weekend open thread – July 10-11, 2021

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: Fly Away Home, by Jennifer Weiner. Sylvie has been a perfect politician’s wife for years but when her husband’s affair makes headlines, she and their grown daughters begin to rethink what they want from life.

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

{ 1,068 comments… read them below }

  1. A.N. O'Nyme*

    Writing thread! How’s everyone’s writing going?
    As usual, this is not limited to fiction writing.
    I haven’t had a lot of time this week unfortunately, just some scribbling in the notebook I pretty much always have on me, but it’s something at least.

      1. CoffeePlease*

        A Good Man is Hard to Find is something. I haven’t read it in ages! I finally posted to my blog for the first time in weeks. I definitely count that as a writing win given how busy I’ve been!

    1. LifeBeforeCorona*

      I’m working on my short stories. Right now I’m re-reading Flannery O’Connor for inspiration. I highly recommend A Good Man is Hard to Find. It’s as chilling as when I first read it.

    2. RagingADHD*

      Am I going to have my 2 chapters that I wanted done this week, actually done?

      Mayyyyyybe.

    3. Callisto*

      My search history is truly wack this week. But now I know a lot about how nerve agents work, and thus so does my MC.

    4. Elizabeth West*

      Beta Reader One for Book 2 is finished; Beta Two is not. Two seems to have more critiques (he’s a writer himself) but I’m fine with that. I’ve already begun making changes based on what feedback I’ve gotten from them so far and distance. Beta One is really into a new character, which is a great thing to hear. She said, “I love [him]. We need more [him].” :)

      No other writing going on except cover letters. I am so sick of writing cover letters. I’d rather write a novel synopsis! :P

    5. Nervous New Grad*

      Trying to find time to resume writing a project my sister and I are working on together, but difficult getting our schedules aligning

    6. Not Australian*

      Still re-editing stuff to be republished, and finding fewer mistakes than I’d expected. Actual ‘new’ writing at the moment is limited to texts, lists and e-mails…

    7. LQ*

      I’ve started thinking about a secret project and I’m not sure I’m excited about it, but it’s a nice calming project idea of writing and thinking about/plotting writing. Which is about all i can take right now anyway. It’s nice to have something that doesn’t feel impossible.

    8. Liane*

      Finally got over my latest case of writer’s block and got some blog articles done, mostly character and critter stats for assorted RPG systems.

      Was also in the running for a freelance editor gig at one of the RPG publishers. unfortunately I didn’t get in as they wanted someone with more familiarity for their game mechanics, which is fair. But first rejection letter is a Milestone, right?

  2. A.N. O'Nyme*

    Gaming thread! What’s everyone been playing this week?
    As usual this is not limited to video games so feel free to talk about any kind of game you want and feel free to ask for recommendations or help identifying a vaguely remembered game.
    Not a lot of gaming time for me this week, but what little time I did have went to Stardew Valley. It’s such a good game to just relax with.

    1. Jackalope*

      I don’t remember if this was this week or last week, but my housemates and I played The Quiet Year. It has an official deck/board pieces, but you can also play with a regular deck of cards, 6-sided dice, and a few small tokens. In the game you are creating a map (we used a large piece of a paper bag) corresponding to what you set up, and you create a small community living and going through a year of experiences. It was fun, although I’m not a great artist. We only made it halfway through but it was a lot of fun.

      I’ve also continued w/ Fire Emblem 3 Houses. This week was painful and traumatic; I had to kill some of the characters that I really like, and while I knew it was coming, it wasn’t easy. (My husband keeps reassuring me that this isn’t the REAL version of the story, that it’s just a fever dream of what could have happened if I’d picked the wrong house…..) But I’m glad to be through that part and on to the next bit.

      1. CherryScary*

        I love love love the Quiet Year! I’ve seen people use it to set up a larger tabletop rpg game, and I’d love to do that someday.

        1. CoffeePlease*

          The Quiet Year sounds appealing. Any thoughts on whether it’s something we could adapt for family play with younger kids ?

          1. CherryScary*

            I am not a parent/around kids much, but I think it’s certainly possible! There’s nothing in the game prompts that would be kid-friendly (that I can remember, it’s been over a year since I last played) and I think the questions are open-ended enough to get some fun answers from kids!

    2. Ewing41*

      Splendor! (Board game)
      Hubby and I started keeping track of wins/losses because we each though the other was so much better- turns out we are evenly matched, but have very different strategies.

    3. CherryScary*

      We’ve been watching Summer Games Done Quick, the charity Speedrun marathon! They had a rhythm game showcase last night that was fantastic (two japanese arcade games that were played with such mastery!)

      I’ve also been playing Beat Saber – we got an Oculus quest 2 this week, and have been testing it out.

      1. A.N. O'Nyme*

        I unfortunately haven’t been able to watch much live but they are killing it with uploading the vods to YouTube so I’ve been watching though. I heard something about a voice-controlled racing game so I’m curious about that one!

    4. The Dude Abides*

      The DnD-inspired Magic set dropped this week on Arena, so I’ve tweaked one of my Historic decks.

      If you’re into DND, I strongly recommend checking out the set, so much flavor.

      1. David*

        Oh nice, a fellow Magic player! I haven’t gotten to play the set yet but I’ve been watching some Twitch streams and it looks really fun. (Even though I’m actually not into D&D at all.) I’m definitely looking forward to drafting a set with 10 color pairs again after Strixhaven.

        1. The Dude Abides*

          Draft isn’t my cuppa; the last time I did a paper draft was Eldritch Moon, and the only prerelease I’ve played in was Khans.

          I’ve seen some stuff in Historic, and I’ve added Druid Class to my 5c ramp deck, but it’s not doing much. That is perfectly fine with me, as my wallet is still getting crunched by MH2 (retro foil fetches…I need a lot).

    5. Incessant Owlbears*

      Our group played “For the Queen!” last night, and it was so much fun with an inventive group. It’s a card-prompted storytelling game where each person creates and adds to the story as you go around the table.

    6. Nicki Name*

      I think I’m about halfway through Octopath Traveler. Speculating about how the stories are all going to come together is fun.

      I’m kind of thinking about doing Hades since I’m hearing good things about it from so many directions, but I suck at complicated non-turn-based combat. How involved is the combat system and how good do your reflexes need to be to make progress in it?

      1. A.N. O'Nyme*

        So I’ve also been obsessed with Hades lately and it’s honestly really good – especially because some of the weapons are ranged ones so you can move a bit further from the action. There is also an optional God Mode, which basically buffs up your defense a little every time you die to make your next run a bit easier. I think you can turn it on and off whenever you want, too, but I haven’t experimented with that a lot yet.
        I would call my reflexes rather good, however, so I don’t know how much that mode helps for people with less good reflexes.

      2. MEH Squared*

        Hello! I got deep into Hades and I have terrible reflexes. I will say that Hades’ combat is very fluid and feels instinctual. I will also note that I love Dark Souls games, which are known for their grueling combat so YMMV. I think Hades combat isn’t as difficult as Souls combat in part because you’ll get upgrades over time that really help out. It wasn’t easy, but I’m stubborn. Also, the hub world you go to after each death is so interesting, I almost didn’t mind dying all the time.

        As A.N. O’Nyme commented, there’s a God Mode that will decrease the damage you take after every time you die, up to 80% of the damage (so you only take 20%). You can turn it on and off any time you want, but I don’t know how it works in actuality because I didn’t use it. I just liked knowing that I could if I really needed it.

        The game is so, so good. If you like Greek mythology, slick combat, and snappy dialogue, go ahead and give it a try.

    7. MEH Squared*

      Still playing Cozy Grove by Spry Fox on the daily and loving it. It’s a cozy sim similar to Animal Crossing crossed with Spiritfarer. Saying goodbye to a spirit buddy is never easy, but I take some comfort in knowing that I helped them find some peace. The summer fest is happening, too, which means fun and fireworks.

      I’m also playing Going Under by Aggro Crab, which a satire of start-up culture and capitalism. It has bright and colorful graphics that really play well with the theme and it has a lot of bite in it’s satirical humor. Such as a health item called Avocado Toast and the description is “A delicious alternative to home ownership”. It’s a roguelike-lite that definitely has that just one more run feel to it.

    8. Buni*

      I got sucked back into A Dark Room, which I love *so much*. I like that you can walk away if nec and just leave it ticking over in the background (except when you come back and ravening beasts have eaten half your village).

      Unfortunately that put me onto Gridland by the same makers and there went my Friday night…

    9. Ana*

      Does binging Sims 4 Cottage Living videos on YouTube count? Lol, can’t wait for the pack to come out!

      1. FlyingAce*

        I say it counts! I play Sims 3 myself, but that’s one pack I’d definitely get if I played TS4.

    10. Not Australian*

      Still happily working my way through Forge of Empires – next, the Late Middle Ages – and have splashed out on Bananagrams to play with my best friend on a quick trip away this week. Bananagrams comes highly recommended by the cast of Downton Abbey who all used to play it on set while they waited to be called.

    11. Nynaeve*

      I finally got back into Spiritfarer, switching off between playing by myself and local co-op with a friend. Finally finding it relaxing like everyone said it was, so I must be feeling and/or doing better. I got my first spirit through the Everdoor. Also didn’t realize I needed to build a separate sheep corral for each sheep, so my vessel is shear madness.

    12. Liane*

      Not much gaming for me the last couple weeks because our GM was hospitalized (he’s been released but is still recovering). One of the other players was going to run a one-shot for the rest of us this week but a couple other players had to bow out, so a couple of us just gabbed on Discord.

      Speaking of Discord, I did get into a play-by-post Cyberpunk Red RPG game. Just waiting for the GMs to get things started.

      My husband also set up his Gog account on my laptop so I can play some of his video games when I want, although I am not much of a videogamer.

  3. Anancy*

    Removed because this is the non-work thread (but email me and I can send you the link to the post you’re asking for). – Alison

  4. Midlife Awakening*

    Let’s have a wholesome thread of fun things you’ve done as you’ve gotten older, that you didn’t do when you were younger :)

    I just got my hair dyed bright green and blue and I love it! And I’ve booked a tattoo in for October. What funky things have you done as you’ve gotten older that were bold expressions of self, or that you might consider a midlife awakening?

    1. Teapot Translator*

      I want to get blue highlights in my hair! But I still need to find a stylist/hairdresser to do it. I haven’t been tempted by a tattoo, but if they could invent temporary tattoos (like, that last a year), I would totally get one!

      1. L. Ron Jeremy*

        Letting my hair grow from a past buzz cut to shoulder length (at the moment). Recapturing my long hair experience from my early teen years.
        Not gunna grow a beard though. Wifey likes a clean shaved man.

          1. CoffeePlease*

            Nice! I’m re-creating the long hair of my youth as well, but I’m a woman so most people don’t realize what’s up even thought my hair is super long for a woman my age. As for color, I’m assuming you mean a fun color, and I think graying hair is a great opportunity for that. I haven’t taken the plunge yet. But you totally should!

            1. Midlife Awakening*

              That does sound good, but I think it depends on your colouring. You’d be to have cool undertone in your skin I think to pull it off, otherwise if you’re quite warm-toned it might look too harsh.

      2. Quantum Hall Effect*

        They have invented tattoos that last for about a year! The ink only comes in black, the studios are in limited cities, and they cost as much as a permanent tattoo.

    2. Laura Petrie*

      I have got two tattoos over the past 10 months, with another booked in for September. I’m also getting a tragus piercing on Tuesday.

    3. ecnaseener*

      Made myself a pair of big 18th-century-style pockets (the kind that tie around your waist instead of being built into the clothing) so I NEVER have to walk around without pockets again!

        1. ecnaseener*

          Usually over whatever I’m wearing (pants, leggings, skirts, dresses, any outfit that doesn’t have big enough pockets) but I do on occasion wear them under a skirt if I have leggings underneath and can hike the skirt up to access the pockets

      1. I take tea*

        If I could sew I would totally do the same. So practical! Proper pockets are the best.

        I found a lovely video on YouTube with a woman who made pockets in all her skirts and dresses, in different styles. It was fascinating to watch.

        1. Elspeth McGillicuddy*

          If you want to learn to sew, this would be a good beginner project. Not much fabric, super simple pattern, limited sewing needed. Would be totally easy to do by hand, if you don’t have a machine.

          Or you can just buy some beautiful ones off etsy. I’ve just been drooling.

          1. ecnaseener*

            Yes, this was my first sewing project and it wasn’t too difficult! If the stitching looks a little ugly that’s okay, just make sure it’s strong.

            You just need to cut out two identical pocket shapes — I copied the shape from a “2020 dumpster fire” pocket being sold on Etsy (should be googleable) because I was following along with Bernadette Banner’s video of putting together that pocket

            The “front” piece gets a vertical slit for you to reach into.

            Sew the two pieces together and bind the edges with ribbon (you could finish the raw edges any other way you want but ribbon is probably easiest)

            And bind a long strip of ribbon across the top to tie around your waist. I made two pockets on the same waist-tie, so do all of the above twice.

      2. Not So NewReader*

        I have a friend who is in the final stages of losing her vision. I am going to ask her if she thinks something like this would be helpful. Thanks for sharing this.

          1. ecnaseener*

            Lioness Rampant by Tamora Pierce. (The bit you can see is the series title: Song of the Lioness)

      3. AllTheBirds*

        How about a vintage carpenter’s apron? Etsy has them… super durable, since they’re usually thick cotton.

        1. ecnaseener*

          Idk if you meant to nest this for “I take tea,” but if you meant it for me – no thanks, I like my pockets! :D They go on top of my outfit without covering the whole thing up like an apron would.

    4. StellaBella*

      At age 50+ in May I bought a convertible after no car for 13 years. I love it, it is old, a 96 Fiat! Am a single woman. So a bit shocking.

    5. fposte*

      I’m coming very close to retirement and this is exactly the list I’m working on, so I will be mining this for suggestions.

      Considering a tattoo (I have a temp tattoo version of the final that I need to try out).
      Did a semi-permanent hair dye in burgundy.
      Bought a brand new car. Not a convertible, but since my last car was 20 years old the updated conveniences of a new car are pretty mindblowing all on their own.

      1. LifeBeforeCorona*

        When I bought my last car I was impressed at how many safety features are now standard, backup camera, lane change warning, auto switching when the roads are icy. Remote locks are always my favourite, I had to walk to my car at night and being able to unlock it when I was a few feet away always made me feel safer.

    6. Dark Macadamia*

      When I was a teen I thought I was too fat for skinny jeans and wouldn’t even try them on. I tried a pair the first time I bought jeans at a plus-size store and loved them, so now it’s the only style I wear despite being the farthest from skinny I’ve ever been. Of course it’s just in time for me to be old enough that the youths say they aren’t cool anymore, but I’m also not giving up my side part :)

      1. Worked in IT forever*

        I am not skinny, but I also have skinny jeans now. I don’t care if they are no longer trendy. I’m old, and I have lived through every conceivable style of jeans, and I like the skinny ones.

        1. allathian*

          Yeah, me too. With my figure, I thought I’d never look good in them. I’m just old enough that I couldn’t care less what the 20-somethings think about clothes. Besides which, while I support everyone’s right to wear what they want, within reason, there are few things more ridiculous in my book than 50+ peeps who dress like they’re 20.

    7. Not My Money*

      I’ve always done fun colored hair and have several tattoos but at 49 I got my nose pierced and then went back a couple months later and got tragus piercings.

    8. Squirrel Nutkin*

      Quietly came out as bi at 39 and then joined a big ol’ gay (really LGBTQ+, but I am old, so “gay” is my shorthand umbrella term) marching band at 49. Now I wander around wearing rainbow gear like it’s Pride Month every month.

    9. slmrlln*

      I used wash-out dye (Arctic Fox, lasted about a month) to color my hair for the first time. It was a dark turquoise, and I loved it! When it washed out, I tried red, which was ok but not quite as exciting. I think purple will be next. The temporary option was good for me because I wasn’t entirely sure what I wanted. Turns out I get a lot more enjoyment out of non-natural colors!

      I also have gotten heavily into kpop. I was not into pop music of any kind when I was younger, but I really needed a mood boost during the pandemic, and there are some songs that are really thoughtfully and beautifully made as well as catchy. So down the rabbit hole I go.

    10. Small town*

      I went whitewater rafting in WV with friends. It was scary and amazing. Tried paddle boarding but I spent more time in the water than on the board so I just floated in the sun.

    11. AGD*

      I started making my own clothes and I absolutely love doing it and I can’t believe I didn’t get into this when I was a kid. But better late than never!

    12. Jay*

      When I went back to my stylist for color after I was vaccinated all the color had grown out. She asked what I had in mind and I said “I’ve always had a secret desire for fuschia streaks.” So now I have copper-penny hair with fuschia streaks and I LOVE IT.

      I got my first tattoo several years ago because my daughter asked us to get a family tattoo in memory of my mother (who hated tattoos, which I find amusing). I want a second one, and I want it on my wrist or forearm, so I’m waiting until I retire at the end of this year. I’m a doc doing basically geriatrics, and I don’t want to horrify my patients (or blatantly violate dress code).

      When my kid left for college, I decided that when I saw something that sounded like fun and was even remotely affordable, I was going to do it. So far that’s taken me snorkeling, kayaking in the ocean and on some lakes, parasailing, and seeing live music in really cool places. The pandemic stopped much of that – but in a week we leave for vacation that will include all of the above!!!

    13. Elizabeth West*

      When I was a kid, I wanted to run away and join the circus. I’m half-jokingly considering it at this point.

    14. Grown-up Kid*

      Walking to the neigohborhood elementary school in the evening while they are watering the lawn. 60+ year old SO and I “running” through the sprinkers in the 90+ degree heat. Laughing and walking home thourghly drenched. Dignity intact!

    15. Voluptuousfire*

      Got my first tattoo at 41 in May. I had thought about one for 15 years but didn’t want to commit to anything. In April this year, I was like, just do it! I’m glad I did. I feel more “‘me” now.

    16. Nervous New Grad*

      Been buying myself a lot of baked goods lately. Ya know, kids often I think are taught to have a lot of restraint and that they can’t have ALL the cakes and junk food and stuff, at least I was. And don’t get me wrong, it’s good to promote eating healthy and all but now as an adult with disposable income I realized…hey, when my favorite local home baker is having a flash sale on instagram, I can just…buy the cupcakes. Just buy the box of assorted macarons. The cookies and cake pops. Heck yeah. I follow a lot of local home bakery businesses so I love being able to support their business and treat myself.

    17. Lady Glittersparkles*

      I’m 40 and this year I cut all my hair off. I had long hair my entire life and now it’s super short and I am Loving It. It was pretty shocking to me as just a couple of years ago I couldn’t even imagine doing this – I will never go back!

    18. Might Be Spam*

      I started folk dancing at the age of 61 and I love it. I started with Colonial dance which led to international, which led to Irish set, which led to Israeli dancing.
      I’ve met and danced with several new groups via Zoom.
      Yesterday I went to my first in-person dance since the pandemic started. It’s probably going to lead to another group.

    19. Not Australian*

      My hair’s too dark to take a bright colour, but I’ve had great success recently with purple. Tried blue but all I ended up with was blue-black, disappointing and totally wrong for my sallow skin. Hoping that when I have a bit more grey/white in my hair – which may be a long wait as both my parents still had dark hair when they died, my mother over ninety – I can experiment with pink and/or green. I have nobody to please but myself.

    20. Juneybug*

      I turned 50 few years ago and decided that I am going to dress/do what I want and not care about others’ opinions. So far I –
      Wear colorful shoes, like bright pink hi-tops.
      Mix patterns/prints of clothes.
      Dye my hair different colors – right now I am sporting blond on top, dark blue and purple underneath (please note I go to a hair stylist for this as to prevent damage to my hair).
      Wear body glitter.
      Wear costume jewelry with high end jewelry.
      Have fun!!

      1. Voluptuousfire*

        Yes! I bought two kaftan dresses off Amazon and wore one the other day. I WFH, so I wore my kaftan and huge straw su hat around the house all day. I love the idea of a kaftan and a turban with a ton of gaudy jewelry, just so old Hollywood. I need to buy fails cheap cocktail rings and a turban to complete this look.

    21. AllTheBirds*

      Letting my grey grow out. Not earth-shattering, but I also got a new cut with extremely short sides (showing lots of grey) and long, curly-floppy top, and figure hey, if I don’t like it, I can always dye it again. I’ll be two-tone for awhile, but NFTG!

    22. Retired(but not really)*

      Discovered Renaissance Festivals. Both as patron and participant. Play dress up, work hard, get to know all kinds of wonderful people, do a bit of traveling, have fun, learn lots of new things.

  5. Teatime is Goodtime*

    From last week: I wanted to say a quick thank you to everyone who responded to my question about walking tours last week (under the camping thread). I couldn’t get back in time to respond, but the people who suggested pilgrimage routes and things to think about were great!

    For this week: What does your favorite local walk look like?
    I live near a small (very small!) nature reserve, so mine involves quickly turning off of a busy street into nature. First I pass a riding school and then I have options, but often I only have time for the shortest loop (2.5 km). That one starts on my favorite path through a little wooded area, mostly filled poplar trees. A few weeks back I discovered two woodpecker nests because the nestlings were screaming their hearts out! Then it opens into this beautiful view over fields. When the sun in setting, the colors are fantastic! Turning south, I get a large horse paddock that has recently had all the moms and foals, who are a joy to watch! If I continue south, I get meadow that has been blooming in rounds recently…. but usually I only have time to stop and have a look from the top corner and then turn off and head home. That sends me through a fruit tree lined path back to the riding school. It’s a lovely walk and a beautiful jog, too. Sometimes it is super busy with kids (like mine) and especially dogs and horse riders, but sometimes it is so empty that I see maybe one other person the whole way. What is your favorite walk like?

    1. allathian*

      My parents’ apartment building is right next to a small brook, and it’s actually a protected site because there are some creepy crawlies there that have only been found in that place in the whole country. But there’s a lovely footpath that’s about 1 km long.

    2. londonedit*

      The wonderful thing about London is that we have so much green space. I live near some really lovely parks, and one of my favourite runs involves going down to the Thames path and running along the river past Kew Gardens.

      1. Sleepless*

        I could walk all over London, all day, every day. Such an interesting and eminently walkable city.

    3. Katefish*

      In my current neighborhood, a walk/run through beautifully landscaped houses to a park with large trees and natural trails. But I used to live within walking distance of a state park with a large lake/swamp with trees throughout the swamp, also with a nice trail. That one was a loop (maybe a mile?) and a great place to clear my head, especially during school.

    4. LifeBeforeCorona*

      My favourite walk is along trails next to a lake. You can walk on secluded treed paths or take a detour and walk next to the lake which is fun on windy days with the waves crashing along the shoreline. There are spots to feed birds and lots of squirrels, turkeys and depending on the season a few deer. I like to go walking in the early morning when it’s quiet and there are only a few birders out.

    5. Lobsterp0t*

      My local walk is through a city farm in east London. I don’t commute but I take my dogs through the farm and the wooded area and paths around it, then we go for an off lead run around the park by the river.

      It’s really lucky that London has so many green spaces and parks.

    6. Sleepless*

      The Atlanta suburbs aren’t the most walkable area overall, but I lucked out when I bought my house. It’s in a neighborhood situated between two larger highways by a couple of smaller streets, with two large fields and lots of woods. My neighborhood is older and most of my neighbors spent the pandemic sprucing up their yards, and the whole neighborhood is literally like walking around in a huge botanical garden.

      If I feel like driving into the city, the Atlanta Beltline never gets old. Also my kids and I discovered a loop through the historic Druid Hills neighborhood that includes the Driving Miss Daisy house and a small park by the river.

    7. Camelid coordinator*

      I am glad the comments were helpful. We are thinking about doing St Cuthbert’s Way maybe for our 30th anniversary. I live near a small wooded park that has a 1 mile loop, perfect for when I need a quick nature experience. A canal path is about two miles away and is one of my favorite spots for running.

    8. Rara Avis*

      From our house we can walk through the neighborhood with a bit of challenging up and down and end at a lookout point with a view of the city and the sunset.

    9. Retired(but not really)*

      I live in a cabin in the woods. A creek runs through my property and yes I get flooded in fairly often. I can go for a walk in the woods or along the creek.

      My next project is to clear out some of the sandbars and create an overflow pond so hopefully that will help with the flooding. I’m trying to keep everything as rustic as possible but still keep it not looking totally like a thicket either. And I don’t want to mess with a lot of heavy equipment either, so this is definitely a long term project.

      But there’s just something soothing about walking in the woods and along the creek.

  6. Hugo not*

    Have you had marriage/couples counselling? If so, did it help? What state was your marriage in before you got counselling? What to look out for with counsellors?

    We are two years in to marriage and have a baby. Marriage is going ok but have some communication and alignment issues and I feel counselling might help rather than us waiting for things to get really strained. My husband is less keen so I’m looking for other perspectives

    1. Counseling is awesome!!!*

      Tried to go to counseling when my ex and I had problems. He was … not invested. HOWEVER, the therapist was a life saver for me personally. Counselors can help a couple when only one attends – start there, and see how things go. (We divorced because my ex said there was “too much wrong with me” – i.e., I needed some medical care for what’s now a very well managed condition – so our relationship not continuing after counseling has to do with those issues, not his investment in counseling.)

    2. Cheesesteak in Paradise*

      Just wanted to say with the pandemic it may be difficult to impossible to find a therapist willing to do couples counseling. Most are full and it seems to be something they don’t prefer to offer. Your best bet may be paying cash, talking to your religious leader if you have one, or a couples retreat like Gottman Institute.

      1. Hugo not*

        Good point, where I live counsellors still seem to be active although we’ll need to wait a month or so

    3. Mosquito bait*

      Based on our experience, I recommend finding a counselor who uses the Gottman method. It’s a very structured approach that emphasizes friendship, supportive communication, and viewing your marriage as a joint effort. No religion overtones, which was important to us, but ymmv.
      If you want a taste, Brene Brown’s podcast includes an interview with the Gottmans, and there are numerous books.

      1. fposte*

        I love the Gottman books; they’re really eyeopening about relationships in general. Highly recommend.

    4. L. Ron Jeremy*

      Therapy really helped our communication and created a better life for us. This was about two years into our marriage and we’ve going on 35 years now.
      Recommend highly.

    5. J.B.*

      It really helped us. Our communication problems and other frustrations combined with how we grew up had grown to the point where I was doing almost all of the household chores and would drive past rental places on my commute and plan out moving in my head. We agreed on the fundamental goals and my husband did put effort into changing.

    6. MuseumNerd*

      My husband and I did a few sessions together back in 2018 and it was really helpful. He found it easier to voice his feelings with the counselor there to help (he’s one of those people who goes quiet when he’s struggling). It really ended up being more that he needed help managing his depression but it also helped us with communication, expectations, and resentment.

    7. Anona*

      I really love it and wish we had done it sooner. Ours is once a week, done entirely by zoom. We found someone who takes our insurance on the psychology today website. In the pandemic it took us awhile (over a month?) for a spot to open up with her.

      If your husband is opposed, maybe you can find a few options on that website for him, and he makes the final pick? Maybe you can compromise on trying it for a month and reevaluating.

    8. Emily*

      Therapy (and hard work on our part) saved my marriage, so if you are even considering it, definitely go. Communication, especially after a baby is born, is so freaking hard, and a good therapist will be able to help you set new “rules” for communicating effectively. My partner and I have learned how to argue more fairly and how to listen better, which is the key to better communication. You might start by deciding if you want more “talk therapy” (a place to air your grievances and feel heard) or “solution-based therapy” (work on specific goals, have homework assignments). Best of luck!

    9. Ali G*

      Yes I recommend. We just finished a bought with a therapist that works with couples and it was very helpful. Our relationship is solid, but we were more like roommates than partners. She helped us ID ways to reconnect and communicate better and we are doing much better.

    10. heckofabecca*

      Oh my gosh, SERIOUSLY recommended!!! My marriage didn’t last, but going to counseling helped with issues that were solvable—some of the communication stuff, etc.

      One great thing is that my counselor met with us both individually after our first meeting, which I found SUPER helpful in terms of them getting a bigger picture than would be possible if only meeting us together.

    11. PostalMixup*

      I have no direct experience with couples counseling, but I would imagine that, like “regular” counseling, the way you click with the counselor can make all the difference. If the first one you try isn’t the right fit for one or both of you, it’s totally okay to try someone else. I’ve heard people say that marriage counseling doesn’t work at all, but their reasons why sound more like the counselor just wasn’t a good fit for them.

    12. Nursey*

      As someone who has counselled people in the past, and also had counselling, I think this is a really good idea, as marriage is hard work! My husband and I have been married for aeons (oldest child 36 and I don’t know where the time has gone as I’m pretty sure I’m about 21 but still…) and we’ve never needed counselling as I try to hear him and when he’s not hearing me, I tell him what I need or what I’m looking for from him and vice versa.

      What I would say is this: counselling is about you each having your voice about how you feel, it’s not about him saying you don’t do enough housework or you saying his feet smell.

      Since your husband isn’t open right now about counselling, I would like for you to try this. Next time he does something or says something that you’re not happy with, or maybe you’re having an argument or something is niggling with you, say “when xyz happens/is said, I feel like abc”. This way, you aren’t blaming him but stating that when something happens, this is how it makes you feel. So for instance, an example, he doesn’t help around the house, but you both work full time and you ask him to help and he sits to watch TV. You could say “when all the housework is left to me, I feel overwhelmed and stressed”. He may say “don’t do the housework then”. You say “if we both did it, then we could relax with our wine/tea/coffee/whatever together as I like to snuggle with you”.

      No blame just a statement of fact and also making him think about quality time spent together doing something, even if it’s just binge watching Star Trek!

      1. Mstr*

        IDK how helpful it is to tell someone what to do when they haven’t given any information about themselves. This was my experience with therapy. The counselor would ask me … how does your spouse feel about X, then give me tips on how to refute that … without ever asking how I feel about X — which was often that I fully agreed with & supported my spouse.

      2. Observer*

        So for instance, an example, he doesn’t help around the house, but you both work full time and you ask him to help and he sits to watch TV. You could say “when all the housework is left to me, I feel overwhelmed and stressed”. He may say “don’t do the housework then”. You say “if we both did it, then we could relax with our wine/tea/coffee/whatever together as I like to snuggle with you”.

        This is such bad advice on a number of fronts. To start with, you’re playing a very specific script. But what happens when that conversation doesn’t go according to script? It happens ALL THE TIME. There are many reasons for this. Some of the other factors that make this a bad idea, also contribute to the constant “off script” behavior.

        For one thing, your script makes all sorts of assumptions about the issues in play. Like why does the Original Speaker (OS) feel “overwhelmed and stressed”? Is it because they are resentful? Is it because there is genuinely too much work for them to do? Is it because they are upset that the two of them are not on the same page about what needs to be done? Why does Responding Partner (RP) say “Then don’t do the housework”? Is it because they are just a slob? Or do they mean “If you didn’t jump to do the housework RIGHT NOW, I would get to it”? Maybe it’s that the OP has a higher standard of what “needs” to be done. Of course I’ve only scratched the surface. All of this means that even in the even that the first exchange goes the way you outline, what happens afterwards is going to be wildly variable.

        Also, assuming that RP actually responds with “Then don’t do the housework” (which is not so unlikely), the response you suggest is about the most counter-productive thing I can think of. You speak of “hearing”, “being heard” and “feeling heard.” Yet, you’ve just suggested that the OP IGNORE what their partner just said! In your script RS say “Don’t do the housework” and OS responds by TOTALLY IGNORING THAT. Instead of engaging with the actually suggestion that RS makes – which is to NOT do the housework – you have the OS continue on as though the RS had never said anything and explain why it’s to everyone’s benefit for the to share the housework – the housework that the RS had just said doesn’t need to be done. The RS is not just going to FEEL not heard – they are *actually* not being heard. In fact, in their place I would fell actively ignored.

        Which is to say, this advice is too generic to be useful to a specific person. And worse, it’s just a bad template for a reasonable discussion.

    13. D3*

      We did a few sessions. I think three. They were with a newly minted (his degree on the wall was about a month old at our first session!) social worker. We couldn’t afford it at the time and his company offered 3 free sessions through an EAP but we did not get to pick the therapist.
      And…it was bad. Laughably so.
      But oddly it also really helped, because after each session we would laugh about some of the crazy stuff he said and talk about how he SHOULD have handled it, which led to some really good and constructive conversations about our marriage that were very helpful.
      (Been about 20 years since then, husband and I are still together and doing well!)

    14. Blackcat*

      I have found individual therapy with someone who does a lot of couple’s work to be far more helpful than couple’s counseling. She gives me lots of advice about how to communicate and has offered insights into why my husband might have done some of the hurtful things he did when I had a baby (she pointed out it is very common for men to feel jealous of a first child because he is no longer his wife’s first priority, and that manifests in lots of different ways).

      Couple’s counseling just became a venue for my husband to rant at me about all the things he perceived I had done wrong in the marriage, and the therapist gave me very, very little space to speak at all. It was really hard on me.

      If you go this route, I would specifically ask a counselor about what they do to make sure both people are heard. I also discovered our therapist definitely had some “traditional family” views that I did not realize when we started. For instance, she saw my discomfort with the household division of labor as a “me” problem since, as the wife, I should have been okay doing all the housework. So I would ask explicitly about gender roles when screening a therapist.

      1. slmrlln*

        Yeah, the gender roles thing can be an issue. My husband and I have done couples counseling twice, once before we got engaged (because we also had just gotten jobs in two different parts of the country, both in industries where you don’t have a lot of choice about location) and once before we got married. The first therapist was fabulous and helped us a lot. The second therapist couldn’t understand why I didn’t just quit my job and move to where my husband was. Of course that was our long-term goal, and it did work out eventually, but that therapist just couldn’t grasp the idea that my career might matter enough to make some sacrifices. We did have a really good conversation afterwards about why he was an idiot.

      2. Former Child*

        AND re: therapy in general, if you try one and they aren’t right for you, that doesn’t mean the next one won’t be! If you didn’t like an MD you’d find another one who was a better fit and it’s no different w/this.

    15. Callisto*

      It did not help. My husband was a master at strategy and debate. He manipulated multiple therapists into agreeing with him and dismissing all my concerns. I lost complete respect for the profession and will never bother with therapy again.

      1. Blackcat*

        Yes, this is the worst. It happened to me. If I disagreed with anything or had a different opinion, it was always two against one.
        My individual therapist is very good, so I just assumed the couples therapist was a dud. I won’t try again for fear of it happening again.

      2. Lady Glittersparkles*

        Ugh I’m so sorry that you had this experience – I had a similar one and it’s really burnt me on the idea of couples counseling. The funny thing is now I am a counselor myself. One thing to know is that if there is any abuse dynamic going on (and ongoing and intentional manipulation def falls into the category of abuse) couples counseling is NOT recommended. The vast majority of couples counselors don’t have enough training to spot it and it ends up doing more harm than good.

        1. Might Be Spam*

          If you are dealing with a manipulator, couple’s therapy is like school for the abuser. They learn more ways to manipulate you and how to make it seem like your fault. Not all therapists will recognize a manipulator.

          It was the third therapist who recognized it and told me that his behavior was caused by his character, not his health (the excuse he was using to keep me in line). That therapist helped me see the truth and realize that I needed to leave and not feel any guilt because he didn’t “really” need me.

      3. Generic Name*

        I’m sorry that happened to you. I also had terrible experience with couple counseling with my abuser. Couples counseling is absolutely not a good idea if there is any form of abuse, and sadly, many therapists are terrible at recognizing the signs (as is the family court system, sadly). My individual therapists have been wonderful, and one even helped me to realize that I had been abused (I was in the process of divorcing my abuser). Please don’t discount all therapists. Like any vocation, some practitioners are great and others are terrible.

      4. Gabrielle*

        That sounds terrible, and for what it’s worth although I don’t mean to imply abuse if that wasn’t your experience, this is straight out of “Why Does He Do That”. I don’t remember which chapter, but the therapist who wrote that book talks about how, like Lady Glittersparkles said, many abusive partners become really good at manipulating therapists to add to their control over their partner. (The book helped a friend sort out things that had happened in her relationship with a guy who was great at winning over others, and she recommended it.)

    16. Public Health Nerd*

      Definite recommend over here – we did it before we got married. We were happy but tired of having the same five fights. We found a therapist who did couples counseling and asked her to help us do conflict better. We signed up for a short term stint – maybe 6 months? It worked well to go in with a goal instead of the expectation of therapy forever.

    17. Welcome, baby*

      There are some online therapy practices like BetterHelp and TalkSpace. We did a couple of sessions over the phone with a counselor from one of them last summer. My husband didn’t think we needed it, but I thought perhaps we did, so he was onboard. It helped us to articulate what we each thought were the issues — which were not very big — and what our respective roles were in them. The therapist was very positive and encouraging, and pointed out what we were doing right and what he saw was tripping us up (and he was mostly correct in his assessment).

      Honestly, even just the acts of making the joint decision to do this to better our relationship, signing up, paying, and making dedicated time for the calls affirmed to me that we wanted to solve the issues and were going to. Also, it’s good to set up a precedent that if/when we do have a major problem in our marriage– counseling will be a no-brainer. Or, think about it another way — there’s a little bit of work involved in finding a therapist whose therapy style, availability, pricing, etc are compatible with your life. Do that work when your problems are minor — and you’ll have a good quasi-foundation for later, should you need it.

    18. cellbio_dweeb*

      I did couples counseling with my boyfriend now husband for like … 2 years on and off. It has truly transformed the way we communicate as a couple and has given us so many more tools for how to move towards the middle. We were on the path to breaking up before we met our therapist, for sure. We went once a week for probably a year, then got engaged, got married, then went back to see her off-and-on over the first year of marriage. Just celebrated our four year wedding anniversary. Highly recommend it — I second the Gottman recommendation.

    19. regaining my self-confidence*

      We tried counseling a few times, but always stopped when he felt like the therapist was blaming him for everything. I thought they had actually been fair at pointing out ways we could BOTH do better. I wish I had focused on therapy for myself instead – the couples counselors all missed some big-picture red flags.

  7. Laura H.*

    Little Joys Thread

    What brought you joy this week?

    We’ve gotten some nice and needed rain this past week in my area and for the most part, I haven’t been stuck out in it.

    Please share your joys.

    1. Laura Petrie*

      One of my rats had successful surgery to remove a lump in her groin. She’s bouncing around as if nothing happened and I’m really pleased.

      We’ve also made it to the top of a reputable breeder’s waiting list, so we’ll be getting a couple of baby rats in August.

      1. Not a cat*

        Ohh! How wonderful! My niece has rats and I never realized what personalities they have until recently. We’ve got a lover, a watcher (super curious), and one who thinks he’s a general contractor. He’s always “building” stuff with the small boxes, toilet paper tubes, and paper we give him.

    2. allathian*

      My vacation starts today. It’s lovely not to have to think about work until August…

    3. ecnaseener*

      Out running errands the other day I got on an escalator and found myself face to face with a TINY ADORABLE DOG RIDING IN A TINY BACKPACK!

    4. T*

      We got a Corgi puppy and he makes me smile every day! His name is Bandit and he is so happy all of the time.

    5. Hotdog not dog*

      I got to see my family for the first time since the pandemic started! Our party to celebrate all the holidays we missed ran into two days, because we all got exhausted before we got through everything. We had St Patrick’s Day, Valentines Day, Easter, Thanksgiving, and Hanukkah on day one, then 4th of July, Christmas, birthdays, and New Years Eve (plus leftovers) on day two. The day before the party we had a blast preparing all the food and decorations together, and we spent several days afterwards eating the leftovers and catching up. Best week ever!

    6. Comet*

      We got a new refrigerator! French doors, craft ice, door-in-door, etc. So much nicer than the old one we had. Very grateful!

    7. Bucky Barnes*

      I went to my first in person movie in 17 months yesterday and first Marvel movie in 24 months. I may have cried when the Marvel credits started.

      1. Falling Diphthong*

        In a flip to this, I have muscle problems that make it hard to hold one position for more than an hour, and before covid 2+ hour movies had started to be really unpleasant in the theater. So we used the Disney Premium option to watch Black Widow at home, for less than 3 tickets to a local cinema, and around the midway point I hit pause and got up and moved around for a few minutes.

    8. Mimmy*

      After crummy weather for much of our trip to Cape Cod, it started to get nice on the evening of July 4th, and I finally was able to appreciate how beautiful the grounds of the resort were.

    9. Seeking Second Childhood*

      My garden has hummingbirds! Not just one either — they are arguing with each other for possession of the flowers.

      1. Not a cat*

        I had a nest in the tree in the alley behind my building. I used to call it Cat TV, as my siamese would sit in the window, watching intensely.

    10. Falling Diphthong*

      Family wedding. The first of my small number of nieblings. Hadn’t been to a wedding in over a decade. Really needed a positive, forward-looking event to revel in.

      At the rehearsal dinner (held at an aunt’s house) I looked around and realized I was at an indoor gathering of 30 or so people. For the first time in a year and a half. It was so great. (The wedding and reception were both outdoors, with everyone who wasn’t a small child fully vaccinated–the reasoning behind the late-June timing.)

      Like the xkcd guy, while I am not a big huggy person, turns out I am more huggy than the 2020 average of unique hugs.

    11. Double A*

      This is the littlest of joys, but I have this mug I really like. It truly looks like nothing special, it just white and says “Harborview Medical Center” on it in black text. I got it as a gift when I ended a temp job I was working there in probably 2007 or so– which was so sweet of them! It’s the perfect weight and shape. Every time I use it it just feels so cozy and it reminds me of the good parts of a pretty good time in my life. It’s more satisfying in winter but it works its magic year round.

        1. Double A*

          I’m very fond of that hospital! I never had to go there as a patient but I had several temp jobs there and always liked it.

    12. Small town*

      Binge watching Columbo with my older teenager. He is off to school in the fall so the time together has been great.

      1. Clisby*

        My husband and I have been doing that. I remember watching Columbo when it first came out, and until we started rewatching the entire series I had never realized how annoying Columbo can be. When the series started, it was in rotation with 2 or 3 other mystery series, so you usually saw it only once or twice a month. Now, sometimes I watch it and wonder why suspects don’t just tell him to take a hike.

        1. Small town*

          It is marvelously and comically sexist and silly. We watch it with a slightly absurdist tilt.

    13. The cat’s ass*

      We just brought home an 11 week red tabby kitten! He is a fuzzy little tornado and we’ve named him Rosso.

    14. Filosofickle*

      Boy did I have a tough week. So many tears, so much stress. BUT also some joy!
      1. I found an unworn pair of my old Sauconys on eBay. The newer models aren’t as good so I’m THRILLED to find these. This search was inspired by a question about Saucony sizing in the weekend thread a couple of weeks ago. Thanks!
      2. Similarly, I found a fav bra that was discontinued a few years ago. I was shopping and found the exact same one under a different brand name!
      3. A neighbor had asked for a ride to the local swimming hole and I offered to go with. I was anxious, I barely know her and I was already on edge from my week, but it ended up being great. I was actually able to relax for a couple of hours and read. My brain has been bouncing so much lately this was a relief.

    15. Elizabeth West*

      I saw Black Widow yesterday morning, and I had the theater ALL TO MYSELF! I was also the only person wearing a mask. :\

      The empty theater was probably due to me booking a seat at the 11:30 am showing on a weekday but that has never happened to me before, not even when I went to early shows at Alamo Drafthouse in OldCity. It was fun—I could laugh as loud as I wanted at funny lines and talk back to the screen, and I did. :)

      I really enjoyed the movie. I always get excited when the Marvel Studios intro plays because I know I’m about to see something cool. It was fantastic to see it on the big screen again.

      1. Chocolate Teapot*

        I got my second vaccination this week, so I now have a little certificate to show people!

        1. Elizabeth West*

          Yay!
          I didn’t get asked for mine. I don’t think anyone cared, since nobody was wearing a mask. I’m not giving mine up until more people are vaccinated. Also, I live in Missouri, where Delta is REALLY bad right now.

    16. Rebecca Stewart*

      The last two days have been in the seventies with 60% humidity instead of being in the nineties with 60% humidity. Still not fun but a heck of a lot more bearable.

      My eldest son is going to move in with me and my BF and GF. That makes me happy. Just while he’s getting money saved for a car and an apartment, but I’ve missed seeing him. (He’s 26. We’re 40 minutes commute to the new job. My mother, where he has been living, is an hour and a half commute to the new job.)

    17. Voluptuousfire*

      On vacation this week and I get to see my best friend for the first time in person since Jan 2020. We’ll have our usual Mexican food and a pitcher of margaritas that I’m giving myself a crack at. I even bought a fancy pitcher and margarita glasses with cactus stems for this. Yay for the dollar store for the glasses!

    18. Meghan*

      My son has been with his dad this week and for some reason I’ve been missing him more than usual. After his taekwondo class this morning I get a call from dad’s girlfriend and my son goes “MOM do you want chocolate or vanilla?!!!” “Um chocolate or vanilla what?” “Ice cream!!!! Oh wait do you want to come have ice cream with me?”

      So we three had a little ice cream date and he will be back home tomorrow!

    19. WoodswomanWrites*

      I spent the day with a long-time friend I hadn’t seen since before the pandemic. Years ago, I was the musician at her wedding before she became a widow. Twelve years later, she is in love and recently moved in with her boyfriend. It is so wonderful to see her find this joy again.

    20. Not Australian*

      Other Half has started on the deck we’ve been planning for months. The timber took far longer to arrive than we’d expected, and as soon as it got here we had several days of heavy rain. However he’s put in two solid days on it now and the frame is almost complete, so I have high hopes that another few days of good weather should see it finished.

    21. The Other Dawn*

      I made a large purchase I’ve been thinking about for a very long time: a spa. It won’t arrive until at least October/November, but I’m very excited. I realized earlier this year when I had access to a spa that it made my back and hips feel SO much better.

    22. Anonny*

      A young relative let me make a salon appointment for them for a sharp new haircut, and we’ll go together. We haven’t had an opportunity to be close, but things have changed, and I’m very happy to do something nice for them (trying times for the family) as well as to grow our relationship.

    23. Retired(but not really)*

      This actually happened a couple weeks ago but it’s still feeling pretty awesome. A young lady who stayed in an RV on my land while she was going through some really tough times asked me to stand in as mother of the bride for her wedding the beginning of October. It’s so wonderful to see and hear her happy as her life enters a new chapter. She even ordered my whole outfit for the wedding! Which is a nice dress that I can wear later as well. Not sure if I’ll ever wear the big floppy hat again though. I just have to provide my own shoes. I smile every time I think about it.

  8. Talula Does The Hula From Hawaii*

    I have a birthday coming up, not sure what to do that is socially distanced, fun and very cost effective.

    1. Anima*

      Do you and your people do zoom? I had a few very enjoyable zoom birthdays over the last year, mostly playing scribble. io and just general catching up. It’s basically free, unless you decide to order takeout for everyone (we had zoom burger parties).

        1. CoffeePlease*

          Is there any project you’ve been wanting to do but it feels too time consuming or self absorbed or ambitious? A friend of mine made a super complex birthday cake for herself, for example. I got out a long-running art project that will completely fill any time available and devoted myself to it. Or maybe get totally dressed up for your take-out and set your table for a fancy night with flowers and background music !

          1. Retired(but not really)*

            The pond project on my land that I mentioned above in the comments on where you like to walk is definitely ambitious!

          2. Talula Does The Hula From Hawaii*

            Interesting. I actually did this one year when i built a piece of furniture i had been wanting for years.
            Thats not for me this year though.

    2. Squirrel Nutkin*

      Maybe put on some good music and take a long bath (a bubble bath if you can) with a fun book? Happy Birthday! : )

      1. Talula Does The Hula From Hawaii*

        Sounds good but i want to do something else.
        I just can’t think of what.

  9. Maggie*

    Is there any socially acceptable way to ask the question: why does nobody like me?

    I have so much trouble making friends in new settings. I feel like whenever I’m in a new situation that involves a big group of people (e.g. starting a new class, or a new job, or a volunteer group of some kind etc.) people seem to just click and group together so easily, and I’m just… left out. It’s not that I’m ever actively shunned, but always stuck in that ‘polite acquaintance’ space, rather than being able to build any sort of camaraderie.

    On many occasions, I’d eventually find some sort of connection with a small number of people, but it’s not like a ‘coming together of the misfits’ thing that you see in movies, it’s more like a few of the ‘socially capable’ people decide to be friends with me. But when we hang out in a big group they’d all be getting on with everyone and I’m still that ‘polite’ space.

    I wish I knew what I was doing wrong, but ‘why don’t you like me’ is just not a question that you can ask people you barely know. And I know that not everyone clicks with everyone – that’s perfectly normal – but when you’re /always/ the one on the out, you have to ask whether you’re the problem.

    So…have you ever known (or still know) anyone who has very few friends, and what was it that stopped you from wanting to be friends with them? Obviously I know this is very variable from case to case, but in the absence of being able to get anything specific, maybe there’s something universal out there that I’ve missed all this time.

    1. Talula Does The Hula From Hawaii*

      I’m so sorry to hear this.
      Some people are just good at social interaction while others don’t have the knack and that gets us sidelined. What is the knack and how to cultivate/improve it, i wish i could answer that.

    2. Dory*

      I am also interested in the answers to the question Maggie raises in the final paragraph.

      I spent most of my life in a similar position and still do. Even in university, it was the same. I had no trouble finding partners (although the relationships were often very unhealthy, so surely there was something wrong with how I was interfacing with other people there too). By my early 30s, I’d gone more than 1/2 of my life without any real friends.

      But then something strange happened. I did another qualification and entered a new career in a program designed for new grads. I was among the oldest in my early to mid 30s, with most people in their early to mid 20s. Weirdly, I made some very good friends who I’m close with several years later and think (hope) I will be into the future. We’re very different on the surface, I’m between 9 and 12 years older than most of them and come from a significantly more disadvantaged background and am of a different culture. But somehow it just works, particularly with the person who I regard as my best friend. We travel and spend holidays together, see each other at least weekly and speak all the time, and for all our differences, we have much more in common. I now have trouble finding relationships, but I’d rather no relationship than an unhealthy one at this point in my life.

      I am still in ‘polite acquaintance’ territory with all the new people I meet. Yet, somehow it was different with the specific group of people I met several years ago. No idea why they accepted me or how I managed to integrate myself into the group. Terrified of a time when those relationships might fade, since I don’t think I’m likely to make any new friends.

      All I can say Maggie is that you’re not alone in being lonely. I’m sorry.

    3. AcademiaNut*

      Regarding the small group, big crowd thing – one thing I’ve noticed with people who are socially shy or quiet, is that in a small group the more outgoing or confident people can often draw them out, or pull them into the conversation by asking questions, following up, making sure they’re included. In a big crowd, it’s a lot harder to do that – there are more people, more distractions, more conversations, more interruptions. So if you’re not good at approaching other people, or joining a conversation in progress, it’s easy to feel left out in bigger groups.

    4. Nell*

      This is a tough one to answer without knowing more about how you socialize. The devil’s in the details in these types of problems. However, as someone who learned to socialize from books, debate club, and hostage negotiation textbooks, I do want to assure you talking to people is a skill you can learn. There are two that came up to me in your post: deeper friendships with individuals and talking in groups.

      Deeper friendships rely on easy conversation, common areas of interest, and initiating outreach to the person. If you don’t feel you have the knack of bouncing back and forth a conversation, focus more on listening. If someone says something like “I’m so angry about x!” I tend to reply along the lines of “that sounds frustrating. Do you want ideas about how to fix it or commiseration?” This may not work for everyone, but the type of people I get along with appreciate the choice. You can also ask follow-up questions. If someone says, “Oh, I love [that show or book or actress]!” but you’ve never heard of them, you can admit that and ask what you like about it. If someone recommends something to you and you don’t hate the concept, following up on it and talking to the person about what you thought is very helpful since it shows you’re listening. The same goes for bringing things up that a person has mentioned in previous conversations and showing that you’re doing so because you remember. However, closer friendships are easier to develop if you share hobbies, the same workplace, or other things so you both have a couple topics to bring up that you can bond over. Also, don’t be discouraged if you’re always the one reaching out- people are bad at initiating things and if they accept your invitations or tell you they’re busy but suggest another time, it’s a good sign. If people are declining and dodging rescheduling, it’s a sign to look elsewhere. Texting people regularly, even if it’s just sharing memes or funny news headlines, is also good. In a new group setting, I tend to pick one or two people that I think I could get along with and focus on them at first. It might be the people that you struggle the least talking to, people whose comments seem to be along the lines of what you’re thinking, or picking up on similarities. You don’t have to be friends with all or even most at first. You can expand your circle through the people who talk to the people you talk to or people you learn you want to hang out with later if you want.

      Socializing in a group is different. I dislike it and generally avoid it if I can help it, so I have a ton of sympathy for you on this topic. There are a couple ways to handle it and it depends on the size of the group and how the group functions. In a small group that shares a single conversation, listening and piping in occasionally is fine. Don’t worry if people don’t respond directly, just keep contributing. In larger groups, people often break up into multiple smaller conversations. You can either keep an ear out for the most interesting ones and bounce back and forth as topics change or pick a person or two you want to talk with for the evening and focus on them and their conversations.

      Also, keep in mind that your friends do not have to be friends with each other. It can’t be forced. I have friends who irritate each other based on a couple times they’ve met and thus I tend not to invite them to small group hangouts. As I grow older, I find more and more that I have friends but not really a united social group. They are in social groups based on how we met, but that isn’t the same as my “one, big, united social group.”

      I don’t really remember which books I found helpful, but looking for basic ones on how to do small talk or converse with people might be useful. I found the ones aimed at teens tended to assume less knowledge on the part of the reader, so they might be worth checking out.

      1. Pippa K*

        “as someone who learned to socialize from books, debate club, and hostage negotiation textbooks”

        Ok I laughed at the last part, but I can absolutely see how hostage negotiation training would develop skills of interpersonal communication. And anyone who can see the similarities between difficult socializing and hostage negotiations is my people :-)

        1. Nell*

          Glad it was amusing! I found that certain aspects of basic conversation was emphasized in those textbooks in ways that other books didn’t cover. Here’s how to hold your temper, here’s how to talk to someone you disagree with fundamentally, here’s how to practice active listening, etc. The textbooks reiterated some of the simple steps in conversations because they assumed people would start at a place were they got mad enough to forget all the rules.

    5. Captiva*

      From my perspective, I don’t want to be around someone or pursue a friendship with a new person if:

      1) negative outlook
      2) pulling teeth to have a convo, doesn’t flow naturally
      3) has no sense of humor / isn’t playful or silly
      4) has no self awareness
      5) head up in the clouds and has opinions about things that are far from reality
      6) someone who’s lazy and complains about things but doesn’t make a change
      7) someone who doesn’t put an effort into the friendship
      8) someone who is toxic and has a lot of baggage and is exhausting to be around

      As an adult, it’s so hard to make new friends. I’ve made a couple of friends in my thirties and it takes time. Hang outs once a month, keeping in touch, and sometimes it feels like it’s me who plans it and i don’t let that get to me.

      In general, people want to be around someone who’s pleasant, kind, fun, and interesting. The older we get, the less time we want to waste on people we don’t get any value from.

      1. sagewhiz*

        Please please PLEASE! read Susan Cain’s excellent book _Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking_. Like you, I always wondered what *I* was doing wrong. I so wish the book had been available when I was younger, as I’d have spared myself a lot of grief and worry. There is a long spectrum of introversion—from shy to bold. Some of us just aren’t wired for group dynamics, and understanding why makes a huge difference in knowing how to leverage our power. And believe me, you’ve got the power!

    6. Person from the Resume*

      No. The number of friends a person has does not determine if I want to be friends with them. Not a consideration.

      I have that problem. I’m stoic and standoffish and have resting bitch face – when I’m thinking my neutral face is a frown. I develop friendships through small conversations on intimate topics, but I not good at steering the conversation away from small talk. I can do small talk but it doesn’t lead to a connection. I’m not going to appear enthusiastic about or reciprocate enthusiasm on a topic.

      Another commenter mentioned that large groups are not a good place for certain types of people to make friends. What I do if there’s someone I would like to know better is to invite them to hang out one on one or in a small group where I can cultivate the quiet intimate discussions which form friendships for me.

      Hell, I can’t manage dating either. But these friend dates do require the nerve to ask and be rejected. But they have led to close friendships.

      I haven’t done this myself but perhaps think about the things you’re enthusiastic about and cultivate a few stories or narrative about it. Try to have a few go to, interesting topics about what your interested in to pull out in new groups and get a conversation started.

      I don’t think you’re unlikable but I’m betting you don’t put your best foot forward. Many people don’t.

    7. Purt’s Peas*

      My suspicion is that you are perfectly likable and lovely, but that you have trouble feeling comfortable taking the small risks that will move a person from acquaintance to friend. In an individual setting, those risks might look like asking someone to hang out. In a group setting, they might be trying to join a group conversation, making a joke, starting a side conversation with someone, saying “do you mind if I join?”

      The reason I say this is because it seems like people are reaching out to you in these group settings, and that you did find a group you clicked with—I’m guessing that you felt a little more secure as the older person in the group, and that allowed you to take those leaps you needed to take.

      I’d also encourage you to look closely at the groups you’re feeling left out of. Are they mostly people who already know each other? Are they interested in the same thing you are? Do they have a different conversational style than you? Are you actually being left out or are you *feeling* disconnected?

      Finally, one of the wretched things about anxiety and hurt is that they create a feedback loop. You feel so awful and insecure that you sit in a diamond shell that no one can reach through, and that you won’t reach out of. I think it helps to break the feedback loop to try and reach out of that shell, as I suggested earlier in my comment. But I think it also helps to find techniques to reduce anxious feelings and move past them, so you feel secure enough in the first place to do things that feel risky.

      I hope any of this rang true to you.

      1. Graphic Artist*

        I consider myself an emotionally intelligent person with lots of friends – when I enter a group, I generally expect to carry the day and be well received (I can put it this way because I’m anonymous, I don’t actually talk about myself that way in person haha). But your question still seems unrealistic to me. Unless you are in college, most people don’t live their social lives like a TV show with a group of people who are always together. And just because somebody seems to be having a smoother group interaction than you feel like you’re having (and stop comparing your insides to other people’s outsides!!) I would be very surprised if any one-time interaction lead to instant lifelong friendships. That’s just not at all how it works.

        In my experience, the people who are the most social are the one who value the weak ties the most – they don’t expect to be best friends with people but still just really enjoy their company in the limited time they have. Some of my more intense friends don’t roll that way, so they always feel “left out” because they are looking for a BFF and have no interest in small talk with the fellow Dance Mom that only exists within that space for the first five years. Does that make sense?

        1. Overeducated*

          I think this point about “weak ties” is really important. As a younger person having a tight group of very close friends and confidantes is really important. As an increasingly middle aged person who’s moved around a lot, it’s really hard to find time to devote to nurturing super close friendships, but the weak ties are what make up a community and make the spaces you go every day pleasant and comfortable. I think it’s important to have an open mind about what friendship can look like and not put too much pressure on specific relationships to fit a certain mold. I think it’s also ok for friendships to take a looooong time to grow.

      2. Green great dragon*

        This says what I was going to say, but better. I recognise a lot of this in myself. I can’t tell from your comment what’s the distinction between what ‘polite acquaintance’ and ‘really getting on’ looks like to you, but – is it that others are stepping into a space in a way that doesn’t come naturally to you? What do you want to get out of the interactions that you aren’t getting now? Are you feeling rebuffed, or just not feeling pulled into the conversations?

        Invite someone for coffee? Invite the group to [your interest event] – maybe most of them won’t be interested, but maybe one or two will? If the conversation turns to, say, llama herding, and you’ve never been, say that you’d love to try it and ask if anyone else is interested.

        This is not zero risk. But the worst that happens is disappointment, right? And once people have said yes a few times, it won’t feel as bad if one attempt doesn’t work?

        1. Green great dragon*

          Oh goodness, writing fail. Purt’s peas said everything better than me. But ‘your comment’ in the next sentence referred to Maggie’s original comment.

    8. Awkwardness can be culrual*

      I am strongly of the opinion that you can learn to do this, if you want, but also that there’s nothing wrong with accepting that you’re just not that good at big crowds and first-time interactions with people and that learning to do it would be a waste of your time. I do think that you can learn this because I had to, too: I had no trouble making friends in my original country and my native language, but in my new country and my second language I…had trouble. There is SO MUCH cultural context and the swirling of unspoken expectations that governs this stuff that it feels impossible to crack when you’re on the outside.

      As to particulars: I think you are more likely to act awkwardly when you feel awkward (or at least, think you do). I certainly felt horribly awkward often, and like I didn’t have the tools everyone else did to navigate the unplanned things that came up (e.g. unexpected questions, changes of plans). Gaining confidence helped that, which meant practicing a lot and accepting that it’ll go south sometimes (whatever your definition of south is in that moment).

      So, my suggestions would be to invest time and effort to work on yourself as best you can: make sure your own mental and emotional health are as good as you can make them, read everything you can about communication and small talk and then practice, practice, practice. Always forgive yourself and other people if it doesn’t work out and move on; no one ever has only positive experiences with this sort of thing! And it can be so so so so hard. Often the people you see that seem to be “naturals” at it also have invested time and effort into it, and also have botched umpteen interactions before they seem like they can sail. :) This internet stranger is rooting for you!

    9. fposte*

      I’m sorry you’re going through this, but I think it’s an interesting question. I think Graphic Artist makes a good point about weak ties. I have friends who excel at those–it’s fascinating to me when a friend and I meet a new person at the same time and within a month they’ve got plans for outings with the new person and I’m still thinking of them dimly as “somebody I met.”

      I would also agree that big cohesive groups tend to be less of a friend thing in adulthood, and lots of people prefer having only a few close friends. But even if you put that aside, it still sounds like you might like to make more friends, and I think people are making good points about this being a problem of active vs. passive. “Why doesn’t anybody like me?” sounds like you’re the merchandise waiting to be bought, but you’re a partner in an experience that requires as much shopping from you as from the other person.

      Interestingly, you might find it useful to look at some of the Gottman books recommended above in the marriage therapy thread–he’s got some that aren’t marriage-focused and are just about developing better bonds with people generally. I wonder if maybe you’re not well-calibrated on ramping up intimacy with people–that the move from “I have met you and find you pleasant” to “we have begin sharing small amounts of our lives that we wouldn’t with strangers” is a hurdle. Sometimes that can simply be a question of if you ever initiate any closer contact–outside of the pandemic, that could have been “I’ve been hoping to see that movie and thinking about going this weekend–wanna come?” Sometimes it’s if you demonstrate that you remember personal details they’ve shared before, showing that they feature in your emotional life. Sometimes it’s if you share a sensible amount yourself. Does everybody else in the group know each other’s parents’ names and hometowns and they’re not even sure what city you live in now? Then you probably haven’t opened up at the same speed they have.

      I’ll also add that what you’re describing isn’t objectively a problem–it would be absolutely fine to have a few close friends who don’t hang together and not to pick up new ones in a group. That’s not a failure; it’s a pretty common friendship pattern. But if it’s not working for you and you want to make more friends, that’s reasonable too. One possibility too is to use your current groups to pay close attention to how other people do interact and see how that works for them. The question you wouldn’t have asked, the answer you wouldn’t have given, the suggestion you wouldn’t have made–what’s the effect of those?

    10. Park ranger*

      This is a really interesting question and there have been such great replies! My take on it – in my experience, I think that in order to move from the “polite space” (as you so well put it) to the truly friends space, you have to be willing to share Big Stuff going on in your life and be honest and vulnerable. If you’re only sticking to superficial small talk topics, and not asking interesting/thoughtful questions, it’ll never move beyond a superficial relationship. Of course, there are things that you’re not going to feel comfortable diving into with someone you just met, and there are things it would be completely inappropriate to ask someone you just met. But also, it feels SO good, and helps to form a connection, to get real with new people. Instead of chatting idly about the weather or commute or the food, talk honestly about something really great that happened at work that week, or something you’re worried about, or a little win you had. Ask unexpected questions. Vent to each other – maybe you say, “Can I vent about my day real quick?” – vent away – then say, “Okay, anything YOU want to get off your chest now?” and then you move on to lighter topics.

      According to the New York Times, there are “three conditions that sociologists since the 1950s have considered crucial to making close friends: proximity; repeated, unplanned interactions; and a setting that encourages people to let their guard down and confide in each other.” Getting real and sharing real confessions – that’s something you can take on and in my experience is very effective. The first two are a little more out of your control – but you can get repeated, unplanned interactions by joining a class or a gym or things like that. If there are people you realize you see often out and about but don’t really know (at work, at a coffee shop, working out, etc) then say hi, introduce yourself, and see what happens.

      1. Overeducated*

        Those three things are important! I also have a friend who observed in our 20s that having two points of connection was key – for instance, going to the same church and also having a common hobby, or having kids in the same school, or something like that. One point was not enough to stand out from everyone else in that space, two points is enough for common ground and repeat interaction. So as I’ve gotten older, I’ve looked for two.

    11. Nursey*

      Maggie, first of all, people probably do like you, but I feel like the problem here might be expectations. It’s always harder to click with a group of people and keep (e.g.) 4 conversational balls in the air. Find one person to talk to then move to the next one. Organise a coffee with A for Monday, with B for Wednesday and so forth. When the “polite space” occurs, move to A or B, listen to the conversation and slowly draw yourself in.

      One of my kids who is ASD and ADHD always says to me that they don’t understand how I’m so popular as I also have the same “quirks” that they do, but people accept them because A) I’m older and B) I’ve gone from having no friends and being standoffish to being popular. What made that change? How I viewed myself. Around my mid-30’s, I cut out a lot of toxic people (mainly family members!) and decided that I didn’t care if people liked me or not, I was going to be me, with my (at times) fish wife mouth and my questionable humour (example: a friend’s dog came to have his belly scratched and I said to him (the dog) “oh, so you want me to play with your nipples again”. Friend fell about laughing, but she knows me and what I’m like). At work, all my colleagues know that I have no filter and accept it. I get on great with confused patients and those with dementia because of my personality – not that I’m saying that you should find friends at the local old folks home. I’m saying, people liking you, isn’t important. You liking you is.

      Be yourself and look for those opportunities to start conversations, interject comments in to conversations and invite people for coffee or shopping and get to know them one to one.

      People skills are learnt, usually at about 4-5 years when you start school. As a shy person, or perhaps more reflective and introspective one, you may not have learnt or may have struggled with learning this, but you can learn. Also, look for people with the same interests as you and join FB groups that are local. I made a good friend at an evening class even though I didn’t really like her at first, but I just didn’t know how to take her. Now her kids call me auntie. And let us know how you get on :-)

    12. Dark Macadamia*

      Are you me?? I always feel like I’m the person in the friend group that no one is actually friends with – I get included in group things, people don’t seem to dislike me, but I rarely hang out one-on-one with people or get confided in about more intimate topics.

      Some of the comments here really ring true for me, particularly Purt’s Peas “you have trouble feeling comfortable taking the small risks that will move a person from acquaintance to friend” and fposte “the move from ‘I have met you and find you pleasant’ to ‘we have begin sharing small amounts of our lives that we wouldn’t with strangers’ is a hurdle.” I feel like I always miss the window for these things to happen? I feel rude asking personal questions early on in a friendship and then suddenly we’ve known each other long enough that I feel rude for not knowing they have a brother/got divorced/etc.

      I don’t really know how to fix it or what might be going on for you particularly but you’re not alone in struggling with this.

      1. Batgirl*

        I feel like this is me too! I’m great at being professional and appropriate but not so great at spotting the moment to be more intimate. I think a big problem is that I’m not nosy, which is based in respect, but comes off as disinterested. When everyone else knows that Jane is struggling with x and has offered her help, I’m the very last person to know.

    13. Wishing You Well*

      Are you sure your perception is accurate? Please find a way to verify what you’re observing. Make sure you’re not putting yourself down and that you’re reading social situations accurately. There are online references to “weasel brain” or “jerk brain” that interferes with self-perception and social situations. I have a relative who struggles mightily with this but I’m sure this issue has different severity levels.
      If you find you’re accurate with yourself and situations, there’s lots of helpful comments here from others.
      Making friends is hard for a lot of people. I hope things improve for you!

      1. fposte*

        That’s an excellent point there–that matching your insides to other people’s outsides is going to be a flawed comparison.

    14. matcha123*

      Hmm…I feel like I’m like you?
      I don’t do well in large groups and sometimes it can be hard for me to find things to connect with people over. Maybe we connect over one thing, but as the conversation goes on it becomes very apparent that my experiences are very different and unrelatable to theirs and they drift off.

      It does kind of trouble me. I think I was more frustrated when I was a little younger. What I did and continue to do is to ask myself if really *want* a bunch of friends or not, and also whether the type of friendship the OTHER person wants is something that would work for me. Many times people who seem really close, aren’t as close as they appear. I also know that because it takes me a while to open up, it will take me two or three times as long as other people to form a meaningful friendship.

      My advice for you is to look at how you usually make friends and how your current friendships came about. Then figure out if they came together rather quickly or over time. It’s probably less that people actively dislike you and more that they don’t know much about you. At least that’s the case for me and something I often have to remind myself of.

    15. RagingADHD*

      I’m friendly with a lot of people, but have few really close friends. A lot of folks at my stage of life are in the same position. That’s largely due to not having the time to cultivate a lot of social connections, and the fact that we mostly meet people for functional reasons (work, kid activities) that don’t necessarily align with our personal interests, so we don’t always have much in common.

      Finding the “click” that makes a close friend usually depends on a mutual understanding or likemindedness. Even if you disagree about all kinds of things, or have very different lifestyles, you have some important interest, value, or perspective in common that lets you appreciate each other’s point of view.

      Depending on your personality and environmemt, you may just not be meeting a lot of folks you really click with. If you have the opportunity to try some new activities, you might increase your odds by pursuing different interests.

      For people who seems to have a hard time fitting in anywhere, the most common difficulties I see are awkwardness / abrasiveness like blurting out non-sequiturs, habitually turning conversations back to themselves or a single interest, or unconscious body language that signals either being shut down/checked out of the conversation, or conversely signalling a high level of defensiveness, nervousness, suppresed anger, or emotional volatility.

      There’s an extreme case I’m thinking of at my church. I get the impression that the woman in question may have some mild cognitive or developmental issues. She’s a “glommer.” Everyone tries to be nice to her, but as soon as you speak to her, she will glom onto you and pepper you with intrusive questions or demands that put you on the spot. For example, she heard that I used to do theater, and now every time she sees me she wants me to do impressions of a string of random celebrities. (I’m not an impressionist). And if I don’t know one, or try to demur, she’ll just name another, and get louder and louder until everyone in the room is looking. I avoid her as much as possible. She will latch on to something about each person, and there are very few who are gracious enough to weather it.

      That’s an extreme case, and assuming you aren’t overwhelming people with litanies of complaints, ranting about your pet peeves, picking arguments, or asking bizarre questions, then it’s probably a matter of either awkward body language, or just not finding “your people”.

      The other reason why some people I know have no close/long-term friends is that they constantly lose friends due to their bad behavior. But that’s a different scenario, because those folks usually make friends easily, and often push the pace on getting close, before they unleash the shitstorm.

    16. Overeducated*

      I am not a person who gets on well and is very comfortable in big groups of people I don’t know well. I could be the illustration for the word “wallflower.” I have also found it much harder to move past super safe small talk since I moved to my current area because I am never sure if it’s going to turn out that this other soccer parent holds what I consider reprehensible political views – haven’t found a way past that except taking it verrrrry slow. Anyway, here are my two pieces of advice:

      1) I have a friend who said that she always looks for the person who looks like an awkward wallflower, and goes to talk to them and tries to make THEM feel comfortable, as the best possible way of getting past her own awkwardness and anxiety. I love the idea, although it hasn’t always worked for me in practice, because it puts me in a friendly and capable frame of mind.

      2) One of my big lessons of adult life is that nobody DOESN’T want friends. They might not have tons of free time, or might not click with a specific person, but in general, all people are open to others being friendly, and everyone likes to be liked! There’s rarely any harm done by trying to take initiative and start a conversation or ask if someone wants to hang out. The worst they can say is no thank you.

    17. Elizabeth West*

      I have this problem too. OldCity was very church-oriented and it took a long time before I found a group of friends (nerds!) with whom I felt comfortable. But our interactions revolved mostly around a shared interest, and since people are busy, I never hung out with any of them outside our group meetings. Once I left college, I lost that built-in group of friends, so I basically just went around by myself.

      I think it’s easier if you’re part of a life stage cohort like in college or when you get married, have kids, etc. Your studies throw you together; your partner’s friends become yours; you make friends with other moms. It’s harder to do it on your own. You have to be willing to put yourself out there as if you’re dating. Try activities, go places by yourself, do things you want to do, engage people in conversation when the opportunity presents itself. I know it’s hard—I’m awkward AF, but I do my best.

      I fully intend to be proactive in seeking out groups that share my interests wherever I land. Hopefully, I’ll make a few very close friends that way. I haven’t had a BFF I could do stuff with for a very long time.

      1. Juneybug*

        Elizabeth – I am actually surprised that folks aren’t flocking to you as you seem so cool/smart/funny/engaging.

    18. Koala dreams*

      I think it’s less that people don’t like you and more that it takes time to form friendships, especially outside of situations where you spend a lot of time together. In school, you need to be friends because school is most of your life. If you have room-mates or live in a dorm you’ll also spend a lot of time together. If there isn’t something like that, many people don’t have the bandwidth to form deep friendships with people. And yes, it isn’t like the movies. I read an interesting argument that many tv-series and movies about friendship are popular just because that kind of friendship is so rare in real life.

      Other than that, I find it’s helpful to look at advice for mingling. When I meet new people, instead of looking for a friend, I try to challenge myself to talk to X new people, and practise greetings, small talk, and good byes (“keep moving”). The follow up is still a challenge for me, though.

      1. Chocolate Teapot*

        Also, if you live in a place, where people are constantly coming and going, you can have fairly close friendships, but then you never hear from them again. Many’s the time I sent a friendly email with Christmas and New Year greetings, and I never received a reply.

        Also, a lot of people relocate as families, so if you are not in a family group, then you don’t necessarily fit into friendship circles.

    19. lemon meringue*

      I agree with other commenters here that it’s probably not so much about your intrinsic value as a person as your social skills and the way you’re communicating with others. My question is what you’re really looking for here.

      If you’re defining your own value (negatively) largely based on how well you seem to click with others, that might be something you might want to address in itself. Speaking as someone who has these tendencies too, it’s really better for your own well-being and for the health of your relationships if you can separate your relationships from your sense of self-worth.

      If you’re looking to make more friends generally, you might want to consider ways to set yourself up for success. Effortlessly drifting towards others in a large group setting may not be for you! It’s not for everyone. Think about the times in your life when you did get close to people, and what kind of settings made that easier. Smaller groups, shared activities, or making a commitment to a regular meetup time often help.

      Or if you’re mostly interested in learning to have more social facility in large group settings, there are ways to develop your social skills to help with that too–there have been a lot of helpful suggestions on this thread. It helps to think of social skills as skills and habits rather than immutable parts of your personality. It sounds like the social effort that others are putting in might not be obvious to you, so it just feels like you’re swept up in forces beyond your control. But if you want to, you can probably learn to improve at this too.

    20. Lizy*

      Ooohhhh I feel this. It took me years to finally realize that my close friend group is really small – and that it’s ok!!!! I have 2 super close friends, and one of them I’m definitely not as close with recently just because life happens. Beyond that? Not really… (husband excluded)

      I have one person I go to lunch with occasionally and it’s a budding friendship.

      Let’s put it this way – if I was to get married (again), there’s like MAYBE 20 people I’d invite. I mean, I guess I’d do a blanket invite to church people… I dunno. Of the people I’d actually invite – 13. And 6 of those are kids of the people I’d invite. And 3 more are plus-ones. So 4. I’d invite 4 people.

      I thought for a long time that people didn’t like me. Now I think it’s more that I’m picky about who I let in. I mean, to be fair, people may not like me. But at this point i I don’t care either lol

      1. allathian*

        This really resonated with me. I moved around a lot as a kid and never had any close friendships until I was 13, when we moved to the city I still live in now (with the exception of a 6-month period of studying abroad and another 6 months as an international intern), 35+ years later. When I was in middle school I became friends with a group of people that I’m still superficially friendly with and one’s even working in the same field as I am, so we run into each other professionally sometimes. Back then, we were a tightly-knit group of readers who didn’t really fit in with the popular girls in our school.

        In high school I became friends with another group of girls, and I’m still friends with them 30+ years later. My best friend is in this group. My friendship with two of these girls deepened even further when we went to the same smallish college and we hung out basically every day, and when we took the same courses, even did groupwork together sometimes. To be fair, I had the largest social circle I’ve ever had in college, because there I realized that lots of people were choosing to hang out with me even though they had lots of other options. In middle school and high school I always felt that people tolerated me but didn’t really like me, until I met the other readers at least. Most of them were a year below me so that didn’t help in class, but at least I wasn’t alone during recess and I had company for lunch. Still, most of my college friendships were situational ones that disappeared after college. I admit that I wasn’t very active in trying to keep in touch, either. There are a couple exceptions, two women who became a part of my high school friend group.

        Our friendships are on a really firm footing, during the pandemic we went without seeing each other for more than a year, but when we finally met a couple weeks ago, there was absolutely no awkwardness, we were just happy to see each other again. During the break we’d texted in our group chat every so often, and I’d talked on the phone about once a month with my BFF.

        Since graduating college 25 years ago, I’ve only made one friend as an adult who has no connection to my earlier life, and she’s the cousin of one of my husband’s closest friends. Her daughter is about two months older than my son, and when we met for the first time, her daughter was a few weeks old and I was in the last stages of my pregnancy. This was an incidental friendship that deepened into true friendship. We spent a lot of time together when our kids were small and we were both on maternity leave. Now we don’t see each other nearly as often, but always have a lot to talk about.

        I was very awkward making friends in middle school and high school, but I was never completely friendless, and for that I’m grateful. At some point I felt like a failure because I didn’t have lots of friends, but as I got older, and especially in college, I realized that I would far rather have a few really great friends that I could depend on even when things were tough, than a bunch of fair-weather acquaintances who’d be pleasant to spend time with but who wouldn’t stick around if things got tough.

    21. Not So NewReader*

      I suspect that it’s not that they don’t like you, it’s that they don’t know you.

      You sound like you are a nice person. Here is something I wish someone had told me years ago. Good people lead us to more good people. “Hey I want you to meet my cool friend….”. So you kind of need to toss out there something that is kinda cool about you– in order to meet other cool people. You aren’t actually looking for a ton of people. You’re look for several neat people who introduce you to their friends.

      One problem I had and I have seen other people have this problem is that I was SO focused on figuring out if people liked me that I never stopped to figure out if *I* liked them! Find likeable things about people and leverage that. This can be commenting that they seem to do X very well. Or you’d like their opinion on Y because they work with Y as part of their hobby/job. If you are focusing on what you like about a person this moves you up a level and can move you away from dwelling on if they like you.

      Hang on to the saying about friends for a reason, a season or a life time. This has been super helpful for me. People come in and go out of our lives, many times it’s not personal but rather it’s just the ebb and flow of life. What I like about this type of thinking is that it lifted a great weight off my shoulders. I am not the only one responsible for establishing or continuing friendships. The other person is also responsible annnndd sometimes life happens.

      Last thought. Big groups just don’t work for me. And I have learned to be at peace with that. I am okay in a group of about 10 or so people. I pick activities where there are small groups of people. I understand that in a class room setting or job setting it is not always possible to control the size the group around us. I went to a small college for that reason- to try to stay in a small pond. For years I worked for small employers, again, looking for that small pond. Even volunteering, I try to pick things that I like but does not draw crowds of people. Just accepting the fact that I am a small pond person has opened up doors for me. When you find people whose grace and ease you admire, copy them, find your own version of doing what they are doing.

      (Yes, there is a reason I pick small ponds. I get the most out of an activity if I know people’s names and something/anything about them. It’s too hard to do that in a large group.)

    22. My Brain Is Exploding*

      Maggie, I also have a number of what I would call friendly acquaintances but very few close friends, and my very best friends both live hundreds of miles away from me. I noticed that within small groups that I am in there are a few people in each group who are close friends but somehow I don’t make it to that point, the point where someone is inviting me to do something with them. On the flip side, I have a very hard time trying to figure out things that I might want to invite someone to do with me! I don’t really like shopping, I don’t drink coffee or tea or carbonated beverages, I don’t really like to go out to eat that much (about once a week is good for me and I like to do that with my spouse). We’ve moved a number of times and sometimes I think that while people are accepting of new people in a group, they don’t have the time or energy to go beyond friendly acquaintances when they already have some good friends. I don’t really know how to fix this! Anyway, from reading the other comments clearly you are not the only one who feels this way, and I don’t think anybody thinks there is something wrong with you!

    23. Retired(but not really)*

      As one who enjoys people about half the time, and wishes they’d go away the other half, I learned early on that there are people who I just click with from the get go – similar interests usually involved- and there are people that for whatever reason we can’t even get a conversation going for more than half a dozen sentences, if that.
      My advice is to treasure the ones that are “the family I wish were really relatives” and don’t worry about the ones that you struggle to find common ground. You can still be cordial when you encounter them, but you don’t have to spend lots of time with them. And in a group setting people watching can also be fun!

    24. Colette*

      Some thoughts.

      I like the weak connection idea – I think that’s really important.

      Some things I find off-putting:
      – too personal, too fast. For example, sharing every detail of an illness; all about why you’re gluten-free; what your husband isn’t doing around the house; your scariest childhood memory. “Oh, I was dealing with a medical thing” is fine, a play by play of your last colonoscopy is not. Even when you’ve gotten to know someone, ramp up the more personal stuff slowly.
      – too needy/clingy. If I leave to get more food/go to the bathroom, our conversation is probably over – don’t hunt me down to continue it. And something like “maybe I’ll see you at the next event” is fine; “I’ll save you a seat at the next event” is a bit much for a first meeting.
      – This also applies to needing favours – if I’ve just met you, I don’t want to give you a ride home, for example. (This is somewhat situation dependant – if we’ve car-pooled to a cabin in the woods, it’s fine; if we’re on a bus route, make your own way home.)
      – not reciprocating – answer a question and ask one; don’t make the other person do the work.

      I’m sure you’re not doing these things! Just some examples of things that will make me pull back.

      Having said that, my default is to freeze in a room full of people I don’t know. This stuff is hard, and as others have said, it’s better to go in hoping for some good conversations rather than making a friend. Friendship is a slow process; good conversations lead to other good conversations and you’ll get there eventually.

  10. So I should sort my life out ...*

    I turn 46 this year; that means I’ll be 50 in 5 years. This is stunning to me – I’m aghast. If you are over 50, what would you have done prior to turning 50 to day you up for a great second half of your life? And I mean in all areas of life: finances, health, family, friends, leisure, hobbies, home, work….

    1. So I should sort my life out ...*

      Sigh … to “set you up for a great second half of your life.“

    2. Weegie*

      I can answer this because I did it! Started my PhD when I was 45, graduated when I was 49 and turned 50 when I was in the first well-paid job I’d had in a couple of decades. It set me up for where I am now – financially secure, home owner, in a job I like and living in an area I love. I could do with a few more friends, but I’m not lonely and anyway you can’t have everything!
      I’d wanted to do my PhD since my 20s, and I enjoyed (almost) every minute of it.

      1. Deanna Troi*

        I also started my PhD in my late 40s (or rather, finished it. I started it in my mid-20s). I mostly just did it for me, but I always regretted not finishing it, and it was an amazing feeling!

    3. Hotdog not dog*

      If there’s anything you thought you’d like to try some day, do it now! I had a major career shift, renovated my home to suit my taste better, backed out of some “extracurricular” activities, and dropped a couple of hobbies that weren’t as satisfying as they used to be. I’m in my early 50s. I feel like I don’t need to make space in my life for anything that doesn’t either serve an important purpose or bring joy, so I simply don’t! It makes life easier.

    4. Grand Admiral is Still Blue*

      I just turned 50 myself and also have concerns about the future. I wish I had a better answer for you, all I can say is NOW is the time to make things better for the future. Every year only gets harder to do that. I think Hotdog has a great answer – do it now.

      1. Falling Diphthong*

        There’s a lot of truth to that “… and how old will you be in 5 years if you don’t do this thing that would take 5 years to pay off?” comeback.

    5. Damn it, Hardison!*

      Not quite in my 50s yet, but. I will be 49 in a month which is shocking to me! I also took stock of my life about 5 years ago and decided on 3 major goals before turning 50: pay off my and my husband’s remaining student loans, lose a bunch of weight (75 pounds) and visit Paris. I got a new job with stock options that allowed me to pay off our loans (I was very lucky in this regard). I’ve been losing weight for the past 2 years and have 20 pounds to go. I was planning to go to Paris last fall, but the pandemic made a mess of that. So I have a couple of goals that are still in reach.

      My advice is to make a list of what you want to do, then select a reasonable number to complete and focus on those. I found it overwhelming to think about all of the things I “should” do (like save every penny for retirement, etc.) so it was easier for me once I focused just on things that were meaningful to me.

    6. Chaordic One*

      Being of a certain age, in retrospect I wish I had gotten counseling to help me deal with the anxiety that has prevented me from doing certain things in my life.

    7. fposte*

      Oh, I like this question. I’m gently pushing 60, and getting a handle on money and retirement savings in my late 40s was *huge* for me; as a single, I’m it for me, so I really need to make my money work, and I’m able to head into retirement with confidence and optimism.

      I didn’t feel obliged to keep every friend, but even in stressful periods when I felt I couldn’t possibly have time it was worth keeping in touch with friends just as emotional money in the bank.

      Healthwise I wish I’d been better at being less sedentary, but in general there’s a shift to seeing my health as something I spend time and sometimes money on rather than just expecting it as my right as a human. Do the checkups; find the specialists that you need; build the relationships. I had a teensy retinal detachment in the first flush of the pandemic (apparently, despite all the warnings, they are not necessarily a big deal) and that would have been super-stressful if I hadn’t already had an eye doctor in place. Get onto online charting systems for your providers that have them, because that’s the dominant means of communication and record-keeping in a lot of systems now.

      I suppose it says something about me that I’m talking about all of it as essentially admin tasks, but that’s pretty much how I approach my life :-).

      1. It’s just a name*

        I’d have to agree on the health/less sedentary thing. It doesn’t get any easier to start as you age. I’m 59 and in the worst shape of my life. I’ve always taken my strength and ability to move for granted but believe me you’ll lose it if you don’t use it. Granted I’ve developed some chronic health issues that make it hard to breathe much less get moving, but keep moving if you can.
        If your parents are still around get everything in order if you haven’t already. In the past year I had to take over everything for my dad and while I knew he had appointed me as his POA, he never wanted to tell me how he wanted things done. So I struggled with knowing if I was doing the right thing for him. He passed last weekend and it was the hardest day of my life. He was on hospice care but watching near the end and not rushing him to the hospital for what? To have his last hours hooked up to a machine but not change the outcome. I guess I’m a doer and just felt so helpless other than just being with him. So have the talks so you don’t have to guess and still feel guilty.

        1. fposte*

          Oh, good point on the parents; it was losing my last one that set me up on the financial planning, so that’s not something I’m facing, but it’s a really common thing for the post-50 era.

        2. Not So NewReader*

          Adding, this is a two way street. Do some planning for the happenstance that you pre-decease your parents. A cousin left a parent a $10k policy. On the surface, not a big deal. HOWEVER, the parent was in need of a new car and not comfortable spending their limited savings. The cousin passed away. Had the cousin lived they would have helped parent get a car. With the adult child gone, that option was over. It was a surprise when the check arrived in the mail. And then came the relief. In one last gesture the child had helped their parent. The parent used that car for the rest of their life.

      2. Falling Diphthong*

        “Admin tasks” is why there are those sayings about how useful it is to have a “wife” regardless of your gender, sexual orientation, etc–just like good admin makes work so much better, good personal admin makes your personal life better.

        1. Seeking Second Childhood*

          I long ago switched that to “butler”. As in “alas Jeeves has the week off so we have some dishes to do.”

      3. WoodswomanWrites*

        I recommend taking whatever adventures you’re considering while you are still physically able to do them. In my forties, I had a bush plane drop me off for a week alone in the Alaska wilderness. It was fantastic. That wouldn’t work for me at my age, and I don’t look back and wish I had done things like that when it was physically easier for me. I’ve had many outdoor adventures and other experiences that I’m grateful for and have no regrets.

        I second the comment about retirement savings. I’m in my 60s and playing extensive catch-up now because I kept putting it off when I was younger. My income before 50 was not great, but I could have saved a small amount that would have compounded for a longer period to become more substantial.

      4. Shrinking Senior*

        Yes, take care of your health. Whatever your medical issues, don’t put off treatment. Healing from surgery is much faster at 40 than at 60+.

        Weight loss , too — not only is it harder to lose when you have less capacity for exercise, but the skin doesn’t shrink as readily. I’ve lost about 60 pounds since the start of the pandemic, and there’s sooooo much loose skin.

        1. Bethlam*

          Yes, yes, yes to both! I had both knees replaced in my early 50s. Had to lobby hard for the first one because I was considered “too young.” But felt I was too young to feel so old, and should have had the first one done even earlier. I turn 65 next month and I feel great. I walk, run, bike, and have done several 300+ mile bike trips.

          And even though I exercise (a lot), I struggle to not gain weight, even though I could afford to lose another 30 pounds. I wish I had been better at keeping it off when I was younger, because older metabolism just isn’t as effective.

    8. Be your own best advocate and adventurer*

      I’m in my mid-50’s now, but in my mid-30’s, when I finally divorced my abusive and highly controlling husband, I decided I was no longer going to let anyone hold me back from what I needed or from what interested me. Since then, I’ve learned to play the piano (a longing I’ve had since childhood), have traveled to a few really amazing places around the planet (it’s much cheaper if you know someone who lives there), built a very small apartment in my backyard for my college age son on a shoestring budget (and learned a LOT about local permitting rules and discovered that how things are built is way less complicated than I had thought), married a wonderfully kind and supportive man, left a career in IT and opened a small business, sold the small business five years later (it had been successful enough to sell, but not successful enough to provide much of an income. It did, however, greatly grow my skill set), and am now halfway though earning a graduate certificate in accounting. Looking back, I couldn’t imagine the path my life has taken, but it all starts with being “carefully reckless”… basically being willing to put yourself out there and try. Do whatever you can to prepare to set yourself up for success, but don’t worry if you don’t have everything exactly lined up perfectly before you get started. Also, don’t think you’re getting too old for something…I wish I had gone back to school sooner! Life’s adventure doesn’t have to stop at some predetermined point, so keep going and enjoy the ride!

    9. Falling Diphthong*

      Tackle any physical problems that are limiting you. (For me this was mysteriously stiff and uncooperative leg muscles.) Like ask for PT for that ongoing painful elbow–any health stuff you’ve been letting slide into the background. It often takes months for new exercises to set the frustrating body part solidly on a new path… but once you’ve done it, you get years of improved function.

      At my pool, there’s a woman in her 80s who dives into the water every day. She explained that she does this on the theory that if she does it every day, then she’ll always be able to do it.

    10. Falling Diphthong*

      If there are any things you have wanted to do “someday”–especially if they involve other people–start planning them. A year before covid I had all these great thoughts of how we would take my mom on a dream trip after my dad passed and she recovered from the caregiving toll. Then many things went wrong, and now I believe that is not going to happen.

      I’m very grateful for the big trip we did with her about 15 years ago, when the timing wasn’t perfect and the location wasn’t perfect but we could make it happen and did and laid down lifelong memories.

    11. Nursey*

      Aha, I’m over 50 according to birth records but inside I’m about 21. I’ve done 3 bachelors and doing another one now. I fit in with uni students and also at work. I’m doing this latest one as I’ve decided that I’ve got 25 years left to work so want a change. None of my family members ever retired and when they did, they died so I think retirement is probably over-rated and working in some capacity keeps you young.

      When I was 48, I did a course during the day, whilst working in the evenings and weekends, and up skilled. At 45, I moved continents and hemispheres. I have hobbies, I have teenagers and I have dogs. And my husband. I’m socially active.

      My advice is: when menopause hits, get HRT, use a good oil on your face weekly (people think I’m in my 30’s), use a good moisturiser daily, eat well and don’t deprive yourself, keep your calcium and vitamin D levels up. Eat offal (liver, heart etc.,) twice a week as they’re nutritious (unless you’re a vegetarian, in which case, ignore that advice), make friends with some younger people (say 30 and over), do something every day just for enjoyment, like look at cloud shapes, I totally saw a lion the other day. Don’t worry about money, because one way or another, you’ll always have what you need and worry makes you get wrinkles. Take a good look at your life and decide what is needed and cut out the dead wood (toxic people, hangers-on, etc.,) and only do the things that bring you happiness and before you jump to “no more housework”, remember living in a clean house, probably brings you happiness. If you don’t like your job, then find one that you do. Same for housing, friends, hobbies etc..

    12. Texan In Exile*

      Over 50 and I am so happy that I have traveled a lot. Mr T and I went to Spain four times in the two years before covid and took other trips to France, Morocco, England, and Germany in the years before that. Before I met him, I traveled to Australia, Israel, Turkey, Greece, Italy, France, Ireland, and Spain.

      I have friends who have, for years, said they want to travel, but – they have to work. They want to renovate the kitchen.

      And now they have the kitchen. They could take time from work. But covid has stopped international travel.

      I have never regretted a penny I have spent on traveling. One of our cars is 19 years old. We rarely eat out. I buy my jeans at Goodwill. (They’re only $7 a pair and already broken in!) Our money goes to traveling.

      1. Texan In Exile*

        But I wish good sunblock had been available when I was younger (and on the swim team and a lifeguard). Protect your skin!

        1. fposte*

          That is such a big one for me, and especially on the chest, which is where my sun damage seems to have landed hardest.

          1. WellRed*

            My poor hands. They were always so pretty but in my early twenties I did a lot of deliveries for work. I used to see the sun beating down on the steering wheel and knowing that wasn’t good but didn’t take action. Im 51 and the last five years all the damage has come out. I could cry but it won’t help.

          2. Dear liza dear liza*

            So true! I went to a hot place for college and started wearing sunscreen on my face daily- so glad I did! But it never occurred to me to do my upper chest and it looks very crepe-y.

        2. JobHunter*

          My grandmother and aunts kept after me to wear sunscreen, starting when I was a preteen. I am now so thankful that I followed it (more faithfully when I reached my 20s and started working outdoors). I do have some sun damage in places where the lotions tended to melt off but it could be so much worse.

        3. Falling Diphthong*

          In this spirit I might add–especially if you are fair-skinned and had a lot of childhood sunburns, but even if not–seeing a dermatologist for a mole check. (Which means checking you for any suspicious skin bits.) Having had skin cancer removed surgically, and precancerous spots frozen off with liquid nitrogen, the latter is a LOT easier.

          1. JobHunter*

            Thank you for this reminder. It has been on my to-do list but that list has gotten pretty long in the last 1.5 years. ;)

    13. Wishing You Well*

      Write down no more than 3 primary goals and work toward them every day.
      Find something good about every day and remind yourself about it before going to bed.
      Make your future self proud of you!

    14. tangerineRose*

      This probably isn’t really what you’re looking for, but make sure you’re getting your health checked. And when you’re 50 (or younger if the doctor recommends it), get a colonoscopy. If you’re lucky, you’ll be fine and won’t need to get another for 10 years. If you’re less lucky, you might have to get a polyp removed, so you’d have to get another colonoscopy sooner, but it will save your life and won’t be any worse than getting the colonoscopy.

    15. Not So NewReader*

      I watch the older people around me and I try to copy their best and avoid their worst.

      At 46, my circumstances changed radically. I had to look at my spending habits in a super-critical light. I decided that this was just good practice anyway. In a while I would be on a fixed income and I would have to know how to keep costs way down if I wanted to continue living in my house. Now the habit of looking at my bills and reducing expenses feels natural, it does not feel like punishment or deprivation.

      At 55 I started preparing my house so that I can age in place. I was having work done that targeted safety issues, but as we put things back together we raised the electric outlets out, reconfigured dangerous stairs and so on. I cut future costs by putting on a sheet metal roof (I won’t have to pay someone to roof rake.) I put a lid on the ground level above the septic tank. (I don’t have to look for my septic tank any more and I don’t have to pay for them to dig up the lid.) I have done dozens of small projects like this. Things will be much easier to handle as I age.

      I paid ahead on my mortgage enough so that before I hit 65 I am mortgage free. (This is after paying off my late husband’s medical bills, and taking out another 30 year loan on the house.) It took some fancy dancing to get here but I made it this far.

      I decided that I wanted regular groups that I do things with, I wanted to know my neighbors, and I absolutely had to do things each day to protect my health. This is the foundational stuff, I have done other things along the way that just popped up and I decided to do them. When you have a solid foundation to work off of, it’s surprising how many different things you can try or participate in.

      1. Bethlam*

        “At 55 I started preparing my house so that I can age in place.” My husband and I lived in our first house for 20 years – lots of steps, laundry/freezer/wood furnace in the basement. When our area started to see more growth, we bought property farther out and built a house. I was having trouble with my knees, and this was planned as our retirement home, so we built with that in mind. Ranch house, wider doors to accommodate future wheelchairs, easy in/out bath with bench seat, laundry on the first floor, outdoor woodburner to reduce the mess/clean-up inside.

    16. acmx*

      Ok this is a slight tangent but some things I want to sort out before 50 is preparing for death. So getting a will, POA, DNR, picking out urns (so my relative doesn’t have to but not sure I want to buy and hold one yet), buying a plot, updating beneficiary now that my last parent has passed (this is what prompted me to get this done). And I’m trying to figure what I want to do when I retire and where. It’s just me so possibilities are endless (ugh).

    17. Not Australian*

      I would have learned to drive. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t really regret not learning (I tried a couple of times, but I wasn’t very good at it) and I’m lucky enough to (a) have a husband who loves driving and (b) live in an area with good public transport, but of course if I am ever – perish the thought – left alone I will need to be sure public transport is available wherever I live, and that *does* reduce the options a bit.

  11. Anima*

    Short question:
    How do you fit “fun stuff” like hobbies in your schedule?
    In my case it’s only work/learning, and when I get free time it’s chores.
    Do you block time off? How do you make yourself use that time for fun activities?
    Whenever I find a free slot in my day I fit another worksheet for school in or do laundry – so I don’t fall behind. (I fall behind super easily, currently fighting with those two Wednesdays worth of uni work where I could-just-not and now I’m really behind.)
    It’s absolutely no fun living like this and I swear I had that down before and did fun stuff and could go to brunch *and* learn enough.

    1. AcademiaNut*

      If you’re working and going to school and doing the household stuff, there’s not necessarily much time left over for anything else!

      I don’t know how old you are, but I’ve found that as I get older, I can’t keep up the pace I did when I was in my early 20s – when I regularly had not enough sleep, a crappy diet, but energetic enough to manage a grueling schedule and still be ready to go out. These days, I need my sleep and healthy food and down time to work efficiently.

      1. allathian*

        I agree with AcademiaNut here. When I was in HS and college I studied full time, in HS I took advanced classes in everything except math so my schedule was pretty full. In my junior and senior year I also worked 20 hours a week. At the time, all stores were closed on Sundays here, so I had at least one day every week with basically nothing scheduled. I still found time to see my friends. Now I’m astonished I had the energy to do all that. I did a professional certification last year, and while it was nowhere the amount of work, I wouldn’t have had much energy for socializing, even if the pandemic hadn’t put a stop to it anyway.

        I’m astonished how I managed in college to go out on Friday, stay out until restaurants closed at 3 am, work Saturday afternoon and evening when I’d recovered from my (slight) hangover, go out again on Saturday evening and return home late, and still be able to do my laundry and cleaning chores that I hadn’t had time to do during the week on Sunday. It has to be said that I’m in an area where the drinking age is 18 and where college tuition up to a master’s degree is free. I’ve never had as much disposable income as I did in college. I did save some of it, but most of it went on frivolities like going to bars and restaurants. I could even afford to take a cab home!

        1. allathian*

          All this to say that it’s very situational.

          Now that I’m older and have a family, most of the time I used to spend on fun stuff before I need to spend on self-care or with my family now.

    2. A.N. O'Nyme*

      I usually set aside time for my hobbies at times where I know I won’t be productive for school anyway. Most people have a time where they are really productive and a time where they aren’t (some people are super productive in the morning and not at all in the evening, or vice versa) so it may help to determine when that super productive time is for you.
      Considering you had it down before and this seems to be a recent development however, it might also be worth it to examine what might have caused this change. That may be something to talk to a good friend or trusted family member or therapist about.

    3. Teapot Translator*

      What AcademiaNut said. Ten years ago, I could work full time and take two classes each semester. Now, I only take one.
      Another part of the answer is, annoyingly, money. I pay someone to come and clean my apartment every two weeks. That frees up my time because I’m a bit messy so I don’t mind waiting two weeks for things to be clean.

    4. Katefish*

      This may sound odd, but if your schedule is fairly packed, book stuff you enjoy into a specific time, whether or not you’re done with your ongoing tasks. My husband and I both love the beach and are within easy driving distance, so we try to go once a week in summer. (Alas, we don’t live somewhere where 4 seasons of beach would be enjoyable, though there’s always that one unseasonably warm winter day.) This is literally a goal I set like life insurance and stuff for work, except once I get to the beach, I enjoy it instead of still treating it as a task. You could similarly schedule anything you enjoy. Also, it sounds like you work and go to school. My memories of working and going to grad school are an exhausted haze, but I’ve had more me time once I was done with school. (I did, however, still schedule beach time and weekend retreats during grad school to maintain what little sanity I had – at one point I had a mental rule: if I’m not at work or in class and the weather’s nice, I must go to the beach. I had so much going on this led to just enough beach time, not too much.)

      1. Pop*

        This is similar to my approach – people often ask me how I have so much time to go hiking. I block it off on my calendar it every other weekend (one summer it was literally a recurring appointment) and so then my brain considers that day busy and committed to going. I also will say my husband does the majority of the housework and only works four days a week, so I just *do* have more free time than someone who is doing most of that on their own and/or in school in addition to work.

        1. Aly_b*

          This. I think also having a regular thing you do every week or every month takes some of the mental and admin overhead out of it. If you know you go to brunch with mostly the same folks at mostly the same place the last Sunday of every month, the setup is a quick text to confirm rather than trying to come up with what to do, who to invite, and when and where will work for everyone, which can take… honestly at this point in my life like a week of texts.

    5. Falling Diphthong*

      Block time off. And do whatever-it-is early–if you intend to get to it late, it’s very easy to let slide off. Once you are sure you’ll do it, you can move around the schedule with more flexibility.

    6. Nursey*

      I read a really interesting article that resonated with me. It was about housework. It said that each day, in each room, set a time for 10 minutes and only clean for those 10. Now, if you live in a 20 bedroom mansion, this isn’t going to work but I’m going to assume that you live in a fairly normal 3/4 bed, 2 bath house. Say you spent 10 mins in the bathroom today, tomorrow you do a different job in that bathroom and so on. Also, laundry. I never iron clothes. I either peg them out or I have an indoor contraption called an airer/maiden/clothes horse (in my country few people have tumble dryers unless they live in the south and even then, not many do). As long as you have ventilation, you can put clothes to dry indoors and even in our worst winters, there’s usually at least one day a week for towels, bedding etc. to be hung outside. If you do this, ironing is history.

      Secondly, do the 10 mins during study breaks. Study for 40 mins, 10 mins cleaning, 10 to make coffee or whatever, then study again. Eat well and wholesome food, don’t eat processed foods, to keep your energy up.

      It’ll take a couple of weeks but you’ll get in to a new routine :-)

    7. Cat Mom*

      When I was in grad school and the workload was potentially infinite, I took a non-credit class in my favorite physical activity.

    8. sociolx*

      One thing that’s helped me is to schedule “fun stuff” in for things I need to do anyway. For example, going to the gym to run on a treadmill is a chore. Signing up for rock climbing (or rec league basketball, or whatever) is fun *and accomplishes something you have to do anyway.* Commuting to work (in the pre-covid times) is a chore, but I can knit/listen to audiobooks/other personal ‘hobbies’ at the same time.

      The other thing I try to do to free up some time (and like someone else said, if you’re in school and working there still might not be a lot of it!) is to deliberately schedule my chores into my planner. I block out, say, 1.5 hours to do laundry on a Saturday, or an hour to clean the bathroom on a Monday night, or whatever. This keeps me from feeling stressed about when I’ll find time to do the chore (it’s on the calendar!) so I don’t feel obligated to try to squeeze it in when I’m already busy and tired.

    9. matcha123*

      I quasi schedule it in. Much of my week has a loose routine: Wash dishes after every meal, do laundry every other day, wipe down dusty places/sweep, etc. Once I get into my routine, I have a good idea of how much time I need for each task and then I start adding more time to other things I want to do: Study a new subject, puzzle, color.

      I recently started making monthly schedules and checking off when I do something on my schedule.

    10. lemon meringue*

      Similar to others here, I find that if I have a regular schedule, I will stick to it better. For example, I’ve just joined a kayaking club that lets me rent a kayak unlimited times a month. I know that if I actually want to use it, I need to create a regular routine to fit it in, otherwise it will be used zero times a month. The energy of making the plan is often greater than the energy of actually doing the thing. I also find that it helps to actually commit to a plan in some way–either by signing up for a class or finding a friend to do the activity with you.

    11. OyHiOh*

      Like a few other commentors, I schedule it in. I use my work Outlook calendar, because that one is set to give all kinds of annoying alerts on upcoming meetings/tasks. The heading/what my co workers can see, is “Personal.” I put the activity or address in the Where field, and any reminders – pack leggings, long sleeve T, long socks for skating – in the notes. My week is peppered with “personal” appointments. My therapy appointments, ice skating twice a week, Sunday morning sketching, etc. Making them official appointments help in two ways. They block out a time I am committed to do something but also, by giving an end time, they make sure I don’t get so involved in an activity that I don’t get to the next thing scheduled.

    12. ZenApologized*

      I consciously carve out time for what I want to do. Simple, but true. I’m balancing a job, MBA, rugby refereeing (and the training that goes with it) and trying to enjoy living on a new continent.
      I have a rough idea of how much time per week each thing gets, and I try to work flexibly. I use lunch to train, and I eat at my desk while I work – that gives me an hour back. Saturday afternoons and evenings are for refereeing, no ifs and buts.
      I work study around my ‘spare’ time – get up a little early, go to bed a little late.
      I cook, my wife cleans the kitchen. I do the groceries, she looks after the nomincal garden that we have.

      I mean, it’s a kinda full life, but we try to find ways of maximizing our time together and apart. Easier for us, my son is in the US with his Mom, and my wife and I aren’t. I think adding a kid to our mix would add an exponential amount of complexity.

  12. BasketFace*

    I’ve just agreed to buy a house (finally in a crazy property market) and it’s a small house in the countryside. The only downside is that it’s built on a slope so it has lots of concrete steps that lead up to it outside (and no other way of getting from the driveway to the front door). Aside from being a pain if I ever decide to invest in a bike or a baby stroller I’m hoping there’s nothing else I need to factor in. Which leads me to….do you have any after rental/purchase disappointments with where you live? The kind of thing you wished you’d realised before moving in? I love hearing these!

    1. Wishing You Well*

      When we moved into our current house, the previous owner removed a lot of things. Things that were screwed/physically attached to the house. We had asked multiple times for a list of what she was taking but she never made that list. She removed shelves and bedside lamps that were screwed to the walls and DRAPES! The lamps left large damaged spots in the wallpaper. At least our real estate agent put his foot down and said she had to replace the drapes which she did – with the cheapest possible drapes that were too long. We also found no window coverings on many windows when we moved in. It was like living in a fishbowl until we could get window shades. After the sale, she even came back twice wanting more things like a $5 thermometer nailed to the back deck.
      Moral: NEVER buy a property without a walk-through the day before closing. Be prepared to reschedule or cancel the closing, if necessary.

      1. Former Child*

        YES! I’ve heard horror stories when I worked for a realtor. The time you have leverage is before Closing!
        Let the seller who ripped out builtins be the one who’s left in the lurch, not you.

      2. Mstr*

        ??? Wall sconces I would expect to stay, but drapes I would consider furnishings that are meant to be removed.

        1. Jackalope*

          The thing with drapes is that they’re generally sized to fit the specific window, so unless you’re moving to a new place with windows that are the same size, you can’t use them. In addition, the furniture might fit differently around different windows, etc., so usually from my experience the drapes stay.

        2. Clisby*

          I would have, too, unless the sales contract specifically said window treatments would stay.

    2. Decidedly Me*

      I didn’t realize how bad our house was for gardening until we started trying it during the pandemic. We just don’t get enough sunlight. It wasn’t even on our list of things to consider, but will be next time!

      1. Overeducated*

        We thought two small garden beds would be easier to maintain than a larger grassy lawn. Ahahahahahaha. No.

    3. Falling Diphthong*

      I didn’t realize how much the low ceilings would inconvenience those taller than me. That’s now top of the list when we move. (Likely within a couple of years, now that kids are out of school.)

      1. The cat’s ass*

        My house is basically a bunch of glass and redwood boxes flung up against a hill connected by stairs. Lots of stairs. Next house will all be on one level.

        1. I take tea*

          If I could sew I would totally do the same. So practical! Proper pockets are the best.

          I found a lovely video on YouTube with a woman who made pockets in all her skirts and dresses, in different styles. It was fascinating to watch.

        2. I take tea*

          Sorry, my phone had a hiccup, this was supposed to go elsewhere. I tried to say to The cat’s ass that it sounds very pretty, but maybe not very practical.

        3. Windchime*

          I recently moved into a one-level home and I love it so much, I don’t care if I ever see another stair again. I was so tired of going up and down those stairs in my other house.

      2. uncivil servant*

        I almost bought a house with a basement with 6′ ceilings. The basement wasn’t finished, it was in an area that tends to flood so I wasn’t planning on it, but it wasn’t until I saw my realtor bent over that I realized the height might be a problem. I’ve since gotten married to someone who wouldn’t fit too easily and I’m glad I didn’t buy that house. But to a 5’1 woman, it really wasn’t an issue at all.

      3. BasketFace*

        I’m so glad you mentioned this! I’m 5’4 and the ceiling in the garage conversion is so low I can touch it…which is fine for me but now that I think of it I have some tall friends. Changing the roof and ceiling on the garage conversion is one of the first things to do on my list.

    4. Overeducated*

      My house is extremely leaky. The first and second floors had a massive temperature differential in the winter, the thermostat is on what is probably the warmest possible wall in the house, and we know we must be losing lots of heat through the old wooden single pane windows even with storm windows outside. I am not sure how to address this apart from putting plastic wrap over the windows in winter. I’m considering an energy audit, but am not sure if they will recommend things we can actually afford to do or that will not involve just replacing the historic parts of the house (like ripping up 120 year old hardwood floors to put in insulation, or replacing the windows with vinyl).

      1. Ranon*

        First steps to fixing leaky are usually not terribly expensive and things you can DIY- you can get a long ways with caulk and spray foam! Usually old houses first is to air seal the attic and then pile in cellulose insulation, then insulate and seal rim joists, and caulk/ weatherstrip doors and windows. There’s some good DIY guides out there, and an energy audit can tell you what will get you the most bang for your limited bucks. They know folks don’t have unlimited funds so the whole point is to make recommendations that have the shortest payback period- and the comfort improvements can be pretty significant too!

        1. ronda*

          if its water leaks…. my and my parents experience was that it was kind of impossible to fix :)
          worker would say it was fixed, but it never was.

          I tried energy audit and doing some fixes for the place being too cold, and I never really felt like it was much improvement in comfort, but maybe the people who did it for me did a shitty job.

    5. ronda*

      when I bought my house I thought the yard was small… but when I tried to mow it…. I learned that it was way too big. (less than a 1/4 acre– I am a wimp). So I hired someone to do it for me. I also had a ~ 4 ft hill to the sidewalk (driveway was well enough sloped, but yard was not). Very painful for keeping looking kept, but at a certain point developers near me redid the sidewalk and put in a retaining wall for me :)

      Also a detached garage was kind of useless to me, but when my friends’ kid stayed with me during college, he really enjoyed using it for his moped work.

      I also learned that I really didn’t like being responsible for house mtc…. so now I am in an apartment and planning to be for the rest of my life. But who knows…… maybe I will change my mind.

    6. The Other Dawn*

      For me it was not finding out before we bought the house that the well was under the family room floor.

      The house was built in 1735 so the well at that time would have been outside directly behind the house; however, an addition was put on the house maybe somewhere in the early 1900s before permits were required. When the house was inspected as part of the purchase, the inspector mistakenly thought the city sewer cap was the well cap (he didn’t open it) and we didn’t know any better since we’d never had well water before.

      Fast forward to our first week in the house when the water wasn’t working. Turns out it was a bad pressure tank and not a bad well pump, but the guys who came out were looking all over the yard for the well cap and couldn’t find it, which meant they couldn’t inspect the pump. They discovered the cap in the yard was the city sewer.

      A few months later my husband happened to be walking barefoot in the family room and felt an outline under the rug. Thinking it could be a hatch to the well, he cut the carpet and pulled it back. Yup, it was a hatch cut into the floor to get to the well. He opened the hatch and there it was–a perfectly round, hand-dug, stacked-stone well…a very deep one. The pump looks to be about 10 feet down.

      We had someone come out to look and any work that will need to be done on the pump will require a couple people since they would have to literally lower one person down while the other is topside to supervise. When it’s time to replace the pump, which will have to replaced to bring it up to code, they will need to take it out through the family room window since that is the straightest line from the well. Gonna be expensive, too!

      At first it freaked me out knowing this very deep well is literally just a couple feet from the floor under my feet, but now I don’t even think about it. Had I known about it before we bought the house, we may not have bought it since we were tight on money then and couldn’t have afforded to replace the pump. But in a way I’m glad I didn’t know, because I love the house and the property. We probably would have ended up in a house that’s half the size with 1/4 of the property for more money that what we spent on this one.

    7. Lujessmin*

      There was bamboo on the back fence line when I bought my house. Nobody told me bamboo spread. ☹️ It’s been beaten back, but on cool rainy days you can watch it grow.

    8. Healthcare Worker*

      If the house is on a slope, be sure to check the drainage in the backyard. Our first home.had a similar setup and we had to do a good bit of work to mitigate the damage. We installed a french drain and other landscaping. The worst part was water damage in the lower floor. Be sure to have it well inspected. Good luck!

    9. Holly the spa pro*

      Our house came with leased solar panels which we thought would not be a big deal and would be nice to not have to maintain them. But we thought the energy surplus would be paid back to us, instead its just a credit on our electric bill so that covers the $20 worth of service fees but none of the other overage is paid back to us. On top of that the lease payment goes up by a few dollars every year and it doesnt really save us very much money compared to traditional utilities. It may have been more worth it if we had more people in the house using energy but its just my husband and i. 0/10 dont buy a house with leased anything attached.

    10. Dancing Otter*

      When I bought my first house, one thing I liked was the deep chocolate brown carpeting. It looked to be in pretty good condition, so I hired carpet cleaners before moving the furniture. Shock! It wasn’t brown at all, just uniformly filthy!

      The garage was detached. OK, given the size/shape of the lot, that made sense. I didn’t notice before buying that it only had the big car door, no regular door. That was tiresome, but not the worst. The way the garage door opener was installed, you couldn’t open it by hand (well, not unless you’re a power lifter, and not worried about breaking the mechanism). And some idiot put the fuse box INSIDE the garage. After running an extension cord from the house through the garage window to the opener, I never again used the electric mower without leaving the garage door open.

  13. Loopy*

    So, we have almost committed to going to San Fransisco this December. The kicker is we will need a car for some aspects of our trip well outside the city, and we may need flexibility due to weather, so we’ll have a car the entire time but keep it parked for anything we’re doing within the city.

    This brought me to the dilemma of finding a hotel with free parking, as paying a high nightly rate really isn’t in our budget. I was finding reviews of some saying it was a joke how few spaces they had when the advertised parking available, and then, I found a site that said the Marina area was my best best but couldn’t figure out if that was walkable to a BART station.

    In short, San Fransisco with a car is stumping me. Has anyone done it and how and/or can anyone give advice on how easily it is to get to public transit from areas that are more likely to have hotels with parking?

    All logistics info welcome, I am pretty stumped on where to avoid due to safety, where is going to be a huge headache on the days we are in the city and not using the car, etc.

    1. sswj*

      How about something like Zipcar? I don’t know if the times you’ll need the car will be longer than their max rental time though.

      1. Loopy*

        probably full day trips from early morning until evening, but I’ll check the limit. Also are they readily available? I’ve never used them and dont know if they are ever just all booked.

    2. Janet Pinkerton*

      I would try to do reserved multi-night parking at a BART station. Bart dot gov slash guide slash parking. It’ll likely be not in SF proper but (as you might guess) a BART ride away.

      1. Loopy*

        Oh thank you, this is a great suggestion I may have never come across! I’ve done a bit of research and it hadn’t come up as a suggestion!

      2. They Don’t Make Sunday*

        This is a good idea. The Daly City BART station has ample parking. It’s the closest station to SF, and it looks like reserved parking (through the official BART app) costs $6/day and lets you park beyond the 24-hour limit. (Weekends are free.) There’s a service advisory right now saying BART closes nightly at 9pm, so factor that in.

        Zipcar might also be a good bet if you don’t want to keep a car the whole time.

        The Marina is not close to BART at all.

        Also, everyone’s about to warn you that when you park in SF, leave absolutely nothing in your car, and if you keep something in the trunk, put it in the trunk before you leave so that you’re not seen doing it after you park somewhere. Car break-ins are back up to pre-pandemic levels.

        1. Loopy*

          I think zipcar would work great for what we need (just two separate day trips) except I saw terrible reviews that cars in the zipcar fleet really aren’t kept up at all- to the point where they aren’t even reliable, and some reviewers advised against even leaving the city in a zipcar in case something happens! That made me extra nervous.

          The security was the only think I was hestitant on with parking it at a BART station- it would be a rental and have nothing in it, but it the car itself safe for days unattended? I’d hate to have something happen and the rental company make us pay.

          1. I.*

            Read the fine print of the car rental. I’ve never been on the hook for broken windows etc of a rental, but it may depend on which tier you choose when you book. My credit card also has great travel insurance for this kind of thing, worth checking out if you do too.

      3. Blackcat*

        Yeah, this is my recommendation. Pick a BART station in the direction you will most likely go–Daly City for trips south, maybe Rockridge for trips east. Unfortunately there’s no good options for trips north.

    3. Allie*

      I wouldn’t do SF without a car but that’s because I could never skip going Muir Woods (I have family in SF though). Can you cut costs somewhere else?

    4. Lizabeth*

      When we went out to SF to see America’s Cup racing we stayed at a motel on the main drag in the Marina area, rented bikes for the week, biked and walked everywhere. What we did for Muir Woods was bike over the bridge to a bus stop, locked the bikes up and took the bus to the park. Glad we did that because the road to the park was very narrow with no shoulder – not something I’d want to bike! We didn’t use the BART system so the stations weren’t on our radar screen. Would love to go back…

    5. Falling Diphthong*

      When we went 15 years ago (toddler and grandma, so wanted the car), we stayed in a place north of the park that I found in a guide book specifically as popular because it had free parking. It was quirky but fun; a quick google doesn’t bring it up. A guidebook, or googling on “free parking,” may be the way to go.

      When we went more recently looking at colleges (so driving up and down the state), we stayed at the Lodge at Tiburon north of SF. If you just want 1 or 2 days in SF and a couple of days in the parks to the north, this can be a good option.

      1. The cat’s ass*

        If you stay a little bit outside of the city in a bedroom community or even WAY out ( like San Mateo south or Berkeley or Emeryville east), many places have reduced or free parking or safe/free/inexpensive on street parking. I hope you have a wonderful trip!

        1. Blackcat*

          Going further out, there are multiple hotels in Walnut Creek that are walkable to that BART station, and I think they all have free parking.

      2. Loopy*

        I think we want to go to see Muir Woods but also potentially go to some winery places- so we may be going in different directions. I think my husband would like to stay in SF proper since we’d like to do a lot in the city. I found a few places with free parking but didn’t know if we’d need or want to be close to the BART yet, mostly due to weather concerns. I think that’s what makes this extra challenging. It’s going to be rainy and cold so I’d hate to not be ANYWHERE near the BART in case we get terrible weather.

        1. Squeakrad*

          We live in SF and haven’t had a car for years. Pre-pandemic we often rented cars fir weekends, but since the pandemic started we are using a service called Kyte that might be of interest to you. It’s a service that delivers rental cars to you for any length of time – a day, a few days a week – rates very comparable to Rent-A-Car places. It may solve your problem if you just need a car for day trips as very few good hotels in San Francisco offer free parking.

        2. Falling Diphthong*

          On my last trip to SF I got around by Uber or taxi. I’ve done that in other major cities, too–it normally costs less than a rental and I don’t have to figure out parking.

    6. ATX*

      I would avoid the rental car until you do your excursions outside the city. Pick a couple of days and plan where you’ll go, then stay in the city the rest of the time and uber, walk, or jump bike! That’s what I do, and I’ve been to SF 7 times :)

      My husband and I always stay at the Hayes Valley Inn. It’s the perfect little place in a cute area. It does have shared bathrooms though (I think 2 on each floor) but I’ve never had an issue with it. I just booked it actually and 2 nights were 230 with tax, really can’t beat that in the city!

      1. Loopy*

        My husband likes this approach and normally I’d be all for it. My concern is flexibility. If we only have the car for two days and it rains both days, the outdoor trip to Muir woods will not be ideal. I want to make sure we can switch some things around to get there on the most decent weather day we can. It’s probably what I’m looking forward to the absolute most so I’m particularly anxious about it.

        1. Sparrow*

          I lived in San Francisco without a car for four years, and my roommates and I used GetAround to go on trips outside the city. There’s a parking area in the Mission Bay neighborhood that has 6 or 7 cars that we had no problems driving and had good availability. And the lot is accessible by the T Muni line.

        2. ATX*

          Muir Woods is amazing :) highly recommend going off the “tourist trail” path. I can’t remember exactly where it is but you’ll be on the main path then up to the right is a hill with a path, it’s wonderful. No screaming kids :)

    7. WoodswomanWrites*

      I’m responding to your question about safety and areas to avoid. A neighborhood you should stay away from is the Tenderloin. Rough boundaries show up on Google maps with a search for the keywords Tenderloin San Francisco. The western, northern, and southern boundaries on the map align with where I agree things are sketchy, but the other boundary extends a little too far east in terms of safety. You’re better off considering Powell Street as the border on that side.

      Twin Peaks is a location that’s well-known as a tourist destination for seeking views of the city. As a result, it’s become a targeted area where people on foot have been robbed. You’ll have plenty of other appealing places to go so I suggest you skip that.

      Although it’s a safe neighborhood to explore on foot, Nancy Pelosi Drive in Golden Gate Park, adjacent to the California Academy of Sciences, has the highest rate of car break-ins in the entire city. This isn’t an opinion, it’s documented by the police department. Leave zero visible and as someone else mentioned, put your belongings in your trunk long before you arrive so no one sees you place them there. Actually, that’s true anywhere in San Francisco.

  14. Ewing41*

    Spanish speakers, I need your help!

    I recently had a baby, and we named him Titus. My father-in-law, who grew up in South America and speaks fluent Spanish, told us the Spanish version of Titus is “Tito”. We loved it and have been using Tito as a nickname. My aunt heard the nickname and chastised us for using it, saying it’s “very racist” and a slur used against Mexicans. We’ve asked all our Spanish speaking friends and family, and none of them were aware of this. Most of them are from South America, none from Mexico, and we live in the Midwest, so maybe it’s a regional thing? However, my aunt always wants to be the most enlightened/culturally aware person in the room, and it sadly wouldn’t be the first time she’s told a lie to gain the moral high ground (so ironic, I know).

    However, if the name has a negative connotation, I want to nip it in the bud. So, what say you, fellow readers?

    1. Biel*

      Could she perhaps be confusing ‘Tito’ with ‘Chico’? I’ve never hear of Tito being a slur and and can’t find any reference to it.

      1. Choggy*

        Yeah, there are a number of famous people named Tito, one is Tito Puente the musician. If your aunt has a history of lying to gain the moral high ground with nothing to back it up with, there’s your answer. Keep calling your son Tito, it’s a great nickname!

        1. Ewing41*

          Thank you so much! I just bundled him into a swaddle and will be shamelessly calling him “Tito Burrito” for the rest of the morning.

    2. Sis Trouble*

      Is it possible that your aunt misheard and thought you were calling your child, “Gringo?”

      I have been a Spanish teacher for 35+ years. I have never encountered the idea that “Tito” had a negative connotation.

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

        Gringo is a word used to describe a “white/foreigner looking” person. It’s not offensive.

        1. Sis Trouble*

          Umm… sometimes, depending on the region, the term “gringo” does have a derogatory connotation.

            1. c-*

              Yep, but gringo is offensive towards USians (in the line of ‘clueless white anglo tourist’), not towards Latinx* people, so that doesn’t apply in this case.
              And Tito is not offensive at all. It is either a given name or a loving nickname for your uncle (tío > tito). I humbly think your Aunt is full of BS, Ewing41.

              * please nobody @ me about the x, we queer Spanish speakers have been using it for decades, no it was not invented by white anglo academics.

    3. Texan In Exile*

      I am not a native speaker, but I have been learning Spanish since I was five. I have lived in Spain, Panama, Chile, and Miami.

      I have never heard that “Tito” is an insult. It’s a nickname for Ernesto, I thought.

    4. Green Octopus*

      Latin American Spanish varies a ton between countries (or regions within a country). Go look up “Oh, how hard it is to speak Spanish!” on Youtube.

      I’m Mexican. My Spanish is crap, though, so I’m not the most reliable source here, but “Tito” being insulting doesn’t ring a bell.

      1. Green Octopus*

        Having now spoken to a Mexican immigrant relative: “Tito” is totally 100% fine.

        Your family member might be confusing it with “pito”, which is like calling someone a dick.

    5. ampersand*

      I grew up in a texas/Mexico border town and (unless I’ve missed something), I’m almost 100 percent certain that Tito is not a slur. It’s a (nick)name, and I don’t see any reason not to use it!

    6. Callisto*

      I am a moderately proficient speaker of Puerto Rican Spanish and this is not a thing to my knowledge, just to contribute another dialect to the knowledge base.

    7. ATX*

      I speak Spanish as a second language and have friends from all over Latin America and Spain. I asked my friends from Spain, Argentina, and Venezuela and Tito is not offensive in any way.

      If you look it up in word reference, it’s actually used uncle in various dialects.

      Anddd Tito was a powerful Roman Empire. Tito’s Arc is still one of the most visited monuments in Rome.

      Last point lol, if you take the diminutive form of many names it includes Tito. Robertito, alerbertito, etc.

  15. Grand Admiral is Still Blue*

    I’m so sorry, I can’t allow these here because I have no way of vetting them and don’t want to be in the position of having to pick and choose which are and aren’t allowed, or opening the site up to people who might crowd-fund fraudulently. I’m very sorry! – Alison

  16. Drinking problem - my parents*

    How do you start the serious conversation of parents’ drinking problem, and how can you help them drink less when you’re not around?

    My dad has always been a bit of a lush, drinks at night, and only until recently (a vacation with them) did I see how drunk he really gets and apparently he gets like that every night. His cousin just died of pancreatic issues from excessive drinking and his sister also had drinking problems.

    My mom takes all kind of mental health meds, I don’t know exactly what but I know she takes Klonopin + antidepressant + mood stabilizer, and last night she got so drunk she was babbling in her sleep for 3 hours. Just talking nonsense. She says she tries not to drink during the week at home, but it seems like while they’re on vacation, having just a couple of drinks with dinner is not a thing.

    I don’t count the number of drinks but I’m sure it’s at least 10 for my dad and maybe close to that amount for my mom if she got the way she did last night. And if course, pouring their own glasses of wine so who knows how much it truly is.

    I know my dad likely won’t listen, he’s stubborn and a grump, so my real chance to discuss my concerns is with my mom. I’ve brought up his drinking before and she knows it but then she gets in a drunken stupor like last night.

    My parents are in their late 60’s now and my brother and I have been out of their house for 15 years.

    1. Thunderstorm*

      I’m sorry, that’s really stressful. My parents are/were similar. But you can’t help someone to drink less unless they want that. You can express concern, offer to help them get in touch with a doctor/support group/rehab, but the motivation has to come from within the person. I had to draw very strong boundaries and go low-contact, because that is what I could control.

    2. Amtelope*

      You can start the conversation by telling your mom that you’re worried about her drinking, and asking if she’s worried about it, too. If she’s trying not to drink part of the time, how’s that going? Does she feel like she needs more help to avoid drinking more than she wants? Can she talk to her doctor about that, and about whether drinking is safe with the meds she’s taking?

      What you can’t do is “help them drink less.” It’s important not to go into this conversation believing that you can control your parents’ drinking. You can express your concerns, you can encourage them if they want to cut down or stop, you can help them reach out for treatment if they want it, but you can’t make them stop drinking, and you can’t “help them” stop drinking if they don’t want to stop.

    3. Difficult Conversations*

      You cannot “get them” to drink less when you are not around. You can certainly talk to your mom and try to convince her but you can’t make them do anything. The sooner you can let go of that, the better–otherwise you’re going to be investing a lot of your own FEELINGS into every interaction and conversation and that will make everything way harder. Don’t get me wrong: the FEELINGS are totally legitimate and understandable, but they won’t be helpful to you, both in terms of your own emotional health and in terms of the effectiveness of the actual conversations themselves. If you go in with the agenda of “make X happen” or “convince person of Y”, you are setting yourself up for so much misery. Certainly gather your resources and make your pitch to your mom, but don’t make your happiness contingent upon their compliance with your vision of how they should do things (no matter how legitimate your concerns).

      My experience with this is different from yours, but ultimately I had to make that emotional distance or I would have both gone crazy and the relationship to my parents would have disintegrated.

      1. sequined histories*

        All this is very well put. As hard as it is, inwardly letting go of your need to achieve a certain outcome will be healthier for you and even for your relationship with them! It’s a strangely paradoxical truth, and, for most people, it’s something that takes time and a conscious decision to shift to their mindset to accept. That’s why people are recommending Al Anon—it’s their focus.

        I know my parents loved me and wanted ME to have a good life. That was one idea that helped me in wrestling with this. You don’t have to reject your parents—or even love them any less—but this is not a situation—like maybe nursing a loved one through an acute illness—where your effort and sacrifice now will pay off long term.

        It’s really and truly a situation where putting yourself first is better for everyone in the long run. There are some very hard limits on what you can do here to help your folks, but the amount of damage you can do to yourself by not accepting that is pretty open-ended, alas.

    4. Mirabel*

      If you don’t think you can tackle the entire issue, can you point out very specific incidents/behavior to at least make them more aware. I did this with my mom, who is also a heavy drinker. We were out somewhere together with one car. I’d been feeling a little under the weather so had asked if she could do the driving. She said that was fine but she had way too much drink at that outing and I had to drive us, a truly miserable experience feeling really sick while handling my drunk mother. I told her afterwards how much that upset me and she realized she’d messed up. It hasn’t stopped her drinking completely but now she is far more aware of her intake when she is the one responsible for driving. So could you point out a specific habit or situation to express your concern and ask them to cut down on that particular thing? Might be easier to convey than a general ‘you drink too much all the time’.

    5. gsa*

      You can not fix them.

      As an adult child of an alcoholic, you should go meetings, AA or what you can find. My mother was a little and then an adult child of an alcoholic. It took her a long time to figure that out.

      Take care of yourself first. What’s that under control, you can “try” help them.

      I went through some of this after my mother passed. My father didn’t think he was drinking that much. But after some discussions, he figured out he going through (2) 1.75 liters a week!!! He was able to dial it back. Not everyone is.

      Cheers,

      gsa

      1. Not So NewReader*

        If you google “adult child of an alcoholic” (ACA) you will find tons of materials.
        Punchline like what everyone else said, you can’t fix them. The best you can do is work on realizing the importance of your own needs and finding ways of getting your own needs met.

    6. J.B.*

      I’m so sorry. Al-Anon may help, going to meetings with others in the same circumstance is comforting. With my dad I said my piece once and only once. It didn’t go that well at the time, fortunately he eventually sought treatment but it will be a long road.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        A friend is going to Al-Anon. She is doing very well, she has laid out boundaries and she has defined how she wants her life to go. Now she is working on the steps to send her life in that direction.

    7. OTGW*

      I hate saying this, but I don’t think you can do much to help them drink less. My dad is an alcoholic, and he’s been in and out of the hospital for ~10 years because of it. The last time he was in, the docs said he honestly should’ve died. But he’s a stubborn SOB. My family has talked to him about it, the docs have told him what’s gonna happen (thankfully he’s taking his meds but that can only do so much). But here we are. He drinks 2-8 beers a day.

      Be honest with your parents. Let them know how you feel, and if you’re comfortable with it, bring up medical and financial costs. My dad DESPISES being helpless. I brought that up one time and he didn’t drink for one (1) day lol. Is there something specific you can bring up like that?

      But honestly, you need to find a way to cope with the fact that they’re probably not gonna listen. I don’t have a lot of room to talk about that (my way of coping is pretending the problem doesn’t exist lmao) but still, I’m aware it needs to be dealt with. Others have mentioned it, but AA does have stuff for people who have loved ones who are alcoholics. I haven’t used it but my mom says they’re good.

    8. Anon.*

      As everyone is saying, you can’t fix this. I’d add that it might help to be really careful with them and yourself to frame it as a health problem (rather than a moral failing). Also, if either of them are receptive, you can look into options. Although a lot of experts see drinking to excess as something that needs to be stopped through complete abstinence, and that’s what you’ll see in a lot of AA and similar material, that’s actually not widely successful, and there is some evidence that for some people, drinking less is a meaningful and reasonable approach and goal. Look up abstinence vs moderation or harm reduction.

      1. Nursey*

        I agree with Anon. This is a health problem for your mother because her meds won’t be as efficacious if she’s drinking. Please do have a conversation about this with her, perhaps framing it as being worried about her mental health and the drinking and is the drinking a type of self medication because the meds aren’t working.

        In terms of your father it’s slightly harder as he is very aware of the risks but it also seems like maybe there’s something within the family, if his sister is the same. Also, remember that for people of a certain generation, they were brought up when drinking and smoking, was really normalised. This is now an addiction for your father and addictions are hard to break, even when you want too.

        I would start with mother and maybe she can effect the change for dad as well.

    9. sequined histories*

      My experience is that it cannot be done. I loved my parents so much, and I actually spent a lot of time with them in their final years, despite this problem. I would often go to bed really early in the evening when I was visiting them because I felt completely different about about hanging out with him once my father started drinking in the evening. When he was dying, I had a telephone conversation with one of his hired caregivers who was upset that he was forgoing his morphine so he could drink more. I told her, as gently as I could, that his children did not have the power to persuade him otherwise.

      If you see someone you love struggling with a medical problem, it’s the most natural thing in the world to want to “help,” but, in my experience, an adult child cannot “help” a parent who is embracing an addiction.

      Please take care of yourself. I am so, so sorry.

    10. RagingADHD*

      You get yourself to Al-Anon, stat.

      You can learn to honestly express how their drinking affects you, and what you observe about the way it affects them. You can’t help them / make them do, or not do, anything about it.

    11. ampersand*

      I’m so sorry—been there. You can express your concern, but I wouldn’t hold out hope that they’ll change. People have to want to change, and external pressure to change (even when it’s well-meaning! Even when you’re right!) rarely, if ever, works.

      Have you talked to your brother about it? If y’all are their caretakers if/when something happens, as they get older, etc., it might help to talk to him so he knows the situation and you’re on the same page. And if you can talk to your parents about what their plans are as they get older and what they want/expect in the event they encounter health problems, that might be a good thing—like even if you can’t change them, it could be reassuring to have a roadmap for how things might look. You don’t even have to frame it in terms of drinking; it could be a general conversation about their future wishes. I recommend this because it’s the best I could do with my own parents. I had to let go of thinking I could change anything.

    12. Mstr*

      Alcohol & most mental health medications are a bad mix (definitely the klonopin). Please research this/have your mom talk to her doctor if you can so she understands the dangers or perhaps can be switched to meds that are more compatible with drinking.

    13. Maxie's Mommy*

      I learned that nursing/retirement homes don’t take alcoholics (my uncle and realized Mom should not live alone). When we tried to place her, forget it. Those places said they had enough trouble. She wound up setting the house on fire via a smoking accident, and dying.

    14. Lizy*

      Good luck.

      My mom doesn’t drink THAT much – her problem is she doesn’t drink water. She seriously fainted a couple of years back because her water intake was like a cup a day. Literally.

      Honestly, I’ve given up. They’re old enough to know what they’re doing to their bodies. Either they care or they don’t. Stressing about it just causes me anxiety.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        It’s like watching a train derailment in slow motion. It can be extremely stressful and this is why OP it’s important for you to gather tools and support for yourself.

        I confronted my father. And then nothing happened. Twenty years later he filled up with fluids, his heart gave out at 72. I think the one thing that helped me was reviewing his life and trying to understand what it was like to be him. I sat down and cried over the hardships he went through. The best I could do for him was bring things into his life that gave him comfort. I bought him VCR tapes of movies that he loved (yeah this was years ago), small tools that he enjoyed, and I gave him natural products that I knew would help him with some of his smaller health issues. One time he had day surgery and I helped him with his bandages. As you can see, I did not make any significant changes in his life, nor did I do anything that “caused” him to quit drinking.

        It was very stressful as I felt all I was doing was putting patches on things. Things did not get better.

        There’s good videos on YT where studies corelate alcoholism to childhood trauma or other trauma. I found it helpful to learn what happens that people’s lives turn in this manner.

    15. Lilly of the valley*

      I know my father loved me and wanted to listen to me, but at the end of the day it was his body. My father cut his life short with his drinking and smoking, and a few times tried to cut down more when his health took a turn, but ultimately it was the way he did life. If I’m honest my regret is not that I failed to convince him (that was impossible), but that I didn’t stop sooner. Once I did, I got a proper relationship back with him which respected his wishes and made the most of our time together. My mother sounds a bit like yours in which she followed in his wake, probably drinking as a coping mechanism to keep in step and remain connected to him. She is the one who would set limits short of what he would’ve liked, but there wouldn’t be any limits at all on a holiday or something like that. It’s surprised me that even now he’s gone she will still drink quite a lot, more than I like, but she’s aware of the effects on her and she has to make her own decisions. She doesn’t like the calories, or the hangovers and yet still enjoys drinking, even though those things don’t go away. I think when you go forward with discussing it, rather than telling them what’s good for them, keep it focused on what you’re willing to do and how it affects you. So, talk about how it makes you worry, how it might make it tough to help them with elder care and how you probably won’t want to share their company when they’re drinking. When you’ve said something once, they aren’t likely to forget it so there’s very little value in repeating yourself.

  17. Teapot Translator*

    I’m asking a question I asked last week, but late on the weekend: do you use a book holder/stand? Not necessarily the ones for cooking, but one to read books in bed, on the sofa, at your desk? I’ve seen one that is like a big ring and a minimalist holder.
    I’d like to know if you use one and what are the pros and cons.
    Thank you!

    1. merope*

      I use a bamboo one that I got on Amazon. It lays flat when not in use and adjusts to various heights, and has two page holders to keep the book flat. I have it at my desk and use it to hold books while I am taking notes on what I’m reading. I could also use it for cooking, but since I bought it all the cookbooks I’ve used have laid flat naturally. I like it! The only con I’ve found is that the book needs to be neither too thick nor too thin as otherwise the page holders (which are under tension) won’t hold the pages open.

      1. slmrlln*

        I have a similar book holder on my desk for when I’m taking notes and it’s very useful. If the book is too thick or thin, you can use a string weight to help hold the pages. I’ve seen (though not recently) a version for reading on the sofa which has a pillow on the bottom and a hard surface on the top with elastic bands to hold the pages.

    2. jotab*

      https://www.kensington.com/en-gb/p/products/ergonomics/copyholders/officeassist-multi-function-copyholder/ I use this one. It doesn’t slip, holds paperbacks, hard covers, my kindle. Clip holds papers upright. Whiteboard, magnetic, spot for your markers & pens. I love reading and bought it mainly for books and my kindle. I use it when sitting at my desk or table but I also like to lay on the couch – then I just prop it up on a pillow or my lapdesk and balance it. Highly recommend

    3. Pippa K*

      I have one that slips over your thumb and has little wings that hold the book open. It’s sized to work with a trade-paperback sort of book. I don’t use it often but it does make it easier to hold a book and would be good for people with arthritis or weak hands. They’re cheap and Amazon even has some pretty wooden ones. (Less-evil retailers probably have them too – I searched for “thumb book holder”)

  18. Mirabel*

    I’ve posted a few times over the months about my roommate and dear friend (can’t remember my previous screen names so sorry for this being disconnected from those posts). Long story short Roomie has been going through a rough few months of losing her grandmother in December, her aunt in March, dealing with her own medical issues, and some work crazy. She has all my sympathy for how much she’s had to deal with… but as the person who shares a house with her and is around her the most, I am having an empathy burnout.

    Most days, Roomie is a quiet black cloud floating around our house. She doesn’t seem to have any energy. When we’re hanging out with other friends, she fakes it until we’re back home and then it’s almost an immediate deflate back to the quiet sulk. The littlest things will set her off into a crying fit. She was listening to a podcast that just briefly mentioned cancer (what her aunt died of) and she fell apart. I was talking to her last night about a TV show she’s been eager to watch finally dropping all its episodes. I asked if she was going to binge it this weekend and she said no because ‘I don’t have anything else in my life to look forward to after this so I want to stretch it out’ and then she started crying again.

    As an empathetic person, I’m trying to do what I can to support her and give her space without the expectation that she immediately be her old cheerful self again but I’m starting to feel at the end of my limit. With this last conversation about the show, I internally rolled my eyes and thought to myself ‘that’s a bit dramatic’. I feel bad that I’ve hit this point where my sympathy is running out. I’ve started to dread hearing her walk in the door because I know it’s a better chance than not that she’s not doing well.

    I think it might be stemming from feeling like I’m Roomie’s main support. She doesn’t talk to her family about her turmoil because they’re not great about sharing their feelings. I’ve gently suggested regular counseling, grief counseling, or support groups but she doesn’t want to do that. She talks to our friends a little bit when we’re hanging out but not much beyond that, from what I can tell. So I feel like it’s a lot on me. What can I do to be supportive but also protect myself from emotional burnout? I have family I can stay with for a night or two when I want a breather but that seems so extreme. Also I just want to be able to relax in my own home without feeling like I’m walking around on pins and needles, or needing to isolate in my room to avoid her.

    1. Purt’s Peas*

      Take a breather, first of all. Absolutely do! It’s not as good as having a comfortable house, but it’s not an extreme step, and it will feel good!

      Second, I’d have another conversation with her, “I’m not asking you to be cheerful or to stop grieving, but it’s time to talk to your doctor about grief support groups or therapy (or whatever you want to ask). I’m worried about you.”

      And I think you can have a conversation like, “I can’t always do the emotional stuff, even when you’re feeling awful, I’m sorry. I hope it would help to have another person or group to call. I won’t be able to do more than give you a quick hug.”

      I think you can also give yourself permission to disengage a bit. “I hear you. Hey, here’s a hug. Ok, I’ve gotta get my rice on the stove.”

      Continue also to offer intimacy when she’s not asking for grief support—a direct smile in the morning, watching a show together, give her a hug at other times if y’all are even slightly the hugging type.

      Good luck, it’s awful to be in the weeds of grief but it can also be tough to live with.

      1. merope*

        If you do have a conversation with her about getting help, I will note I found the discussion around the EAP here really useful in terms of maximum return for little effort. I called my EAP and they provided a list of providers that would be covered in my area, which really made the job of finding someone much easier that it would have been otherwise. If her work has an EAP then I would definitely recommend that, if the doctor is not an option.

    2. Not A Manager*

      I can absolutely understand why it’s hard to have someone in your vicinity who’s always under a black rain cloud, but I’m not clear on what is actually being required of you? You say that you’re her main support, but do you feel that you are being drawn into long conversations you don’t want, or that you’re always managing her feelings?

      Of course she needs some outside support, and you’re a good friend to suggest that, but if she won’t she won’t. If I were you, I would concentrate less on what she’s feeling and more on what you’re feeling. You can’t make things better for her, and you can only comfort her in a very local and transient sense. So go with YOUR OWN feelings about whatever her situation is. If she’s sulking and you don’t feel like drawing her out, don’t draw her out. Put on your headphones and read a book. If she’s crying and you don’t feel like being cried on, give her some space. Don’t let your empathy get you to BEC territory, because that’s bad for both of you.

      If you can truly give yourself permission to *not* take on her emotions when you don’t want to, I suspect that there will be times when you genuinely do have the emotional energy to engage with her.

      If I’ve read this wrong, and you really do think that she’s emoting AT you in order to force some kind of response, that’s a different issue. But if she’s basically sad and grieving, I would just give both of you some space so that she can do that.

    3. Wishing You Well*

      You need to take care of you. Stay with family a night or two as an experiment. Take note how you feel. Repeat the experiment, if you’re unsure how you feel. That will tell you if you need to part ways with Roomie.
      I’m empathic, too. So I couldn’t live with a perpetual black cloud who wasn’t a spouse or child. That’s not cold or selfish. That’s protecting my mental health. Walking on eggshells in your own home is not good. Consider asking a mental health professional how to deal with Roomie. Ask yourself: If nothing changes, am I okay living like this? You get to decide what’s best for you.
      Sending good thoughts

      1. Not A Manager*

        I’d like to gently push back on some of this. Mirabel probably will feel better if she takes a short break from Roomie. And it might be true that it’s best for them to part ways. But I wouldn’t infer that they need to part ways from the fact that a short vacation feels good. I think the better inference would be that *something* needs to change at home, so that Mirabel doesn’t have to keep leaving in order to feel okay.

        There are a lot of options between “if nothing changes am I okay living like this” and “one of us has to move out.” Most of those options involve either Mirabel changing some of her behavior, or Mirabel speaking plainly to her roommate about the roommate’s behavior.

        I suggested some possible changes to Mirabel’s behavior, which are basically “only provide the support you can provide with an open heart and a generous spirit.” But if her options come down to “either Roomie changes how she behaves or I’m leaving,” then I think it’s a kindness both to the roommate and to Mirabel to leave some space for discussing that before things get out of hand. I feel really bad for the roommate who’s experienced a lot of losses recently, that she would also lose her home and/or her best friend based on behaviors she might not even be aware of. And I feel bad for Mirabel that she would lose a friendship and/or her home based on simmering resentment that she didn’t try to resolve straightforwardly.

        @Mirabel, if you’re at the point of thinking about moving out, then maybe it’s time to have a hard conversation with your friend about how her behavior and attitude are affecting you. I think if you keep foremost in mind that this is a friendship that you value and a person that you care about, you can phrase your conversation as preserving things that are precious to you, rather than a threat to punish her if she doesn’t shape up.

    4. Kathenus*

      I hope this doesn’t come across the wrong way, but one thing to be cautious about is doing a lot of empathizing and sympathizing with her, which can reinforce and maintain/increase this behavior. That doesn’t mean you have to be negative or cut her off – but a ‘I know it’s been tough, I’m sorry’ might be a good response whereas ‘You poor thing, you’ve gone through so much. It’s really terrible, is there anything at all I can do to help’ might have the unintended effect of her doing more of these behaviors because it gets her a stronger response. I don’t think she’d be doing that intentionally, it’s just a normal response to repeat behaviors that get us a desired response.

      So be neutrally supportive but careful to not overdo it, and hopefully it may fade a bit more over time.

      1. WellRed*

        I agree and I remember mirabels earlier posts. It sounds like nothing has changed and while we all grieve differently roommate seems a bit over the top. I’m reminded of the sex and city episodes where Carrie can’t stop mooing and boo hooing over a recent breakup and the friends finally put their foot down and made her Talk to a pro (I realize life isn’t tv). You’d be doing her a favor to stop making all this drama space.

    5. Not So NewReader*

      It’s what we do when the chips are down that can make or break our lives. And Roomie is a perfect example of this- Her heartbreak is HUGE annnddd she’s doing nothing about it. Left unchecked this can have life long consequences.

      The problem comes in where her upset is LEGIT. Each one of this losses (including her own health issue) is a bfd.
      It can feel really weird to say, “Shape up, NOW, will ya?!” because that’s soooo. very. tone deaf.

      So what I would do is I would say, “You have had some serious hits in life here, it’s not just bumps in the road. You have had some life changing events happen to you. And you clearly are having such difficulty that it
      has become a quality of life issue. You aren’t you any more. I bet you feel like the life you had is sliding away from you. If you do not start taking some action to help yourself this will not get better on its own. And it could get worse.”

      When my husband died, my aunt threw one at me that woke me up. She said, “You NO longer have the luxury of refusing help. YOU need help.” I’d def use this line with your Roomie.

      Then you can go on, “I am not a pro, I do not have the quals to help you. You could probably benefit from grief counseling, perhaps talking to a nutritionist, or perhaps a grief group. But you need to talk to people who are NOT ME. It’s beyond my skill set to give you the help and tips you need.”

      You can conclude with, “If you would like help setting an appointment with someone or if you would like me to ride with you the first time, I will. But you need to pick something and you can let me know if I can help do that.”

      And she may say, “but-but-but”. If this conversation drags on, then you can say something to the effect of, “I am concerned enough about the changes that I see in you that I will call a family member/friend/etc and let them know that I see a concern here. I will ask them to come over and we will talk to you together.”

      Don’t say you are going to move out even if you are considering this option. You don’t want to make a “threat” that would be difficult or will hurt your own circumstances. The overarching idea is that you understand she has been pretty beat up by life, but you cannot help her. She needs to pick out some professional help for herself.

      1. SnappinTerrapin*

        This is a compassionate, proactive, and actionable approach to the situation. A beautiful balance.

      2. Lilly of the valley*

        Yeah I agree that Mirabel sounds like she has zero coping mechanisms; she has chosen only to be honest with the one person she can’t hide from, is catastrophising over something like a TV show, and deliberately wallowing. It would be tone deaf of OP to object to periodic outbursts of grief from someone who is trying, but it’s perfectly fair game to point out that she is settling down for good in the grief to an unhealthy degree. If Mirabel doesn’t have a plan or any expectation of future happiness, she should find someone who can help her get one. I think it’s reasonable for OP to put her own alarm and empathy burn out on the scales of that decision.

    6. SnappinTerrapin*

      Mirabel, I feel for both of you. I pray you will both find the strength, the wisdom, and the peace you need.

  19. Venus*

    How does your garden grow?

    Mine is growing without any help from me, as I’ve been tired the past few weeks, although I am enjoying the raspberries and a few peas, and watching some tomatoes grow. It is at a good point to be thriving on neglect as we finally have some rain.

    1. Hotdog not dog*

      We were away for a week, and it turned into a jungle! I’ve got some weeding to do today, and it looks like the first eggplant will be ready soon. Tomatoes are still small and green, lettuce has bolted, and there are great multitudes of blossoms on the zucchini.

    2. MissB*

      My garden seems to have weathered the short heat wave. Some tomato and pepper plants got a bit of sunburn on them but overall things are looking lush.

      The zucchini that I’m growing again this year is really enjoying the spot in the raised bed (I’m using 30” tall birdies beds) and setting a ton. Only a few blooms haven’t been fertilized by the bees. I’m looking forward to the first batch of zucchini fritters!

    3. Seeking Second Childhood*

      It’s been so rainy that I had to move potted plants under the eaves to keep them from drowning. But the bee balm is a riotous swath of red, I have true lilies for the first time in years, and my experimental kiwi and asparagus have both poked their heads up this spring. I also found the first violas from the seed I put down, and I’m hoping that they will displace some of the weeds by next year.

    4. fposte*

      My favorite Conca d’Or lilies (fragrant Orientpet, smells sort of like a very sweet melon) are blooming, and I realized I would like to get some more of them. So I am lily bulb ordering today and may place my big tulip order for fall today as well. Love Colorblends for tulips, but it’s so hard to decide on a mix!

    5. GoryDetails*

      Harvested some of my Swiss chard and made a quick dish with that, a fresh jalapeno from my pepper plants, and some ginger. Also had a few ground cherries, very tasty, though I discovered that something – probably birds, possibly chipmunks – had been nibbling the fruits, so the enclosed planter now has a lid on top. Some tomatoes and eggplant and sweet peppers are on their way but not ripe yet.

    6. CatCat*

      We enjoyed our very first squash and it looks like a dozen more are incoming. Still no fruits on the tomatoes though I’ve been going out in the morning and gently flicking/shaking the stems with blossoms (lots of blossoms!). I got excited for a minute when our pathetic jalapeno looked like it had a teeny fruit starting… and then it just fell off. Sigh.

      I made a compost bin and we’ve been tossing fruit and veggie scraps in there. Saw a couple green onions had sprouted inside the bin so I pulled them out and planted them.

      1. Seeking Second Childhood*

        If you don’t have a lot of pollinators for the tomatoes & peppers, you can play honeybee with a cotton swab. Use the same one all growing season, just fluff it out occasionally.

        1. Venus*

          Apparently an electric (vibrating) toothbrush is the best thing! Tomatoes self-pollinate, which is why CatCat’s flicking and shaking is effective.

    7. Rara Avis*

      Oh my gosh, it’s amazing! (All due to my husband.). Zucchini, kale, enormous sunflowers, the cucumber and pumpkin vines are ready to take over the world.

    8. Susie*

      Everything is doing fabulously except, strangely, the zucchini. It’s rotting really quickly from the flower. It is also a different variety than we have had before—I’m not used to the flower staying so long after the zucchini starts developing.

      However, my biggest joy is finding a great bean variety I love. I go out in the afternoon and cut off a handful, rinse, and snack. I’ve also been loving finding creative ways to use the abundant leafy greens that are ready to harvest right now. I’ve made Kale chips and arugula pesto. Lots of fun new dressings for the lettuce greens and I’ve been making pickled onions for a topping. Yum!

      Still planning my flower garden. We’ve laid garden fabric and mulch in the areas we want to plant next year. I found a great nursery via the local Audubon society that specializes in native species so hoping to plant a pollinator garden next year.

    9. My Brain is Exploding*

      I brought home six Christmas cactus cuttings a few weeks ago. One of them has survived and is thriving (in the kitchen); it has four new sprouts on it!

    10. Potatoes gonna potate*

      Are we allowed to ask for gardening advice or questions in this thread or should I begin a new post?

  20. Teapot Translator*

    I love hearing about what people are doing over the weekend, so, anything special this weekend?
    Tomorrow, I’m taking my nieces fruit picking. I just need to decide on a place. It’s very important that the place have pies! Hmmm, raspberry pies.

    1. londonedit*

      I’m going for a run with a friend tomorrow morning but mainly I’ll be getting increasingly nervous about tomorrow night’s Euros final…I can’t cope with the stress! But I’m trying to enjoy the occasion seeing as I’ve never seen England play in a tournament final in my entire life.

    2. MissB*

      I’m making some Damn Good Garlic Dill Pickles (that’s the name of the recipe!)

      I haven’t quite managed to grow enough pickling cukes, so Dh and I will go down to the farmers market this morning and grab some. I harvested my garlic a bit more than a week ago so at least that part of it will be from the garden!

      I didn’t make any pickles in 2020 as I had lots left from 2019. But I ran out a few months ago and nothing tastes as good as these pickles.

    3. Generic Name*

      Today is my birthday! Yesterday I took the day off work and had a spa day. Today my parents are coming into town and we’ll go out to dinner to celebrate my birthday and my mom’s birthday, which is tomorrow. I’ll probably walk around the lake soon and husband is doing a side job this weekend. Otherwise just hanging out.

      Fruit picking sounds like a ton of fun! I loved going apple picking when I was a kid, so I’m sure your nieces will have a blast.

    4. DistantAudacity*

      I’m visiting my dad on Sunday. The weather’s supposed to be nice again, so hopefully we can go sailing for a little bit!

      If I’m really lucky, dinner is a BBQ – I’m always angling for that, since I’m not really set up for that in my city flat :)

    5. Texan In Exile*

      Making kimchee from scratch. I made that slaw that they use in El Salvador earlier this week and it’s really good.

      Is fermenting your own veg the next logical step after making sourdough bread? (Because I also make sourdough bread – I have a loaf in the oven now.)

      Wondering what else I can ferment.

      1. Seeking Second Childhood*

        Ferment? Now you’re talking my language. I’m long overdue to start making wine and mead again. This could be its own thread, because it’s something we used to do a lot of that we haven’t done any years. Fresh apples and honey together ferment into a beautiful alcoholic beverage.

      2. Wandering*

        Kefir. You can flavor it all kinds of ways. Current favorite here is using flavored vinegars.

      3. allathian*

        Fermented salt cucumbers, yum. I’ve never actually made them myself, but they’re delicious, although so salty that small doses are best. When I was a kid, my mom made a great beef Stroganoff with them as condiment.

        Sauerkraut is also very good.

    6. Double A*

      It will be over 110 both days this weekend so we’re kind of trapped inside with a new baby and toddler. But we just found out a friend will be in town for the day so she is going to come by with her son so that’s exciting to see her and we’ll have something for the kid to do.

      Right now I’m just sitting in bed with the baby sleeping on me so there will be a lot of that probably. Hopefully I’ll get to eat at some point.

      1. allathian*

        I hope you aren’t neglecting yourself too much while you care for your baby. Especially if you’re breastfeeding, any nutritious food you eat will directly benefit your baby as well. Skip the shower if you have to.

        How lovely that your friend and her son can come by!

    7. RagingADHD*

      I am so excited for tonight, I can hardly stand it.

      The local contra dancing group is having its first dance in what, a year and a half? (with proof of vaxx required). Contra is so. freaking. much. fun. And it’s for all ages, all abilities, even wheelchair users can participate with a little modification, and the nicest, weirdest people go there.

      Tonight, we DAHNCE!!!!!

    8. Might Be Spam*

      Last night I was invited to go folk dancing for the first time since the pandemic started. They neglected to tell me that it was at a country club until we were halfway there and I was under dressed for the location. It turned out that I wasn’t the worst dressed person there so it turned out OK. I am definitely annoyed that it is so hard to get necessary information from this person. I basically have to interrogate them and still miss some important information.
      Anyway I had a good time, saw people that I haven’t seen in a long time and slept 12 hours straight when I got home.
      There’s another dance tonight and I might go if I can pry myself off the couch. (Still tired, but my feet don’t hurt.) This time I’m not carpooling and I know the right thing to wear.

    9. Potatoes gonna potate*

      My daughter turns 1 tomorrow God-willing; we are cutting a cake at home and set up a zoom meeting to share with her dad’s side of hte family. Otherwise, just a lot of reflecting on this past year.

    10. Skeeder Jones*

      Tonight I’ll be hanging out with my mom and her partner. They moved to another state about a year ago but are back in town for a family wedding so tonight we are watching Season 3 of Virgin River (well, a few episodes that is) and eating some really good mexican food. Tomorrow morning, I’m going kayaking with a friend. I hope to spend the afternoon working on some crafts. One of the busiest weekends I’ve had in a while but it should be fun.

    11. WellRed*

      I’m in Phoenix first time. Taking a tour of Sedona and surrounding areas tomorrow.

    12. WoodswomanWrites*

      I’m taking a hike on Sunday with a friend I haven’t seen for a while because he was buried in finishing his Ph.D. dissertation which is all done now. And later I’m finally going through my photos of this year’s wildflowers and other images and updating my blog.

    13. SnappinTerrapin*

      Spending most of the weekend in the activity-that-shall-not be-named in this forum, but my wife surprised me with some very nice salmon and asparagus last night.

      Our daughter-in-law found some turtle meat at the grocery yesterday, so we may treat ourselves to some soup tonight.

    14. Might Be Spam*

      Today is my birthday and my daughter took me out to lunch. But first, we had angel food cake with strawberries and whipped cream. Later, I had a long Skype session with my son.

  21. Last Girls On Earth*

    Content warning for racism

    I visit my grandmother once a month at her assisted living facility. When I visit, I usually chat with the other residents in some form of polite small talk. Twice recently, with two different residents, they dropped some racist comment that took me by surprise and I didn’t know how to respond.

    With one resident, we were discussing travel and I said how my last big trip before the pandemic was to Japan. I started saying how much I enjoyed it and the resident cut me off to say ‘Oh I would never go there. I can’t ever forgive those people for what they did to our boys during the war’. The second, I was talking to the resident about a recent catered food event that they’d at the center. She said she’d enjoyed it but the presentation was a bit sloppy and ‘if any blacks had done it, it would have gone much better because they’re really good at that stuff’. In both instances, I was kinda shocked into silence and just quickly slipped away by going to check on my grandmother.

    Now if it was a peer or even someone closer to my parents’ age, I would immediately call them out for being horribly racist. But oddly, because of the age of these residents, I feel less inclined to say anything. They’re all a minimum of late 80s, most older, so honestly I kinda feel like they’re ‘on their way out’ and why would they bother to listen to the random granddaughter of another resident? So I lean towards just ignoring it, even though I feel terrible about ignoring the racist comments. But maybe I should say something, even just ‘whoa, you shouldn’t say that’ ? Because I’m worried about encountering more on my future visits, how would you all handle this situation?

    1. ecnaseener*

      I do think it’s worth saying something, even though they’re old and possibly senile. (Who knows, you could be the nudge that keeps them from saying something like that in front of staff of color.)

      With older folks I do think you’ll have better luck with a gentler approach — meet them where they’re at, don’t directly criticize or they’ll go on the defensive, just earnestly (but politely) explain why you disagree, making it fit with their values if you can. “Oh, I don’t think that’s fair to say! There are lots of people in Japan who had nothing to do with that. In fact, I was amazed by how nice everyone there was to me even though America dropped the atom bombs there – I think it’s great that our two countries have forgiven each other.” Throw in something about Jesus’s love if that’ll help.

    2. AnonRN*

      In dealing with patients as a nurse in a hospital where the staff tends to be more ethnically and linguistically diverse than the local population: If the person is saying something that’s directly derogatory about a real, living person, I try to shut that down, especially if it’s one of our staff. So if a patient said “Marlene is a sloppy nurse and you know all *race are like that,” I would respond with something like “Marlene’s race has nothing to do with her skills.” (I would probably try to find out if there was a real origin to the complaint, just in case, but I would want to shut down the stereotyping even if the complaint itself was actually valid, like Marlene gave all her meds late or something.) I would also give Marlene a heads-up, though I bet you a dollar she’s heard the same thing and worse before :(

      When someone says something more broad, I tend to try to rebut it gently…”that hasn’t been my experience” while remembering that it might actually *be* their experience. I took care of a veteran who said some really unpleasant things about *country people. He earned a Bronze Star there for killing a bunch of *country soldiers who ambushed his platoon. So, literally, his experience with *country people *is* that they are sneaky killers. Nothing I’m going to say is going to change his mind about that; the best I can hope for is getting him to recognize that any of our staff, here in 2021, who might look like they come from *country, are not soldiers and weren’t even alive during that war, so he needs to treat them politely.

      1. Anon.*

        This is a great comment. I have some direct experience with several sides of this issue, and I think your response balances really well. I can be pretty activist on this issue in other contexts, but I don’t think the original poster is in a position to make meaningful change by responding strongly to general comments any more aggressively than AnonRN suggests.

    3. Ewing41*

      We really struggle with this with my grandma. She says the most offensive things about the staff at her nursing home. She was not like this before dementia, and had friends from all backgrounds and walks of life. We don’t know if she always harbored some of these views deep down, but knew they were wrong and suppressed them, or if it’s the dementia. Honestly it’s easier to blame dementia.

    4. fposte*

      I think you find a protocol that works for your peace of mind here–I agree you’re not going to change their minds and that it’s not worth putting a lot of energy into these, but if you’d feel better going on the record with an objection that’s a reasonable thing to do. It can be useful to have a filler comment that suits a lot of this genre of comment, like “Hmm, I don’t see it that way” rather than having to whip something up to address the specific content. Then I’d just change the subject.

    5. Asenath*

      The older person I knew who said something similar about the Japanese had survived a Japanese prisoner of war camp. I wasn’t going to lecture him on the subject, even though I knew of course that even then most of the soldiers involved were old men or dead, as he himself now is. On some level he knew the difference, too, and he functioned pretty well most of the time, but sometimes the memories came back just too hard and vivid. And I certainly wouldn’t correct someone who thought that a particular group was good at something! Sure, it’s a form of stereotyping, but it doesn’t sound terribly offensive to me. So, I’d apply the general rule about not lecturing strangers, remember that I don’t know their whole story, and move on.

      1. Former Child*

        It’s OK to push back gently but remember one thing —
        it’s kind of like “ageism” to ignore the fact that these people are a product of a very different upbringing then we are. And they’re living in their own “home” when they’re speaking freely. And as offensive as their comments are, they may also be not themselves any more as their minds age.
        Or this may be just who they were. Bigots age too.
        But still, I have a little more patience for elderly people.
        Especially one who had survived a Japanese prisoner of war camp.

        1. Seeking Second Childhood*

          One of my favorite teachers of childhood spent part of HIS childhood in a US internment camp for our Japanese citizens. His family survived, but lost their business and had to start over in another place.

          1. allathian*

            Yes, but internment camps on US soil were not the same as the forced labor camps in Asia. Bridge on the River Kwai paints a pretty rosy picture compared to how bad it really was.

            So yeah, I’d cut a former POW a lot of slack on this one, even if they might be persuaded that the current generations aren’t to blame for what their ancestors did.

    6. Choggy*

      One can only hope that type of perspective will eventually die with their owners. My mother has, for the last couple of years has become very vocal about politics and keeps telling me her viewpoints, some of which have racist undertones that I don’t appreciate hearing. She thinks that black men can’t get jobs because they are criminals, have no education, or are addicts. She fails to realize it’s that exact attitude that is continuing to keep minorities down. She actually said to me today, in reference to her completely one-sided view, I guess I can’t change your mind? No, Mom, you can’t change my *open* mind.

    7. RagingADHD*

      Assisted living can mean a lot of things, but where I live, it usually indicates that the resident is no longer capable of living alone or caring for themselves. Please don’t take responsibility for trying to correct, shame, or re-train people whose cognitive status you have no way of knowing.

      You are meeting elderly, possibly fragile strangers who may have dementia, strokes, or other events that have altered their personalities. They may be taking medication that removes their filter and are saying things they would already know are not okay to say.

      Let their own families and trained staff manage their behavior. Taking it upon yourself does not help make the world a better place in any meaningful way.

    8. WS*

      Gently deflect and don’t engage. You’re not responsible for correcting their behaviour and they’re probably not capable of changing at this stage of their lives (I don’t mean just their age – I mean that they’re in an assisted living facility. My grandfather was perfectly astute and able to change in his late 80s when he suddenly had a lesbian granddaughter (me) and a Chinese daughter-in-law (my brother’s wife). But he was also living independently and still working part-time in a complex job. If they say something unpleasant about a particular person, especially staff, shut that down, but this kind of nonsense isn’t worth upsetting them over.

    9. Not So NewReader*

      I spent 11 years in human services. My guess will be that staff will do little or nothing about the comments.

      I think silence and walking away is your best bet. They are not your family members, so there’s no need to feel any obligation on your part. Going one more step any intervention on your part could put you in a place you never dreamed of. It could be way more involved than one could ever anticipate.

      I think at most you could say, “That’s. Not. Cool.” as you walk away. It’s a very humbling fact of life that we cannot fix every injustice that we see. On a different day, in a different place you will have opportunities to actually make a difference.

    10. My Brain is Exploding*

      Well…I don’t quite see the resident speaking about Japan as being racist. They spoke about their own experience, they did not state that you shouldn’t go there or state anything negative about the current Japanese people. I might have engaged them a bit to find out why this was, but otherwise would have let it drop. I knew people who would have said the same thing about going to Germany (because of “what they did to our people during the war”).

    11. Observer*

      As the others have said, unless they are saying something derogatory about someone specific, you really don’t want to go there. That issue has been covered pretty well.

      It also might help to do a bit of perspective taking. It’s one thing for someone to say “All Japanese people are bad.” It’s another to say “I can’t forgive this bad action that the Japanese did.” It’s a reaction to a reality that this person has lived through and this kind of reflexive blanket condemnation is, at best, unhelpful and unfair.

    12. Lindsay*

      I mean, my grandfather fought in WWII and called Japanese people a much more offensive word , so it’s kind of ingrained in them at this point. His twin brother died (at 17, may I add) when Japanese bombers hit his ship in South Pacific. The Japanese were the enemy and not real people in a lot of ways. My grandpa’s views were racist, but also came from a place of deep pain. I think at this point the best you can do is change the subject.

  22. ecnaseener*

    Just want to toss a recommendation out there for the new Beowulf translation by Maria Dahvana Headley. (Came out in 2020 I think so not brand-new but I finally got it off a library hold.)

    It was SO fun to see all the different ways she uses language as a tool. Whatever words she thinks will best serve the story and the poetry, that’s what she uses — whether it’s lofty old-timey words or “Meanwhile, Beowulf gave zero shits.”

    1. CTT*

      I devoured it while on vacation last year! I’ve never read any of the other translations, and this was such a good start for me. And her introduction was really good too. I loved the at she presented language as a continuum and that one day “Bro” will be as old as “Hwæt”.

    2. CoffeePlease*

      I’ve read a few translations and really liked the Heaney. You just put this one on my list!

    3. Squeebird*

      I loved it too! I usually get all my books from the library, but after reading it, it’s made my (very) short list of “books to buy and actually keep forever”.

  23. Weird neighbor question*

    What else can we do? Neighbor weirdness situation.

    We have a neighbor that’s getting a bit older, late 70s/early 80s. Dh and I have known them for about 30 years, we’ve lived here for not quite 20. They have no family that we know of. We aren’t close to the neighbor.

    They’re not poor. They actually spend a ridiculous amount of money each month on a retirement cottage (like multiple times the average mortgage payment) but have remained in their own home. This has been going on for a few years.

    The neighbor recently had a bit of a mildly violent outburst. It was so out of character that I ended up calling our version of adult services. Adult services sent someone out and to talk to the neighbor but I don’t know anything more than that, which is the way it should be. I was concerned that the neighbor might be slipping a bit, and that agency seemed the best able to figure that out.

    For the last two nights, the neighbor has been trespassing on another neighbors property, going into their outdoor covered space. It’s on camera- there’s footage and it’s definitely the older neighbor in question. No property damage that they can see but it’s happening around midnight each night.

    The neighbor with the covered space has called the police each night. The police does report the info to adult services.

    Is there any other steps anyone can think of? I’m hesitant to reach out directly to the neighbor, just because of the recent violent outburst. Dh and I have helped the neighbor for years but contact has been pretty minimal in the past couple of years. Thanks

    1. Meh*

      I don’t have anything more to offer than continue what you’re doing. We had a neighbor quickly slip from quirky to full blown dementia and did they same thing you did. Eventually they intervened and were able to help her.

      1. Former Child*

        People seem to think dementia can happen overnight, but my experience w/a close relative was that there were warning signs for years and I saw it develop gradually.
        A person can be very lucid for a half hour phone call and then suddenly hallucinate. So you may not be aware of what shape they’re in if you don’t spend time with them.

        This lack of understanding about dementia even extends to public officials. People see the former president, whose father died w/Alzheimer’s, as “willful” or “stupid” sometimes when it could be that he inherited the illness and is gradually showing it when he has trouble walking down a ramp or pronouncing words. He could also be willful or stupid, but showing signs of decline too.

        I’d call Adult Svcs. and specifically ask about “change in personality” and other signs of dementia and ask them what they can do. Not a 911 call, a calm call w/questions.
        My relative finally started a fire trying to cook late at night and that got intervention where she lived. If neighbor starts their house on fire you could be at risk too, so why not be proactive about this?

        1. Not So NewReader*

          It appears differently outside the home because family can tend to cover and control the situation. After a bit, family can no longer cover or control it.
          A friend confided that her husband was having difficulties. I could see it was dementia-like symptoms. For a while she could talk her husband in to going back in the house or whatever. Then one day that no longer worked. And I started driving her around so she could find out where her husband got off to.

          OP, if you can strike up a conversation with the wife you might gain some inroads there. But if you chose not to do this, I can understand that choice also.

    2. Sis Trouble*

      I would say continue what you’re doing. Keep Adult Services and the police updated. My mother had Alzheimer’s. It changed her personality significantly, making her paranoid, and at times violent. It wasn’t until we found a neurologist who was able to prescribe some effective medication that her delusions and outbursts subsided.

    3. fposte*

      Honestly, without knowing any close family, I think you’ve pretty much covered it. Even if you reached out directly to the neighbor, it doesn’t sound like a situation where “Have you considered a medical evaluation?” would land well. If you get lucky in a calm moment, it might be worth a try, but I think it’s kind of a Hail Mary pass at this point.

      Unfortunately, we almost all will go downhill, and we’re not likely to do it prettily. Maybe take it as a cautionary tale for your own family medical and social practices to think about your own futures and how you might avoid this.

    4. Nursey*

      Depending on what country you live in, a person needs to exhibit symptoms for at least 6 months before a dementia diagnosis can be made. I suspect early dementia as you reference a violent outburst that is out of character and also wandering around late at night. This could be sundowning behaviour. Was the violent outburst in the late afternoon/evening?

      Since you have a sort of relationship with your neighbour I think it would be worthwhile keeping a journal of behaviours and reaching out in a “hey, how are you?” way but only in the mornings if possible, best around 10am. Also, how is the neighbour’s spouse? Might be worth having a conversation there as well and make sure that they are managing.

      1. Weird neighbor question*

        We are in the US, west coast blue state.

        The outburst was in the morning, so not sure it was sun downing because that’s awfully early for that behavior (my father ended up in the locked portion of the memory care facility because he had some significant sun downing going on in the last months of his life.)

        They are single, so they appear to have literally no one. All the neighbors know bits and pieces of the neighbor’s life.

        I appreciate everyone’s input!

  24. Person from the Resume*

    Living long term and growing old in a rental?

    I’m single, no kids. I have owned 3 houses in the past and sold when I moved. I have been renting where I live for over 5 years. I moved and didn’t know where in the city to live so I planned to rent for a year before buying. But I’ve been lazy about house hunting — such a pain. But I also realized in the last year that I want to retire in about 10-15 years and I don’t want to still be paying a mortgage. I want to retire on the earlier side (and my financials say I can) but I’m cautious so I hedge towards the longer time frame.

    I don’t love this rental house, but it’s okay and all my stuff is here. It’s starting to get shabby and is too big for me. (I also certainly should downsize my stuff.) Also I live in a place that regularly suffers natural disasters so there’s that risk with the house that the landlord has that I do not.

    My concern is growing old in a rental. This city does not have a lot of apartment complexes or even apartments. It’s mostly rental houses. What if the owner sells the place, keeps raising the rent? (Gentrification is an issue so people do lose the ability to continue renting in their longtime neighborhoods.) What if they don’t do major maintenance until you move out and you stay for years?

    Is it smarter to own with the mortgage and risks into retirement so you have that control or do I go into retirement and old age renting risking that I may have to keep moving.

    I’m not sure of the financial sense of buying now, everyone in my family owns so I uncertain about renting into the age where I move into assisted living.

    And I have no kids so I’m going to be responsible for these decisions myself with no adult children to help.

    1. MissB*

      I have an older retired friend that has had to move into increasingly cheaper rentals as rents have increased in our area in recent years. It’s not ideal. They started out in a nice small duplex with a huge back yard and a two bedroom/2 bath and are now in a large apartment complex in a one bedroom. Much further out from the city core so not as many services or public transport.

      Pretty much all the older people I know around here consider their house to be a good chunk of their elderly living strategy- ie they plan on selling their home to pay for assisted living eventually.

      If you can find a small home to buy and pay it off by the time you step out of the workforce then I’d do it if I were you. But I’ve also never liked the idea of renting and not having anything to show for it.

      There are always trade offs. Can you afford the upkeep of a house? Do you even want to bother with a yard, replacing an appliance or a roof?

    2. fposte*

      That’s too variable a question to call from a distance–it’ll depend a lot on the specifics of your area and finances, and of course your own temperament. But I think you’re right to ask questions about future renting challenges in the area you describe.

      I personally would at least consider buying in your circumstances, especially since you’re not particularly enthusiastic about your current place anyway; if you don’t want to do home maintenance, maybe there are condos/townhouses that would limit that burden on you. I don’t think it’s the end of the world to still be paying a mortgage in retirement and will be doing it myself, but it’s very different to be, say, 2 years into a 30-year vs. 13 years into a 15-year. You might slowly begin to search, in the hopes that when you’re finally buying the market will have cooled a little, too, and get a better idea of what you can get for your dollar in your area.

      Also, if you’re running the retirement financials already, run some with a mortgage payment and some with rent and see how they look. I don’t support the “renting is throwing money away” view and think it’s a perfectly reasonable thing to do, but maybe it makes more sense to consider that you’d be paying for housing costs in retirement either way and see the effect of the projected costs rather than focusing on the notion of debt vs. rent.

    3. Asenath*

      One of the reasons I decided to buy when I wanted to move out of my two-story house some years before my planned retirement was that I liked the idea of having my own place, especially one I could probably manage on my own even if steps got too much for me. I also looked for a place where there wouldn’t be a lot of maintenance or cleaning so I could afford to hire someone to help out a bit a few hours a week with the absolute essentials if needed, and so put off the time I might have to take on the really high costs of assisted living. I accepted that my mortgage might (and did) extend into my retirement years a bit, but I was careful with the purchase price and paid down a bit in advance whenever I could. It is working for me. I do know people my age and older who chose to rent for the flexibility and lack of responsibility for the building itself, and it seems to work well for most of them. I think they’re generally people who don’t mind (or even seem to like) moving frequently, and, while not generally wealthy, have enough resources that they aren’t worried about being priced out of the rental market in the area that they want to live.

      1. The cat’s ass*

        My plan is to sell the big house and move into a much smaller condo-I’ll own it and have no/small mortgage and only will fear the condo/HOA fees! I’ve watched a lot of my elderly patients get priced out of their long term apartments and I’d prefer to take a preemptive first strike against that.

        1. Asenath*

          I felt much the same way. I didn’t want to take the risk of being priced out of a rental, or a good owner selling the property to a bad owner.

    4. Holly the spa pro*

      I cant comment on what you “should” do because owning a home is not for everyone and a lot depends on your area, financials, etc. However, the rental market is so crazy and sometimes gross that the stability of owning might be worth it as you age, particularly if you get something easy to maintain.

      Your post did jump out at me because my mother is 68 and has been living in the same rental for 18 years and just got an eviction notice the day after the moratorium ended. Neither my brother nor i are in a position to be much help (im in the middle of a cross country move and financially strapped, my brother lives in her town but has roommates and limited income) so even having children is no guarantee of support.

      Hearing stories from friends and family about renting and finding a place right now is heartbreaking. I live in a large city with tons of rentals and people are still having trouble finding places and the rise in cost has been insane. So in that sense id have to say owning might be more stable, i cant imagine being retirement age and having to figure put housing with no help. Best of luck to you.

    5. Person from the Resume*

      Thank you! I think your responses crystallized to me that while I don’t want to be paying a mortgage well into retirement, I value the stability, control, and not having to move so it makes more sense for me to own. I’m fairly certain my financials can handle it.

      I think one thing for me to keep in mind is this is my home until old age should be small (easier upkeep as i age) and probably 1 story (stairs). Maybe a condo or townhome would be smart (but also like apartments not a lot here. We’re really a single and double family homes type of city.)

      1. Holly the spa pro*

        I dont know how attached you are to your city but you could consider moving to a popular retirement area. Those are usually rich with low maintenance homes, condos, 55+ communities etc. I also totally recommend using a home warranty company to offset the cost of home repairs. My house is less than 20 years old and my warranty has still paid for itself every single year.

  25. J.B.*

    I don’t know that there’s one answer. Now is a super charged market so I would definitely wait. I think your concerns about renting are valid, especially if the rental market in your area shrinks. I would not want a mortgage into retirement either but you might consider buying using a 15 year loan and making extra payments. But maybe a condo or townhouse where someone else is responsible for maintenance?

    Of course in a rental you are not responsible for any maintenance.

  26. Meh*

    How often do you vacuum?

    I was a 1-2x a week (usually once). Since we’re selling our house I’ve been doing it every day and am astonished by how much keeps coming up! Like are we shedding that much or am I slowing vacuuming my carpet away?

    1. AvonLady Barksdale*

      Carpet can really trap things, especially if you have pets. I vacuum once or twice a week, no carpet– but when we had two carpeted rooms, I rented a cleaner once a year and it was pretty gross despite frequent vacuuming and occasional light steaming.

    2. Ewing41*

      My aunt always says you need to vacuum once a week per person or pet. So a family of two vacuums twice a week. She had a family of five plus a dog, so she vacuumed every day except Sunday! I found that highly unrealistic, especially with working full time. I vacuum once a week and call it good- although I have a toddler and end up vacuuming several times throughout the week when she makes a mess.

      1. Generic Name*

        Omg, we’re a family of 3 and have 2 cats and a dog, so that would be vacuuming 6 times a week. Maybe that’s the platonic ideal of vacuuming to keep a house spotless at all times, but that’s a ton of vacuuming!!

        1. RussianInTexas*

          I would have to vacuum 5 times a week! It’s just never going to happen. I do it once a week and make peace that by Saturday the living room rug is no more black but basically orange from the cat fur.
          Also, pro-tip: don’t have a black rug and two fluffy orange cats in the same house.

      2. Person from the Resume*

        When I was buying a house over 10 years ago a realtor told me of a family with a basically fully carpeted house that vacuumed twice a day because of a child’s allergies. I think the other children may have had the chores.

        That’s just extremes to me.

    3. Roja*

      It was once a week until we moved into our smaller apartment with wood floors. Now it’s three times a week and honestly it could be done every day. The dark wood just shows *everything*. And with two cats and my husband working in a mill, there’s just a lot of fur and dirt and litter that’s really visible.

    4. ThatGirl*

      I try to run the Roomba once a week, but it’s just two adults and a low-shedding dog. Usually the little bin is full but not overstuffed. I’m also lazy and our carpet is pretty old. If I cared more I might do better :)

    5. Nursey*

      I have tile floor and only one room with carpet and vacuum daily. Skin sheds all the time, as does hair etc., so I like to keep things clean.

    6. londonedit*

      Once a week, or whenever I get annoyed by the bits on the carpet! It’s just me and I don’t have any pets, but I do sometimes bring little bits of dirt in on my running shoes.

    7. CatCat*

      Once per week upstairs. Daily downstairs. We have a Roomba for downstairs. Best home item purchase ever.

    8. Valancy Snaith*

      On the carpeted basement floors, my husband vacuums once a week and we run the Roomba 3x. On the hardwood upstairs, he sweeps/vacuums every day. It’s shocking how much dirt comes up off the floor. We also never ever ever wear shoes in the house on top of that.

    9. Callisto*

      3x per week. We have two long-haired cats and occasional foster litters, and husband and I both have long hair.

    10. Burnt eggs*

      I do 2x a week. But it will also vary with do you keep your windows/doors open, live in a dust area, have pets, wear shoes in the house? Two suggestions for you, have your ducts cleaned. The debris in there may be part of it. Then get your carpets professionally cleaned. Also, have you had your vacuum serviced? They loose suction power over time even if you clean/replace filters monthly.

    11. Seeking Second Childhood*

      When I saw what was under a carpet when it came up, I decided i prefer tile and hardwood floors. We have two rooms in this house that are carpeted. Otherwise it’s rugs where we need a rug.
      I showed the teen what was under the LR rug last time I lifted the vacuum it, and wow! What an expression. I suspect I may be asked to pull up the carpet in the teen’s bedroom soon.

    12. Jackalope*

      Never! I hate vacuuming a lot. But my husband loves it, so he will vacuum a bit most days. He’s not doing the whole house, though; he does some areas like near the litter boxes a lot but other areas he rotates through.

    13. Unkempt Flatware*

      Every day. Sometimes twice a day. I love vacuuming and hate any crumbs or specs. I care for my 1989 Hoover Elite like a car.

    14. allathian*

      We vacuum the whole house once a week. The kitchen and dining area get the treatment whenever one of us can feel crumbs underfoot. In winter, because the streets are gritted and salted, the entrance hall is vacuumed at least twice a week. I’m in Finland, and here wearing outdoor shoes indoors in a private house is simply not done unless it’s a party where people are in pretty formal dress. Even then, guests are expected to bring clean shoes to wear indoors.

  27. Thunderstorm*

    Anyone have interesting hobbies to recommend? Arthritis in my hands has gotten just bad enough to make fine motor skills uncomfortable, so I’m looking for alternatives to yarn work, gardening, art work. Help me stop doing work on the weekends! :)

    1. Anon for this*

      Hiking and camping has been so good. If you’re into birds you could bird watch. It’s a lot of fun to take a friend and a picnic on a hike. There is also lots of fun gear to buy if you like being outfitted.

      1. AcademiaNut*

        I second bird watching. Gentle exercise in fresh air, fun gear, and social opportunities (bird watchers tend to be very friendly to anyone even vaguely interested, and many areas have bird watching associations, with free guided walks). A $100 pair of binoculars (8×32 is good), and the Merlin app on your phone will get you started.

        1. MissCoco*

          You can also set up a feeding station in your backyard — I’ve been surprised by the variety I get, even living in a city. Do check you aren’t in an area where people are being discouraged from feeding though, in parts of the Midwest there is a mysterious illness affecting songbirds, and feeders can cause more birds to get sick

    2. Silence*

      My mother is doing scrap booking . Her hands are too sore to do yarn craft
      If you were doing knitting you could try crochet with an ergonomic hook.

      1. Former Child*

        I’m klutzy, but enjoy making jewelry, just never got into the intricate beading. But you can still buy a pendant you like and hang it on a chain or ribbon. There are simple ways to still do a hobby is my point.

    3. RagingADHD*

      Fermenting? Yogurt, sourdough, kombucha, pickles, sauerkraut, kimchi…so good for you.

      And then there’s wine and beer, too.

      1. RagingADHD*

        Other ideas: Beekeeping (you can often find a local group that will put a hive in your yard that you don’t have to tend, or you can tag along to tend other people’s.)

        Tabletop gaming can be a fun way to meet people. Our library has a group that will be meeting again soon, as well as online groups.

        1. Seeking Second Childhood*

          Once & hopefully future beekeeper here. Harvest is heavy work so joining others in their tasks is a good place to start.
          We’re fits & starts into jigsaw puzzles.

    4. German Girl*

      If it’s just your hands, almost any kind of dancing could do – it’s art work and you don’t need fine motor skills in your hands.

    5. Sleeping Late Every Day*

      I’ve had a lot of hobbies fall by the wayside over the years – some I lost interest, some were hard on the eyes, now I have the problem of many that are hard on the hands, one arthritic and one numb. But I can still do (limited) music! I got an easy and affordable instrument at the beginning of Covid, and it has saved my sanity many days, plus it’s great brain exercise as I notice more fuzzy moments.

    6. MissCoco*

      I really enjoy collage, similar to scrapbooking, but if scissors are an issue (I know they can be a problem if I’m doing lots of cutting), you could tear small pieces and do more abstract type work. I find myself spending much more time shifting pieces around than messing with glue once I have things cut.

      Needle felting might be an option, if you get needles with the really chunky grips?

      I also do pilates, and enjoy honing my baking skills with complicated projects on the weekends.

      If you have pets, maybe trick training could be fun? Even non-dog pets can learn tricks, and it’s pretty fun to plot the different behaviors that make up a trick and figuring out how to introduce each one.

    7. The teapots are on fire*

      Not quite what you asked, but if you see an occupational therapist they may be able to modify some of your art tools so you can hang onto your existing hobbies a little longer. I know there’s a point at which cushioned grips and yarn tension rings won’t be enough for the yarn craft, but I do wonder about painting and other artwork. They do amazing things.

  28. Jack*

    Does anyone live near/around Jacksonville, FL? Would you recommend it for a young family? I’d love to learn more about the culture, schools, etc. and what it’s actually like to live in the area.

    1. Almost Academic*

      Where are you coming from? Culturally, North Florida (including Jacksonville) is more similar to rural Georgia than South Florida. I don’t know much about the schools and living there since I’ve only traveled through to use the airport or on roadtrips getting home. Some folks like it, but North Florida in general can be a tough place to adjust to if you are used to / coming from a much more urban, liberal state. My friends from the midwest and south tend to like it better here than those from the northeast, CA, and pacific NW areas.

      1. Don't do it*

        You said it much better and with way more diplomacy than I was.

        Jack, did you ever see The Good Place? The character Jason is from there… and he’s pretty accurate in his descriptions.

        I would never move there. That being said, I have to live there for a few months for work. But not where I’d choose to go.

        1. Double A*

          Ha, Jason Mendoza is my main reference for Jacksonville and I was wondering if he was at all an accurate representation.

          My roommate in college was from Jacksonville I think, but we didn’t really talk about it and that was 20 years ago. She was great. But we went to school in Seattle so she was apparently happy to get about as far away from Jacksonville as possible.

    2. Very anonymous thank you*

      I knew someone from there. She was almost aggressively clueless & uneducated, but she bragged about having been in their AP classes. One data point does not make a curve, but it would make me do a lot of research before moving children there.

  29. Llellayena*

    Big life steps!

    I’d been considering moving out of my studio apartment next summer to a new 2bed apt, but recent big raise and a financial evaluation made me realize I could possibly buy a place instead! I definitely want low/no yard maintenance so I’m thinking condo/townhome, but are there things I should consider with those options (or other options)? My mom keeps warning me about the dangers of the condo model (and of course Surfside, thoughts and prayers to them), but that does seem like my ideal option on paper. Also, condos are not exactly thick on the ground in central NJ so it could be limiting. Anyone have advice about condo vs townhome, central NJ real estate market, or the entire buying my first house process? Thanks all!

    1. Sis Trouble*

      I own a townhouse/condo in GA. So, I cannot give you NJ specific advice. I would say that I adore my townhouse. I’ve built up equity instead of paying rent. My main advice would be to look closely at the homeowners association covenant and to take homeowners association fees into consideration as you evaluate your options.

      1. Former Child*

        What I loved about a vintage rowhouse is the assn. fee was tiny, but if I did have to fix the roof it would have been a very small area.

        Loved having an end unit but realized I was the one who’d get stuck shoveling the snow for that corner. But there was only one bad storm. And I got a corner lawn.

        There are always tradeoffs to consider.

    2. Ali G*

      So taxes in NJ are really high just FYI. I grew up there and my parents (And my husband’s) retired elsewhere.
      Having owned and condo, lived in my husband’s townhome and now live in a SFH, I would never live in connected to other people again. But you might be OK with that. HOAs in condos tend to be very controlling (i.e. your curtains that face the outside have to be neutral in color), townhomes a little less so (but your home must be approved colors, windows). If things like that are an OK tradeoff to not having to mow lawns or worry about paving your driveway then you will probably be fine.
      Your HOA dues will increase every year and in my experience, you don’t get more for it. Also the people on the HOA board tend to be retired people that have the time to do it which can be frustrating.
      Sorry I am pretty down on condo and townhomes! Once I had the freedom of space and not living on top and next to other people I will never go back!

    3. Asenath*

      I don’t know anything specific about NJ, but I live in a condo and love it – of course, the usual warnings apply about doing all your research carefully, since you’re not only considering whether the unit itself is in good condition and a place you’d like to live in an area you like, but also the financial stability and physical condition of the entire building and corporation. My first home purchase was a small house, and it was the best financial decision I ever made – and that without actually making a killing on it! But the years I was in it, I was building up equity instead of paying rent, which made it possible to get a nicer place later, and I did like the house and neighbourhood. I’d think the main issue is to avoid spending too much money. I got a lot of encouragement (from banks, after all, that’s their business) to spend more than I was comfortable with, but stuck with my small budget and chose mortgage terms that meant I was paying about the same as I had been paying in rent (that is, I didn’t go for a super long term mortgage with lower monthly payments) and terms that allowed me to pay a bit extra towards the principal whenever I wanted to (within some limits, but I never came close enough to having enough spare cash to hit the limits). This caution proved wise when I went through a period of financial difficulties, since I didn’t have high monthly payments for a very large mortgage – and I didn’t have to worry about rent hikes since my mortgage was fixed for several years at a time.

      1. Llellayena*

        Oh this is good, thank you. I’m an architect so I know what to ask about what maintenance the building needs but would not have thought about asking about the finances.

    4. Dwight Schrute*

      My only caution about townhouses or condos is the neighbors. We rented one for two years and the first year and a half the neighbors were great! We never heard them, they were neat and tidy etc snd then new neighbors moved in and were SO loud I couldn’t deal. They would routinely play music with bass thumping so loud our walls would vibrate until 4 am, let their child run around outside screaming bloody murder really often, blocked our driveway with friends coming over multiple times a week, etc. They drove me so batty we ended up moving to a place Without shared walls and yard space. I also second looking at the HOA rules ahead of time

      1. Clisby*

        I’ve never lived in a condo, but I’ve often wondered whether the fees they charge are worth what you get. For example, we own our home, and pay for routine yard maintenance and pest control – it’s not like we have to go out and do those things ourselves just because we’re homeowners.

        1. Asenath*

          Condo fees vary considerably both in amount and in what they cover. I think mine are quite reasonable and definitely worth it, but I suspected the very high and frequently increasing ones in another nearby condo association must have been due to either an insufficient reserve fund, or buildings that required more than average maintenance. They covered much the same things as the fees where I eventually bought – heat/light (which is not always covered) plus the usual maintenance and insurance for the common areas, snow clearing and garbage disposal. Neither association paid for amenities like a fitness centre or 24 hour concierge. And yet one cost a lot more than the other in monthly fees. Some of the fees should also be put aside into a fund for planned maintenance – my condo board paid for an expensive hot water boiler repair, which was admittedly kind of an emergency, and just completed a major roofing job, which seemed more preventative, but didn’t need to request a special assessment (that is, an extra charge). I know another association where not just one but two roof repairs in quick succession required a special assessment. As with a house, there are always expenses for routine work like snowclearing and major repairs.

    5. Generic Name*

      Oof, surfside. If you’re looking at a condo, ask about the association’s finances. Do they have cash reserves to deal with regular maintenance? Do you see evidence of deferred maintenance in the public areas? Things like peeling paint or old carpeting. Ask if there are any upcoming special assessments. Look at the minutes of meetings. Are they businesslike and routine, or does there seem to be a lot of infighting (there’s a tempest in a teapot going on with my HOA, and it’s so stupid)? What are the monthly fees, and what do you get in return?

    6. OTGW*

      I own a condo, though not in NJ. I definitely like it, though the HOA has been a pain in the ass to deal with. Not bad, but just like…. a lot. I think a condo is generally cheaper than a townhome, at least in my area. But you share more walls in a condo, and from what I’ve seen, get less natural light in a condo too.

      Definitely echoing buying cheap—but obvi not too cheap. Get something you’re comfortable with. I HATE my kitchen counters, but I can live with it. If you buy something that you like the bones of, but not the design choices, be aware there may be limits to what you can change. When we bought the condo, we couldn’t see the HOA agreement until we were deep in the buying process (though not too late to pull out).

    7. Roy G. Biv*

      I just moved into a condo, and all is good. fyi – Midwest, not East Coast.

      My partner found the condo association site and meeting minutes and read them before ALL before we made an offer on a unit. We wanted to know what kind of rules were in place, and if they were properly enforced if infractions. We were moving out of a neighborhood of very loud neighbors with very loud vehicles, and wanted to make sure we were not getting into more of the same.

      We also managed to meet with a condo board member before final offer was confirmed. We asked if the condo association is properly funded, how often do fees increase, (looking for a trend of large $$$ jumps one year to the next), what large projects are in the future (replacing roofs, driveways, etc.) and have there been or are there currently any lawsuits against the condo association.

      We’ve been here about 2 months now and love it! Good luck on your hunt!

    8. CatCat*

      You might be able to find a house with a low/no maintenance yard. We’re renting a small house (moved because I’m never sharing walls with neighbors again). The back yard is just a concrete patio. We put planters in so I could do some container gardening, but how involved that is entirely in my control. The front yard is a teeny lawn with a couple shrubs. Takes like 5 mins to mow with a basic reel mower and I have some clippers for the shrubs, which don’t need a lot of clipping.

      1. Llellayena*

        This is a good thought. I don’t necessarily mind single-family, but I know I can’t handle regular lawn maintenance. The area I was thinking about doesn’t have much tiny-lot spots, but there might be places I’m not aware of. Thanks.

    9. Mimmy*

      Fellow central NJ-er here!
      As someone else pointed out, the taxes are high, so that is something to consider (my husband takes care of all the financial stuff, so I can’t share exact figures). Also, I’m not sure how the market is for condos and townhouses, but the market for standalone homes is very competitive.

    10. So I should sort my life out ...*

      Have had both a townhouse/condo and a single family house. Never again with townhouse!! Shared walls, crazy HOA, insane fees- I feel myself blanching at the memories. I obviously don’t know about home ownership in NJ, but I can tell you that things like yard maintenance and spraying once a year for bugs pale in comparison to townhouse HOA foolishness. If they can find a way to charge you money, they will.

    11. Imtheone*

      A long time ago, we bought a townhouse with a condo fee structure in central NJ. Turns out, we bought close to a peak and lost quite a bit four years later when we had outgrown it. Then we bought a house in a nearby town (with a small and almost no grass front yard —almost all various ground covers). Financially, that worked out much better as housing prices just steadily climbed.

      We were on an end unit in the condo with a very quiet neighbor, so that was good. Lots of lawn which we were not responsible for.

      The biggest issue with condos/townhouses is how well they hold their value. And, of course HOA issues and finances.

      Houses are quieter, but you can still have troublesome neighbors.

  30. Dwight Schrute*

    This may be a long shot but does anyone here have experience with bio active setups for pets? I’m looking into trying a bio active cage setup for my girl rats for the added enrichment and less work of cleaning the cage. Any tips?

    1. A313*

      I had to look that up — really interesting and seems far better for the pets! Thanks, as I liked knowing about this alternative, even if I don’t have any pets at the moment. So, sorry I don’t have any advice.

    2. HHD*

      Might be late to the party. Our rats have a partially bioactive set up (lots of natural products, coco soil and hemp for burrowing but also a couple of fabric hammocks and a massive plastic wheel because they love it so much). It’s great enrichment but honestly isn’t much less work in terms of cage cleaning etc. If your rats love dig boxes it’s worth a try, our last mischief hated it because they were old ladies when we adopted them.

      1. Dwight Schrute*

        Thanks!! My girls are quite busy so I think they would enjoy being able to tunnel

    3. Elf*

      I see there are rat owners here! Please tell me all about owning rats! I am seriously considering them because my husband is too allergic for me to have a cat.

      Do they snuggle? Are they ok with kids? How much work and what kind? How expensive?

      I’d be interested in comparisons to ferrets if anyone has that experience because we had a ferret when I was a kid.

      1. HHD*

        They are fabulous pets. One of our friends describes them as “pocket dogs” because they are smart, trainable but also really dorky and cute. Ours don’t live with kids, but have been great with visiting kids and they are much better for kids than most small furries. We have girls, who will very happily ride on your shoulder/hood and some will snuggle, but boys (who are also bigger and less prone to some health conditions) are more reliably chill and down to snuggle.

        Work wise, they need interaction and free ranging time every day. For a traditional setup, they also clean litter trays and bedding a couple times a week (or a spot clean most days) and new hammocks and layouts to maximise enrichment and prevent smells every couple of weeks.

        Cost wise, you can spend loads or little on their enrichment for the same impact. Litter, bedding and food is all pretty reasonable but be prepared for the odd vet bill, because most are prone to Respiratory infections.

      2. Dwight Schrute*

        My boys are definitely more snuggly than my girls! I currently have 12 rats, 4 boys and 8 girls. They are both in critter nation cages or double critter nations. They need a fair amount of enrichment and vet bills can be quite pricy but they are LOVELY pets. They’re hilarious and mischievous and they make me laugh every time I have them out. As far as cost of the actual rats you can spend anywhere from $3 to $40 depending on where you get them, coat type, etc

        1. Elf*

          Is there major benefit to getting a more rather than less expensive rat? I’m not super concerned about cosmetic things, but major differences in personality or health issues would make a difference for me. Are there more and less reputable sources? We learned the hard way about never getting a ferret from a pet shop.

          Am I likely to be able to find everything I need at a standard in-person pet shop? Any recs on starter supplies?

          Are there any special concerns about owning rats in a house that has mouse problems?

          Thanks!

  31. The Dude Abides*

    Any runners have tips for keeping wired earbuds in when running?

    I have a pair of wired Bluetooth earbuds that have a nasty habit of falling out when I do the sprint portion of my runs. I’ve tried masking tape to no avail, and my next thought is painter’s tape.

    1. sswj*

      How about a wide headband? You can find nice light and stretchy material so not too hot to wear.

      1. Almost Academic*

        This is what I use, between the headband in the summer and my hats for the winter they physically get held in place.

    2. acmx*

      Have you changed the tips of the buds to a different size to see if they stay put better?

      I’d try KT tape since it’s water resistant and made for skin.

    3. ThatGirl*

      They’re wired and Bluetooth? Anyway, you might just need a new design, I have some that wrap around my ear because the standard issue buds fell out too easily.

      1. The Dude Abides*

        The buds are connected to each other. I refuse to go true wireless because I’d inevitably lose one.

        1. ThatGirl*

          Oh sure, I do that too. I would still consider those wireless so I was a little confused, but I gotcha.

    4. londonedit*

      I couldn’t ever find earbuds that would stay in while running, so in the end I got some Aftershokz bone-conducting headphones and they’re amazing.

      1. The Dude Abides*

        The wire isn’t long enough. It goes from ear to ear, and I usually have it behind my neck.

        1. MissCoco*

          What about pinning the wire to the back of your hair with a Bobby pin or similar? Wouldn’t help with the ear aspect, but would at least keep them attached to you if an earpiece comes out

    5. Mariella*

      they make earbud hooks of various types now with more people getting airpods that are expensive to lose, so maybe try googling “airpod holder” or the like and see if any of those appeal to you? my husband has wired earbuds with the hooks over his ears and they work ok on his runs but he doesn’t usually do sprints.

      1. The Dude Abides*

        Do you know what model he has? I’m looking for wireless buds with earhooks and am striking out.

    6. The New Wanderer*

      If you don’t have over the ear segments in addition to the ear bud part, that could help. I found some sold separately that clip on to the earbuds and that works great for me, though the outer ear part does pinch a little after a long workout.

      I also found a headband with built in speakers (Bluetooth) that you position over your ears. Those have also worked well in terms of not slipping around.

    7. LGC*

      Are you taping your ears? Basically, the things I can think of are adjusting the ear fit by changing up the ear tips (if they have changeable tips) and securing the fit, if there’s a “wing” piece that’s supposed to fit in your ear.

      Other than that, you might have to adjust the fit of the wired part. If they’re the neckband style (with a large solid piece that sits on your neck), I…have never run with those, because I’ve been worried about them staying in place. If they just have a cord connecting them, oftentimes you can adjust the cord to get a more secure fit.

      1. The Dude Abides*

        I’ve been taping my ears, but the extreme humidity hasn’t helped. Sun is a non-factor; I run between 9-11pm because toddler.

        The tips are long gone, which would probably have been my best bet.

        The cord that connects them is thin. It does flop around, but not enough to cause issues.

        1. Observer*

          Depending on the model you have, you should be able to get replacement tips. If not, get a new set of neckbuds – you clearly are not looking for “audiophile” type buds, so you don’t need to spend a lot of money on this.

          The pair I have cost about $30, and come with 3 sizes of tip. And, when I thought I’d misplace the replacement tips, I was able to find replacement tips for less than $10

    8. Ismis*

      I haven’t tried these myself but Creative have some sports earphones with secure tips for runners.

    9. The Dude Abides*

      So, thanks much to everyone for the advice.

      The pair I had been using hit the trash tonight, as the audio from one bud is severely weaker. I double-checked that it’s not my ear, as that has been an issue.

      I’ll take all of the advice about suggested models into account. I also figured out that I hate the earbuds with rubber tips, and will avoid them at all cost.

      1. MMM*

        Highly recommend aftershokz headphones! Bluetooth bone conduction headphones. I’ve used them running for about 3 years now and can’t believe I ever used to use anything else

  32. Sis Trouble*

    Hi – I have a family problem. I used to be very close to my sister, but she has gone radio silent on me since January 2021. We live approximately an hour away from each other. We used to talk and text every few days and visit with each other several times each month. I will note that politically I tend to be middle of the road/right leaning. She is a hard core MAGA, extreme Trump devotee. We grew up in a home where our parents were on opposite ends of the political spectrum. Our parents used to joke that their votes canceled each other out. Anyhow, I never in a million years thought that politics, of all things, could come between my sis and me.

    Then January 6th happened. I made it clear on social media that I had had it with Trump and his extreme followers. I was disgusted with Trump and the Insurrectionists.

    Then, radio silence from my sister. Zero communication. She will not respond to me at all. I’ve left voicemails and texts. Nothing from sis. Zero. Zip. I’ll admit that I haven’t reached out since the very end of January because I do not want to *beg* her to speak with me. So, I suppose I’m a bit to blame as well.

    I’m just hurting. Any advice out there. Please.

    1. ThatGirl*

      I am sure this hurts, but if she’s that far gone, what can you do? It’s like losing a family member to a cult. She’s made her choice clear. All you can do is wait.

    2. Blackcat*

      I am sorry. I hear about this a lot, particularly from people who are right-leaning and have often gotten along with people from various political backgrounds. Friends/family who used to be similar in politics have gone off the deep end and won’t talk to anyone who doesn’t share their beliefs.
      I don’t have advice, but I know you aren’t alone :/

    3. Girasol*

      Perhaps you just need to give her some time. The fervency of that movement may fade with time and give her a chance to rethink the matter.

      1. Former Child*

        She may realize from the videos being released every day that “her side” is being arrested and confessing and blaming their president now. And doesn’t want you to rub it in. She could actually see that it was wrong. Or not.

        If you send a short question about how she’s doing, you can use the Pandemic as the “cover” for not talking, and the world “opening up” again as your excuse to connect.
        UNLESS she’s also a virus denier.

        As much as I don’t like to enable people’s negative politics, when it’s family you can try to move around it.
        Sometimes people start pretending they didn’t support awful policies when they realize how bad it actually was — and I hate to enable that too. But family is different; there’s often “an elephant in the room” that we ignore.

    4. Squeakrad*

      If you haven’t reached out in almost 6 months I would say give it one more shot at least!

    5. Tofu Pie*

      I’m sorry. I have spent most of this year not talking to my siblings. Different reasons, but I feel your hurt. It sucks bad.

      Betty Hart has spoken on Ted talk about “canceling” family members because of a conflict in deeply held personal beliefs. She’s on YouTube so recommend listening to her talk.

    6. WS*

      Stay in contact on birthdays, family birthdays and other special occasions with a card and gift. Don’t argue or blame or say anything about politics. She may or may not get back in contact but it’s important that she sees the gate is open.

    7. Not So NewReader*

      At some point two people have to decide that the relationship is more important than any given political issue.

      I have a friend whose beliefs are opposite of mine. We both agreed that we found the friendship to be more important than talking about larger situations that neither one of us can fix anyway.
      I have another friend who is also on the opposite end from her sis. They too have decided that the subject is off limits and they discuss the things they share and enjoy.

      You could just resume conversation about normal things and see if she responds. My personality is such that I would be comfy sending an email saying, “So …. are we going to go to our graves never speaking to each other again or what? I miss you and I miss our relationship.”

    8. c-*

      I recently lost a close cousin in a similar way. She got into the police force and one year later she was spouting hate and saying people who think like I do should be arrested and worse. She’s a complete different person from who she was before.

      The cult metaphor is accurate. Fascism works like a cult in that it isolates its members from non-cult friends and family and trains them to see them as untrustworthy traitors. And, let me be clear, supporting an armed insurrection to take out a legitimate government is about as fascist as it gets.

      So, I’m very sorry, Sis Trouble, but your sister has been lost. She supports the armed insurrection against your government and has written you off her life because you don’t. I’m so very sorry.

      This is not, in any way or shape, your fault. She has chosen a side that’s incompatible with peaceful coexistence with others. She has rebuffed your attempts to reach out. In short, she loves Trump and the insurrectionists more than she loves you.
      I’m sorry, but there is nothing else for you to do than grieve the sister you had and hope against hope that she’ll snap out of it someday. Try and remember fondly the good aspects she had and the good memories you had together, be very gentle with yourself, and know that you’re not alone in this.
      I’m very sorry for your loss.

    9. Analyst Editor*

      I’d say, swallow your pride and reach out to her. See if you can avoid the politics or have an honest debate about them, set up a “safe space” for voicing opinions without recriminations and see where you get. ESPECIALLY if your social media message was out of the blue and very aggressive, like “if you support X in any way you are dead to me, unfriend me and don’t bother ever talking to me again” (and I’ve seen a few of those myself in my social media).

      Also, if you are center-right yourself, do you have a circle of people who aren’t progressive where you can discuss these things? I’m sure this issue arises there too, and the response might be different than among friends who are very very left-wing.

  33. Mavis*

    So I know a lot of cat lovers here. I took in a litter of feral kittens. I’m in danger of keeping them all, not my original intention!!

    I’ve tamed them all and not only am I attached to them but they’re attached to me. I worry if they will be happy in new homes and what if I regret giving them up?

    Am I mad??

    1. Allie*

      Yeah you really need to find them homes. A whole litter won’t be healthy either for you or the kittens. Just thibk about the vet bills. My cat has occasionally need surgery that costs over a thousand dollars. A whole litter will mean you won’t be able to provide adequate care.

      They will adjust just fine. My old man came to me when he was 6ish years old and he’s totally bonded to our family. A kitten will happily bond to their new family. Their cat mom would have chased them away naturally.

      1. Former Child*

        A lot of “Pandemic Pets” have been returned to shelters by owners who have no soul. It’s very sad. So be sure the homes you find are solid, but then re-home them.

        Vet bills would be huge, even just to neuter them, etc.

        1. Holly Walker*

          The news has made a big deal about this, but it’s really not happening that often! Return rates are just returning to normal post pandemic.
          The real problem has been people who have had support services cut or forced to return to work and then having to rehome their pets. Not because they’re soulless but because the pandemic will continue to vastly impact our well being
          https://www.nytimes.com/2021/05/22/us/dog-adoptions-pandemic.html
          https://lbpost.com/news/contrary-to-rumor-people-arent-returning-their-pandemic-pets-there-are-other-problems-though

      2. The Other Dawn*

        “A whole litter will mean you won’t be able to provide adequate care.”

        This is a very real consideration and can be true for a lot of people, but we don’t know Mavis’s financial situation. Nor do we know how many kittens we’re talking. A litter could be as few as two or as many as six or more. She may be perfectly able to afford proper care. I do agree, though, that it needs to be thought through before making the decision. I’ve seen too many people take on pets without consideration for how they’ll pay for even routine vet care. (See: sister, best friend…)

    2. Cookie D'oh*

      I certainly get the impulse to keep them all! Kittens are young and will adapt to a new home. I follow some foster kitten accounts on Instagram and they always emphasize that “goodbye is the goal” of fostering. Once they are adopted, you will have the opportunity to foster more kitties in need.

    3. mreasy*

      They have learned to love people, which is your job as a foster parent. Agreed that it’s probably too much to keep the whole lot of them, but 2 cats is a lovely number of cats to have. If you have a particularly bonded pair, they’d be good to keep.

    4. sswj*

      They’ll be very happy to go to new people. As much as I adore all my animals, I have no illusion that if I had to give them up, they’d mostly be all “Oh, are you the new feeder/lap/skritcher now? Ok, cool!” Kittens especially are adaptable to change, they are so curious about everything.
      Also know that as they age, they may not still be best of friends they way they are now. I kept 2 kittens the last time I fostered (almost 5 years ago now) because I’d recently lost a couple of my elderlies and knew that most of the rest of my crew were (and are) much of an age. I’m about to be running a senior center for cats, and I wanted a couple of youngsters to leaven the sadness that I knew (and still know) is coming. I kept 2 sisters, and they are NOT friends. At all. They tolerate each other because I insist that there be manners, but they will ambush each other, not in fun either, if they get a chance. I have 11 house cats so they have plenty of other socializing opportunities, but just because they grew up together doesn’t ensure that they’ll get along.

    5. The New Wanderer*

      We adopted a former feral kitten that someone had fostered/socialized. It took a few weeks of adjusting but he loves me, likes the kids, and really enjoys playing with our other cat. The socializing part was critical, and that helps the kittens be able to adjust from one happy home to a new happy home.

      1. Nicki Name*

        Adopting them out to homes which already have a resident cat can help a lot. Both of our ex-ferals were adopted as kittens and both of them immediately latched on to an older cat and learned how to be part of the household by imitating them.

    6. Callisto*

      I foster. Remember that every foster fail is a loss for future litters that you could have taken on. It’s in the best interest of cats as a whole for you to keep adopting them out and creating more space.

    7. ShinyPenny*

      Well. You don’t mention exactly how many there are… Or how big your house is… Lol…
      I kept two sisters out of the first feral litter I raised. Five would have been too many for me! Two was perfect.
      I kept the boy from the second litter, so the two sisters could stay together in their new home.
      I have a friend that kept all six of hers. She had a big house and it worked out very well for her.
      Some commenters are clearly semi-pro repeat kitten raisers– more power to them! So they have a good point that they can only continue if they let each kitten go. I was purely accidental (litters were dumped in my neighborhood 10 years apart) so it was not a service I planned to repeat on purpose.
      I’m actually not sure that is the correct deciding factor, though. Being a repeat kitten-raiser is a Good Thing, but I think it’s ok if you decide to take a break and adopt a specific kitten (or three) if you’ve fallen in love. (I still regret not keeping all 3 of the last group, but I just didn’t have the space then.)

      1. Mavis*

        Thanks everyone, these stories and perspectives are helpful.

        Five in litter, two older cats already in house. I’m not a fosterer, these kittens were born in the yard. Wouldn’t be looking for another litter. So I stepped in when they were old enough. Still feeding mom cat want to take her for tnr.

        House is large enough, it could work. Would be expensive but not going to put us on street. Very torn!

  34. Epsilon Delta*

    Is there a special name for a peninsula that is separated from the mainland by a river? Two examples I know of are Door County in Wisconsin and Keeweenaw peninsula in upper Michigan. What makes it still considered a peninsula (surrounded on 3 sides with water) vs an island (surrounded on all 4 sides with water, which technically they are if you count the river)?

    1. Opinions, I've Had a Few*

      Door County is considered a peninsula. I’ve never heard anyone in WI call it anything any differently. My MIL lives there so I think I would have heard if there was another name.

    2. fposte*

      I’m not seeing a helpfully specific differentiation; Wikipedia does say “The surrounding water is usually understood to be continuous, though not necessarily named as a single body of water,” which may help illuminate. I also suspect that history plays a role, in that if it was historically accessible via land with only an old-timey bridge to get over a river it was a peninsula, whereas adding a modern bridge or causeway to an island doesn’t change it from island to peninsula.

    3. D3*

      Usually it isn’t *completely* separated by a river. Door county, for example, only has a natural river for half of it, the canal is man made and used to be land.
      I’m not familiar with a different name for them, and if such a thing exists, I would think size/depth of the water would be a factor.

    4. Deanna Troi*

      I agree with the others in that most examples of these will be natural peninsulas with artificial waterways. The waterway across Keenweenaw is a manmade canal, not a river. Same with Cape Cod. A river needs to have a source, which usually wouldn’t be a big body of water like Lake Michigan.

  35. Victoria, Please*

    What’s the worst mess you ever made? (Light hearted question.) I had just bought a new bottle of olive oil and set it on the front porch to open the door. Our security door swings out. …tip…splink…shatter… entire bottle of oil slowly spreads across the concrete. All I could do was watch.

    Also any tips for what to do now that I have a giant oil splotch on my front porch?

    1. Allie*

      Simple green might work without being toxic.

      I worked at a pizza place and someone once dropped a whole bucket of sauce. That was fun.

      1. Elizabeth West*

        I used to work at Golden Corral before it became a buffet and one day someone dropped a crock of French dressing on the tile floor (it wasn’t me). Talk about a greasy mess!

    2. Sis Trouble*

      Sorry, no advice. However, this brought up a memory…

      I am a high school teacher and this reminds me of the senior “prank” from several years ago. The kids smeared Crisco all over the steps leading into the school. They also smeared Crisco all over the door handles on all the exterior doors. They did this the night before registration. So, imagine everyone approaching the school and slipping and sliding as they got closer.

      I thought it was a horrible prank, especially when I saw one mother fall down the front stairs and nearly break her leg. We had staff stand outside and warn people about the problem.

      There are cameras all around the building, so the culprits were caught and disciplined. The custodians had to clean up the mess. Believe me, they had plenty of other things to do in the days leading up to the opening of school.

    3. fposte*

      Two of my best:

      One, at home, not entirely my fault: I opened a bottle of fish emulsion fertilizer that had apparently fermented in the bottle and sent skyrocketing rotten fish juice all over my kitchen.

      Two, at a hardware store, entirely my fault: I managed to let a quart of bright blue paint drop out of my hands at the register for a perfect splat landing that burst the top open and scattered blue all over the floor and counter. I could see a few residual drops there for years.

    4. Dwight Schrute*

      Last summer on the day we moved into our home I was putting beer into the fridge and I picked up the box from the wrong end without realizing it was open and about 6 beers fell onto the concrete in our garage and shattered and sprayed beer all over. This was in July in Ga so our garage reeked of warm beer for a bit

      1. The New Wanderer*

        Not as bad, but I was starting to unload groceries from my car and didn’t realize that a bottle of wine was right at the back hatch. As soon as I lifted it, the bottle rolled off and smashed on the driveway. Took forever to get all the pieces of glass!

        1. Longtime Lurker*

          Also red wine…mistakes were made (the cork was extra tight, I swear!), and it somehow exploded. I found spatter marks everywhere, for months afterwards – including inside cabinets that were closed at the time!

    5. Miss Pantalones En Fuego*

      On the way back from Mexico, back in the days when you could carry regular bottles in your carry on luggage, the zipper on my backpack popped open as I took it off to put it on the security scanner. An entire bottle of tequila went flying and there was glass and tequila all over the place. I smelled like a bar for the whole flight back.

      1. Chocolate Teapot*

        Somebody once dropped a bottle of Whisky at the departure gate, so there was a very strong smell.

    6. Whiskey on the rocks*

      Grocery for 10 years, I’ve cleaned up a lot of oil! Cat litter will soak it up. Spread it thick and let it absorb until you can see the top layer darkening and then sweep it up. You’ll still have some residue so scrub it with soap and water. Spill Magic is a powder you can buy that works even better, but I’m not sure where to get it in person anymore. Unfortunately oil stains concrete and you’ll likely have that splotch unless you can refinish the concrete.

      My most recent mess involved refilling the hummingbird feeder with sugar water. I had to take a shower.

      1. Generic Name*

        Your last comment reminded me of the last time I tried to make hummingbird nectar. I forgot I had started it and a while later I wondered why the house smelled like cotton candy. I carbonized the sugar water. It was a puffy black mass stuck to the bottom of the pot. I had to throw away the pot. :(

        1. GoryDetails*

          I’ve done that – set the sugar-water boiling and forgotten it. More than once, in fact. I started setting the kitchen timer for ANYTHING involving the stovetop or oven, and that helped, but one day I’d set the syrup simmering, set the timer, forgot the whole thing and went out on a quick errand. Could have burned my house down that time, so… yeah, not quite as bad a mess as it might have been. Got home to find the house full of smoke, the smoke alarm blaring, the timer also blaring (with, in my imagination, a rather wounded note: “I *tried* to warn you…”), and a lovely mass of carbonized sugar in the pan. I still have nightmares about that one.

          1. Generic Name*

            Yikes! I’m glad I’m not the only one. My husband came home right after I discovered the pot but before I realized the house was filling with smoke. He opened the door and said Holy Shit!! He got me premade nectar for my birthday :)

    7. Generic Name*

      I tried to make a tray of jello “jigglers” when I was in high school. I had made the mix, poured it carefully into the cookie sheet, only to bump it on the side of the fridge as I was putting in in to set. Jello all over the floor and inside of the fridge. Red jello. My mom was So Pissed and made me (rightfully) clean it up by myself.

      1. Not a cat*

        Sounds like my mother. Never understood why she was pissed at something that was obviously an accident. She was an old-school face slapper and trying to hit me on the head w/ various utensils too.

        1. allathian*

          Ouch. Yesterday, my 12-year-old son put a soda bottle back in the fridge without making sure the top was screwed on tight. The fridge was nearly full so he had to lay it flat on a shelf rather than put it upright on the door. So it leaked and made a mess. Fortunately he noticed it quickly, and while I told him to clean up the mess, I wasn’t mad at him. Accidents happen, and he didn’t need my anger to teach him to be more careful next time, I’m sure just having to clean it up did that.

          When I was a kid, my mom made a couple bottles of fermented mead (very mildly alcoholic but sweet, and people of all ages drink it here on Walpurgis night (April 30). Unfortunately she put them in a by a window that got some sun part of the day. At the time, all soda bottles were made of glass. My sister and I got home from school before mom came home from work. There was a bang, and one of the bottles exploded. It made a horrible mess in the kitchen, sugary carbonated sticky stuff and glass shards. I was 11 and my sister was 8 and we were stuck cleaning it up. We were independent kids and didn’t even think to call either of our parents because we knew they’d be home shortly. Just as we were done cleaning the worst of it up, the second bottle exploded. We were lucky that it didn’t explode while we were cleaning, because the glass shards could’ve cut us up pretty badly. We’d just started cleaning the mess from the second bottle when our parents got home and took over. I don’t remember them being mad about the mess, just happy that we were unhurt.

      2. Victoria, Please*

        Aww. For gosh sake, it was an accident. Of course you should clean it up, but getting pissed over it, gee, I hope that was just a bad day for mom and not her general approach.

    8. ImOnlyHereForThePoetry*

      My worst mess was a crockpot of potato soup falling over in the backseat of my car. I never did get it completely cleaned out and the car remained a little funky for a couple of years after.