. Thank you for explaining!

        2. Elizabeth West*

          It’s unlikely, but if I were going to do this to someone, I wouldn’t say a damn word.

          1. Marion Ravenwood*

            Me neither. For me the satisfaction would be *me* knowing and them being completely oblivious.

            (Not that I have ever put someone’s toothbrush in the toilet bowl I hasten to add!)

    5. Snarflepants*

      Huh.
      Y’all should probably separate as there appears to be no salvaging this situation. Look, you chose to inflict petty wrongness on another human. And your spouse apparently does not respect you due to cheating. And calling the police due to a contaminated toothbrush? Nobody is acting like a good and ethical human here.

    6. Clementine*

      I think it’s fortunate you aren’t being charged with something more serious. This could seriously make someone ill. If he did get an E Coli infection or similar and ended up being harmed or dead, what would you consider an appropriate punishment?

  14. NorseMermaid*

    Hey guys! I’ve been lurking for ages but only commenting now :) I love this blog so much :) I’m curious though, do you find that the situations you read about here skews your perceptions about what’s ok in the workplace?
    As in, ok the boss is being a jerk but at least he’s not peeing in a cup and dumping it on my plate while I’m washing up?

    1. Bibliovore*

      Before anyone jumps on you. this might be considered a “work ” topic. Weekends are reserved for home life stuff no work, no school issues. That said. How about flipping it to home topic question.
      Is there anything from your non-work life that skews your perceptions to what is okay behavior.
      I’ll start.
      I did not know that throwing things was wrong. I knew I didn’t like it. I knew that it scared me but I just thought adults did that. Let’s say an adult who is angry during dinner throwing a serving size bowl of spaghetti with meat sauce across the room smashing it on the kitchen wall. This is not acceptable behavior. Took me a few years to understand that.

      1. NorseMermaid*

        Oops! I didn’t think of that, in mind it was more a blog/perception problem but I see what you mean! Thanks for pointing it out :-)

    2. The Cosmic Avenger*

      Nah, reading this blog and watching (non-work) reality shows make me appreciate how drama-free my life is now. It’s easy to take it for granted sometimes. And for those who have that kind of drama, I think it’s good to be able to observe it (and I should hope also how to deal with it) without being on the spot and anxious.

      1. NorseMermaid*

        True! And it gives you a gut check too, if you’re wondering if something is normal or not :-)

    3. Nynaeve*

      Interesting question! I find that the blog and commenters give me a broader view of the human experience, from a work and non-work perspective. Sometimes, it does make me grateful for more ordinary, less outrageous problems (spineless boss, passive aggressive comments, can never schedule time with friends), but sometimes it makes me frustrated to realize that some problems are so commonplace (sexism, racism, abuse, getting ghosted by jobs you apply to, snide comments about food/weight). So it’s a good gut check and a good reminder to be aware of these problems and try to help where I can. The sample scripts are useful for that, as is hearing in real time how various people would respond to those scenarios and scripts.

    4. AGD*

      Haha! I read this blog because I’m a longtime academic and otherwise would hardly have the slightest sense of how workplaces operate beyond the ivory tower. If anything, there is an odd, vague, completely unearned sense of superiority (collectively bashing the corporate world for being supposedly dysfunctional under any circumstances, etc.) based on stereotypical/imaginary/outdated depictions, so the blog is reassuring. I need to be able to do better than that. I often have to advise students about job searching, which I have minimal experience with. This site has helped me considerably.

    5. I'm a Rabbit*

      I do worry about that with all areas of life (work and home).
      I have found myself thinking exactly what you said: well at least the terrible/toxic problems I have are not like a shove in the hallway, pee in a cup, or falsely accused of x level toxic.
      On the whole though, I think the “here is what is normal” sense of things here and the warnings about the way a toxic space can re-calibrate your sense of normal have helped me feel and be more balanced in all areas of my life.

      I find I am in a clearer space in my own head and am happier in all interpersonal relationships as a result of existing in this space.

    6. Blueberry*

      /i actually find that realizing how common bad behavior is makes me more likely to stand up to it. It’s not just my misfortune, it’s part of actual patterns of misbehavior, and I can be part of pushing back.

    7. The Other Dawn*

      Reading this blog has made me realize that what I thought was good management practices at a previous job are actually NOT the right way to do things. I mean, these practices didn’t *seem* bad at the time and they were definitely not as extreme as what I read here, but I now know how certain things should have been done.

  15. Chronic pain thread*

    Its supposed to be a fabulous day here. I did more than I was able yesterday plus the change in atmospheric pressure plus a sprained hip from a recent fall equals waking up in pain. I have a long-planned family get together this evening therefore saving today’s spoons of energy for that. Took my meds, fed the dog. Now feeling a bit down about today’s plans.
    Trying to remember, it could be worse. It has been worse. And I can enjoy the day on my porch reading and snuggling with the healing white dog.

    1. Dr. Anonymous*

      So sorry for the pain of the day. Just diagnosed with a chronic illness myself. I hope you can bless your plans for another day and enjoy your porch and dog day and accumulate some spoons for the evening.

  16. blackcat*

    Yesterday there was COVID-19 impacts on work discussion, but how are people faring personally?

    Right now, I’m in an argument with my immune-compromised 70 year mother that she shouldn’t plan on flying across the country to visit me in a few weeks. Her argument is there is already community spread where she is (SF Bay Area), so she’s at no additional risk due to travel. My argument is that if she *does* need medical care, it’s much better for her to get that at home rather than here. She counters with there are excellent hospitals near me (true), and I could take off work to take care of her (Um. No. I have a job.).

    1. misspiggy*

      In a way, the challenge would still be there for your mother if COVID-19 wasn’t a thing. Travel is likely to increase the risk of illness for immunocompromised people, both due to the strain of travelling and exposure to new people’s germs. Does she travel frequently? What strategies have you agreed in the past with her if she gets sick while visiting you? Does she have the money to cover her own care?

      1. blackcat*

        She doesn’t travel that frequently, generally 2-3x per year. The last time she got sick while visiting me it was a HUGE fight to get her to see a doctor here. Like I got her in my car and told her I was either driving her to the airport to send her home or to urgent care. Her choice, but she wasn’t allowed to see my kid until she got medical care.

        Money isn’t exactly a concern except I can’t take unlimited time off (mostly in a “I have work I need to do” sense).

    2. ThatGirl*

      My husband is very anxious that the con he’s going to in July will be cancelled, and/or that Disney will close – we’re going in October. I think that’s unlikely and I don’t want to have the same conversation 4x a week. I’m also very annoyed at people panic-buying cases of water and toilet paper. Stop that.

      1. Clisby*

        I can’t figure out the bottled water thing. I stock up on it for hurricane season every year, but hurricanes bring the threat of interrupting your water supply. If I got coronavirus and had to isolate myself at home, presumably I could still get water from my faucets.

        1. Rebecca*

          That puzzles me too, but I live in a rural area, and if worse comes to worse, I can go to the stream nearby and get water to flush the toilet, and there are other streams and springs that are safe to drink, so I don’t worry about water. And I have a Life Straw. I don’t get it, unless they think for some reason the water system will fail? Or no electricity – I have a well, so I get that, but … dunno… very puzzling.

        2. blackcat*

          Yeah, I’m baffled by this, too. Maybe those people drink bottled water all the time anyways?

          1. Sleepy*

            lol. This is the only good explanation.

            My coworker’s husband bought a gun because of Covid19. That’s the most out-there reaction I’ve heard. He does not live in an area where he can hunt or do other activities that would need a gun.

            1. Tris Prior*

              An acquaintance told me that I wasn’t prepared for the pandemic because I don’t own a gun and will never own a gun. I found this very confusing, other than, he thinks I’ll need to shoot people who are after my stock of canned goods and cat food?

        3. ThatGirl*

          Yeah, there’s no reason to believe water systems will fail or anything! Even in Wuhan food and supply delivery was still available. For hurricanes it makes sense, not for this. I have some extra stuff in the pantry and freezer just in case but there is no reason to panic.

        4. Ranon*

          Honestly, I figure those folks need to do some basic prep on the other types of natural disasters side anyways and so if now they actually have bottled water stored when they didn’t before, great! We had a week of boiled water notice due to upstream flooding last year, it doesn’t take a huge thing to disrupt the water supply so better for everyone if folks are more prepared now than they were.

        5. I'm A Little Teapot*

          It’s panic, and people aren’t thinking clearly. Thus the often irrational stockups of bottled water and toilet paper.

          It is going to be hilarious though whenever the panic dies down, and all these people look at the sheer amount of stuff they’ve got.

          1. bunniferous*

            I got a (little) extra toilet paper only because I KNOW that if people start panicking it may disappear quickly. And frankly because of hurricanes, etc it is not a bad idea to stock a few items just on principle. But I think the idea with tp is that if everyone winds up quarantined and cannot get to a store that is one item you kinda need to have.

            1. Roja*

              Yeah, I mean, we had something like half a pack left so I went ahead and bought another 12-pack a bit early. It seemed logical. I figured, if worst came to worst and we’re quarantined for two weeks, that’s plenty. I can’t imagine filling an entire cart with TP and storing it all. Like, for what??

            2. Elizabeth West*

              I was going to get one extra 12-pack in case we have to stay inside. My mum is immunocompromised and I really don’t want to bring anything home to her.

              I really wish I could get a job SOON. I want to move out of here so badly, and the damn virus makes it more urgent. If I were to catch it, I could hole up in my own place and not worry about her getting it.

      2. Raleigh Native*

        I’m supposed to go to a big con in Boston (800 miles away) in less than 2 weeks. It’s still on but I can’t decide if I want to risk it. A lot of my favorite actors are still coming as of right now.

        1. Observer*

          Honestly, unless you could afford to take off or could work from home if you needed to, I would not risk it. These conferences are the “best” spreaders of stuff like this.

          Assuming that you are not at particularly high risk and that you (and anyone in your household) could quarantine, it’s not that big of a risk. But otherwise, you’re asking for trouble, even if you don’t get sick.

          The other thing is that the city or state could shut this down. SXSW, for instance, was adamant that they were NOT shutting down. The city (Austin) did it for them.

          1. Raleigh Native*

            I didn’t know that about SXSW. We decided today not to go. We’re disappointed but it was the right decision.

      3. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        The US Disney parks are unlikely to close. Florida has closed a handful of times, all for hurricanes or 9/11. I believe all of California’s closures have been due to earthquakes. I’m going to WDW in two weeks and, not gonna lie, I’m hoping a lot of other people panic and decide to stay home so I can have less line. :-P

        1. ThatGirl*

          Yeah, but the East Asian parks closed, so it gets him going. I am not trying to make light of his very real clinical anxiety, but some days I just need him to deal with it and not have the same conversation again.

          1. I'm A Little Teapot*

            Honestly, while you can sympathize with the clinical anxiety, you are also not required to tolerate it fully. Tell him that he needs to pull out all his coping methods, and he needs to call his therapist (I hope he has one) and he needs to stop inflicting it on you all the time. Yes, it’s an illness. It’s on him to treat it appropriately and right now, he’s not.

            And turn off the news. I’m apparently missing a LOT of the panic stuff, because I simply haven’t had the news on for a month or more. But not watching the news who I hear are being very panicky about the virus will help at least not escalate his anxiety.

            1. ThatGirl*

              He does have a therapist, and meds, it’s really not a big problem most of the time… until something like this pops up. He’s mostly avoiding the news and twitter. Social media was a big feeder of anxiety even before the virus.

          2. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

            Yech. I started to logic and deleted it because YOU already know he and his brain weasels aren’t being logical, but — yeah. My husband is mostly pretty good at keeping his anxiety to himself, knock wood. Good luck :-/

        2. A New Normal*

          Disneyland also closed for 9/11 … which just proves that it takes something extraordinarily large to close the stateside parks. Have a fantastic time and if you do have short lines, know that I’m both very happy for you and extremely jealous. We only go during ‘low’ crowd times and increasingly those ‘low’ crowds have been anything but.

          1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

            Right! Yep, I don’t know how well it’ll work out, but I go several times a year, and we have friends going with us this time so worst case, we have plenty of hanging out time in lines. (And I have books. :-P )

      4. Parenthetically*

        The panic-buying of TP is hilarious. Apparently there are places where the TP is wiped out but the Clorox wipes and hand soap stocks are FINE. Absurd.

        1. Clisby*

          I’ve seen several photos posted of Costcos with bare shelves where TP should be. On the same day I’ve been in my usual grocery store, with plenty of TP. Is Costco the indicator of whether something is in short supply?

          1. spock*

            Honestly it’s probably just down to timing. All the wiped-out shelves at my local store (e.g. clorox) do get restocked, so it just depends on how long since the last restock it’s been.

    3. Lalage*

      Boyfriend, family and friends live in northern Italy. I live in the UK. I and boyfriend travel each every 6 weeks to meet. He should have been here this weekend, but we agreed it was not a good idea. My next trip is in the end of march – who knows if I will be able to travel. I am thinking I will accept a 14 lock down at home if the situation is similar to now, but I doubt it will be… Who could have predicted this when I moved here!

      1. Lalage*

        News Just in, the entire region is on lock down probably for weeks – I have got my answer pretty early on, no trips for quite a while. I feel pretty down. Still crossing fingers none I know there will get it badly.

        1. Clementine*

          I feel for you! I am already so annoyed at having my tourist plans disrupted, even though I intellectually know this is a pretty selfish, self-centered concern. It would be so much worse to have a loved one “in the zone” and not be able to see him.

        2. General von Klinkerhoffen*

          The lockdown is kind of dumb though because they gave people 24 hours’ notice, so a bunch of people just evacuated ahead of time. I mean, I get it, but …

          1. Diahann Carroll*

            Those people will be quarantined upon arrival if they took public transport (i.e., trains) to another region.

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

        I have relatives in the North, between Milan and the border with Switzerland. They don’t know if they’re going to be isolated or not, and there’s food and hygiene products shortages in their area.

        1. Lalage*

          Well, the hope is that this is it, last people out. Also, they are checking the trains as they get to the south of Italy. The news was leaked apparently. This is so unprecedented that I don’t think it has a chance to go smoothly anyway.

          1. Lalage*

            Replied to the wrong comment… Anyway yes, anyone between Milan and the Swiss border is definitely in lock down.

            1. General von Klinkerhoffen*

              I’ve driven across that border. It’s very well controlled every day, and I’ve no doubt they will be even stricter now!

    4. Randomity*

      Someone in my office is officially diagnosed. When I heard there was a confirmed case on my city i was all “nbd the odds of my knowing them are really small still”. But I know them and I’m really scared for them. (The rest of the office not so much, they’ve been working from home and haven’t been into the office).

      I know odds are they’ll be fine, but still. I’m scared for them :(

      Also scared for all my immunocompromised friends.. Scary times.

    5. university minion*

      I’m not worried about myself at all. My age and health status puts me in the, “You’ll get a bad cold” group. I’m tremendously lucky in that I have the means to take time off if needed and stay at home (alone and away from others), and that the idea of staying home for two weeks really doesn’t bother me the way it might someone more socially oriented.
      So… I follow all the guidance as it comes out and go with the flow. If the CDC or local health department says “Do XYZ to prevent community spread”, I will do it, not because I’m particularly worried about getting sick, but to not be part of spreading something to those who might not be as fortunate.

      1. Observer*

        If the CDC or local health department says “Do XYZ to prevent community spread”, I will do it, not because I’m particularly worried about getting sick, but to not be part of spreading something to those who might not be as fortunate.

        This is a really important thing. It makes me so crazy how many people just won’t take it seriously because “only older people” or “only” whatever group are really at risk, etc. So? Do people in those groups not deserve to have their basic safety respected?

      2. allathian*

        I’m not worried for myself, but my mom is immunocompromised from cancer treatment (she finished chemo last month but is still recovering from it) and my FIL has something seriously wrong with his kidneys and my MIL has asthma and diabetes. They’re all in their seventies and get their flu shots every year as soon as they become available, but there’s no shot for COVID. To say I’m anxious for them is putting it mildly.

    6. Bibliovore*

      I am in the high-risk pool. That bad cold could kill me and in the past the flu has taken me down for weeks. I canceled all travel through April. I have a big event two years in the making in May that is two flights away. So in three weeks I have a speaking engagement at a huge conference in my city. A special event in 6 weeks with over 300 people expected. My hands are cracked and sore from the constant washing. I work public facing. I have my meds. Taking the basic precautions but also trying to live my life.

      1. Blueberry*

        Try putting on a little bit of vaseline each time you’ve washed your hands, on your wet hands, and rub it in well. (a tube is very useful for this.) That should help hold in hydration in your skin better than lotions do, and shouldn’t sting.

    7. Meepmeep*

      We were planning to visit my elderly parents in March and to go to another elderly relative’s birthday celebration in April. We canceled all of this. I’m not scared that any of us will get sick – we are taking normal precautions, and we are reasonably healthy, so this illness won’t be a catastrophe for us – but I don’t want to take any chances with the health of frail old people.

      1. blackcat*

        Right. I’m also rethinking a trip to visit my grandmother. She’s quite old (93), and while she wants to see her great grand kid, my kid is in a “let me lick everything around me” phase. I’m not worried for his health (no toddler deaths so far!), but he could be a highly effective disease vector.

    8. KoiFeeder*

      Terrified! :)

      I’m immunocompromised with asthma. If I die, I’m haunting every person who said “oh, there’s no need to worry about COVID-19 because most of the death are in high-risk groups.”

      1. Bibliovore*

        exactly. If one more person implies that I am over-reacting because “lighten up, its just a bad cold” I might not have the self-control to lecture smug healthy people that they are putting other people at risk.

        1. KoiFeeder*

          I’ve had people suggest that I just don’t take my medication until things get better (I’m immunocompromised because of my meds) but that would… actually probably kill me more painfully and less reversibly. Like, septic shock kill me. I’ve had to really try to not strangle some people.

          1. Relentlessly Socratic*

            I just came off a pred taper, and looked at the “This medicine may lower your ability to fight off infections” warning. Well, that pred taper was for my shitty lungs. Guess I’m staying indoors with my cat for a while.

        2. allathian*

          Honestly, I have no patience with such people, none. Especially as there’s no definite data yet on if you can transmit the virus without showing symptoms yourself.

    9. Aly_b*

      I’m in Seattle, which is pretty exciting right now. I have asthma and when I got H1N1 I did need oxygen at one point. I just have zero trust that the healthcare system here can handle any of it and that I’ll have access to care if I need it. I’m telecommuting and think I might need to set up a home gym despite an upcoming international move, I expect this to go on for quite a while. Also have a speaking engagement involving travel in April… I’ll wait and see if that actually happens. I hope not.

      1. Cassandra*

        I live in Kirkland : /

        I only trust what I hear from King County Public Health and the WHO. I do not trust the federal government’s response on this in any way. This is going to last for months and it is going to get exponentially worse in the next 3 weeks. The hospitals are going to be overwhelmed and they are already short-staffed. This is BAD.

        Any AAM readers who live in areas that are currently Corona-free, go buy bleach, bleach wipes, hand sanitizer, soap, paper towels, gloves, and fever reducers NOW. Once the news announces there is one diagnosis in your area it will all be sold out within hours. Trust me.

        1. Ask me how I know*

          yep, no alcohol, sanitizer, antibacterial wipes in the downtown Minneapolis area.

        2. Pumpa Rumpa*

          I live in Issaquah.

          I’m in the high risk group due to diabetes, but I’ve never had any serious health complications because of it. I’m supposed to travel to a wedding in 2 weeks and am a little nervous. I’d like to cancel my ticket, but the airline isn’t waiving cancellation fees from the time period I purchased it. My 92 year old grandmother is also going and I’m somewhat incredulous that my family hasn’t put a stop to that.

          My work issued a very tepid email essentially putting the onus on employees to decide whether or not they want to work from home. My manager told me to do whatever I wanted, but I’ve only been in my position for 2 weeks.

          Other than washing my hands more frequently, I haven’t changed too much about my day to day.

        3. Clisby*

          Eh, not here. Granted we have only one case in Charleston, SC, but I was just at the store and there was plenty of ibuprofen/acetamenophin, clorox, clorox wipes, paper towels, toilet paper, bottled water, hand sanitizer, etc. (It looked to me like the Purell brand of hand sanitizer was sold out, but there were others)

          1. Clisby*

            Also, last night we went to our favorite Japanese restaurant – we got there about 5, and when we were leaving an hour later, there were already people waiting for tables, so apparently no widespread panic about “Asian” restaurants.

            1. Seeking Second Childhood*

              Friday I chatted with the manager of our local Chinese restaurant about the quiet, and he said they get that every Friday during Lent. “We sell a lot of meat.”
              Which is so different ftom us– their fried fish dishes are a Lent standard for us.

      2. Observer*

        Do your best to set up your home office to be able to present remotely.

        Google has said that they are converting all of the conferences they’ve cancelled into virtual events. Even if your event doesn’t get cancelled, you might be able to do this if you explain to the organizers why it’s too high of a risk for you.

    10. coffee cup*

      Apart from having a cold, I’m fine. I have very mild and barely noticeable asthma (so I get a flu vaccine every year but I never use my inhaler any more) and I’m otherwise healthy and fairly fit, so I’m not especially worried about myself. I am more concerned for my mother, who is in her 70s, and my sister, who has Down’s syndrome. As long as they’re both OK, I’m good. In general I’m not really worrying and assuming if I behave sensibly that’s all I can do. I always wash my hands and am hygienic anyway.

      It is a little concerning that everyone is panic buying soap now, though! What do they do normally?! I know for a fact one colleague barely washes her hands properly (I hear her when I’m in the bathroom too), and that’s the kind of thing that worries me more. I can’t control other people, and just have to hope they too will act responsibly.

      1. Clisby*

        I don’t know with the soap, either. Maybe this is one of those “other people are buying up the soap, so I’d better get some to have on hand?” I rarely have more than 2-3 unused bars of soap in my house, because if I start to run low, I just go out and buy some more. I bought an extra 4-pack today, just in case really panicky people start vacuuming up all the cleaning supplies.

    11. Nicki Name*

      Since my health issues got addressed, colds have hardly bothered me. But I’m really worried about becoming one of those asymptomatic people who spreads it without realizing. All I can do is just try to stay away from hospitals, retirement communities, etc.

    12. I'm a Rabbit*

      As I age, it is very hard to picture myself as in a high risk group because of my age. It is hard to wrap my head around but it is coming. Also my son has asthma and is not taking this as seriously as I would like but I think he is generally sensible so I think I am just “mom worried” not really worried.

    13. Tau*

      Honestly, I’m in this weird ??? how worried should I be right now ??? state. I was planning to visit my parents next week (one early sixties with no health conditions, one late sixties with controlled high blood pressure, both very very active and generally healthy), and I think I may make the decision to go or not to go at short notice. We have cases… my country, in fact, apparently has the most cases after China/South Korea/Italy/Iran (probably because do you have *any idea* how many Germans head to northern Italy on ski trips and the like)… and some of those are in my area, but no community spread yet (…we think) and they still seem to be trying to break the chain of infection. Right now it seems like the number could keep slowly creeping up, or it could suddenly explode, and it makes it hard to know how to feel.

      I also have, like, the world’s mildest case of asthma in which I can go years without noticing anything amiss and then occasionally get an annoying cough for a while. I’ve generally been assuming that because it’s so mild it’s not much of a risk factor and I’m in the “for you this will be a bad cold” group, but it niggles at the back of my mind.

    14. Hazy days*

      I’m thinking of travelling to (Southern) Italy for family reasons. The issue is that when I come back to the UK, if I have a cough (which is obviously pretty likely at this time of year) I’ll have to self-isolate which will be a nuisance and a bit selfish, work-wise. On the other hand, I’m concerned about the family issues.

      Hmm.

    15. SophieChotek*

      Thanks for starting this thread; I wondered the same thing.

      I got back from a vacation from Italy/France. I was staying on the border of France/Italy – it was actually closer for me to fly into Nice (France) than into Italy. My friend in Italy picked me up and we drove to her place just over the border.

      Anyway, I was on the French and Italian Riveria and we both were up for several hours reading websites/watching the news when the outbreak news was announced (I think on Friday 2/21 or so). My friend feels like Italy had a very good testing situation in place (unlike other European countries) and now is getting a bit of unfair rap for the spread. Anyway…

      I returned to the US and even though at that time (when I returned) I had not been to any of the 11 quarantined cities or Milan or Venice, my parents (they picked me up at the airport) told me that as a result some of their friends have started “avoiding” them! My mom does private tutoring and one of her students’ parents told her not to come back for 28 days! And a friend from church is also avoiding them for 14 days…

      I’ve decided out of an abundance of caution to self-isolate myself just to be safe; so far feeling just fine!

    16. Nita*

      Not doing good. My state has declared a state of emergency, and they’re low on tests so they have no clue how bad it really is. My father is in bad health and thisclose to elderly – but my mother has no plans to give up their theater tickets for the next several weeks. My husband had respiratory issues all his life, and just chewed me out for trying to cancel a social thing this weekend in the neighborhood with documented community transmission. I won this argument, but I can see he has no plans to even try limiting his exposure. I just get to sit on the sidelines waiting for the other shoe to drop, all while getting called things like “nervous wreck” and “Chicken Little”.

    17. Josephine Beth NotAmy*

      Cases seems to be ramping up in my state, and I’m increasingly worried. My youngest is severely immunocompromised, older children work in hospital and school settings, stepmom is fighting cancer, and my work takes me across the whole state into homes and care centers.
      We’re prepared enough for 2-3 weeks at home if necessary, but my youngest is really upset at potentially being out of school for that long while also worried about the ramifications if she does get sick.
      I’m also increasingly annoyed by the “only the sick and elderly”, as if those populations are somehow more expendable than anyone else. A lot of people I care about fall into those categories, as is true for many people!

      1. Tau*

        I’m also increasingly annoyed by the “only the sick and elderly”, as if those populations are somehow more expendable than anyone else. A lot of people I care about fall into those categories, as is true for many people!

        I know! Do these people have any idea how they sound?!

        I’m also getting increasingly sick of “just like the flu”. Here’s a thought, the flu kills plenty of people too! Maybe we should be taking that more seriously? Obviously widespread panic is bad, but things like “hi, please wash your hands regularly, let’s all agree nobody needs to shake hands, and also if you have symptoms please please WFH if you possibly can” are all things we could be doing all the time and especially during flu season.

        1. KoiFeeder*

          Whether or not they know how they sound, they absolutely do not care. The most acknowledgement I’ve gotten for calling people out on that is a “sucks for you” from one person.

    18. Bluebell*

      As someone with asthma and cardiac issues living in an area that’s had a few cases, I’m so glad that I did a lot of traveling over the past 12 months. There’s a family graduation in May but we are holding off on buying tickets. My mom is in FL but I visited her twice this past year, and luckily she’s holding steady health-wise. I’ve decided not to take public transit for the next few months, and fortunately I’m not working now. My cardiologist wants me to change medication, and I’m trying to pin her down on how strongly she feels about it, because if I had a bad reaction I could end up in the hospital.

      1. spock*

        For the graduation, some traditional airlines are relaxing or waiving change fees right now, so it might not be a bad idea to buy tickets anyway even if you end up not going. Or there’s always Southwest.

    19. Seeking Second Childhood*

      I use very little bleach but I had to sterilize beekeeping equipment and emptied my jug. Unfortunately I discovered that after I’d submerged all the wood. So now I’ve made it worse, with no replacement in sight.
      I’m imagining going to the neighbors: please ma’am may I borrow a cup of bleach?

    20. OyHiOh*

      A friend chose not to come to an open mic I was at last night, because of CDC recommendations that people of a certain age just stay home/avoid crowds as much as possible. We all like my friend very much and don’t want them to get sick! Absolutely understood their decision.

      My kids are supposed to fly to the midwest in about two weeks. While they are strong and healthy, they are elementary school age kids with questionable hygiene when not directly supervised and I’m wary of sending them to grandparents, more for the potential impact on grandparents then on the children themselves. I’ve already delayed the trip once but thinking it might be wise to hold off again.

    21. AcademiaNut*

      If she gets Covid-19 while visiting you, you’ll probably be off on home quarantine anyways. Most of the local (ie not from China) infections we’ve had here are in family groupings, or involving caretakers. So you’d be losing at least two weeks work even if she’s in the hospital.

      In general, I would expect large meetings that bring in guests from a wide area to be cancelled in the coming months. So if you’ve got a con or conference or a concert in the works, plan for cancellation. And yeah, mixing a large bunch of people from all over the country (or world) in a tightly packed environment really is a great way to spread diseases in a wide and hard to contain way.

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

      I’m sick (get it?) with how people here have reacted. Half the population is paranoid and the other half is joking about it, and don’t like either. On one hand, we have a small amount of cases, but media choose to focus on that, neglecting our local endemic outbreaks. I wish people talk about dengue like that, considering it’s more prevalent and easier to get at this time of the year. My father is under sedatives to ease his anxiety, Facebook is full of racist and classist hate (such as “I don’t want to pay with my taxes the treatment for a bunch of sick rich gits”), the media of any political spectrum doesn’t talk about anything else, and I have family in Italy who don’t know if they’re going to be quarantined.

    23. General von Klinkerhoffen*

      Mixed.

      I’m not in a particular risk group BUT I am vulnerable to chest infections, and when I get a chest infection I have to reduce my beta blockers from a high dose to medium at most. Given that my anxiety is already high, this is worrying news. We also have a few family members in the “60+ with preexisting health conditions” group who can’t really afford to catch it.

      On the positive side of the scale, my children have worked out how to wash their hands properly. My towels bear witness, as does the level in the hand soap dispenser :-)

      It’s also been observed in HK and mainland China that rates of flu cases (and deaths) are lower than usual, so hopefully that will apply worldwide and maybe this year will have a lasting effect on flu prevalence too.

      1. OyHiOh*

        Yup! I discovered this weekend that, while my children’s (US) school is constantly reminding the students to wash hands, only my oldest (5th grade) was actually taught *how* to thoroughly and completely wash hands, including under nails and cuticles. The other two had gotten as far as fronts and back of hands but not between fingers, wrists, and nails. So! Interesting gaps! For the record, I’ve always taught them, and modeled ServSafe-style washing of hands at home but you know how kids are – what a teacher says tends to stick around more than what silly old mom says at home.

    24. Mazzy*

      I had an argument with by BFF about it yesterday and feel bad but there isn’t a point in making up yet. Where I am the hysteria is much worse than the disease; the few people who had it travelled to Italy or impacted areas. The stress of constant fear mongering will actually get me to the point where I will get sick. It seems travel is the worst thing for it, presumably because you can’t control who you’re coming in contact with. My job is making us take “precautions,” but they’re vague I don’t even know how to pass them on to subordinates. And I have people who need specific instructions. I feel like my friend’s and job’s reactions to this have been based in hysteria and not even rational fear. At least with fear, we could make a rational action plan.

      1. Observer*

        I think some good specific instructions (Based on the CDC and WHO) are:

        Hand washing
        Wipe down your phone / keyboard / any surface you are touching a lot
        If you are coughing wear a mask. Otherwise, do NOT wear one.
        Avoid touching your face
        Stay away from large gatherings, especially ones with lots of people from lots of places.

    25. Marion Ravenwood*

      Right now I’m worried about a music festival I’m meant to be going to this weekend. One band has already pulled out, but otherwise to all intents and purposes it’s still happening. The thing that’s making me anxious is they haven’t released the times for the outside stages yet, which normally they’d do two or three weeks in advance. It’s a big deal for me work-wise for my second job, so if it gets cancelled then it’s a massive hit to the site and my extra revenue stream (as well as the writing career I hope to establish, as this was meant to be a big year for that).

      I’m not panic buying or anything like that though. I think that’s overreacting at this point.

      1. Marion Ravenwood*

        I’m also worried about people like my 93-year-old gran, and my boyfriend’s niece who has underlying health issues. I’m not so bothered about myself getting ill, but I’m being vigilant about hygiene because I don’t want to risk spreading it to other people who are immuno-compromised somehow.

  17. Volunteer Vilette*

    I went to a friend’s volunteer event. It centers on assisting women of color (job training, mentoring) so they can succeed in the world. I noticed it had been around a decade, but…
    -The newsletter was 3 years outdated
    -They assumes persons of color were disadvantaged (themselves being a person of color). I came from an upper middle class background. But they assumed I came from a poor background.
    -They were hesitant to shake hands with me because of coronavirus (but they legitimately didn’t know how it’s spread…and I’ve never been to Asia).
    -They give 20% of all the people most of the volunteer work and expect others to contribute by hosting home dinner parties to tell others (but they say they already have money). So what do they get out of dinner parties? It feels so detached from the mentoring.

    I do love the cause, but there are so many “pyramid” “Tupperware party” red flags here..

    1. Jedi Squirrel*

      How useful is the actual training? If they assume all POC come from an impoverished background, is the mentoring and training in any way connected to reality?

      I had to think about this response for a bit, because my first reaction was to get out right away. But it’s possible they’re sincere, but terribly misguided and making a lot of assumptions.

      1. Volunteer Vilette*

        Training seems useful and they get mentees via word-of-mouth—mentees who are 1st in their family to get X or Y job, who have no idea how to navigate the working world because their parents never completed high school

    2. matcha123*

      I come from a poor background, so I would have been interested to hear about the parts that touched on that. But, I notice a lot of people assume poor is another way to say “uneducated” and when you are assumed to be uneducated, people really talk down to you. Could you write a little more about the assumption that participants were disadvantaged and why it didn’t sit well with you?
      As for coronavirus, there’s community spread within the US, so not shaking hands seems like a good solution. I prefer not to shake hands even when a new virus is not making the rounds.

      1. Volunteer Vilette*

        Disadvantaged: the women there spoke of how their family was against education or they came from poor families where they struggled to go to school. Then they said how women of color are underrepresented in post secondary masters/professional degrees.

        I know those stats don’t apply to me. I’m of Asian descent and there are tons of Asians in those areas. I was squirming in my seat feeling like an imposter who did not belong in this discussion. There’s nothing I could contribute to the discussion.

        1. Fikly*

          That’s not how statistics work. If a statistic says 75% of x group does not have a college degree, and you have a college degree and are in that group, that doesn’t mean the statistic doesn’t apply to you, it means you fall into the 25% of that group that do have a college degree.

          Women of color are underrepresented in graduate degrees. That doesn’t mean that there are no women of color with those degrees, it means there are less of them per capita than other groups.

        2. matcha123*

          There are a lot of Asians who don’t want their kids to further their education, there are even some that actively work against their kids. There are comparatively more (East) Asians in higher education than, say, blacks, but the numbers are still lower than whites.
          Many, but not all, Asian Americans come from families where the parents have already graduated from a 4-year university.

          I mean, I understand you to an extent. My family was poor, but my parent had a Masters. People generally put the poor into the uneducated category and the educated into the ‘rich’ category. There are always outliers.

    3. Observer*

      They were hesitant to shake hands with me because of coronavirus (but they legitimately didn’t know how it’s spread…and I’ve never been to Asia).

      Well, I’m not sure you know how it’s spread, either, as shaking hands IS one of the vectors that CDC, WHO and every epidemiologist I’ve listened to. Also having been in Asia has nothing to to with it at this point – and that’s bee the case for weeks.

  18. Foreign Octopus*

    If there are any Spanish speakers out there, I’m trying to find quality advice columns in Spanish. Think AAM, Dear Prudence style. I don’t mind from where they come, I’m just trying to find them as I’m getting bored with reading the news in Spanish and I’m looking for a more informal style of writing and speaking with which to help me learn. If anyone knows of any, I’d appreciate the recs.

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

      Checkout Revista Orsai! It has some literature, some blogging, some rants, all with audio and transcriptions.

      1. Foreign Octopus*

        I’ve had a look and they do audio as well! Thanks for the recommendation, I appreciate it.

    2. Hi there*

      This is more news, but have you tried the news in slow Spanish podcast? It is a little pricey but good practice. The hosts chat and do grammar lessons disguised as conversations. One thing I really dislike about it is the traditional gender roles. The woman host does all the work and the man pops in to talk about sports.

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

    I… need to take my vacation. Even a staycation will be ok, considering what’s going on right now, but I seriously need to stop and have a break. I missed the semester signing up deadline, and now I have to go to campus, fill a form and hope for the best.

    1. LDN Layabout*

      If you really need a break, be careful with staycations. Like, they are enjoyable and there’s a comfort in being home, but even going a few hours away is so much more of a mental break than staying where you live and the refreshment factor is exponential.

      1. Jedi Squirrel*

        Agreed. Because of finances, I usually do a staycation, but try to spend at least one day away from home, even if it’s just to go to a state park or to go to a local free museum or drive to the mall over in the next city and walk around for most of the afternoon.

        You really do need to get away.

      2. Fikly*

        It depends on the person! I had two nights off in a row (I typically get my shiftss off one at a time, though there are two per week) and the second night, I did laundry, binged bad tv, and did crafts. It was amazing and incredibly refreshing.

      3. Veronica Mars*

        We bought a lake-adjacent house that has beach rights, and part of our rational was money saved on staycations.
        Its been 2 years of staycations and I can tell you there is something so so much less relaxing about trying to ignore your to-do-list piled up around you, and also its just tough to get the mindset right.
        We finally just took a 2 day (Sunday-Tuesday) trip to a cheap-because-weekday hotel and spent the entire time laying by the pool, and I feel incredibly refreshed.
        Dont get me wrong, staycations have their place and something is better than nothing. Heck when you get to that overwhelmed place sometimes you just need a few days to binge watch tv and order take out. But i agree theres additional benefit to getting out of dodge.

      4. tangerineRose*

        I’ve had some great staycations, but I do leave the house from time to time.

      5. allathian*

        Depends. I’m a homebody these days. I enjoyed traveling a lot when I was in my twenties, but now I find that while I enjoy it, it also exhausts me. If I take a week off to travel, I need another week to decompress afterwards before I can face going to work again. Not an option for most people in the US, although I’m in the Nordics, so we get much more time off.

    2. RC Rascal*

      I’ve done a lot of staycations, in part because I had a high travel job. When you are gone all the time, your idea of a good time suddenly becomes being at home.

      Think about things in your city that visitors do that you don’t ever do because you don’t have time. Museums, the Zoo, National Register type places, historic antique districts, that kind of thing. You can get a lot of mileage out of vacationing in your own city.

      1. Relentlessly Socratic*

        Very much this, I travel on the East Coast (US) for work, and even though I’d love to go somewhere, TBH I’d rather cozy up with the cat.

    3. Chronic Overthinker*

      Staycations are great. When I do them with my husband, we pretend to be tourists in our city and do all the “touristy” things, like museums, restaurants and the “must-see” locations in our city. It’s a great way to feel like you are on vacation even if you didn’t go anywhere.

  20. TimeCat*

    Someone recently posted on here about being a Hugo voter and I wanted to see if they’d talk more about it. I looked up the packet for the past couple years and if this year’s is as good as those, it should be worth it for the packet alone.

    -how long is the reading process? Do you think it’s reasonable to be able to get through all the material?
    -how accessible is the packet? Can you read the longer stuff on an e reader generally?

    1. Claire (Scotland)*

      I’ve done this for the last couple of years. I don’t ever get through all the stuff in the packet, but I have usually already read some over the year and some stuff isn’t my thing so I would never read it. I don’t feel bad about not having read everything before I vote, but I do prioritise reading the packet books and short stories during the voting period.

      The packet contents depends on the publishers mainly. Not everything nominated gets included, but most does. Everything has been e-reader friendly – some have PDFs, some a choice of file types, but everything has been able to be read through my Kindle app.

    2. The Gollux, Not a Mere Device*

      Last year’s Hugo packet had pdfs of almost all the fiction, as well as epub and/or mobi files for most of them.

      The time between when the finalists are announced and when voting closes is usually a couple of months. That isn’t enough time for most people to read everything that’s nominated. But it’s entirely reasonable to stop reading partway through if you don’t like the book–to treat “I was bored” or “I hated the first hundred pages” as thinking the book doesn’t deserve an award. Just don’t vote for things you haven’t read, because you liked the person’s previous book.

      It’s also cool to vote only in a few categories (or even only one). If you don’t normally watch movies, just skip “dramatic presentation long form.” If you don’t like short stories, skip that category. Et cetera.

      The “reading period” for nominating is from January 1 of year n until the nominating deadline in year n+1, usually about 15 months. People who are thinking in those terms tend to keep notes about the things they read and watch, so they’ll remember at the end of the year.

    3. Seven hobbits are highly effective, people*

      I’ve been a Hugo voter twice before, and I’ll be one again this year. I’ve never gotten through the entire packet. Last time I was a voter (San Jose) was particularly impossible since they’d added the “series” category and I’d only previously read any works in one of the nominated series so they rest of them were new to me, and several were in the packet with their entire series or substantial chunks of them. I gave it a pretty good try, and I did get through enough of the various series that I felt comfortable voting in that category (and found one series that I’d completely missed hearing any buzz about and actually liked), but that was pretty much what I did for several weeks.

      I did all of my reading that year on a cheap android tablet and don’t remember having any issues with it. (I did a lot of my reading sitting in my swimming pool with the tablet in a ziploc bag, hence the desire for a particularly cheap tablet in case of any mishaps.) I was disappointed with how few of the nominees for novel were included in full that year, though. I had one I could borrow elsewhere, but it was frustrating because the one I liked best was only in excerpt and I felt like I couldn’t judge how good of a book it was without seeing where the plot was going to go from there. (I know I could buy the books myself, but I prefer to buy paperbacks rather than hardcovers, so I don’t generally buy things until they’ve been out a while. This year I’m going to try to be more organized about getting on the hold list at the library, but that isn’t always very fast around here.)

      I basically decide which categories I’m going to read in based on what looks the most interesting among the nominees, and don’t feel bad about not filling out the entire ballot if that’s the way things go. I worry more about trying to about trying to get a good sense of the works in any category I plan to vote in rather than trying to get to them all.

      1. TimeCat*

        I have a very old school kindle (like 10 years old but still trucking fine) I use for most of my ebook reading and I am hoping I could use it to read the packet.

        1. Seven hobbits are highly effective, people*

          I have not tried reading a Hugo packet on a Kindle of any vintage, so I don’t have any specific experience with that. Books are usually provided in multiple formats, but it’s completely dependent on what each publisher decides to do. If your Kindle can do pdfs, it’s likely that most books will be in that format as well as assorted ebook formats.

  21. lifesempossible*

    Hi Friends,

    I guess I am just looking for some validation from the collective wisdom found here. Last month, I felt like something wasn’t quite right in my relationship. When I voiced my concerns about it, everything spiraled and my fiance’s behavior went off the rails. It kind of went from, “I want to pause on wedding planning,” and now we’re broken up.

    It was like all his anxiety was about me, and then he used it as a controlling mechanism. I didn’t have a huge social circle or strong family relationships, so at first it wasn’t noticeable because I never really wanted to go out and do things with people. Then it just got worse, like not being able to go the gym because I was supposed to spend time with HIS kids. I find myself resentful about the origins of our relationship, in which we crossed emotional boundaries very quickly, started dating after his statement that, “Date me now, or lose your chance,” and then moving in after a couple months (I was leaving an emotionally abusive family situation).

    In the aftermath, he promised to do therapy and claims that after a month, he’s practically cured. I’m doing therapy of my own to uncover my toxic traits and my contributions to codependency. His statement, though, is “Is what I did so irredeemable?” I want to say that I’m an ally to his mental health and I strongly believe that his actions have demonstrated how badly he wants to get together again. And yet–I don’t think his anxiety is the direct cause of his controlling tendencies or insecurities. He has a way of guilting me, such as that question of being irredeemable or not. I also don’t think it’s fair that he has pressured me for answers about our relationship while I have repeatedly said, “My goal is to find independence right now.”

    It’s just hard, because I love him in so many ways, but it’s difficult to move forward without much trust. General comments of support/life advice/moving on vs trying to work it out are welcome.

    1. MissGirl*

      One month is not enough to be “cured” and even if it was, you’re not obligated to stay with him. You do you. You went from the frying pan into the fire. Take some time out of the heat and cut off contact. It doesn’t have to be forever.

      1. Wishing You Well*

        Agreed.
        Go no contact for awhile (maybe a long while) and keep going to therapy. “Frying pan into the fire” sounds very accurate. Get to know yourself better before deciding anything about relationships.
        I’m cheering for you.

        1. valentine*

          He’s not going to go lie down in a ditch and die without you. He can always focus on his kids! One can never be done being as a great a parent as possible!

          Unless you want exactly what you’ve been through and worse, then even worse, don’t go back. I’d cut him off.

          You’re free. (Physically, and the mentally/emotionally is up to you.) Stay free.

    2. LibbyG*

      I will validate the crap out of this! Whether or not you resume the relationship has nothing to do with whether or not he’s deserving of love and acceptance. Your decision has to be about what’s right for you. He may never understand your perspective, which sucks. But there’s no need for consensus here.

      It is hard, but that doesn’t mean you’re doing it wrong. You seem to be gaining some hard won clarity amid extremely difficult circumstances. That’s a big win for you. Here’s hoping you can quickly find the path forward that feels right for you!

    3. burnt toast*

      Leave him, he’s still manipulating you. Block him. o your own therapy, and work on yourself. Make a promise to yourself to not date anyone for a year or two, until *you* are sorted out. And you aren’t right now.

    4. AGD*

      Uh-oh. I’d say someone committed to helping fix their own issues would put an emphasis on ‘OK, this is what I used to do and this is the harm that I now understand it caused you, and this is what I’m going to be doing differently from now on, and *I’m sorry*. That is not what you are getting. This guy is trying to make you doubt *your* decision to stop putting up with being pushed around, and it sounds like an attempt to manipulate you into giving him back a situation he was enjoying (feeling comfortable/powerful, able to make you do stuff for him, etc.).

      I was in a similar position, and he swore things were about to get dramatically better. And then swore it again, and again, and once more, and then another time. Two years in, I got fed up and left. That was a decade ago. Things suddenly got much better for me, and not for him – but he was going to have a hard time whether or not he had me around to blame or use as a figurative crutch (usually both).

    5. Not So NewReader*

      I was done at the date me now or lose your chance thing.
      Okay,bye-bye.

      OP, he is not into relationships, he’s into control.
      You absolutely did the right thing here. If he loved you, he would have put your concerns first. And that is not what he did.

      You may have loved him/still love him, but his reciprocal emotion was NOT love. That is not what love looks like. Bullet dodged, OP. You did very, very well here. Cheers to you.

      1. Fikly*

        Which is to say, if he really had changed, he would be acknowledging how bad what he did in the past was, and telling you to make the best choice for you. That he’s not doing that, and making it about what he wants, tells you a lot.

    6. Close Bracket*

      Holy carp, break the eff up! Purposefully or not, he manipulated (“Date me now, or lose your chance,”) you into moving way too fast (moving in after a couple months), and he continues to manipulate you (“Is what I did so irredeemable?” ). He is not relationship material. Be an ally to your own mental health by dumping his sorry tuchus. Let somebody else be his redeemer.

    7. LQ*

      It’s ok to cut and walk away.
      It’s ok to say, “I need a year, if after a year you’re still single and I am too you’re welcome to get back in touch with me. But right now I need a year of independence. I wish you the best joy and happiness.”
      It’s ok to say, “I’m glad you’re getting the help you need and you’re growing so quickly. I need to work on boundaries and so I’m setting one now. I’m not going to give you an answer about getting back together or not for the next 3 months.”
      It’s ok to say, “I understand that you are ready to get back together. I am not. If you want an answer now the answer is no.”
      It’s ok to say, “F*ck you. No.”

      You do NOT have to move forward with him. You do NOT owe him another chance. You do NOT owe him. You do not owe him just because he worked hard to demonstrate that he wants to get together again.

      He may have many amazing qualities, of that I have no doubt. But honestly there are other folks out there that you don’t have a toxic history with who will also have amazing qualities. Who will care and value and support you too. And the same for him.

    8. StellaBella*

      Your goal is to find life independence as you say. This guy is gaslighting and emotionally abusive. Independent women, on International Women’s Day no less, are here, and united behind you in support. Dump this guy and live your life.

    9. Traffic_Spiral*

      Ooh… [wince]. Yeah, there’s some red flags a-flying.

      “When I voiced my concerns about it, everything spiraled and my fiance’s behavior went off the rails. It kind of went from, “I want to pause on wedding planning,” and now we’re broken up.”

      Not good. In a relationship, both sides should be able to voice their concerns. If one person is constantly walking on eggshells and biting down their unhappiness because the other person flips out or goes into a huge spiral at the slightest mention of “hey, could you maybe not do this thing?” That’s bad.

      “not being able to go the gym because I was supposed to spend time with HIS kids.”

      Ever heard the term “bang nanny?” It’s pretty common for single men with kids to date a woman just so they have someone else to do all the parenting – or at least, to assume, the minute they start dating a woman, that she should take over all childcare responsibilities in his life. A man who dumps his kids on you ASAP is probably primarily dating you because they need a Wife Appliance, as opposed to you know, liking you for you. I mean, yeah, yeah, Not All Men but… like, it’s common enough (I’ll add links in a follow-up post).

      ““Date me now, or lose your chance,” and then moving in after a couple months (I was leaving an emotionally abusive family situation).”

      Yeah, you don’t need me to tell you the problems there. He found someone caring who was in a vulnerable situation and roped her in.

      “claims that after a month, he’s practically cured.”

      Ahahaha… no.

      “Is what I did so irredeemable?”

      Translation: “you know that thing I do where I spiral every time you try and bring up something bad I’ve done? Well, that worked well to control you in the past, so I’ma keep up the weaponized catastrophizing. The question isn’t “have I changed,” “do I understand what I was doing wrong,” or “am I someone you will be happy sharing a life with?” No, the question is: “were the things I’ve done so very, awfully horrible that literally no one in the history of ever could EVER hope to be redeemed after doing them?” I mean, you can’t say ‘yes’ to that, can you? I mean, Prince Zuko got better? Darth Vader? Doesn’t everyone theoretically deserve a shot at redemption? Besides, you KNOW how upset I get when you say I’ve done something wrong – surely, you can’t tell me I’m irredeemable! Why, who knows what I’d do to myself if you told me that!

      …Okay, so you’ve agreed my actions weren’t completely irredeemable? Great. Now, by inference, irredeemable is basically ‘not-so-bad,’ so you’ve agreed what I did wasn’t so bad (don’tdisagreeorI’llhaveanotherpanicspiral). Further, if it is possible for me to be forgiven, shouldn’t you forgive me? I mean, you’re not one of those horrible grudge-bearers, are you? You’re not? Great. Well, then obviously you should get back together with me, because if you don’t, it’s because you’re a horrible person incapable of forgiveness. So, in conclusion, this isn’t about me at all – this was all just a big overreaction from you (don’tdisagreeorI’llhaveanotherpanicspiral) and you need to just drop it and take me back.”

      Yeah… there’s no salvaging this. He’s not trying to improve, he’s just trying to manipulate you into dropping all your objections.

      1. Miss Pantalones en Fuego*

        This is much better than what I was going to say, which is is just DTMFA. I don’t doubt that you love him and he has some wonderful qualities but this is just straight up manipulation and controlling behaviour. If you get back together and marry him, you will be entangling yourself in a situation where you don’t get to be in charge of your own life ever again. Run away.

      2. NoLongerYoung*

        +1000. Copying and pasting this into my notes (many of these comments today).

        Been there, lived that, did not see it at the time. Seeing it now with a younger friend and oh, so heart broken that she can’t see it.

        1. Traffic_Spiral*

          “Been there, lived that,”

          Out of curiosity, the weaponized catastrophizing or the bang nanny?

          1. NoLongerYoung*

            the weaponized catastrophizing. apt description. The bang nanny – happened to a friend of mine, with her husband (both were hard working docs). Sad.

            1. Traffic_Spiral*

              Yeah, one of my step sisters ended up a bang nanny. We weren’t close (late remarriage by our parents so we were both out of the house) but she’s one of the nicest, sweetest people I know (probably why we don’t hang out – nothing in common ;P). She was in a relationship with this shit, and we were all so relieved when they broke up and she ended up with a nice family guy… until that imploded.

              It’s incredible how these predators manage to hone in on the nicest, sweetest women and get them locked down.

    10. allathian*

      It takes two people to continue a relationship, but only one to end it. You’ve ended it, so I wouldn’t recommend going back to him. It’s not going to be better the second time around.

    11. Minocho*

      I have never successfully saved a relationship after serious trust issues – friendship or romantic. Or heck, even with an employer.

      Some of this might be me. Maybe I just am not a forgiving person or something. But I have tried to stick it out, a few times. Every time, it still failed because the person I had come to distrust pushed on me to “get over it” and wanted me to resume the relationship at former levels I had when I trusted them. The two I’m thinking of, in particular, I clearly said I needed more time, and after pushing enough, I pretty much cut them off entirely.

      I miss both relationships sometimes, and one of them eventually was repaired to the point where there was no acrimony anymore, though there was no friendship left either.

      If you can, clearly giving someone an idea of what you expect / need from them can be valuable, but that doesn’t mean they’ll actually hear or understand what you’re saying. It sounds like you know you need more time to make sure you’re in the right place to make the right decisions. If your fiance is the person you need them to be in order to make the relationship work, they’ll appreciate this eventually.

      Good luck!

    12. Juneybug*

      Two books that help move on from toxic relationships –
      Say Goodbye to Crazy: How to Get Rid of His Crazy Ex and Restore Sanity to Your Life (while this book is geared towards dealing with a crazy ex-wife or husband, it’s got great insight how toxic people can be).
      Boundaries: When to Say Yes, How to Say No To Take Control of Your Life (removes so much of the guilt saying no when you are a people pleaser).
      Both books are probably at your local library.
      Wishing you the best in your new “awesome to be you” future. :)

  22. Anon For This*

    Anyone else really creeped out by the Vallow / Daybell case? The response from law enforcement seems . . . severely inadequate. I can’t believe her bail was reduced and that she’s probably going to leave prison. Based on the media coverage, it looks like another example of child abuse not being taken seriously, and affluent white people getting away with anything they want. I bet there were a lot of warning signs before the kids disappeared, not just what’s being reported. Ugh.

    1. WellRed*

      I didn’t actually get the impression they were affluent, at least not her. It’s insane they can’t get her to say where those kids are. I don’t believe they are alive.

      1. Anon For This*

        Maybe “affluent” is the right word, but . . . appearing to be more comfortable than average? She definitely had that upper class kind of look. The recently deceased ex-husband drove a Telsa. The missing daughter had a Jeep. Daybell’s deceased wife was a librarian (not always high paying, but white collar), and the Daybells seemed to be famous in certain circles.

        What’s creepiest to me is the way it’s been handled so far. There is SO MUCH wrong there, and the response seems so delayed and insufficient. I can’t help but imagine there’s some bias involved.

        1. WellRed*

          Ah, my bad, I must have assumed based on all the moving around a level of financial instability.

          1. Anon For This*

            No! I’ve been following it closely. The Vallows had a massive amount of debt but were living pretty comfortably.

            It’s like a telenovela playing out in real life. Which I don’t say to make light of it, but to underscore how shocking it all is. I mean, the police should have done better earlier on, before the kids disappeared. It shouldn’t have reached this point.

          2. Fikly*

            Moving around is a classic way of hiding abuse. The abusers move the families when people start to notice a bit too much.

            1. Anon For This*

              Right. I highly suspect this was not a complete change and that she was abusive before it all started.

        2. RC Rascal*

          There is a difference between spending a lot of money on cars and being affluent. Frequently wealthy people don’t spend a lot of money on cars.

          1. Anon For This*

            But nice cars create the image of being financially comfortable, which influences how law enforcement interacts with you.

            1. RC Rascal*

              No intention to derail the thread, but did want to add a further comment:

              You are correct that Americans associate nice cars with being financially comfortable, and it can influence public/law enforcement perception.

              However, driving expensive cars and living in expensive houses costs a lot of money. Then, you have to insure them, pay the taxes, etc. Expensive things can lead to bills, which leads to stress, which can be a motivator for crime.

              Living well within their means is a trait of successful people, which by all accounts this bunch is not.

      2. Rebecca*

        I read the article about bail reduction from $5 million to $1 million, and her “defense team” requested $10,000. Defense team says it all. Plus, there are several unexplained deaths and other weird stuff going on, not to mention the children haven’t been seen in months. I say let her rot until she ‘fesses up.

        1. Anon For This*

          I think she and Chad Daybell both pose a threat to others, especially their family members, and should not be out in public. The FBI needs to ramp up their investigation so they both can be locked up and charged appropriately.

    2. Not So NewReader*

      I have been following it a little too closely perhaps.

      She enjoys attention. They both seem very comfortable with strangers using cell phones to video them.

      I think (and pray) that the reason everything is moving so slow is that the police are building a case…. a much bigger case. They have too many dead people in their immediate lives. She had one husband cremated so we will never know what happened to him.

      Part of me wonders if she sincerely believes the world will end in July so therefore she can get away with whatever-whatever. Won’t she be surprised when August 1st rolls around, whoops not in the plan.

      I have noticed that she is looking worse and worse ever time she shows up for court.

      I can’t let go of the idea that she got rid of the boy’s service dog. He was doing better with that dog. I cannot imagine what he is going through… if he is still alive.
      And as for the daughter she must have figured out something was up. I think the daughter probably gave her mother a real hard time.

      Family is saying she has totally changed. I am hoping they do a full pysch eval and a full drug and alcohol screen.

      1. Anon For This*

        I know – the part about the dog makes me think that whatever happened to him might have been planned in advance, which is scary.

        She’s . . . basically a groupie for an author who she was a fan of. The celebrity thing seems to be a part of this. It seems like he had a cult following within the Latter Day Saints community, no pun intended? When you combine inventive new religious beliefs and celebrity, anything can happen. People can justify anything. And there’s a lot of motivation because, “Oh, the glamour!”

        And I share the hope that they’re taking their time to build a good case. But there seems to be a lot of child abuse and murder of children in the news lately, and it’s upsetting.

        1. Seeking Second Childhood*

          I just told my husband that if I give up and want to leave, I’ll just move to the beach and turn into a hermit. No hit man. He said he’ll go up to a lake they canoes when he was in boy scouts.

          1. Seeking Second Childhood*

            This sounds like I’m being flippant but I’m not. It’s me being baffled at why someone wouldn’t just divorce & disappear rather than what it appears she’s done.

            1. Anon For This*

              Because of religion. And the social stigma. And life insurance. And the convenience factor. (PERCIEVED convenience factor.) Shudder.

          2. Traffic_Spiral*

            Well, at least you’ve both agreed to divide things up by saltwater vs. fresh. Otherwise you’d risk being stuck on the same beach/lakeside 30 yards from each other – which might defeat the purpose.

  23. Marie-Ève Douville*

    I am going to Vancouver for 2 weeks at the end of march.

    Do you have any recommandations of things to do, to see, not to miss? I am a female solo traveler

    Thanks

    1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      If you are a tea drinker, pop over to Victoria and have high tea at the Empress Hotel. (I’m not a tea drinker and it was still a lot of fun!) Reservations recommended, I believe.

      1. oranges & lemons*

        With the caveat that it’s about an eight-hour round trip to get to Victoria from Vancouver :) If you like both flowers and high tea, I think the Butchart Gardens tea is a better deal–for the price of tea at the Empress, you can get tea and admission to the gardens.

        1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

          Is it really?? Well, dang. I went to both from Seattle at varying points and I thought they were a lot closer together! Sorry :)

          1. 2QS*

            45-minute drive from Vancouver to the ferry, but they want you there EARLY. 95-minute ferry ride, though it’s extremely scenic. 45-minute drive from there to downtown Victoria. Day trips doable but tiring. Or pay extra for the helicopter airline (HeliJet – super fun) or the float plane (Harbour Air) or a commercial flight (about 12 minutes but requires the whole airport thing).

    2. ArtsNerd*

      I swooned over the Anthropology Museum at the University of British Columbia. It’s not “right there” in the city, but it’s worth the trek imo. One of my favorite museum experiences, and I’ve been to quite a few.

      1. Traveling Teacher*

        Seconded! It is incredible and was my favorite thing I did there.

        Also, make sure you get some sushi! The prices are amazing compared to Japan (so I’m told by friends who have lived in both places), and the fish is of course very fresh! There are tons of cool fusion restaurants, as well–thé city has so much to offer if you’re even a bit of a foodie!

    3. Not A Manager*

      If you like oysters, we had the largest selection of the best oysters in Vancouver. We liked the city a lot, but that’s the thing that we mention when we think about going back.

    4. Glomarization, Esq.*

      My go-to for breakfast, lunch, or dinner is Melriches Coffeehouse, 1244 Davie St, Vancouver, BC V6E 1N3.

    5. burnt toast*

      We do outdoor stuff well! Seawall walk, stanley park. Lighthouse park (about 1 hr by bus) for old-growth trees. Depending on weather, find someplace to take a kayak paddle (deep cove runs tours all year: try deepcovekayak (dot) com ), gastown. what type of things do you like to do?

    6. Athena X*

      Stanley Park and Granville Island are really nice. The Capilano Suspension bridge is impressive but if you get motion sickness, kind of nauseating to walk across.

      Eat poutine!

      1. AcademiaNut*

        Stanley Park and Granville Island are favourites of mine. You can rent a bike (or maybe rollerblades) and do the seawall around the park, and Granville Island has a nice farmer’s market and local artisans and a brewery and good food options.

    7. 2QS*

      Awesome! Much of the downtown area is corporate without much going on, so consider staying adjacent if you like to wander and serendipitously discover stuff. Stanley Park has a bit of everything – seawall is glorious. Kitsilano Beach is nice. Definitely the Museum of Anthropology. Grouse Mountain Skyway and Lynn Canyon. Queen Elizabeth Park is pleasant. Take lots of rain gear, since they’re not out of the wet season until usually May or June. :P

  24. lifesempossible*

    I posted a much longer and personal question already, but I had another question for everyone. As I’ve realized that I have some poor boundaries, I have been considering what good boundaries should be for me. I have no problem respecting other people’s wishes (“I go to bed around this time,” or “I only want to see one dog photo per week.”). It’s just that I seem to be too accommodating to others.

    SO, what are boundaries and/or guidelines you have set in your life for optimal health, wellness, happiness, etc.?

    1. lifesempossible*

      Maybe the other one didn’t post. Doesn’t matter, that one was just for validation purposes rather than a question. I’m going through what is basically a messy break-up. He wants to work on things and his doing therapy for anxiety. I don’t know what I want, apart from doing therapy of my own and stopping these co-dependent tendencies that I have. I think that the relationship got emotionally committed too fast because of the poor boundaries from the beginning. So I’m at the point of working on being assertive, vocalizing my needs, accepting imperfections, and all that good stuff.

      1. fposte*

        I think if you’ve spent a long time on the pleaser road it can be hard to hear internal voices beyond “I want you to be happy with me!” It sounds like you’re having some good thoughts about changing that pattern. I really like the advice I’ve heard elsewhere (Carolyn Hax, maybe?) about practicing asserting your preferences and boundaries on small things first. If you came home craving Chinese food and he said “Let’s go out for pizza!”, would you be able to say “Let’s do pizza another time–I’ve spent this afternoon craving Szechwan chicken”? If he said “I really don’t like Schitt’s Creek” would you be able to say “Oh, I really do”? Could you say that to friends if not romantic partners? Can you identify how you feel about the possibility of saying things like that?

        TBH, I’ll also say that some boundary support happens when you pick your people. I’m very prickly so I’m not likely to develop much intimacy with people who tend to be invasive. We do a lot of checking in, being ready with alternatives, etc., and we don’t do much assuming; that’s especially true in the early stages of a relationship.

      2. Wishing You Well*

        Your earlier post is up from this one.
        Assertiveness takes a lot of practice but it’s doable and necessary for the survival of your personhood. It’s exhausting to be around people who constantly boundary-stomp. I find it’s best to completely cut ties with those types, even close relatives. It doesn’t have to feel good to be the right decision for you. Your energy is better spent elsewhere.
        I don’t host people in my home anymore for several reasons. I meet people in public where it’s easier to call it a night and get myself home. I spend far less energy going out than entertaining at home.
        There are assertiveness training classes that might help you. “Your Perfect Right” is an old book that might also help.
        I’m wishing you personal growth and good progress.

    2. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      I don’t argue opinions. I just generally don’t enjoy arguing with people I like about much of anything, and with people I don’t like, I have better things to do than talk to them at all. :-P (And arguing on the internet is like wrestling with a pig – you both get filthy and only the pig enjoys it.)

    3. RC Rascal*

      I think this is a good question. I have struggled with being too accommodating to others, and then when I need something and ask for it, they refuse to meet my needs. And then I feel used and resentful.

      One way to approach this is to ask yourself these questions:
      Is their request reasonable?
      How frequent is this type of request?
      What would happen if I made this request of the other person?
      Would this person be able to stay in this situation without my assistance, or would they be forced to make changes in their own life (Basically, am I enabling this person?)
      What is the level of reciprocity in this relationship?

      Hope this helps!

    4. Nom de Plume*

      For me boundaries is about saying yes to the things I want to do and no to the things I don’t want to do. It sounds simple, but it’s very difficult in practice, especially when one gets disconnected from their own wants and needs.

      1. Parenthetically*

        “especially when one gets disconnected from their own wants and needs”

        Yes! Or when the desire to be liked or relied upon IS the biggest want/need.

        1. Marion Ravenwood*

          Agreed. I spent so much of my teenage years having friends tell me ‘no, I don’t want to do that, that’s boring’ that I basically stopped saying what I wanted and just said ‘I don’t mind’, because that way I thought I was making myself more likeable by letting the other person do what they wanted. Of course what I realise now is that being the one who comes up with the plans gets exhausting very quickly.

          This is where therapy has been massively helpful for me, and I’d seriously recommend it to anyone. I think it’s going to take me a long time to stop ‘oh but what if they say no?’ being my instant reaction to anything I suggest or express a preference for, and a lot of the time it is still that I genuinely don’t have a preference, but I’ve gotten much better at saying that and also saying, ‘actually, I want to do this tonight’ or ‘I’d like to come out today but I feel exhausted and need to stay home instead’.

      2. Washi*

        Totally agree with this. For me, boundaries has been less about intellectually deciding and enforcing things, and more about tuning in with myself to hear the little voice going “I don’t like this.” It seems like it shouldn’t be that hard to know what you want…but it is hard for me, and I think it will probably be the work of a lifetime for me to learn the difference between truly following my heart, and following my anxiety.

    5. Not So NewReader*

      One thing I wrestled with way too much was the nuns drilled into us that unless giving hurts, then it’s not true giving.

      While I did step back from that many years ago, I still find myself thinking, “I ought to do something about X.” I have to deliberately plan out how much I am willing to give and for how long. For the most part this is making a mountain out of a mole hill, because people are great most of the time. There have been times where I have said to a friend, “I can help with X and Y but I cannot help with Critical Part Z.” And the friend was absolutely fine and very gracious about this news.

      It’s the rare extreme cases that are difficult, those are the people who won’t take a compromise as an answer. What do we do with those people. I go one situation at a time and one person at a time on stuff like this. It’s important to realize when people are just plain “takers” and not doing any giving.

      With my current job, Tuesdays are a very busy day. I work longer and I come home exhausted. I created a no fly zone on Tuesdays. “I can help you on Wednesday but I am overbooked on Tuesday.” It’s super helpful to say that before people ask, then they have heard it before and are not hearing it for the first time in the moment. Stating limits up front can relieve so many situations.

      Family is the most challenging because of that sense of unending obligation. First step is keep yourself out of the hospital, do not allow yourself to become so exhausted or over-wrought that you rack up medical bills. If this means going low contact or no contact then that is what you have to do.

      And we can begin to get a sense of where those boundaries are by practicing boundaries on smaller stuff. I had a small challenge this week. I wanted to sell an old ring. I did NOT want to get ripped off. On the way to the store, I thought about my boundaries. What is the lowest amount I will accept. What will I do if the offer is lower than that. I had never been in the place and I was pleasantly surprised by what I found there. They made me an offer well above my lowest amount and I accepted.
      Key part: I had to set one last boundary with myself. I decided to give myself the gift of NOT second guessing that decision. I am not in the biz, I will never know if I could have gotten more money. I am just going to be satisfied that I did the best I could. And I am satisfied.
      These little boundaries are the foundation for setting boundaries on larger issues.

    6. Anoning a bit here*

      To me, boundaries are measures I put in place to prevent other people or things hurting me. They look different depending on what those things or people are, and they will look different for everyone.

      For an example, I have abusive parents. They are both abusive due to mental health issues they have, that are potentially treatable, but they haven’t gotten them treated. I have made the decision to maintain a light amount of contact with them in case they do manage to get treatment and improve, but only in a way that is safe for me. That means I do not see them in person, I do not have phone calls, and I only exchange occasional texts. I have them on a severe information diet. I do not talk to them about emotions, or anything important in my life. I have no hesitation about lying to them if it will protect me.

      I also have very strict boundaries about what I allow them to give me as “gifts” because nothing is ever without strings with them, but if I refuse everything, they will become abusive. So I refuse the offer of a $5000 gift, but accept the $200 gift. I could cut off the relationship entirely, and that would be valid, but given that I have found a way to maintain boundaries that keeps me safe from harm, I am currently ok with the situation as it is. I may change this in the future, and that’s ok too.

    7. LQ*

      Some of my most important boundaries are with myself. I’m required or not allowed to do whatever thing. Which is a tool I use to set boundaries with others.

      I’m required to do one social outing a week. If I’ve fulfilled my commitment I am not required to do another. This is weirdly liberating to say no to people because I had a thing I had to do for myself so I did that and now I don’t have to do the other thing.

      I have a bunch of rules around other stuff too. Sort of like the don’t go out to a tipping place if you can’t afford the tip. I have to take a day off after returning from spending time with family. If I can’t take the day after off, I can’t afford the vacation. (Emotionally here for me.) Now it’s easy to say no to the vacation because I can’t take the time off.

      The other thing is feeling like I have a good handle on, and routinely return to, my core values. Whatever that looks like to you, living your life by your values can let you set boundaries easier because you have a value to fall back on. (Values are just rules that are baked in deeper.)

    8. Miranda Priestly's Assistant*

      How did I initially overlook this thread? This is something I’ve been thinking a lot about.

      In general, I’ve been overcoming my anxiety around rejecting requests by prefacing them with “I just don’t/I have a policy of not…” This makes it easier for me to assert boundaries with friends/family member, whom I tend to feel most pressure to accomodate because, well, they’re friends/family. The prefacing makes it seem like it’s a universal thing and not a personal rejection to them, and is usually well-received.

      I also put less pressure on myself to reciprocate unwanted acts of ‘generosity’. This is mainly a thing with my mother, who does unnecessary favors and then weaponizes them to get me to accomodate her requests. Generosity should be something you genuinely want to do for its own sake. This is not to say relationships should be only one-sided, but constantly using past favors to manipulate people to doing your bidding against their will is toxic and should not be tolerated.

    9. Seeking Second Childhood*

      -No phone calls from 9pm-9am except emergencies. (As the child grows up I’m making sure all know that emergencies include ‘the person who drove me here is drunk’ and ‘this situation is bad and I want to leave’.)
      -No one gets to dictate how someone else FEELS about anything. (Behavior yes, feelings no.)
      -Apologize when you’re in the wrong.
      -Don’t reveal someone else’s secrets or private info unless someone is in danger…in which case move heaven&earth to get them help.
      -Don’t file a lawsuit if you get hurt doing something you were told is dangerous.
      -Pay medical costs w/o a lawsuit if someone warned you something was dangerous, you insisted it was safe, and they were right.
      -Fashion is optional, basic hygiene is not.

    10. AcademiaNut*

      One thing to realize is that when you have interactions between people who are emotionally healthy and good at communication, the boundaries are often mostly invisible. It’s less like a game of Red Rover, defending against attack, and more like a dance where both people know the steps. One one side, you have people who understand the unspoken rules of interactions and what is appropriate to ask (or demand) in various relationships, on the other side, people who can speak up about their own needs and preferences without it being a big deal.

      The formal setting and maintaining of boundaries tends to occur when you have one person who pushes too hard or doesn’t realize when they’re over stepping, or someone who is bad at articulating their own needs and speaking up for them. And, often, these two types tend to end up together – one person pushing and demanding and overstepping, the other not speaking up and getting more and more angry or miserable.

      If you’re in the second category, there are two main things you need to learn. One is to learn speak up for yourself, ideally before it becomes a big deal, and the other is to learn to identify the people who will take advantage of you and push past all but the strongest barriers (and to then either avoid them, or erect the more formal boundaries needed with people like that).

  25. Dallas DART Public Transportation*

    My husband and his sister flew to Dallas last weekend to see the Eagles.

    The DART – Dallas’ public transport system – was amazing. Routes and schedules enabled them to travel between DFW and the downtown hotel for $3 each. From the hotel to the arena was like half that price. It was clean and they felt safe, even late at night after the concert.

    I am soooo jealous. We live in a mid-size city whose public transportation is pitiful. Google “Robert Reed farmington elementary” and see what people have to go through to get to work here. If one doesn’t have a vehicle here, one’s employment options are limited. I doubt many people would travel 4 hours each way for a job that probably pays maybe $25K.

    Anyway, I wish we had a system like Dallas. Great jib, Dallas!

    1. Dallas DART Public Transportation*

      I really meant to emphasize public transportation. I apologize if my reference to Mr. Reed was too work-related. It was just a recent example that jumped out at me, but it is by no means an uncommon situation.

      Does your city have good public transportation?

    2. Jedi Squirrel*

      I live in a smallish midwest city between Chicago and Detroit and all we have are city buses with limited routes that run once on the hour. I can drive to The Place That Shall Be Not Name in twenty minutes, so forty minutes round trip. But to take the bus involves a twenty minute walk each way and an hour bus ride, so one hour and forty minutes all around (but I do get some exercise in!).

      This is why I always vote for public transport millages. There are a lot of folks who can’t drive or can’t afford a car, and the buses only go out so far.

      1. AGD*

        I lived in Lansing for a year and didn’t have a car and recognize every word of this. Sometimes it was faster to walk, and that took an hour each way.

    3. My Brain Is Exploding*

      Wow! It’s terrible he had such an awful commute, but that story is heartwarming!

      1. Dallas DART Public Transportation*

        It is. But now the problem is keeping his truck and lawn equipment from being stolen. Thieving is like a regular job around here. I think there may be plans to help him move to a better area (tho almost every affordable neighborhood here has theft issues).

    4. small-town girl livin' in a car-obsessed [state]*

      My city has no public transportation. There is supposed be a bus service for the elderly and disabled but it’s pretty worthless; they have limited hours and, as a manner of routine, prioritise transporting preschoolers because they get more money that way.

      That might be excusable because I live in a rather small town but nah. The second-largest city in my state, second only to the state capital, has a bus service that only runs until 8-9pm most nights and refuses to run on Sundays or holidays.

      I have… *feelings* about this but no politics, you know? :|

    5. Native Dallasite*

      After living for six years in San Francisco in my teens and 20’s, I have always hated Dallas’s public transit system. I’ve felt it is unsafe, dirty, and had lousy routing. I have a car and drive everywhere simply because it takes me multiple hours to get anywhere on DART. But I’m traveling from my home in the suburbs to other parts of other suburbs, so I guess it’s completely different if you’re going from Major Commercial Location to Another Major Commercial Location.

      1. Dallas DART Public Transportation*

        Thank you for your reply. It is good to hear from a Dallasite. I have a HS friend in SF – and he brags about not even needing a car in SF. So I can understand where you are coming from. It depends on one’s point of reference.

        Our lack of functional, reliable public transportation is costing us economically here. Our young college grads do not stay in the area, and one of the reasons they give is public transportation. Owning a vehicle is not cheap.

    6. Baby opossum*

      So great to see a post on transit! I think America hasn’t prioritized transit, clearly. And by default of prioritizing cars. I have done the 20-40 min transit commutes to work in mid-sized cities (each way!) and honestly what is hardest is how isolating and stigmatized the lifestyle it is, not even the length of time. It is heartening to hear good transit experiences (in states I’d expect there to not be much transit), and that more people are giving it a go. Thanks for posting.

  26. Amber Rose*

    I think I have goal fatigue.

    We have a LOT of irons in the fire right now. A ton of long term goals and outcomes that we’re waiting for, which will pay off in anywhere from six months to five years. There’s not a lot of individual work to be done, we’re just sort of in a holding pattern until what we’ve done pays off.

    It’s become quite mentally fatiguing to just have to wait for everything. But when I tried to think of shorter term things we could work on I can’t think of anything.

    Sigh. On the plus side, we just paid off a credit card! Only three left now.

    1. ArtsNerd*

      Paying down debts is a pretty big project in itself! I’m surprised you are looking for more ‘work’ to do.

      But I’m more curious about this: why do you need to be working on a goal right now? Why not relax and enjoy the groundwork you’ve laid? I’ve got ‘you must be productive at all times’ fatigue, so this struck a nerve :)

      1. Amber Rose*

        Paying off debt is more about patience than work. I just pay X amount every payday. The only work was coming up with the plan and that’s done.

        It’s hard to enjoy the groundwork when I’m more interested in the results. I feel like I haven’t accomplished anything, I’m just stuck waiting for a lot of things to happen. I’m impatient. I want to DO things, not just watch my life tick away waiting for things.

        1. Old person*

          I am feeling this right now. I have a full time job and three part time jobs and trying to keep my eye on the future is exhausting.

        2. Dan*

          Financial goals are almost always long term things… paying off debt, saving for a house down payment, and saving for retirement are not quick and easy. Although, much of this can be actual work if you don’t have a ton of income to work with.

          In your case though, I’d say find goals that motivate *you*. I like to go out on the town a couple of times a month, as well as do a bit of foreign travel. Restaurants/bars very short term goals, and foreign travel is an annual thing. Part of my financial planning is to make sure I’ve got the money to do those things. And doing so feels like shorter term wins when a house down payment and retirement don’t.

    2. Not So NewReader*

      Rest can be a short term goal.
      Reading a good book can be a short term goal.

      Goals don’t have to be painful and goals don’t have to feel like punishment.
      Goals don’t have to be something that amounts to a Bigger Thing later.

      How about a goal of calling your fav family member or good friend this afternoon?

    3. NoLongerYoung*

      I realize, I set goals, but one at a time. And I really do need to look personally at my overall goals AND where I want to be. I am saving hard for retirement – but that, like debt reduction, is a very long term and not that rewarding of a shorter term payoff.

      Basically, here’s what I’m considering… Rather than just today I am going to work on my taxes…(I have a to do list, which is not the same thing), I need to look at my life, where I want to be and where I am.

      For me, that means “I want to have a balanced life…” and break that down into intermediate steps and make smaller goals out of them.

      For example, I have consciously been working on adding friend/or activity time (one friend/ thing out/ thing new a week – something from that bucket). I am achieving that goal but it will take it awhile to become a habit (I have a good start). Since I have that started and running, I can add another. (new one, get back into consistent exercise).

      So maybe a series of things – looking at your overall life plan – what else do you want in your life when that debt is paid off? More creative expression? More friends? More fitness?

      I did a quadrant chart (financial, emotional, physical, spiritual) and set a different goal for each one. Long term, I hope all of me will be in a different place. But by staggering the difficulty and time frame of the steps within those quadrants, I am moving slowly towards the life I want to have.

      Summary – I am very goal oriented, but…. I found that I need to look at each thing in the overall context. Or I’d get my school loan paid of (woo hoo) but then look around and start thinking about the next goal. By doing this “small steps in each area” – I am seeing small wins at different times in different areas of my life. School loan paid off, retirement savings ramped up (financial). Emotional – in a groove for therapy, now I’ve added (continuing therapy) building the ability to have closer friendships without being boundary-less.

      Pick your quadrants / value areas, and just try one small, one medium, one longer term (you are already rolling on the debt reduction). Just a thought… it’s working for me right now, and just sharing.

      1. NoLongerYoung*

        I have been working on this since yesterday…re-framing my goalx/to-do-list and approach, and looking at viewing my progress in every areas as achievements. I realize I am mixing tenses – some past, some present, some future – because I find this interesting. I’ve been personally working on my quadrant idea since yesterday, so this struck a chord with me. I had try to pick a variety of goals, but I’d stay hyper focused on one (the school loan payoff, or the “contact a friend and do one thing a week”), and then not see the short and long term view.

        But my big take away is that I am making progress – I just sometimes stop in one area because the hyperfocus on big goals means I don’t continue to build the small habits. Trying to get little steps in all areas of my life, and acknowledge I am making more progress than I realize.

    4. Lena Clare*

      I really like Danielle LaPorte’s Desire Mapping for goal setting. You think of how you want to feel, then think of what you need to do to feel it, then do it. When you lack motivation you remind yourself of how you want to feel.

      But alternatively you might just need a break from goal-setting.

    5. allathian*

      My goal is to have no goals. Confession time here, I’ve never been a particularly ambitious person. When I have set personal goals, I have usually reached them. Certainly, there are probably parts of my personality and certainly my physical fitness could do with improvement, but at the moment, I just can’t deal with it.
      I go to work, do my best there while trying to ensure that I don’t burn out in the process (my employer and boss are supportive, and a good work-life balance is considered essential to performance), do my bit as a parent and spouse, and I’m working on paying off a credit card debt. But that’s it. I don’t have the energy to take up a new hobby, and any spare time I have to myself, I just need to decompress without doing anything in particular.

  27. KoiFeeder*

    I hope I’m not too late- I need an adultier adult.

    I lost my Social Security Card. I have no idea what I’m supposed to be doing here, outside of getting a new one. I’m freaking myself out a little bit because identity theft is no joke, but no one ever tells you what to do in these situations.

    1. Jedi Squirrel*

      You can get a new one from the Social Security website, I’ve heard. You just need to create an account. Link in follow-up comment.

      1. KoiFeeder*

        Oh yeah, the new one’s already on its way. I got that part right! It’s everything else that I don’t know how to handle.

    2. Bex*

      Call your local police department to file a report – that way if anything does happen, you have a paper trail re when card was lost.

      Check your credit reports to make sure nothing unusual is on them, and possibly consider putting a credit freeze/hold on stuff (unless you’re in the process of applying for loans etc).

      Make sure you’re not throwing away documents that could help an identity thief – don’t toss bank statements, insurance info, etc.

        1. fposte*

          You should be able to freeze your credit report whether you have open credit or not. A freeze isn’t the same thing as a fraud alert.

          FWIW, most of our SSNs are floating around the world already, so it’s not likely that this is suddenly a major breach that makes you unusually vulnerable. This is ultimately not a big deal, and there’s not much in the way of “everything else” that you need to be doing.

          1. KoiFeeder*

            I was told that since I had no open credit, Equifax couldn’t do anything for me. Yay.

            1. fposte*

              Hmm. Did you talk to Experian and Transunion as well? You’d want to freeze at all three anyway, and you have to do that individually (I believe a fraud alert percolates across to the other two automatically). Equifax is pretty notoriously difficult and unhelpful these days.

              1. fposte*

                Also, did you pull all three of your credit reports, and do you get them regularly (one every four months works especially well, since you get one from each agency per year)? That’s a good thing to do anyway.

                1. KoiFeeder*

                  Since I don’t have any open lines of credit, I’ve never looked at my credit reports, but after this I’m definitely going to.

                  I also need to get a credit card or something, I guess. I’ve got the debit, and I’d rather cut my own arm off than take out student loans, but not having credit is clearly a pretty big issue.

                2. Seven hobbits are highly effective, people*

                  I don’t use credit cards, but I have one through my credit union. If you like your bank or credit union, you can talk to them about getting a credit card. If they have one with no annual fees, you can just have it and not use it, and it’s pretty low maintenance since it’s just one more account at a place that you’re already keeping an eye on accounts at.

                3. Fikly*

                  I have a debit card that has a credit card sort of attached to it? But isn’t technically a credit card, as I can’t go over what’s in my account. But it works to get credit established!

              2. KoiFeeder*

                I did not… because I believed Equifax when they said that you need a line of credit open to freeze credit reports. Guess I have some phone calls to make. Thank you!

              3. KoiFeeder*

                Experian and Transunion froze the credit report!

                Equifax still wouldn’t do it and I’m way too autistic to argue on the phone with people without going Full Meltdown™, but 2/3 isn’t bad.

            2. Bex*

              Check with the other credit bureaus. Regardless of open lines of credit or not, you absolutely can put a freeze on your information. If the person you’re speaking with says no, escalate – ask to speak to a supervisor, manager, etc.

              Search “security freeze” + name of credit bureau and you should be able to find the step by step process for each one.

              I’m sorry you’re dealing with this. I know the anxiety it can create.

        2. NoLongerYoung*

          This is a different topic. But if you can trust yourself, I do recommend that you go to your bank or credit union (the latter had a better rate) and open a credit card, not a debit card. I did so about 6 years ago, and put my internet service provider bill on it, and then set up auto-pay for the credit card, for the “account balance” on the cc, for 2 days after that internet service bill came in every month. I picked that bill because it is a fixed amount, unlike my utility bill, which varies, and because there was no fee to pay it with the credit card. (Credit union had no annual fee, either, on the cc).

          It has taken 6 years, but that consistent, “always on time” payment has slowly built up my credit score. The score still has a hit for no installment loans.

          I have some positive longevity and also some help with the score because I show zero use of the available credit. That’s why I pay immediately – rather than the end of the month – because that habit actually got me another 10 point boost in the score… even carrying a balance for the full 30 days showed that I was using “x” percent of my credit…. I’m at “less than 0% use of my available credit” now.

          This month, using the Fico/ experian tracker, I’m finally into the excellent. Not planning to use it immediately, but eventually I do hope to buy a modest house, and it will pay dividends in a lower rate. Also, my car insurance rate went down (not all states use credit score as a metric and I am not an expert – I’m sure the speeding tickets dropping off helped a lot, too).

          1. Dancing Otter*

            This is really good advice. You need to use a credit card occasionally so that the issuer doesn’t close it for being dormant. I had that happen once, and didn’t learn until I tried to use it. Sooooo embarrassing!

    3. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      There’s not really much else you can do. You could put a hold on your credit with the agencies, if you’re sure you lost it outside of your house. But that’s about it. In general, you don’t want to carry it around unless you absolutely have to take it somewhere for a specific purpose – mine stays locked up at home along with my other legal papers, passport etc.

      1. KoiFeeder*

        Oh, I definitely lost it outside of my house, and this is a lesson on not carrying my card with me (I have the memory of a dead slug, so I legitimately cannot remember it and hence kept it in my wallet). But I can’t file a fraud alert- you have to have open lines of credit to do so.

        1. Not So NewReader*

          When you are able to, consider purchasing a fire safe. I bought one 30 years ago and it’s going strong. This is not something you have to keep replacing; buy it once and you are done.

          I put all kinds of stuff in there that I absolutely need yet have no real place to put it. I keep my records of my dog’s rabies shots in there. I must have those records. I have my SS card, extra checks, diplomas and health records regarding my shots in the safe.

          My financial adviser recommended a fire safe over a safety deposit box at the bank. There’s no annual bill for the safe and trusted people can access your records if anything happens to you. It does not take a court order to open the safe.

              1. Anono-me*

                Midwestone is a bank in MN. There was a story in February about safe deposit box safety and a very unhappy customer. Then in March there was a second story about another customer. It’s weird

                1. Not So NewReader*

                  Okay, got it. Thank you, both.

                  Yeah. Now you would think that there would be cameras inside that vault and people would have to sign in somewhere before entering the vault.
                  I have heard horror stories of families racing to the bank when a loved one died before the bank employees got word the loved one had passed. The loved one had put ALL the important papers they had in that bank safe. If the family did not get the paperwork, their hands were tied until the courts stepped in. In so many ways, it’s more cost effective to have a safe at home. I looked into it and to have a safe firmly anchored in a wall or floor is not that expensive for the job it does.

                  I feel very bad for the lady in the news story. I hope she gets her stuff and her money back.

    4. Not A Manager*

      You can keep an eye on your credit score. Change your passwords. Some products allow you to “lock” your settings so that no one can change or port your account without a confirmation phone call (my phone provider does this, for example).

      But in reality, you’ve filled out a million forms in your lifetime and most of them are stored electronically even if you didn’t fill them out electronically. Your SSN is probably on ten thousand of them. (These are not real numbers; your actual number will vary.) My own feeling is that this information is out there and is probably not entirely secure, and that sucks, but accidentally misplacing your card (even if someone else finds it) probably doesn’t place you at all that much greater risk than you already are.

      1. KoiFeeder*

        I wish that made me feel better, but my anxiety is throwing a house party and all I have is a mop.

    5. Nervous Nellie*

      Two things – if you set security freezes with the credit reporting agencies, you will not be able to create an online account with Soc Sec. But that’s OK, because you likely will already have to visit a Soc Sec office in person. The bonus of visiting in person is that at that time you can also create a Soc Sec freeze that protects your soc sec account from any funny business. They start the process with you in person, and then follow up by mailing you PIN numbers and thawing instructions within a few days. It’s painless.

      Depending on your level of concern, you could also visit irs.gov and print and mail a Form 14039, asking the IRS to send you a new custom PIN in January of each year to use when you file your taxes. It ensures that you and only you can file your return. That means that if anyone found your SSN card, there would be little they could do with it.

      And then of course the usual – have a look at your online banking roughly every week, and if you have an online account with a doctor/medical clinic or with health insurance, check in on those every now and then to see if there are any visits/transactions listed that you did not make. It’s highly improbable that it could be a problem, but if you get in the habit of checking in now & then, you will be able to squash anything quickly. And don’t worry too much about this – the to-do list might be tedious, but the protections you set up will be good forever.

    6. MissDisplaced*

      I lost my wallet one time at a gas station and it had a replica SS card in it. Within a month, they took it to another state and opened up credit cards in my name. Fortunately, it wasn’t too bad, and I didn’t have to change my number, but definitely call the Social Security Department and report it. They can advise whether or not you will need to be issued a new number or just a replacement card.

  28. Bex*

    About a month ago, my partner and I were granted full guardianship of my younger half brother. It was an intense period of time following some really nasty family stuff.

    I’m having so much trouble adjusting to him in the house. Not on the big stuff, but little stuff – like no longer lounging topless on the couch when I get home from work, being aware of volume during intimate times, no longer running from the shower to washer/dryer because I forgot to pull my clean clothes out earlier. Stuff like that.

    We are delighted we have him, would fight and go through everything a million times over to get him again if needed. But it’s a weird adjustment.

    1. Jedi Squirrel*

      Congratulations!

      It seems like mostly a privacy/planning thing, and that’s normal when you bring a new person who isn’t an infant into your home. (Depending on his age, he may not even be aware.) He may be having some of the same issues on his end, too.

      I’m sure this will all turn out great for the three of you. I’d love to hear an update down the road.

      1. Bex*

        Yeah, we’re all finding our new footing with one another. We’ve all made a lot of use of room speakers and loud music for personal private times. And he’s 14, old enough that we can tell him “listen, when our door is closed and music is on, please don’t knock or disturb us unless it’s a serious emergency.”

        Regardless of the adjustments, we’re all happy. :)

    2. fposte*

      I’m glad you’ve been able to make a home for him. I get weird about sharing even with beloved weekend guests, so I can totally understand how this would be a disruption for you.

      1. Bex*

        Lol yes! Our animals are having the hardest time – he got our spare room where they used to sleep and lounge, and they’re all unhappy when his door is closed on them.

    3. Wishing You Well*

      Congratulations and Deep Respect for fighting for your brother.
      Best Wishes for the future.

    4. LNLN*

      Maybe shop for a comfy robe or long, loose tshirt to change into after work or toss on for runs to the dryer. And best wishes to you all!

    5. allathian*

      Congrats and good luck!
      It’s certainly a bit different when you’re raising a teenager as opposed to bringing home an infant. My son will soon celebrate his 11th birthday and we’re adjusting to having a tween in the house who’s suddenly become more particular about what clothes he wants to wear and his privacy. So I can sort of get an idea about what you’re going through, but only sort of.

    6. Sh’Dynasty*

      I feel you. It sounds like due to circumstances outside of your control, you have another human to take care of. It takes SO MUCH TIME prepping for another life- mentally, physically, emotionally. And you weren’t given that time.
      Be patient with yourself in the learning process of this new normal. I’d also recommend carving out some “old normal” time- maybe reading/gaming/tv-ing in your room in whatever attire makes you feel FREE.
      FYI those intimate times, I’m a newish parent and we’re still figuring out noise levels. Things our parents never told us much?

  29. Foreign Octopus*

    I’m caught in a weird passive-aggressive war that I want out of.

    As some of you know, I’m currently living in my parents’ home in Spain whilst I save money for general life things. About six months ago, they fell out with a neighbour (English immigrant, not Spanish native) and things have descended into uncomfortable passive aggression. By virtue of living here, I’m caught up in it though I desperately don’t want to be as any time I have to see this man I spiral into anxiety after the interaction.

    Some recent examples of his behaviour towards me have been telling me to make sure that my dog didn’t get near his – I was on the other side of a country road, holding both dogs steady whilst he passed. I wanted to tell him that if he was so concerned then he should keep his dog away from mine but I didn’t. Another was when I was walking the dogs – mine and my parents’ – and came across him. One of the dogs wouldn’t move so I decided to wait at the side of the road until he passed and he deliberately walked close to me instead of crossing the road to make sure we didn’t end up in a tangle of dogs – it’s been known to happen around here. (I should point out, there are a limited number of walks around here and we’d cross paths anyway given the way the roads are, so changing my route isn’t an option.)

    The thing is, he never does this to my parents. If I’m walking with them, he keeps himself to himself. It’s obvious he’s afraid of my dad – Dad’s tall and broad and has always been aware that his height is intimidating for some and works to negate that, and my mum has perpetual resting bitch face – and won’t say anything to Mum, so it seems as if he’s working his annoyance and anger over whatever the argument was about (I have no idea what happened as I was off on a weekend break at the time) on me. I’d very much like it to stop but I know it won’t so I can only change my reaction to what’s happening.

    It’s got to the stage where I dread taking my dog out – something I normally love doing as we amble through the countryside and I can listen to podcasts at the time – and I hate that this situation has done that to me. I’ve stopped mentioning these incidents to my parents as it just gets them riled up and that, in itself, is exhausting. I’m either one step away from bursting into tears on the next event, or one step away from losing my temper and making everything worse.

    How do I handle this passive aggression to find a better mental space for myself?

    1. tangerineRose*

      Are you sure that bursting into tears would be a bad idea? It might get him to realize he shouldn’t treat you this way.

      1. Nom de Plume*

        This. He is being awful to you, and crying when something is awful is normal. I see no reason to protect him from the consequences of his actions.

    2. fposte*

      tangerineRose makes a legit point.

      Alternatively, you could play happy and dumb. You know nothing of your parents’ doings, and look, here’s your nice neighbor! “Morning, Juan, how you doin’? Dogs look good today.” “Beautiful day, Juan, right? Nice to get out.” He snarls about keeping the dogs away from him? “Hey, no problem, buddy” (because it isn’t, since they’re already away from him). This isn’t to goad him or even make him respond in kind (though it may take the fun out of his glowering); it’s to reframe you from being a reactor to an actor, and to give you an alternative action to losing your temper. I think right now what makes this so uncomfortable is that you feel like you’re at the mercy of whatever he does, and if you can start out with a plan for what *you* do instead that might make you feel less stuck.

      1. A New Normal*

        I’ve had really good luck with this sort of response and I stumbled on it by accident. Back in college I had one person who I was continually at odds with and, since we were in the same program in a small school, we had a lot of chances to be at odds. It wasn’t quite like this guy but every time I spoke up in class, she HAD to be the next person to speak and say why I was wrong. Over and over and over again. I was so frustrated until one day I realized all that arguing had really pushed me to be a better student and to really examine my beliefs rather than just parroting someone else’s thoughts. So the next time I saw her I was genuinely excited and might have been a bit overwhelming in my greeting.

        She never argued with me again.

        As long as you’re the one leading the interaction, it can be a great way to throw him off-balance and make those interactions uncomfortable for him without giving him any ammunition. The key, for me, is to filter whatever they say through a happy-smiley-land filter so I’m responding to the nicest possible read. “Keep your dogs away from mine” becomes “my dogs don’t have time to play” and I’d say something like “Aww, my dogs like yours, too! But, yeah, we don’t have time to stop today. It’s too nice out here!” and walk on. As humans, we run on scripts and when someone responds so totally off-script, it throws us. So that’s your goal. Respond so cheerfully in such a slightly off way that he’s the one floundering for an answer.

        It’s at least worth a try and it can be seriously amusing to see someone grumpy try to figure out this new landscape.

      2. university minion*

        This! I may be too blunt in general, but why not just say, “Hey, my parents’ beef with you isn’t my beef, so we’re cool as far as I’m concerned.”? That puts it in his court and you can go about your life (or hear what he has to say). He’s probably just as freaked out and unsure of what to do/say/how to act as you are!

        1. valentine*

          why not just say, “Hey, my parents’ beef with you isn’t my beef, so we’re cool as far as I’m concerned.”?
          Yes. He’s English, so, you won’t be as much on the back foot if you discuss it in English? Be sure to mention you don’t even know what the beef is and you don’t want to know, that it’s their collective business and you just want to live in peace. You might also say it’s for the sake of the dogs.

    3. Leopard*

      I guess another idea, if it’s easier than having to say something, would be to stare coldly and and silently, then raise an eyebrow, like “I see what you’re doing.” Or even just asking”Really?” Or saying, “Bold.” This, from my experience living in the UK, is a common English way of handling such situations. :)

      Also, I don’t know if you speak English or Spanish together, but isn’t it nice how clearly and literally you can command someone to move away from you in Spanish? I’m not sure if that would be considered rude in Spain… but it is handy.

    4. Nacho*

      The nice thing about passive aggression is that it’s passive. You’re free to just ignore it. Keep listening to those podcasts and you won’t even hear him.

      1. Traffic_Spiral*

        This. Assuming there isn’t any actual problem with the dogs, feel free to tune him out like he’s a parent in a snoopy cartoon that only makes “woop wawmp waah” noises. Just smile and wave and then keep doing your thing. If he keeps on pushing it, shrug him off.

        Him: “keep your dogs away.”
        You: [wave, smile, keep doing exactly what you were doing].

        Him: [walks up to you with his dogs] “keep your dogs away”
        You: [keep walking exactly how you were] “Ok, we’re going here, guess you should probably go that way then.
        Him: [blergaity blab blab].
        You: “Yeah, ok, so we’re going this way, feel free to do whatever.”

    5. Courageous cat*

      Maybe talk to him about it. It doesn’t sound like any of that is worth spiraling into anxiety over. Either be snarky or genuine, I don’t think it matters much either way, but don’t be silent and scared imo – it sounds like it’s allowing you to build this up enough that it’s making you change YOUR behavior, which isn’t right. Hold your ground on it, and keep doing what you’re doing with your dogs. He is absolutely not worth dread.

      Personally if he said “make sure your dog doesn’t get near mine” I would say “Sure if you make sure yours didnt get near mine either”. If he deliberately walked close to me I would probably say “Is that necessary? Could you give me more space next time?”

      It doesn’t sound like it can really make things a whole lot worse at this point.

    6. Not So NewReader*

      I have an odd answer and you may or may not be able to apply it to your setting.

      Long story short I had difficulty with a neighbor. I talked around with other people. One person suggested I call his daughter. I did. I started the conversation by saying, “I am afraid I have upset your father and I did not mean to. I am calling because I was wondering if you could help here….” Once I told the particulars it became apparent to her that her dad was over the line.

      The daughter spoke to her father and that was the end of that. Like you are saying, I was afraid to go out in my own yard because of what happened. The situation was ridiculous and I had to find a way to stop it.

    7. Foreign Octopus*

      Thanks for everyone’s replies, I really appreciate you taking the time to comment.

      Most here seem to be of the opinion that I act normally and don’t let the passive aggression sink in, which was what I was thinking before I thought I’d check the hive mind. It’s frustrating that this is happening because I hate that it plays into the stereotypes some Spanish have about the English – as far as I’m aware, none of the locals know that there’s tension but it’s difficult to tell in a small village, so who knows. I suppose I’m just hyper aware of all interactions at the moment because of Brexit.

      Going forward, I’m going to keep my earphones in, listen to my podcast, and just give him a cheery hello every time I see him. It’s up to him how he takes that.

      Thanks everyone, you’ve helped ease my anxiety over this.

  30. Oldbiddy*

    Anyone want to share their experiences being on Wellbutrin? My Dr just prescribed it to me for mild ADD symptoms since that’s apparently one of its off-label uses.
    I’m 51, probably been somewhat ADD all my life but compensated by taking advantage of my ability to hyperfocus on things I like. With perimenopause, more distractions, more adulting etc in my life now it is not working so well anymore.

    1. The Gollux, Not a Mere Device*

      I’ve been very happy with it, taking it for depression (so, on-label). I’ve been taking it long enough that Gollux-with-Wellbutrin is now my baseline, so I don’t know whether it’s any help for focusing.

      Part of why I like Wellbutrin is that, unlike SSRIs, it doesn’t reduce libido or enjoyment. (I’m keeping it PG here.)

    2. Wishing You Well*

      Be sure to take Wellbutrin as prescribed and ask your doctor when you should see results. You really need to know if it’s not working or if it’s causing side effects. Because the results can be so individualized, I recommend finding a Wellbutrin online group to find out more. I hope it works for you!

      1. Old Biddy*

        thanks! I have a followup appointment scheduled in 2 months and will check out the online groups

    3. anonymous4this*

      Another person. It is my baseline. I’m finally on a dose that works for my issue(s).
      It took a little to ramp up to it. Note, the life changing part of it was not apparently to me, until my therapist noted that I was more steady and settled (brain was rabbiting all over). I don’t take it just for that – I started on it for depression – but I didn’t realize I had other issues until I got out of the fog. I cannot imagine my life “now” if I were not taking it and my other steps.

    4. Anony today*

      I just got off it for the third time, and I’m done. It works wonderfully for me for the first nine months or so. It eases my depression and makes me feel like everything isn’t horrible. But I also suffer from anxiety and Wellbutrin really seems to amp it up over time. The anxiety side of my life will be fine for months, and then it starts creeping up. Each time, it takes me too long to consider that it might be the drug.

      The last straw this time was when I was driving home from work and had to turn at the last second because I was scared to drive over a bridge. I’ve never had a bridge phobia! A few years ago I decided to get off it when I realized I could make myself scared of anything by thinking of it. “Am I scared of roundabouts? Yes!” “Am I scared of slipping on this sidewalk in the rain? Yes!” And the weird panicky fears went away within a month of stopping.

      Bummer, because I probably need to be on an antidepressant and this was the best one I’ve found. My therapist said she’s heard this from multiple clients and she doesn’t suggest this drug for anybody with anxiety problems.

    5. anon for this*

      I was on it for a year and it did basically nothing for most of that. Then during a low stress time I had a MASSIVE panic attack with severe derealization (nothing remotely like it before or since) which ended with me sobbing in the fetal position. Dropped the Wellbutrin and never went back.

      That said, a friend of mine who wasn’t doing well on SSRIs found Wellbutrin to do the trick, and very straightforwardly! Neurochemistry is remarkably idiosyncratic and hard to predict. Here’s hoping for a positive outcome! :)

      1. Oldbiddy*

        Thanks! it’s really useful to know to look out for this. so far it seems to be helping with my distractable rabbit brain, but it’s only been a few days

    6. Pennalynn Lott*

      Wellbutrin for ADD? It’s not at all a first-line drug for ADD. Are you also on a stimulant (Vyvanse, Concerta, Adhansia, etc)?

      I ask because my now ex-boyfriend has ADD and was prescribed Wellbutrin and. . . nothing. Not a blip. Because it’s an antidepressant and he’s not depressed. But I saw huge changes when he started taking Vyvanse.

      1. ArtsNerd*

        My therapist (note: therapist) told me she does not want to see me on a stimulant if I can at all help it. My psychiatrist apparently agrees because I’m back on wellbutrin for lethargy & executive dysfunction, even though it triggered a hypomanic episode last time. (So far so good when combined with a mood stabilizer.)

        The problem with these conversations is that it’s a huge game of roulette when you’re trying to predict individual outcomes. You can see trends and common side effects, etc. but what’s one patient’s personal hell will almost be someone else’s lifesaver. It’s similar to hormonal birth control: you can’t know if it’s good, terrible, or meh until you’re on it. And I hate that but that’s what we have to work with for now.

    7. ArtsNerd*

      The first go around, a dosage increase triggered a hypomanic episode for me (my first!). I had other risk factors, including persistent depression, and it’s not particularly common, but if you have underlying bipolar it could surface it. If you’re not struggling with depression, then I wouldn’t worry about it, but if you are, it’s something to watch out for.

      Wellbutrin increases my heart rate to over 100bpm resting, and I can’t do caffeine until my body adjusts to the dosage. Another weird adjustment thing is that it ever-so-slightly affects my cognition around diction and language. I used to be able to type out long posts and everything would be on point when I hit submit, but on Wellbutrin I have to be more diligent for typos, wrong word choices, etc. because I don’t see them right away like I used to. It also subtly messes with my vision perception? I can see just fine, it just feels… different somehow.

      But so far round two (paired with a mood stabilizer) is going quite well. I didn’t realize how much it was helping my ADD until I went off it the first time and felt the full force of my executive dysfunction.

      1. ArtsNerd*

        Oh and it makes my migraines worse, whereas lots of people see headache improvements on it, to the point where migraine is an off-label usage. It’s basically impossible to predict individual outcomes with this stuff! I liken it to hormonal birth control: one person’s savior is another’s personal hell. You can’t know if it’s good, awful, or ‘meh’ for you until you take it.

        For me the benefits well outweigh the cons for now. It’s an ongoing conversation with my doctors of course.

  31. Fellow Traveler*

    What are your positive tiny habits? I listened to an NPR story about behavioral change, and one of the key things they talked about was starting with a small habit. (The guy they interviewed said he did two push-ups every time he went to the bathroom.). things I’ve been trying: read two pages of a book while nursing baby or pumping (instead of just mindlessly internet scrolling), take a walk around the block once a day before I eat lunch, and doing squats while trying to get the baby to sleep. I’m trying to figure out tiny habits to help me connect with my spouse more (since we work opposite hours), and to eat less junk food.
    Would love to hear ideas for other tiny habits!

    1. fposte*

      Mine’s a workplace one. Our kitchens don’t really get much cleaning, so a while ago I decided that while I waited for the microwave to ding I’d wipe stuff down. I always hated that waste time anyway, and it makes me feel benevolent in a way that cleaning my own kitchen doesn’t.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        That is funny you should mention this. I have started a similar thing around the house. I wipe things down while I am waiting for the tea water to boil. The dog run is off the laundry room so I check/fold laundry while I am waiting for the dog.
        I am looking at ways to do some of the mindless things while waiting for something else.

    2. coffee cup*

      I read somewhere about every time you leave a room take something with you (to put away elsewhere or tidy up). I’ve been trying to do this as a start to becoming less untidy.

        1. Seeking Second Childhood*

          Mom did this. She also kept a basket on the staircase to gather things she’d bring up the next time.
          I have to hang something on the bannister because it’s a trip hazard for my husband who just doesn’t notice the floor.

    3. Lena Clare*

      What a great thread :-)

      I throw something out when I buy something new (or recycle it or what have you).
      I’m trying to get into the habit of measuring my food out in handfuls to get used to smaller, correct, portions.

    4. Laura H.*

      I’m washing my hands a little bit more frequently when at home. In small part because of the virus, moreso because I live with my parents who each in their own ways would be hit harder if they got sick (I’ve always been a bit lax about it at home, not sure why).

        1. allathian*

          Same here. I’m pretty good about doing that, but I should do it every time, even when I don’t need to go to the bathroom as soon as I get in.

    5. T. Boone Pickens*

      I have to and I mean HAVE to make my bed each morning. My gym going is sometimes hit or miss so when I feel myself slacking I’ll bang out some kettlebell swings or squats while I wait for my coffee maker to brew a cup.

      1. Parenthetically*

        HARD agree on the bed-making. It makes a hugely disproportionate difference in how nice/peaceful our room looks, and if it kick-starts another chore, so much the better — but even if it doesn’t at least I got the bed made today!

    6. Meepmeep*

      For a “connect with your spouse” tiny habit, how about sending cute little text messages every so often? Little emoji or whatever?

      1. Fellow Traveler*

        That sounds cute! I think I get hung up because I get busy at work and forget to think about him – so I think I need some sort of trigger. Or maybe I just set an alert on my phone?
        My husband has a “Hug the kids” alarm every night- he says during bedtime when he is about to lose his patience with the kids the alarm helps him take a moment to connect.

    7. Fikly*

      My sister and her husband have been doing this journal together since they were dating. It’s five years worth of one question per day. They will usually discuss their thoughts and then write them down, but since you work opposite hours, you could both leave your answers as notes.

      Search for one question a day five year journal. There’s a bunch of diferent ones now, I think.

    8. NoLongerYoung*

      It sounds like BJ Fogg? You can sign up for his reminders too. I really like his material (actually went to one of his trainings for a work thing). Lots of folks are adapting it now, but he’s really done some great research (Stanford) and has a good book and articles to support his approach, too.

      I did much better with taking my B/special vitamins when I tried them to the evening, when I was already taking my calcium and evening med just before I brush my teeth. The vitamin drawer is already open, I was consistently taking the calcium, and I just had to take a few more, instead of trying to remember to take them in the morning when I was hurrying so much for work.
      I am now remembering to take the morning items (allergy, rx), because I linked them to taking while I am making the second coffee.
      The end result is, I am now keeping my medication levels consistent (example, I can breathe all day & night through my nose!), and I am getting my vitamins every day. (Thanks NSNR for the B vitamin reminder – that plus D & magnesium have made a perceptible difference!).

      Who knew that linking “remembering” to the coffee in the morning and evening teeth brushing would mean that I have energy and sleep better?

    9. WellRed*

      I love the idea of tiny habits as long as they don’t turn into mini multi tasking nightmares. I get putting dishes away while microwaving something but can’t see value in reading one page while breastfeeding. No judgment, just my thoughts. There’s something to be said for downtime.

      1. Seeking Second Childhood*

        Depends on what you’re reading I guess. Favorite novel you’re dying to get to vs something you’re studying.

    10. leukothea*

      I have an electric toothbrush that “dings” every 30 seconds so I am sure to spend the full 2 minutes brushing. For the first minute, I stretch out my inner thigh by doing a deep lunge, and for the second minute I stretch out the other leg. It has now become a habit that I do automatically.

    11. RC Rascal*

      Pick a reasonable time (say 10PM), and the TV goes off after that (no internet, either). If you aren’t tired yet, you don’t have to go to bed, you can read, lay out tomorrow’ outfit, empty the dishwasher, etc. But no media.

      I used to have the bad habit of staying up late watching TV and it negatively affected my work performance. This was in my twenties, when I thought a regular habit of 5-6 hours of sleep was NBD. Turns, out, it was a BD.

    12. Seeking Second Childhood*

      Funny that he uses bathroom as a reminder– that’s one of mine too. I do one set of PT stretches every time I go to the bathroom (to keep my formerly frozen shoulder from tightening back up) and refill my water glass.
      When I worked on the 4th floor , I walked up at least once a week, and always walked down. I still try to use stairs wherever I go.
      I get my grocery cart from the middle of the lot where I park, bring in two if I see another…and return my cart to the front not the rack in the lot.
      I need a habit like this for household paperwork.

  32. Jessen*

    So after all the general mess of the last couple months (apartment fire with losing a pet, losing a close family member to cancer, few other things), I’m happy to say I adopted a new kitty.

    I’m a little shocked they just let me walk out with him – they really should have done more checking – but they seemed pretty desperate to get him into a home. He’s 10 years old, solid black, and doesn’t handle kids very well. Very friendly with a very loud purr. A friend of mine who works at the pet store posted him on facebook; they’d been hosting him for a local rescue and he’d been there a few weeks.

    So how’d everyone here come to meet their fur babies?

    1. Jellyfish*

      One of my boyfriend’s co-workers found themselves in an untenable financial situation and started asking around to find a home for their dog. She was a skittish pitbull with past abuse, so not a pup who would have done well in the shelter.

      Boyfriend asked if I wanted to meet the dog. I agreed, and that was that. Ten years later, boyfriend is now husband, and the dog is snuggled up next to me on the couch as I type.

      The kitties came from the shelter. I don’t have exciting stories for them. :)

    2. HowImetmycat*

      Changing my name because this will blow my anonymity. My husband is an auto mechanic and one day his co-worker went out to a car that had been dropped off the night before, took it for a test drive, came back, popped the hood and went something along the lines of “Holy **** there’s a kitten on this engine.” Poor baby was tangled up in the wiring and couldn’t get loose and it’s a miracle he didn’t cook to death or have any injuries whatsoever from taking a ride on a car engine. They were unable to track down an owner and since the night before had been cool we think he was either a stray that momma cat kicked out or (more likely) someone dumped him and he climbed into the still-warm engine to warm up, then got caught in the wiring and couldn’t get out the next morning.

      My husband is (was, heehee) not a cat person and always wanted a dog, but hetexted me at work and told me I didn’t have a choice in the matter, this kitten was coming home with him because he was in love. I’ve always wanted a cat and told my husband if he would’ve let him go to a shelter I would’ve made him go find him anyway.

      My little guy was 2 pounds when we got him and the vet thinks about 8 weeks old. Now he’s 3 1/2 years old and a very tall and muscular 19 pounds. He’s also very demanding and full of personality. (He’s on Instagram as @adventuresofapache if anyone wants to see him).

      A month later we got our little girl from a shelter so he didn’t have to be alone all day long while we were at work. She’s adorable but doesn’t take pictures well, so she only pops up on my cat Instagram occasionally.

      That’s how I got my fur babies. Best wishes to your new kitty!

    3. Nom de Plume*

      I had just decided to end my marriage to a man who said “no more cats” after our then current one died. I went out that weekend and adopted a kitten. They wouldn’t let me get 2 at the same time (something about bonding) so I went back the next weekend with my son and he picked out another. They are the best cats.

      I got my husky when my boyfriend (now fiancé) moved in. About a month after he moved in, we decided we wanted to get a puppy together. I had been looking online for about a week and I finally saw a puppy I was interested in. I filled out an application and we drove to another state to get her. She’s such an amazing dog. She’s always by my side.

    4. ThatGirl*

      We had decided it was time to adopt a dog, and came across a listing that looked ideal for us. Put in an application and were told he’d been adopted, but they would keep our name. We met a different dog we didn’t quite mesh with. Then the first rescue called and said the pup had been returned due to severe allergies. It was meant to be and he’s been here six years :)

    5. Animal worker*

      I was volunteering at a local shelter on behavioral issues as animal training is my background, and was asked to help socialize shy cats. I had previously spent about 6 months considering and researching getting a cat (I’ve posted here before about having large parrots already as well), and had pretty well decided to move forward on it. Being asked to work with cats was totally coincidental, but about three months later I adopted one of the two cats who was my first assignment, as she and I had bonded and she hadn’t been adopted yet even though she was beautiful (a Tortie) and had really come out of her shell by that point. I’m about eight months in and she’s doing really well, including integrating safely into the parrot household (never out with them when I’m not around, though).

    6. Marzipan*

      Many years ago I had a hamster I found down a drain.

      I was living (somewhat unofficially) in a shared house with friends, and I popped round to the corner shop one day and saw this little furry thing wandering around in an alley, and thought ‘What IS that? A rat… nope, that’s a hamster,’ whereupon it wandered down a drain. So I thought, ‘oh well, that was weird but one of those things’ and went to the shop.

      Then, on the way back, I saw it again – it had come back out of the drain by that point – so I decided I had to attempt to capture it. Since I’d bought a loaf of sliced white, I lured it away from the drain with a trail of bread, and then grabbed it and chucked it in my shopping bag (I wasn’t sure whether it would turn out to be a bitey hamster or not) and legged it back home. By the time I got there it had climbed out of the bag and up to my shoulder and I basically had to knock the door and yell ‘Quick, find something to put it in!’ at my housemate, who understandably reacted ‘WHAT IS THAT?’ (it was a white hamster but was completely filthy and matted from its drain adventures). And we dug out an old empty fishtank and temporarily housed him in there until I could sort him out properly. So that was quite dramatic, as hamster-acquisition goes.

    7. I'm A Little Teapot*

      Well, first kitty Sibley (who died almost a year ago) was acquired after this tiny, dirty kitten showed up on the back porch of a building at my childhood church. Office staff new my family was short a cat, so they called my mom. 12 year old me ended up crawling under the porch, in a skirt, after this tiny kitten. It took months to get her healthy, and she turned out to be pure white – the initial vet paperwork listed her as grey. She was indisputably my cat, so when I grew up and moved out I took her with me. She died of old age/heart issues end of April last year, nearly 20 years old.

      Once I’d moved out with Sibley, it became clear that Sibley was lonely and wanted another kitty around. So in April 2008 I adopted 8wk old Arwen from the local shelter. That was very uneventful, except for the part where she was coming down with a kitty cold when they fixed her, she stopped eating and nearly starved to death before we got things back on track. Arwen is now a slightly pudgy 12 year old kitty who is going to get herself in trouble shortly with the current misbehavior. (update: yep, Arwen got yelled at for harassing Jill)

      After Sibley died last year, it turned out that while Arwen doesn’t really like other cats she apparently really likes having another cat around. I did a hospice foster of a male kitty with thyroid, heart and kidney issues, he passed away just before Thanksgiving last year. Having determined that Arwen was capable of eventually getting along with a new cat, I adopted Jill just before Christmas. Jill is about 8.5 years old, very sweet, and it turned out very unsocialized. I’m working on it, she’s getting better but still unsure about me. Jill and Arwen are working on a relationship, generally friendly but separate.

    8. cat socks*

      Congrats on your new kitty!

      Literally all my cats have shown up on the doorstep. One was clearly someone’s pet, but we had no luck finding his family. I suspect they put him outside due to having some litter box issues.

      The others I’ve taken into the vet to get neutered and vaccinated. The goal was to foster them, but it was hard finding homes. We got attached and ended up keeping them. I’m currently at five cats.

      I would happily adopt from a shelter but have never had a need because they always come to me!

    9. Claire (Scotland)*

      A former colleague and her husband had adopted a kitten as a companion for their older female cat. Unfortunately their cat did NOT appreciate this and was stressed and unhappy with the kitten in the house. After a few months of trying everything they could, with their vet’s help, they reluctantly decided to rehome the kitten. A mutual colleague knew I had recently been considering getting a cat, so when she heard they were looking for a new home for him she suggested they get in touch. We talked, they agreed to give him to me, and on November Thursday evening they brought him over with all his stuff, he immediately hid behind the fridge, and he was mine. That was over 12 years ago. He’s a ridiculous darling who only likes me, and that’s fine.

    10. Windchime*

      Meeting my cat is kind of a non-story, but here is the story of how my mom met her cat, Simba:

      Mom and Dad were sitting at the kitchen table and they noticed a fat calico cat rolling around in the driveway. They didn’t think much about it. An hour or so later, Mom went outside for something else and she found a tiny, newborn kitten in that same spot where the cat had been rolling around. It was cold and covered with ants so they thought it was dead. When Dad picked it up with the shovel, it made a noise. Mom tucked the kitten into her shirt and rushed him to the vet’s office, where they cleaned him up and gave him a bottle of formula. The next six weeks were touch-and-go, but now he is a sleek and shiny 8 year old black cat who is babied beyond belief.

    11. Damn it, Hardison!*

      My husband I adopted two year old cats today! One of our cats passed in Oct. 2018 at the grand age of 22, and the other passed this January at 19 1/2. We saw a pair of young cats on Petfinder and drove to meet them Tuesday night. They were adorable, but another one really caught my husband’s eye. Fortunately there was another female about the same age available, but she had just been spayed that morning so was a little groggy and not that interested in us. The staff assured us she was sweet and laid back so we took a chance. They have been home for two hours and are total love bugs. Right now one is on my lap purring up a storm, and the other is next to me purring up a storm!

    12. Smol Book Wizard*

      My poodle came to me as a retiree from a local breeder who was downsizing due to her own age and health. I went originally to meet another of the dogs… the lord and prince of the place, a beautiful snobby black poodle… and didn’t really click with him; I was about to apologize nicely and go home but asked after the other dogs she’d mentioned looking for new homes for?
      The little brown fluffy creature who came out of the door was a bit nervous at first, but after a few minutes was glancing curiously at me. I chirped to her and she popped up to put her paws on my knees and gaze into my eyes. It’s a signature move of hers, bless her. I had to wait until her last litter of pups was born and weaned, but she came home with me a few months after and we’ve had a grand time ever since.

    13. Aurora Leigh*

      Cat #1 — Showed up at my parents place 4th of July weekend. She was either dumped or abandoned by her mom — poor thing was so tiny. She was just skin bones and mucus. It took a couple round of antibiotics to kick her upper respiratory infection (Poor thing had mucus coming out of her eyes!) but she recovered and is now a gorgeous calico, although still petite.

      Cat #2 — Former barn cat that I took in as a kitten because Cat #1 was very unhappy being home alone while I was at work. They are best buddies now!

      Cat #3 — My fiance’s cat, showed up as a dumped kitten in his family member’s yard, they were allergic, but he took her in. She is 100% his cat, regardless of the fact that I’m the one that feeds her.

      Dog #1 — Fiance (then boyfriend) and I had been dating about 6 months. We hadn’t moved in together yet, but I had been wanting a puppy for a long time, and he was persuaded (my apt didn’t allow dogs). We went to the shelter to meet a puppy and fell in love, but she was already taken. They suggested we meet another puppy. Solid black so he had been in the shelter for a bit. He fell asleep on my lap in the meet n greet room and that was it. We thought we’d have to wait a few days to get him, but they called our vet for a reference and let us bring him home that very day.

      Dog #2 — As Dog #1 got bigger, we knew we wanted him to have a buddy his own size to play with. Stalked our local shelter on petfinder and saw a gorgeous white GSD come in in July. He was 2 years old and spent most of his life on a chain. We had too many home remodeling projects to bring him home then. When to the shelter in October and he was still there — and the only dog that wasn’t barking. In December we brought him home! He has some issues, but we’re so glad we got him!

    14. MsChanandlerBong*

      Cat #1: My husband’s aunt’s neighbor had a bunch of cats that were allowed to roam the neighborhood getting in fights. Said neighbor was arrested for domestic violence, so the aunt asked if we wanted one of the cats. We’ve now had her for almost 10 years.
      Cat #2: He invited himself inside when I opened the door to get the mail. Never left.
      Cat #3: Someone dumped him and his siblings in my mother’s yard. Mom was at her limit of cats, so we took him.
      Cat #4: Craigslist
      Cat #5: Craigslist

    15. Disco Janet*

      Brought it up for months until my husband caved, haha. We both grew up with dogs, but our work days are too long to get one without hiring a dog walker, which is a hard to find thing in our area. So I started trying to persuade him to let me get a cat. He caved a few weeks ago as an anniversary gift. Then when we went to the shelter to pick one out, we ended up really liking two that were a bonded pair…so now we have to cats!

      They were found outside as strays at about 8 months old and no one claimed them, but I think they must have been in someone’s home at some point, because they don’t seem feral at all. They’re super gentle and easy going, don’t use their claws except for happy kneading, and want lots of attention.

  33. Free Hotel Room*

    Through a hotel booking site, I have a hotel room voucher (up to $200) I need to use by early April. I’m based in NYC and considering a weekend trip to Miami or Fort Lauderdale but the costs add up. Any suggestions for how to use it, locally or otherwise, while minimizing other travel costs?

    1. WellRed*

      Well, from NYC you have so many options to use public transport to hit up some place in southern NE, Philly, etc. That won’t help if you want warm beaches however. What about a place (is it a specific hotel?) that has a great location, in house restaurant and pool, if you just need to chill for the weekend?

      1. Anonnington*

        But NYC will have warm beaches soon! The weather is going to warm up. Starting on Monday.

        I would check out all the local options. $200 is about the cost of one night at a hotel in this area, but you might be able to fit in two.

        1. WellRed*

          Ha! You must be a penguin. Not sure about NY but beach weather must be two months away at least. Though I do love beaches in the off season. Cape Cod?

          1. Anonnington*

            There were people swimming at the beach here last week. I thought it was still too cold, but they may have been penguins! It’s going to be 67 on Monday. That will be good beach weather.

    2. KR*

      Are you trying to get somewhere warm specifically? The Carolinas could be a good option, or an all-inclusive sort of hotel with a nice indoor pool.

      1. Clisby*

        The Carolinas are unlikely to be all that warm by early April. Granted, “warm” is in the eye of the beholder, and you’d likely get plenty of days in the high 60s, so fine for walking around. It’s not going to be warm enough to sunbathe or swim in the ocean.

    3. Nacho*

      Try calling them and letting them know you’d like to use it, but can’t due to the corona virus. I work at one of those sites and nearly everybody is canceling their reservations. I’d give pretty good odds a manager will offer to extend it until the summer for you.

    4. Cheesesteak in Paradise*

      You can try SkyScanner which lets you put in travel dates then shows where you can go sorted by price. If you want a weekend getaway but are flexible about where to, you could see what it turns up.

    5. mreasy*

      I once decided to relieve stress by taking a luxurious vacation in the city. I booked myself a (modest) hotel room in a neighborhood I liked far away from mine, and spent the time relaxing away from the stressors/distractions of home (I also got a room with a bathtub which I don’t have at home). Might feel silly but a good way to use a voucher you have anyway. Maybe something near Central Park if you’re not already in that area?

      1. Seeking Second Childhood*

        We once stayed in a Helmsley hotel in NYC that had a bathtub big enough for my 6ft tall husband to lie down & stretch out…made the trip worth it for him. That and not having to travel after a late event.

  34. Anonnington*

    I’m trying to decide on the best flea and tick prevention method for my dog. He’s more sensitive to fleas than most dogs, so he was on chewables for a few years. During that time, he had two epidodes of unexplained muscle tremors. One of those episodes was preceded by someone giving him a chocolate chip cookie (!!!!!), which he ate before I could intervene. So it was probably the chocolate. The other episode was more severe, and remains a mystery.

    I want to switch him to something safer. I know the topicals and collars also have some issues. Has anyone tried natural flea and tick prevention? If so, how well did it work? And what exactly did you use?

    1. I'm A Little Teapot*

      Your best option is to talk to your vet. There is some regional variation in what is effective, and your vet is going to know what really won’t work. From there, you can discuss pros/cons of various options. I wouldn’t rely exclusively on the “natural” prevention, because if it worked then there wouldn’t be so many fleas around. I would not use anything that you can buy in the grocery store either, unless your vet has specifically recommended it.

    2. Not So NewReader*

      A veterinary-chiropractor might be able to help with the muscle tremor situation. My guy has twitches in his sleep. It used to be worse, he would slam me* in his sleep with these twitches. (I let him sleep next to me.) Now his twitches are rare and more like flutters. I am pretty sure it had to do with minerals in his diet.

      (*Slam me: His leg would slam into me so hard that I would almost fall out of bed. I would check him and he was in a deep, deep sleep. He never realized he hit me. I ended up feeling bad for him as that could not possibly be a restful sleep. He had other symptoms/behavioral problems that I would expect a being to have when they did not get enough good sleep.)

      I have tried a lot of naturals and I have ended up going with Front Line or similar spendy OTC. I am in tick country and it gets nasty here. Most people I know now have Lyme disease. I am pretty sure I have it. Lyme is a bfd around here.

      My point is if you break this into two separate questions you probably will find answers. For me treating the twitches (spams), freed me up to be less concerned about using the OTC. I am not happy with using synthetics but this is a case where I feel I have to.
      The vet-chiro agreed with me that in this area we do have to go with the OTCs for ticks. It’s just bad here. This is a person who knows more natural solutions for things than I will ever learn.

      1. Anonnington*

        Fortunately, he only had tremors twice, and it was more than a year ago!

        First Epidode: He woke up in the middle of the night with the lower half of his body doing one big twitch every minute or so. He looked really scared. I found a vet that was open, called a cab, and took him out to the yard to see if some fresh air and a stroll might help. He could walk. But he kept looking at me like, “Mom, what’s going on???” It stopped as soon as we got to the vet’s office, so they couldn’t do much about it. It didn’t happen until . . .

        Episode Two: I performed in another city and brought him with me. After the show, there was a reception with food and a variety of beverages. Someone drank too much and gave him a chocolate chip cookie. Later that night, he woke up having the same kind of full body tremors. But it only lasted about fifteen minutes. Then he seemed to be ok. I think it was the chocolate. But I was really tired from driving there, so I didn’t wake up enough to get out my phone and find a local emergency vet. Fortunately, he was fine.

        But I’ve heard that the chewable flea prevention pills can cause tremors like this. Maybe I’ll switch to Frontline.

        1. Not So NewReader*

          The first episode sounds like it could be constipation. Does that sound plausible?

          My poor little buddy had a horrible episode with constipation where he could not keep both ends of his body standing up at the same time.

          1. Anonnington*

            It was like muscle twitches, but half of his body would twitch at once. The vet said it could have been a seizure. But he was alert and acting normal. Just having this spasm. So I looked it up online and found videos of the same thing happening to other dogs. Apparently, it can be caused by eating chocolate or a very minor spinal injury, like the dog bumped into something and it bruised his spine a bit. Either were possible. He could have found some chocolate somehow.

    3. Emma*

      Not sure if this is helpful, but I’m very sparing with the Nexgard tick pills. I usually only start them once a dog has a tick, and then they’re typically good for 3 months or more (supposed to be a 1 month pill). They seem very powerful.

    4. NoLongerYoung*

      Seizure from the meds…
      Some years ago, when we were very poor, but with two wonderful dogs (a lhasa and a shih tzu – rescues) – we lived in a place with a 2 acre yard, lots of feral wildlife, lots of tick options.

      I had one of the less expensive (bought in Pet Club) flea drop “medications” – it gave the Lhasa seizure like symptoms (the vet said it was as if he were a cat that had been given it – no warnings about dogs on it, was made for dogs). The shih tzu, same size, same dose – no problems.

      I bought the prescription stuff forever more. Chewables, not drops, and even now, I use a pill splitter and space them out over 2 days every treatment. (it’s a flea and heartworm thing now).

      But, yes, I’m also watchful that the neighbors haven’t had weed spray or treatment on their grass (walk on it, paw lick when they get home, get sick). There’s lots of things besides the treatment than can hit them hard. And I memorized the list of foods they can’t have – my mom didn’t realize that quite a few of “our” favorites (onion, garlic, others) besides chocolate are toxic, and my roomba girl eats everything that drops on the floor… so I watch closely when mom helps, so that nothing gets dropped to and from the table or at the table.

      I do think vitamins and minerals /food quality can be a contributing factor in leg cramps and twitches. My legs got better when I added magnesium; if my diet was askew, and affects me, why wouldn’t hers? I have consistently been buying new doggo the very good, premium nutrient food from day one of rescue, and she has been very good. (And previous dog’s greasy coat cleared up within a few weeks of coming to our house on the same food… so I think there’s a lot to be said for the nutrition… I suspect the big rescue shelter could not afford to feed the many the level of food we strove to buy).

  35. Nessun*

    Whose job is it to reach out when you move? My best friend/closest friend ( and also physically closest friend) moved a few weeks ago, and she hasn’t given me her new address yet. I found out they were moving by text (hadn’t known they were looking, though I knew they were unhappy with their place and would consider moving). Then I got one “do you want XYZ we’re not taking to the new place” text, a 30 second visit from her hubby to drop off XYZ while they were packing, and one text saying she could show me the place before they were moved over – but no follow up after I said sure. I dont know where they moved to, I didn’t even know what day was moving day. And now they’re moved and it’s been radio silence…and I’m feeling very sad, bitter, and lonely.

    I know these are my emotions – I need to deal with this. I’m not great with the friend-making, but truth is she almost never came by, I went to hers. Now she’s far enough away to make that more difficult (I know what area, no address). Shes got better transport than I do. I just…feel like at the least I deserve a text saying “hey, we’re moved in, here’s our new address!” Do I have to be the one to reach out and say Hi remember me, where the heck do you live now???

    Complicating this is that my birthday is this month. I always get low at my birthday – people forget it (including my parents), I’m horrible at planning much due to social anxiety, and there are few cards and no presents from anyone anymore. It makes me very lonely and sad that I have no one to share my life with. Most of the time I’m ok, but this month, ugh. But I try to organize one gathering around the date, and usually it involves my best friend and her husband- but I kinda don’t want to reach out to them until I get SOMETHING first.

    I’m not sure I have the spoons to reach out to her first. I’m pretty low. But saying I’m upset about this…not sure it would get me anywhere with her. What’s the point, just rock and hard place and I’ll eventually pretend I’m not upset and I’ll buy myself a cupcake and we’ll all go see a game or something.

    1. Cat*

      Honestly it wouldn’t occur to me to send someone my new address unless I was specifically inviting them over. I understand feeling rejected though.

      1. valentine*

        I took it as the end of the friendship.

        If there are people who would show up for you, organize something for your b-day or decide what will make you truly happy to spend it alone, or both. Enjoy the day alone and, if they stand you up for brunch or whatever on another day, you won’t feel like they ruined your day because you never gave them that power.

    2. WellRed*

      I sense the actual issue is the relationship is a bit one sided, not the move and related lack of communication. I get it, though. Friends can be hard as adults.

    3. fposte*

      I don’t think the not-sending an address is a big deal on its own, but it sounds like you’re feeling underprioritized in general, and that can make you see every interaction in that light.

      I do think you have a better chance of enjoying your birthday if you reach out to her and plan to do something, though. It’s easy to get into a road-rage situation with people, where you start imagining them at their worst, when you’re not seeing them, but when they’re actually there and they’re funny and sympathetic and remembering things about you it puts the frustration in perspective.

    4. Speedy*

      I’d try not to worry too much about not getting her new address yet. It’s not needed unless you were going to send her cards/packages or had a visit scheduled, so it’s possible she’s just been busy and it slipped her mind. And maybe the radio silence and lack of follow up after the invite to show you the place is from her being busy too. She did just move, so there’s probably a lot of cleaning and unpacking and general settling in and stress that’s happening.

      I totally understand not wanting to reach out until you get something first. I’d feel the same way. If it’s always me reaching out, then I feel like I’m too needy or like the friendship is one-sided. When is your birthday? If it’s coming up quickly, could you just maybe decide to “postpone” any birthday plans until you hear from your friend (like, if you hear from them in two weeks, but you’re birthday has already passed or there isn’t time to make plans, just plan to have a belated get together?).

    5. Courageous cat*

      There’s no situation in which I would send a friend my new address until they were actively about to come over. I’d think it was weird if any of my friends did too. So she may just be busy and it’s not a slight.

    6. Wishing You Well*

      If I had the “spoons”, I’d text her asking for her new address, explaining I’d like to send her a home-warming card. If she doesn’t send her new address in a reasonable amount of time, I’d know where I stand.
      I hope she’s just been overwhelmed lately.

    7. Not So NewReader*

      I grew up in a world where the onus was on the one who moved to let everyone know. I guess this is not true any more. I know that failure to notify others was loaded with hurt feelings from the covert message.

      For a lot of people birthdays are just not a good thing and you show some reasons for that right here. Your friend problem is a symptom of a larger and very real problem: loneliness.

      Maybe the best birthday present you can give yourself is to see what you can do for you that will make life hurt less. This can be anything from therapy, to diet/nutrition, to new job, to new place to live or even getting a small pet. It can be anything you can think of. Don’t answer here, but start mulling over what you would like to do that might make life a little easier in some manner.

      Then decide to call her or not.

    8. NoLongerYoung*

      I think you have to be careful not to make it about you. Different folks have different communication styles. She was thinking of you, or she wouldnt have offered you something.

      Every time we had to move (and it was a lot), I was stressed, before and after. Until I had my feet under me, and found all the key items, and got the change of address forms and all the details sorted out… I didn’t even send out emails. My friends and fam just reached out to me and said “what address do I send your card to” when the next holiday came, or “what’s the address there, we thought we’d drop by a housewarming gift.”

      Especially if it is not a happy “we bought a house” move. My friend who also was not great about the address thing, actually did order a “we bought our first home” move announcement card from some oneline printing company, and sent it to every one in the mail when they moved into their first house in the summer. But not for any of her prior moves (and she’s a BFF) did I have the address unless I physically helped her move. Until I called and got it, the first time I was driving over.

      This, of course, is not addressing the issue of any patterns of any other part of the relationship. Just my perspective on why she may not be thinking that it is neglectful of the friendship to share this detail yet.

    9. Washi*

      I was reading this book about friendship, and it talked about how people with wide social circles tend to see friend-time as a gift they give to themselves, rather than trying to measure who did what and whose turn it is.

      I really like that as a perspective and have tried to focus less about the nitty gritty of who reached out last time to thinking about it as “Would it be fun to see this person? If yes –> I’ll reach out to them.” If someone never makes the effort with me, I’m less likely to answer yes to the question above, so there isn’t quite the need to protect myself somehow from being “the one who is trying harder” that I thought there was.

      1. Washi*

        That is to say that if you want to see your friend, invite her and give yourself the gift of her presence. Let her response guide you from there.

    10. Nessun*

      Thank you everyone for your perspectives. You’ve given me a lot to think about, concerning how I approach this relationship and what my needs truly are.

    11. tangerineRose*

      Moving is exhausting, and it’s easy to have a hard time finding things. Maybe your friend just hasn’t had the energy to think about giving out her new address. Can you reach out and say hi and hope the move went well or something?

      1. HowImetmycat*

        I’m not sure how this ended up here, but it’s supposed to be in reply to Marzipan’s reply to Jessen. I need to stop trying to use this site in mobile.

        1. I'm a Rabbit*

          I’m a history person. I was really wondering how the hamsters fit into a history blog!! lol

  36. Speedy*

    Had a question for writers and creative people.

    When I swapped novels with a critique partner recently, they told me they could finish their critique in 6 to 8 weeks. I said I would probably finish in a few weeks since I’m a fast reader/writer. (This is the first time I’ve critiqued a whole novel, so I really had no idea.)

    It ended up taking me a week. I do my best work when I’m focusing on something intensely, so I threw all my free time into it, and it was a fun story so I was motivated to keep reading it. I left a ton of comments while reading, wrote a few paragraphs of thoughts at the end of each chapter, and wrote a few pages of final thoughts and answers to specific concerns/questions they had at the end. I’m going to let it sit a few days, then read through my comments and see if anything needs editing.

    But what do I say if they ask how far I’ve gotten? Do I tell them the truth, or say I’m only x chapters in?

    My concern is that they’ll think that I rushed and did a horrible critique, so they’ll rush through my manuscript. Or they’ll want their critique now, while I would want to wait until they’re done mine to trade (if they get my critique now, then it’s possible they won’t have any motivation to finish theirs).

    1. MissGirl*

      When I think my readers rushed through a book is when their entire response to 70k words is, “I enjoyed it.” I’ll ask if the characters felt real, if the plot gripped them, what parts went too slow, anything. And I get nothing back.

      I actually like it when the other reader finishes first so I can gauge how much of an effort to put into theirs. I can go very in depth in my response but if they just want a easy response than that’s what effort I give.

      1. Speedy*

        So you think I should give them my in-depth critique, and that’ll motivate the to give me an in-depth critique a month or two from now?

    2. Not So NewReader*

      Tell them you will be sure to be ready to swap back when they are ready to swap.

      1. Speedy*

        In a similar vein, I was wondering if I should put off editing my critique until they’re ready to swap. (That way I’m technically not finished and can honestly say so if they ask.)

          1. WellRed*

            Let me expand. Some people work more quickly and efficiently then others, some might currently have more free time or be totally into the project. Just because you are zipping through this doesn’t mean you aren’t being thorough and will not give them an excellent critique ( imposter syndrome?) Nor does it mean you should try to hurry them up ( you two agreed on a timeframe. It’s not fair of you to decide to change it). Take a deep breath. What is the end goal here?

            1. Speedy*

              I don’t want to hurry them up and I don’t expect them to get back to me until they said they would in 6-8 weeks.

              I don’t know what to say if they bring up the statuses of our critiques. I don’t want them to get upset and assume I “rushed” and didn’t put much effort into my critique, and then rush through their critique because of that. And I don’t want them to ask me to send them my critique way before they finish theirs. (A one week turnaround vs. 8 week turnaround seems unfair, and I would worry that if I sent them my critique super early I just would never get one back.)

              1. Critical Roll*

                You are making a lot of assumptions that assume bad faith on their part. Is there a reason for that? If you think so little of them, why agree to critique swap in the first place?

                If this is really what you think of them, then just don’t tell them you’re finished. Say you’re enjoying it so far or whatever, if they ask.

                But if I was your critique partner I’d want you to be honest and real with me. I’ve been lucky enough that all my critique partners have been kind, thoughtful and reliable people who were able to be honest. I doubt see any point in the process if you don’t trust them – and aren’t trustworthy yourself.

                1. Speedy*

                  This person isn’t a friend or someone I had any contact with prior to now. I swapped with them because we talked over instant messenger a bit before swapping first chapters/first chapter critiques and there weren’t any major red flags, and the mini 1st chapter swap seemed to go okay.

                  I’ve been burned by people in the past who were unreliable/lazy/didn’t hold up their end of a deal, so I don’t automatically trust strangers. And I’ve read “horror stories” of people who invested a lot of time in critiques and as soon as they sent it to their partner they never heard from their partner again. I don’t see why not blindly trusting people makes me so untrustworthy?

                2. valentine*

                  If they ask, tell them you had some time and really dove in, but will wait until they’re done to swap.

                  I think your real concern is you feel you can’t say no. Why? Worst case, they won’t do your reading. Okay. You don’t have to hand over your notes, then. You got to read and critique something good. I think pages of it is a lot, but there must be someone who will meet your output, and a way to connect with them.

        1. Not So NewReader*

          You are way overthinking this.
          Do what you have to do so that you can keep your honesty and integrity intact to your satisfaction.

          Next time it might be worthwhile just to pay someone to do this and avoid this worry.

          1. WellRed*

            Agreed. Do it your way, trust them to provide an equal critique in their time and consider a different arrangement in the future for yourself.

  37. Studious Scribe*

    Studying for CIPP privacy certification exam and keeping an eye on my kitten. Was going to go to the library to study but a few new coronavirus cases sprung up there in the past 24 hrs.

    Staying indoors=more studying……

  38. PhyllisB*

    I’m about to post two different things. The first is a rant, the second a question. First, the rant. My 89 year old mother is no longer able to drive so I have to take her anywhere she wants to go. That’s not the problem. I knew this when we told her no more driving so I am happy to do it. The problem is, whenever we go anywhere together she INSISTS on paying for everything. I have tried to refuse letting her pay or just stepping in front of her to take care of things, but she gets so upset and says this is “the whole way she can show her appreciation for me going to so much trouble for her” blah, blah. It’s one thing for her to buy me lunch on the days we run errands; I don’t even try to fight that anymore, but even that has caused problems. The last time we went out and she asked for the check the waitress gave me the nastiest look like, “You’re letting your elderly mother pay for YOU??? You should be paying for her!!” I know it’s none of her business, but I understand her thinking that. All I could do is smile weakly and say, “She won’t let me pay so I don’t try.” Any advice? I guess I could put up a resistance when the check comes, but I hate it when people do that in public.

      1. fposte*

        I’d also say it’s rough when your agency diminishes as you get older. I think you’re doing your mother a favor to allow her to pay. She wants to feel like your mom, not your burden.

        1. Speedy*

          Yeah, my mom insists on “treating” (i.e. paying) when I take her places sometimes too. It’s something I really don’t want to fight about, and if it makes her happy I figure it’s okay. My solution is once in a while I will invite her to do something and make it clear ahead of time that it will be MY treat. (Like, “Hey, this movie looks really good. Watch the trailer and let me know if you want to go see it this weekend and stop for food afterwards. Since I’m picking the movie it’s my turn to pay! :)” )

          1. PhyllisB*

            Thank you for all your responses. This is pretty much what I’ve been doing (allowing her to pay because I know it makes her feel better.) But it makes me not want to invite her to do something like go to a movie or whatever because I feel I’m costing her money. She’s not poor, but she is on a limited income. I guess that waitress just tripped my guilt.

            1. NoLongerYoung*

              Don’t fall for others putting their assumptions on you. And yes, mom, discussed further down thread, is also in the same boat. But she is having a hard transition to no longer being the super-competent mom, and feels like she has to give gas money or treat everyone because she “doesn’t want to be a burden.” No matter how often I reassure her, she’s clearly been taught she has no intrinsic value as a human if she isn’t working or paying her way. I can’t fix 90 years of misconception at this point, but I adjust the amounts in all the ways others have noted here, and a few others.
              I do a couple extra things. I let her buy “every other” but carefully curate, so that I’m hitting her pocket book for say, soup when she’s buying and buying her the prime rib when I’m buying. Or I’ll say, “I’m not that hungry, let’s split an entree” and make sure I have the bread and soup. (I’m trying to get her to eat more).

              She will say “oh, I’m not very hungry” when we eat out and she’s picking up, but if I say “Oh, this is on me, you have to let me buy, I’m celebrating X or I got a gift card reward at work….” and we go to a (her favorite, buffet) she puts away about half her weight in food. It makes me happy to see her not pick at things and truly enjoy.

              I insist on paying the tip.

              Separately, I bring her things I know she needs before she can ask, and if she asks me how much, I round way down or forget, and say “I will add it to the tab next time” (spoiler alert, I don’t).

              Or, I bring her things and say “saw this on sale” (her favorite words) and “thought of you.”
              Also, she loves a bargain, so I will spend time with her at the consignment or high end thrift shop until she finds that one, amazing find that she can tell others about when she wears it.

              I realize part of the meal treat is that she is lonesome, and she wants to share special meals and occasions with me while she still can. So… I do cover/ pay/ discretely ensure that I more than offset. And I figure it is no one’s business. I know the financial truths, and that at the end of this, I will be caring for her completely. I want to let her be feeling like she is still a major contributor and mom, and even if that is just allowing her to give me (unneeded, sigh) advice, I will cherish these last few years.

              You are a good daughter. Don’t sweat it.

              1. MsChanandlerBong*

                Your comment got me choked up. I hope you know that you are a wonderful person. You are being so considerate of your mom’s needs!

                1. NoLongerYoung*

                  Thank you. I am grateful for healing and forgiveness. She is a mix of absolute dear, and every once in awhile, the difficult mom that made my child hood awful before she got emotionally healthier.

                  And yes, we are spiraling into probably her last year of “freedom.” She needs to go into assisted living, but is stoically refusing to complain about anything, and uses every possible vestige of energy to take care of herself, to stay independent, to not be a burden.

                  So yes, I try to give her the independence I can, and love her despite the quirks.

                  Thank you. (hug)

            2. Kiwi with laser beams*

              “I guess that waitress just tripped my guilt.”

              As someone who was a food service worker for four years, food service workers are as capable of being full of crap as anyone else. I had a customer call me out for saying something that was genuinely out of line – that call-out was NOT the same thing as abuse and made me rethink things. So if you ever encounter something like that again, it’s OK to call the person out.

    1. PhyllisB*

      Okay, now the question. Dealing with same mother. She now has to use liners for bladder leakage, but they are all way too long for her. She is a very petite woman. She doesn’t like cutting them in half (plus they are extremely hard to cut) but they are uncomfortable for her. Does anyone have any suggestions for finding some shorter? The ones for tweens aren’t thick enough and she doesn’t like the underwear type. I don’t mind ordering on-line if need be.

      1. WellRed*

        I’d look online they often have better products and I would think, variety. They also train staff to ask questions and solve the problem. Try Northshore Care Supply or ActivStyle.

      2. Speedy*

        I haven’t actually talked to my mom in detail about this, but she is a very petite woman and uses bladder leakage liners from the Always Discreet line. I’m very petite too and use smaller sized Always pads/liners for my periods and think they’re super comfortable.

      3. NoLongerYoung*

        My mom too (mine is 4’10” and about 115). I order them online, and they do come in multiple configurations. Note that if you have a UPC code of one that fits, you might be able to just order a case or whatever through the pharmacy at Costco, even if not in stock at your store.

        1. PhyllisB*

          NoLongerYoung; that’s what size my mother is. Would you mind sharing the name you buy? She tried the Always and didn’t really like them and they’re still too long. (We don’t have a Costco in our area but perhaps my daughter in Chicago could take care of it if it’s a Costco brand.)

          1. NoLongerYoung*

            Just had mom check. She found a new favorite, “best yet.” She’s tried a lot of them. She likes the Walmart house brand, Equate, the Maxi-Regular with Flexi-wings. Size 1 (that’s the key detail). “Compares to Always Size 1” on the package. (she has no Costco near her, and there are like 40+ in that walmart package). It provides 8 hrs of leakage protection.
            She says she understands about the too-long issue. Before finding these equate size 1, she was trimming off the ends of the longer ones to make them comfortable.

            1. NoLongerYoung*

              The beauty of her finding the equate ones is that I no longer have to order and have shipped to her the Always ones. (I couldn’t remember the size/name combo because she didn’t leave any of those – just Depends – behind when she went home last time).
              She also was using the Poise pads, but for interesting marketing reasons, no doubt, she finds the same protection on the Always (for her) as the Poise. For less money. I’ll let you speculate on why a maxipad has the same absorbency but costs less than a bladder control pad. (Demographics? Marketing?)

    2. Just Another Manic Millie*

      That waitress should be ashamed of herself. What business is it of hers who pays? For all she knows, it’s your birthday, and your mother is treating you to lunch. But ITA that you should let your mother pay. It’s a way for her to maintain her dignity.

      1. PhyllisB*

        That’s what my mother says. I guess I’m just going to have to learn to ignore. I suppose I feel like she did so much for me growing up now it’s my turn (and my pleasure) to do for her.

        1. allathian*

          I hope you can give her the gift of accepting her paying for your meals with grace. Seems to me that no matter how old people get, parents will be parents. You’re still driving her around, maybe accompanying her to the doctor’s office, etc.

    3. Courageous cat*

      I dunno, I wouldn’t worry about it too much to be honest. Who cares what other people think? It’s not their business.

      1. Nom de Plume*

        This is where I’m on on this. I mean, will it put her being able to pay her bills in jeopardy if she pays for you? If not, I’d let it go, as it makes her happy.

    4. New Fed Here*

      The public nosiness is their problem.

      In my family, the older generation ALWAYS pays, and they are quite upfront about it too: You’re just going to get it in the end anyway, and this way, you won’t have to pay death taxes on it. I’d rather you have the money now than Uncle Sam later.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        I like this perspective a lot. As an added bonus you will get a book full of memories of shared outtings together, plus you got your inheritance, OP.

      2. Dan*

        Yeah, either that or the retirement home will take it. My grandpa did pretty well for himself, but in his later years, he had to spend down assets before moving into an assisted living facility for reasons I’m not very articulate about at the moment.

        That aside… my family went on a cruise last year, and my brother and I managed to do a bit better financially than our parents ever did. My SIL told me that when their friends found out my brother and his wife paid their own way for the family cruise, the friends were astonished because “parents should be footing the whole tab.” I looked at my SIL and said, “the reality is, *we* should have probably split that tab.” To which my SIL said, IKR?

    5. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      Oh psh. My mom is only 60 and insists on paying tabs frequently. Not as bad as your mom but it’s partly to still have that independent decision and control!

      Ef anyone who judges. I pick up most tabs otherwise and it’s weird AF the things that get side eyed. Like I pay for my brother every time. I make 2.5x his salary ffs! But oh no, a woman paying is still taboo. Yuck!

  39. Seven hobbits are highly effective, people*

    Has anyone here gotten their house re-piped? I’m thinking it might be worth it to get mine done.

    I have low water pressure. It takes a lot longer to fill pots in the kitchen sink than it does when I’m at someone else’s house, and it drops badly if I’m both running the hose outside and trying to use the kitchen sink. Also, whenever I go away for a few days the water is discolored when I come back and I have to let it run for a while. I also see black flakes in the tub sometimes.

    If you had this done, how long of a process was it? Did the estimates end up being in the right ballpark? Is there anything you wished you would have asked about in advance?

    1. Nom de Plume*

      I’m replacing a small portion of my house’s piping because of a poorly done remodel. I’ve had the ceiling in my den open for about a week and it will cost me upwards of $3 grand to replace most of the drainage pipes for one room. No idea how long it will take for them to finish.

      1. Seven hobbits are highly effective, people*

        That sounds like quite the adventure! I haven’t had to replace any in-house sewer piping yet, but I did have to have a section of back-graded outdoor sewer line replaced due to a previous owner’s home improvement misadventures. (As far as we could tell, they added an outdoor sink and plumbed it into the main sewer line with an oversized y connector and a new section of main line, but didn’t bed the pipe section they put in with gravel, just dirt underneath, and as it settled it apparently back-graded a section of the house’s main sewer line. So. Much. Fun.)

      2. Minocho*

        I had galvanized steel piping in my house, and a previous clueless homeowner replaced some of that steel with copper, directly connecting it to the steel, turning my plumbing into a weak battery that sped up the degradation of the galvanized steel piping. Yay.

        After a freeze (I’m in Houston, houses are not built to withstand cold very well) and pipe burst, and repair, and new leak, and repair, and…you get the idea…the plumber explained the best solution would be to get all the galvanized steel replaced. So I did a full repipe.

        The plumber would have taken half a week on his own, with none of the wall that would have to be opened up repaired. I did some research and found a company that specialized in repiping, and also included a visit from a drywall repair subcontractor the next day. The team of guys showed up at about 8 am, and were done by 2 pm. This included a full repipe and hot water heater replacement. The drywall guy that came and patched things the next day was awesome too.

        It cost me a pretty penny, but getting the specialists to come in with a whole team, and having my house replumbed by the evening was WONDERFUL. And I have no plumbing fears now.

    2. Coco*

      I live in a 1 floor condo. I had my pipes replaced. Had the polybutylene pipes from the late 80’s. We had to remove everything along the walls. All the furniture was smushed in the center of the room. They came in for an estimate a week or so prior. The actual work took 1 day. From like 7:30 am to 4pm. About $2200. I think it was well worth the Price for the piece of mind.

      1. Seven hobbits are highly effective, people*

        Thank you! I have a house rather than a condo, so I suspect my situation will be more complicated, but it’s good to know that less complicated cases can be done fairly quickly like that.

    3. Please Don't*

      Have you tested for hard water? Can cause buildup on the pipes. But the black flecks are a bit concerning. Could there be either iron (it will cause discolored water)? Iron can be removed as part of a water treatment system

      1. Seven hobbits are highly effective, people*

        I don’t think we have particularly hard water here – I’ve never had to do any kind of hard-water-residue-specific cleaning in either the bathroom or the swimming pool and I’ve lived here three years (I have, of course, cleaned both the bathroom and the pool for other reasons), but I guess I just assumed it would be soft water because the next town over where I grew up has soft water. I should probably do a little more research on that.

        Based on the age of the house, I suspect that the discoloration is iron but caused by cast iron pipes in my home rather than iron in the local water supply more generally. In that case, which I suppose I could get into the crawl space and check on myself, it probably makes more sense to remove and replace the pipes rather than try to treat the water that’s probably fine when it enters the house. (I’m on city water in a municipality where most people drink unfiltered tap water. If I run the water for a bit, it runs clear, so the discoloration seems to happen when it sits in my pipes for a weekend.)

        I am not sure if the black flecks are the pipes or the tub fixture. I only see them in the tub when I run the cold water out of the faucet for an extended period rather than out of other taps, but I don’t know if that’s because it’s that particular fixture or if that’s because it’s the tap that has the highest throughput. (Running cold water into the bathtub is something I do occasionally because my toilet is a very low-flow toilet and my sewer line is a very shallow grade, so I sometimes need to run some extra water through the system to prevent blockages if the toilet/shower ratio swings too far in one direction. It’s fine as long as I don’t plan on having non-showering company, basically, but I need to pre-flush the system if I’m having a dinner party. Old houses are an endless adventure, usually one that is both expensive and gross.)

    4. Natalie*

      We had similar issues in our house and the culprit was the main service line, not the interior plumbing. Had it replaced a couple of years ago and I’m thrilled we did. We had to arrange the work through our city since it involved the connection to the main, but they also had an affordable financing option which was nice.

      1. Seven hobbits are highly effective, people*

        Interesting! How did you figure out that was the problem?

        1. Natalie*

          Mainly process of elimination. We had the same issue of low water volume* that you describe – running anything that connected earlier on the system would drastically reduce the amount of water coming to the sink or shower fixture. We have copper piping so buildup is less plausible, and it was pretty easy to visually confirm that buildup wasn’t the issue.

          We had a city inspector come look at our main connection to see if it was clogged or perhaps had a bad valve, and he identified that piping as being incredibly old. He was able to break part of an old unused split off in his hand, so pretty corroded. That could cause your discoloration as well, when water is just sitting in a pipe that’s essentially open to the ground. I think we had one gate valve replaced with a modern ball valve and it didn’t help.

          *this is apparently what’s actually happening even though most people refer to it as water pressure.

    5. RC Rascal*

      Have you had your pipes cabled by a sewer plumber? Much cheaper & less invasive than re-piping. Probably $500 for the house.

      Try that before you open walls & replace pipes. Also, any time you open a wall you are guaranteed to find something expensive that needs fixing.

      1. Seven hobbits are highly effective, people*

        My pipes are so old that I worry cabling would end up damaging them and causing leaks. It’s something I could talk over with a plumber, though.

        1. RC Rascal*

          Do have that talk. We have 100 year old lead pipes & are nursing them along w cabling. Stack replacement w plaster walls is CRAZY expensive.

    6. Not So NewReader*

      I had 75% of the pipe work replaced and omg I am so happy with it.
      Like you said, low water flow. We have hard water here and the pipes were old and coated on the inside, so not much water came out. Don’t try to do dishes if someone is in the shower, forget that.

      Problem solved. And I grabbed the opportunity to streamline the system. There’s less pipework and the new shut offs are in places that make sense. I labeled most of the shut offs. They used PEX piping- that’s the red and blue piping materials. They said it’s good to minus 41 degrees, this is important because the pipes are in a crawl space. I don’t have to worry about freezing.

      They only did the part from where the water supply enters the house and goes through the house to the faucets. And of that pipework they replaced 75% of it. Results were great, I am very happy.

      I am not really sure how much it cost as they were working on non-plumbing things and I paid a lump sum. I am thinking it was a couple thousand dollars. I have a tub and 3 sinks and one outside faucet and a hot water tank. The house is also over 150 years old, the pipe work is a patch work quilt of things, and they had to deal with a 14 inch crawl space. The crawl space only had two entry points and tools had to be loaded on a sled and dragged through the space as they crawled. It was my idea of a nightmare. And the work setting drove up labor costs as everything took longer. This is understandable to me and I can’t blame them for it. I was worried about their safety, too.

      I showed them the low water flows. I told them to replace the parts that actually needed replacing. I asked them to think in terms of servicing the system in the future, shut offs needed to be in logical places. I mentioned the crawl space was a vulnerable area for freezing problems. I said set me up with something that will be workable for the next 25 years at least, to indicated I don’t want to revisit this project again in my life!

      They took out a lot of unnecessary old piping. I used some of it for closet rods, it’s heavy duty stuff.

      1. Seven hobbits are highly effective, people*

        Taking the opportunity to add shutoffs in logical (and accessible) places is a bonus I hadn’t considered! That’s the kind of thing that doesn’t matter until it very suddenly does, and would definitely be worth discussing with the plumber if I get the pipes re-done.

        I’m also thinking of having an additional hose bib added on the other side of a wall that I know has pipes in it already, since there is no outside water access on that side of the house right now yet it’s where the raised beds for veggies are, and maybe converting the hose bib in the backyard, on the other side of the kitchen wall, to have both hot and cold water so it’ll be nicer to use as a dog wash station. (I didn’t know that was a thing until I dog-sat for someone who had both hot and cold knobs on their hose bibs. It makes so much sense if you have a dog that has occasional gross taste in dog adventures.)

        1. Not So NewReader*

          They make frost proof outside faucets. You may like these if you are like me and forget to drain the line and shut the line off for the winter. All you have to do is forget ONCE and the frost proof faucet has paid for itself.

          1. Seven hobbits are highly effective, people*

            I think I live in a more forgiving winter climate than you do – I just disconnect the hose and put the little foam covers over the outside faucets in the winter (I don’t think there’s a way to drain those lines on my house?). I can look into it, though – things that keep things from breaking all on their own so I don’t have to remember to specifically do something are definitely my kind of home upgrades!

    7. Dr. Anonymous*

      First make sure it’s cold and hot water. It could be just your water heater.

      1. Seven hobbits are highly effective, people*

        It’s definitely an issue with cold water (I use so little hot water at any one time that I don’t know if it’s also an issue with hot water). If I’m running the hose outside (from a hose bib on the other side of the kitchen wall) and try to fill a glass with (cold) water from the kitchen sink I barely get a trickle.

        I mean, it wouldn’t surprise me if there were ALSO issues with the water heater, because this house has a ridiculous backlog of deferred maintenance from the previous owner and I’m just trying to pick a few things each year and get them fixed, but the primary locus of my current water problems are with the cold water.

  40. Seifer*

    Man, it is gonna be gorgeous in Chicagoland this weekend! I have three projects on deck: a set of floating shelves for the pantry, a fireplace mantle, and 11 feet of planter boxes for the patio. And then obviously, plant shopping.

    What’s everyone else got going on? I think I can finish two out of three haha and then get the plant shopping done but we’ll see.

    1. I'm A Little Teapot*

      Need to do some skim coating of a wall, then paint that wall. Too early for plants for me, but I might go out and pick up sticks and any trash. Got the usual cleaning to do.

    2. ThatGirl*

      I got my car washed earlier and I’m gonna take a long walk with the dog soon. So excited for spring to show up.

  41. Anonnington*

    Update from last week. I broke ground on my offline writing and it’s going well! I’m doing an uncensored free write to kick off an autobiographical piece. I’m telling my life story while also writing whatever else comes to mind. Trying not to edit. I’ll do that later. Right now, I’m at about 10 pages / 5500 words.

    It’s really good to be writing again. I ordered some house plants so I can make my home a nicer place to write.

    I also ordered some organic hierloom seeds for vegetables and herbs. I don’t have a lot of outdoor space. But where there is a will, there is a way . . . to grow watermelons in the city!

    A lot of my outdoor space is shared with the neighbors, but I imagine they’ll be fine with some container plants.

    My art and music projects are going well too, and my dog is happy. I just need to clean up the apartment! I used to let my car get pretty messy. Now I have (cringe) shopping bags full of Stuff From the Car (which I sold). I’m really putting off dealing with it, but I also want to live without mess.

  42. Courageous cat*

    Keeping a consistent healthy diet. How do you do it? I am always struggling to lose weight because I can make healthy choices for 1-2, sometimes 3 weeks, but by the 4th week I always fall off the wagon. I just forget or don’t care anymore. How do you keep up motivation for that long?

    1. Anonnington*

      It’s hard! I have pretty healthy eating habits, but I’ve been trying to lose about 10 lbs for years. My problem is cold weather. It makes me hungry and reluctant to exercise.

      I think you just need to form healthier habits one at a time. But if you find a way to stop those cravings for cookies when it’s cold out, let me know!

    2. Keto Vegetarian*

      In my experience, if its too hard, its because you’re trying to do too much at once (go from eating out and drinking soda to absolute perfection, instead of maybe just quitting soda before you take on more). The answer is to pick one, very small, thing to improve each week. Something that’s so simple you’d be almost embarassed to fail. Over time those small habit changes add up.

      OR its because the diet you’re trying to follow isn’t the right match for you (biologically / genetically, also food preferences). I really hate to be one of those keto gospel preachers, but it was the right match for me. Where every other diet was a categorical struggle, on keto the weight just fell off and I have been able to sustain it for two years. But, it didnt work for my mom, for her she did better on a grain free high protein diet. So just keep experimenting until you find something that isn’t so dang hard!