weekend open thread – October 10-11, 2020

This comment section is open for any non-work-related discussion you’d like to have with other readers, by popular demand.

Here are the rules for the weekend posts.

Book recommendation of the week: Prep, by Curtis Sittenfeld. Away at boarding school, a teenager feels like an outsider. It’s about money and class and identity, and it feels real.

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

{ 918 comments… read them below }

  1. A.N. O'Nyme*

    Writing thread! How’s everyone’s writing going?
    As usual, this thread is not limited to fiction writing.
    After last week’s discussion, I went and looked for some good writing prompts that could keep me writing and it definitely worked when I had the time. I do limit myself to a max of 500-ish words and usually end up writing some mini-fanfiction or re-using characters from other projects (writing fanfiction of my own work, basically) but it definitely works!

    1. NeverNicky*

      I write a lot for work and had to produce a couple of opinion pieces at very short notice last week.

      I’ve realised I like the pressure that puts me under as I can’t over think anything – completion is the goal, not perfection – and yet a quickly written article generally has the same or fewer edits than something done over a longer period!

      Does anyone else find that?

      1. Elizabeth West*

        Kind of; I tend to work better when I don’t have scads of unstructured time but am working around other things (like a job). It forces me to focus since I have an actual time limit.

    2. Writing anon*

      I’m the anon who mentioned that she was doing Kinktober for the daily prompt+posting – I’m glad daily prompts work for you!

      I’ve fallen a couple of days behind, because unlike you I don’t have the power to stick to 500 words or anything reasonable. Days 1-5 hovered around 2-2.5k, but day 6 was 3.5k and day 7 was about 5k – day 8 isn’t finished yet because it’s shaping up to be about 8k. Why do I do this to myself. Just. Like. Why.

      Planning to get up to date and front-load all the ones I know will be longer or more difficult to write over the weekend, hopefully, since these are all getting written after I get back from work and we were slipping into sleep deprivation territory by Friday.

    3. MissGirl*

      As soon as my latest book went out for ARC readers, my brain opened back up and I could write my other novel again.

    4. Happy*

      I’m new to this writing thread. I’ve been having lots of fun writing short vignettes about my family history. It all started a couple of months ago when I moved my dad into assisted living due to memory decline. He is living in the past. While cleaning out his house I came upon a cigar box filled with old black and white photos from the early 1900s. So now, every time I see him I take a photo and ask him about it. The stories he tells!!! That I’ve never heard before. Now I’m posting them (photo with story) on my FB page for my extended family and we’ve reconnected in a sort of miraculous way. Today’s story was titled “Gramps evades the law”.

    5. Julia*

      I’m still prepping for NaNo, and maybe it’s the pressure to finally commit, but my story seems to be taking shape in my head!

    6. Jack Be Nimble*

      I made some good progress on my current project, but haven’t written in a few days. I need to get back into it, thanks for the reminder!

    7. Elizabeth West*

      Still worldbuilding, and about to start an outline for Book 3. Maybe I’ll do NaNoWriMo and maybe not; I’m not entirely sure yet. If not in November, a solo one later, probably.

      Somebody on Twitter said they liked Tunerville so much they read it in one sitting. That made me so happy! *insert joyful Baby Yoda gif here*

  2. Anon and on and on*

    It was my first wedding anniversary this week, and celebrating was a little difficult due to COVID of course. But we had a picnic of sandwiches and potato salad in the park and then came home for donuts and champagne leftover from the reception. I feel like we should plan something really good for anniversary 2, any suggestions???

    1. Director of Alpaca Exams*

      Happy anniversary!

      My partner and I had a spring honeymoon in a city that’s famous for cherry blossoms, so on our anniversary we try to find a cherry tree that’s blooming and take a photo under it. It’s not fancy, but it always brings back lovely memories. Maybe you can do something that has similar resonance with your wedding or honeymoon.

    2. Queer Earthling*

      My spouse and I do a little roadtrip for our anniversaries when we can, usually to the same coastal town and back. We started doing this on our second or third dating anniversary* and eight years in, that’s still our Thing.

    3. Max Kitty*


      We often take trips. But things we’ve done when we haven’t been taking a trip:
      Hot air balloon ride
      Indoor skydiving
      Fancy tea
      Touristy ghost/bus tour

      One year we planned to do a Segway tour of our town, but the day turned out snowy and we had to cancel. Hopefully some future year!

    4. SheLooksFamiliar*

      Happy Anniversary! Your celebration sounds lovely – I have a freakish love of potato salad and could eat it every day, and champagne makes all foods festive.

      Also, I agree that a road trip is a nice way to celebrate #2, my ex and I enjoyed 3ish day getaways for our special day. Drive part of old Route 66? A weekend in New York to do the touristy things? Visit a regional winery for a long weekend? In spite of how things ended for us, those trips bring happy memories.

    5. Parenthetically*

      Happy anniversary!

      We did a camping trip in the Smokies for one anniversary — I think camping is super romantic. We actually camped right in the national park and then did drives and hikes during the day.

    6. allathian*

      In before times, we used to go to the movies on either the preceding or the following weekend. We were very lucky in that both my MIL and my mom have been more than happy to have our son as an overnight guest. Not this year, though, because our anniversary is in March and covid restrictions had just started.

  3. A.N. O'Nyme*

    Gaming thread! What’s everyone been playing this week?
    As usual, this isn’t limited to video games, any gaming goes. In fact it seems like ways to play board games while social distancing is a very popular topic, so even if you just have a good suggestion for this feel free to drop it here :).
    I am slowly but surely making my way through the Sherlock Holmes games made by Frogwares, although I had to resort to a walkthrough for Mystery of the Mummy because that one is unplayable on modern systems it seems. My cursor acts weird, leaving me unable to even get past the main menu. I’ve tried messing with my settings, but nothing seems to work.

    1. Director of Alpaca Exams*

      Friends who are very into Ace Attorney talked me into getting a Nintendo DS emulator and playing the first few games. It’s fun!

      1. A.N. O'Nyme.*

        Ace Attorney is great! I love those games a lot.
        For those who might be interested but don’t want to emulate: the first three games have a PC port/remaster called “Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney Trilogy”. It’s also available on pretty much every console.
        (This is not a knock on you emulating them, I have nothing against emulation. I’m just aware that not everyone wants to do that.)

        1. Grant*

          I also love the Ace Attorney games. They’re the most Japanese/anime franchise that I actually enjoy, and for some reason the silliness of it works for me in a way that it doesn’t in a lot of other games. I also really loved the crossover with the Professor Layton series (creatively titled Professor Layton vs. Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney.)

    2. puffle*

      Finally playing The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt. I’ve heard nothing but good things about it but didn’t get around to it until recently- and I am loving it! Just my kind of game.

    3. Nynaeve*

      I played Untitled Goose Game with my friend using the two-player feature. I see why it was so popular! My role was usually as the distraction goose while my friend did any of the parts involving finesse or stealth. Eventually, I’ll have to try the single player version.

    4. Elizabeth the Ginger*

      I recently started playing Myst 3: Exile. I played Myst and its sequel Riven back in the late ’90s but never got Exile. It’s amazing how strong a nostalgia feeling I’m getting from something I never played before!

    5. Grant*

      I’ve been playing Star Wars Squadrons for the last few days. As a teen in the mid-90’s, I fell in love with the X-Wing and TIE Fighter games for PC/Mac, and this feels like a true modern sequel to those games, so it’s fantastic in that sense. Plus I’m playing in PSVR, which is *incredible* for this game in particular. If you have the means, I highly recommend it.

    6. All the cats 4 me*

      I feel like I am missing the point somehow in the gaming world.

      I gave up on ‘Love you to Bits’, even though it is super cute, because I just could not puzzle out the logic and had to resort to googling how to get through almost everything.

      Then i tried Sky: children of light and gave up on it as again I couldn’t figure out the logic and while it was beautiful, it just didn’t seem like it made sense to me.

      I have been playing Two Dots, which I like for short periods. They have a sort of side game ‘find the objects’, that i really enjoyed, but one has to buy gold to play (with real world cash), and meh, that annoys me. (Yes, I know its a free game otherwise, but it still annoys me that the best part is pay to play).

      I bought Hidden through Time to play on my ipad mini 2, and it crash closes at the startup screen. I dumped a bunch of stuff off the ipad to free up memory, but it still crashes. Emailed game maker and they’ve replied they’ve sent it to their development team, but I still can’t play it.

      I played Penguin Isle for a few days,, again cute graphics, but I guess that typeof game with collecting golf and upgrading resources isn’t for me (ummm….. nothing happens? Its like buying groceries in an endless loop?).

      Feeling a bit discouraged, I would like to find something I enjoy that is somewhat out of my usual match 3, or hidden objects (Pearl’s Peril) rut.

      1. Nynaeve*

        Honestly, there’s nothing wrong with you. Sometimes it just takes a while to find the right game. And there is a bit of a learning curve to games, by design – you learn to play the game by playing it, exploring different options, and slowly learning the rules and leveling up your skills as you go. But some games are just going to naturally “fit” the way you think better than others, and that’s okay.

        This list of video game genres might be helpful to you in narrowing down types of games you might/probably won’t like: https://www.gamedesigning.org/gaming/video-game-genres/

        Hope that helps!

          1. Nynaeve*

            You’re welcome! I hope that helps you figure out what types of games to explore. Until recently, I had no idea how many different types of games there were and just assumed gaming wasn’t really for me. (I was also biased against gaming for a while because of my time as a WoW widow in my friends group and a dbag ex who tried to mold me into a hot fantasy gaming girl instead of supporting my actual interests.) Turns out that there are tons of games I like once I know what to look for.

            Also, I had to just be patient with myself at first because I *hadn’t* developed the intuition for what to do. Games often have their own assumptions or “language,” so to speak. (Plus, I suck at jumping.) So this made my progress slow.

            Reviewer: This is a short game – you can play it in two, three hours tops.

            Me: *seventeen hours later* Nailed it!

            All this to say: if you don’t “get it” right away… you’re not alone. :-D

            1. Le Sigh*

              Oh man, I feel this hard — esp. the part about the “language.” My SO speaks it, so he’ll just know to look for certain things in new games he’s playing, because it’s common in video games. Me? I might spend two hours figuring it out, but eventually I do.

        1. Le Sigh*

          Second this. I enjoyed Super Nintendo as a kid and played some PC games, but never had a console or really got into video games beyond that. My SO has always been into gaming and will keep an eye out for games he thinks might interest me. I’ve found that I like some puzzle games and games that are a little more open ended (I’m not much for things where I get killed easily or have to fight bosses; I get confused quickly and die immediately). So, walking games (e.g., “Going Home”), Animal Crossing, BABA Is You, and Untitled Goose Game have all been really fun. As it turns out, I like games, I just have to find ones that hold my interest, don’t require tons of hand/eye coordination practiced through years of childhood gaming, and work with my brain. And I can take a break from them if I don’t feel like playing for a bit. I encourage you to try different stuff out if you’re interested!

      2. Schmitt*

        Phone games:
        Hoplite -> maneuver your little warrior through a dungeon to level 15. Simple mechanics, no time limits, but gets pretty tricky! Once you’ve beaten the base version you can challenge yourself to do it without using any of the boosts.
        Nimble Quest -> a fun update on the Snake sort of game
        Reigns and Reigns: Her Majesty -> I don’t even know how to describe it but I loved it. You get a series of binary decisions and sort of build your own story.

    7. TX Lizard*

      I have been playing Among Us! Lives up to the hype for me, super fun to play with remote friends on Discord. I like that you can play a quick 5 minute game with online randos, or set up a room for friends and play for hours. It’s like the classic Mafia game in space, with some fun twists. I think it would be easy to play for people who aren’t “gamers”.

    8. Here for the Randomness*

      The board game Wingspan has been in constant rotation here. You definitely need to concentrate which helps to occupy ones mind for a bit. They recently came out with a steam version and I think a switch version.

  4. germank106*

    Crochet Thread! What is everyone working on this week?
    I’m working on the last of the blankets for my SIL. It’s a C2C (corner to corner) afghan and it works up super fast.
    I followed this pattern on YouTube: https://youtu.be/rAVwGIoOoXI
    Also the man cub refuses to take off the socks I made last week for him. His Mom has to sneak in and peel them off, wash them, dry them and put them back on before he wakes up.
    My husband is doing much better with the new medicine. He was well enough that we could go and visit family for a few hours yesterday. Today he slept most of the day, but it was a good sleep, not the usual tossing and turning he does. The doctor said if the new meds keep on working he might consider taking him off hospice for now. Yay!!!!!

        1. Hotdog not dog*

          I did a pocket scarf years ago for my grandmother. She wore it almost every day (at 99 her hands were always cold). When she died, my cousins wanted to toss it, but I kept it. There was a pocket pack of tissues, 2 hard candies, and a chocolate kiss in the pocket. When I put it on and tucked my hands into the pockets that first time it was like she was giving me one last hug. I still have it and love to wear it. (Of course I tuck little treasures in the pockets!)

            1. Hotdog not dog*

              It had a tiny hole (which I fixed) and the pockets had been stretched from so much use (which to me just shows the love). My cousins were only seeing a worn scarf, but I was seeing something else.
              There was no way I’d have let them toss it!

          1. Been There Done That*

            When my cousin died, all the hats, scarves and shawls I had made for her over the years were lost in the great clothing clean-out.
            In all fairness, she had become a hoarder and not done any cleaning in the last year, even when the dog made messes on the carpet. Instead of an estate sale, we had to pay someone to haul everything away.
            As executor, I COULD have searched for the things, but…. just no. I’m glad you got your grandma’s scarf.

          2. SR*

            “There was a pocket pack of tissues, 2 hard candies, and a chocolate kiss in the pocket.”
            I love this to pieces. It is a story in and of itself. It immediately conjures up an image of an older, loving woman carrying her treats and treasures in a well-loved pocket scarf. Beautiful.

            1. Quiet Liberal*

              I love that, too! My grandma always had a tissue up her shirt sleeve or in her skirt pocket. She would have appreciated the usefulness of a pocket scarf.

            2. Caroline Bowman*

              I love this too. My mum died very suddenly and unexpectedly and finding her very feminine tissue holders that she’d made herself in various handbags, along with similar sorts of very-her things, faintly smelling of her perfume was both wonderful and heartbreaking.

      1. Seeking Second Childhood*

        Hmm…several scarves sewn together could make a lap blanket. ;) I’very been predicting lap blankets will have a surge in popularity as the northern hemisphere moves into winter WFH heating bills.

      2. The teapots are on fire*

        You don’t need to do squat. This your hobby that you do for funsies. Unless world peace hangs on the completion of the blanket, you need to do scarves until you don’t feel like it anymore. If the blanket is a present, you can get them a book. I hear there’s a columnist who makes lists of good ones.

    1. JobHunter*

      I made a crocheted basket in brown cotton yarn to be a “nest” for a pair of Tawashi cardinal scrubbies I bought. I need to get some real starch, though, the flake-free stiffening spray for quilting isn’t holding the shape I want.

    2. Seeking Second Childhood*

      After suggesting Alison make a cat basket, I realized a soft-sided washable basket could be very useful for a family member stuck without visitors in a nursing home. I’m pretty sure that the baby blanket colors I have on hand aren’t her favorites, but she’ll like the ‘use it up” part.

    3. Hotdog not dog*

      Glad to hear that your husband is feeling better. I’m going to finish my current scarf and get started on another “stash afghan” today. Last spring I realized that the stash was in danger of taking over the universe, so I made a deal with myself that I wouldn’t buy any new yarn until I’ve used at least half of it. I’ve made scarves for everyone I know plus extras to donate, and about 6 or 7 Afghans. Some are patchwork pieces seen together and some are random stripes. Only one is a single color. I sorted my yarn by weight, then divided it into piles by whether the colors coordinated. If the ending pile was large enough for an Afghan, so it went. If not, it’s a scarf. No patterns, just making it up as I go. I’m motivated by the urge to buy more yarn…my local yarn shop has some fabulous fibers, and I’d like to support their small business without guilt about the size of my stash.

      1. germank106*

        Have you looked at the 10-stitch blanket on Ravelry ? It’s perfect for stash busting and you can combine yarn weights. There’s a knit and a crochet version. The pattern is free but you can donate to the Designer’s charity if you want to.
        Sadly my LYS closed about a year ago, now I have to order online, go to Hobby Lobby, or drive 80 miles one way.

        1. Hotdog not dog*

          Last time I went on Ravelry I was lost for half the day. There’s always SO much gorgeous stuff to look at! I will definitely look for the 10 stitch blanket (and try not to fall down the rabbit hole!)

        2. All the cats 4 me*

          I was intrigued by the name so I had a look on rav. It is interesting! I am not understanding why you say yarn weights can be combined tho. Would you be willing to expand on that? Thanks!

    4. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      I’ve finished row 68 of the Phoenix afghan from Hooked on Sunshine and already have yarn on deck for another one of her patterns, not sure which yet though. :)

    5. Seeking Second Childhood*

      The socks story delights me. Would he wear thin socks under them and call them slippers to make hygiene easier, or is it the softness he loves?
      In any case, look up “Jonah’s Hands” to show him a boy who got fascinated with crochet, got really good at it, and got really popular on the internet.
      (I made one of his blanket patterns.)

      1. germank106*

        I love the Jonah’s Hands story. I think it’s great when a young person picks up a craft like knitting or crocheting
        The socks are wool, it contains lanolin so it rejects dirt and sweat (unlike store bought cotton or acrylic socks). They do need to be changed every day though. He has several pair of handknit ones, the heavier yarn weights he wears over his regular socks as slippers, but there must be something about these that he just loves.

    6. Thankful for AAM*

      I’m frustrated with understanding yarn as I start to crochet more. I see all the weight charts and the various names for them in different countries and, it seems, from different companies. But I am having a hard time grasping how each will behave in the project I am making. There is a learning curve here, I know. But do you have any tips for building my skills at this? This is complicated by covid and that I am buying everything online.

      I think I might try projects and buy the exact yarn they use for a bit so that I can see how the yarn and pattern interact. But, for example, I want to make an amigurumi for a friend in a particular color. I cannot find the color in the weight and material that the pattern calls for (the specific yarn is no longer made?). So I bought worsted weight yarn but it is not right for this project even though the directions specify worsted weight in any material. And I can see that the 2 worsted weight yarns I have from the same company but in different materials are more different than I expected. Is this how you get a “stash,” buying stuff for a project only to find you need to buy different stuff?

      Also, I am making squares for a lap blanket and I see my gauge/tension is shifting. Do you settle into a general tension for stitches at some point? Do you have to try really hard to be consistent? I am just enjoying making them and am new enough that I am assuming that my tension will get consistent at some point but is that true for others? I know the difference between super tight and super loose like when you are really really new and struggling to learn and I have a trick for consistent tension in the center circle of the squares in this project. But overall, do you have to focus on this all the time?

      1. Hotdog not dog*

        1. It helps to make a sample swatch. Just crochet a small square, maybe with a couple of different stitches. It will give you a feel for how the yarn behaves and whether your gauge will match the pattern. It’s also good practice for a new stitch or when you’re learning to control your tension. The swatches can be unraveled if you need a little extra yarn for a quick repair later or joined together to make a patchwork (scarf or blanket).
        2. This is a contributing factor towards building a stash. Impulse purchases, project leftovers, and other people unloading their stashes on you are also common.
        3. Practice. Eventually you will get a good feel for tension and will be able to adjust it without even thinking about it.
        One of the main reasons I crochet is that I love the feel of the yarn, so I like to play around with different fibers, colors, and manufacturers. The more yarns I try, the easier it gets to guess correctly how an unfamiliar yarn will behave.

        1. Thankful for AAM*

          Do you buy just a skein to make a swatch and test before you buy more? I think I am too impatient for that! lol
          Thanks for the other pointers.

          1. Hotdog not dog*

            No, I usually buy what I’ll need for the project plus one extra skein in case of overage. (I find that I usually use about a half skein more than the pattern calls for with blankets.) I do a test swatch first if it’s a new kind of yarn. Otherwise I just jump right in. Over time you’ll have favorite yarn brands/types so you’ll know what to expect. Playing around with new yarns is half the fun!

      2. Anonbeth*

        If the pattern you’re making, or a similar pattern, is on Ravelry, you can look it up and see what yarns other people have used to make it. There will be a tab called “yarn ideas” or something like that.

        As you get more familiar with yarns, you’ll also be able to guess for yourself how something will behave. Substituting cotton for wool often won’t work, since cotton yarn has almost no stretch. Substituting soft fluffy yarns for sturdy cotton also won’t work. Or rather, they’ll just be different. Pay attention to single ply vs plied yarns too.

        Consistent tension will come with practice. You can play around with how you hold the yarn, many knitters/crocheters have a specific way of winding it around their fingers. The ideal method should put some tension on the yarn, but be loose enough that you can easily pull through enough for your next stitch. You’ll figure it out. Amigurumi is a finicky and precise project to start with, so be patient with yourself and accept whatever wobbly creatures you might make at first.

      3. Dancing Otter*

        I’ve been knitting over 40 years. My gauge changes with my stress level. That said, I generally need to go up a needle size to get the gauge on the ball band – in normal times, this is pretty consistent.
        Amigurumi are worked to an unusually tight gauge, I think to make sure the stuffing doesn’t show through. So the patterns mostly call for a smaller hook than would normally be used with a particular yarn. This can take some practice, even for experienced crafters.

        1. Seeking Second Childhood*

          So true on the stress level… there are times you can see where the news came on by the tension changing in my piece!

      4. knead me seymour*

        I would say that for amigurumi, the yarn weight and type is not usually as finicky as it would be for anything that actually has to fit a person, unless you really want it to be a particular size. Worsted weight is standard, but you can always adjust your hook size. I’ve sometimes made a project at a larger or smaller size than it was supposed to be because I liked the yarn options better. Although if you’re using multiple colours, it usually looks a lot better if the yarn matches–if possible, I like to get all the same brand of yarn for the same project.

        This is one of the reasons why I think amigurumi is actually quite good to learn on. The project sizes tend to be small, you can get a lot of variation from a basic set of skills, and it’s pretty forgiving.

      5. germank106*

        First you need to understand that not all yarn weights are the same. What one company calls worsted might only be DK weight at another and Company A might call something bulky when it’s really just a heavy worsted somewhere else. The easiest way to determine which weight yarn you have is by comparing Wpi (wraps per inch). Take a pencil mark of a 1 inch measurement lightly with a sharpie and start wrapping your yarn tightly (but not overlapping) from one the beginning mark to the ending mark. Now count the wraps. The lower the number of wraps, the thicker the yarn. You can figure out what weight yarn you have by the number of wraps per inch. The craft yarn council has an excellent (and accurate) table for this. You can find it here https://www.craftyarncouncil.com/standards/how-measure-wraps-inch-wpi
        Your tension will eventually balance itself out once your hands, wrist and fingers have gained enough muscle memory. Don’t be surprised if you start a large project (like a blanket) with fairly tight tension and end up having to adjust after a while. The weight of the project will pull on your stitches and loosen up your tension. Just give it time, it will work itself out.
        You can make pretty much any project with any yarn. Often Designers use fairly expensive yarn ,yarn that was given to them by yarn companies or even yarn that they spun themselves. Just keep in mind that if you use a heavier yarn than the designer your project will be bigger and if you use a lighter weight one your project will be smaller. It’s often easier to adjust your hook size instead. There is no knitting or crochet police. As long as you get a fabric you are happy with, everything will be fine.

      6. Gamer Girl*

        Look up yarnsub! Especially good if your pattern uses a yarn from another country, it gives a breakdown of several characteristics, including cost. It can give you a good base for understanding the differences between different types of yarn just from looking up different ones you have :)

    7. Hamilton*

      I’ve been making potholders. The pattern can be a bit tricky to figure out (especially for the first 3-4 rows – youtube will be your friend on that) but once I got the hang of it, I can practically do them in my sleep. The nice thing about them, is that once I get going, I don’t need to count every row, plus it’s only single stitch throughout. Just make sure you use cotton yarn! My mom gets potholders for every holiday. This is the pattern I initially found (http://missabigailshopechest.blogspot.com/2010/12/favorite-crocheted-hot-pads.html) but there are tons online.

    8. Anonbeth*

      I’m working on a patchwork sampler blanket; I’m on square 12 out of hopefully 36! (Stashbusting, so unsure how big it will get.) I’m usually a knitter but I’ve really enjoyed this return to crochet, and the sampler aspect is teaching me a lot of patterns and techniques that I hadn’t tried before.

      I’d love any tips anyone has on joining. The squares are edge to edge, not center out. I’d rather not put a border on all of them before joining. They’re also not all quiiite the same size; some are up to 1/2″ smaller. I was hoping a forgiving joining method would hide the size difference, but that might not be possible. The best method I’ve found so far is sc in one, chain a few, sc in the other, chain a few, zigzag back and forth. I also found the flat braid method which looks very cool but I’m not sure if I’d be patient enough for it.

            1. Anonbeth*

              I expected more duct tape!

              I’ve heard of some of these, but I always like having several links for each method. Thanks!

              1. All the cats 4 me*

                Nah, my pranking limit is one per person. I just had to share that webpage (the April Fool one) – I found it a while ago searching for joining methods for myself and read it in stunned bafflement…..until the cream cheese then I really said *whoa* this can’t be for real!

                Did you watch the video on the sprucecraft site? She talks about joining pieces that are different sizes.

    9. Ask a Manager* Post author

      I have a crochet question! I finally finished my blanket and I love it — it’s this one:

      As I mentioned last week, I’m finding cat hair really sticks to it, and it’s noticeable since it’s such a light color. I’m going to give it away to someone without cats. But I love it and was thinking about making one for myself in a darker color where cat fur wouldn’t be as noticeable. But my assumption is that with a highly textured blanket like this, where the point is to be able to see all the different stitches, darker colors don’t work as well. Is that right? Or do you think I could do this in, for example, a medium or dark grey without losing the point of it? What about a forest green? Or is this really going to be best in creams and other shades of white?

      1. Gamer Girl*

        I think it would be lovely in medium gray or forest green! The white/ecru look is lovely, but it would be impractical for me, too (small kids with playdough and markers! Yikes!)

        Check out this sampler pouf in medium gray–it has a similar texture to the blanket (bobbles and so on) and I think it looks great. https://makeanddocrew.com/the-sampler-pouf-free-crochet-bean-bag-pattern-part-1/

        Some people don’t like to crochet with very dark yarn, but I think the key is to have an extra bright little reading light or craft lamp so that you can really see the working stitch. :)

  5. Might Be Spam*

    I live in a 4 family apartment building and the other tenants are not wearing masks in the common areas and frequently have company that don’t wear masks either. The lady downstairs has a lot of friends and family and has 3 or 4 people every day. This is not an exaggeration, it’s a minimum. When she first moved in I thought she was running a business, but it really is family and friends.

    I know that I can’t make them change their behavior. How can I reframe this so I don’t give myself an ulcer? The noise isn’t unreasonable, but when I hear them, I feel unsafe. I feel like I am the only responsible person in the building. I live alone and I haven’t even had my own daughter visit. How do I let go of this stress?

    1. Jessie*

      Can you write a note and stick it inside the lift or next to the door? Just ask people to kindly wear a mask when in the common areas. I’m sorry about this. It sucks being surrounded by irresponsible people in the middle of a pandemic.

    2. Janet Pinkerton*

      Holy guacamole what dedication on her part to not following the health guidelines!

      I’d reframe it like this: are you actually spending time with them in the common areas? From everything I understand, the most likely form of transmission is from actually sharing the same enclosed space for a length of time, unmasked. Clearly this lady is personally at much higher risk than you are for transmission, but if you are able to avoid their unmasked lobby use, you personally should be fine. Even if you’re just walking past them quickly while masked you should be fine.

      Would it be possible for you to purchase an air purifier for peace of mind?

      1. Seeking Second Childhood*

        MightBeSpam, you’re right to be concerned if you must pass through common areas. Scientists are learning more about this virus– and unfortunately we the science fiction fans were not wrong. It does stay liable in microscopic water droplets for hours. That’s close enough to airborne for me.

    3. Choggy*

      I have to agree with the other poster, ultimately, you can only control what you do, not anyone else. Keep following the guidelines to keep yourself safe (wear a mask, wash your hands, keep your distance), and you should be fine. Practice meditation or yoga which will help with the stress.

    4. Might Be Spam*

      I’m being careful in the common areas so I’m not overly concerned about contagion. I’m more concerned about letting go of the stress of resentment when I hear all of the visitors. This is a “me” problem and I’m trying to find a way to think of the situation that helps me let go of the resentment that they have visitors while I am being responsible and not having visitors.

      I am so tired of isolation and I want to go somewhere and hang out with live people like the “before times.” It’s so hard to keep this up when I hear their visitors so often. Video calls aren’t enough anymore.

      1. Natalie*

        This is obviously a personal decision and driven by your specific circumstances (level of community spread, your personal risk tolerance, and local regulations), but is there someone you would be comfortable letting into your pandemic bubble? Perhaps as an outdoor friend if having people indoors isn’t an option for whatever reason. Especially if you live alone and are in a place where winter is coming, extended isolation is not going to let up

        1. Stephanie*

          Yes, this. I live alone in a cold area. I eventually cracked. No parties, but started meeting up with people outside and had a friend over that I trusted was also being responsible and wasn’t high risk. I know our bubble is larger than we think, but the isolation was starting to get to me.

      2. Thankful for AAM*

        I learned that I am motivated by fear. I hate to say that because it sounds like a failing but it does motivate me. Maybe there is something that motivates you that you can use?

        So for me, in your situation, I would lean into the fear that motivates me. I am fearful of the long term, but still unknown, consequences of getting covid; is it like chicken pox and shingles? We don’t know yet. My husband got myocarditis from covid, it appears to be gone but what if it is lurking in his heart or other organs and comes back to harm him later?

        I know it is unlikely to kill me if I get it, that’s not my fear (so I’d be complaining internally that I have not seen my son, they are seeing their family, etc) but I am afraid that I could give it to my son and harm him or that I would get the hidden covid harm similar to shingles. My fear of harming my son or getting long-term, painful and otherwise very damaging health problems is still stronger than my desire to socialize. So I use that to keep focused on my long-term health goals. I don’t get overwhelmed by fear but I use it to remind me of what I want.

        Also, I use Alison’s advice to watch the drama of the others socializing. I do tell myself, look how stupid they are (not kind but it helps me to remind myself I don’t want to be in a category I think is stupid).

        Finally, is there a way you can safely hang out with people? Is there a park you can go to for a socially/physically distanced picnic or a way to walk but distanced? I see a woman and her father meeting outside his assisted living facility every evening. He is inside the fence, she is outside, they sit in folding chairs she brings, and both wear masks. I hope you get to visit with your daughter.

        Best to you!

        1. ...*

          I wonder how much actively focusing on permanent heart damage would be helpful to someone who is already feeling anxious. I do like your suggestion of trying to make an outdoor hang work and I would strongly suggest doing that, Might Be Spam. Try to get a few get togethers in before its cold (I guess idk where you live but its getting cold here).

          1. Thankful for AAM*

            I know, it sounds counter intuitive but fear motivates me and helps me avoid anxiety. I meant it as a model for leaning into what motivates you. Maybe fear or something else motivates Might be Spam that they could lean into.

      3. Choggy*

        You can go places and hang out! My husband and I have had his mother over a few times on our back deck, and wear masks when in the house. Why don’t you pick a spot to meet your daughter, so you can be outside, socially-distanced, and enjoy each other’s company? Total isolation is not good for anyone, at any time, so it’s no wonder you are feeling the way you do. Find a way to figure out how to socialize that works for you.

        1. pancakes*

          Those of us who live in apartment buildings tend not to have back decks. Parks, yes, but many public bathrooms in US parks aren’t well-maintained, if they exist at all.

      4. Caroline Bowman*

        I see others have suggested this and of course I have no idea of your personal circumstances, but might you have a friend or two who you could meet for regular outdoor walks, weather permitting?

        I am in a place where lockdown was HARSHLY enforced and the way we safely and legally saw each other was to arrange to get groceries or other necessary errands and then bring our own thermos of coffee and park next to each other and chat (masks on, in our own cars or each leaning on our own vehicles, away from each other and other random passers-by) and have a coffee catch up that way. This way we got a bit of fresh air (all outdoor exercise off one’s own property was completely illegal under any circumstances, yes even dog walking, yes, even if you lived in a tiny flat and had a St Bernard), and combined needing to go somewhere essential with just briefly chatting with a friend.

        I had 2 different ”standing” dates with people and it made a huge, huge, huge difference psychologically. That 15-20 min chat ”out and about” once or maybe sometimes twice a week was a lifesaver.

    5. That Girl from Quinn's House*

      There are lots of free printable COVID safety flyer posters available on the internet, if you Google. Lysol has some on their healthy schools page, the CDC has several pages of printables, and a lot of state and local health departments also have printables. You could print one of them out and hang it in the common space so it looks official.

    6. RagingADHD*

      A number of health experts have discussed how to safely form a “pod” of family members or friends, in order to combat the mental-health effects of extended isolation.

      When people have similar levels of risks and precautions, and discuss what measures they are taking to minimize daily risk, podding can be a manageable way to move forward without introducing new risk.

      For example, at the end of the summer we podded with another family who also work from home, mainly do curbside grocery pickup, and are very careful about masking. It gave the children and us an option to socialize safely. On a few occasions, one or the other of us had a close call with second or thirdhand exposure, so we quarantined as needed.

      When school started, they needed to go in-person because one of the kids needed special instruction. So they podded with other in-person students, and after waiting 2 weeks we podded with a different family whose kids are also doing virtual school.

      There have been no exposures through our pods.

      That’s the long way around of saying, maybe it will help your feelings if

      a) You work on the assumption that your neighbor and her friends have made intentional choices about managing their risk within the group, and as long as you stay separate, they pose little risk to you. You don’t know and certainly can’t control how they manage their risk in other places. The assumption may be a fiction, but it can help you detatch.

      b) Perhaps you have a friend or family member of similar risk level you could pod with? It helps immensely.

    7. cleo*

      I feel this. We live in a 6 flat and a group of college students / student athletes rent the apartment below us. It’s so hard listening to them laughing and playing loud music – I’m jealous and worried.

      I think the best way to let go of the stress is to find other things to focus on. And maybe set up some white noise so you don’t hear them.

      For me, the usual stress relief things seem to mostly work – focusing on myself and trying to maintain my routines so I’m getting enough exercise and connection.

      Yesterday I saw my parents in person for the second time since this all started. We met in an outdoor garden roughly between where we each live and it was so nice to walk around and look at flowers with them. And I think that helped me feel less jealous

      Good luck!

  6. Heinz Doofenschmirtz*

    I haven’t eaten refined sugar in 21 days! I’m really excited and just wanted to share, I didn’t think I would be able to do this.
    I’ve also been exercising regularly (+ recently took up yoga), and coupled with a change in meds, I’ve dropped almost 3 kg in these 3 weeks. Still have a bit to go but I have PCOS so this is a huge victory for me. This routine and diet seems sustainable to me and I’m feeling so much happier and healthier!
    What do you find helps you manage PCOS?

    1. Janet Pinkerton*

      As someone with PCOS, I can attest that my body also does much better without refined carbs. I’m not eating like that right now but I feel better when I do.

      I do better when I’m not on hormones. I take metformin twice a day. I also hated the facial hair situation (you may have fewer hang-ups about it) so in the before times I got laser hair removal. It was amazing.

      1. Frankie Derwent*

        PCOS is hard. I had an emergency cystectomy earlier this year and going to the ER in the middle of a pandemic was extra scary.

        But every time I read threads on PCOS, I thank God I live in an Asian country where facial hair (and even leg hair, to some degree) is fine and the typical diet is less sugary. I had a friend with pcos who went on an exhange program in Europe and promptly got told to shave her mustache :(

        1. anonychin!*

          I have PCOS and a whole-foods, plant-based diet helped me. It helped so much that I got my damn period every 28 days for several years before menopause! How y’all stand having periods so often I don’t know! I tip my hat to you. For most of my life I got it 4 times a year and that was enough for me. I also never used birth control after I got married and that was bliss too. We had to use it in my late 40s and 50s as we did not want another child at that point and it was tough to get used to.

          Frankie Derwent – covid masks have made my facial hair an interesting journey. I decided to stop plucking to see what happened since the mask covers it all but my husband finally noticed, lol. I plucked 130+ big, fat hairs from my chin and upper lip this morning! That does not even include the finer but still visible hair.

          1. Heinz Doofenschmirtz*

            Thank you for sharing! I already eat vegetarian, I think incorporating more whole foods would be good for me.

      2. Heinz Doofenschmirtz*

        Thank you for sharing. I’m trying to reduce my carbs, maybe I will make that my next goal. I feel you on the facial hair thing! Luckily I don’t have it so bad.

    2. allathian*

      Congrats on the weight loss and on feeling better! It seems like you’ve found a lifestyle that’s sustainable for you.

    3. StudentA*

      You are my hero!

      What is a typical day’s meals for you? Did you experience withdrawal? Do you think you will go back to eating sugar? I’ve always been too chicken to try it. I just know I will want to legit kill someone LOL!

      1. Heinz Doofenschmirtz*

        Hahah you’re too kind! So I’ve incorporated a lot more fruits in my diet. When I feel like eating a dessert/small treat, I eat a fruit or a medjool date. I mostly eat Indian food (I’m Indian) and that’s not very heavy on sugar, so most of my sugar consumption was random treats through the day. I did experience withdrawal at the start, but it faded away in a couple of days. I originally started it as a 14 day challenge and just kept going, I actually stopped counting beyond the 14 days.

        I do want to say that I built up to this by going without sugar for smaller 2-3 day periods for about 3 weeks prior. I also don’t normally drink any beverages (no coffee or soda, very rarely green tea). It took a bit of training, and now I find myself not wanting to eat sugary foods. I probably will go back to eating sugar someday but not in the same quantities as I did earlier. I’m just excited I was able to stay off it for so long!

    4. Nicki Name*

      1. Hormones– I know they don’t work for everyone, but it was a HUGE quality of life improvement for me when I started on them
      2. Regular exercise
      3. Ibuprofen

    5. Anax*

      You know, I’m always really thankful I’m a trans man – the dysphoria of dealing with PCOS “normally” sounds super frustrating, while I’m just exasperated about being curvier than I’d prefer, and other health issues make diet and exercise tricky. (Have to say, I carry a LOT of my weight in my chest, and I was hoping to get top surgery this year, before… well. Everything.)

      Birth control definitely helps me with the cramps and irregularity; usually, mine would be super light, but having to monitor in case of osteoporosis, and the occasional sudden massive blood tide were… frustrating. I could probably go on testosterone and avoid the whole thing, but since I already have more androgens than average, I feel like it wouldn’t really give me enough benefit to be worth all the symptoms of puberty, again.

      (Hypermobile Ehlers-Danlos means I need to be super careful about exercise to avoid hurting myself, and I’m often healing up from an injury that makes exercise tough. Eight months into my latest bout of hip tendonitis, and I can just about walk around the block again. And relatedly, postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome means that my heart rate and temperature shoots through the ceiling when it’s above 75F, especially if I do even a tiny bit of exercise – like, I’ve had to take an hour to cool off after rotating the laundry. And I need to have regular food, tons of water, and tons of salt, so trying to modify diet for anything else… I don’t have the energy to do too much. Ah well.)

    6. Caroline Bowman*

      Well done!! I am in the midst of trying to lose the weight that has ”mysteriously” crept on over the last months. I know, it’s a total shock, I mean, HOW could this have happened?

      It’s going quite slowly but I am being reasonable and trying to make lots of small changes and stick to them consistently so hopefully they’ll add up as time goes on. Spoiler alert; eating biscuits several times a day while working from home does not help maintain weight. This is clearly a total travesty, but it is so.

  7. Perpetua*

    Looking for your experience with sleeping on a mattress on the floor!

    Some context – my little family (my partner, our baby and I) is moving back to a smallish (50 sqm/530 sqft) one-bedroom apartment. We are interested in a floor bed for several reasons:
    – We have an 8-month-old baby that sleeps with us (and we want to continue that), and now that she’s mobile, having her sleep on a floor bed is basically the only safe way to leave her sleeping for even short amounts of time without us there present (e.g. at the beginning of the night when the two of us haven’t gone to sleep yet).
    – We are interested in functional mobility and keeping our bodies working by incorporating more movement/less cushioning into everyday activities (we’re transitioning to barefoot shoes, etc), so the idea of needing to get down to the floor level multiple times a day is not a drawback, it’s a feature.
    – We like having space to move – to do yoga, exercise, dance, whatever! And being able to move or fold the bed easily is a big draw, because it would make the small bedroom in a small apartment much more usable.

    So ideally it would be something easy to fold and store in the corner, like a Japanese futon/shikibuton. However, they are quite expensive to get here (Europe), so I’m looking into other options. If not foldable, then it should at least be easyish to put upright for airing out and clearing the space.

    Anyone with similar experience and requirements? I’ve that the biggest issues are mold and bugs on the floor. I think we’re okay with no bugs in the apartment (we’ve slept there occasionally on the floor) and the mold issue should be prevented by airing out the mattress every couple of days, if I’m correct? We’re not in a particularly damp or wet area, no extra humidity issues.

    Please don’t comment if you haven’t actually done this or at least seriously considered it, I know it might not be for everyone, but I’m really looking for personal experience from someone who has actually slept like this, ideally longterm. :) Thank you!

    1. Heinz Doofenschmirtz*

      I don’t know how helpful this will be to you, but I slept on a mattress on the floor till I was 12 years old. It’s really common in my country, my grandmother used to do it too till we moved into a bigger house. We just used mattresses that we could roll up and put away when we weren’t using them. I live in a humid coastal city and we never had any issues with bugs or mold (that I know of, take it with a pinch of salt cause I was really young). YMMV depending on your specific circumstances, location, etc.

    2. Rare commenter*

      I’ve done this many times living in different countries. I’ve used tatami mats, regular mattresses, and heavy quilts. The quilts were stuffed with cotton instead of batting, and were quite substantial. They could be rolled up easily and pushed to the side. Perhaps you could consider some version of that?

    3. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      I did it for geez, years. Mine was one of the thin pad style mattresses from ikea. I didn’t have any problems with it, though it was just me and no munchkins.

    4. Futon bed options*

      One option to consider is a wooden base that is only just off the floor. My parents had a futon bed that sat on a foldable wooden base. It was basically just a series of slats joined up to allow for airflow under the futon but without raising it up much. You could also then take the futon off and fold it up and put the futon on it (also folded/rolled) to use as a couch during the day. I’ll try and find an image online of what I mean

      1. LadyGrey*

        Dunelm’s ‘Mito double futon’ sofabed is a good example of this, also pretty cheap if you’re near the UK!
        The frame on these is usually about ankle height, I’d recommend it as it means less worrying about a damp mattress if you spill something on the floor. The mattresses fold, so even if you find you don’t like the frame you’ve still got the foldaway mattress.

      2. Been There Done That*

        I’ve slept on a futon on a frame, and it was surprisingly comfortable, even at 60+ with sciatica.
        I do not have words of praise for the regular mattress on the floor that I had to use (in my 30’s) when my ex took the bed.

      3. fposte*

        I don’t know if I count as doing this for your purposes, because I don’t roll things up at night, but I am sleeping on the floor and I *love* it. I’m actually sleeping on a 3″ latex topper with two very cheap (dollar store) 1″ memory foam slabs on top of it, because that’s what I had, and I find it insanely comfortable. (In full disclosure there is also a braided rug underneath that has a little bit of cushion as well). The memory foam would be fairly easy to roll up but the latex would be more challenging–however, it’s the latex that’s key in this arrangement. What I have done in the past to store it is use a bungee cord to hold its rolled shape together, and I could see getting pretty quick at rolling it to the side and clipping the cord around it; it would be easiest to leave it lengthwise, like a big draft excluder, than to try to stand it up. Latex is pretty naturally mildew resistant and I also think if you could give the bed an hour or so after you get up to roll it up that would help. And the toppers are cheaper than mattresses, which is also nice.

        1. Anon for this*

          My bf and I just switched to a firm mattress directly on a (carpeted) floor and we love it! Previously we had a superthick expensive pillowtop mattress on a platform, lots of pillows, looked luscious and was incredibly comfortable. But we kept waking up with back pain and decided to try a new situation. It’s been amazing! No back pain whatsoever, for either of us, and good restful sleep. Plus the new mattress we bought was about 1/3 of the cost of our previous one, and we much prefer it. We don’t roll it up or move it though.

          1. Zooey*

            It is worth taking it up onve a week for airing. We slept on a mattress on the floor for several months and it was super comfortable but when we took it up, it had started to mildew on the bottom due to too much moisture.

    5. WS*

      A futon is not so comfortable without a tatami mat underneath, as I found out! You can get frames with futon, but they may or may not be foldable. Another option is that some couches fold out a mattress at floor level, though I don’t know what’s available in your area. A third option might be to talk to a mattress maker – they often make custom ones for caravans, pull-out beds etc. – and see what they recommend. I bought a custom mattress because I’m heavy and like a firm mattress and it was about the same price as a good quality pre-made one and has lasted three times longer so far with no signs of imminent problems.

    6. allathian*

      I haven’t slept on a mattress on the floor as a permanent arrangement, but I have slept on an air mattress as a guest. They’re quite thick, about 25 cm/10 in, and with an electric pump a double bed only takes about 5 to 10 minutes to fill, so it’s not too much of a chore to fold it away every day if you want to. And you can vacuum under the bed every day as well.

        1. allathian*

          Yeah, that’s a fair point. I slept on one for two weeks straight and I have some back issues. I do sleep better in my own bed, but it was doable.

      1. Pennyworth*

        I once slept on an air mattress in a friend’s house, in winter, and I was so cold! Her house wasn’t heated at night and there was no mattress topper, just a sheet between me and a lot of cooling air.

    7. Gail Davidson-Durst*

      We moved our regular mattress to the floor in our dining room for a while in the parental Quest for Sleep. It worked pretty well – even with a regular mattress, you could tilt it up against the wall (on long or short edge) to make more floor space, as long as you had some controls to make sure it couldn’t accidentally fall over on the baby.

      One thing to keep in mind – I found it was SO MUCH COLDER on the floor! Make sure you have appropriate covers/jammies/kigurumis to keep yourself cozy!

    8. Cambridge Comma*

      Your baby is likely to change a fair amount in the next few months so you might want to avoid investing a lot of time and money in a solution at this point. I could have left mine on a floor bed asleep alone in a room at 8 months but at 11 months it wouldn’t have been safe any more in case they woke up and started exploring alone (at 8 months you might not yet have entered the kamikaze stage).
      Mine exclusively coslept from birth but decided themselves quite suddenly and before they were two that they wanted to sleep alone. From this point of view also a solution might not be needed as long as you think.
      Other options are bed guards around all sides of your current bed, or cosleeping from the first wake up onwards, when you are likely to be already asleep.
      Ikea do a great foldable grey mattress if you want to let her fall asleep with you on the floor. It has had a lot of varied uses as they have grown up. Plus the cover is machine washable.

    9. Asenath*

      I never knew there was such a thing as a floor bed. I slept for some months on a mattress laid on the floor until I got together enough to get one of those metal frames to hold it up a bit. The only problem I had was sometimes getting up and down, but it sounds like you think that’s a feature, and in any case, that’s not an issue if you are youngish and/or flexible. I had no problems with bugs or mold at all, and I found it more comfortable than many a more conventional bed since I like a firm surface to sleep on. In fact, I sometimes get a backache if I sleep on a soft bed. I left it on the floor since I had no space issues, but it would have been easy to lean it up against a wall.

    10. Thankful for AAM*

      Just wanted to say we co-slept till our son was pretty old and we loved it. He had his room at one point but hubby and he still preferred the family bed. It was very comforting for all and an important part of our parenting.

      Every baby is different but we did not find he was ever in danger of rolling off. For his first 6 months we had a regular height bed and we just put him in the middle. Then we moved to England and were too poor to buy an actual bed for the rest of his first 2.5 years of life and we just had a mattress on the floor (in damp England) and never had a problem with mold.

    11. Generic Name*

      My son slept on a twin mattress on the floor until we were sure he wouldn’t fall out of his bed. He never really slept in his crib and coslept with us until he transitioned into his own bed, so we didn’t do a toddler bed or anything like that. It worked just fine. We didn’t get a special kind of mattress. Just a normal inner spring twin mattress with no box spring.

    12. D'Euly*

      I am afraid I did cosleep on a mattress on the floor until the night I woke up and saw a millipede-ish sort of insect crawling up onto the mattress and heading right towards me and the baby. I could never handle it again after that. But it was a very good arrangement until that night.

    13. platypusmoose*

      Don’t know if this will help much – we slept on a super-thick futon mattress on the floor from when my daughter was born till 5 or so. Although we live in a humid city, mold was never something I considered, and never noticed a problem. The mattress was too thick to roll up, but we wanted a thick one. The whole situation was fine.

    14. Jules the 3rd*

      I’ve mostly slept on futons or floor beds for the last 25 years, including about 6mo of a kid co-sleeping. Here’s how it worked for me:
      1) Foldable futon couch
      * Primary bed for >5 years, didn’t get folded, on low futon frame. GREAT.
      * Guest room couch / bed for >10 years, on frame, folded most of the time, mattress developed a rut in the middle, at the fold.
      * Guest room bed 2 years, kid’s bed 1 year, no frame, no folding, rut went away within 2 months, kid seems to like it. Lift 1x/mo for a day seems to be enough to prevent mold. No issue with bugs.
      2) King mattress on floor, about 10 years (same 10 futon was a couch)
      * Husband didn’t like it, he is much happier with a bed frame.
      * Can’t lift it up easily, we left it down for 3 years at one point and had a very small amount of mold on the floor, cleaned up easily. But it was a foam mattress, so moisture didn’t get down through it much.
      * Was perfect for baby. We had a cardboard box, like Finland’s baby box, but open on one side. We set it up so that the opening was even with the bed. It made breast feeding SO easy, I never had to get out of bed, but the baby had his own space so no worries about rolling over on him. Much cheaper and more convenient than a bassinet.

      Kid was in a crib and then had a bed frame for 8 years or so, but seems to really like the mattress on the floor now. We’ve given him the option to raise it and he said no.

      These are both full height mattresses. We are very tall, Americans, and like soft, well padded beds. I recommend trying something like padded quilts for 6mo to test how tolerant you are of hardness, and of putting them away every day. It took at least 6mo for us to figure out if something was close but not quite right for long term.

      I second the ‘don’t use an air mattress’, they develop leaks quickly. Good luck!

    15. Girasol*

      I used to sleep on a thick camp mattress on the floor and hide it in the closet in the morning in lieu of traditional bed-making. It was comfy and convenient and I liked it for years. But there are spiders. I didn’t notice them all that often, but then I learned that male hobo spiders rove floors in late summer looking for mates. I read that while they won’t climb furniture legs, they may crawl on someone who’s floor sleeping and give them a pretty poisonous bite. I have a thing about spiders anyway, so for awhile I’d switch to the sofa in August and September, but that was awkward, so I finally made space for a small plain bedstead and gave up my floor sleeping habit.

    16. Elf*

      I have a nest fail reply downthread, but the short version is that my husband and I spent a year sleeping on a 6×6 yoga mat over carpeting and loved it

    17. Anax*

      If you have some basic sewing skills, shikibuton aren’t terrible to make – I haven’t made my own, but I know people who have and were happy with them. What I’ve heard is that for American sensibilities, a thicker mattress is better, because that’s what we’re used to; I presume similar trends hold true in Europe.

      https://www.hunker.com/13411991/how-to-make-your-own-futon-mattress This is one type.

      The other one I’ve seen involves basically taking couch cushions and seaming them together so they’ll fold up in a corner during the day. Since that one involves upholstery foam, I’m inclined to think it wouldn’t be a great idea with an infant, unless the whole thing were waterproofed, for… obvious reasons; I assume you want something fully washable with a kiddo.

      (For me, I strongly considered the idea, but I’m much too creaky for it now; getting in and out of bed is enough of an adventure sometimes.)

    18. Rara Avis*

      We’ve slept on an (American) futon on Tatar I mats for 25+ years. We don’t fold it up, and we live n a drought-prone area so mold has never been a problem. I lived being able to leave my daughter there as a baby and not worry about her falling off.

    19. Cats on a Bench*

      We co-slept with all our kids (helped get me more sleep while breastfeeding) in a regular king size bed. We just never put babies or toddlers down for nap or bedtime on the bed when we weren’t there to supervise. We used a bassinet or pack-n-play or the baby car seat or a baby swing instead. That all changed with the last one though because Husband’s schedule was different. So we put a queen size mattress on the floor in Baby’s room and I pretty much slept in there with Baby for the first year. I could then use it for naps or bedtime when I was going to leave the room. I have to admit, that was nice. And it was much easier to transition me out of Baby’s room than it was to transition all the other kids out of our room to their own space! Course, every kid is different too. We didn’t use a futon for folding up or anything though. The mattress stayed where it was until Baby was ready for a bed frame. We ended up giving that mattress away after a few years to a friend who needed one and got Baby a twin size low loft bed. Baby loved it, but I miss the bigger mattress where I could crawl into bed with Baby because now Husband snores too much and keeps me awake all night! LOL!

      1. allathian*

        Yeah, second the every kid is different thing. Some decide on their own that they don’t want to sleep in the same room as the parents anymore!

        I’m a very sensitive sleeper and firmly believe that sleeping in separate bedrooms saved my marriage. When our son was a baby, my husband slept in the same room with him even when I was on maternity leave and he was working. If he wakes up in the middle of the night, he can fall asleep again in 5 minutes, while I take at least 30, more if I’m already stressed from sleep deprivation. Our son was a good sleeper from the start, though, he started sleeping through the night at 5 months when he started eating oatmeal for dinner (I counted his 5 am feed as morning, even though I often went back to sleep after it).

        Please don’t sacrifice decent sleep for some outdated idea that married couples must sleep in the same bed or the marriage is in trouble.

        1. anon for this*


          To chime in as someone still sleeping on a mattress on the floor (the kid is 3 now) it worked very well for us when we started co-sleeping. When she was a truly tiny baby, she slept in her box on a desk; yes, all the experts say that’s terrible, but we checked she couldn’t move the box and early on I couldn’t bend over to pick her up without pain. Then she moved to our bed and that worked well for a while. Then she turned into acrobat baby and after a few too many kicks to the kidneys, eyes, other tender regions, etc., she moved to her own bed. I’m happy for all the people who choose to co-sleep for a long time but it really wasn’t feasible for us because once she turned from sleeping beauty to acrobat baby it was all sleep dep and aspirin for me.

    20. RebelwithMouseyHair*

      Futons are expensive, but that’s because they are great. Great for your back, great for keeping you supple, great for co-sleeping with your baby because they are firm enough for you never to roll over and smother baby. Consider it an investment, it’s well worth it.

    21. Gatomon*

      I’ve slept on traditional innerspring mattresses on the floor both as a kid and an adult, and I don’t recall any issues with bugs or mold. My bed is elevated now to gain storage underneath, and because they don’t really make nightstands at the right height for a floor bed. :)

      When I got my first apartment I actually ordered a twin-sized cotton and wool futon from a local vendor. It was great, very comfortable and affordable and moveable (because I could just roll it up into my trunk when I moved to a new apartment.) It was way too heavy for me to roll up on a nightly basis, but that was how you restored the fluff when it got a little worn down in the center. I did finally toss it after moving out of an apartment with mold issues though. I don’t believe there was mold in the futon, but it was worn out by then and I’d had mold in my pillows anyway.

      If you like a low/floor-based bed, go for it.

  8. KiwiApple*

    I am moving internatuonally early 2021, yo go halfway around the world (UK to New Zealand, specifically North Island) and am looking at hints, tips and comments about who has done this before, what did they bring, what did they leave behind etc.

    (Notes: NZ border is closed, however I have been granted permission and have a visa to enter. I am most likely staying a few years, all going well).

    Thank you!

    1. Jessie*

      I did this before. I went from the Middle East to Australia for five years. But I’m not sure what your question is. Can you be more specific? :)

      1. Chocolate Teapot*

        Do you mean in terms of items which are common in the UK but not in New Zealand?

        I moved from the UK to mainland Europe and have found most items are either here, or can be improvised with the exception of teabags, and even those are available from British shops or I bring them back with me.

        I have met some people who came from much warmer climates who found that they needed to buy winter clothes and sturdy boots.

        1. Still*

          Excuse me, what do you mean by “with the exception of teabags”? Is there a specific kind of teabags you couldn’t find in mainland Europe… ? Having lived in a few different European countries I’m baffled by the thought of not being able to get teabags somewhere. I’m really curious what you mean, if you don’t mind elaborating.

          1. Felis alwayshungryis*

            I think they mean the brands and the quality. NZ has some really crap teas, but you can still get Twinings and Yorkshire, and probably others (I’m not much of a tea drinker). There are some good local brands, but there’s nothing like your own favourite.

            1. Chocolate Teapot*

              Yes. In my case it’s PG Tips decaffeinated. I can manage with other teas, but that’s the one I “need”.

          2. RebelwithMouseyHair*

            Somebody moving from the UK to somewhere in the EU will probably need to take teabags because tea in many EU countries looks like pee, whereas your bona fide Brit will want something with as much whack as coffee.

    2. AcademiaNut*

      I’ve done the other side of the world move before. I didn’t have moving expenses covered, but did ship some stuff via sea (port to port, which is more affordable than by land). I brought clothing, a few books (mostly professional, and some favourite or hard to find replace fiction), some decorative items (like Christmas ornaments) and some of the nicer of my kitchen stuff and bedding. Be sure to check electricity compatibility before taking any small appliances. In general, I’d recommend taking stuff that’s personally important, or small and valuable, and sell off and replace things that are larger or easily replaced.

      Don’t bother with furniture. It’s hideously expensive to ship, so it’s much easier to buy used or new stuff when you get there. If your employer covers shipping, I’d make sure that it also covers moving your stuff back at the end. I know a few people who brought furniture with them, and they ended up selling it all before moving away.

      Make sure to have a couple of months supply of prescription medication, and enough over the counter stuff to last through quarantine. If you’re covered under local health insurance, check the time it takes to kick in – there’s usually a gap. Get travel insurance to cover catastrophic illness during the gap.

      Speaking of quarantine, plan for being stuck in a hotel room for at least two weeks, and take an ebook reader, and some stuff to watch, some video games, and something to exercise with. Research how to switch your Netflix to New Zealand. You may be stuck without for a while as you’ll be a New Zealand IP address, but a UK credit card, meaning you might not be able to use either.

      I suspect UK to NZ will be easier shopping wise than some other moves – I had to bring a fair amount of clothing with me because I can’t buy stuff locally, and the cosmetics are very different.

      1. TL -*

        If you move to NZ your Netflix will automatically switch over when you have a new IP address. If you want to keep your UK Netflix (or open up other countries Netflix, like American Netflix) you can get a VPN. they’re not cheap, but it was definitely worth it for me.

        1. RebelwithMouseyHair*

          Yes it happens automatically, as we discovered when on holiday in India: suddenly we could only get sub-titles in Hindi and Urdu rather than in French!

    3. Ismis*

      I moved from Ireland to Australia. My plan was just to stay for a year but it’s been over a decade and I have no plans to leave. New Zealand is amazing – I’ve been a few times. People are unbelievably friendly and it’s a very beautiful place.

      Some advice a friend gave me when I got here is to forget about currency comparisons. If you’re buying bread or beer, converting them everything back to GBP won’t help you figure out NZD norms. I had lived in Celtic Tiger Dublin so booze seemed cheap to me when I arrived, but I was floored by the price of chicken.

      Assuming NZ is the same as Australia, clothing is very expensive. Stock up on the basics from your favourite M&S equivalent. Bring any winter clothes with you too if you can. I wore a parka on my last leg from Thailand to Australia. I landed when it was 42 degrees, but it was worth it in the end!

    4. WS*

      NZ has reciprocal health care with the UK so as long as you’re eligible for the NHS in the UK you’re eligible in NZ. However, if you’re going to be in quarantine for two weeks, make sure you have enough supplies to cover that time – I had a friend end up short of anti-epilepsy medication and it was a big drama to get more.

      Clothing, books and eating out are more expensive that you will expect, but fresh food is much cheaper.

    5. Cambridge Comma*

      Probably tea won’t taste right because the composition and treatment of the tap water will be different (this also happens if you move within the UK, nothing against NZ). A filter jug can help. Might just be me but it’s so depressing and alienating when that first cup of tea when you get home doesn’t taste right.
      Expect culture shock, it really happens to everyone everywhere.

    6. Thankful for AAM*

      As the others said, forget about furniture. Focus on medicines, clothing, some sentimental items, essential books (they are heavy!) and some basic kitchen hand tools. I moved from the US to the UK (with an infant) and then the UK to the US (with a 3 year old).

      We moved to the UK with 3 very large suitcases and moved back to the US with the same 3 suitcases and shipped 10 small boxes of personal items (professional books, kid stuff, kitchen stuff) because that was all we could afford to move. It was fine. The only thing I regret not moving back to the US was a colander that I loved! It took me a while to find one in the US that worked for me. Its the simple things like that, I think that make a difference.

    7. Keener*

      That’s very exciting! I moved from Canada to Wellington, NZ for what I was planning to be 6months and stayed 6 years. I found cost of some material goods can be high compared to what I was used to in canada, but they are also a much less materialistic society. People buy and sell used items all the time. As of 2014 trademe.co.nz was the go to site for buying /selling amd finding rental housing. Not sure if Facebook market place is taking over now.

      Also, since everything comes in by shipping container I can sometimes be hard to find specialty items. For example, I was into whitewater kayaking and boats came in only once a year so when they sold out of a model that was it. Likewise you could get all the accompanying equipment but not necessarily the same selection of brands and options as Canada. All of that to say, depending upon hobbies and your luggage/shipping situation I would think about taking any speciality stuff rather than assuming you can easily replace.

      I am looking forward to reading more updates and living the adventure vicariously through you.

      1. TL -*

        When I was last there – 2019-, Facebook was big but trade me was still used a lot, so I’d use both.

    8. I Go OnAnonAnonAnon*

      My friend just moved herself and family US to NZ (Wellington, in fact) this summer (very specialized work purpose that’s impossible to fill there, visa all set, etc.). They each took only a couple of suitcases of clothing/personal items and have been buying things like furniture there. Her husband brought his bicycle, as he’s an avid rider and didn’t want to have to start shopping there, but they left everything else behind in their house here; her mom and eldest child are still here in the US in the house, so they didn’t have to figure out storage/getting rid of it. She also had her dog sent over, which was an ordeal in and of itself and they were apart for nearly 3 months all told, but are happily together now. If you’d like to get in touch with her, I’m sure we can figure out a way to do it — she’s loving meeting people there and loves NZ!

      1. TL -*

        Oh yeah I wouldn’t advise shipping pets into NZ if you come from a country with rabies. They’re rightfully really cautious, as they have no rabies there now (there may be some other diseases as well.)

        The good news is going the other way, NZ to rabies-endemic countries, is pretty easy as long as you get your pets vaccinated.

        1. Dream Jobbed*

          With microchipping you would think it would be much easier to get a dog into a new country. This is so much trauma for a poor puppy. (Not to mention trauma for the human and the expense.) I get needing to stay rabies free, but it seems easy to vaccinate three months prior and prove it by microchip.

    9. TL -*

      I did US to NZ (south island) 2017 and stayed until 2019. I brought 2 suitcases and 2 carry-ons. I came from Boston, so I brought my fall/late fall clothes but left my heavy winter clothes at home, which was the right choice. Some of my friends were nesters and shipped trunks over, which was pricey but allowed them to set up a home right from the start. I would just think about your budget and what’s important to you – if it’s going to be extremely stressful spending a months buying things as you need them and getting settled in, rather than having lots of familiar stuff from the start, it mat be worth it.

      In general, I found there were a lot of cheap options for things (clothes, kitchenware, furniture, etc…) that were low-quality and a decent selection of high-price, high-quality, but almost nothing in between, especially compared to the States, where you can find a lot of mid-price, good/high quality stuff. There’s a great used market though and definitely make use of that.

      If you’re flying Auckland-Different NZ City, be aware that NZ airlines have a weight limit for carry ons (7 kgs, I believe.) Air New Zealand almost never enforces it, but JetStar does, particularly for early morning flights, and the overage charges in your checked luggage get pricey fast.

      Used cars in NZ are really cheap (petrol is not, but you don’t have to have insurance, so…) I’d absolutely buy one if you have a few thousand NZD to. However, if at all possible, I’d be a passenger a few times first and pay close attention/ask the driver questions about NZ road norms. The roads are different there, even compared to the UK: lower speed limits, some of the markings mean different things than in the States, and a lot of two-lane roads and one-lane bridges (but not in the cities, of course.)

      Pedestrians do not have right of way unless they’re in a crosswalk, and even then, it’s not guaranteed. The hit rate for pedestrians and bicyclists is actually really high for a developed country, so be more aware than you would normally (again, I came from Boston and I was surprised by how reckless the cars were around pedestrians – and Boston is known for really aggressive drivers and aggressive pedestrians.)

      If you eat a lot of chicken, learn to break down a whole chicken and buy those instead of the packaged pieces. It’s cheaper and better quality (they pump the chicken breasts full of liquid and I, at least, could not deal.)

      Do some research and learn about the Maori people, culture, and history either before you get there or in the first few months. It’s important and it’ll help you understand a lot of things as you learn more about NZ.

      And finally, eat Whittaker’s chocolate and lots of ice cream and dairy – I miss it! New Zealand is beautiful and a really lovely, laid-back country to live in.

      1. allathian*

        I’m surprised you didn’t mention that they drive on the left side of the road. It can take some time to get used to. I certainly wouldn’t want to drive a right-hand drive car with manual transmission, how common are automatics in NZ?

        Ever since the LotR movies, visiting NZ has been on my bucket list.

        1. Brightwanderer*

          KiwiApple is going from the UK, where we also drive on the left, so that’s not an issue.

          1. allathian*

            Ah yes, of course. I missed that as my post focused on TL’s above. When I lived in the UK as a tween, I almost got run over once because it took so long to get used to looking right, left, right instead of left, right, left when crossing the road. We lived a few blocks from the school and I walked, although there was a main road to cross. My sister, who’s a couple years younger, went to another school in another direction and my parents dropped her off as they went to work.

            1. Emma*

              Ha! I’m from the UK, but I lived in NL for a few years where they drive on the right. The first time I came back to the UK, I’d got so used to looking the other way that I did the same thing – except I was crossing at an island (safer!), so I hadn’t looked right at all.

              I don’t think it helped that in NL cars generally stop for pedestrians. I caused some major annoyance at a big junction near my house because I’d be patiently waiting to stop, and wouldn’t realise that the cars hadn’t stopped because of oncoming traffic – they were letting me cross. So I wasn’t used to having to be especially careful, any more.

    10. Bob NZ*

      What an exciting adventure! I wish you all the best with the move.

      I’ve made this move twice – in my case from Bristol to Christchurch. I had a trial run (working holiday visa) in 2000 where I knew I’d be away for 12-18 months and a permanent move in 2005. Been here ever since. Love it. Highly recommended ;)

      For the first trip I was doing a mix of backpacking and casual work so I made do with a 65 litre backpack (which weighed about 10kg or 12kg on the outbound journey).

      For the second trip I packed up most of my worldly goods and shipped them over. I was 26 at this point and had previously been renting a furnished flat (where “furnished” included everything down to the kettle and saucepans) so this amounted to less than 2 cubic metres. Mostly books, clothes and a few nice kitchen things. I left a few sentimental things (old photos, school books) at my parents’ place. I then flew over with a backpack of basics (seasonal clothes mostly but also a super-basic starter kit: one knife, one fork, one bowl, one mug etc). The backpack of basics tided me over until the container ship arrived. I think it took 8 weeks – 4 weeks before I left the UK and 4 weeks after arriving in NZ.

      If moving now I’d have a ton more stuff and would have to think very carefully about whether I’d ship over my furniture. I think I would for a stay of a few years. If you’re shipping furniture expect a period of about 8 weeks (in the UK or in NZ) where you become accustomed to sitting on the ground and sleeping on an air mattress while your furniture is in transit! I have friends who bought outdoor furniture to use as their dining table in the short term and actual outdoor furniture in the longer term.

      I’d probably just buy a car here rather than shipping a UK one.

      When I lived in the UK it was common for rental flats and even houses to come furnished. I haven’t found that to be the case here except maybe at the very high end of the market catering to corporate clients. Most places I looked at did include whiteware (fridge, freezer, washing machine) and I was able to negotiate for my landlord to leave me a sofa and armchair they had knocking around.

      Expect to pay a slightly higher rental deposit (e.g. 4 weeks’ rent rather than the standard 2) due to not having a NZ credit history. I found things like setting up a bank account or getting a tax number were a breeze – these days you can probably do so online before you even set off.

      Trademe (like eBay) and FB marketplace are useful for picking up second hand stuff and you can always sell stuff that way at the end of the stay. I also recall doing a big shop at Briscoes (homeware store, always has sales, kind of Woolworths/Ikea kind of level of quality) when I moved here permanently.

      As others have mentioned, the costs of things are different here and it’s worth not getting too hung up on converting everything back into pounds. That said, “stuff” (everything from books to electronics to shoes) does cost more here in my experience. (The price you pay for being a long way away from everywhere else, I guess, but it does have its advantages too … like no Covid in the community at present). I think NZ does okay at the lower end and higher end of the market but it lacks the middle bit that the UK high street offers. (Example: Glassons offers much the same as New Look and there are a boutique-y places too but there’s very little Marks & Spencer or Next style middle ground.)

      As a general tip, I think it’s always good to do any dental checks and optometrist visits before you travel. In fact, outside of global pandemics, I choose to go to the optician during my UK visits (GBP10 with a voucher at Boots compared to NZ120 at my local optometrist here in Christchurch) – I like to kid myself that savings like that subsidise the cost of my flight tickets!

      I reckon I’ve written too much already so I’ll finish here. If you do read this – and I am conscious I’m commenting late – please feel free to write any questions in response to this comment and I’d be happy to answer them. (I’ll check back in a few days.)

      Good luck :)

  9. Princess Deviant*

    Is there anything you’re doing to look after yourself this World Mental Health Day?

    Living alone during Covid-19 has been very difficult. Being autistic, I don’t feel that I have many friends I can talk to! It’s been lonely. I also really miss swimming, because the pools have been closed since March and aren’t going to reopem for many months now.

    But there are things I can do to look after myself, such as be outside in nature and tend to my garden (which needs a bit of TLC this weekend!) and pet my cats, prepare nice food to eat, and get enough sleep.

    I like spending time on here too at the weekend, reading other people’s questions and answers.

    I’d love to read how and what you’re doing this weekend! And if you’re not feeling great, please don’t keep it in – it’s good to talk x

    1. Director of Alpaca Exams*

      I’m making concrete plans to quit my job, and asking my family for more together time. I hope it’s a good weekend for you!

    2. NeverNicky*

      I’m going to spend time in my garden and potting shed, some time with my knitting and some time with my head in a good book!

      Oh – and no time at all on news sites or Twitter!

    3. Seeking Second Childhood*

      Unfortunately I shall be working on financial paperwork…I filed for an extension on my US taxes extension because of missing forms and the year blurred by. Luckily I set a reminder on my phone… since that went off on Monday I’ve been worrying, so completing it will be extremely good for my mental health!

    4. chi chan*

      I have been a little bored with life. Along with all the anxiety and all, a lot of activities just aren’t interesting. For mental health I have been trying to be gentle with myself and working on having a more optimistic mindset. Good sleep, regular meals. I actually keep wishing I could visit my friends. They have 5 cats and I could just soothe myself petting them.

    5. Fish Microwaver*

      I marked World Mental Health Day by participating in an activity held by a local suicide support/prevention group. I did it to honour the friend I lost to suicide around this time of year.

    6. Disco Janet*

      Nature and my cats help me too!

      Today will be a bit rough and awkward for me. My sister-in-law (husband’s sister) is throwing a birthday party for my nephew. We haven’t hung out with them since COVID started, and every time an event like this rolls around we get hugely guilt tripped. They have taken no Covid precautions – she’s constantly sharing photos of them at theme parks, Boy Scout camping trips, swim team, large group gatherings, amusement parks, baby showers, graduation parties, etc. Never a mask in sight unless it’s a place that requires it, and even then it’s below the nose. One of my sons is asthmatic and has been hospitalized twice for oxygen/breathing issues over the common cold, so there is absolutely no way we’re bringing him around them until there is a vaccine.

      But I just know I’m going to be getting text messages trying to make me feel badly about it all day. It won’t work! But it does get frustrating. Especially since they love to solely blame me for it. Apparently my husband would be a science denier and love a certain politician just like them if he hadn’t married me. Ugh. Doesn’t matter what he says to them either – they think whatever they want to think and will not be swayed.

      I might have a coworker over for a bonfire this weekend, and I’m excited about that! Making that coworker to coworker/friend transition can be difficult, but as someone without many friends as an adult, I’m hoping it happens!

      What you said about nature has me wanting to get out there this weekend! And wishing I lived in the more scenic part of my state so that the sand dunes, falls, Great Lakes – basically all the good hiking spots – weren’t a half days drive to get to.

      1. Disco Janet*

        Oh, and thing I forgot to add – the birthday party is at a trampoline park and she has invited about a dozen kids plus parents. Noooooo!

      2. Generic Name*

        I know you didn’t ask for advice, but have you considered blocking all direct forms of communications to you? Do you HAVE to communicate with them directly rather than letting your husband handle his family? My mother in law has some mental health issues, and my husband is the point of contact for his relatives. She doesn’t even have my phone number, although we are friends on Facebook. Please ignore if this isn’t appropriate to your situation, obviously.

        1. Disco Janet*

          I don’t mind advice! We try to do this, but it’s tough because his mom and sister tend to text me all invitations and plans, and I feel awkward just not responding.

          I suspect this is because both of their families are very old school traditional where the wife is the one who takes care of the home, kids, special occasion planning, and all social plans or things relating to the family. I don’t think they really believe that we make all of those decisions together. I know that might sound strange – then not believing it – but it’s the impression I’ve gotten from past conversations where I’ve said I needed to run something by him.

          1. allathian*

            Ouch… That’s unfortunate. But yeah, I second the recommendation to cut communications with them completely and let your husband deal with them. You can’t change how they feel about you no matter what you do, unless you start attending every family event and maybe not even then, so why stress yourself unnecessarily by letting their messages get through?

            The main thing is that you get to keep yourself and your family safe and you don’t have to deal with them anymore.

        2. Dream Jobbed*

          I guess I’m evil. Any guilt trip about not attending a family meeting would be rebutted with questions on why they want to kill my asthmatic son? Do they think it’s worth the risk? Why do they hate him so much?Etc. And I’d remind them that my main job as a parent is keeping my child safe from anyone trying to harm him, including them. The more guilt they pour on, the more guilt they get back.

    7. Generic Name*

      My husband and I are going to a nearby archery range in a National Forest and we plan to have lunch in a quaint town that’s along the way. Even though I really miss my son when he’s with his dad, I do enjoy some date time with my husband. It’s been challenging to be newlyweds when you also have a teenager.

    8. violet04*

      My husband was laid off from his job a couple of weeks ago, which has been hard on us. He’s getting a severance and I still have my job, but it’s still stressful.

      I’ve had good days where I feel hopeful about him finding a new job, but this morning my anxiety spiked and I’m feeling really depressed and panicked about the situation.

      Like what if it takes months to find something? What if he has to take a huge pay cut to be employed, have a much longer commute, etc.?

      I’m going to try and stay productive today – exercise and help my husband write some cover letters.

      Then take some deep breaths and snuggle the kitties.

      1. Princess Deviant*

        I hear your anxiety, and I’m sorry this has happened! I wish you comfort and peace of mind.

    9. Anax*

      I actually got to go outside! There’s an outdoor farmer’s market nearby, and I was finally physically able to go for a few minutes – long enough to look at pumpkins, goats, and chickens at the seasonal petting zoo, before I had to sit down. It was only about ten minutes, but it felt great; it’s been months since I got to go out even for that long. And BF’s schedule is being jerked onto nightshift – retail – so we’ve had to cancel all our plans for the week again.

      While I absolutely applaud all the mask requirements in my area, since I can’t wear one for more than 10-15 minutes before having an asthma attack, I’ve been feeling really cooped up. Even the places which seem “safe enough” without a mask – low-traffic, outdoor parks – require them, so I can’t go. It’s for the public good, and it’s working, so it’s totally the right thing, but ugh, it’s a little hard for me personally.

      1. Princess Deviant*

        It sounds like you really enjoyed your time outdoors after being stuck in for so long :)
        Animals are very restorative aren’t they?

    10. Rara Avis*

      Trying not to be sad about attending my cousin’s wedding virtually instead of in person, (She was a flower girl in my wedding.)

      Finally finding a solution for the stray cat my daughter rescued from where I work feels good.

      Looking for silver linings: COVID cancellations mean I won’t be working this Sunday.

      1. Princess Deviant*

        Ah I can totally understand why you’d miss being there in person. I hope you enjoy your day off tomorrow, and thanks for looking after the stray cat. You did a really good thing.

    11. Anon the mouse*

      I’ve had a rough time with depression through this whole thing, and have been on meds since May (dose that seems to be working established last month, we’ll see if it holds). My husband and I are going through a hard patch that I’m not sure we’ll get through. It was hard for me for some reason to see ‘World Mental Health Day’ posts all over the internet yesterday, but seeing this today is more welcome and I actually feel like engaging.

      Some things feel normal – we’re going on a short drive vacation with 2 friends to stay near a beach in a week, so I’m looking forward to that. We’ll mostly cook at the house we rented, maybe get takeout, might walk on the beach or go see horses nearby. Seeing my baby niece feels normal – she’s walking, which is a joy and constant entertainment. I’m trying to hang on to things like that instead of focusing on thinking my husband (or I) respond well to counseling when we go in a couple of weeks.

  10. NeverNicky*

    I’ve just had a letter from my GP telling me that the results of a blood test I had six months ago show that I have pre-diabetes (just over the borderline).

    I’ve been referred to one of the NHS’s out-sourced services for a tele-assessment and virtual group sessions.

    Has anyone been diagnosed with pre-diabetes and how did you get yourself back in the healthy range? Did you?

    I think this is going to be a struggle for me. I’m about 110 pounds above a healthy weight so getting rid of some of that might help but I’ve been a failed dieter all my adult life.

    A lot of the stuff I’ve been reading has suggested a low carb, high protein diet – I’ve been a non-meat eater for 30 years and high protein meat alternatives (Quorn) upset my digestion, I have an adult onset nut allergy so I wonder about what that would look like.

    Exercise apparently is recommended too. I work from home so I’m very sedentary. I try to walk at weekends but I have multiple sclerosis. Everything aches most of the time, except for the bits where I have no feeling (my feet). Then there’s the fatigue …

    I do work full time and do voluntary work so I don’t have masses of time (or energy – see fatigue) and I know I’m going to have to change my mindset because in my free time, I don’t want to exercise and I don’t want to spend ages standing at a stove (which hurts) because I’ve other things I would rather do. Equally, I don’t want to be living with two serious chronic health conditions.

    I’m feeling a bit overwhelmed by it all really and I’d appreciate others experiences and encouragement.

    1. AnonForThis*

      This is me! I’m two weeks in to a program my employer offers to help folks at risk for diabetes (US based). I’m part of a small group working with a health coach to experiment with new habits. I had already been on a small health journey but adding a structured group has been very helpful for accountability.

      Some things I’ve learned:
      – I have never (ever) been able to shame, guilt, or hate myself into sustainable weight loss. Quite the opposite and I end up bingeing
      – “Should” is a terrible word. If a new habit or system doesn’t work, keep experimenting! I “should” eat more vegetables but I’m too tired to make salads at night. I can absolutely harness my powers of lazy, however, and eat a bagged salad from the store. They come in different flavors and I keep them eye level and arms reach in the fridge. I do the same with prewashed and prepped fruit. I will reach for what is there.
      – Money. I was raised to be frugal. I “should” be able to buy cheap and healthy. Hint: this is a trap. Your time and your health are worth money. Buy the bagged salad. Buy the precut fruit. How much money have you spent on diet pills or gym memberships or other body modifications? That’s money you could’ve spent at the grocery store eating and feeling better. Releasing my supermarket guilt lets me put better food in my body for less effort. Berries and grapes are my favorite splurge.

      There’s loads of more tips online but I have been getting a lot of mileage out of treating myself very gently and allowing myself to experiment with small changes. Good luck to you – you’re worth it!

      1. Katniss Evergreen*

        OMG yes buy the precut fruit and stuff – I have not the required patience (or spoons) for cutting up watermelon or taking lettuce off the romaine heart. Speaking of protein – last time I was eating well I did some research on this and found that there are several veggies that pack a pretty decent protein count and low carbs by comparison. My fave was mushrooms, because I could dress up cut roasted ones with olive oil and herbs and have a tasty bowl of them alone or with zucchini/carrot/rice noodles. Spinach was another standby for me, also high in iron because anemia isn’t fun! Just focusing on low-carb veggies you get bell peppers and avocados too. For straight high protein, lima beans and lentils – I hate lima but lentils can go in all kinds of things and can feel like an almost-starch if you cook them right. I always do better when I have picked up a new habit if I can eat something that feels like cheating but isn’t – lots of these won’t require lots of time in front of the stove and taste great chopped up and roasted in the oven for 15 minutes.

        I have been an unsuccessful dieter or yo-yo’d my weight 30-50 pounds several times over the last 9 years, now about 50 over the highest healthy weight for myself. Not quite pre-diabetic, but definitely obese for my height, which is hard to think about. It’s hard but you’re not alone. Good luck!

    2. Lena Clare*

      I can relate A LOT!
      I have not been diagnosed with pre-diabetes, but have been tested for it because I am overweight, have mobility problems and find exercising hard (except for swimming – which I cannot do at the moment, because…waves hands around at the world right now), and I am vegan. I also developed allergies to some nuts as an adult and get digestive issues with Quorn. I have tried a low carb diet a few times and it never worked out for me.

      What helps me is focusing on the things I can do, such as switching to wholegrains and trying more variety than just wheat, eating more beans and pulses and seeds for protein, cutting down on processed sugar, giving up caffeine (this has helped so much) and drinking more water. I also take supplements of vegan omega 3, vitamin D, iron, and magnesium – this has been a process of trial and error for me through various supplements to fidn what works for me.

      My feet are in a bad way because of my gait and posture, so I do core strengthening exercises that I found online, do Pilates and some gentle yoga on youtube, and walk when I can. I try half an hour a day but yesterday was really bad and now my feet are killing me, because I pushed myself too much. I don’t focus on losing weight (I am still overweight), I just try t0 eat and do what feels healthy for me, and I listen to my body.

      Be kind to yourself! I hope you get t0 see the specialist soon.

      1. That Girl from Quinn's House*

        I am going to second swimming or water exercise (water aerobics, water walking/jogging). I taught water fitness for years. It takes a lot of the stress of gravity off of your body and lets you get exercise in a more gentle fashion. Plus just being in the water is “work” for your body (regulating temperature and pressure) so even gentle water walking burns more calories than regular walking.

        For someone with MS, you’ll want to seek out a cooler pool, 80-84 degrees Fahrenheit to avoid a flare, and due to your foot numbness/prediabetes, you’ll want to wear water shoes if your facility allows and inspect your feet carefully for cuts at the end of each session, since you are at higher risk of infection.

        Good luck!

    3. Not So NewReader*

      Companies are making pastas out of lentils and other things now. Some of them are actually pretty tasty. You may want to check these things out. They do not take long to cook up. I will cook enough for two days, so all I have to do is heat the second serving.
      I also love riced cauliflower and that cooks fast.
      Some people have had luck using stevia to help with blood sugar. You can put a few drops in your coffee or tea.

      I have heard of a few people being quite successful in lowering their blood sugar for the long term. Even though my husband did become full fledged diabetic, he was able to keep his blood sugar under control for a very long time just with diet. (Diabetes ran in his family.)

    4. KeinName*

      My boyfriend had borderline bloodsugar and has now brought it down with the intermittent fasting thing where you eat nothing between dinner and lunch. To get more protein and less wheat flour you could try the lentil noodles and bread made from oats or seeds. Also, walks or bike rides are good for getting energy levels up but if you are in pain this is not a good idea. Is there exercise which is recommended for multiple sclerosis? I wish you all the best!

      1. KeinName*

        Oh, and I always walk for half an hour every work day at lunch – if you could manage that you‘d have evenings free for other leisure pursuits:-)

    5. CatCat*

      I can relate to some of this. I’m very overweight and have had blood test results putting me at the cusp of pre-diabetes. Earlier this year, I tried doing high protein by really increasing a lot more eggs, low and non fat dairy, and fish (otherwise was not a meat eater). It was awful for me because it totally screwed up my digestive system in a very painful way and I experienced inflammation in other parts of my body as well (so bad I had to have cortisone shots). I was directed to take fiber supplements for the digestive issues, but that’s it.

      I ended up by happenstance reading the book “How Not to Die,” which goes over the science of impacts of nutrition on various diseases and concludes that a whole foods, plant-based diet is the most effective. So I have been doing it and it’s been super amazing. Digestive issues and inflammation have gone away. Pounds have been dropping away without calorie counting or counting “macros” like protein or otherwise obsessing over food. I do take omega 3 and B12 supplements daily.

      My GI doc has has been on board given the improvements, as has my primary care doc for the same reason PLUS at my last visit a couple months ago, my blood test results were great across the board including no longer being on the verge of pre-diabetes.

      The key has been eating the plant foods in their whole form like whole grains rather than refined grains and sugars. I also cut back on alcohol and really minimized processed oils. The diet ends up being vegan though I don’t personally identify with that label because this isn’t a moral/ethical stance for me and I will eat non-plant foods on a special occasion (but rarely, like every couple months like a piece of cake that’s has eggs and dairy on a family members birthday).

      I got the Forks Over Knives recipe app on my phone. That app has a lot of recipes and also let’s you filter out recipes containing nuts, which could be helpful. I also got some cookbooks and follow a Facebook group for sharing recipes (literally it is s a recipes only group). I also have some lazy go-tos like literally just beans over greens with some salsa when I don’t feel like cooking. Getting frozen and pre-chopped veggies can also really reduce cook times as well as quick cooking whole grains (I eat a lot of rolled oats and 10 minute farro).

    6. WS*

      Look up the low GI diet – what you eat and how you eat it is more important than your weight in terms of blood sugar levels. Legumes and seeds are high in protein, but it’s about balance rather than cutting out kinds of food entirely. Additionally, getting enough fibre in your diet is really important in terms of balancing blood sugar. A fibre supplement may help, but increasing oats and vegetables is also good.

      1. Jules the 3rd*

        +1 – The diet I mention below was a low GI diet, focused on balancing protein and carbs.

    7. Hotdog not dog*

      My spouse has diabetes, I can tell you that if you can prevent it, your life will be much easier! We got some excellent advice from a nutritionist many years ago that we both still follow. Food comes in 3 basic groups: ingredients, recipes, and science projects. For example, an apple is an ingredient. It contains nothing else and a first grader can draw a picture of it, so you can go ahead and eat all you like. Homemade apple pie is a recipe. It’s made of ingredients that you could draw and spell the names of and probably isn’t always available anyway, so if Grandma bakes you one, you can enjoy a slice. Packaged apple pie from the grocery store is a science project. If you can’t picture what the ingredients look like or spell their names, you shouldn’t put it in your body. That’s a bit of an oversimplification, but as a guideline, if you eat mostly ingredients, a few recipes, and just the occasional science project, you’ll have a mostly healthy diet.

    8. Gail Davidson-Durst*

      I just want to say be kind to yourself and try not to feel guilty or ashamed. This “medical diagnosis” is very much bound up with hatred of fat people and can feel like a moral judgment. It’s not! It’s not even a disease – it’s information about your risk profile for a disease. And it doesn’t mean you have to do everything “correctly” and magically succeed at dieting to respond appropriately. Most people are not able to deliberately reduce their weight for more than a few months – this is a feature of being human, not you failing at something doable.

      My blood sugar and A1C numbers entered the danger zone and my doctor told me “be less fat, why don’t you?” (Not an actual quote, but how I experienced the conversation!) I told her that does not work for me and to tell me what she would advise for a thin person with these numbers. She did!

      The upshot – I’m still the same size. I don’t diet or try to make my body smaller. I DID mostly cut out sweetened beverages and increased my physical activity, and my numbers were almost in the normal range within a year. And my physical activity is not “no pain, no gain” punishing exercise aimed at burning extra calories – it’s a form of dance that’s very low impact and possible to do even with my many joint issues, and that I FREAKING LOVE, so it’s much easier to stick with. (Fat Chance and Fly Fusion belly dance, if you’re curious.)

      TL;DR – be kind to yourself, and know that you don’t have to suddenly change everything to make a real difference in your risk level.

    9. Workerbee*

      This is purely anecdotal—two members who have MS are in my belly dancing troupe, and so I’m wondering if some of the movements incorporated therein would help rather than fatigue or pain you while still getting you some exercise.

    10. Enter_the_Dragonfly*

      I’ sorry so much is piling on you at once. My mother had the same diagnosis a few years ago. She managed to get her numbers fully under control by going keto, and she found it really helped with her energy levels. She kept very strict keto for about a year and a half (maximum 15 net carbs a day, not more than 20 carbs total). She then transitioned to a slightly looser version (25 net carbs per day, 30 on special occasions) for maybe another 2? Now she’s paleo. Her numbers did go up a little bit, but she’s still not pre-diabetic anymore. Keto is a delicious way to eat, but the learning curve is steep. It is very possible to do while being vegetarian, cream and cheese are your friends! If you do decide to pursue this, I strongly recommend diet doctor dot com and the keto diet app, they were and remain invaluable resources for my maternal unit.

    11. Disco Janet*

      Yes! I had gestational diabetes with my pregnancies and was warned by my doctor that given that and my family history, I really needed to lose some weight. I’m still a work in progress, but I have lost enough weight this year that I’ve gone from obese to overweight.

      Mindset was the hard thing for me too. Every weight loss attempt I had made in the last left me hungry and feeling deprived and kind of down. I’ve been using Noom this time around, and while I’m kind of ‘meh’ on the coaching aspect of it, I’ve found the psychology angle to be super helpful. It points out why last things I’ve done haven’t helped, doesn’t make any food off limits – it’s all about moderation, and talks me through all of my doubts and cravings and the most effective way to handle them.

      Going to be honest, it’s been tougher since school resumed last month and I haven’t lost any weight since then – but I also haven’t gained any back!

    12. Choggy*

      I have had some issues when walking due to pain and have found a better alternative which are those walking videos because you are walking in place, with different variations (low kicks, side-stepping, etc.) that aren’t painful (or as painful). If you have a Roku, you can get many of these free from YouTube. I have also done the Leslie Sansone DVDs which are widely available on Amazon. Cutting down as much added sugar as you can will also help here, I also don’t eat much meat, and have been trying to incorporate lower carb plant based alternatives when eating carbs. There are many lower-carb bread, and pasta options which are actually palatable, and I’m a pretty picky eater. Another thing that is key here is mindfulness. What are you eating and at what time? Keeping a diary might give you an idea of where you could be incorporating alternative foods. Also, are you drinking enough water, being hydrated helps so much with digestion and keeps the joints lubricated.

    13. Thankful for AAM*

      Since you do not eat meat, I will recommend Dr. Joel Fuhrman and his book Eat to Live. He also has a book, End of Diabetes. It does work. I wish you well!

    14. Bobina*

      The best advice I can give is to start small and slow, but try to make changes that are sustainable long term. There’s been lots of useful comments already, but someone down below talked about Noom which is an app to help you track eating and understand the psychology of how/why you eat to tackle it, and I often think approaches like that are better. I often think when it comes to food, the best thing you can do is try to build better habits – so that the ratio of more healthy to less foods skews in favour of the former (accepting there will be times that you eat the less healthy option – I’m a big fan of the “everything in moderation” approach). But also be aware that it takes time to build habits, so dont expect to change massively overnight!

      In terms of exercise, I like to try to think of ways to either integrate it into every day life (so for example doing small bits throughout the day vs 1 big one, introducing a lunchtime walk etc) or finding something that you enjoy enough to distract you from the fact that you are doing exercise (eg dancing).

    15. Wishing You Well*

      I LOVE this system: ingredients, recipes and science projects! Yeah, I’m eating WAY too many science projects!
      The toughest part for my pre-diabetes is remembering it’s not just about sugar. Simple carbs and alcohol are also culprits in high blood sugar. My advice is to read more ingredients labels at the grocery store. You might put some things back on the shelf after reading it! There are also plenty of books on pre-diabetes and diabetes diets.
      Managing any new health condition can be overwhelming at first but you can get into new rhythm over time. It can be done! Best of luck!

    16. platypusmoose*

      Like you, I was just at the diabetic line by a cholesterol reading. I brought it back with a high fibre diet. I think they recommend 25 or 30 grams a day – that’s what I aimed for. I found by having lunch be a large mixed kale-ish salad and 1-2 c of beans/chickpeas, that really did it. And not a lot of processed sugar (biscuits!) or bread (any colour) :(

    17. Not So NewReader*

      Can I just say , “Water”?

      I know so many with diabetes who refuse to drink water. Non-diabetics need water so why would someone with diabetes not need it? Of the few who explained why, they said it was problems with urgency. Uh, urgency can be a dehydration symptom. A properly hydrated body is less apt to “leak”.
      Happily water flushes out our bodies and gets rid of a lot of crap, such as excess sugars.
      Under the heading of knowledge is power, sometimes thirst masquerades as hunger. Just ate an hour ago and you are hungry again? Try water first, let that settle in for 10-15 minutes and see where that puts you.

      We can train our bodies to ignore symptoms of thirst and the later symptoms of dehydration. We can train our bodies to ignore the need to go the restroom. I used to work an 8 hour shift and not think about the restroom. uh, not anymore. Not after realizing what I was putting my body through. I have had nurse friends tell me, “I would push through my day without using a restroom. We all did it. And a lot of us ended up with kidney problems later on in life.” This is so sad and so avoidable.

      According to the Mayo Clinic website, extreme dehydration causes heat injury, kidney and bladder problems (infections and stones), seizures sometimes with loss of consciousness (!!) and the worst thing, according to the site is low blood volume shock. Low blood volume shock means drop in blood pressure and drop in oxygen in your body. Yeah, pretty serious stuff. What they fail to explain here is that you lose control of your own mind and thoughts. It’s pretty awful. And it’s so cheap to prevent these problems.

      I have found longer lists of all the damage dehydration does. From what I am getting out of these longer lists, almost anyone with any on-going condition would gain some benefit by setting up a self-imposed program of regular daily hydration.

    18. Thursday Next*

      It sounds like focusing on small, sustainable changes will be most manageable. I’ve been above the border into pre-diabetes range a couple of times (and I’m also a vegetarian and have lupus), and what’s helped me is (1) eliminating sweetened beverages—I used to have a soda daily; and (2) replacing some simple carbs with whole grains—I subbed brown rice pasta for regular pasta.

      I don’t rely on processed meat substitutes, and stick to beans and tofu.

      It’s hard to contemplate overhauling a number of things at once. What are two or three things you could change? For example, could you start going for a ten-minute walk three times a week, and commit to eating one daily meal based around whole grains and beans?

    19. Jules the 3rd*

      I went from pre-diabetic (A1C 6.1) to not (A1C 5.3) and have stayed that way. I did it with a balanced protein / carb diet (NOT low carb, but 1g protein for every 2g carbs), exercise and losing 30lbs, but have managed to keep A1C low by keeping up the diet and exercise as my weight went back up 40lbs (215lbs, 5′ 10″ tall female, 50ish yo).

      Given your restrictions (no meat, limited walking, no nuts), here’s some things I would recommend:
      1) Can you increase eggs for protein? I put one raw in my oatmeal (not noticeable), have boiled ones in salads, eat veg omelets for lunch and dinner. I have a plastic gadget that makes omelets in the microwave, it works ok.
      2) Focus on switching to high-fiber carbs: wheat breads instead of white, yada yada
      3) Limit processed snacks and extra sugars (crackers, cookies) to 2 servings / day (and actually pay attention to serving sizes for those kinds of food)
      4) After I’ve had a protein / bread / vegetables, I fill up on fresh fruit. Bananas and melons like honeydew / cantelope are not too expensive, and I add in seasonal treats.
      5) Unsaturated fats are great. I hate feeling hungry. Avocados, olives, eggs, peanut butter, hummus – all very satisfying. My husband’s on a serious ‘Apples and hummus’ kick right now, dipping slices of apple into hummus instead of eating processed snacks. I don’t like it, but I often use hummus or avocado spread instead of mustard, on a roast chicken sandwich. In the US, Costco has some individually packed hummus / avocado spreads that make it affordable for us.

      1) Ask your doctor if there’s any way to get a physical therapist prescription, because of your weight and MS. A PT would be able to help you figure out exercises that fit your needs and limits.
      2) Start with stretches and seated exercises, like foot lifts.
      3) Can you afford / do you have space for an exercise bike? I had full-blown gestational diabetes, with all the monitoring, and found that the biggest impact on blood sugar was after working the biggest muscles, thighs. The exercise bike and squats were more effective than walking.
      4) All exercises had more impact on blood sugar the closer I did them to big meals. 10 minutes of squats / bike right before or after lunch / dinner lowered blood sugar more than 30 minutes of walking at 6am.

      The main thing to remember is that you are doing whatever you choose to do because you are a valuable person, someone worth taking care of. That’s the mindset you need. Love yourself lots, be gentle with your struggles, and good luck.

      1. Jules the 3rd*

        Lotta great recommendations above – I woulda put fiber in mine, but I figured if you’re non-meat, you probably get a lot of fiber. I may have to check out Noom.

    20. Anax*

      Ugh, I’m sorry; I’m not in quite the same boat, but also too darn tired to get into shape, dealing with multiple chronic health conditions, and… well, it would probably be easier on my joints and thermoregulation if I lost a bit of extra padding, I’m probably fifty pounds over my ideal weight. I hope it goes well.

    21. Stephanie*

      First, be kind to yourself! Don’t feel like you need to solve everything and lose 100 lbs in a two weeks. My mom was pre-diabetic and was able to manage it via diet and light exercise.

      Second, I’ve found small incremental changes are far more sustainable. Things like eggs and beans (although talk to your doctor or a nutritionist to make sure that beans won’t affect your blood sugar too much) are good vegetarian protein sources. So maybe you try eating one more egg a week than you would have previously.

      Third, I found Reader’s Digest has a good Diabetes Cookbook that talks about foods that spike blood sugar.

    22. JKP*

      Can you incorporate exercise into your work? Like get under the desk bike pedals or elliptical. I have a a set under my desk for <$80. I've even seen cheap foldable bike pedals for <$30 to get started. Pedal while working on the computer or watching TV or reading. I pedal while I read emails/articles etc, and I stop when I need to type/focus. When everything aches, you want something low impact. Start small and build up as your strength and stamina increase. Even if you just do 5 min/day to start with, that's 5 min you weren't doing before.

    23. Cats on a Bench*

      I am sort of similar, but only about 30 lbs overweight. I have pain issues preventing exercise and am also a vegetarian and have been for 35 years. Last year I was right at the borderline for pre-diabetes. I wish I can say I cut all sugar out and lost a bunch of weight. I did not. I did manage to lower my A1C and my glucose a tiny bit over the year. I still need to lower it more, but I made progress. I think most of the progress is due to getting exercise because I really didn’t change my diet much. I cut out soda. That’s about it. Exercise was tough because of all the joint pain I have so I got some physical therapy and chose swimming for the cardio work. I HATE pools and HATE being in a swimsuit, but something had to be done. I signed up for swim lessons at my community center and learned how to swim laps. It’s SO MINDNUMBINGLY BORING and I watch the clock the entire time and I’m out the second I reach 30 minutes, but I do it 5 days a week. I found my body felt so much better the days that I swam and got to the point where if I went more than 2 days without swimming I was in more pain. Then COVID happened and I have not felt comfortable returning to the pool yet. So I started walking every day and also found some short (20 min-ish) really low impact Jane Fonda videos on YT. I think they’re intended for people in their seventies and eighties (I am not), but it was what my body could do and that’s how I keep moving now. As I get stronger, I can increase the intensity or length of the workout. Since I got my test results this year and saw that I made some progress, I decided it was time to address my diet. I had the same concerns as you with the low carb high protein recommendations because as a vegetarian, I get most of my calories from carbs! I also don’t like the imitation meats. Yuck. If I liked the taste of meat I’d eat actual meat! Anyway, here’s the changes I’m making now. I still eat pasta, bread and cereal, but I eat less of it than I used to. I changed all my bread to whole grain (make sure the first ingredient is a whole grain flour, ie whole wheat flour) because I eat sandwiches nearly every day. I cut pasta back to once a week. That was hard. Pasta is my go to favorite easy meal. If I want a PBJ sandwich I will just slice an apple and put peanut butter on that and skip the jelly and skip the bread. I do snack on handfulls of nuts, but you probably can’t do that. I do eat eggs and have replaced some of my cereal eating with an egg sandwich in the morning. When I do eat cereal I make myself put berries on it to get more fiber. I try not to buy the super sugary cereals, but the ones with little sugar in them suck and I just add sugar to it to make it palatable so I found it was better to eat the kind I want, but limit it to only a couple times a week. I started eating more bean dishes. Many of these are eaten with rice which does have a high glycemic index so I try to make the bean to rice ratio heavier on the bean/veggie side than the rice side. I also use brown rice rather than white. I prepare some stuff ahead to make it convenient the rest of the week, like salad. I’ll wash and cut up the romaine then dry it a bit and bag it so it’s ready to go. Chop up some carrots and other veggies to add then too. I use grape tomatoes so I just need to wash them and toss into the salad when I’m ready to eat it. I’m trying to get myself to make my own dressings so I can control how much sugar goes in it, but so far I still prefer bottled. Takes time to change the palate I guess. Still need to eat more veggies. It’s so much easier to open a bag of chips. LOL Chocolate and cookies and sweets is my real problem and I haven’t really succeed at cutting that down much yet. I have switched from milk chocolate to 85% cocoa dark chocolate. It was a gradual transition though increasing my tolerance to more cocoa over time. It has less sugar and I get what I want from it with only 2-3 squares rather than devouring the whole bar and wishing I had more. I stopped buying prepackaged cookies/cupcakes/etc. and decided if I’m going to eat it, I have to make it from scratch. I’m lazy so that only happens for special occasions which is what it should be. But it took me a long time to transition to this. We still get ice cream for the kids and I have to resist that. I often fail. I still ate way too much sugar for a long time and still have days where I fall off the wagon. Just gotta pick myself up and start again. Can’t get down over a little slip up or I’ll slip up more. Just have to say “ok, that was today, moving on now.” The longer I can go with less sugar the easier it gets. The more I develop different habits, the easier it gets. Decide on a few changes you can make now, adjust to them, then make another change, adjust, and so on. Here’s a link to a Jane Fonda “workout” (more like physical therapy) that is very low impact and could help get you moving a bit and get you stronger to where you might be able to do more. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7_4BNNo1VH0. You can also search YT for “sitting workout”. I found several things I could do last year when my leg was in a cast for a few weeks. I also modify (or skip) exercises that I can’t do. For example, push-ups or planks cause so much pain (and damage) to my wrist that they aren’t worth it. Skip every time. Well, planks I modify. I go on my forearms instead of hands. Anyway, sorry for the book. I hope you get some ideas to help make this less overwhelming! Good luck!

    24. Just another vegetarian prone to pre-diabetes if I'm not careful*

      It is not difficult. You are where I am 10 yrs ago, I was nonvegetarian at that time. But I have been a vegetarian the past 1 week and had to work very hard to keep my insulin levels balanced.

      – Switch to whole grains – whole grain or sprouted wheat bread, buckwheat, quinoa, brown rice etc.
      – every meal need to have protein (beans/lentils) along with fibrous vegetables
      – soak all lentils / beans before cooking
      – cut all root veggies like potatoes, yams etc (Except ginger garlic) for now
      – buckwheat helps a lot with insulin balance – you can also make a quick bread with it
      – cut down all sugar – including honey, agave etc ..
      – take a tbsp of organic psyllium husk (not powder, just husk) every day.
      – Find some form of Exercise that you like – walking, yoga, swimming, something… There are walking videos on youtube by Leslie Samsone that you can just do indoors
      – drink 2 litres of water
      – sleep well and goto bed by 10 pm
      – Read up on intermittent fasting and try it
      – it’s easy to reduce grains and carbs if you switch a meal to smoothies, salads or soups..
      – look up life saving bread, buckwheat bread, quinoa bread, flaxmeal+nut or seed flour based breads…
      – avoid all fruits except berries for now.. and avoid fruit juices and flavoured yogurt..
      – soak handful nuts and eat them or add to smoothies..
      – get your H1BAC checked every 6 months.. and keep it under 5.5
      – I add nut flour, seeds, hemp seeds to whole grain rolled oats .. to add protein .. I make it as oatmeal, granola, pancakes etc..
      Good luck!!

    25. Zooey*

      My husband was diagnosed with a different condition that benefited from diet / weight management about a year ago and we found thet the Second Nature plan really worked for us. It’s essentially a low carb diet but structured so you do a ‘reset’ to get used to eating differently then transition to a diet that works for the long term. They also support you with exercise. What we especially liked is that it had a big emphasis on ‘non scale goals’ so even though it does ask you to track your weight it isn’t as focused on pure weight loss as some programmes. I feel like a shill here but it did work for us so much better than various other attempts to deal with our weight and diet.

      It’s available on the NHS in some parts of the country so worth asking your doctor (not in ours unfortunately and my husband found the NHS support he did get supremely unhelpful).

      Good luck!

    26. Jackie*

      I just got the same news from my GP. And, like you, am overwhelmed. The only thing my GP said was to eliminate sweets and watch my diet. I read that flax seeds are good to add to my old fashioned oatmeal rolled oats for blood sugar control but I am just learning too. I have to not beat myself up and just do the best I can. That’s all we can do. I wish you well.

  11. Jemima Bond*

    Oooh this is the first time I’ve read one of Alison’s book recommendations. It was a few years ago though. My main impressions were that it made expensive private schools seems pretty unattractive – cold (metaphorically), insidious, snobby and ultimately twisting the main character who wasn’t that likeable in the first place but seemed to get sucked into the repellent atmosphere and behaviour. But I barely remember the plot as such. When Alison says it feels real, I wouldn’t argue with that (although I’ve no comparable experience) but it’s kind of a depressing idea that that’s what such places and such people are like.

    1. Kali*

      I first read it about 15 years ago, when I was 16, and even though I have very little in common with Lee her experiences felt real and relatable to me. There was an element of “yes, that is what being a teenage girl is like” even when all the details were different.

    2. 2QS*

      I read it after having gone to a school just like Lee’s, and…yes. It was good for college prep and music/art programs – teachers were great individually – but as an institution it was so haughty and drenched in absurd wealth/privilege that it was really kind of bleak. My life improved a lot when I joined the real world.

    3. Rara Avis*

      I’ve worked in a boarding school and went to college with people who attended, and I felt that not all schools are like that. (If they are, it’s kind of depressing.) I didn’t like the book very much — well written, but disturbing.

  12. Ismis*

    There was a discussion in the open thread last week about aphantasia and it blew my mind. I am still trying to figure it out.

    When I imagine a specific beach, I can’t *see* anything. It’s like I have a sense of the different elements (boats, pier, paddleboarders etc.) and that sense gets stronger as I think about each one. It also feels (this sounds completely ridiculous, I know) that these thoughts are coming from slightly front of and above my right ear. I’m not bad at directions but am hopeless at judging distance. I do dream with visuals and sometimes quite vividly, though I’m not sure now how I remember them afterwards….

    For people who can visualise mental images, how does it work? Do you close your eyes and see an image (as I would see a dream)? Is it like having a picture in front of you? Do you have your eyes open and see the image floating in the ether?

    Thanks to lily for the comment and everyone else for the follow-up; I found everything super interesting but was too late to comment.

      1. Ismis*

        Thank you! Replying to your message below…

        So if you are looking at a mental image, it’s like you are looking at a photograph (but with the photo filling up all available space)? Or like you are on a stage and looking at a set?

        1. Jules the 3rd*

          It can be any of a variety of things, though full-frame photographs are rarer / harder for me. Mine range from cartoons of a main figure on a blank background to moving images that are a circle of main figure and fuzzy background. They are not in front of my eyes, definitely more in my head, but not any specific spot that I can tell.

          They’re usually memories or variations on memories. For example, I love Tolkien’s Lord of The Rings books, have since I was 9, and it was the basis for a lot of dreaming. Eowyn was always based on how I looked, the ringwraiths and orcs were cartoons. Once the live action film came out, the images in my head became based on the movie memories, but I could see them doing things that the movie characters never did (ie, Aragorn waving goodbye). The mental pictures shifted from cartoons to live action, with fuzzy backgrounds.

      2. Chuck*

        When I imagine something I see the visual projected somewhere behind my eyes as I look out into the real world. Which ever one I am more absorbed in will be more in focus and less fuzzy. I do a lot of imagining lying in bed and think up quite fantastical world and stories which play out in my mind like a movie. If I’m very absorbed in a novel or something I will become fully imersed in it to the degree the outside world will cease to exist.

    1. Kali*

      Yep, I can just visualise things with my eyes open or shut. It’s not like seeing it in front of me – with my eyes open, I can still see everything in front of me – it’s like seeing in an alternate dimension around where my right eyebrow is, that doesn’t actually need my eyeballs to see. But it’s definitely seeing.

          1. Ismis*

            As I said above, lily, my mind is BLOWN! Thank you so much for posting, even though it means I am completely rethinking my whole life :)

    2. Janet Pinkerton*

      I’m with you, I also don’t actually “see” things in my mind’s eye. It’s bizarre to me! I always thought it was a figure of speech.

      1. Ismis*

        Yes! I am rethinking my view of everything I have ever watched on tv, e.g. those shows where someone is “transported” back to a memory. Can people actually do that? Do they see the whole sequence of events like a film reel?

        1. Generic Name*

          For me yes, to some extent. It depends on how strong the memory is. If it’s really strong, I remember it just like it was happening. Less string memories are more like feelings and flashes of images. For example, I can remember eating at Long John Silver’s with my granny, which was a bit of a tradition we did when we went Christmas shopping together. I can see her sitting across from me eating her fish basket, and I can see my chicken planks with hush puppies in front of me. I remember how the food tasted and smelled. I remember her voice, but I don’t remember specific conversations.

          1. Jules the 3rd*

            +1! Some memories are very clear, to all senses including visual. With me, the clearest memories are tied to anxiety or embarrassment, and are tied to my OCD. So with an anxious memory, I have been mentally transported back to that moment, including the emotional response. I was still mostly aware of the current time, but not very responsive to it.

            With one medicine we tried for post-partum anxiety, ‘stimulating the visual cortex’ was a side effect, and I had a full-on hallucination. While walking my 3mo old in a stroller. That he and I were in the pool we were walking past, and drowning. I was not aware of the current time, and of being standing on the sidewalk, I was fully immersed in the hallucination. It was multi-sensory, I could see the stroller, feel the water – it was just above my mouth but below my nose, and cool. When I came back to reality, I ran for home, husband, and an emergency call with the doctor. I don’t use that class of medicines any more.

            Brains are weird.

        2. Black horse*

          This is hands down the most fascinating (non-work) topic I’ve seen here! In answer to your question: it depends a lot on the specifics, but yes, for me it’s like a whole sequence of events. In short bits, generally, but “like a film reel” describes it well. For example, I can remember my husband’s birthday celebration (the kid bringing in the cake, his grin, the candles flickering) from a month ago. But some of the details are fuzzy (I don’t recall whether or not we’d cleared the dinner dishes…the table between him and me is just sort of dark and formless in this context, although I can picture that it has our traditional cheap plastic Happy Birthday table cloth on it).
          I can generate long imaginative narratives in my head, complete with knowing how people will look, how they sound, the position of them in the room, etc. Details are more or less fuzzy, but _where_ things are are clear.
          I’m curious how you picture (I realize this isn’t the right word, but I don’t know how else to put it) going someplace? I have a mental map in my head that is just that…a visual picture of the rooms in my house, for example. Or my town. If I picture going to the store, I can _see_ going there. Not all the details, but enough of them to describe turning left or right and where the parking spaces are.

          1. lily*

            Glad to start the most fascinating non work topic! Haha

            From what I’ve read of the limited research, a lot of people with aphantasia are bad with directions. I’m not, if I’ve been somewhere I can do it again. If I try to think through the drive, I’ll get through a couple turns before I get confused. But when I’m actually driving, I know where I need to go. I’m not the person to ask for directions, but I would get us there. I’m not sure how to explain it.

          2. Ismis*

            I’m not bad with directions.

            I’m sitting in my house with the front door behind me. I have picked the route to a beach about 4km away. I don’t *see* anything in my head, but I can feel the route. With my hand in the air, I can broadly sketch out the directions. I can say “go out the door, turn right, then left, ….” I can tell you that you need to turn right when you get to the junction. I can tell you the colour of the pub on the corner. I can zoom in on some of the detail as I go along. I just can’t see any of it. It’s like I have a mental map of where I am in relation to other things.

            Trying to explain this is hard! I’m trying to think of analogies like being in a dark room, but I don’t think they work for people who can see with their brain. My mental map isn’t visual. It’s like a series of thoughts and feelings that bring me to where I want to go. I am much better with directions if I have gone somewhere and had to figure out the way myself. If I’ve been a passenger in a car or even just walked somewhere with a friend who knew where to go, I won’t remember it as well.

            1. lily*

              Interesting, I don’t notice a difference from when I’m driving to when I’m a passenger or following a friend while walking around. That may be because I generally try to be pretty aware of my surroundings. When I started driving, my parents were surprised how well I knew were I was going, my sister is terrible with directions, but I have always had a good understanding of where I was. I may have mentioned this last week, but the one directions issue I do have is when there’s a field or something that looks similar to something in a different town. I’ll be confused where I am for a second, keep driving and figure it out again

    3. Janet Pinkerton*

      You inspired me to go back and read the thread. I had never considered the reading thing that someone mentioned! I was a very fast reader as a child but I never remembered any details from what I read until college. I’m realizing that I was just consuming the plot whereas others were creating mental images for what they were reading. I once took a quiz on Ethan Frome and they asked what color scarf the woman wore. I remember thinking “are you kidding me? why would I ever have paid attention to that??” And maybe some people pictured it and could remember it!

      1. Ismis*

        Yes! That makes sense. I have always been a very fast reader. Once, I was in the middle of a book and a mate grabbed it from me and quizzed me on the previous pages because he didn’t believe I could read that fast. Like you, I was reading for the plot and not imagining the scene. The Lord of the Rings killed me – so many boring pages talking about mountains!

      2. Washi*

        I’m kind of the opposite! In my fast reading mode, I’m completely immersed in the imagery/sounds/feelings of the book, so much so that I don’t see or hear anything around me. It’s super fun, like what I imagine virtual reality to be like someday. But then I don’t remember details like the color of a scarf later, and I generally don’t remember books I’ve read this way incredibly clearly. Come to think of it, this is probably why I love re-reading! It’s like going back to my favorite place that also somehow feels a little new each time.

      3. Zooey*

        I’m the same! I was once in a fan group for a particular book and was interviewed about it on the radio. The first question they asked me was ‘what does Character look like’? I was totally blank… I never pictured the character at all although I could name one or two important features.

        Also this thread made me realise one reason I am finding learning to drive so bad. I can visualise images, but my memory tends to focus on sensations first. So I don’t tend to see a stretch of road and recognise it and have an image of what’s coming up next (ah yes, round this corner it splits into two lanes, right hand lane for straight ahead). Instead I call up the sensation of being on that road… which means sometimes I am recreating previous anxiety without remembering why. My driving instructor has taken a long time to understand that I genuinely don’t recognise routes we’ve been on many times!

    4. chi chan*

      Hi I hope you don’t mind if I also ask some questions in turn. So if you can’t visualize mental images well can you picture a memory? Like something that happened when a child? Could you see that as a video like your mom cooking or walking towards you?
      Honestly my mind goes a mile a minute. I can fantasize in intricate detail and hold long imaginary conversations sometimes and can imagine people’s expressions and the setting. I can also imagine things into a scene. Like as a kid I would imagine dragons flying alongside the car on road trips. I had just seen Dragon heart but I preferred him in a darker black than the brown he was.

      1. Ismis*

        Happy to answer questions! I don’t see a picture or a video. I have spent the last while trying to figure it out and it’s just such a tough one to explain!

        When I started school, my classroom was in a newly built building and it was huge – lots of space to play (it was also used for parent teacher meetings etc.) There was a massive mural at the back of the room that was sketched out and the schoolkids helped paint it. I don’t know how to explain it but I can’t see the classroom as a picture. I know that I painted a sunflower and planted cress seeds and that the teachers decided to use the room to show movies (and decided very quickly that Inner Space was inappropriate). I have a memory of all that, but it isn’t a visual memory. It’s kind of a memory to the right of my mind, i.e. not included in anything I can read or see.

        I’m very annoyed that I could never see dragons!!

        1. Person from the Resume*

          I’m with you. I actually think that I have less memories than others- like I would have the shortest autobiography ever. But my memories are not visual. It’s the words that describe what happened (like the plot) not visual memories.

      2. Janet Pinkerton*

        I’m not the OP but I don’t literally “see” anything in my mind’s eye. I know the characteristics of the thing. Like if I try to picture my couch, I know what it looks like, I know it’s brown and has wood sides and there’s cat fur on it, but I don’t actually see a picture of it. It’s like I’m remembering looking at it, but it’s def not like I see it.

        My wife thinks this is why I don’t have a robust imagination.

        1. Thankful for AAM*

          It’s like I’m remembering looking at it, but it’s def not like I see it.
          That’s a perfect description of what I “see.” But I have a very robust imagination, remember everything (just ask my husband!, lol), and am creative and artistic about some things.

          To me it is like I feel a memory or image, I don’t see a picture of it. And my sensation is that it is happening in the middle of my brain and just in front of my eyes, like past my eyes.

          Aren’t we all so weird!

      3. lily*

        I’m OP from last week. Happy to answer queations, it’s interesting.

        I can’t picture a memory either. I never see an image, whether I’m trying to or not. Until a friend mentioned it, I never realized that people actually saw things in their head. All I see is splotchy black when I close my eyes, or the real world when they are open (albeit blurry, I don’t wear my glasses enough).
        I do remember things though. More of what happened in the memory and the emotions in it. My memories tend to be more like a plot summery of the thing if that makes sense. Another way to explain it is that I explain the memory to myself when I think about it. Like if you were to picture a memory and then explain it to us, I only do the second part.

        1. Thankful for AAM*

          Adjacent question: can you imagine a feeling like touching a glass surface or a pet’s fur?

          1. Ismis*

            For me, I can remember some sensations directly after, like when a cockroach fell into my hand (yuck!). I could still “feel” it for a while afterwards when I thought about it – maybe 20 minutes?

            I can describe what it would be like to touch a glass surface but I can’t get the sensation of it.

          2. lily*

            I don’t think so. I know that glass is generally cool, it’s smooth. I know that petting a dog is soft and comforting. But I don’t feel that sensation when thinking about it. I think that’s true at least. It’s confusing because I know things, but I don’t think I recreate the experience mentally. At which point I start questioning how I know the thing, but I do know what different things feel like.

    5. WS*

      I’m also a very fast reader, but I do have strong mental images. It’s not literally in front of me but there in my mind. I can move through it (either just mentally or imagining myself in it), turn it around, look at particular details, change things as I want. I would never confuse an imagined image with reality. It could be based on things I’ve literally seen in the past, or it could be entirely made up.

      1. allathian*

        Yes, same for me. I don’t see a flat image, I see a 3D world, like a movie or an immersive game. That’s why it’s sometimes really jarring to see a movie after I’ve read the book, because the movie shows the scriptwriter’s and the director’s vision, which may be completely different from mine.

        I also see everything from a 1st person perspective, so it’s really jarring when they in movies show things that have happened from a 3rd person perspective. I know this is for cost reasons, but I do hope for a movie someday where they’ll actually show flashbacks from a 1st person perspective…

        1. AGD*

          This happens to me too. I have a very visual imagination, and the way I’ve envisioned a book usually ends up looking vastly different from the movie. Which isn’t anyone’s fault, of course, since no one can really claim to be able to produce the definitive visual interpretation of a story. It’s really weird to deal with, though.

        2. Thankful for AAM*

          I do not see anything but I have an image of how things look so I also find that the movie can be jarring.
          I am a fast reader and the book can conjure a world for me but I do not see it, I feel it. It is more like I am remembering something.

          1. Ismis*

            Thank you. I’m having such a hard time imagining what that would be like. The closest thing I can guess is that it’s like you’re seeing a hologram in front of where you actually are.

            1. OperaArt*

              Not exactly. For me, it happens behind my eyes instead of in front of them. Like there’s a world inside my brain, but I never confuse it with reality. It has sight and sound and scents and textures and sensations. I can revisit old times, or visit something from my imagination. I can be part of the action or just an invisible observer. It can be mundane (sitting in my home office), weird (a horse standing in my living room), or fantastical (riding a dragon). All of the senses can be there, although visual is always the primary one.

              1. Ismis*

                I dreamt last night/this morning and tried to figure it out when I woke up. It was like the scene was playing inside my head, behind my eyes, like you describe. I couldn’t see as much as I can with my real eyes, because it only had the scope of my head to show the image. Like if I was in a helmet with an image projected onto the inside.

                If it’s similar, then I guess some people can do awake what I can only do when I dream. I don’t have textures and scents though. I definitely have vision. I’m not sure if I hear anything or if I just know what’s being said. Something for tonight!

    6. Washi*

      Can you “picture” sounds? Like if I asked you to imagine a bugle playing taps or waves crashing, can you “hear” it? If so, it’s a lot like that! Or at least for me – it’s very clear but also not easily confused with reality. I can also “see” things much more clearly the less sensory input I have, so my mental imagery is strongest right when I’m in bed trying to go to sleep, and it gets more and more fantastical until I fall asleep.

      I’m curious about the auditory side now – for me, I can imagine text being read in anyone’s voice I know well. Like I can read a book and “hear” my dad’s voice reading it to me, even though I’ve never heard him say those words. I always assumed everyone did that, but now I’m wondering!

      1. allathian*

        When I read, I hear my own voice in my head.

        I’m pretty much tone deaf in reality, but I compose symphonies in my dreams, which always have a soundtrack to them. It’s just a shame I can’t get them out so others could hear them!

      2. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        I have no mental images at all, like when I close my eyes I see only blackness, but I have all kinds of internal voices and a constant ongoing narration (god bless the Forensic Files guy), and I always have some sort of song stuck in my head. And if it’s a song I don’t actually know, it’s like, my voice going “doot de doo doot” until I get to a line I do know. I don’t usually get sound effects though, just voices narrating.

        1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

          Like, after I watched The Martian, the next time I went back and read it, I “heard” most of it in Matt Damon’s voice.

      3. lily*

        I can’t “picture” sounds. I don’t hear waves crashing, but I know I love though sound. I can occasionally hear someone else’s voice in my head, but generally just hear my own. If I do get someone else’s voice, it’s generally something they’ve said a lot or something that is very them, and doesn’t last very long.

    7. pancakes*

      There’s a Twitter account called Aphantasia Network you may find useful. I don’t have it—I’m more the opposite, a very visual person—but find it fascinating.

      1. Ismis*

        Thank you! I have sent the photo of the horse to a few friends (after texting a couple more to ask them if they can see apples when they close their eyes).

        And I just started laughing at myself because that sentence is so ridiculous!

    8. Queer Earthling*

      My spouse has aphantasia so we’ve discussed this stuff a lot! (Oddly enough, they’re also an artist.) They say they remember things with, essentially, very detailed verbal description. They’ve also had unexpected actual “mental pictures” like three times in their life and it scares the crap out of them because…that’s not what their brain does!

      I do picture things, but it tends to be sort of sepia-toned unless I REALLY focus, and there’s a bit of a…photo vignette effect for most of my thoughts; most of my thought process is verbal, or a combination of words and pictures. My metamour, however, apparently pictures things in full color and possibly thinks we’re both nuts.

      The #1 reason I would want telepathic powers is just to find out how other people’s brains work.

    9. Cambridge Comma*

      I can make myself a mental image, not quite like looking at a photograph, but not a million miles away. Usually a mental sketch is enough, but I can push myself to create a detailed image if needed, for example, if I’m looking for furniture and have to imagine a table in a shop in my house. If I then bring the table home, it usually looks much as I imagined.
      What I find interesting is the extra work my brain does since having children. It quite often showed me a very vivid but brief image of a possible scenario of harm coming to one of the babies from an object in the room (usually plausible scenarios). Knowing the push I have to give myself to create an image that vivid, I find it quite amazing that my brain is taking these efforts.

    10. Enter_the_Dragonfly*

      This is so interesting, I had no idea aphantasia was a thing until earlier this year. For me it can be like looking at a picture or a movie, but usually it’s more like being behind the camera, so I can move around, change perspectives or colors etc. and zoom in on stuff. But my ‘natural perspective’ if you will is either first person or from about 12 feet above and to the side of the action. The picture feels like it’s coming from a band on my forhead a little below my hairline.

      1. Enter_the_Dragonfly*

        But what I want to ask all you aphasiaists is how do you spell? I mean if you have to stop and consider a word for minute before writing it down, maybe one you don’t use that often, how do you decide how to spell it if you can’t see it?

        1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

          I start writing and see what looks right. :) probably similar to y’all visual folks.

        2. lily*

          I’m fairly bad at spelling, but when I write or type it out, I know if it’s right or not. But ask me to verbally spell something? Not going to go well. Ill get the first couple letters and then start to get confused what order the letters go in. My friend asked me how to spell the town I’ve spent my entire life in the other day. I barely could do that with lots of thinking. But had I had paper? Would have gotten it immediately.

        3. TL -*

          My brain does a lot of stuff when I’m not paying attention – a lot of times I just know, I don’t need to think about it. I’m not quite aphasiaistic, though I’m closer than not (I’ve worked really hard on building up my visualization skills.)

          I just know, or I just need to think about 1 letter, not the whole word, or I don’t know and I spell it out with paper/pen. If I really think about it, I can see the word but it’s not usually worth the effort.
          Same with math – not great at doing math in my head, but if I’m “in practice” like I was back in school, a lot of times, I’ll know the answer without having to work it out (this was not appreciated by my teachers.) Some times I would know the answer without really understanding how I got there (this was really not appreciated by my teachers.) If I can round and find close enough, that’s usually easy in my head – I just kinda know how the numbers go together, I don’t need to visualize adding them or whatever.

        4. Ismis*

          I’ve spent the last half an hour trying to figure out how to explain how I can spell the word acrobat. A week ago, I would have said that I saw the word in my mind, but now I realise that mind’s eye is not a metaphor!

          The best I can come up with is when you stare at something on a blank piece of paper and then look away, that image is kind of imprinted on your memory even though you don’t see it any more. When I think of a word, that imprint is past my peripheral vision but in my head. I can’t see it but I know it’s there.

          1. Janet Pinkerton*

            Oh my gosh this is such a helpful description for me!!!! That’s exactly how I’d describe it now that I’ve heard this description!

            (This isn’t how I spell things, but the “imprint” thing is true of the rest of my visual memory.)

            1. Ismis*

              I’m glad it helped! It’s so tough trying to explain something you usually do without thinking, particularly when words like “see” don’t necessarily mean what you think they mean.

        5. Jules the First*

          I hear the word, almost like at a spelling bee. I’m aphantasic enough that I get no visual imagery at all, even when I’m dreaming – my dreams are audio-only. When I’m reading, I hear a voice (not sure whose, because I’m pretty sure it’s not mine) speaking the words out loud. I enjoy movies, but remember them as feelings rather than images (Avatar, for example, remains one of my favourite films despite its fairly crap storyline and ethical issues because it features an impressive % of almost pure joy). If you ask me to picture a sunset, I can’t conjure up the image of a sunset, but I can summon the feeling of a specific sunset – the feel of sand underfoot, the smell of the sea and the air in the evening, the flavour of the wine we were drinking, the sound of my sister laughing mixed with the waves breaking and the wind in the bushes. Ask me to picture a horse, and I can smell horse sweat and hay and manure, the silkiness of her fur and the roughness of her mane, the little whuffle noise she makes when she sees me and the sound of her chewing, the warmth and weight of her leaning into me, the way her nose feels velvety and slobbery and tickly as she eats her apple snax out of my hand. To me it seems like a visual image must be a fairly dull way to experience memories.

          To do something visual, I have to do it physically – I can’t paint something new, but I can copy something that already exists, and (as my new painting teacher has discovered), I do my best work when listening to her describe the technique rather than watching her do it. I absorb directions best if I move physically while I’m getting them (I learn dressage test patterns by drawing them on my leg with a finger). My superpower is sightreading music, which I find easy because the sheet music “plays” in my head and I just follow along. A few years ago, I discovered by accident that a conductor’s score is as good as a recording for me, which is very handy.
          That said, my brain never shuts up…I have a running narrator and a complete soundtrack in my head at all times, including when I’m asleep and that can get annoying.

          1. allathian*

            I have a running narrator too, all the time. That’s why it’s so hard for me to focus on what I hear. I’m a fast reader, but when I have to listen to try and absorb information, I focus so much on trying to silence my internal monolog that I miss most of what I hear. When I read, I hear my own voice in my head and that’s the monolog. Although I do read a lot faster in my head than when I read aloud. I don’t get anything out of audiobooks, because the only way I could even try to focus on one would be in a dark room with my eyes shut, and then I’d have to concentrate really hard. I have no idea how anyone can listen to an audiobook when they’re driving!

            It goes without saying that I really don’t like the current trend in video courses. For me they’re a waste of time, because if I could read the material instead, I’d absorb it a lot more quickly and retain it a lot longer. We have some mandatory video courses at work, and on a few of them I’ve been able to get an accommodation to be allowed to read the script instead. It’s weird, because most people seem to think that accessibility means providing a video for people who have poor reading skills for whatever reason, but there are people like me, who do much better when we’re allowed to read the material instead. The only video courses that I’ve found that are of any use are instructional how-to videos for new software, etc.

          2. OperaArt*

            For me it isn’t a vision-only experience. It’s all of the sensations you described plus vision. So no, not dull.

    11. CJM*

      Ismis, I’m like you: I found last week’s discussion fascinating, and I don’t have strong visual images when I try to picture a beach or recall a memory. I do dream very vividly with colors and music and verse that *I* created! But when I’m awake, there’s just about zero in the visual-image department. I thought it was like this for everyone!

      If I had to describe my memory of say, my first-grade classroom from decades ago, I don’t see images. Instead I have half-baked flashes of the room’s scale, where the desks sat, where the classroom door was relative to the windows, where the room was in the building, etc. — strong impressions of space and orientation. But there’s nothing photographic about it. I’m strongly mathy and logical in how I think. Maybe that plays in? But I’m creative too and love to tell stories.

      In short, I don’t understand this one bit! But I hope to learn more.

    12. Generic Name*

      I’m very good at visualizing stuff. My eyes can be open or closed, it it’s better if they’re closed. It’s pretty much like looking at something in real life. I can imagine a 3-dimensional object and move it around and manipulate it etc. When I read books the words disappear and I’m experiencing a movie of the story in my mind. Although the characters faces aren’t necessarily super detailed unless I’ve spent time imagining how they look. Or if I’ve seen a movie or TV adaptation of the book, then I’ll “see” the actors’ faces.

    13. Nicki Name*

      I visualize things very easily. It’s like I turn my attention in some direction that doesn’t exist in real space, and that’s where the picture is. It uses up my visual focus in the same way that you can’t pay direct attention to something happening over at the right side of your visual field and something over at the left side at the exact same time.

    14. OperaArt*

      It’s like a short movie with pictures and sounds and sometimes smells, but it doesn’t block my real vision. It’s just back there somewhere in my brain. I can focus on either the mental picture or real life, but neither gets in the way of the other.

      1. allathian*

        Yeah, same here. It’s like the image exists somewhere in my brain but not in the real world. A different dimension, if you will.

    15. NRG*

      Ok, I “see” different types of images differently. Imagining a place that I’ve been, I see it from a a perspective that feels like it’s slightly above the center of the top of my head. People are out of the center of my forehead, and anything I’m thinking of designing, or equations, or remembering where something is in a book, are from out of my temple (either one), facing forward. Also, since thinking about this started with an image of the beach, each thing I’m bringing up is accompanied by seagull noises. I can’t get just a visual, it always also has sound. Thinking of a sound, taste or smell also gets an image, although sometimes just a sensation of color, which is hard to explain. Thinking of a motion (like jumping) also gets a sound.

      The most weird of all to me is that when I was a kid, I used to have dreams where my perspective was from behind my own head, like I could see a small section of the back of my own head as I was going through the dream. I don’t get this at all.

    16. knead me seymour*

      Thanks for the interesting discussion! I find it fascinating to hear others’ perspectives on this.

      I don’t know how typical I am, but when I visualize something in my mind’s eye, it’s kind of like drawing in the air with a sparkler. Or maybe writing on sand that gets gradually filled in. I have to make an effort to picture it, and it’s harder to see the whole thing at once–it’s more of an outline of the areas I’m specifically focusing on. But I have to concentrate to keep them there, or they start to fade away. I can imagine a larger scene, but only in a vague, fuzzy way. I would say that my typical thought process is more word-based, I only really visualize things when I’m specifically trying to remember what they look like.

      This is just speculation, but I wonder if visualizing clearly can be a learned skill, and also if it correlates with being able to draw from memory, or recognize faces. I would say that the more I concentrate on closely observing something, the more of a visual imprint it makes on my mind later. I don’t usually pay close attention to someone’s face when I’m talking to them, so that might explain why my face recognition skills are not the best.

      1. allathian*

        I’m very bad at recognizing people in unusual contexts. For example, I probably wouldn’t recognize my hairdresser if I met her in the street or anywhere else except in the salon. I’d probably think that I know her from somewhere, but that’s it.

        I’m hopeless at networking, unless it’s at a conference where everyone has a badge with their name on it, preferably in a big enough font that don’t have to squint or stare at their chest… Asking for someone’s name again after 15 minutes of conversation is too embarrassing.

        1. allathian*

          It’s worse at big weddings where I don’t know anyone except maybe the bride from before, and where people don’t have any name badges. At most such events, I don’t expect to meet the strangers again, so that helps a bit.

      2. Midwestern professor*

        Thank you, knead me seymour, for describing the closest thing to my experience! “Drawing in the air.”

        I’d say that for me, it’s not with a sparkler, but with my hand, or with a paintbrush, creating contours of things. I don’t actually move my hand, of course. But it’s a pseudo-tactile experience, if you will. And “the air” is blackness.

        I’ve never thought of myself as an aphantasiac, because the concept is new to me. So interesting!

    17. Ismis*

      Thanks everyone for the replies. I have spent the morning so far (I’m in Australia) trying to imagine beaches and words and apples and I think I need a nap!

      I find all of this extremely interesting and will be re-reading this thread again once my brain can take it.

    18. Might Be Spam*

      All I can see are flashes of parts of images and never an entire object. There are no details. If I can add a detail, I lose other parts of the image. It’s like I understand the concept that something exists, but I can’t see it.

      I’m good at spelling if I just start writing but it’s hard to spell out loud. If I see the written word, I can tell if it is correct.

      I’m good at knowing which direction I’m facing. I remember how to go somewhere by feeling which way I have to turn and how long I need to wait before turning again. I do recognize landmarks when I see them, but can’t picture them in my mind. So I’m terrible at giving directions. I might be able to give directions, if I watch my hands moving while I “feel” the directions and then tell you which way my hands are going. I haven’t tried it yet.

      I don’t see memories as video, only as flashes of partial still images that slide away when I try to look straight at them. They are mostly words and feelings of relative positioning.

      I’ve always been a fast reader because I ignore long descriptions. I can’t figure out what the descriptions are supposed to look like.

      I recognize my children, but I can’t describe them except in very general terms. I mostly recognize people in a familiar context and by the way they move. If I see someone out of context I can’t recognize them. I didn’t recognize my grandmother at my grandfather’s funeral until she talked to me. My mother used to dress me and my sisters alike, in case one of us got lost and she had to describe the missing child to the police. She wanted to be able to point at one of us and say “She looks like that.” Fortunately, we were all close in age and looked alike.

      I’m definitely saving this thread. It’s fascinating to learn so much about how people experience the world in different ways.

      1. lily*

        Is it possible you are face blind as well? It seems like that can go along with aphantasia for some people, and the way you describe recognizing people is similar to what ever heard about it.

    19. Anon For This*

      I don’t need to close my eyes to visualize things. For me, it’s like having a small TV screen mounted on the rearview mirror of your car. You can look at what’s in front of you as well as the screen, or focus on one or the other. My visualizations are just like TV – audio and detailed visual. But I control it.

    20. MEH*

      I, too, found this fascinating last weekend so thank you for bringing it up again. Interestingly, my mother and I had a discussion about this recently because she brought up the fact that she can’t visualize things and asked if I could. I can, and I’ve been pondering the best way to describe it.

      If you ask me to visualize a beach, it’s instantly there. Sand, water, palm trees, lounge chair, etc. The trees are swaying in the wind and the water is rippling. Then, it’s like Photoshop. Put me in the chair sipping an orange juice and reading a mystery novel? Can do. With a wide-brimmed hat and sunglasses to block out the sun. White hat? Sure. Make it out of straw? No problem. Turning the pages of the book? Can do. So it’s a combo of Photoshopping and me being the director of my own personal movie.

      I’m a really fast reader as well who hates descriptions when I read because I’m providing my own pictures as I read. It’s an issue when I write because since I see everything in my mind, I don’t feel the need to put them down on paper. You’re lucky to get a “she’s tall with red hair” from me. As I’m writing, I have a movie of the scene playing in my mind.

      I can see memories in full color and motion. I can see pages of books with the words on them. I also have a constant voice in my head, but I don’t think that’s related to the visualization thing. I’ve been able to do this ever since I can remember, and it’s fascinating to me the descriptions from people who can’t.

  13. Phoenix from the ashes*

    You’ve asked some really interesting questions here. I do see mental images – but it’s actually not quite the same as seeing things in a dream. In my dreams I see the dreamworld around me exactly like I see the real world around me when I’m awake. When I ‘see’ mental images I can do so with my eyes open or closed – but if my eyes are open I no longer process the real world images; it’s as if all my image processing power has been shunted off sideways to work on the mental image.

    Like your imagined places, my mental images ‘feel’ like they are in a specific location but I’m not sure how to describe the location. I think it’s somewhere inside my skull.

  14. neep*

    Removed because this is the non-work thread.

    Regulars who know the weekend rules, please do not post answers to work questions here; it makes more work for me to clean up (and in some cases probably reinforces people’s desire to keep doing it).

    – Alison

  15. Anon for this one!*

    I have a dilemma I’m hoping cat and dog folks can weigh in! This week a very affectionate and dog loving kitty has been following folks in my neighborhood home and sleeping in garages whenever possible. It followed my dog and I home and meowed pitifully outside my door. There were several well meaning FB posts asking if it was anyone’s missing indoor cat or someone’s outdoor cat. No one came forward.

    So I worked with a neighbor to get it in a carrier and took it to the vet to check for a chip because not everyone is on Facebook! But there are no flyers up and no neighbors asking around about their missing cat.

    The cat is chipped! But the number no longer belongs to the person listed. Today we are calling the animal society who put the chip in as the kitty is listed as pretty young to see what they recommend and what info they have.

    Basically I’m trying really hard to do my due diligence if someone is looking for their cat. But if no one comes forward I have to figure out what to do. Here is my dilemma: my dog lived with cats when first adopted but he came into THEIR house. It’s been 8 years since he lived with cats. He’s lived fine with female dogs but again, coming into their house and it’s been over five years since that too. But he definitely has issues with loose dogs and other dogs on leashes and isn’t exactly the laid back loves every living thing type dog. He barks at cats on walks briefly and sometimes’s jumps after them but I tell him no and we continue. He doesn’t go out of his mind with aggression but he does think Chase!

    I’m wondering if I should try and see if I can keep kitty. I 100% want to…but I don’t want it to be a stressful disaster for both animals with an older dog whose had the house to himself and been an only pet for 6 years now. But he has been fine at times co-living with other animals. I do like the idea of him not being alone all day as we both work. Currently the cat is not at my house he’s in a kennel of a family member that has an empty cat room. Any advice?

    1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      If your dog has lived with cats before, when he was young and full of beans, and did fine, he’ll probably do just fine now that he’s older and (presumably) a bit more settled. :) I would keep them separated when not supervised for a bit, and introduce them slowly, and make sure the cat has a space the dog can’t get into – we keep both sets of stairs gated off with baby gates – neither dog is allowed in the basement, and the Elder Statesdog isn’t allowed to go upstairs either because she’s not steady enough on her feet for stairs to be safe anymore, but the cats don’t care about baby gates. But if you end up keeping kitty, doggo will probably adjust just fine.

      1. Anon for this one!*

        Thank you! I actually adopted this dog because he was okay wth cats (belonged to my then BF)- and ironically moved out five-ish months later and never lived with cats again! I think I’m more nervous because of his occasional typical dog reaction to cats on walks and my husband has had a very very very bad experience in this area and is understandably concerned. So I want to be very present to his concerns as well. I am going to see if I can talk to him about trying this though. I really want to keep this sweet kitty. Unfortunately we only have one floor to work with-I wish we had an upstairs to block off!!! But we have a guest room I’m thinking of using!

        1. tangerineRose*

          A cat like this, who likes dogs, is probably going to do better with a dog than a cat who’s afraid. Does your dog most like to chase cats when they’re scared and running away?

          1. RebelwithMouseyHair*

            Yes this is what I was coming to say. I was thinking of adopting a dog but hesitant because of my elderly cat, then with lockdown looming it was a matter of now or never, so we took him in. My cat took fright and has imposed upstairs lockdown on herself – even though we had a dog before and she dominated him totally. Given that the cat was following you and your dog, it doesn’t have any of her misgivings about dogs, and it doesn’t sound like your dog will have any problems with her either.

      2. sswj*

        I have dogs and cats, in multiples :p My experience has been that the cats rule the house, and the dogs know “their” cats and don’t chase or bother them at all. But all bets are off for an unknown cat outdoors. My older Lab Luna ADORES her kitties, and actively seeks them out for gentle social time. But if she sees cat outside that she doesn’t know (I have barn cats as well as house cats, and there are neighbor/strays around too) she will chase them. I don’t think she’d really do anything if she actually caught up to one, but she’s a dog and chasing is kind of hardwired in.

        TL;DR: Keep the kitty, they’ll be fine together after a time of supervised introduction. Lucky kitty!

        1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

          My younger dog does chase one of our cats, but it’s them playing – the cat deliberately gets the dog’s attention and goes running off, then when she’s bored she runs up to a gate and the dog knows to stop. (Even before we gated off the upstairs the dog wouldn’t chase her up, it was almost like they’d agreed that the bottom of the stairs was “safe” :) ) If she catches the cat (which she almost never does), she basically lays down on her and holds the cat down until the cat squirms away.

          When we had a stray cat in our backyard, the dog tried to play with it the same way she plays with the inside cats, but it swatted her nose and scratched her a bit, and then she started yelling a lot in a manner that really seemed to me like “WHAT DID YOU DO THAT FOR YOU MEANIE I JUST WANTED TO PLAY!” And Elder Statesdog was dancing around doing the doggie equivalent of wringing her paws and “CAN’T WE ALL JUST GET ALONG?” And it was ridiculous.

        2. Anon for this one!*

          I’m really attached to kitty and would have kitty at home already but my husband has been working double shifts for days and I need to get his feelings on it. I’m feeling much more optimistic thanks to this thread.

    2. Lena Clare*

      No advice (because my advice would be to keep the kitty and your dog will adjust fine, which isn’t very helpful XD) but just wanted to say thank you so much for looking after this cat and making sure it is safe and well cared for no matter who takes them in.

      1. Anon for this one!*

        Thank you! This cat became a whole neighborhood effort because I became obsessed with saving it/helping it get home. If there’s no home in the picture I am equally obsessed with giving it the BEST cat life it could imagine. Preferably with me! But if not, I’ll be very picky about where it goes (it clearly doesn’t want to be an outdoor cat and a few people saw it getting bullied quite severely by larger outdoor cats and I’m quite upset about that, so I will be suitably picky)

    3. WS*

      You could try fostering the cat for a specific period of time and see how it goes with the dog before committing to adopting.

      1. Anon for this one!*

        This is a great approach. I think I needed that word to help get my mind around how to discuss it with my husband. Admittedly, if it’s fine with the dog I’m already like 90% attached and in love with cat….

    4. Cat and dog fosterer*

      I took in an outdoor dog who previously had to kill small animals for food, and he eventually learned that indoor cats are his friends. He will chase outdoor cats if given the chance so he can differentiate between indoor and outdoor friends.

      I first tied his leash to something immovable (door handle, stair railing) indoors so that he had some room to move but couldn’t chase the cat. I would let the cat out of a safe room for some time and would watch them closely. When the dog eventually ignored the cat then I untied the leash and ensured the cat had somewhere to jump up. The cat never liked the dog but they coexisted. The cat would stand up for itself and swat at the dog if he got too close, which helped avoid the prey, chase, harm reflex.

      I would definitely suggest you try it. Now that my dog understands my rules, I have had many foster cats visit and I watch them closely only because dog likes to lick them and little kittens seem to not appreciate being covered in a layer of dog drool. Some dogs will never be safe around cats but many will.

      1. Anon for this one!*

        This is really impressive. I’m all for trying it, but haven’t had time to talk to husband about the endeavor and also still trying to reach the shelter to rule out an owner. Getting very impatient as I spend time with kitty though!

    5. Generic Name*

      Congratulations! The Universe has gifted you a cat! ;) I would see if you can introduce the cat and the dog while the dog is on a leash. I don’t think the chase instinct is too much of a problem. My dog thinks it’s tons of fun to try to chase the cats, but that’s all she does. And one of the cats will sometimes chase her back. It’s pretty fun to watch. I would keep them separated when you’re not around/not monitoring them at first. I know a lot of people are really methodical and strategic when it comes to new pets joining the family, but I’ve always just brought the new one home and that was that, bit that’s probably a combination of luck and the personalities of the pets I choose. We had a husky who was never allowed around the cats off leash because he’d killed a stray cat before. :(

      1. Anon for this one!*

        I was thinking of doing a pet gate? We have a guest rom the dog never goes in that we could set the cat up in and close the door is we are away and use a pet gate for supervised introduction. The leash is a better idea but I don’t know what to tie it to inside the house! I’m going to see how husband feels so tomorrow I will have abetter sense on if this is even a possibility!

        1. Generic Name*

          Well, a person would hold the leash for the initial introductions. Until you’re sure there will be no problems, all animals need to be supervised while together.

    6. Not So NewReader*

      My critters have different behaviors inside my house than they do outside.
      Dogs chase other critters outside (or they try to). But that same dog very seldom chased my cats. With my first dog, I also had a bunny. The bunny used to sit UNDER the dog’s belly to hid from the dog. This was very funny, as the dog looked all over for the bunny who was sitting under the (standing) dog.

      So you bring the kitty in the house. You let the dog see you holding it in your lap. This sends a visual to the dog, “This is precious, we take care of this and protect this.” Talk to the dog, “Easy, buddy, she’s little.” Let the dog hear softness in your voice- your tone will convey a lot.

      Because of the containment of the walls of your house, because of his ability to actually reach and touch the kitty and because of your watchful eye, it’s reasonable to assume all will end well. They will settle in together. When she is strong enough let her hiss at him if he is over the line. Animals talk to each other and they get their points across. I watched one 10 pound cat make a 50 pound dog of mine walk backwards to get away from her. She hissed at him and he moved. They both handle the situation properly, she said NO and he said OKAY. They understood each other. Years later, he could nudge her while she slept and she did not even wake up. He walked away from her when she ignored him.

      1. Anon for this one!*

        I would love to try it and see if it works. I should know more tomorrow! I expected more people to warn me away from trying, so I’m surprised most have taken the same mindset that it can work.

    7. NoSleepTillHippo*

      One other piece of advice I don’t think I’ve seen (apologies if I missed someone else saying this): get the tallest cat tree/kitty condo that will fit in your space/that you can afford. Cats are natural climbers, and kitty will appreciate having a high up space where they can watch what’s going on in the house. (Not to mention a place to put their claws to work!) This also helpfully provides a space doggo won’t be able to reach if kitty needs alone time.

      Best of luck, I hope it all goes well!

      1. Natalie*

        This is also a great place to put the cat’s food so it stays out of the dog’s reach. Dogs love cat food – it’s usually higher in protein and fat than dog food and actually makes great training treats.

    8. Anon for this one!*

      UPDATE: My mother in law insisted we call the microchip company back and get an address. We did and it was a home not a 10 minute walk from my house. So we rode up there to ask if they were missing a cat. I was pretty nervous approaching a home in COVID times (some folks understandably do NOT want anyone standing at their door) but I figured we had to and this would be the end of the story.

      So. As we pulled up someone was rinsing out a carrier in the yard and we figured oh no they gave up hope! This must be the right place though! We called out the window asking if they were missing a cat. The guy looked confused and misheard us- he said, one just showed up two days ago! He thought WE were asking about our missing cat. Turns out, his mother (?) lives there and does a lot of catch and release of ferals- getting them fixed and vaccinated. She came out and explained this was one of the feral-turned-indoor cats. She had gotten him fixed and he was all up to date on vaccines. He had just escaped out a door. She said they had wondered where he had gotten to. My MIL asked if she’d like him back and she explained she was actually moving and had her hands full with trying to get other feral cats re-homed ad getting the newest feral caught and set up and we could keep him. It seemed like she was overwhelmed and very quickly happy to see him go to a good home. She told us which vet he has his vaccines with and ironically its OUR current vet which was also the vet office that scanned for the chip in the first place!

      So I told DH I had a semi-resolution and to wake me when he gets home tonight. So I’ll get his thoughts on which route we’ll take. Spent an hour playing with kitty over at MIL’s and it’s the sweetest little cat, really well socialized. Shocked it was ever a feral! Tomorrow I’ll ether work on finding it another home or seeing if we can give it a shot.

    9. Dream Jobbed*

      I had a dog (who I just lost on the 21st at 14.5 years old and am still trying to recover.) I had cats when I got him, no problems. They passed away and I moved with only the four dogs and got a 12-week-old kitten the first chance when we were settled into a new home. The first night three of my dogs said hello and went right to sleep, while the fourth, the youngest at the time, wanted to kill the kitty who also wanted to kill the dog. They were going to draw blood, that is certain. The dog was put into the guest room, and for the first time, unless I was out of town, did not sleep next to me on the bed.

      He came out the next morning, barely looked at the kitty, and was never aggressive towards it again. Did not want to risk the trauma of not sleeping with me. :D I guess I’m saying, keep an eye on things, but a dog-friendly cat, who doesn’t run and trigger hunt behavior, will probably do fine. Just remind them of the behavior you expect and don’t leave them alone in the beginning, at least until everyone seems to have totally mellowed out.

  16. Beancat*

    Happy weekend!

    Any advice for feeding two cats with very different eating habits? Tulio would happily graze and I would gladly leave the bowl down for him all day, but his brother Miguel will park his bum in front of a bowl with even a crumb and inhale the contents – so leaving a bowl down won’t let Tulio graze anyway. We’ve been feeding them twice a day, but Tulio now starts meowing at 5:30 for breakfast. Miguel won’t really make a lot of noise for it until the bowl is in my hand to place down.

    How can I successfully feed both my boys in a way that’ll be good for them both?

    Thanks in advance!

    1. Seeking Second Childhood*

      I saw an article recently about feeders that open for a chip on a collar. If you got that for your grazer, the other couldn’t pillage. Sorry I don’t have brand names, I just noted it as a great idea.

      1. Beancat*

        My spouse actually just texted this to me! We’ll be getting them microchipped at their one-year vaccines next month (the shelter we got them from couldn’t afford to do it).

        1. Seeking Second Childhood*

          Long ago a friend rescued & socialized a feral cat who was sweet outside but freaked inside–so he was a barn cat. She would have loved this, because you can’t leave kibble outside when there are raccoons & skunks & bears in the neighborhood.

      2. Tati*

        My friend has this because one cat needs diet food and the other can free-feed. Similar to your situation.

      3. Holly*

        I have one of these feeders – it works with either a tag on a collar or the microchip in their neck. I have found it’s a great solution! The only problem is that they’re expensive as heck, like $200 CAD! I had to get one so that my cat who needs a prescription diet wouldn’t be able to steal my other cat’s regular food. I wish I could afford another one though, because normal food cat steals prescription food too *rolls eyes*

      4. Pickle Lily*

        I also recommend microchip feeders. We use Surefeed Microchip Pet Feeder and they are fantastic for our three. I’m in the UK and they’re £70(ish) if you can find a deal. So expensive, but well worth it to us… we have two cats prone to gaining weight and it means we can hopefully mitigate any future weight related medical issues.

    2. mreasy*

      I have had luck “sleep training” early riser cats to wake up when I do. You essentially just have to let them “cry it out” until the time you want to be up – and yes, that means they will paw at your face, walk on your head, chew on your hair, etc (a pillow over the head works wonders here) – but after a few days of suffering through this until wake up time, they should learn. I also feed mine their meals in separate rooms (a closeable door in between is ideal) as I’ve dealt with an inhaler and a leisurely eater, and need to make sure they both eat their meals.

      1. Beancat*

        Thank you for the advice! We do generally let him meow until it’s time for us to get up at 6:30 but we’d like to sleep until then if possible haha.

        1. Anonbeth*

          I’ve had good luck using a radio alarm clock, so the cat knows when that goes off = breakfast time. He’ll still try to wake me up early some days but he’s quieter about it.

      2. Texan In Exile*


        My Siamese cat still cries at the basement door every morning. After 11 years.

        But – Siamese.

    3. Come On Eileen*

      I’ve had this problem! Same as the commenter above me, I had to shift their eating time later in the morning and later in the evening so it became routine – once those later times were routine, they stopped waking me up so early for food. I also bought a slow eating mat for the cat who gobbles food. It’s got little nubs in it and she has to eat around those. It slows her enough that both cats finish eating at the same time.

        1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

          You can try putting his food in a muffin tin too, if you have one, to try something similar to a slow-eater without buying anything up front. Either put the kibble in the cups, or turn it over and scatter the kibble among them that way – some cats don’t like eating if their whiskers touch the sides of the cup/bowl, but if it’s upside down he can still fish the kibble out with his paws.

    4. Queer Earthling*

      No advice, but I love your cats’ names. Have you tried supplying them with ample amounts of gold and a pair of loaded dice?

      1. Beancat*

        Hahaha thank you! They really fit their names too – Tulio is bitey (biting sarcasm), and Miguel doesn’t have a care in the world. No gold, but they actually do have a pair of kitty dice!

    5. Anono-me*

      This will only work of Miguel is larger than Tulio.

      A friend had a somewhat similar situation, littler one was a grazer cat and bigger was a eat it now cat. She took a plastic tote box and cut two small doors in it. (Apparently her cat needed two to feel safe. I don’t know if all cats do.) The doors were just big enough for littler cat to get through, but bigger cat could not. The plastic was easy to clean and the lid made it easy to open for feeding.

      1. Beancat*

        Miguel is *definitely* larger than Tulio; he always has been. (We think Tulio might have been the runt.)

        That’s a fantastic idea! I’ll have to see if that’s something we can do!

      2. Generic Name*

        Oooh! This is a great idea! We’ve been separating tiny cat and big cat for meal times because big cat eats his food and then shoves tiny cat aside and eats her food.

    6. CJM*

      Can they both get up to high surfaces? If only Tulio can, you could leave a food bowl on a high surface and teach Tulio where it is. Red, our cat who inhales food, isn’t able to jump up more than two feet, so we keep a filled bowl on a surface that’s four feet high. Red has no clue it’s there! But the grazing cats happily use it.

    7. Joie de Vivre*

      I hope this is allowed- I have sureflap feeders. They have been fantastic for my cats. Each feeder is set up to open for a particular cat.

  17. Seeking Second Childhood*

    Beepless appliances–do you have any?
    The layout of this house fans out from the kitchen. So bedrooms are close enough that beeps carry.
    When I replace the elderly stove & microwave, I want ones that don’t beep with every button pushed, and every time the cycle is done. Or at least ones that allow me to turn the beep off. We avoid the issue all summer by cooking breakfast outside…and every fall we re-learn that the dreaded “toaster’s done” can’t be turned off.
    Stove is currently electric but we were talking about switching to gas someday so I won’t rule anything out.

    1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      My Whirlpool range has an option to turn off the beep! It’s not high tier, but it is new, I just got it sometime last year I think. (Time is fluid these days :-P ) I haven’t looked at the microwave to see if that’s an option though.

    2. Ellen*

      I sympathize. I have no idea why the designers think the beeping helps anyone! We returned a space heater because there was a beep with every adjustment of the thermostat. We just purchased a Toshiba microwave because there is a mute button on the selection pad. It would be helpful to be able to search for mutable electronics but my Googlefu isn’t that powerful, so the alternative is reading the user manual for every product you’re considering.

    3. Pharmgirl*

      I have a Maytag microwave (built in above stove) that has the ability to turn off all sounds.

      My parents got a fancy lg one a few years back that they live except for the beeps – and there doesn’t seem to be a way to turn any sounds off.

    4. Elspeth McGillicuddy*

      It might also be possible, if you can’t find naturally beepless appliance, so surgically de-beep them. There is a tiny little gizmo on the inside that is making all the noise. You just have to find and remove or destroy the gizmo to silence the machine.

      There are probably tutorials online for various makes and models, but it looks like the beeper is quite recognizable and easy to neuter.

      You might practice on your elderly appliances so that you aren’t worried about messing up, and so that you get blessed silence that much sooner.

    5. Llellayena*

      There are some appliances that you shouldn’t make silent for safety reasons, the toaster being one. I learned that my toaster died on me by noticing that it HADN’T beeped. I walked into the kitchen to find a black piece of bread that was just shy of catching on fire. The timer and auto-off had failed. So if there’s a way to keep the “I’m done” sounds but turn off the operational sounds (like the beep when you push a button to set it) I’d look for that.

      1. Natalie*

        I’ve never had a toaster with a beep? I don’t think sounds are considered a fundamental part of safe toaster operation.

    6. violet04*

      My microwave has an option to turn off beeps, which I have done. It only sounds a notification once the food is done being heated. I like this option because our house is laid out in such a way that sound carry upstairs.

    7. Cabin Fever*

      This might be a good resource: Soundproof Living (link in reply). They review quiet appliances and have a lot of articles on reducing noise around the house.

  18. Keely-Anne*

    Has anyone tried Noom for weight loss?

    Reading the description it just sounds like a activity and food logging app, I’m not sure what additional features would make the cost of it worthwhile.

    1. Fish Microwaver*

      I have been using Noom for a few months and I took the paid option. I’m not as into it as I might be outside of a Covid19 year but it is useful. I like having a coach who helps formulate goals and strategies to achieve them, and the forum where we give and receive support. I’m finding that by logging my meals, I make healthier choices for my meals, even when choosing treats. I find Noom supportive and encouraging.

    2. Katefish*

      My husband uses it and likes it a lot. They do offer customized feedback to go with your tracking. I’m not a Noom expert though so that’s about the limit of my knowledge, but it’s helped us both be more mindful I think.

    3. The teapots are on fire*

      There are mildly interactive text sessions on some cognitive reframing techniques and some general education on how appetite works and how emotions affect your eating and your self-esteem, some ideas on healthy and varied eating, and you get an online support group (which I didn’t use) and a weekly checkin with a weight loss coach.

    4. Disco Janet*

      For me, the psychology angle made a big difference. I used and like their food tracker for a few months, but after losing 25 pounds I feel like I can do a fine job of staying on track without logging everything, so I just recently canceled my subscription. But it was the program that finally worked for me and helped me make adjustments to my diet that have been sustainable in the long term. I’m losing weight, but I don’t feel deprived, I still get to eat my favorite treats, and I’ve been able to at least partially untangle some of the weird psychological things I had going on in regards to my body and diet.

      I realize I sound like a commercial, haha! But if you’ve tried logging on it’s own or other programs like Weight Watchers and had them be a mega fail, then you’re in the same boat I was in and this did finally help me to start losing.

      1. Knitter*

        I had the same experience. I did renew after I had canceled since I returned to some unhelpful eating habits during the shut down. I’ve kept a pretty stable weight (though I’m hoping to lose more weight)

    5. peasblossom*

      I did noom and really liked it. It helped me lose about 30 lbs and keep it off for the past year. The coaching angle is just meh; I grew to like mine, but we only checked in once a week. I found the psychology approach of the articles; even though I felt I had a grounding in some of the topics, there were new approaches they threw in or new ideas that I really liked. There’s also a group function too, and I enjoyed getting some support from my group throughout the program.

      The only catch: noom only worked for me because it was one strategy among others (mindfulness, counseling) that I was using to tackle the root causes behind my weight gain. I think noom is uniquely well-suited to help people who are trying to understand their habits, but it’s definitely also a process.

    6. Catherine*

      I was about to sign up but the localization for my country autofills an “example” name into the signup form, and the name they chose was not the regional equivalent of “John Doe” but instead that of a fat actress who is active in body positivity/fat acceptance movements. It seemed so mean-spirited that I couldn’t justify giving money to them.

    7. Anonosaurus*

      I tried it and liked the psychological angle – I can see that it could support behavioral change. Unfortunately, Noom doesn’t work for me because the food logging functionality is really poor (fiddly to use but more importantly the database is very US-centric and didn’t include virtually all the non-raw foods I eat); nor did it synch with my Fitbit to pick up calories expended. It’s a real shame as otherwise I would have subscribed, but these bits are fundamental to the enterprise and they’re not good enough for me to want to spend money subscribing.

    8. Lucette Kensack*

      Can I piggyback on this?

      Noom users: Does it let you customize your macro ranges for a day? I’d like to try Noom — the psychology and the coaching seems useful to me — but I have a nutritionist-designed set of macro goals, and when I played around with Noom it came up with a calorie/macro goal that was WAY off for me. Can Noom be rigged to work around a pre-set calorie/macro plan?

      1. peasblossom*

        nope! if that’s what you’re looking for then it’s not a good fit. instead, you might try myfitnesspal or sparkpeople. i’ve also found that two reddit communities (xxfitness and loseit) are welcoming and offer some great advice.

        or do noom and supplement with myfitnesspal

    9. The Rat-Catcher*

      I have been using Noom for 4 months and lost 15 pounds. (Which is pretty quickly for me. I’m only 5’3″ so my calorie intake has to be pretty low for weight loss and I can’t always sustain it). The daily articles are super helpful because they help you get past your own blocks for weight loss. One of my big ones was the all-or-nothing approach – eating one too many donuts and giving up for the rest of the day. Since Noom has helped me work through that, I see the donut isn’t as impactful as I thought (for instance).

  19. Seeking Second Childhood*

    I almost put this in germank106’s crochet thread but didn’t want to hijack it with a knitting question. I am intending to swatch for the first time and by all advice, I should swatch the way I’m going to knit. But I bought a pattern and it starts out knitting flat then the pieces get joined to work in the round. So… flat swatch is best because that’s the more complicated bits, right?

    1. Washi*

      I would say swatch flat, especially if that’s the bulk of the knitting. Usually if your swatch should definitely be in the round, the pattern will tell you.

      If you’re at all nervous, you could do both though! Particularly if the knitting in the round is substantially different in some way (for example, my colorwork often has a slightly different gauge, so I always check that too).

      1. Washi*

        Actually, I am thinking now that my statement that the pattern would tell you is probably not correct. I just haven’t had any problems with doing a flat swatch, but I’m realizing a lot of the patterns didn’t explicitly say, I just decided myself and it felt obvious at the time (like for socks, I always swatch in the round but the pattern probably doesn’t say to do that).

      2. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        Yep, if you’re gonna do it proper, you should swatch both ways. You may find that you need to go up or down a needle size when working in the round.

    2. Breast Solidarity*

      I never swatch large enough to swatch in the round (I hate DPNs with a passion! though i used to use them for the occasional sock. Now I have a sock set of circs) I have never had trouble swatching flat for in-the-round knitting.

      1. Dancing Otter*

        The way to swatch in the round small is kind of like making i-cord. Use a circular needle or two DP needles.
        Work across your stitches, but instead of turning to work back, just slide the stitches to the other end of the needle to work again in the same direction, being sure to leave plenty of slack on the back.
        I’m fortunate that my gauge doesn’t vary much from flat to circular, but I do this to practice a complicated stitch pattern sometimes.

    3. Anonbeth*

      Depends on what you know of your usual tension and gauge. Do you knit looser than you purl or vice versa? My flat and in the round gauge are always almost the same, so I don’t bother doing both. If you don’t know, you should do both. You may need to use a different needle size on one.

      For in the round, your swatch doesn’t need to be a full tube. You can just knit across, then slide the stitches to the other side of the circ/dpn (without turning!) and knit across the front again, leaving a long loose float across the back. The first and last few sts will be too loose to count.

  20. Following one's heart*

    I will have to give my therapist (Claudia) feedback during my next session and it will be the second session in a row where I feel the need to do it. Has anyone had to do this? And if so, was it ok? I realize this is highly individual…but none of my friends are in therapy that I know of.

    I asked for advice here about this before, when I was 2 months into therapy with Claudia and felt too wide open from exploration. I gave her feedback then and it’s been good. She’s been my therapist now for 7 months, and she’s helped me a lot, it’s all been over zoom, because of covid. I mean, she always points out, I do all the work needed to help myself and I am always prepped for each session, but she’s also been in tune with me, I’ve been comfortable with her, I feel she gets me. She helped me fully overcome horrific insomnia and helped me with strategies to manage better during the pandemic, the list goes on. Except for one session a month ago…this is what kind of threw me. I brought up a guy friend who is crushing on me (but I’m not into him that way), and she wanted to explore what was the disconnect and what exactly made me uncomfortable during my last coffee walk with him. There was a miscommunication, she thought she heard me say I found him attractive and easy to talk to, so she wanted to explore with me what the disconnect was. And she took it in a strange direction that I didn’t like and I don’t think made sense and has me worried that maybe she was judging me (never happened before, even when I brought up to her some possibly controversial views). I mean, in the end, it did help, because I finally figured out with my friend’s help afterwards that it was that the guy is loud and seems to like making scenes to assert himself and I can’t stand men who are like that.

    Figuring things out about potential mates is hard and stressful for me and I really need a therapist who can be good at that, I’m a straight gal in my 30s, if that matters. Due to covid, there’s obv been far less opportunities to assess even first dates. She did help me really well when I was stressing out about meeting a guy I met online. But this one event has me wondering if she’s still a right fit and that in and of itself is stressing me out..it took me 8 months and 3 previous therapists that were a bad fit to finally get to her and I was on a waiting list. The first feedback I gave her last week, she admitted she also felt a rupture during that one odd session. The session brought up experiences from previous short lived therapist who tried to keep pushing me into dating a guy that was not good for me. I explained it and she thanked me for bringing it up, she reassured me that she’s not an expert on what men are best for me, that I am. After that, the rest of the session went very well, I cried out what I needed to cry out, she got what my other issues well as always. I’m in the middle of CBT as well, which is going well. But this one thing still feels unresolved and it’s bugging me (and stressing me out) that maybe I need to recount to her exactly how that failed exploration went to get peace about this. And maybe she should have done a better job of clearing it up with me?

    This is very new to me…with my previous amazing therapist, Jean, who retired, I only had to give feedback once…I think..but she was also like 25 years older than Claudia and we had a 7 year counseling relationship and she just “got” things right away, it was astonishing and comforting. I never had the need to write here about Jean either. I don’t know if zoom vs in person is playing a part here, but Claudia helped me well with a mild panic attack over zoom, so I think that’s unlikely.

    Any thoughts or similar experiences?

    1. Sunflower*

      You should 100% bring it up and continue to do so as these moments arise. I wouldn’t stress about how you bring it up. This isn’t a work situation or friendship where you need to tread lightly. Therapists encourage you to bring up things they’ve done that have bothered you because they use the relationship between client and therapist as an important part of therapy and it can give your therapist into insights they aren’t obvious to the eye. I’d even tell her that you’re unsure about your relationship with her and it may be because you jived so well with your other therapist. And that you’ve had therapists who make you feel like they are pushing your dating choices so that might be something she might need to be more in tune to.

      From an outsiders point of view, it seems like you let Claudia go on for a while after she mis-heard you- is there a reason you didn’t correct her in the moment? I don’t know what her advice eventually led to but it doesn’t seem odd that she would suggest you explore the disconnect if you weren’t interested in a guy you found attractive and easy to talk to. If you haven’t directly told her the bit about the importance of having a therapist who can help with figuring out potential mates- you should. It’s important to discuss what you are looking to get out of therapy and what your therapist is able to provide.

      I don’t know your experience but as mentioned above, the therapeutic relationship is very important and it’s not uncommon to be mad at your therapist or not see eye-to-eye- as is going to happen in any relationship you have. Therapy is supposed to be challenging and uncomfortable at times. Did you ever have moments you were upset with Jean? Did you feel challenged by her- do you feel challenged by Claudia? I loved my first therapist and she got me through some of the toughest stuff in my life- but I didn’t feel I really grew or identified any of the issues got me into the tough place in the first place. I’ve been seeing my current therapists for 5 years and we’ve gone through some bumps and I’ve had moments I felt like maybe she wasn’t the right fit anymore. She’s brought up a couple times doing stuff I don’t know if I want to do and I can say with 100% certainty that it’s my own discomfort I don’t want to explore and not a case of bad fit.

      Over anything, I’d encourage you to explore your feelings around this both on your own and in therapy. The best part about therapy is it isn’t like a work or romantic relationship where admitting you have doubts could lead to the end of the relationship.

    2. Wishing You Well*

      Go ahead and give Claudia feedback on that odd-feeling session. Let her know you figured out why you weren’t into the loud guy. It’s ok to ask for clarity about any previous session. Therapy can be uncomfortable, so it’s difficult to know if it’s due to client/therapist incompatibility.
      It’s tough working with a new therapist after 7 years with Jean. It seems Claudia is good at helping you with some things. Only you can decide if you want to continue with Claudia but please wait until after this feedback session to decide.
      Some therapists are not taking new patients until after Covid because bonding with a therapist is much more difficult when done remotely. One strategy would be to work with Claudia until you can see another therapist in person but, again, only you can decide what’s right for you.
      Sending good thoughts.

    3. Not So NewReader*

      ” There was a miscommunication, she thought she heard me say I found him attractive and easy to talk to, so she wanted to explore with me what the disconnect was. And she took it in a strange direction….”

      It sounds fairly straight forward to me. “Claudia, I think you misunderstood something. [Explain] And we went off on a tangent that felt odd and unrelated to my needs/setting. Since it’s very unusual for our conversations to be so far off the mark, I want us to discuss why that happened and how to prevent further occurrences.”

      The last person I went to decided to waste my time, but in a different way. I ended the session early by saying, “I will pay in full at the desk out front.” I get very annoyed when I start to think that someone is wasting my time with things that are irrelevant or not helpful to me. Although in my case, I could tell by what he thought of to say that he would never, ever help me so that made it easier to just leave. If you think the situation is salvageable, then reopen the conversation and find out why she steered the conversation the way she did.

    4. RagingADHD*

      You should certainly bring it up if it’s bothering you. The whole point is to talk about whatever is bothering you. It sounds like you two have an excellent rapport, good safe communication, and she’s been a very constructive influence in your life.

      Clearing up misunderstandings, talking about what’s bothering you, and asking the other person to course-correct does not mean it’s a bad fit.

      How she responds will show you more about the fit. And from the way you describe how it’s going, I predict she will likely respond in a very positive and helpful way.

      A good therapist doesn’t need to read your mind to be helpful. They need to *listen.* And from what you’ve said, it sounds like she does a good job listening when you tell her what you need.

    5. Following one's heart*

      Hi all – thank you, your comments and advice are really superhelpful. To respond to Sunflower – yes, Jean got me through some very tough times, including work on much needed boundaries with my parents and other things too, but my family doctor wasn’t pleased with how my anxiety was being managed, he felt there was a lot of hand holding and was incredibly insistent after Jean retired that I get myself a good therapist who will address the anxiety. Jean did challenge me, but I was never really mad at her. I don’t always my doctor’s feedback, but he is usually right. I feel the difference with Claudia, as in I genuinely feel better quite often.

      I sort of thought this was like a romantic relationship, in the sense that when there are enought doubts it’s usually sayonara, but then again I have no one to compare notes with from my friends re: therapy, so your shared experiences are really important for me to know how this works. I didn’t realize it’s normal to give feedback multiple times and that the therapy relationship can progress well after that happens; Claudia did say to tell her whenever things feel off. I thought I’d be belabouring the point and annoy her. My very first therapist straight up stopped scheduling appts with me after the one time I gave her feedback, and as it is very clear now, was a bad fit.

      I wholeheartedly appreciate your inputs.

      1. RagingADHD*

        Two disagreements / misunderstandings in seven months would not be worrisome in a romantic relationship either — as long as the person is acting in good faith and you can work out a healthy resolution.

        Good relationships are not conflict-free. They are ones where conflicts are handled respectfully, kindly, and constructively.

        Close relationships only have zero conflict when at least one person is suppressing their real thoughts, feelings, and preferences.

  21. Advice needed*

    My roommate’s brother regularly likes old pictures of me on Facebook, old enough that the only way he’d see them is if he looked through every picture of me to get there. This happens maybe once every two weeks, and I’m starting to get creeped out. My roommate’s brother is a paranoid schizophrenic who let himself into our apartment when we weren’t home three years ago after missing his monthly regulatory injection. In person with me, however, he’s never been inappropriate or creepy in any way, it’s only the creepy constant looking at my Facebook pictures. Am I overreacting, and if no, how do I talk to my roommate about this?

    1. pancakes*

      What exactly are you hoping the roommate would do about this?

      I’ve never had a Facebook account but my understanding is you can set permissions for how your content is seen — available to everyone, or only to contacts categorized as close friends, etc. I suspect you’d have more success restricting photos on your end than leaving them all public and trying to discourage particular people from looking at them.

      1. Advice needed*

        I’m hoping she talks to him to let him know that behavior isn’t ok. Blocking him helps me but doesn’t help him. If I block him and he gloms onto another girl, I’ll feel guilty that I didn’t at least try.

        1. pancakes*

          If he has problems with impulse control and/or self-regulating his behavior, knowing that it isn’t ok is beside the point. Presumably he knew it wasn’t ok to let himself into your apartment in the past, and to stop taking his meds, but both happened nonetheless.

          I don’t think there’s much use feeling guilty about this potentially happening to someone else. Anyone who notices a stranger stalking their old photos & feels unsettled by it can & should block them. Your roommate, on the other hand, cannot effectively or realistically be made responsible for supervising their brother’s behavior, and can’t credibly make assurances about his behavior on his behalf.

          1. Observer*

            Your roommate, on the other hand, cannot effectively or realistically be made responsible for supervising their brother’s behavior, and can’t credibly make assurances about his behavior on his behalf.

            Exactly. So, don’t even factor that into your behavior.

            1. pancakes*

              I wouldn’t go quite that far — if the roommate has willingness & availability to try to dissuade him, that’s probably more helpful than not. But they can’t make promises as to how he’ll behave. His doctors can’t either, for that matter.

              One of the many heartbreaking things about schizophrenia is that people tend to go off their meds for various reasons, including not wanting to deal with onerous side effects. My boyfriend had a friend & client who had it, and she’d go off her meds and wind up in Bellevue every other year or so. It feels better to stop taking the meds until it doesn’t. It’s a very hard condition to live with and treat.

              Good luck with this, and keep us posted.

        2. Observer*

          Block him.

          You could let your room-mate know what’s going on as well, but you simply cannot ask her to take any action here (other than insisting that he shouldn’t have a key to your apartment.)

          The issue is not even whether it’s your responsibility to do anything – it’s whether you have the ABILITY to do anything or the standing to place expectations on others. The answer to both is a resounding no. There is absolutely nothing you can do. And expecting your room mate to make this behavior stop is is neither reasonable nor realistic. So, all you can really do is protect yourself.

      2. Advice needed*

        Also, my profile is already heavily guarded against anyone who isn’t on my friends list. I could just block him, but that won’t help the next girl he does this to.

        1. RebelwithMouseyHair*

          But once he’s realised you’ve blocked him, he’ll maybe realise it was because of his virtual stalking.
          I’d give your flatmate a heads-up that you’re blocking him and explain why so he can find out from them if he can’t work it out for himself.

        2. Observer*

          And telling his sister will? Look, she KNOWS that he doesn’t always take his beds, and she KNOWS that he engages in inappropriate behavior. What do you think will change once she knows about this additional piece of misbehavior?

          This guy has a illness that is apparently poorly managed. Hearing from his sister that someone was creeped out by his behavior is not going to suddenly make him start managing his illness – either he doesn’t care or he can’t, and neither will change if he hears how you feel about it. Even if his sister TOTALLY assures him that your reaction is objectively correct.

          1. RebelwithMouseyHair*

            The sister may know of a way to get through to him, or know of someone who can get through to him, better than OP.

    2. Canuck girl*

      I don’t think you’re overreacting, it’s straight up weird. I don’t have advice kn talking to the brother (I’d need advice on that myself), but from a technology standpoint – can you block this dude or put him on a limited profile? I forget what the option is called, but it’s in the privacy settings, but you can basically block his access to certain parts of your profile and in that way block him partially. I have fb “friends” who I put in that category…and I know very distant acquaintances have me set up this way too and it’s all good.
      Before you do it, just give some thought how close you and the brother are, in case it comes as a major shock to the guy, but it doesn’t sound to me like you are besties. Good luck, and I’m sure other ppl here will give good insight on talking to the roommate.

    3. Workerbee*

      Not overreacting.
      I will say that I have had undiagnosed men of my acquaintance do the deep dive into my albums. My response was to limit their access and I do think doing the same or blocking will work well for you here—I know, you’re thinking of the next girl, but you can still do this today, then decide if you want to mention to your roommate how her brother was doing “that thing some guys* do of creeping on your entire photo history.” It’s way out of your hands and moral compass even before that point, but you may at least feel better for trying. You can’t control him, she can’t control him, etc.

      *Substitute to “people” if you wish. My experience as a cishet female has found that it’s been the guys of my acquaintance who have done the outright “liking” as if to mark their spot.

      1. Canuck girl*

        Yup, as my therapist reminded me with an issue about my parents…there’s only so much you can do to try and influence another person, and it’s really not very much. And my folks were just being kind of irresponsible, there’s no mental illness in the mix.

      1. Aza*

        My husband’s mom is schizophrenic and…I just wouldn’t want to be involved with this. Dude is being creepy. He may not mean to be, but he is.

        Schizophrenia adds an additional layer of unpredictability. I wouldn’t let him continue.

      2. Aza*

        *especially* since he’s let himself into your apartment before. Nope, hard pass, not something I’d want to continue.
        You are not overreacting. Honestly, it makes me anxious even reading about it. It’s creepy.

        And, for the sake of argument, what if you are “overreacting”? You are finding it creepy. The actions you’re proposing (talking to hi sister, blocking) are super reasonable. It’s not like you’re calling the cops on him.

        And I highly recommend Captain Awkward’s website. She has lots of posts about trusting your instincts on stuff like this.

      3. Aza*

        Sorry, in my tizzy I neglected tour original question of how to talk to the roommate.

        You can either be honest and say he was liking old photos and it creeped you out so you blocked him.

        Or you could be less direct and say that you’re in the process of trimming down your social media, and you’d forgotten that you were friends with her brother, but were reminded recently when he liked some old photos, and since you’re not that close, you’re planning to trim him, nothing personal.

    4. A*

      I wouldn’t worry about overreacting. Even he’s completely safe what he’s doing IS creepy and unsettling and you don’t have to put up with it just because he might be having an episode. Block the brother and tell your roommate. Don’t frame it like his brother’s diagnosis obviously means he’s violent and dangerous but absolutely let him know what’s going on and you need it to stop. It’s possible he’s done this before and he’ll know how to deal with it. If it’s a new problem…his family should know that too.

      1. Aza*

        So much truth to this. Lots of times we don’t always know when my partner’s mom is on the cusp of an episode until we hear something about some random thing she did from someone.

        1. Advice needed*

          This has been going on for about 8 months, so I don’t think it’s a single episode. I’m worried my roommate is going to turn it around on me and ask why I didn’t say anything sooner.

          1. A*

            Is that something your roommate has done before when you’ve raised concerns or is it just a fear you have? If it’s the former honestly, I’d start looking into moving out or finding a new roommate; this is stress you don’t need in your life.

            If it’s the latter, I really wouldn’t worry about it. Just tell him the truth: you didn’t know what to make of it at first and didn’t want to overreact but now it’s been going on for months with no sign of stopping and you feel you need to speak up. People rarely react “correctly” to weird shit like this. Reasonable people will understand that.

              1. Aza*

                Well she’s misplacing her displeasure. It’s 100% not your fault. You’re not an expert in this crap!

                She may be feeling a little defensive and is misplacing blame. When honestly the blame is on her brother, or really, his illness.

              2. Observer*

                That’s her problem, not yours. I would not discuss this any further. If she brings it up again, simply tell her that you were trying to navigate an unsettling situation as best you can, and you are done discussing it. Then refuse to discuss. Walk out of the room if necessary.

                And, if you haven’t blocked him, DO IT NOW. No matter what else she does or does not do, you need to take care of yourself.

            1. That Girl from Quinn's House*

              I think you should find a new roommate, but if your lease/finances is such that you really can’t, I’d recommend getting some basic security. A chain lock for each door, and a basic alarm system like a SimpliSafe that notifies you when each door has been opened and sounds an alarm if the code isn’t entered correctly.

              That way, at least when you are home/sleeping, you feel secure.

          2. Aza*

            You don’t have to mention how long it is if you don’t want. It would just probably be helpful to them to know he’s liking your photos, so if you come up in conversation, they will notice.

            It’s basically just having more information/context so that if they notice something additional, they’ll know it’s not standalone. Like it might help them pay attention/interpret differently things that they may not notice without knowing this.

            And like others have said, it may be completely unrelated to schizophrenia. He may just be a creepy dude.

          3. Juneybug*

            Because it took awhile to see if his actions were consistent.
            Because it took awhile to think how you wanted to move forward.
            Because you wanted to ensure you didn’t hurt your roommate’s feelings.

      1. Generic Name*

        Ugh. It doesn’t matter that you didn’t say anything earlier. What matters is you’re saying something now. Your roommate is trying to turn the situation around on you, and that’s not cool. Do you feel safe at home? If you don’t, I don’t think you’d be overreacting one bit if you explored alternate living arrangements. No need to tell your roommate. Just quietly start looking.

      2. fposte*

        Too long for what? Was there a statute of limitations that has expired?

        You don’t need to be snarky, but I think it’s reasonable to say politely, “Nonetheless, I hope you’ll still help me on this, and I think it’ll go better if you intervene than if I handle it alone.”

        1. Advice needed*

          She said she’d talk to him in a way that made me feel like she was just trying to mollify me.

          1. fposte*

            Maybe, but you got the answer you were looking for; even if she does it grudgingly, she’s still doing it. If he’s still liking pictures after that, you can go back to Molly the Mollifier and say “Molly, you said you’d talk to Brother about this, but he’s still doing it. I know you can’t just make him do stuff, but I thought you’d want to know that even though you told him not to he’s still doing this.”

            And it’s true that she might not be able to stop him, so I would block him at that point and consider you’ve done your best.

            1. Advice needed*

              I unfriended him, and my profile is so guarded that he won’t be able to look at my pictures anymore.

              1. fposte*

                Then I think you’ve covered your bases–you asked her to talk to him and you’ve prevented him from seeing your pictures. Now it’s just about you finding peace with the situation.

          2. Not So NewReader*

            I spent years in human services. So I do understand that this sounds like less than it should be, there has to be a starting point in dealing with behaviors. Many times the starting point is, “hey, stop doing X.”

            Our social systems are REactive NOT PROactive. We wait until something happens and then say, “Gee, should have done something sooner.” If he has a case manager, you can ask your roommate to contact the case manager or give you the number so you can.

            A case manager (or case worker) would know if this is part of a pattern. If this is a known pattern with him, then they probably have a behavior plan in place for it. You report the behavior and they enact the plan.

            If he does not have a case manager, please move out. Even if he does have a case manager, I would seriously consider moving out anyway. I spent just over a decade in direct care and this is how I would handle it.

              1. Not So NewReader*

                Typically, this would be a government program and mean little to no out of pocket money for him.

    5. Wishing You Well*

      Block him on Facebook and tell your roommate about it.
      Find a good source on paranoid schizophrenia and ask them for advice.
      Don’t be a sacrificial lamb for theoretical future actions of this guy.
      Sorry you’re doing through this.

    6. RagingADHD*

      Just block him.

      I saw your post below that you somehow feel responsible for keeping him from looking at other women’s pictures online.

      Nobody can do that. Not you, not your roommate, not a caseworker. Short of him being institutionalized without internet access, nobody can exert that kind of remote control.

      Your job is to protect your own boundaries. Just block him, and keep an eye out.

      Have you changed your locks? If he still has a key to your home, that is a lot more immediate concern than his online activity, and it’s something you can actually take practical steps to correct.

      1. fposte*

        I thought about that, but the problem is that the roommate, who presumably gave him the first key, would have to be on board.

        1. RagingADHD*

          Well, yes. I mean that’s a more constructive conversation with the roommate than “make him stop liking my photos.”

          Perhaps they already took the key back, or changed the locks after the intrusion.

          But presumably the rommate has been dealing with the brother’s issues their whole life. It’s understandable that they might sound somewhat dismissive or mollifying about the request to speak to the brother about liking posts.

          I’m sure they’ve spoken to him about many things over the last 18+ years. With varying degrees of success.

    7. ShinyPenny*

      I see from your later posts below that you did decide to block him today. Very reasonable. And, good job listening to your gut, and prioritizing your own safety over any social awkwardness– applause!
      Please be a bit extra cautious about your safety in general in the next couple weeks. You have limited his access to “you” (symbolically), and he might react by escalating his attempts to get “more you.”
      See all the many words on this topic re domestic violence/domestic abuse… See also “extinction burst” re dog training/child rearing. Do not relent. (Except under duress if you are in danger– then, promise anything that helps you extricate yourself.)
      Your roommates reaction is… not helpful. Was it just her momentary awkwardness? Ideally she would clearly identify this problem as Not Yours, apologize for her family problem impinging on your life, and really firmly commit to every safety precaution to ensure your apartment is secure.
      If she fails on any of those points, I would prioritize moving out. And brainstorm safety planning with a Safety Plan Expert.
      Not to be alarmist, but this IS a weird situation– and the fact that he came into your apartment previously puts it a whole different catagory.

    8. Traffic_Spiral*

      Ok, personally I wouldn’t care – I consider it basically the same as going down a wiki wormhole. That being said, I only let a very select number of people on my facebook, and most of them have known me since before I had a facebook account.

      For you, if it bothers you for whatever reason, don’t let him be your fb friend and don’t give him access to your fb. What do you think you are, a basic resource that he is entitled to have access to under the human rights convention of whogivesafuck?

      Look, there’s 2 outcomes:

      1. If this is just his random internet scrolling, then he won’t care if you cut it off, so… no harm no foul, and you get to feel better.

      2. If he asks about it and a simple “yeah, I decided to cut down a lot of my internet presence” doesn’t end the matter, then you know you need better precautions. Either way, you get the answers you need, so go block him.

      Also, you should probably start restricting who has access to your facebook if you get uncomfortable with people you don’t know well digging into your facebook.

    9. Anonnington*

      Just block him on Facebook. That will make it look like you deleted your account. And do whatever else you can to protect yourself. It might be time to stop living with that roommate.

  22. The Other Dawn*

    Does anyone own, or have you owned, a Mini Cooper? What do you like? What do you hate?

    I’m thinking about getting one used. I’m definitely attracted to the gas mileage since my husband’s commute is about 65 miles one way. It also reminds of when my husband and I were first dating. He was driving his parents’ Plymouth Horizon and we had a lot of fun going places in that car.

    I test drove one the other day (2016 4 door hardtop) and I was very surprised at how much room we had in there. Both of us are tall (about 5’11”) and we had plenty of room for our legs, as well as plenty of head room. It drove well (I’ve read the reviews that it has a rough, stiff ride), had good pickup, and had a lot of the features I’d be looking for.
    We’re going back to the dealer Monday to look at a few more and possibly take a few more test drives.

    If I buy a Mini, it would be an occasional local driver for me, a commuter for my husband (maybe a few times a week), so we don’t need a bunch of storage room. We also have no kids or dogs we’d have to cart around.

    1. Anom-a-long-a-ding-dong*

      I had a Mini for a while! I liked it when I lived in the city but still needed to commute out to the suburbs for work- it was amazingly easy to parallel park and it did get pretty good gas mileage. It became less practical when I moved to the suburbs and did more carpooling with friends (no one likes sitting in the back seat of a 2-door mini unless they are very small) and outdoorsy things (I didn’t have roof racks, and my spouse and I like to go skiing and camping and kayaking). You said you’re getting the four-door, so you might have more space than I did, but the lack of space was the biggest drawback for me.

      I had very few complaints about the car, overall. I unfortunately got rear-ended quite hard by a pickup truck a few years ago and they totalled the car, otherwise I’d likely still be driving it. I only opted for a different car because I wanted more space.

    2. Max Kitty*

      We’ve had a MINI since 2002. Started with a 2-door, then got a 4-door Countryman when they came out. My DH is 6’2″ and loves his MINIs. If you don’t have a lot of need for storage space, it’s a fun drive.

      I like the 4-door better than the 2-door; the 2-door was kind of heavy to push open and get out.

      And when you buy a MINI, you also get access to a community if you want one. There are lots of MINI clubs and events. For example, every other year, MINI USA sponsors an event called “MINI Takes the States.”

    3. Ali G*

      I know 3 different people that had mini’s and ended up getting rid of them because of the cost of upkeep. They found that is was hard to find places to do maintenance, besides the dealership, and it was very expensive. We live in a large DMV area, so we typically don’t have trouble with basics like car maintenance. I have a Nissan and my husband has a Toyota we have like 4 places in walking distance from us where we can get our cars serviced.

    4. CJM*

      I’ve never owned a Mini Cooper, but I’ve exclusively driven VW New Beetles for 15 years (two of them, and we bought both used). I love my car, and it’s very fun to drive. But I feel more vulnerable and unsafe in it every year because it’s so small next to the SUVs and pickup trucks that are ubiquitous where I live. And aggressive driving seems worse every year. I’m worried I’d be a goner in any collision.

      Besides using it around town, I drive 150 miles each way to visit family. I go nearly weekly, and the trip is mostly on an interstate. That’s where I feel the most vulnerable (even though I know it’s statistically safer than other roadways).

      I don’t want to be a wet blanket, but I’d consider the size/safety angle in your decision. Because of that, I plan to buy a small SUV soon for my longer drives. If insurance isn’t too high, I’ll keep my little car to use around town.

    5. Pink Dahlia*

      I owned an R56 and I still dream about how much I loved it. I normally could not have afforded it, but it was a “barely used by an older driver going into a retirement home” situation. I hope to have another one some day, though I hate the styling and increased size on the last two generations. (I hope they stop getting bigger. Not all Americans want to drive a boat.)

      Mine was the 2-door hardtop, and one thing I didn’t realize I would miss is the blind spot visibility. All my hot hatches since that car have an obnoxiously large B pillar that blocks my view of basically everything. The MINI had clear views all around.

      The ride is definitely not cushy, but it’s a race car. You’re meant to feel the road. I never felt as in control as I did driving that car. For comparison, my husband’s Wrangler is a harder ride, but a MINI is definitely bumpier than your average coupe or sedan.

      She gave her life for me on a six-point buck, and I walked away without a scratch. They are designed to blow apart to divert the kinetic energy, so crashes in a MINI tend to look much worse than they would with a larger car. (Watch Smart Car crash tests and you’ll see similar.) It also means they cost more to fix and are considered totaled at a lower threshold (sob) but as much as I loved her, I prefer to have escaped safely.

      As far as repair, my family-owned mechanic actually got MINI certified because he loved mine so much. He’s 6’4″ and could not get over how much room there was. He apologized for the test drive getting a bit too long, which cracked me up. I told him to keep it an extra afternoon and he and his wife went for a ride, then decided to buy one. Parts do cost more than the average car, though, make no mistake.

      MINI people are a bit of a club, so wave back if people wave to you on the road! I was really confused for the first few weeks.

      1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        I got rear ended by a semi and dragged a mile down a highway at 45mph in my Smart and the only damage was three pencil eraser sized dents in the bumper and a blown tire. Little cars get a lot of flak because people think they’re unsafe, but most people don’t actually know what they’re talking about.

    6. D3*

      A friend had one, got rid of it because it didn’t do well in the snow, so if you live somewhere with snow that might be a consideration.

      1. All the*

        I rode in a friend’s mini in Edmonton in the depths of winter. It was extremely cold outside. It was extremely cold inside the mini as well.

    7. platypusmoose*

      There was a recent story where I am about some model years of coopers randomly bursting into flames. You can look into that.

          1. The Other Dawn*

            Thank you. It mentions the 2011 and 2012 model years and I’m not looking at anything older than maybe 2015.

    8. acmx*

      IIRC, they were part of BMW. I had a friend who had one, think the 4 door and it wasn’t too small (but I am not tall). They can be expensive to repair. And they’re no longer in production? Might be hard to get parts eventually.

      1. The Other Dawn*

        Yes, they’re part of BMV now. They’re still in production and just came out with 2021 models.

    9. mreasy*

      I have driven them as rental cars and liked them, but due to the sticker price and what I’ve heard about coat of upkeep, I went for a Fiat instead. Worth looking into as a comparison!

      1. lapgiraffe*

        I came to say that I had an unexpected love affair with a fiat in Italy. I’ve driven mini coopers a few times, test drove a rather premium one once and my friend had an older not as premium version I drove from time to time, and I gotta say I really hated it on the highway and it deterred me from buying one in the end.

        But then my fiat rental….oh my I have never had so much fun. Granted part of that is just Italy, but I was so pleased with how it handled both the curvy, hilly roads between villages and also top speeds on the autostrada. Not as sexy but honestly, it drives wayyyy sexier, and ultimately that matters more to me than how it looks.

        1. Jules the First*

          I hate to say it, but the Fiat you drove in Italy and the Fiat you can buy in the US are very different cars…Fiat doesn’t tend to import their nippy turbo versions, only the underpowered base models which are way less fun to drive.

    10. Jules the First*

      We got my Mom a four door Mini last year when we replaced her ancient Italian tank. She loves the way it drives, how safe it feels, and how much visibility she has. She pops either of her grandsons in the back easily (7 and 8 months, so carseat or booster; not sure you could get both in), finds the trunk surprisingly capacious, and likes the way it drives on the highway. My parents take it on long road trips as my Mom dislikes driving my Dad’s car without him in the passenger seat (so taking her car means she has some independence when they get there), and my Dad also like driving it, although he’s 6ft+. It copes brilliantly with snow and cold temperatures (the commenter above re the trip in Edmonton…the only car I’ve ever driven that was warm in the depths of an Edmonton winter was a Swedish car…)

    11. The Other Dawn*

      Thanks, everyone!

      I’m in New England, but I’m not worried about how it handles in the snow since we have an SUV. I no longer commute to work (my department has gone 100% remote permanently as a result of the pandemic) so my husband can take the SUV if he needs to.

      I hadn’t even thought about visibility until it was mentioned here. It doesn’t seem to have the usual blind spots. We took it on the highway and I felt safe, though given I’m used to driving the SUV now, I felt very small.

      We plan to hit the lot today and poke around. They’re closed on Sundays so it’s a good time to browse around. I hate looking at cars, because I’ve encountered so many pushy salespeople; however, the guy we dealt with the other day wasn’t pushy at all. They have some good reviews and lots of people mentioned that they never felt pressured.

  23. GoryDetails*

    I’m having this problem too, but with three cats. I did look into the activated-by-chip feeders, but haven’t tried one yet, partly because I’ve read that really-eager cats can just stick their heads under that of the “legit” cat to snarf food, and partly out of fear that my very strong and clever cat will just claw the thing until it opens or breaks. So I’ve been doing plate-juggling, feeding the self-stopping cats in a separate room so the cat-who-will-clear-out-every-plate-and-bowl can’t get at their leftovers. [Tried free-feeding when I first had all three, and noticed that one of the newer cats was getting thin and my slightly-older cat was getting distinctly round, so it’s definitely a matter of their health!]

    1. GoryDetails*

      Urk – nesting-fail. (I think because I forgot to enter my screen name and got an error message; when I hit “back” from the error message to add my screen name, the reply seems to have turned into a new post. Ah, well!)

  24. Feeling embarrassed*

    Last night I was painting some furniture while spouse was on a zoom call. He put his laptop on a low table in the living room while he was looking for snacks in the kitchen. Camera was on. I had just brushed up against a painted area by accident so took off my pants and walked by the camera en route to the sink to wash the paint off. 40 + people got to see my groin area. Sigh.

    I hope no one was recording this call.

    Anyone else do something embarrassing this week?

    1. Hotdog not dog*

      According to my teenager I may have inadvertently caused his premature demise by humiliation from chatting with the cashier in the grocery store. It turns out that she is in his history class and is cute, and she mentioned to him that she had met me. Now I’m told I can never grocery shop again. The embarrassment bar is pretty low around here!

      1. tangerineRose*

        Sounds like you just found someone (your teenager) to do all the grocery shopping! With the added bonus that if he starts buying stuff you don’t want him to buy (too much junk food, for example), you can offer to start doing the shopping yourself.

    2. Juneybug*

      This happen while back but I think you will enjoy the story –
      Happen to be attending a team meeting (working from home) when dear hubby walks into our office and says very loudly “Hey, on your next break, we should have sex.” He knew something was wrong when I turned to looked at him with wide eyes and my headset on (I only wear my headset during meetings). After that moment of stunned silence, I quickly mute my mic. What saved me from a very embarrassing situation was the other team member was talking very loud so no one heard him.
      My lesson learned – ALWAYS mute yourself.
      Dear hubby’s lesson learned – ALWAYS check to see if wife is muted before saying anything during work hours.

      1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        If I had a dollar for every paper I turned in titled “[Witty Title Goes Here]” …

    3. Not Alison*

      Can someone please explain why people don’t turn off their video feed when they leave their computers? Or in the alternative only use video when only a wall is in the background so we aren’t forced to see members of your household walking in camera view.
      OK, I’ll get off my soapbox now.

      1. D3*

        Some bosses don’t allow it. I have words for those bosses but it would send my comment into moderation and Alison has enough to do.

  25. Venus*

    How does your garden grow?

    I am going to be planting my garlic soon, either this weekend or next. Most of my tomatoes are ripened and I have saved many seeds for next year. I have some fancy cherry tomatoes that grew really well this year so will plan to grow more of those seedlings next year to give away.

    Note that I will probably stop posting this thread for the next 4 months as I won’t be growing much between now and then. I start up seedlings in February. I know there are likely to be people in Aus and NZ and warmer climates who have gardens so I encourage anyone else to continue with the “How does your garden grow?” thread! I may post myself at times, but it’s the first thing I think about on a Saturday morning and I need a break from the habit for a bit. Thank you to everyone who posts as I enjoy reading all of them!

    1. NeverNicky*

      One of the things gardening has taught me is to start something off and not to meddle, peek or poke – just let nature do its thing.

      My shelf of cuttings and divided plants I did 3 to 4 weeks ago is thriving on their first check – some even have roots peeping out the bottom of the pots. And that’s because I left them in their little micro climates* and didn’t disturb them.

      I’ve sown some winter cress and winter purslane for some winter greens/salads today and then took advantage of the very damp soil to move some strawberries, move my yucca from the space it’s outgrown to a lovely big urn and to plant out some lavender cuttings I took in spring. Oh, I planted out some parsley too.

      Tomorrow I’m hoping to get some bulbs and get those planted up in pots and that’s likely to be it until the turn of the year when I will start off some chilli seeds and other veg.

      *old bread bags and other “single use” plastic recycled as mini greenhouses

    2. The Gollux, Not a Mere Device*

      I pre-ordered tomato and cucumber plants for next year, because I had trouble finding them this year, and so I could get some heirloom tomatoes I like: Paul Robeson and yellow Brandywine. I’m getting them from GrowJoy, which carries both heirloom varieties and more recent hybrids.

      Next up, I want to get crocuses and daffodils to plant in the next few weeks. Can anyone recommend a shop that will send me a dozen or two plants, rather than five hundred? I particularly like purple crocuses, and am not looking for heirloom varieties here.

      1. Anonbeth*

        Jung’s sells bulbs in dozens or smaller. I ordered from them for the first time recently so can’t really review, but I’ve heard good things from others. They have crocuses in mixed color packs that include purple and yellow, iirc.

      2. Filosofickle*

        Ooh, yellow brandywines?! Sounds intriguing. Brandywines are my fav, haven’t ever seen yellow ones.

    3. PX*

      After complaining about my (indoor) tomato plants a couple of weeks ago, I now have a few flowers at long last and noticed I have a teeny tiny tomato growing! Super late! I think my lesson for next year is to be more aggressive pruning them – I forget that thats a thing you can do, so I always just let them grow and grow and then get no/few tomatoes.

      Winter is also definitely on its way now, so the house is getting colder and there is less light, so I’m very curious as to how many tomatoes I will actually get (if any).

    4. Llama face!*

      I’ve got some late started tomatoes- my first attempt at growing them- still trying to grow fruit. My largest tomato baby is almost golf ball sized and I’m cheering it on! It’s been cold enough here that I’ve had to bring the plants inside overnight several times but daytime temps have been warm for this time of year. So there’s still hope. :)

      I brought my chives inside for the winter to see if I can keep them going as a houseplant while it’s cold out. But if they die off I also have seeds I collected from them to start again next year. Has anyone tried growing chives in a pot indoors? Advice or tips?

      1. All the cats 4 me*

        I have some I bought as a planted pot, so I can’t speak to sowing from seed, but they do well on the south-facing windowsill above my kitchen sink (which helps me remember to water them).

        It is a small pot, so I don’t get much use, but it is nice to have. They seem to be sturdy,
        I think this will be their second winter there.

      2. pancakes*

        I’m cheering on my fire escape tomatoes, too. I was so lazy & late about potting on the seedlings, but the plants are thriving. They’re Roma and Principe Borghese, and loaded with little green tomatoes. I bought some insulating bags I can cover them with if frost seems likely, but haven’t needed them so far.

        A dwarf sunflower I planted in a small pot on my windowsill has surprised me with multiple blooms! I deadheaded the first when it was spent and within a couple weeks, at least 5 others have popped up further down the stem. Two are in bloom right now. I don’t recommend this approach for non-quarantine times, though, because small pots don’t hold much water — fine for succulents, but not ideal for something as thirsty as a sunflower.

      3. Venus*

        I have chives in the garden that return every year, and I live in a place where the ground is frozen very solid for many long months. If chives survive here then they can likely do well anywhere.

    5. KoiFeeder*

      It turns out that autumn crocuses get way, way taller than I was expecting. I was expecting little spring crocuses, not… this. Live and learn.

      1. Anonbeth*

        This made me laugh. How tall are they?? I planted some flowers along my front path and they turned out to be 5′ tall, oops.

        1. KoiFeeder*

          Not that tall, I hope. I was intending for them to be houseplants!

          Usually, spring crocuses are about three inches tall. It turns out that autumn crocuses are a whole foot tall, assuming they’ve reached their final form. They went from just poking up from the dirt to their current height in about a day, day and a half.

    6. Nita*

      Still have tomatoes, even (surprisingly) in the backyard. That’s the first time anything grew in the backyard. Nice. The lettuce is doing ok. Trying to grow some daikon since it’s supposed to like cool weather, but it’s growing slowly so may not do well. The kid’s indoor pepper garden is still growing peppers. That’s probably just about it for the season….

    7. Girasol*

      We’re just waiting for everything to get just a teeny bit bigger before we have to harvest ahead of first frost. I might pull carrots this week and stock them in the fridge but leave the potatoes, tomatoes, peppers, and squash until the last minute. Amazon just sent the last of the chemicals I need to make woad dye, and it’s past time to harvest the leaves and dive into that process for my first time.

      1. pancakes*

        Good luck with your woad dye! I don’t have experience working with natural dyes but am increasingly appreciative of them. The V&A Museum channel on YouTube has a short but beautiful documentary called “In Search of Forgotten Colors – Sachio Yoshioka and the Art of Natural Dyeing” you might like.

    8. All the cats 4 me*

      Picked what are probably the last cucumbers for the year today. Temp is nearing freezing at night in upcoming days, so I will have to fall back to plotting next year’s garden.

    9. Miss Pantalones En Fuego*

      I need to get outside and do some clean up before winter hits. It’s been much chillier and windy here, but I have been focusing on building a shed and removing shrub suckers from between the patio slabs and have totally neglected the various beds. Mostly it’s just weeding that needs to be done but I also want to make a proper measured drawing of the whole space and come up with a plan for next year. Many of the things I tried this year were failures, probably because I get less light in some areas than I thought.

      I am going to experiment with transplanting the stunted cabbage plants that never grew into a sunnier spot, and I have two packages of bulbs and some shrubs I bought on a whim that need homes. The shrubs were probably a bad idea so they might just live in pots, although at least one of them can go into the hedge.

      Over the summer I have been giving the hedge a really severe haircut as it has been neglected for a few years and was wildly overgrown. But I can only get rid of so many clippings so I have saved the straightest branches and sorted them by thickness. The chopping has left a bit of a gap between us and the neighbours so I am going to use the branches to make a temporary woven fence to fill in the space.

    10. Seeking Second Childhood*

      My extremely unproductive party is giving me a harvest in October. There are at least six more tomatoes ripening on the vine. Two more bell peppers, some squash, and dahlias too. It really demonstrates how bad the weather was earlier this year.

    11. Thankful for AAM*

      Iguana update:
      The mint, which I planted to help keep the iguanas away, is not doing well. Might need more sun? Or less water (we have had a lot of rain, I have not watered in a month!). But the basil and tomatoes continue to be iguana free!

      I got advice here on the kale I started from seed and I finally see the real leaves coming! Thanks to y’all I know what I am looking at! Assuming I understand correctly, I will be planting the kale in the raised bed soon.

    12. Rara Avis*

      We’ve had lots and lots of tomatoes, but the heat has been hard on a lot of the plants. We tried to grow watermelon and got a few baseballs, but the vines are all dying off.

  26. My Brain Is Exploding*

    COVID hacks? Just really simple things. I’ll start. We have two wastebaskets on the first floor and both are in cabinets. I realized that if someone blows their nose and throws away the tissue, they have to touch the cabinet knob. So…we have been leaving the cabinet door in the powder room open!

    1. Llama face!*

      I am using a purse that has two open side compartments, one on each side of the purse. In one side I have a ziploc baggie with my clean cloth face masks (each folded so straps are together at the top of the bag and inside of the mask is protected) and also a bottle of hand sanitizer. In the other side I have a larger ziploc bag for the dirty masks that need washing. The placement lets me grab my mask while I’m on the go without having to touch anything else inside/on my purse.

    2. Not A Manager*

      I carry bathroom necessities in my purse, including a small liquid hand soap and a large bandana. That way I don’t have to dig around a public restroom stall or worry about whether the sink is out of soap. The bandana is to dry my hands instead of using air blowers.

      If I want to give someone an especially affectionate greeting outdoors, we’ll bump elbows. The occasional hug is performed with masks on, faces turned in opposite directions.

      1. Hotdog not dog*

        I like the bathroom idea! When it’s not a pandemic we like to go on road trips and often the public restrooms are…Let’s just say not lovely. I usually have paper towels in the trunk anyway, but a little bag with some soap and extra tp seems like a good idea.

      2. acmx*

        I like the soap idea, too! My home airport has what seems to me, extremely watered down soap. I know there’s sanitizer but I still want to wash my hands properly.

        1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

          I carry paper-like soap leaves and little tablet towels – they look like antacids (until you look close and see the imprint of “towel”), but when dampened they expand into … think extra large baby wipes? About the size of a full sized paper towel sheet, or two of the “pick your size” ones. Sturdier, but still disposable.

    3. Miss Pantalones En Fuego*

      I don’t have very many as I rarely go anywhere, just the supermarket a few blocks away, but I keep a small spray bottle of disinfectant by the front door. As soon as I come in and lock the door I spritz my keys, the door handle, and my phone (and my hand in the process, but I go straight to the sink to wash my hands after that). There is a little basket for clean face masks and an organiser thing where I have stashed all the little bottles of hand sanitizer that I have accumulated over the last few years so that I can stick one in my pocket on my way out the door. I bought a box of screen wipes to clean my phone with although I usually just lightly spritz it with disinfectant or rub a bit of hand sanitizer on it. I put dirty face masks in a basket on the floor by the washing machine until it’s time for laundry.

      Much of this is probably not really necessary but I figure it can’t hurt, and it only takes a few seconds.

    4. Might Be Spam*

      I keep extra masks in my car and purse. I have masks hanging on the front door knob in case I have to answer the door or get the mail, and several masks hanging by the back door for trips out to the garbage can and garage.

      We have a long folding table and 2 folding chairs in the detached garage so my daughter can come for lunch. I’m setting up a cabinet in the garage with disposable plates and other supplies. Also adding a small microwave for warming up hot chocolate in winter and thinking about getting electric blankets to wrap up in because I’m not sure about getting a heater. I wish we could make it look nicer inside the garage, but it’s a rental and we can’t make any changes.

    5. Elizabeth West*

      I switched purses from my good leather bag to a Lily Bloom purse made of recycled bottles that I can wash if needed. I have a travel-sized spray bottle of rubbing alcohol inside along with my Ziploc bag of masks. I use it to spray the mask in the car in between stores, or anything else I want to disinfect before touching.

      Since I combine errands and go out once to more than one store, I take the mask off and hang it on the door handle, spray it lightly, and let it dry there—windows open—while driving to the next store. If it’s disposable, I toss it in the trash bin as I walk out of the last store. If not, it goes on the floorboard of the car and into the laundry when I get home.

      I keep a small bottle of hand sanitizer in the front pocket of the purse. When stores had big bottles again, I bought some and just keep refilling it.

  27. Paralegal Part Deux*

    So, I adopted a kitten, and it didn’t work out. I had to return her to the shelter due to her being extremely aggressive. She more reminded me of the raptors on Jurassic Park than anything else. I tried for three weeks, but it just wasn’t getting better. How do you deal with a failure like this? I’m in such a depressed state my doctor put me back on Xanax like after Sassy passing, but I don’t know it’s helping much. I feel like such a failure and have no idea where to go from here.

      1. Paralegal Part Deux*

        I honestly don’t know. I’m not sure if it’s because it’s only been six months since Sassy passed (what my doctor thinks) or because I had such high hopes for this adoption.

        1. MissGirl*

          That makes sense. Such strong emotions aren’t always about the thing that brings them up but something else. Maybe you’re still mourning your cat, maybe you have some unresolved guilt about that. Maybe if you understand better why this hurts so much you’ll be able to process those emotions better.

    1. Ins mom*

      Please don’t be so hard on yourself. You tried, and the wild thing was a mismatch for you. The right pet will come along, at the right time

      1. tangerineRose*

        You did the right thing. Better to send her back while she’s still young and cute. You want a kitty who you will enjoy having around – that will make your life better and the kitty’s life better.

    2. Lena Clare*

      Please try to be kind on yourself! It sounds like you’re still grieving. I hope you feel better soon.

    3. AGD*

      Not your fault, any more than a date that didn’t turn into a relationship (i.e. the vast majority of dates) would be. Some pairs just aren’t going to work, and that’s often due to something beyond anyone’s control. It’s okay! Look after yourself, get better, and look forward to trying again.

    4. SpellingBee*

      What the others said! Sometimes personalities don’t mesh, with people and animals. Kitty needs a different type of person and you need a different type of kitty. No blame or failure on either side, it’s just the way it is. You’ll find the right kitty, I’m sure of it.

    5. CatCat*

      This isn’t a failure and you’ve done the best thing for the kitten! Sometimes pets aren’t a food fit. Now you both will get second chances. We adopted a kitten a year ago (just had one year anniversary) who had been returned. She is a NUT, destroyer of furniture, and pouncer of toes, but we love her to bits and have so much fun playing with her. I’m so grateful for the prior adopter returning her since it didn’t work out. I thought the return must have been so hard, but also very kind.

    6. Courageous cat*

      Agreed, try to work on not internalizing this. It has nothing to do with you. I would aim for maybe a more mellow adult next time. Usually rescues/shelters can give you some insight into who’s chill and who’s a raptor.

      This is not your fault in any way so don’t let it discourage you!

    7. MistOrMister*

      Maybe you can reframe it in your mind as you did what was best for both of you. It is not a kindness to keep a pet that is a mismatch for you. You would both be unhappy. By returning the cat, you’re allowing it the option to find a home that is a great fit, and that is wonderful. I think I would try again, but be more specific in what you’re looking for. Maybe an adult cat would be a better fit. There are so many non-raptor cats out there in need of homes, I think you really just had a spot of bad luck with the kitten.

      I know having to return an animal can feel like a failure (I had to return a foster cat years ago due to litterbox issues, and I regretted it, but I just didn’t have the right house set up for him) but these things happen and it doesn’t make us bad people. If you can handle it, please do consider an adoption or fostering. I don’t know that I would have kept my sanity in all this covid madness if I didn’t have my two foster failure cats.

    8. fposte*

      You gave a kitten an exciting vacation. They’ll be happy somewhere else. In most areas, kittens are highly adoptable. I’d consider this more an Oops than a failure. It sounds like this might for you be a little like dating after widowhood, and you had dreams of your domestic bliss with Sassy being recreated with this kitten. Dating one bad match doesn’t mean you’ll never be happy again!

      Can I also throw out the possibility that a grownup cat will be easier to temperament-test? You might consider dating non-kittens, so to speak.

      1. KoiFeeder*

        I’m in agreement with fposte. Adult cats usually have a set temperament and are usually calmer than kittens. I understand the urge to get a kitten to maximize the lifetime you get to spend with the cat, but by the time cats hit about a year or so, they’re adults in the system.

      2. Helvetica*

        Agreed! I specifically adopted a grown cat – 3 years old – to not have any personality surprises. I knew I wouldn’t have the patience to train a kitten, and four years later, it worked out beautifully.

      3. Anonbeth*

        Thirding the idea to adopt an adult kitty! We adopted a 4-5 yo chill, affectionate male cat and it’s been the best match. I’m too tired for an energetic cat. His personality has been very true to how it seemed at the shelter.

      4. Cat and dog fosterer*

        Kittens with that much aggression should really be in a home with another kitten. A buddy helps teach them limits and tires them out. The shelter gave you a bad match, into a situation (no other kitty company) that would only make things worse.

        I would also suggest a slightly older cat – 9+ months old – and maybe look at foster-based rescues. I used to only volunteer at shelters but at some point realised that fostering allows the rescue to really get to know the cat, and the right match can be made. When a rescue has all the cats and dogs fostered then every animal finds a better match. Shelters are needed and I’m thankful for them, but I have fostered many animals who behaved very differently from their shelter description (both good and bad – some dogs were great and submissive in a shelter but became aggressive assholes once settled into a home after a few days and I’ve heard of many longtime fosters who had this too). For people who are new to dogs or looking for a very specific type of cat, I strongly recommend foster-based rescue.

    9. Helvetica*

      I used to volunteer at a cat shelter. It was always sad when people had to return a cat, but from the perspective of someone who takes pet ownership very seriously, your particular situation sounds very tough and with only one solution. It is very okay to realize that you cannot tame a very aggressive kitten unless you want to make it a project onto itself. Nobody should have to do that if that wasn’t what they signed up for. Aggressive cats need to be taken care of specifically.
      I think you don’t have to feel as a failure. Look at it as an incompatibility issue. You presumably could not have known about these issues and if the shelter didn’t warn you about it either, that’s really on them. I always tried to be 110% honest when describing cats’ personalities because it is vital that the cat meshes with the person. So, it didn’t work out this time. But I’m sure it will the next time.

    10. Brightwanderer*

      It’s not a failure! You realised she wasn’t a good match and you did the right thing by returning her. Someone else will adopt that kitten and be thrilled by how “feisty” she is and how she tired out their dog/cat/other kitten. Or their expectations for cats in general will be different from yours – I know people who literally do not want a cat who is affectionate, for reasons I cannot comprehend!

    11. Seeking Second Childhood*

      I’m sorry your match didn’t work out, but…Yay You for doing what was best for you & the kitten so quickly. At 3 weeks, a kitten is still easily adoptable. There will be someone more able to work with a semi feral kitten. And there are people like who would have just kicked the cat out the back door. (My old neighbor. Long story happy ending, he let our friends adopt her.)

      1. Paralegal Part Deux*

        I couldn’t just kick her out but have been so worried about her. I really wanted it to work out, but it was like she was getting more feral the longer she was with me or something. I just didn’t know what else to do. I cried and cried when I took her back. I’m swearing off let’s for the foreseeable future. My doctor thinks this kicked up a whole slew of emotions from when my cat Sassy died, and it’s just thrown me for a loop. So, I’m kind of back at square one with that for now and am going to wait a while before trying again, I think.

  28. Pharmgirl*

    Has anyone seen High Seas (Alta Mar) on Netflix? I just binged through 2 seasons over the last week and thoroughly enjoyed it! Spoilers through season 2 in a reply.

    1. Pharmgirl*

      I loved the visuals, and thought season one was great (characters, mystery, etc). I thought season 2 was even better, up until the final reveal. It seemed shoehorned in and unearned – Natalia would have been a better choice I think. There weren’t any prior scenes to indicate that Francisca would have done this, and now the sisters have lost both father and mother figure. Whereas Natalia definitely had the character and didn’t really pay for what she did to poor Clara.

      Trailer for season three looks quite random, has anyone seen it? Hoping it lives up to the first two! And disappointed that it’s apparently the last season.

    2. LNLN*

      I just finished season 2 and I love the show! I am watching it because I am studying Spanish (at least, that is what I tell my husband…haha!). I love all the plot and character twists and turns…so dramatic and also a bit comical. The costuming is lovely! The actress who plays Natália is excellent, and the fact that her face looks like a Barbie doll’s face makes her look all the more retro. Looking forward to starting on season 3.

  29. Purt’s Peas*

    Any advice—books, youtube channels, etc—on getting into garment construction? I have a bolt of muslin, minor experience in making crummy circle skirts as a teenager, and a semi-functional sewing machine.

    1. The teapots are on fire*

      Some options: MimiG’s Sew It Academy, the Self-Sewn Wardrobe Facebook group (swearing is allowed there, but body shaming is not), the book, “Sew with Confidence” by Nancy Zieman…these are all ways to start. McCalls has some “learn to sew” patterns that are pretty basic and easy to fit.
      Be sure to check out how to clean and oil your machine, buy good thread (Mettler or Guterman are pretty good) and go change the needle in your sewing machine RIGHT NOW. It will probably work a lot better.

      Happy sewing!

      1. Seeking Second Childhood*

        I stink at sewing, but I’m not as bad as I used to think I was. Turns out that old thread I had inherited was simply too old for use in a sewing machine. And the bobbins need to match the thread on top in strength not just color

    2. Reba*

      Are we talking garment construction as in pattern drafting? Or just sewing clothes?

      No help for the former, but for the latter, there are some sewing reference books that are really helpful. I have one from Threads magazine that is several years old that I like a lot. Your library might have some.

      My main suggestion though is to dig around on the internet to find patterns that have detailed sew-along blog posts or videos (usually by small or indie publishers, but I believe McCalls also has done some). Sometimes I just need to see something to get it!
      Ones I have used, though not quite beginner, are the Kalle shirtdress from Closet Case and the Patti Pocket skirt by Amy Nicole Studio.

  30. puppy!*

    To recap:
    One week until the breeder brings us the puppy. I have scheduled my furlough days for the week after arrival maybe two.
    It is a wheaten boy dog. Husband likes Clancy for a name. I am leaning towards Riley. Any better suggestions. We are open.
    Question that has come up. I am watching dog training videos and we will have plans for engaging a trainer for at least 4 sessions.
    How do those of you with more than one dog treat the dogs differently?

    Old lady Jane /8 lbs has the run of the house. sleeps with me.
    New pup will be tethered to me, in a crate or in a playpen for months.
    We plan on walking the dogs seperately because Jane as never recovered from her crappy childhood and lives a fear-based life. She is fine with doggies- its people she can’t stand.
    We will be socializing the pup to people, children, and other dogs.
    Jane has no teeth and eats softened kibble and homemade stew.
    New pup will work for all food and treats.

    Do we just leave Jane alone and she will come to pup when she feels like it?
    Issues that I might need to address.
    My plan is when she meets the pup for the first time to take it super slow. She will not accept treats during stress but I have some lamb lung that I have been giving her for happy moments.

    1. Ali G*

      I would let the two interact as much as they like and can be done positively, and with positive reinforcement from you. To start I would feed them separately so pup learns to give Jane her space while she eats.
      You’ll probably fine Jane will want to join in your training sessions with pup, so if that doesn’t work for you, maybe those would be good times for her solo walks.
      I prefer Riley over Clancey too :)
      Good luck! This will be fun but a lot of work (but you already know that)!

    2. university minion*

      Check out a copy of “The Other End of the Leash” from your local library and try your best to not overthink things. Dogs are marvelously resilient creatures. They will be fine. Have fun and enjoy watching them get to know each other.

      1. Puppy!*

        thank you. I have downloaded Dog Training 101 from the public library. Little Jane just learned to sit today!

        1. university minion*

          Training is well and good, but the real fun in having dogs – especially multiple dogs – is understanding their behavior and dynamics, with you and each other. That’s what this book is about. Enjoy!

    3. squeebird*

      We have two dogs, we brought home the younger one when he was five months old and our older dog was 9.

      They don’t seem to have too much of an issue with having some different rules for each of them. For example, the younger one sleeps in a crate, the older one roams the house at night. We walk them separately for the same reason as you (though there was some difficulty with this at first. The pup really wanted to come with us every time and he would whine and be sad about being left behind, but he ended up growing out of that on his own.)

      We did supervise the two of them quite closely for the first little while. It took at least a few months before they got totally comfortable with each other. Our older dog had been a solo pet for four years, and some issues we’d never seen in him before (resource guarding) came up when we introduced another dog into the house. If Jane had a tough start in life (as our boy did), that might be something to watch out for.

    4. Puppy!*

      It’s a girl! Just heard from the breeder. Irish girl names please- We have had a Maggie and a Katie. We like children’s books.

      1. pancakes*

        I’m partial to Maggie, because the first job I had as a teen was walking a big, sweet Old English sheepdog named Maggie. Maeve is a nice name, too.

      2. Not A Girl Boss*

        My first childhood dog was Molly and she was the best dog ever. I like Riley as a girl name. Also Kiera, Brigid.

        Also just a word of caution that two females can have the hardest time getting along (but totally can be done). It would be good to help the older dog reinforce that she is alpha to avoid conflict as the puppy grows and starts to challenge the pecking order. Things like always feeding the older dog first, walking her first, inviting her up on the couch first, and allowing her to take the toy she wants away from the pup. Dogs do best when they have a clear pecking order even if to us humans it seems unfair.

        1. Natalie*

          This is a commonly held belief but it’s not really true – the whole popular concept of alpha dogs comes from observations of captive wolf populations, which weren’t even accurate as far as wild wolf populations are concerned. (Wild wolves live in family groups, these captive populations were just a bunch of random wolves thrown together. And the author of those studies has disavowed them.)

          Status among dogs is fluid and almost entirely based on who currently has a particular resource. They don’t give a shit about who goes somewhere first, that’s a human’s idea of status. Most critically, letting one dog routinely take toys or treats from the other is a recipe for developing resource guarding and eventually dog fights.

          1. Cat and dog fosterer*

            Yup. The alpha stuff was the result of the dog guy’s popularity although he didn’t understand how he was often making things worse. Stanley Coren is my favorite trainer although hard to find his work. I have a video which explains behavior and it is full of insights. At 38:26 (to 43:32) he explains why Lorenz’s dog roll and alpha stuff is such a problem:
            “I taught her that you hold a piece of kibble, and then you have dominated the dog.”

            Victoria Coren’s video shows how training and the ‘alpha role’ changed over time. She revisits an old video 10 years later and explains what she would do differently and why:

          2. Black Horse Dancing*

            This is very true but many breeders say two bitches fighting scare them more than two males because the females seem to do more damage. There is a heirarchy ine dogs–very fluid like you say–but often one is the more leaderly in the majority of roles.

      3. Elspeth McGillicuddy*

        Coleen, Bridget, Eileen Og (which is a great song), Mairi, Seana, Maureen. I seem to be very fond of -een names.

    5. Puppy!*

      Janie sat! What a good dog! Maybe a weekly dog training thread. We can call it pandemic pup.
      Here’s what we have so far- the husband doesn’t like any of them. I’m leaning towards Riley, Georgie, Izzy.
      My favorite picture book dog is Rocket from Rocket learns to read- I think Rocket is gender neutral.



    6. Not A Girl Boss*

      We had recommendations to introduce new and old dogs on a neutral territory, after the older dog had a positive moment to associate with the meeting (in our case, after a trip to the dog park). I’m very glad we followed the neutral turf advice, it worked well. Then we walked them home together side by side on a leash. Older dog got very sad when he found out new dog was staying long term, and pouted for a while. But giving him his own space to get away (he was allowed upstairs and puppy was not) helped. Over time he avoided her less and less and now they greet each other happily each morning, play ocassionally, and otherwise ignore each other.

      At first I felt so guilty that he had the run of the house and was allowed to sleep in tbe bed while puppy was not, but really puppy wasn’t bothered in the least by this. It’s the only life she’s ever known so she accepted it. In fact to this day she stays in the crate at night because the consistency of it makes her feel very safe, and she sleeps like a champ even when we go to grandma’s house for the night, while the older dog does not. Plus the night routine helps each dog get special attention (she gets cuddles then put in the crate, then he is invited up for snuggles in bed).

    7. Natalie*

      Dogs don’t generalize, so they really won’t care about having separate rules or routines. Our dogs mainly follow the same rules now, but for a long while only one of them was free-roaming when we were gone, because he was the one that could behave significantly. The younger one still doesn’t get stuffed animals since he tried to eat parts of them and I’m not paying for bowel obstruction surgery if I can help it.

      Plan to do a lot of initial training separately – you don’t want to poison your clicker or marker word by marking your existing dog when the new dog hasn’t done the command, and you don’t want to poison your commands by ignoring your older dog when it has obeyed. I also find having separate and group release words helpful, although my dogs have gotten kind of sloppy with them recently.

      Supervise them carefully for a long while. Some adult dogs are good at communicating boundaries to a younger dog, but others aren’t and your puppy can end up learning it’s fine to be pushy and obnoxious. Supervise them during meal times and when anything high value is out and about. Even dogs that get along well can suddenly fight over a special treat or toy, and dog fights can go bad quickly.

    8. Cat and dog fosterer*

      I have many foster dogs with different rules and neither my dog or the other one cares (well, my dog very likely has the ‘labrador doesn’t ever get full’ gene so he gets upset when I train fosters and don’t give him equal treats, but I also get the same pout when I only feed him 1/4 of the broccoli stem instead of all of it… )
      It is critical to be consistent with each dog in order to make training as easy as possible, as puppies are piles of highly rewarding work, but definitely have different rules.

    9. Seeking Second Childhood*

      I must admit, I’m enough of a science-fiction geek that I would have a hard time not aiming him Will, as in Will Wheaton.

      1. Seeking Second Childhood*

        Well, now that your puppy turns out to be a girl, switch that to Anne.
        Here’s another title for you to look into: Play Your Way to Good Manners: Getting the Best Behavior from Your Dog Through Sports, Games, and Tricks
        Book by Kate Naito and Sarah Westcott.

    10. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      Our primary difference between my Elder Statesdog (almost 13) and Junior Ambassador (just turned 6) is that the Elder Statesdog isn’t allowed to go upstairs anymore, because she’s got some mobility issues and vision issues that make going up and especially down stairs hazardous and unsettling for her (and any poor humans trying to help her), but Junior Ambassador still does. We get some mopey bloodhound sad eyes at night, when we all go upstairs to bed and leave her downstairs, but she also doesn’t have any issues when Junior Ambassador is upstairs with my husband and Elder Statesdog can hang out downstairs on whichever pillow she wants in peace and quiet. (JA doesn’t specialize in peace and quiet :P )

      Otherwise they eat pretty much the same foods, share pillows and such. There’s a couple of toys that are JA’s toys, but ES has never particularly shown any interest in them anyway, which is how they ended up as JA’s.

      The dippy one-eyed cat behaves very differently with the two of them, I suppose. She plays Chase with Junior Ambassador and snuggles with Elder Statesdog.

  31. Lauren*

    There’s a guy that I met, “Chris”. He’s very funny and outgoing- I’m shy and inexperienced so I liked the fact that he seemed so approachable and friendly. He also never wants anyone to feel left out.

    Nothing really happened between us- some flirting, touching, etc. We kissed, but again, nothing beyond that.

    It turns out that Chris is a player- he was seeing a girl half his age! Plus, it turns out that he is married!

    He then started to be really mean to me- he makes degrading remarks and started saying creepy things like how he wanted to spike my drink to “make me relax”. I wasn’t picking up his calls, so he blocked his number and was calling me. I have to see him, so avoiding him isn’t an option. I dread it and feel nauseous.

    I try to ignore him, but that just makes him try more to talk to me. I try not to react, but he makes me so mad that I do. He claims that I’m jealous, but I don’t want him to do this to anyone else.

    I feel like a fool and a huge idiot. I’m glad nothing happened, but how is this guy married? He’s the biggest creep! I want to warn the younger woman, but she avoids me and said that I was jealous of her.

    Has anyone been through this? What did you do? I’ve never been through anything like this before. (Hopefully never again.)

    1. Not A Manager*

      I think you need to protect yourself before you worry about protecting other people. You can’t warn the whole world and you can’t make Chris not be a horrible human being.

      Block his number. If you can, set your phone to “silence unknown callers.” People not on your contacts list will connect directly to voicemail, so you’re not going to miss an important message.

      I take your word for it that you can’t avoid him. I wouldn’t bother trying to “ignore” him because that takes up a lot of mental energy. I would just interact with him as briefly as possible.

      You can bluntly call out egregious behavior. If he says he’s going to spike your drink (!!) you can say, “that’s not funny, it’s illegal and you would go to jail. Don’t say anything like that to me again.” If he says that he was joking you can ask him if anyone else is laughing.

    2. Juneybug*

      First of all, many of us have experienced something like this us so please don’t feel like a fool.
      Second, stay away from this guy as much as possible. He quickly went from being friendly to dangerous. Avoid, avoid, avoid.

      I wish we had additional information so we can provide better advice (AAM readers are the best). Such as does he work with you? Or goes to the same college? Is he in the same group of friends as you?

      1. Lauren*

        Yes- work. (I know, I know, you shouldn’t get involved with people that you work with. We never dated or anything though.) The young girl that he is now into sometimes works with us as well. It’s frustrating because he loves to rub it in my face. I’m doing my best to remain cool and calm, but he’s just so obnoxious about it.

        1. fposte*

          This is something that could be reported to HR–it’s a workplace problem to have a guy pursuing a co-worker to the point of evading her phone block.

        2. Wishing You Well*

          You might need to talk to HR, if you have one. Chris was making sexual threats. Consider calling the National Domestic Violence Hotline since this is their area of expertise. They would have the best advice.
          All my best wishes for you.

        3. Sandi*

          Flirting or even dating coworkers isn’t the problem. Don’t date subordinates, but plenty of couples meet at work and it goes really well. You did nothing wrong, and this has happened to a lot of us so it’s sadly prevalent. Please don’t feel a fool, as he’s pushing the bad emotions onto you, when he’s the one at fault.

          Avoid him if you can, DOCUMENT EVERYTHING, and go to HR if you have one.

          Write down a list dates and times and what he said / did each time there is something that seems off. Even the smallest thing as it creates a narrative.

          1. Seeking Second Childhood*

            If writing a list like that feels unnatural, try texting it to yourself, or to an email account so you can auto-filter it.

    3. Jean (just Jean)*

      +1 to:
      – Not A Manager’s advice to go minimal contact rather than expend the emotional/mental energy required to actively ignore him
      – fposte’s suggestion to go to HR. If this is workplace behavior it’s entirely inappropriate.
      – Juneybug’s reassurance about not feeling foolish, and encouragement to “avoid, avoid, avoid”

      We women can be so well-socialized to be “nice” to everyone (meaning “put up with everyone else’s behaviour”), but we can learn to act differently. When you meet someone you don’t particularly care for, simply invert the natural human reaction when greeting someone you like. Don’t smile or do anything else to prolong the interaction. No need to exude hostility, but also no need to exert yourself in any other way. Consider him a dismissable nuisance, like lint on your jacket: Brush off and continue your day. Not reacting to him removes his power to get your attention or enjoy getting you flustered and uncomfortable.

      If you find yourself slipping back into “be-nice-ism” (I’ve been there; many of us have) remind yourself that so far he’s exhibited at least four bad behaviors: making degrading remarks; threatening drink-spiking; ignoring your limit-setting (by not answering calls from his identified phone number); and continuing to call you from his now-blockedphone number. You are entitled to ignore calls from either identified or unidentified numbers! You are entitled to live free from rude comments and threats to your safety. You also are entitled to tell this person (calmly, matter-of-factly, without any justification because it’s so reasonable that why would you explain it further?) to stop doing all of these actions. Deflect his intrusions the same way you would tell a coworker “I need to step out to the restroom.” No fuss, no muss, no problem.

      You deserve to enjoy your life without all this BS. You deserve friends and significant others who respect you, genuinely care for you, and do not start a relationship with you by trampling on an already-existing relationship with someone else. If someone starts acting mean towards you or others, he is showing you that he is not worth your time or energy.

      P.S. I hope he leaves your life soon, but in case your current meetings are in-real-life: Please be careful never to end up alone with him, not even in a public location. You don’t want him to offer to drive you home or walk you to the subway.

    4. Randomity*

      I’m sorry you’re dealing with this. Please don’t feel stupid – I was with my ex 17 years before I realised he was emotionally abusive to me. We’ve all got our stuff and at least you’ve found out quickly.

      You’ve got good advice, I just want to reinforce the idea of just reacting to him as little as possible. I know it’s hard but try to be as boring as possible. But definitely go to HR if that’s an option.

      Good luck. I hope he leaves you alone soon <3

    5. Tati*

      He joked about spiking your drink?! In addition to everything else this guy is a huge creep and probably dangerous. There’s a lot of great advice on how to deal with creeps on Captain Awkward’s page.

      1. Lauren*

        He was going too fast and wanted to take things too far one night. I said that I was nervous and uncomfortable and he made the remark, “I’m going to have to put something in your drink to make you relax.”

        1. Gamer Girl*

          Oof, thanks for the context, but that is even worse. Any decent human would say, “Oh, I’m so sorry. Sure let’s slow down. Is never want to make you uncomfortable.” Even if they were disappointed because they thought you were as into them as they were into you.

          This guy? He just told you exactly who he was–any guy who jokes about spiking drinks to make you relax should rightly make you very very nervous. (As the saying goes: When people tell you who they are, believe them!)

          Avoid this guy, document all interactions.

        2. Seeking Second Childhood*

          Your instincts are right on the money, this guy is bad news. I hope you got up and left when he said that.
          And you’re not jealous–you’re not interested anymore! You learned things about him that make him unattractive: he’s a liar, he’s married AND two-timing you, he’s willing to push past your boundaries both sexual and social, he’s joked about drugging your drink, and he’s now harassing you at work.
          Captain Awkward’s a good recommendation. Carolyn Hax would point you to The Gift of Fear by Gavin de Becker.
          Stay strong, expect him to push harder before he gives up. You’ve got this!

        3. Tati*

          *shudder* The explanation actually makes it worse. I strongly recommend the Captain Awkward article “Did I overreact when my date told me a story about rape and then wanted to get me alone?”. Captain awkward does a great job of breaking down the creepy dude’s behavior and manipulations.

  32. Not-Fred*

    I guess this is a venting post, but if you have advice I’m all ears.

    Me and my sibling (both well into adult years) live with our parents. Ever since I was a kid, I always did yard work and cleaning around the house, and helped out my parents with random tasks and projects whenever they asked. When I went to college full time and had a part time job, and when I graduated and got a full time job, I continued doing everything I usually did.

    My sibling (I’ll call them Fred) has never done yard work, cleaning, or helped with anything (if my parents need help, they only ask me). Fred took a year off after high school and didn’t work. After going to trade school for two years, they had years where they worked full time and years where they worked part time. They’ve been unemployed since covid-19 started.

    My mom asked me to do a cleaning chore she normally does today because she wasn’t feeling well, so I said okay, then suggested that maybe she ask Fred to do this chore for now on so she’d have one less thing to take care of. My mom got irritated and said it’s not nice of me to volunteer other people to do work. I pointed out that Fred has never helped around the house, and giving him one chore to do once a week shouldn’t be a big deal. She said she doesn’t want to beg anyone to do work. I told her it wasn’t “begging,” it was asking him to do something reasonable, and she said it was the same as “begging” since he doesn’t offer to help.

    I feel like this is really unfair. If I suddenly stopped doing yard work and cleaning, and started refusing to help whenever asked, my mom would presumably get mad. But it’s fine for Fred to live here and never do any chores or help out at all?

    1. GoryDetails*

      Sounds really stressful; I’m sorry! Don’t know if it’s favoritism or sexism (if you’re female) or if, perhaps, Fred’s reacted badly in the past over requests to help out… Have you ever asked Fred to lend a hand? Just wondering – if this is a “walk on eggshells around Fred” situation it’s pretty bad, but if it’s just “Fred is oblivious” you might be able to invoke some help yourself. Or, perhaps, tell Fred that your mother could use help but that she’s reluctant to ask, so could he maybe volunteer… [I hate that you feel you have to manage any of this, btw, but if you think it might improve the situation – or at least relieve your own stress – to talk to Fred, give it a shot.]

      1. Not-Fred*

        My mom actually asked me to help her take a large package to the post office recently, and I pointed out it would have been easier to ask Fred to do it because he was home all day instead of waiting until I got home from work to ask me. She said “You know how Fred is.” I asked her to elaborate, and she said he “gets mad at her” sometimes (if he asks for your opinion on something and your opinion is wrong, he gets mad, and if he asks for a favor and you don’t want to do it exactly when he wants, he gets mad).

        I don’t talk to Fred because he only ever had negative things to say about my hobbies, interests and job, and the only time he talks to me is to ask for favors, otherwise he completely ignores me. Anytime I’ve asked him for a favor, he was “too busy,” so I don’t think me asking him to volunteer to take over a chore will go well.

        1. tangerineRose*

          Your parents raised him. They had their chance to teach him to act like a decent human being, and they didn’t. It sounds like your mom doesn’t even want to bother.

          1. ...*

            Yeah it sounds like the parents aren’t planning on changing the status quo anytime soon. Moving out seems like the best option.

    2. Alex*

      I’m curious as to why your mom thinks asking you is not begging but asking Fred is begging.

      Could it be that Fred just…doesn’t do it, rendering begging necessary? And your mom knows that?

      Ultimately this is a parenting problem between your parents and Fred, but the path of least resistance to your parents is asking you to do it, because you will.

      Because this is such an established family dynamic, when you disrupt it, YOU are seen as the problem, so if you want some change…you’re probably going to have to be OK with being seen as “the problem” for a bit. But it seems you have a choice–be the one to throw a wrench into the family dynamic that everyone else is comfortable with, or enable the established family dynamic. Unfortunately neither of those is very fun.

      Is your father able to help? Does he? I’m unsure of your gender, but I highly suspect you’re a woman and that your household dynamic has been “women do the work around the house”. If your mother has internalized this it will be harder to break it.

      1. Not-Fred*

        I thought it was weird that asking me for help wasn’t begging but asking Fred for help was begging too. After answering the previous poster (Fred gets mad at my mom for unreasonable things and has always been “too busy” to do favors for me), I realize that asking him probably *would* require begging because he’s not going to want to do it and won’t easily agree to doing it.

        It’ll suck when I move out eventually and my mom ends up with more chores to do, but I can’t be responsible for taking care of two homes.

      2. Ice Bear*

        Because this is such an established family dynamic, when you disrupt it, YOU are seen as the problem, so if you want some change…you’re probably going to have to be OK with being seen as “the problem” for a bit. But it seems you have a choice–be the one to throw a wrench into the family dynamic that everyone else is comfortable with, or enable the established family dynamic. Unfortunately neither of those is very fun.

        This really resonated with me and opened my eyes to why when I finally tried to set boundaries with particular family members I’m seen as the bad guy. I could never understand why, as the reasonable and fair one, I would get so much grief if I didn’t cater to the sibling we have to walk on eggshells around. As messed up as it is, at least now it makes sense.

        1. young professional*

          wow…true! I have a very bratty sister and it seems every time I go home *I* am the troublemaker for telling her not to raise her voice at mom, to clean up her plate, etc

    3. Not A Manager*

      Would it be possible to utilize some of Alison’s workplace advice? I believe that if your manager was assigning work unfairly between you and a co-worker, Alison would suggest that you not try to remedy the unfairness but rather that you protect your own workplace experience. So long as the work assigned to you is doable and within your wheelhouse, it’s not your job to police someone else’s job performance. But if the unfairness impacts your work, by putting too much on your plate, making you miss deadlines, etc. then you can push back on THAT, without suggesting any particular solution.

      If you can analogize that to your home situation, it’s not your job to be sure that you and Fred are given equal shares of housework. It’s your job to contribute as much as you feel is reasonable, and to politely decline to do more than that. If you’re used to doing anything your parents ask of you, even a polite refusal will probably ruffle their feathers, but not as much as telling them to make Fred do it.

      My suggestion for declining assignments would be to make it pleasant, bland and brief. Don’t explain how you did so many other chores or why you’re busy with other things. Just say, “I’m sorry, Mom, I don’t have time to do that.” Maybe follow up with whatever chore you are planning to do later. “But I’m still planning to take out the garbage and fold the laundry. I’ll get that done before dinner.” How she gets the chore accomplished is up to her – she can do it herself, or she can outsource it to someone else.

      1. Not-Fred*

        It’s your job to contribute as much as you feel is reasonable, and to politely decline to do more than that…How she gets the chore accomplished is up to her – she can do it herself, or she can outsource it to someone else.

        This makes a lot of sense! I’ll continue doing what I’m comfortable with and/or would usually do. If my parents want me to do anything additional, I’ll just decline nicely and let them figure it out. If they get upset that I don’t want to do more when there’s another person in the house who doesn’t contribute at all then that’s a them-problem, not a me-problem.

        1. Aster*

          If they get upset that I don’t want to do more when there’s another person in the house who doesn’t contribute at all then that’s a them-problem, not a me-problem.

          Absolutely! Don’t let them convince you otherwise.

    4. KoiFeeder*

      Fred sounds like the future of my brother. My mom actually does make him do chores, but he needs to be nagged into oblivion to do them, does them poorly, and then complains that he never sees mom nag me (perhaps because I do my chores?). So I understand why your mom isn’t bothering; Fred’ll be a pill the whole day and the chores might not actually get done to a useful level!

      It’s not fair to you. Your mom doesn’t want to put Fred on a PIP or fire him, so you have to deal with it because you’re the responsible one. And because there’s no impetus for Fred to improve, he won’t. So he’ll just keep leeching off of your parents until he can’t anymore.

      1. Not-Fred*

        Yeah, I hadn’t thought about it before, but it does make sense that doing something yourself or asking someone who’s always been willing to help in the past to do it are much easier options than having to “beg” someone who’ll get mad at you for asking. So I kind of understand now too.

        Sorry your brother is a Future-Fred! Freds suck.

      2. tangerineRose*

        At least your mom is trying! Some kids do grow up eventually, and having this reinforced should help.

    5. MistOrMister*

      I would consider that your parents probably don’t actually want Fred living there at all but are too scared to try to get him to leave. It sounds like your mother, at least, is actively afraid of Fred. Given that, I would approach this with a lot of empathy.

      I also have a sibling that my parents generally don’t ask to do anything. Although in our case it is because my sibling is flaky and can’t be depended on, and not that they’re scared of them. A lot of the times when I’m asked to do something sibling should do, my first thought is pretty strong annoyance. But I always do it without pushing back. It’s not my parents’ fault that sibling can’t be relied on and there is no reason I shouldn’t be of help to them when I can. But please know, you are not alone in this type of situation, it is unfair andnit stinks, but what can you do if you want to be helpful to the parents?

      1. Not-Fred*

        I don’t know if she’s afraid of Fred, but after thinking about the responses here, it sure seems like asking him will be unpleasant or a big hassle.

        Fred actually asked me to do him a favor recently. It would have been a big inconvenience to me, and since he doesn’t help around the house, is actively rude to me, and has never done favors for me in the past, I declined. He immediately tattled to my mom, who told me she was “very disappointed in me” and that Fred was “very hurt” and she said I should have helped because he’s FAMILY. I pointed out that he wouldn’t have done the same favor for me, and she acknowledged that might be true, but said I couldn’t know for sure. So I guess he gets away with being a crappy person because he’s FAMILY?

        1. allathian*

          Yeah, I would start there. Automatically refuse to do any favor Fred asks you to do, even if you had the time and possibly the inclination. If your mom complains like she did last time, you can say that based on past performance, you’re not willing to give Fred the benefit of the doubt that he’ll do you a favor without complaint if you ask him, family or not.

          Maybe tell the lot of them that you’re sick of the unfair distribution of chores in your household and that you don’t appreciate getting a hard time over it just because you’re establishing some boundaries. You’re family too.

        2. Blackcat*

          There are lots of places where you can read about “golden child and scapegoat” dynamics. But this is it in a nutshell. The golden child is catered to, while the scapegoat has to adult/take care of stuff/sacrifice for the family.

          As a fellow scapegoat, all I can tell you is that I am very happy I live almost 3,000 miles away from my parents and man-child brother. I moved across the country at 18 and never looked back.

      2. pancakes*

        Or mom really wants his approval / badly wants to be liked. Whatever the reason(s) for this dynamic are, I think the best thing to do is get some distance from it. Move out as soon as you can.

    6. Juneybug*

      It’s not “begging”, it’s Fred “contributing” to the household.

      I would sit down with your mom and explain your feelings. I would ask her what are her plans for chores and house maintenance after you move out (it would not be reasonable for you to maintain two households). She will get defensive, she will get mad, she will cry and expect you to not change things. But it might start a seed of change after the conversation. After that convo, start (gently) pushing back by saying no, I don’t have time; could Fred do this _______?; if I knock out the mowing, could Fred weed the garden?; etc.
      You will need to start weaning your family from you being the one to take care of the household.
      Sorry you are going through this!

      1. Not-Fred*

        I don’t feel comfortable sitting down and having a conversation about it right now since she seemed so upset at just the suggestion of asking Fred to do one weekly chore (does that maybe count as the conversation that will start a seed of change?), but I like your idea of gently pushing back. Maybe if she thinks about it over time she’ll get less defensive about it and more willing to change things.

        1. Bex*

          I actually think this is even more of a reason to sit down and have a gentle conversation. If you don’t, then your mom learns that if she gets upset, then you back off. The same way Fred learning that if he gets mad or says he’s too busy, he gets out of doing any chores.

          1. pancakes*

            +1. Mom’s technique for avoiding conversations she doesn’t want to have sounds quite similar to Fred’s technique for avoiding work around the house.

        2. Traffic_Spiral*

          “I don’t feel comfortable sitting down and having a conversation about it right now.”

          Well then, nothing will change. Everyone else in the house has a dynamic that works for them so long as you’re the workhorse of the family. They aren’t going to want to change that.

          Basically you’re going to have to have a backup plan (either move out, or refuse to clean more than a small amount and suffer the consequences of mess and guilt-trips). Then you tell your parents that you want equal distribution of chores or else you’ll be doing the backup plan. Then you weather the explosion of howling guilt trips and enact the backup plan until 1.) they cave or 2.) they don’t and you accept the backup plan as a permanent situation.

    7. Not So NewReader*

      I see this play out in a lot of families. One sib works and helps the parents and the other sibs coast. I was an only child and it was assumed I would just stay home and take care of my parents. It was a total shock when I left. The next thing that came up was, “Oh she will come back.” This came from relatives not so much my parents. Then I got married. (Irresponsible, unthinkable, etc.)

      For whatever reason our parents had 4 houses between them. We could not take care of four houses, especially being away from home 10 hours a day to work. The houses got neglected a bit. We did help some with leaves, snow and groceries but that was all we could do. Factor in that one would get sick and die, then the next one and so on for 15 years. I think we irretrievably lost parts of our health staying up to 1 or 2 in the morning and helping one sick parent or the other for all those years.

      Only one of the four parents worked at their problems with their properties- my father. In an odd way, I think it helped his health as it kept him moving around and thinking about how to do things. He had the least amount of medical supervision in the end (1 month in the hospital). The other 3 went to doctors all the time for years until they died. But they mostly sat around.

      I am 60. I never had kids. (But tons of care giving experience.) And I have come to realize that parents can’t expect to keep their houses on the backs of their children. It’s just not doable. I look at your story here and I think, “What if this couple never had kids, who would they get to do all their work for them?” I don’t mean it to be nasty, I mean it in the sense of would they have been able to manage all that they have if they were not relying on their child to help them?

      So now I am on my own. I try to do some of the easier stuff to keep the bills down. I can do simple repairs on the toilet and tractor. I do all the snow removal and grass cutting. Plus I work 2-3 jobs. I don’t think this will be a long term plan but we will see.

      Here’s what I think you need to watch for: There’s a line. On the other side of that line is a stage where there is not enough help in the world to help them. They need to let go of their house if they cannot do the work AND cannot afford to pay someone to do the work. When they need someone looking after their health care needs,this only brings on more costs. There used to be a sense of unending indentured service owed to parents so they could keep their homes. I think that is sliding away from us now, it’s just not possible for “kids” to help their parents stay in their homes. Parents now HAVE to help themselves do that. Tell your mother to start building a stronger plan now. The world changed but no one sent out a memo.

      I land on make sure that your expenses are paid for while you live there. Help out when you can, but do not make yourself sick or injured in the process. Get a plan on how you will move out, if you do not have a plan now.
      Start talking with your mother about having a longer term plan for help with the house by explaining that you will leave at some point and once you leave your time will be very limited due to job/commute/your own place.

      Notice how this has nothing to do with your brother, because it really doesn’t. All you need to do is speak for you. It’s up to them to sort out the rest. Just like I do here, I have to sort it out. In order to keep this house I forego other things. Most of my shoes come from tag sales because I have to have money to pay for repairs around the house- it’s all trade-offs every inch of the way.

      And similar things happen to most people. You will probably end up with your own home/condo/place and you too will have to take care of it yourself. This is reality. I think reminding yourself of this reality can help bring you back down to earth regarding your bro and his lack of help for your parents.

      On a happier note, I think that because I was that kid who ran out and raked leaves, shoveled snow, kept a garden, etc. All that positioned me well for keeping a house once my husband passed, I had some idea of how to do stuff and how I wanted to handle it. Keep looking toward your future.

      1. Ali G*

        It still amazes me how many people, when they find out we don’t have kids (hubs and I are in our 40’s) say something like “But who will take care you you when you are old??!!” Um, I don’t plan to uproot my life to move 1000 miles away to take care of my parents when they are “old”, so we have plans for that. And so do they!

        1. Potatoes gonna potate*

          “But who will take care you you when you are old??!!”

          Um, I’ll take care of myself?

          I grew up in the US but in parents culture (South Asian) taking care of family is a huge thing. I never really bought into that ideology and spent all my energy and time trying to become independent so I don’t have to rely on any family. I hate being dependent and I hate having anyone physically depend on me (except for baby).

    8. Aster*

      I’m currently involved in preventing this from happening with my household’s two kids. The elder would happily never do a chore again in his life. The younger enjoys helping and would probably do all the chores if we let her. But, as you are facing, it would not be fair to let her. So we make the effort over and over again to get the elder to do chores so there’s an even split. It wouldn’t be fair to effectively punish the more helpful kid for her helpfulness.

      It sounds like your parents took the easier path of letting the helpful kid, you, do all the work. I don’t have any advice on how to get them to change their minds, aside of stopping being so helpful (and you’re right they’d just get mad at you), but if it helps I think you’re right to be annoyed.

      1. tangerineRose*

        Aster, you’re doing the right thing. Also, it wouldn’t be fair to the elder kid to be able to skip out on all the chores. Sooner or later the elder is going to have to do this kind of stuff; learning this while still a kid is MUCH easier than learning this as an adult.

    9. RagingADHD*

      You’re an adult. It’s time to stop looking at this through the lens of a child who says “that’s not fair,” and start acknowledging some tough & unpleasant realities about your parents and about Fred.

      Your parents had 18 years to raise Fred, teach them responsibility, and set reasonable expectations for what it means to be a caring family member.

      If they didn’t take that opportunity when Fred was five, seven, or 13, or 15, they sure as hell aren’t going to do it now. For whatever reason, they failed to do so. It’s over. That ship has sailed.

      You get to choose what kind of person you’re going to be, and how to treat your parents, independently of their relationship with Fred. You get to choose how to conduct your relationship with Fred, independently of what your parents do or don’t require of them.

      It will never be fair. Fred is never going to make up for years of freeloading. It’s like a bad debt. You will never collect on it, so go ahead and write it off.

      Treat your family with integrity, responsibility, and kindness because that is who you are. Never mind who Fred is. That’s their business.

      1. allathian*

        Sounds like tough love is the recipe here, as in the OP should stop being the family workhorse.

        1. Not So NewReader*

          I had time to think about this as I was laying in the ER. Raging is Right. I habitually looked for fairness in this world. And I had to deal with the fact that life is not fair. Of course that pendulum extends the other way also, just because life is unfair does not mean I have to be The Great Equalizer.

          We are each accountable for our choices right up to our dying day. My mother chose not to exercise or eat right. She chose to sit and read the paper all day. She did this for YEARS. She was gone by age 62. No one could lay in that nursing home bed for her. And this is where the accountability is. She had plenty of time to get on a new road and she chose not to. Her life choices came back to her. (She made many, many other poor choices, but I am trying to be brief here.)

          1. juneybug*

            Not So New Reader – I hope you are doing better (you said you were in the ER).
            And great advice about not having to be the Great Equalizer.

            1. Not So NewReader*

              Aw, thanks. Sorry if that sounded like it was current time, this was back when I was in my early 20s. I am okay.
              The doc ran a pregnancy test on me (smh) and then decided I was in complete exhaustion. I slept for 4 days straight. (A family member woke me up for toast and a bathroom once a day.) The doc said 1 month in bed.
              I was back to running on day 5 after the trip to the ER. I just did not want to listen to the put downs about being a bad daughter and not doing enough.

              Lessons learned at that time:
              Just because I am female does not mean I am in charge of everyone’s well-being.
              Just because I am 20 something does not mean I have endless energy.
              Just because I am working does not mean I have money to buy pjs, and endless other necessities for my parents.
              Just because I have a car does not mean the car is safe and it’s okay to keep driving it 300 plus miles every weekend.
              Adding, driving in that condition I was in was not much different than a irresponsible drunk driver. It was on the same level.

              I had to take a deep breath, step back and let people be responsible for their own sad choices and their own muddied thinking. And the predictable meltdown on their part followed. It was very difficult to watch regardless of how predictable it was.

              It’s in this extreme situation that I could see I should have started letting go much earlier. I went too long at to hard a clip and I did too much.

              1. juneybug*

                So much wisdom in your posting!! I am sorry you had to go through that! I hope you are surrounded by love and kindness that you deserve.

        2. RagingADHD*

          OP should take care of the home they live in, because it is their home. That is what responsible adults do.

          OP should help out their parents when it’s feasible, because that is what caring family members do.

          OP should make their decisions about when they can or can’t do extra favors based on the situation at hand, in a reasonable way. Not based on what Fred is doing, or on the parents expectations of Fred. Because that is what healthy, mature people do.

          Just take Fred out of the equation altogether.

    10. Choggy*

      I too grew up in a household where the majority of household chores fell on me, the oldest daughter, both of my parents worked. Everyone else was smart enough to stay out of the house so they weren’t tagged to do anything. My only option was to move out, and so now I have my own home, and yup, all those chores I had to do when living with my parents are squarely mine (and hubby’s). :) Not sure why, if you are living with your parents (do you pay rent?), can’t just help out. If you don’t like the situation, you can only change yourself, not anyone else.

    11. And She Does*

      You’re the giver, Fred’s the golden child and mom’s the enabler. You wanting to change the dynamic can’t be your idea—it has to be hers or his. I’ve been there (I was Cinderella). I thought I was helping by doing so much, but as I grew aware, then resentful, of the imbalance, I started to feel, and see, more, and felt taken for granted/taken advantage of. There was a toxic dynamic in that house! It wasn’t until I went to college and not “under” my parents 24/7, that I found they could survive just fine without me, or my siblings, contributing, and stuff got done. I started to take better care of me, as no one else in my family could.

  33. AnonForThis*

    Tl; dr – if you have hypochondria, how do you manage, esp with COVID?

    I’ve long admitted to myself that I am hypochondriac, though I can usually manage it pretty well and it doesn’t consume my life all the time. I have coping strategies and I try and not let my mind rush ahead of things. However, with COVID, every tiny thing, which could be COVID, stresses me out. Congested nose, mild headache, gastrointestinal stress – all these could be COVID but they could also be a million other things. Also, ever since reading that many COVID patients have clotting issues and thrombosis, even in mild/regular cold type cases, I’ve been irrationally worried about having a blood clot. The variation of symptoms adds an extra layer of worry for me.

    I know and fully acknowledge that this is just my hypochondria but what I wonder is, how do other people like me manage? My first thought is always more panicky than it has any right to be and while I don’t go to the doctor too often, I do wonder if maybe there comes a time when I convince myself that my symptom is nothing – and then it really isn’t. And also, when do people without it, outside of COVID times included, conclude that something might be worth going to the doctor for?

    1. MistOrMister*

      I think there are a lot of us who now think we have Covid with every single issue. For me, I try to reason things through and wait things out. If I wake up in the middle of the night with a scratchy throat, my first thought is covid. Then I remind myself that my throat might be dry from it being the wee hours, drink some water and see how I feel when I wake up (so far it has always just been a dry throat!). I basically try to apply that outlook to everything covid-y and it’s worked fairly well so far. As far as regular when do you go to the doctor….that’s a toughie. I also am sometimes,concerned that I need to go and don’t go and things will compound. But then they mostly don’t. If you have recurring issues, you could talk to the doctor about them and what you should look for so you know what symptoms signify an actual danger to your health.

    2. Margaret*

      Since covid, I’ve been keeping a closer eye on my heartrate (via a step tracker – I’ve used both fitbit and garmin trackers, I’m sure other brands have this function too). From what I’ve read, I think there’s enough evidence that this is likely a good indicator, although not fully proven.

      I know these types of trackers aren’t super/medical-grade accurate, but it does give you a baseline to see changes. Last December, I had a cold that was probably in the top 3 worst illnesses I’ve ever had (a cold that was going around my area, the one that makes many people think they may have had covid before it was likely here). My resting heartrate was up 10 beats! More mild illnesses/colds it’s generally up by about 5 beats.

      There’s still a range of ~5 bpm that’s normal for me, and it will be on the upper end of that if I’m extra stressed, got a bad night sleep, etc. But if I just have a headache or some congestion from allergies, it’s within the normal range. I think it’s highly likely that if I had even a mild case of covid I’d see it reflected in my heartrate.

      I also recently bought a pulse oximeter, it was just $35, and I figure if I do have any kind of respiratory systems I can use that to help evaluate “stay home, rest and quarantine” vs “get to a hospital!”.

      So both of these (HR and pulse ox) are things to get relatively-objective measures to help reassure myself of what’s really going on.

    3. PollyQ*

      This isn’t exactly what you asked, but I think your hypochondria is something worth going to the doctor for. You deserve better than “Doesn’t consume my life all the time.”

    4. Not So NewReader*

      I am not a big fan of the hypochondria diagnosis because I think it can get used as a crutch to avoid digging in and finding out what is really going on.
      If you do not have a formal diagnosis that worries me even more because you could have stuff going on that can be helped. Off the top of my head, I am thinking of thyroid issues. Thyroid stuff messes with the thinking and the body. But that is an example and nothing more.
      Congestion can lead to headaches and that mucus dripping down into our digestive tracts can lead to GI discomfort. This could be undiagnosed allergies.

      I guess I would start by treating one symptom at a time with an OTC or natural product, whichever you prefer. Try a cold remedy or an allergy remedy and see if you gain any ground. If the cold remedy does not work, then shift to the allergy remedy. If that helps then maybe you need an allergist? Allergies are funny/odd animals. They will also mess up our thinking- make us sluggish, doubtful, etc.

    5. its always something*

      I do not have hypochondria but I do have a genetic condition the covid symptoms. That said I have so many risk factors that if I get it, it will be a dire situation.
      I have these symptoms on and off chronically:
      elevated temperature
      shortness of breath
      bowel issues
      excruciating joint pain
      dry cough.
      For covid anxiety-
      have a baseline temp- if it is consistent- I don’t worry
      keep track on the oximitator levels. I don’t worry
      keep track of blood pressure. No worries.
      take my asthma meds- do my symptoms subside? No worries
      Bowel issues- continue my regular food plan and meds, note if something was different, see how long it lasts. Don’t worry.
      Allergy meds- do my symptoms subside? don’t worry.
      hot tea with lemon, honey.
      NSAIDs for the joint pain.
      Things I do that help-
      Regular sleep.
      Phone a friend- describe symptoms. laugh together.
      Washing my hands.
      Wearing a mask and washing everything when I get home.
      Working from home.
      Bought smelly hand soap. Can I smell it? yup- yech. Don’t worry.
      Clean the counters and the door knobs.
      The pandemic smells like Clorox. Don’t worry.

    6. Miss Pantalones En Fuego*

      Might it be more helpful to think of this as “health anxiety” or similar, and not hypochondria? I ask because I’ve had episodes where I was constantly worried about a heart attack but I was telling myself that I was “just being a hypochondriac” by which I really meant that I was to blame for my worries and didn’t deserve to feel less anxious. I realised that my underlying idea was that it was shameful and stupid to be worried about things that seemed unlikely and imagined that the doctor would laugh at me or be angry that I wasted their time, but in fact anxiety is often something that just happens. I sought treatment for anxiety, rather than hypochondria, and it got better. Also my doctor agreed to do a couple of basic tests, all of which came back normal, which helped reassure me.

      We are constantly exposed to information about terrible health outcomes, especially right now. It’s particularly bad when so many articles and such talk about the extremely rare cases when normally benign symptoms are actually indicators of serious problems, which can lead us to put far more weight on those little things.

    7. LadyGrey*

      I’m not but I spent a lot of time convinced that every cold might be meningitis, thanks to a particularly effective ad campaign. I dealt with it by checking my symptoms on the NHS website, and when I had a problem I wasn’t sure about I called the NHS 111 advice line and asked them whether this was something I should see a doc about. I’m not sure where you are, but if there’s something similar and reliable near you it’s probably worth checking out.

      1. AGD*

        Ack, I know the meningitis fear. I pushed and got my doctor to give me one of the newer vaccines a few years ago. She said I was at such low risk that she didn’t understand why I wanted it. I went ahead anyway. The extra peace of mind has helped.

  34. Not A Manager*

    I’m not sure if you want responses from people without actual hypochondria. I certainly worry about illness and disease at times. I manage this in two ways. First, I try to use an evidence-based approach to evaluating my “symptoms.” In the case of COVID, when I get panicked I take my temperature, I check my oxygen with a pulse oximeter, and I check that I still have my senses of taste and smell. If all three of those check out okay, then I decide to just wait and see if my “symptom” gets any worse.

    That’s my basic approach to any “symptom” that I have, even in non-COVID situations. Upset tummy, mild sore throat, etc., I go through a brief checklist of “does anything seem clinically important based on my lay understanding of this potential illness,” and if the answer is no, then I try to table my anxiety.

    The second thing I do is confront my concern about whatever illness. Is my mild sore throat actually strep? Well, if it is, then I would take antibiotics and fever reducer. Is my upset tummy actually appendicitis? If so, I know people who’ve had laparoscopic surgery and recovered very quickly.

    It’s harder with COVID, of course, but the reality is that most people recover from it fairly well. Even in the elderly, the vast majority survive the disease. Some people have lingering issues, but most do not. If I did have COVID, I would stay in bed and utilize the OTC remedies that I’ve stocked up on, and closely monitor my situation with my doctor. That’s my plan. That’s the level of control that I have.

    These are things that work for me. But I don’t know how helpful they are for a person with hypochondria. I hope that you find a way to manage your completely understandable anxiety.

  35. Pink Dahlia*

    Cat fosters and colony caretakers: any specific kibble recommendations for a very young skinny queen and four very late kittens? I’m in New England so it’s getting cold.

    (I do TNR in my neighborhood, but this year has kicked my azz and I just can’t right now. I do keep several insulated straw-lined shelters in my yard. I hope to start again when things get better for my family.)

    I’m glad to care for them, but my own cats are on expensive allergy food and I can’t be pouring piles of that outside, it’s just too much.

    1. Rara Avis*

      The cat shelter where I volunteer uses Royal Canin mother and baby. (Mama and Baby Cat? I forget the exact name.)

      1. Carolina Cat Lady*

        I would be happy to help you by sending you some food once you decide what kind you want. I have fed strays and colonies, trapped them, found homes, got them fixed, etc for most of my life and if you need help, I will help you!

    2. Cat and dog fosterer*

      Kitten food. Royal Canin is really beneficial for sensitive tummies or sick kittens but it’s expensive and not needed for a cat with solid poops. I tend to buy the pet store brand as it is cheaper although good quality and they do quite well. I would suggest some wet food, even if it’s Friskies (it has a good amount of protein and fat, which surprised me, although I only feed it as a supplement). Again, store-brand wet kitten is what I usually buy. Many pet stores don’t have a brand exactly, but they often have one that is a bit cheaper while still good quality. I avoid Iams, Science Diet, and the others that you see in grocery stores as they spend a lot on advertising and I have found cats with URIs stay sick longer while on it. If donated I happily feed it, but I prefer to buy smaller brands.

    3. Caterpie*

      I’m not a colony caretaker but my in my years of apartment living I’ve watched over a handful of stray cats and kittens (one of my neighbors just took in a ~12wk old baby I had been feeding!)

      Do you have Kroger in your area? I’ve had good luck with their store brand (called Luvsome). It’s relatively cheap, and first ingredient is chicken.

  36. Jean (just Jean)*

    +1 to Not A Manager’s advice to go minimal contact rather than expend the emotional/mental energy required to actively ignore him. We women can be so well-socialized to be “nice” to everyone (meaning “put up with everyone else’s behaviour”), but we can learn to act differently. When you meet someone you don’t particularly care for, simply invert the natural human reaction when greeting someone you like. Don’t smile or do anything else to prolong the interaction. No need to exude hostility, but also no need to exert yourself in any other way. Consider him a dismissable nuisance, like lint on your jacket: Brush off and continue your day. Not reacting to him removes his power to get your attention or enjoy getting you flustered and uncomfortable.

    If you find yourself slipping back into “be-nice-ism” (I’ve been there; many of us have) remind yourself that so far he’s exhibited at least four bad behaviors: making degrading remarks; threatening drink-spiking; ignoring your limit-setting (by not answering calls from his identified phone number); and continuing to call you from his now-blockedphone number. You are entitled to ignore calls from either identified or unidentified numbers! You are entitled to live free from rude comments and threats to your safety. You also are entitled to tell this person (calmly, matter-of-factly, without any justification because it’s so reasonable that why would you explain it further?) to stop doing all of these actions. Deflect his intrusions the same way you would tell a coworker “I need to step out to the restroom.” No fuss, no muss, no problem.

    You deserve to enjoy your life without all this BS. You deserve friends and significant others who respect you, genuinely care for you, and do not start a relationship with you by trampling on an already-existing relationship with someone else. If someone starts acting mean towards you or others, he is showing you that he is not worth your time or energy.

    P.S. I hope he leaves your life soon, but in case your current meetings are in-real-life: Please be careful never to end up alone with him, not even in a public location. You don’t want him to offer to drive you home or walk you to the subway.

    1. Jean (just Jean)*

      Gah! Nesting fail. Reposted under Lauren’s original query. Alison, feel free to delete (but no worries because I’ve already redirected any readers). Thank you.

  37. PhyllisB*

    I am reaching out to all of you in extreme pain asking for some guidance. A lot of you know the story of my grandson and his legal travails. The last time I reported in he was given four years of house arrest and we were all so thankful. I am heart-broken to say that in July he cut off his bracelet, took his grandmother’s car and disappeared. Well, he got captured of course and judge revoked his suspended sentences and he’s sentenced to 22 years in federal prison. He went this last week.
    Here is my ask: Not only am I heart-broken (and terrified at a 17 year old being in federal prison) I feel so so angry at him. I feel like he took all the mercy and grace granted to him and just…threw it in the garbage. I shared these feelings with a friend of mine who is a staunch Christian and she lambasted me for this. She told me that I shouldn’t feel that way because God gives all of us mercy and grace even when we throw it away.
    I am fully aware of this, and I am still praying for his safety and of course I still love him, but right now I feel like I don’t even want to communicate with him. These feelings are drowning me, and I don’t know what to do with them. I can’t share them with my family. If I can’t share this with my Christian friends, where do I go from here?

    1. fposte*

      I’m sorry, Phyllis, it’s a hard time. One possibility is that you *can* share your feelings with Christian friends and you just got unlucky by sharing them with a jackass first time out. Another possibility could be seeking counseling, either faith-based or not. A third is finding an online forum devoted to the topic; I know there’s prisontalk dot com, for instance, which has subforums for loved ones.

      I also don’t think you have to work this out right this moment. The way you deal with the situation today isn’t necessarily the way you have to deal with it tomorrow, or next year. It sounds like you may be having some trouble allowing yourself to be angry, and I think it’s fine to be angry; it doesn’t mean you’ll have a life of hatred.

    2. Jules the 3rd*

      It is very possible that your pastor will have a different answer, one that’s more compassionate to the pain you’re feeling. It would be worth it to check with them.

      If you’re not comfortable with that, then a professional therapist. They’re paid not to judge you the way your friend did. Many can do remote sessions via skype or zoom.

      There are also support groups for people in your situation. A social worker or legal aid office should know if there’s any in your area, but many of them are also on-line. I googled “support group families of young offenders” and the Gordon Law Firm had a list of support groups.

      What you’re feeling is normal and human. It is scary and frustrating to see people make choices that will hurt themselves and others, and not to be able to stop them. Good luck.

    3. Llama face!*

      Hi PhyllisB, another christian here and wanted to tell you that your friend was wrong to forbid your anger. You are allowed to be angry and frustrated and heartbroken when someone you love chooses to harm himself and stomps all over you and others who tried to help him in the process.
      If your friend was consistent in her belief that you can’t have negative emotions then she should be cutting 3/4 of the psalms and a pretty good portion of the OT prophet books out of her bible. Not to mention all of the times in the gospels where Jesus got upset!
      I will suggest the (inevitable on AAM) recommendation to talk to a therapist. I’ve found CBT style helpful personally.
      And if you have another friend or someone in your religious community you can talk to, maybe they will be wiser than your first friend and you can work through these emotions with them?
      Remember too, that forgiving doesn’t have to mean you keep putting yourself in (emotional) harms way if your grandson is not willing/able to have a healthy relationship with you at the moment.
      Sending Internet hugs if you want them!

      1. tangerineRose*

        Yeah, it’s OK to get angry. It’s also completely understandable in this case. Your “friend” sounds like she wasn’t really thinking before she spoke.

    4. Randomity*

      I only started coming back here last week after months away. I remember your story. I’m so sorry it’s come to this, it must be so very hard for you and your family. Your anger is absolutely valid, please don’t let anyone tell you it’s not. Sending love and support.

    5. Jessica Brown*

      I really don’t think you’ll find that response from every Christian, because honestly, your friend’s response confuses me; God’s infinite capacity for mercy can’t prevent the frustration and other emotions you, a human, not God, experience. It sounds like you’re going through a lot, and not every friend is capable of applying their Christian beliefs in a helpful way in everyday conversations (and honestly sometimes they’re not supported by a congregation that helps people to apply their beliefs in a loving and giving way), but you will be able to find people who are.

    6. Jean (just Jean)*

      I’m so sorry that you and your family are dealing with this situation. Of course you’re feeling a mixture of heartbreak and sorrow and terror and anger! You’re *human*. Speaking of being human, my psychologist friend often reminds me that the brain does not mature completely until people reach their mid or late twenties. Until that time, young people can and do get overwhelmed by and overreact to emotion and circumstances. They just plain haven’t aged sufficiently, even if they end up making terrible choices that cannot be undone.

      I join the others in encouraging you to continue to look for a supportive listener who will respect your feelings and your faith instead of telling you how to react. People are not identical: some will be supportive and some will be dismissive, whether they follow any religion or have no spiritual interest or affiliation. May your search for supportive Christian people be short and fruitful.

      Jules the 3rd’s suggestion to find fellow/sister travelers is a great idea. You won’t have to explain everything to other people who have a young person in prison. Companion sufferers just get it–the doubts, the people who seem helpful but instead are hurtful or disappointing, the sensible and silly ways we learn to cope with something we never asked for but have to live with. (And if one potential source of support doesn’t work for you, disengage and try another.)

      It is a hard truth that we can’t help others until they are ready to help or change themselves. That said, in years to come your grandson will find another way to live. I have read news articles about other men who after entering prison as angry youths matured into calmer, wiser men. Some of them, after release, work to help other young generation to find their way into adulthood without harming themselves or others.

      Maybe your grandson’s prison will have a chaplain or teacher who connects with him. Maybe his prison will offer its residents ways to contribute to their community. Prison doesn’t have to define a person’s entire being or worthiness. Off the top of my head I can list Malcolm X, Dr. Martin Luther King, Nelson Mandela, and Vaclav Havel as people whose lives were not limited by imprisonment. Surely there are others…I’m just at the limits of my personal knowledge.

      Take care and be kind to yourself while you try to absorb this news and process your emotions.

      1. Jean (just Jean)*

        I meant to say that in years to come your grandson *may* find another way to live…trying to offer hope, not trying to intone like I have All the Answers…

    7. RagingADHD*

      As a fellow Christian, please don’t let your first friend’s stupid response cut you off from getting help.

      If she thinks love means you never get angry, disappointed, or heartbroken over people’s behavior, then she has not read her Bible very thoroughly. A great deal of the book is given over to expressing God’s grief and frustration with people’s terrible choices. And a great deal more is given over to people expressing their pain and anger back to God.

      Of course you must be furious as well as sad and frightened! I’m so sorry your family is going through this, and I hope you can find some real help and comfort from friends, pastoral care, or counseling to come alongside you in this difficult time. It is a very hard piece of road to walk, and I pray you quickly find the helpful & loving support you need.

    8. SR*

      PhyllisB, I am so very sorry for your pain and right now. I don’t know your back story, but I am just so angry at your friend right now for “lambasting” you when you are in such a vulnerable position and sharing your innermost pain with her, needing support and kindness and empathy, and instead she judged you and shot you down. Giving your friend the benefit of the doubt, my guess is that she did not intend to be hurtful, but couldn’t see past her own perspective. Oftentimes when people judge others in these types of fraught situations, it is because of their own baggage and pain and experiences, their own self-judgment of how they’ve handled past situations. Your friend needs to show YOU the “mercy and grace” that “God gives all of us.”
      Someone else suggested you speak to your pastor, which I think is a great idea, and I would guess your pastor will have a different perspective that will take into account your own pain and your own needs.
      Most importantly, please listen to your own needs, and know that that you need to listen to your instincts and take care of yourself! If you need to cut off communication with your grandson for now, then you should do that, and know that there is nothing shameful or unforgiving about self-preservation and setting healthy boundaries! By taking care of yourself, you are modeling for your grandson what healthy boundaries look like. If you are comfortable doing so, you may want to inform him of your decision by writing a letter or email just to let him know.
      Aside from that, look for support in other places besides this friend who clearly is not going to be empathetic around this situation. Perhaps there is an online support group or message board for people with incarcerated loved ones that might be helpful, or some sort of Christian support group your pastor could recommend?
      Wishing you peace and self-care.

    9. Not A Manager*

      I don’t think “you shouldn’t feel that way” is ever a helpful response. People feel how they feel. It’s what you do with it that matters.

      You’ve supported your grandson in the past and you will continue to support him. Take some time now to feel your feelings. Sit with them. You must love your grandson very much and be very worried about him, to feel so angry at what he’s done to himself.

      I’m not a Christian, but I believe that God understands all of what we feel and why we feel that way. If it would be helpful to you, perhaps you could ask God to help you forgive yourself for your current feelings.

    10. My Brain Is Exploding*

      Oh, PhyllisB, I am a Christian and I would want to be like Job’s friends who initially did the right thing and just sat on the ground and mourned with him; I would want to just Show. Up. for you. Of course you are angry! Of course you are scared! Of course you still love him and believe in grace and mercy! Please just take care of yourself right now, lots of good suggestions here. Sending internet hugs.

    11. LGC*

      Okay, so I’m secular as all get-out so I can’t address this from a religious perspective, but…you do get to be angry with him. And you get to love him. And yeah, I even think your friend is right in a sense, although she was REALLY insensitive to you.

      Your grandson is a child still. For whatever reason, we like to treat teenagers like they’re adults when it comes to crimes, but I’m thinking back to when I was 17 and while I thought I was grown, I was most certainly not. He did throw his lifeline away…but I mean, I don’t know if he was thinking anywhere near that deep when he stole his other grandmother’s car!

      But on the other hand, your feelings are valid and I’m hurt on your behalf that your friend wasn’t forgiving of you. If God gives us all mercy and grace, including to a child who will have spent more than half his life in prison by the time he’s a free man, He can certainly extend that to his grieving grandmother who has complicated emotions about it all. Tearing the grandmother down for admitting to having human emotions…doesn’t sound very Christian to me. You were vulnerable with your friend and she slapped your hand away – I think that’s a greater sin than being mad at your grandson’s absolutely reckless decisions.

      As for what I’d do – I’d give myself space to grieve. Seek out friends that might be less judgmental. I hope that one friend isn’t representative of all of them. You’re already feeling a ton of things, shame and guilt over not being perfect shouldn’t be any of them. And then…maybe when you’re ready to deal with it more than absolutely necessary, then do those things. (I’m not sure how involved you are in his life, but don’t force yourself to call him, for starters. At least not right now while the pain’s still fresh.

    12. Not A Manager*

      Thinking about your feeling of not wanting to communicate. When my children were young, they thought that saying sorry would magically erase whatever they’d done and I wasn’t “allowed” to still be angry with them. What I would tell them is, I accept your apology and I won’t be angry forever, but right now I’m still angry. And then later, when it was a true statement, I would tell them that I appreciated their apology and I wasn’t angry anymore.

      I understand the suggestions to cut off contact if you need to, but I suspect that would be very hard for you and possibly very hard for your grandson. Another possibility would be to write him a note saying that you love him very much, and that you are praying for him, but that right now you’re not able to be in regular contact. Tell him that once you get your own feelings in order, you will be back in touch.

      You might also ask him to pray for you.

      My thoughts are with you, Phyllis.

    13. its always something*

      Of course you are angry. I am not a Christian so I cannot speak to that.
      17 year olds do incredibly stupid things. Their brains are not fully formed. We can see now that 4 years house arrest was a gift. Give yourself and him time. That is a gift you can give yourself. Find kind and compassionate people to talk to. Grace. There is enough in the world for both of you.

    14. Laura H.*

      All the air hugs! I second the talking with your pastor or another trusted friend. Bottling it up isn’t good for anyone.

      As Christians, we believe that were given emotions and free will. While we don’t always use or deal with it the “right” way, nothing can ever change the fact that we are wholly loved and known by our creator, despite our failings.

      And not wanting to talk with your son is valid and okay. I assume you still love him but not his actions. You did a lot for him, and it’s hard to have that thrown back in your face.

      Be gentle with yourself. This isn’t easy. Again, all the air hugs.

    15. Not So NewReader*

      Oh wow, Phyllis, I am so very sorry.

      I have a couple suggestions because it probably will take a couple different activities to lighten the load here. Notice I say “lighten”. From what I am seeing in other people I don’t think the load ever fully goes away. So I will try to be reality based here.

      You might remember my friend who is a Recovering AH- his words. He spent time in county and that forced him to decide to grow up. But his kid was not so lucky. His adult son went to state for what he did. He spent 8 years upstate. Since they rotate prisons my friend could not always get to see his son because some prisons were more than 8 hours away.
      My friend was VERY angry. He said, “My son allowed US to become separated!” It was like a baseball bat hit my heart to see my friend so upset. It took him a good year to step back from that raging anger.
      Improvements with the son were few and far between [insert rant about prison system here]. But the son was released at the end of 8 years and has been out for a while. The way things are going it is not a huge leap in logic to think that he will get sent back.

      It took a while for my friend to separate out the fact that he will always love his son but Son has to be responsible for his actions. So what this looks like for my friend is that he can freely and honestly tell his son he loves him and at the same time commit to not interfering with the law when it needs to step in. Yeah, my friend still hits pockets of time where he gets hopping mad all over again.

      Your friend MAY have been concerned about your own health and your anger eating you. I know I was with my friend. But if this is the case, your friend did a very poor job of expressing that concern. How you were supposed to extract her concern for your health from what she said is beyond me. Yeah, God forgives, we know this. But if we are supposed to not feel anger then why-oh-why do we feel it? I think that part of the answer is that we are supposed to teach each other. If I upset you and you become angry with me, that is going to force me to think about what I have done and perhaps rethink the way I look at things.

      But some people say the wrong thing. And their words add fuel to an already raging fire. I can tell you from my own experiences that for every 1 person who gets it wrong, you can meet 5 people who say the RIGHT things that actually HELP you. Keep going, keep talking with people. But get a wider group of people. Oddly, the people who do not know me closely were some of the most helpful people. Watch for these people who aren’t friends/family.

      You may find resources with a church that has a prison ministry. Sometimes they can have tangent resources to help families. Keep your ears open for opportunities where people just voluntarily help. A few years after Son was incarcerated my friend got a new neighbor. They are a retired prison psychologist. This person has spent oodles of time talking to my friend about the particulars of things. (Never charged my friend a dime.) I definitely saw changes in my friend because of his conversations with his new neighbor. Odd stuff comes up, keep looking around. My belief is to expect God to send these people into your life. Just expect it.

      You may find grief books helpful. Underneath anger can be an absolute river of tears. So grief and anger can go hand-in-hand.

      Self care is huge. Anger can cause injury and damage to heart, stomach and lungs plus other organs. If organs are not working correctly, then anger will be harder to process. Walking is a wonderful thing also as it helps to burn up that extra energy that comes with anger. Personally, I have usually chosen to spring clean my house from ceiling to floor. This forces me to think about what I am doing in present time as well as makes me move about. sigh.
      You might get interested in whole foods, nutrition and the like. I have had good luck with a homeopathic remedy, it at least allowed me to function somewhat.

      I find that in my own life some Christians live a quiet, uneventful life. When life gets hard they don’t know what to do or what to say. I think that churches don’t talk enough about these harsh realities of life. And people flounder, they really struggle because of the disconnect here. And it can go the other way where people at church are having a horrible, horrible time and they tell NO ONE. yikes.

      You may find resources by talking to a Christian counselor. Ask on the phone before you set the appointment if the counselor has had any experience with helping a family member of an incarcerated person. If they say no, ask if they know of anyone who has.

      I remember meeting a minister once who ministered on the streets of NYC. He was the coolest person and so level headed about things. He had seen it all. This type of person might be of help sheerly because of his life experiences.

      Long post, sorry. I hope I can encourage you to just keep going until you find your people. They are out there, I can vouch for that.

    16. Parenthetically*

      Another Christian, chiming in to say: of course you’re angry. You have every reason to be angry. You can feel heartbroken and devastated, while also being furious at your grandson. I’m sorry that the first friend you shared that with was a bad friend.

      If I were sitting with you having a cup of tea and talking about this whole situation, I would tell you to give yourself permission to feel your feelings. Maybe write a letter to your grandson expressing your anger and sadness, and then burn it or throw it away. Cry. Yell. And I would also encourage you to find a therapist or counselor to talk through your feelings with, if that’s accessible to you.

      Praying for you.

    17. PhyllisB*

      I have gotten some very kind responses to my comment, and I thank you for all of them. I am not going to review his whole history right now but you can search the weekend threads from about a year ago if you are interested in “catching up.” I will only say this has been an on-going issue since he was 13. Car thefts started a bit past 14. He was sent to county jail at that that time. (Not for this, something else.) I will look into some of the suggestions made about on-line forums. Thank you, fposte.
      My family doesn’t really want me to discuss this with anyone, but I am not going to listen to them; I will just find a way to do it that won’t involve them.
      About expressing my anger to him, I mentioned this to my daughter because I feel like he should be aware of how his actions impact others, but she got so upset and begged me not to; so I might do the write it out and burn it scenario. I have done that in the past, and it really does help. Don’t know why I didn’t think of this earlier.
      Thank you again for all your kindness and concern.

      1. Observer*

        I don’t know whether you should say this to your grandson or not, but I suspect that this is a conversation you should not be having with his mother. Rather, if you can find some good guidance (you’ve gotten some good suggestions), it would be useful to talk to people who are not emotionally tied up in this, but have some knowledge or expertise in the matter.

        1. Parenthetically*

          Yes, I couldn’t agree more — Phyllis, if there’s anyone you need to AVOID processing your feelings with, it’s your daughter. Finding a neutral party is a much better choice.

    18. All the cats 4 me*

      I see that you say you are angry with him because he wasted all the mercy and grace given to him.

      I am not Christian, not spiritual, but I can empathize with anger.

      In a situation like this I would examine my feelings of anger. I went through a similar experience with my sister, where she made lots of Very Bad Life Choices and expected me and other relatives to sweep up the pieces, mop the floor, and pay for the damages.

      I was incandescent with anger. I stopped to examine that. I found out that I was angry because she wasn’t making the “right” choices, and was exploiting people.

      But, the choices she was making were hers to make, so in that sense, they were the right choices for her. Once I was able to let go of MY expectations, the anger drained away. Of course she is the only one who can make her choices! Why would I think My preferences were better?

      So then I looked at the exploitation issue. I declined to support her bad choices with cash and made it clear to her that I would not lend her money (because not supporting her choices, and because it would never be repaid). I told her I would assist her in applying for social services if she wanted me to help. Oddly, the crisis seemed not to be as bad as it had seemed, since that wasn’t what she wanted to do.

      I coped with my mom draining her bank accounts to support sister, all the while complaining bitterly of having to support sister, and not being able to cut sister off, as Mom didn’t want sister living on the street. Made Mom sit down and look at her resources. At the rate of support being given at that time, Mom would be out of money in a short time. Mom wails “but I can’t let her live on the street!”. I said, very matter of factly, well, if you continue to give her all this money, it will be YOU living on the street. Which would you rather happen? And sister can get a job, apply for social services, but you are 75 years old.

      Mom realized she had to make a choice. She decided to protect herself and allow sister to make her choices and live with the results.

      I am relatively at peace with it all now. Sister is not my responsibility, nor under my control. Mom seems to have made her peace with it as well.

      Doesn’t mean Mom doesn’t love sister, just means she has decided on the boundaries and made them clear.

      It was a hellacious few months, but we got through it, and I believe mom and I are better off for examining our roles, responsibilities, and what/who we have control over.

      All the best to you and your family.

    19. Observer*

      Oooh. this is SOO rough.

      You are right, and your friend is wrong. Sure, G-d gives us grace, but so far, your grandson has been throwing it in the trash. It’s not wrong of you to see that.

      I’d be willing to bet that you have some friends who will get that, even though this one doesn’t. But in some ways this may be too big for just a friend. If there is any way you can access some mental health resources, this is the time to do it. You are dealing with an extremely difficult situation and one which you cannot make better. Some help in dealing with this would probably be extremely useful to you.

    20. I take tea*

      I don’t know if you are reading late replies, and I have no advice, just wanted to say that of course you are angry and feel betrayed. I’ve read your posts before and I think you’ve been very patient and compassionate with him. Teenagers do a lot of stupid stuff and it must be so frustrating to see him throw away his chances. I’m thinking of you and sending good thoughts your way.

  38. fposte*

    Is there a tech update on the tech update? I’ve cleared my cache and cookies but still can’t convince the site to retain my info on Firefox, and then when I back up to put my info in I comment in the wrong place; I’m suspecting that a lot of the misplaced commenting is happening for similar reasons. The site also loads very slowly and unhappily, with the formatting taking a minute to kick in.

    I’m trying Chrome now which seems to be more willing to save my info.

      1. Ask a Manager* Post author

        I should note, that applies to the commenter names being saved. On site slowness, I think the solution will be me changing web hosts, which will hopefully happen next weekend.

    1. LDF*

      I don’t know if it’s related but I had another spammy redirect just now. Been fine until now since last week though.

      1. Ask a Manager* Post author

        Separate issue. They come in through bad ads, which hijack the ad space when they’re not allowed to. They’ve been plaguing a lot of sites in the past few months. My ad network is leaning on Google and one of the other big ad servers to do more to solve it.

          1. Ask a Manager* Post author

            I have WordPress! But not the free version — the hosted version. The site gets millions of page views a month so to function correctly it’s got to be paid hosting with a bunch of custom configurations.

            1. Jno*

              I might be the only person interested. But it’d be fascinating to hear the history of the site. Stuff like when did you have to move from free to paid hosting, how much time does it take out of your life, what percentage of your income does it make up, etc. I know some of that’s private but would be so interesting.

    2. Mimmy*

      What I noticed this morning is that the site isn’t indicating “new” posts with the blue vertical bar on the left side of the post, at least on the first log-in of the day.

      I too get it where the formatting doesn’t kick in right away but it only takes a few seconds.

      I for one really appreciate the work you’ve done to try to resolve the issues of late. Will we notice any changes if you do switch hosting sites?

      1. Ask a Manager* Post author

        Try clearing your cookies; that usually fixes it.

        Switching hosts will cause some downtime next weekend (hopefully minimal) and then you should notice speed improvements (I hope).

  39. Elf*

    We slept for about a year on a 6×6 yoga mat over carpet, which was very comfortable and extremely cheap (I think only about $60 from Amazon). My husband thought it was slightly better than our mattress, and I thought it was not quite as good (apparently he likes a slightly harder bed than I do). You don’t have to worry about mold, etc. at all with it because it is a yoga mat! A bit awkward to actually roll up and put away because it’s so much bigger than a regular yoga mat, but most activities can be done right on it just clearing away the blankets. We had it originally as a large play area for the baby that was a wipeable surface for all the spit-up (he was a spitty baby).

    We ended up doing this accidentally (in a situation that might end up applicable to you)! Our son was about your baby’s age and it was time for the fall time change in the US, which means you need to wake up an hour later and our son was an early riser. He had been getting up at 4 am, which was terrible, and shifting to 3 am would be impossible, but we couldn’t deal with enforcing going back to sleep in our one shared bedroom, so we decided to sleep on the floor of the living room for a few nights and ended up staying there a year.

  40. curiousLemur*

    When I go to my current eye doctor, it never seems like they try to fine-tune what lenses are best. You know how they go “is 1 better or 2?”, frequently neither are very good, and then they move on to something else. Is this normal? Maybe I’m missing something.

    1. Randomity*

      My optician does the is 1 or 2 better up to 7 and 8, I think, and sometimes goes back to 1 and 2. I quite often have no feeling which is better. I never know which is the “right” answer! Also the black dots on red or green.

      TBF I have absolutely terrible eyes.

    2. Enough*

      That happens to me, too. I always assumed that there was only so close they can get and that you can fall in between. But that’s why there are so many different choices to make.

    3. Sam Foster*

      You really need to ask them because they’re not just interested in better, they’re interested in better to the point of clear vision. Talk to them at the start of your next visit!

    4. profm*

      When I went to the eye doctor two weeks ago, the nurse who did my refraction talked about “least change”. Basically, if 1 and 2 look the same, it defaults to whichever is closest to your old prescription so as to avoid over-correcting the problem.

    5. Llellayena*

      I don’t think the goal of “is 1 better or 2” is to get the view perfect right there. They’re really just looking for “less fuzzy.” They do this multiple times because each pair gives them more info that they then combine to come up with the prescription that works.

      1. Natalie*

        Yes, that’s my understanding as well. The first time I couldn’t tell the difference between a set the examiner reassured me they combine all the information they get to determine your final prescription.

        Also, with contacts they have fixed intervals to chose from, so if they’re comparing between the two closest, they can’t get any crisper. That’s just the limitation of contact lenses.

      2. Glass Piano*

        I’m late to the party but I work in an eye office, occasionally refract people (ie find glasses prescriptions), and this is correct. There are different parts to a prescription and it’s refined in a set order (gross sphere, cylinder axis, cylinder power, and refine sphere). It will 100% not be clear for many of these steps. I was taught to always say “they both might be fuzzy, just tell me which one is less fuzzy”. If you are unhappy with your final prescription, that’s something else (and I would find a different doctor who will work with you more extensively!) – but if you’re worried that at an individual point during the refraction it’s fuzzy, that’s often just part of the process.

        Here follows a long explanation of what’s going on during a refraction:
        A glasses prescription typically has between 3 and 5 parts depending on the person’s eyes. Part 1 is sphere, which is basically optically correcting for the length of your eye. Long eyes = myopia = “near-sighted” = minus sphere. Short eyes = hyperopia = “far-sighted” = plus power. When you refract you always should be pushing plus power and making people work (basically, see lower on the eye chart) for minus, because people (especially younger people) often mistake the increased contrast provided by minus for better clarity. Because they’re young the lens is flexible and able to change shape and accommodate in the short term – but that will cause eye strain when used regularly in glasses.

        The second part is cylinder, which corrects for astigmatism – basically where parts of the cornea (clear outer surface of the eye) are not perfectly even in all directions. You first need to find the third part of the prescription, the axis of astigmatism, and then find the correct cylinder power to correct it. This also involves messing a bit with the sphere to maintain the correct spherical equivalent. Then you go back and refine the sphere one last time. Some people have zero astigmatism correction, but in my experience most people have at least a little.

        If the person is over about 40, then you find the correct add (the fourth part of the prescription). Add has to do with presbyopia, which is the loss of ability to accommodate as the lens inside the eye become stiffer – people generally start to notice this meaningfully around age 40. Basically add just takes away spherical power so the focal point gets closer to the person for near vision; it’s what’s used to build the near target in a bifocal or progressive lens.

        The fifth part is prism, which isn’t in the vast majority of prescriptions. Prism corrects double vision by orienting the images from the different eyes in a particular way onto each retina so someone’s brain can fuse the two images appropriately.

    6. Mephyle*

      It doesn’t sound normal to me. Is your eye doctor an optician, an optometrist or an ophthalmologist? For lenses for vision correction, it should normally be an optometrist, unless you have a medical condition with your eyes (beyond just needing glasses), in which case it should be an ophthalmologist.
      If your eye doctor is an optometrist maybe it’s time to try a different one.

    7. All the cats 4 me*

      I am super picky about having very crisp sight, and have discussed it with my doctor, so In the situation you describe, where both indistinct or fuzzy and neither is ‘better’, I say they are not legible and there is no difference between them. And also ask to see both of them again if I need to to determine which is better.

      I often find that one of the two will have ‘darker’ text, but neither are crisper, and tell him exactly that.

      If one is noticeably better than the other, but the better one is fuzzy/blurred, I tell him which is better, but describe it as fuzzy/blurred.

      I figure dr can’t know what I am seeing unless I tell him.

      1. fposte*

        I had one eye doctor who would ask “Is that clearer, or smaller, darker, and clearer?” Sounds like what you’re describing.

      2. D3*

        Exactly. I starting giving more feedback than just which is better. “neither one is very good” or “they’re too close to tell” or “both are fuzzy” etc.
        You could try another doctor. Once I found someone good, I’ve been going to her – and taking my kids – for 20 years!

    8. Not So NewReader*

      I had not been to a doc for a while. I brought a small bottle with very fine print on it. I said, “I can’t read this and I used to be able to read it.”
      This gave the doc a set goal to aim for. I was able to read the fine print with the new glasses.

      1. RebelwithMouseyHair*

        I took a needle and thread, saying that I needed to be able to see my sewing work. (Turned out in the end that what I needed was better lighting in the room I sew in!)

    9. WS*

      This is their basic training, and they can only work on the information they’re given. So you say “They’re both fuzzy” or “1 is darker but 2 is clearer” or whatever you see. I have a friend with autism who finds this very upsetting because they want to answer the actual question and not be rushed, so they tried adding “Can you show me again?” which was fine with the optometrist.

    10. And She Does*

      Make an appointment with an ophthalmologist. Optometrists are focused on vision correction, not eye conditions. Unless it’s stupid obvious, they’re there to give you a cursory examination, go through the correction process, and move to the next appointment. None of the eight optometrists I tried in the last eight years took me seriously when I stressed I wasn’t seeing well with my latest prescription. All implied I should be satisfied. NONE recommended I see a specialist. I finally saw an ophthalmologist and got answers. Please don’t wait for an optometrist to listen—you could lose you vision by that time.

  41. curiousLemur*

    I’m female and trying to find a good razor for pits and legs, something with a replacable head that doesn’t need much upkeep.

    1. Claire (Scotland)*

      I use FFS Beauty’s subscribe service – got the handle (engraved with my name) and a starter set then get a box of replacement heads by mail every so often. They’re fab! I’m in the UK, though, not sure if they are available elsewhere.

    2. Damn it, Hardison!*

      I use the Billie razor, which is a subscription service. I can pick how often I get replacement blades, or order them just when I want them. I like the razor, and the holder that you can sticks in your shower. It’s the only holder I’ve that I don’t knock off at least once a week.

      1. LAMM*

        I tried the Billie and found it ok for legs, but no good for softer skin like armpits. I ended up cancelling after the initial order.

    3. Jean (just Jean)*

      I use the Preserve handle (made from recycled #5 plastic) and replaceable razors (sadly, not recyclable). They sometimes come loose, but I just reattach them. You can buy them from the company (preserve [dot] com) or from “greener”/”alternative” vendors of food, groceries, health & beauty supplies.

      1. Seeking Second Childhood*

        (Weird idea for you from the depths of mom’s ‘when I was a kid’ stories… get your hands on a metal can, make a slot in the lid, and put your used blades in it until it’s full. Now it’s a X-lb can of steel, which a metal recycler could use. Whether or not it’s worth it it depends on if you have access to a metal scrap dropoff place–mine’s at the same place I take my trash & recyclables.

    4. Holly*

      I have been buying directly from Dorco for years now. It is about 100x cheaper than buying razors from a drug store or wherever in person – you buy the handle and buy the replaceable heads and change them out as needed. I have found they’re great quality. These are the same razors that the dollar shave club people use (or used, when they first started, I haven’t checked up on them) but for much cheaper because there’s no middleman. I am weirdly passionate about razors because I just think buying them from the normal store is SUCH a scam.

    5. Knitter*