weekend open thread – July 31-August 1, 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: The Kitchen Front, by Jennifer Ryan. Four very different women compete in a British wartime cooking competition during World War II.

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

{ 1,000 comments… read them below }

  1. LucieLucieLucie*

    Can we talk memoirs? I’m really getting into them lately. Some that I’ve read and enjoyed: On the Glory of it All by Sean Wilsey about his horrible family, Save Me the Plums by Ruth Reichl about her job as the editor of Gourmet, and Wait ‘Til Next Year by Doris Kearns Goodwin about growing up in a town obsessed with basement. What good memoirs would you recommend?

    1. RagingADHD*

      This was probably autocorrect or something, but what does “obsessed with basement” mean?

        1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

          Yes – that author is a historian who features pretty prominently in Ken Burns’ epic doco about the history of baseball. :) (and geez, I had to fix four aggressive autocorrect miscorrections in that one sentence alone, must be something in the water :-P )

    2. Dark Macadamia*

      “Life Among the Savages” by Shirley Jackson is a humorous memoir of moving from Manhattan to rural Vermont with her family. It focuses a lot on her kids but it’s especially hilarious if you’re familiar with her horror fiction because it’s like oh, is this where she got the idea to write multiple books about women in weird creepy houses being ostracized by the neighbors??

      1. Asenath*

        I found Jackson’s followup to “Life Among the Savages”, “Raising Demons”, on display with the horror novels in a secondhand bookstore. It’s been a very long time since I read them, but I think they were hilarious. Jackson was a great writer who died too young and so didn’t write enough books. It’s a shame most people know only one of her works (“The Lottery”).

      2. fposte*

        Oh, I found that when I was a kid and was obsessed. Phrases still wander through my mind from it. I read a lot of Jean Kerr at about the same time.

        1. London Calling*

          ‘Please Don’t Eat The Daisies.’ Loved that book when I was a teenager. Also Betty MacDonald ‘Onions in the Stew.’

          1. Grey Panther*

            I’m another fan of Shirley Jackson’s memoirs—read them when I was a kid, and annoyed the heck out of my parents by parroting lines from both books.
            Also, Betty MacDonald’s “The Egg and I,” about her life as a newlywed on a chicken ranch in the Northwest, sometime in the 1930s or 40s, I think, had me laughing out loud.

            1. Squirrel Nutkin*

              Seconding *The Egg and I*–loved it!

              I’m now reading the late 19th-century/early 20th-century travel memoirs *Three Men on a Boat* and *Three Men on a Bummel* by Jerome K. Jerome and finding them pretty funny — kind of Mark Twain-ish, but with British protagonists. Unfortunately, they need a content warning for brief mention of the n-word, though.

              1. Squirrel Nutkin*

                In terms of modern memoirs, I LOVED Tiffany Haddish’s memoir *The Last Black Unicorn.* I enjoyed her humor in the film *Girls’ Trip,* and her memoir about how she overcame a difficult childhood and early adulthood through a great deal of moxie just made me love and admire her all the more. I think I read it in one sitting, it was so gripping. Content warning for child abuse and spousal abuse, though.

                1. Squirrel Nutkin*

                  Also, it’s not exactly a traditional memoir, but *How to Be Anti-Racist* by Ibram X. Kendi intersperses an analysis of Kendi’s own real-life experiences, thoughts, and reactions with his philosophy of anti-racism — the memoir parts illustrate the philosophy parts of the book beautifully, and it’s a compelling read.

              2. *daha**

                The Connie Willis novel To Say Nothing Of The Dog is in large part a tribute to Three Men On A Boat. It is also a novel about a future Oxford University where historians have access to time travel to do their research. It is very much a comedy.

        2. the cat's ass*

          Slipstream by Elizabeth Jane Howard talks about her writing and her marriage to Amis. You really see where she lifted so much of her material from her own life, especially for the Cazalet Chronicles.

          Wild Mary is a biography of Mary Wesley and is also terrific WW2-to the present era reading.

      3. ThatGirl*

        I’ve been to the town she lived in, and saw the building that inspired Hill House, and that building is definitely haunted.

    3. Seeking Second Childhood*

      I seem to have a thing for food related memoirs.
      My American Dream: A Life of Love, Family, and Food by Lidia Bastianich (this with a side order of the refugee experience )
      Wife of the Chef by Courtney Febbroriello (I married into a family that used to run a restaurant, so this was a good perspective for me to see.)
      Kitchen Confidential by Anthony Bourdain (I found it reassuring that in later years he talked about regrets of glorifying the toxic parts of commercial kitchens.)
      And for fun, a parody: Cooking with Fernet Branca by James Hamilton-Paterson.

      1. AY*

        I am not a memoir fan at all, but I really enjoyed the first half of Julia Child’s My Life in France. The latter half isn’t set in France and isn’t as engaging, but the first half is sublime fun.

        1. Clisby*

          I also liked Julie and Julia.

          I tried Kitchen Confidential by Anthony Bourdain, but gave up halfway through because he was such an asshole.

    4. I take tea*

      If you haven’t read Tara Westover’s Educated, please do. It’s one of the most engaging books I’ve read lately. It’s not just about surviving growing up outside of society, it has compassion and understanding. It’s pretty hard reading sometimes, but very fascinating.

      1. Fellow Traveller*

        Ooh- yeah I found Educated really horrifying in parts; the family dynamics are pretty cruel. The story Westover tells of her personal journey of self discovery, though is really compelling.

    5. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      Looking at my reading log for the year, memoirs that I have enjoyed so far this year that stand out:

      Greenlights – Matthew McConaughey
      I’m Your Huckleberry – Val Kilmer
      From Rufio to Zuko – Dante Basco (this one’s a super quick read, but really interesting, and he has some powerful commentary on being an actor of color, especially as a kid, in Hollywood)
      Dolly Parton, Songteller – Dolly Parton
      Sid Meier’s Memoir! – Sid Meier (primarily if you have any interest in the history of video gaming; it might be less interesting if you don’t)
      I Have Always Been Me – Precious Brady-Davis
      No Shortcuts to the Top – Ed Viesturs (from a recent recommendation here for mountain-climbing books)

      I’ve also read at least three of Michael J Fox’s memoirs, and all of them have been excellent.

      If your interest extends to biographies, rather than only memoirs, I have some other recommendations as well, but – at least in my head – memoirs are specifically written by the subject, so I didn’t include anything that didn’t fit that descriptor. :)

    6. Hotdog not dog*

      “I Can See Clearly Now” by Dr. Peggy Doherty DeLong. When she was in her 20s, her fiance died of cancer. A short time later, her father also passed. She talks about her journey through grief and learning about gratitude and resilience. It’s heart wrenching, beautiful, and inspiring.

    7. WellRed*

      Wild by Cheryl Strayed. I also like losing it by Valerie Bertinelli and the memoir from Ann and Nancy Wilson of Heart but the name escapes me.

    8. Bluebell*

      I’m right in the middle of Deborah Madison’s memoir, An Onion in my Pocket, and am really enjoying it. Lots of good food-related anecdotes.

      1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        That’s what I do, with the library and the biography section, right before any vacation I take. :)

    9. Clisby*

      Climbing the Mango Trees, by Madhur Jaffrey
      Maya Angelou’s autobiography series, beginning with I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings
      A Child in the Forest, by Winifred Foley

    10. AY*

      Born a Crime by Trevor Noah is justifiably popular. Know My Name by Chanel Miller is very beautifully written. She was assaulted by Brock Turner at Stanford and writes powerfully about her recovery and experience with the justice system. It’s a hard read but a worthwhile one!

      Just started My Family and Other Animals by Gerald Durrell and it is charming. An English family moves to Corfu in Greece and charming hijinks ensue.

      1. allathian*

        There’s also been at least two TV shows based on the books set in Corfu. There’s two more featuring the same time period, Birds, Beasts and Relatives; Garden of the Gods. I know that My Family… ends with the Durrells returning to the UK, so lots of people miss the “sequels”.

      2. twocents*

        Seconding the recommendation for Born a Crime! I went into it knowing next to nothing about Trevor Noah, and it was a genuinely enjoyable read.

    11. RosyGlasses*

      I really am enjoying Madam Secretary by Madeleine Albright, and also Hell and Other Destinations (same author).

      Not a memoir but American Spy is based on a true spy story – it was riveting and intriguing.

    12. Pandemic Pumpernickel Princess*

      So many good recommendations here! I really enjoyed This Life is in Your Hands by Melissa Coleman. It’s part memoir, part family history about her parents’ 70s homestead in Maine. If you’re interested in the back-to-the-land movement or difficult family stories, it’s a good one!

      1. Pandemic Pumpernickel Princess*

        Oh and Ruth Reichl’s other memoirs are great too! I haven’t read them in years, but I recall really enjoying Tender at the Bone and Garlic and Sapphires. Such good food writing, yum.

    13. Pool Lounger*

      Mary Karr’s The Liar’s Club is the best memoir I’ve ever read. Annie Ernaux is a french author who writes outstanding memoirs; all of her books are brilliant.

    14. Anne Elliott*

      The Tender Bar by J. R. Moehringer.
      Freckled: A Memoir of Growing Up Wild in Hawaii by T.W. Neal
      The Glass Castle by Jeanette Walls
      Me by Elton John

    15. Jay*

      Seems obvious but since no one mentioned it…”Becoming” by Michelle Obama was wonderful. In the food memoir genre…”Mostly True” by Molly O’Neill. She wrote for the food section of the NYT; her brother is Paul O’Neill, the baseball player, and her stories about their family explain a lot to those of us who watched him systematically destroy various pieces of dugout equipment during his playing days.

      “Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat” by Samin Nosrat is usually shelved and sold as a cookbook, and it is mostly centered on cooking, but there’s a lot about her life as a Persian kid in the US and her unusual path to becoming a chef. I loved those parts even more than the cooking (and that transformed the way we cook, so if you’re interesting in cooking, even better). Not officially memoir, but E B White’s “One Man’s Meat” collects his essays about living on a farm in Maine. They are delightful and of course beautifully written. White’s stepson, Roger Angell, wrote a memoir called “Let Me Finish” that I adored. And circling back…any of his baseball writing is worth reading.

    16. Seeking Second Childhood*

      Alison’s cats reminded me to look up one that might be hard to find because it’s from several decades ago:
      The Cats in Our Lives (1949) by Pamela & James Mason. We know him as an actor; this shows he drew lovely cat sketches too.

    17. GoryDetails*

      Re memoirs: lots of good ones already listed. I’ve enjoyed Ruth Reichl’s books, and was rather surprised to find that I also loved Jen Lancaster’s humorous memoirs. (She’s best known for Bitter Is The New Black, but I first encountered her work in MY FAIR LAZY.)

      Doreen Tovey’s books about her cats and other animals shade towards “humorous pet stories” but are also memoirs; CATS IN THE BELFRY is the first, and still my favorite.

      Then there’s Leo Marks’ BETWEEN SILK AND CYANIDE, including his experiences as a cryptographer during WWII. [Fun fact: his father was one of the owners of the bookshop at 84 Charing Cross Road!]

      THE COMMITMENT by Dan Savage deals with his relationship with his boyfriend (now husband) and the family pressure on them to get married even if they have to travel to Canada to do it.

      I like Anne Lamott’s memoirs, which feature philosophy and politics as well as personal details; TRAVELLING MERCIES was, I think, the first one I read.

      1. Lizzie*

        Too Close to the Falls, by Catherine Gildiner – “highly unusual adventures, set against a hilarious backdrop of conventional small town life” – mid 1950s near Niagara Falls, with the writer being an eccentric child in an unusual family – “the family doctor’s prescription for her hyperactivity is a full-time job in her father’s pharmacy -at four”.
        It is beautifully observed and very engaging.

    18. Jyn’Leeviyah the Red*

      Jenny Lawson’s *Let’s Pretend This Never Happened* is an all-time favorite of mine. So funny I cried laughing, but so deeply raw and moving, too. She’s a true gem! I’ve read her follow-up memoirs, as well, but this one is just phenomenal and so special.

    19. Anono-me*

      One of the most powerful memoirs I have read* was a deliberate one called ‘Newjack’ . The author is a writer who deliberately spent a year as a prison guard in order to write about it. He has several books of a similar nature.

      I like to read pairs of similar memoirs. Probably the most interesting pair of memoirs that I read were ‘The White Massi’ Hoffman and ‘A White Woman among the Massi’ Mallett. I heard a radio program about a European woman who had been on safari and met a Massi man then fell head over heels for him in a few weeks and her life among the Massi people as his wife. It sounded fascinating. While searching for the Hoffman book; I found a copy of the Mallett book. It is about an English woman who goes to live on a family estate in Africa the 1920s and her encounters with the Massi people nearby. I thought it would be interesting to contrast the two. Sadly there was less contrast in attitudes than I would have hoped. Also Hoffman’s husband wasn’t Massi, but from a similar less marketable tribal group. )

    20. NeutralJanet*

      Autobiography of a Recovering Skinhead by Frank Meeink–a former Neo-Nazi telling the story of how he became a Neo-Nazi and how he left that life. It’s tough to read at some points, but really rewarding.

    21. Fellow Traveller*

      So many great suggestions! I second Trevor Noah’s Born a Crime- such a great book!
      Lately I’ve enjoyed:
      Shrill by Lindy West- comedian and writer who writes about being fat and the misogyny in the world of comedy.
      Homecoming by Julie Andrews (though I found her second installment Homework less interesting)
      Good Talk by Mira Jacob – a fascinating graphic novel memoir about raising a mixed race child in today’s political climate.
      The Desert and The Sea by Michael Scott Moore, about his three years as a captive of Somali Pirates- surprisingly funny in parts
      Just Mercy by Brian Stevenson, a lawyer for death row inmates. So good.
      Dead Man Walking and River of Fire by Sister Helen Prejean. So human.
      Long Haul by Finn Murphy- a trucker writes about life on the road working for a moving company
      A Life’s Work by Rachel Cusk about motherhood and identity.
      Alyssa Mastromonco’a two memoirs about working for the Obama administration. Hilarious and fascinating.
      How to Eat a Peach by David Chang, the chef behind the Momofuku restaurants

    22. Never Nicky*

      These are quite Brit-centric but I’ve enjoyed
      How to be a woman – Caitlin Moran (quite sweary though)
      Toast – Nigel Slater
      1979 – Rhona Cameron (growing up gay in a small town)
      Why be happy when you can be normal? – Jeanette Winterson (growing up gay in a small town with a very religious adoptive mother)
      Hungry – Grace Dent (growing up in a small working class town and then becoming a food critic)

      Can you tell I grew up as ‘other’ in a small town?

    23. Angstrom*

      “Here if you need me” by Kate Braestrup. The followup, “Marriage and other acts of charity”is also good.

  2. end to cat calls!*

    I hope this isn’t too sombre for the weekend – my teenager is getting a lot of catcalls, especially from older (60 +) men. Any advice on how to handle this? It’s bothering her quite a bit.

    1. matcha123*

      I feel for her. I was in the same position when I was a teen and it is so uncomfortable. Especially when other adults in the vicinity say nothing!
      I would focus on buildings that were further ahead when I was walking, so I didn’t make eye contact with any of those guys. It also made me look zoned out, so they could tell themselves I didn’t hear rather than I was rejecting them in public.
      I’d keep headphones on when I was on the bus and stare out the window. In bookstores and at the mall, I’d keep headphones on and dead stare ahead.

      She should always carry her keys between her fingers, just in case. And while this won’t stop the calls, calling ahead to you or other family members when she’s leaving a place is a good safety measure.

      1. The Dogman*

        Hey, I see this advice and want to add my close combat knowledge. If you intend to use keys as a defensive weapon please use them in a “hacking/icepick” motion, DO NOT have them sticking out between your fingers like Wolverines claws!

        The first will let you cut and slice an attacker, the second will dislocate your fingers or break the bones in your hands.

        I advise the women I help to train in self defence to rely on kicks at the lower leg and knee (stamping “front on” to a knee that is supporting a persons weight is a surprisingly easy way to disable an attacker, striking at the side of the knee is also very effective) rather than weapons or attacks at mens testes or faces. Men are good at defending their faces and testes, not usually as easy to protect a knee from a kick.

        My main advice is to take up a self defence class, MMA with a strong BJJ element is the best all rounder really.

    2. Princess Deviant*

      Oh gosh that’s so horrible.
      If there is a way to do this and be safe and if she feels confident she could take a picture of them and tell them she is going to post it on paedos dot org (not a real site) or that she’s going to call their mother and tell them that their son is a pervert.
      She could pick her nose in front of them, that would put them off.
      The problem with these things is that it might encourage more comments and she should definitely not do it if she at all feels her safety is in jeopardy, which I hate saying – it shouldn’t be up to her to modify her behaviour, it should be up to them to not be gross, but here we are.
      This is so depressing and it breaks my heart that she is having to go through this. I’m sorry.

    3. allathian*

      Ouch, I’m so sorry.
      These guys aren’t going to change so there’s no point in trying to engage them and it could put her at risk. Wearing headphones, even if she isn’t listening to anything, could help her go gray rock on them.

      1. Morning Reader*

        I disagree with this as being aware of your surroundings, especially when there are dangers present, is fundamental in keeping yourself safe.

        1. WS*

          The headphones are to deter contact and to reduce the chance them screaming at you when you ignore them, you don’t have any music playing.

        2. Mstr*

          But they make you LOOK unalert & like a potential victim — looking alert is part of what deters predators not just being alert.

    4. Anthony J Crowley*

      This might or might not help your teenager (it’s more about how to intervene safely when you see harassment going on) but anyone who wants to know how to safely intervene or even just support people who are being harassed – this organisation offers free training


      I think I saw it mentioned here first :) I’m in the UK but found a couple of sessions this week that were at a time that worked for me and joined and they were really good.

      I’m sorry this is still a thing that kids have to worry about :(

      1. Venus*

        I have heard such good things about this program from both men and women. I think it would also be useful for young women to listen to what is being said, with no pressure on them to respond (that should be on the rest of us), because listening will teach young women that they aren’t alone in this, and that it is a societal problem.

        1. Wishing You Well*

          Yes, get professional advice on catcalling. You don’t want to escalate but you don’t want to look like a soft target, either. Most likely, different situations call for different responses.
          A note: many women freeze during a real threat, so martial arts training isn’t the cure-all it appears to be.
          I’m appalled we’re still dealing with this in this century.

          1. Observer*

            The main reason the best martial training is so useful is because it really lessens the likelihood that someone will freeze under threat.

    5. LDN Layabout*

      Well this is horrific but unfortunately not shocking, poor thing.

      How does she feel about how she wants to deal with it. Aside from the various safety elements, does she want to answer back? I’m not in that camp, but I have friends who will now shout back (as long as they’re in a well-lit, non isolated, fairly busy area) and others who just want to get their head down and ignore.

        1. Who is the asshole*

          Seconding. Not as general advice because that decision is up to her and how/how safe she feels. But it is worth considering if yelling back (in safe circumstances) would make her feel better. it did/does for me.

    6. peasblossom*

      I’m sorry this is happening! Of course it bothers her. Along the lines of the org crowley mentions, I’d recommend a self defense class (I did RAD in early college) and/or some other physical training (martial arts, boxing, etc.). This obviously won’t stop the cat-calling, but it is designed to be empowering and well-taught classes will discuss strategies for de-escalating harassment. They really helped me, and I wish I’d done them earlier.

      One reason I replied was that there are a couple of comments recommending escalating behaviors. They can be temporarily satisfying, but actually make the situation worse–more harassing, more dangerous. In my experience, the best thing to do is to disengage from it. Move out of proximity ideally, do not actively engage. Headphones are a good suggestion, but, as much as I hate to say this, she probably doesn’t want to have them on loud enough to block out the cat callers; it’s important to know where they are and what they’re saying in case they escalate. Most cat callers won’t but some will, and so it’s important to be aware of surroundings.

      After I’ve been harassed, I find it helps to put myself in situations where I take up space and/or feel powerful. I think this will be person specific, although a good counselor could help recommend strategies, but I do things like go for a hard run, do yoga, tell friends about it (so it doesn’t feel like a secret), go to a protest/meet with an organizing group (harder to do in the pandemic or as a high schooler, but maybe check and see if there are any affinity groups your daughter might be interested in). Hope any of this helps!

    7. Hotdog not dog*

      This kind of behavior angers me to no end! When I was younger, it depended on the circumstances, and I would only respond if it felt safe to do so, but responding with a very flat, cold stare and loudly and clearly saying “what a dirty old man!” would sometimes cause other people in the vicinity to turn and also give the offender dirty looks. Of course, that depends on there being other people besides the offender’s cronies present.
      On a related note, I HATE with every fiber that women still bear this burden! Now that I’ve apparently aged out of being catcalled I make it my business to speak up if I see someone my own age harassing young women.

      1. the cat's ass*

        same! I was personally thrilled to age out of that zone. Now i’ll say something like, “ick! Don’t be a creeper!” Or insinuate myself closer on the subway, or just get closer to the woman and ask if she’s ok. Hollaback training is stupendous, and both of my kid’s GS troops have had it.

    8. Anona*

      I’ve responded to these in different ways at different points in my life.

      When I was a kid I just ignored them. More recently, I either give them the finger or say, “Hey, Creepy!” if they’re saying something like hey beautiful. But I only do that if I feel safe.

      It’s such a crappy feeling. I’m sorry that your daughter is experiencing that.

      1. Anona*

        I’ve also thought about saying “I’m sure your mom is proud!” (only of I felt safe) but haven’t done that one.

    9. Kalongdia*

      This has started happening to me (a 21 year old who looks like a 16 year old) recently, and one thing that I did was get myself pepper spray. I don’t think that the catcalls would escalate based what I’ve dealt with so far (in my personal situation- it could be different for your teen), but its definitely a comfort knowing that I have a line of defense if someone does escalate.

    10. Slmrlln*

      If she feels unsafe, learning martial arts or some other kind of self-defense might help. If there’s an area where she regularly encounters them, headphones (without music) and sunglasses make it easier to ignore them while still being aware, or else going with a friend. Being able to talk about it with you is a good first step, just so she isn’t alone with the problem. I personally don’t feel comfortable with confrontation. But I’m so sorry she’s dealing with this. It’s scary and unfair.

      1. Callisto*

        Agree, learning defensive/offensive moves is really empowering. My dad taught me knife work as a preteen, and it was great bonding. (It was also a good way to blend in my rural area, since carrying equipment for hunting/fishing was common. Your YMMV depending on locale.)

        1. Squirrel Nutkin*

          So, so sorry that young folks still have to deal with this.

          A big yes here too on martial arts training–it feels very good to know you can defend yourself if you have to! Once when a big guy was following me and wouldn’t stop, I got to a busy street, turned around swiftly, glared at him, and yelled at him to f off, all while planning exactly where I was going to kick him hard. I think the fact that I was seriously planning my front kick came through in my voice and demeanor, and he stopped!

    11. Lotus*

      Ugh (to the cat callers)

      I prefer to take the path of least resistance and just ignore them and keep walking. If I have to wait anywhere like for the bus or train, I always try to wait where there is a crowd of people bc in my experience harassers don’t harass where they will be seen.

    12. Aphrodite*

      I would add for any men reading this and feeling angry that young women have to go through this (eve now) please step up if you ever hear it and speak out. This sort of thing will not stop until all the good men stop thinking of this as a “female” problem and start thinking of it as a human problem they can solve too. Get involved by speaking up, telling the harassers to knock it because it makes them look disgusting. Talk to other men about it and about what they can do by directing their attention to stopping the men doing it rather than “protecting” the women suffering from it. The former is a proactive approach that might, with enough effort and gathering strength, actually stop this non-funny, non-amusing shit for EVERY women who has had to or will have to suffer it. Men, do your part to stop other men thinking this is funny or cute.

      1. NinaBee*

        Yeah and for the love of all that his holy, do NOT tell us it’s a compliment. It is not. We assess the likelihood of violence. Every. Single. Time.

    13. marushka*

      My friend told me of a line she used with a guy who was making unwanted remarks: “I hope no one is talking to your daughter the way you’re talking to me right now.” (In this case it could be “granddaughter.”) It stopped the guy in his tracks and he never made comments to her again. This was for someone she had ongoing contact with (in a work setting), so I don’t know how effective it would be for catcalls, but I wanted to offer the script to anyone who might find it useful.

    14. Jay*

      My kid is 21 and has been dealing with this for ten years. Yes, that means she was 11 when it started. At that age, I got her a rape whistle and taught her to use it. I also told her to say, loudly “I’M 14” or whatever age she was if someone really approached her. Not sure she ever did that.

      Now she ignores it. I honestly don’t know of any other approach that woudn’t put her at risk of escalation or retaliation. What I haven’t done – ever – is suggest that she change the way she dresses or behaves. For one thing, I didn’t want her to think this was ever her fault. Not ever. Not once. And for another, it doesn’t matter. When she was 16, I took her shopping at a large urban mall. I lost count of the number of men – many of them my age – who looked at her, stared at her, or made actual comments. It was January in the US Northeast. She was wearing jeans, sneakers, and an oversized sweatshirt and she was very obviously with her mother. None of that discouraged them.

      Men who are reading this: SPEAK UP.

      1. Emma2*

        Yes, I was 11 the first time someone whistled at me on the street. I was definitely not a mature looking child; I had just started developing and I am not sure I was even wearing a training bra yet. I was walking past some construction work very close to my primary school, wearing my school bag. I did hear one of the workers call out the man who did it saying I was “just a kid”.
        On the one hand, I am glad someone intervened. On the other hand, this is never ok, and what type of creep sexualises a child like that?

    15. Unkempt Flatware*

      I used to shame them and tell them that I was insulted that someone of his age was hitting on me. That they should be embarrassed of themselves that they actually did this out loud in real life. That I was physically repulsed by them. That’s they sound be ashamed that they can’t succeed w women more appropriate for them. I had a sharp tongue and it always worked.

    16. Starling*

      Ugh. This happened to me and shut me down for years and jump started my mental illness. So awful.

      I wish I had shouted “I’m literally a child, you pervert” or “ew. Gross. How old are you??” Or “is that how you talk to your daughter?” As loud as possible.

      I did take martial arts (along side my whole family) for several years, and that did help feeling safe, but the comments alone are enough to be debilitating.

    17. Observer*

      It’s enormously frustrating to me that so much of the advice boils down to “Don’t react in any visible way.” Not because it’s incorrect. Because it is CORRECT and WRONG. It’s wrong that it is that way.

      Your daughter doesn’t need your rage or for you to dissolve in tears over this. But she DOES need to hear from you loud and clear that while this is probably what she needs to do for her own safety, it is WRONG that she needs to do this. It’s something that she has every right to be frustrated and disgusted by.

      And push back on anyone who says or implies “Just ignore them.” This is NOT a little thing that is “just”. And it’s important to acknowledge it.

      1. Nursey*

        I agree with you but the victim has to have self confidence to push back and most young girls don’t. I think both parents when with her, need to call out the behaviour so that daughter gets the confidence to do so. I posted on another weekend thread about how I called out a man in Kmart and reported him to the store, after explaining to him that he was a paedophile, and whilst at the time, it embarrassed my daughter, she has the confidence now to call out any wrong behaviours.

    18. Expiring Cat Memes*

      No advice, just this awesome anecdote from a young woman I knew, whose sass I wish I’d had at that age:
      She was in her teens and awaiting transportation with friends outside a large sporting venue after attending an event, when she got cat called by a much older man. “Ewwwwwwww! Bus back to the nursing home is THAT way old man!”
      Apparently he got so embarrassed she could’ve kicked him in the river to be a port channel marker.

    19. Rachel*

      My usual approach, fwiw, is to yell back “No thank you.” I’m a fast walker so I’m usually past them by the time I realize that someone is catcalling *me* specifically. It’s not an aggressive response, and feels like shutting them down in my own polite “I heard you and am not interested in the slightest” way. I also always wear shoes that I can run in, ever since moving to major cities.

      1. Observer*

        I’m glad this works for you. But I *REALLY* want to push back on the idea that this is a situation which warrants even a non-seconds worth of time or effort on the part of the victim and the idea that there is any reasonable expectation of any sort of acknowledgement.

    20. Nursey*

      I’m sorry you’re daughter is having to handle this. My own daughter has been getting this for years, since she was 13 as she’s very overdeveloped (G cup bra, size 0 waist) and when I’m with her, I explain to these “men” that they are paedophiles and that their behaviour is gross and disgusting. Please get her a whistle on a lanyard around her neck, role play scenarios where she is saying NO, and get a nurse friend to show her breakaway techniques, as they don’t depend on size or strength. Build up her confidence anyway you can and look in to the self defence classes as other commentators have said. Also, get her some sunglasses so that these idiots don’t actually see that she’s noticing them, for when she’s alone. Once she has some confidence, she can totally call them out herself and explain about paedophilia and how they fit that criteria.

    21. NinaBee*

      Sorry she is going through this but sadly it’s all too common (ew). If she’s on Tik Tok, there’s a few really cool creators like @kierabreaugh and especially @spiritual_af, who makes videos about not being nice and how to handle stuff like that, but in a funny way.

  3. Katie*

    In the Friday thread, Alison deleted someone’s comment, saying they had previously posted something contrary to what they were now advocating, possibly to agitate people, which got me wondering–what happens when there are two AAM readers in the same household, with possibly opposing views? I assume Alison looks at the IPO comments are coming from (rather than user names) when she deletes comments or bans sock puppets. But what happens when two people in the same house want to comment on the same thread (which could look like sock puppetry), or one posts a strong viewpoint, and later in the week, their housemate posts an opposing strong viewpoint?

    Relatedly, does anyone here have a partner or friend that reads and/or comments on AAM? And if they comment, do you ever recognize them by their comments?

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      In this case, there was more to it — the person has a history of doing this and based on the topics they choose it’s pretty clear they’re just trolling. (They’re banned now.) But I’m not normally checking IP addresses unless there’s a reason to.

    2. RagingADHD*

      Honestly, most of the commenters here aren’t that different in viewpoint about anything major.

      And for the outliers, if they are so extreme and argumentative in their views that they’re spending time rabblerousing on work blogs, it’s hard to imagine them coexisting in the same house with their equally-extreme opposite.

    3. I edit everything*

      My spouse reads AAM, but I don’t know if they ever venture into the comments. They would certainly recognize me from some of the things I post, but possibly just from my user name.

      1. Nursey*

        Reading AAM has kept me sane whilst I’ve been off work and I read the nutty questions to my husband, who usually doesn’t believe that they are real, but he doesn’t read or post replies. I wish he would as I do enjoy discussing some of the letters with him and it’s been a good place for me to access information for my ADHD/autistic child as he works part time and I sometimes use Alison’s language when he’s got in trouble at work for talking too much etc.

    4. Myrin*

      I’d guess that these two people would have to exhibit some particularly aggressive behaviour or express an extremely atrocious viewpoint for it to get to the point where Alison would not only look at both of their IPs but would also recognise that they’re the same.

      I’ve accidentally posted under a different username a few times in the past because, as near as I can tell, my browser dealt with an update weirdly where my regular data on this site got deleted and it instead had the data from another site where I post under a different name and I didn’t catch it in time. I’ve never been accused of sock puppetry over this, though, because I don’t generally post comments which would lead Alison to check my/the “other” me’s IP in the first place.

      1. Ask a Manager* Post author

        Right, and I don’t care if someone switches up user names all the time as long as they’re not doing it to make it look like more people support a viewpoint in a particular discussion than really do. People can change names if they want; there’s no ban on that. What I do have a problem with is what happened yesterday — someone posting “I strongly believe in X and it’s causing Y problem” when less than a week ago they’d been posting “I don’t believe in X and it’s causing Z problem” and when X is a topic clearly designed to inflame, and where that appears to be a pattern with the poster. Another example is someone who kept posting increasingly outlandish scenarios about trans issues, clearly because they felt that trans acceptance has gone too far (and it was amazing the number of different places they claimed to work over a relatively short period). That’s just trolling (and the last one is bigotry), and it’s taking advantage of this community’s good will and desire to help people.

        1. Myrin*

          Let’s not forget the person who vague-posted about another commenter using a (well thought-out, I’ll give them that) food metaphor because they were annoyed with their comments, especially one particular anecdote the commenter had referenced a few times.

          Or the time someone with an IP address from the same place as a… company, I think?… you critcised commented here disagreeing with everyone else and instead praising the company (or was it a certain programme?) highly. That was like a mini spy thriller!

            1. Myrin*

              You did! In fact, if you didn’t outright ban that person, you at least nuked the whole thread. I remember that because even though the situation as they described actually reminded me of the commenter they were vagueing about and I said as much, I totally didn’t catch on about their underhanded scheme and I was so embarrassed once others pointed it out!

              And I just re-read that link and omg, it’s still amazing!

          1. Golden*

            What was going on with the person posting repeatedly about microblading and bad haircut/eyebrow trim topics? I didn’t catch any before they were deleted, but it’s so bizarre!

        2. Disco Janet*

          I would assume trolling is kind of like plagiarism. My students always ask me “well what if the TurnItIn checker (our online plagiarism checker) says I plagiarized, but really it was *insert reason here*?

          I can tell the difference. It’s waaaay more obvious than they think it is, and I typically know upon first glance if they really plagiarized or not. I would assume trolling is like that. So over the top or “off” in a certain way that it’s a clear red flag.

      2. WellRed*

        I got accused of being a sock puppet when I accidentally posted under two different names. I even apologized and explained but they still harassed me. Alison cut it off pretty quick. People are weird.

  4. Side street to heck*

    Any advise on getting over expressway anxiety? I got my license pretty late (early 20’s) and had general driving anxiety just driving anywhere, so even though I had my license and eventually a car, I almost always took rideshare or got a ride from my bf at the time. I only started pushing myself to overcome my fear of driving after I decided I would rather risk it than be dependent on my emotionally abusive bf as the only way to get social interaction without spending a bunch of $ on Uber to go out and make friends.

    Now, I am comfortable driving on roads day or night, as long as I’m not on the expressway. I grew up with parents that avoided the expressway too and still do. I took adult driving lessons which are very expensive and eventually got up the nerve to practice by myself in the weekends and slow times during the week, but the most I’ve been able to do is about 40 miles round trip on the expressway. I get extremely anxious on the expressway. I feel trapped because on a regular road I can pull over or into a parking lot. On the expressway I have to wait for the next exit which might just be an on ramp to another expressway ( a big fear of mine). Merging and having people merge on my right gives me anxiety. Also the high speeds. I’m in my mid-twenties now and I want to be able to go on road trips or seek jobs a little further out or just not have extreme anxiety that a road that I’m on my suddenly transition into a highway ( somewhat common in my metro area) Help!

    1. Blomma*

      No advice, but solidarity over the driving anxiety. I got my license at 26. It’s been over 5 years and I still don’t drive on highways and try to avoid lane changes as much as possible. It’s difficult to overcome, so good for you for getting as far as you have!

    2. Wroom!*

      I used to feel the same, and to be honest I can still get a flash of anxiety sometimes. I practised a lot, just like you. Also, whenever I was in a car where someone else was driving,
      I used to pretend like I was the one driving — keeping an eye on the traffic and thinking on how I would have acted in different situations. That meant I could “practice” even on roads I didn’t feel comfortable driving on yet.
      Other things that helped me was planning my driving beforehand if I was going somewhere new, and I started using gps on my phone while driving. That gave me more of a sense of control. Now I just need to learn how to parallel park and I would be unstoppable! ;)

      1. Might Be Spam*

        One time I had borrow my mother’s huge boat of a Buick. I did the best job, EVER, of parallel parking and there was nobody there to see it. Still kind of disappointed about that. Lol

        1. PhyllisB*

          My daughter and I were going somewhere and she insisted on driving (because I drive like a “grandma .”) Well, we got there and the only parking available was…parallel parking. She freaked out saying she couldn’t do it. I told her to get out and let me. Can you believe I got it on the first try? She was very impressed. What was even funnier is, there was a man standing on the sidewalk watching, and I could see his look of amazement when I aced it.

        2. MissCoco*

          I think there’s a law about parallel parking to the effect that if you are alone and in a large car you’ll get it perfect on the first try, but if you’re with people or people are watching, you’ll struggle, and that goes doubly if you’re in a small car that should be easier to parallel park!

          1. The Dogman*

            ” and that goes doubly if you’re in a small car that should be easier to parallel park!”

            This is very true!

            Some of my new neighbours are students and have been moving in (University city with a lot of private student rentals) and one young lady nailed the PP the first three times when it was just her and I happened to be looking out the top floor window.

            Then she pulled up with 3 friends in the car and some neighbours were outside and she stuffed it as badly as I have ever seen a PP attempted!

            Hit the curb twice, scraped her tires a few more with glancing blows, nudged the car in front (no damage thankfully), bopped the van behind, mounted the curb once and at one point the car was facing directly across the road as if she was turning around.

            She got out, admitted she was now too flustered and I popped it into the spot for her, while commiserating with her about it as I have done the same in the past too!

            The universe certain seems to be arranged to provide mirth at our expenses somehow!

      2. Elizabeth West*

        This is really good, watching while someone else is driving. I do this when I’m in London–too bad just as I start to understand the traffic, it’s time to leave! :P

    3. allathian*

      I got my license in my mid-30s and because we live in an area with good public transit, I don’t drive very often. I hate driving medium and long distances (more than 90 minutes behind the wheel) and during the rush hour. Empty highways are no problem for me, but I’ve mostly driven in the suburbs. My biggest anxiety related to driving is when I have to go to an unfamiliar place. I can follow satnav instructions, but I hate exceptional situations when you have to deviate from the satnav’s instructions because of a serious accident, or roadworks, for example.

      That said, practice makes perfect and will give you confidence, so good luck and keep driving.

    4. German Girl*

      I honestly prefer the highways (Autobahn) in Germany to the regular roads because they’re actually very safe and you don’t have to worry about bikes, pedestrians, orthogonal and oncoming traffic … it’s all very predictable because everyone is going in the same direction.
      Yes, merging takes some time to get confident in, but practice does make perfect. That said, you’re not allowed to overtake on the right here, so everything is super orderly with the fast cars in the middle and left lane and the slower ones in the right lane with the trucks.

      So in the beginning, when I was still nervous to drive on the highway, my strategy was to just stay in the right lane the whole time even if that meant going slower. Always start your tour with plenty of time, too, so you’re not in a hurry while driving.

      And what helped me most with my anxiety over oncoming traffic on narrow back roads was taking a driving safety class. It was a whole Saturday and we got to drive our own cars through a slalom and over slippery surfaces and practice braking in these situations. It’s a lot of fun and gives you confidence with handling your car.

      1. Myrin*

        so everything is super orderly with the fast cars in the middle and left lane and the slower ones in the right lane with the trucks.

        Oh, if only. Especially on the A8 around Munich you always encounter the “I’ll stay in the middle lane no matter what” drivers and the Rechtsüberholer and it’s such a nightmare. @__@

      2. California Dreamin’*

        I enjoyed driving on the Autobahn on our trip through Bavaria two years ago (I’ve been driving Los Angeles freeways since I was 16 so no fears in that department). But I did find that even though my kids and my husband were encouraging me to open it up and legally get some serious speed going, I just could not make myself drive faster than my “home” highway speed of 70-80 mph (like 120 kph) I did push it up to 100 (160) briefly on an open stretch but almost immediately had to slow back down, much to the disappointment of my family. It really was so much more orderly, though, than the relative chaos I drive in here in beautiful SoCal!

        1. Elizabeth West*

          My first car, a 1987 Plymouth Caravelle, had a top speed of 120 mph. I wondered why in the hell anyone would need to drive such a dumpy little car that fast!

    5. Just Lurking*

      Just chiming in for solidarity. I’m 31 and unlicensed because my anxiety is so high. I understand how it feels to feel dependent on others (even with rideshare your opportunities are limited by cost and the number of drivers on the app). Congratulations on getting this far! I wish you good luck as you keep trying to expand your comfort zone.

      1. Side street to heck*

        Thank you! I hope you can expand your comfort zone soon as well and get your license! We can do it!

    6. Jules the First*

      This sounds like a job for cognitive behavioural therapy! What you want is a therapist who’ll work with you over a short series of sessions to uncover what causes this anxiety on expressways and give you tools for dealing with it. The only other solution is, I’m afraid, practice…get out on the expressway (Sunday mornings are usually a good time to gain confidence) and drive.

      I sympathise, though – I got my license at 15 and logged literally thousands of miles on rural and urban roads. Then I moved to the UK and barely drove for years because the whole “other side of the road” thing was too scary. I am licensed here, and I do drive from time to time, but it wasn’t comfortable until I drove my parents from London to the ferry in Poole. Having my dad (who taught me to drive) in the passenger seat while I negotiated my first long motorway journey and my first set of terrifyingly narrow country roads with blind corners and tractors was confidence building, and the solo drive home up the motorway and then through busy London traffic really cemented the lessons. That said, I haven’t yet put my newborn in the car and I chickened out and hired a driver when I had the chance to take the horsebox out…

    7. TechWorker*

      Thank you for posting this, I am in a similar situation so don’t have any advice but I will watch the responses!

      For me merging on is my main fear – most things in driving if something is going wrong you can/should safely slow down and the fact you have to keep up speed to merge safely terrifies me :p It sounds like you’ve got that down though so well done!
      Once you’re actually *on* the motorway/freeway though I think staying in the slow lane takes away a lot of my anxiety. Even if you get stuck behind a big truck – you’ll get there eventually :p A friend phrased it to me as ‘you just need to keep your distance’ and I think that’s good advice – if you’re a safe distance from the car infront there’s not that much that can go wrong. If someone merges right infront of you that’s ok, you just back off the speed a bit til you’re comfortable with the gap again.

      Best of luck!

    8. Seeking Second Childhood*

      You actually can pull off onto the shoulder of many “limited access roads”. Not necessarily everywhere–city highways you might be a traffic hazard because bored drivers might look at you not the road.
      But when you get into more rural areas, there are often common pulloffs where long-distance truckers park for their overnight rest breaks.
      Where are you? NYC is a tough place to drive even as an early driver who grew up nearby. Minnesota and Illinois were idyllic, once outside the cities. My trip through SW Pennsylvania was a hilly windy narrow-shoulder nightmare I’m sure will be better when construction is over.
      Have you ever read anything about the civil engineering concepts behind highway design? It’s fascinating. I wish I could remember what I read — might have just been a friend’s C.E. textbook.

      1. CoffeePlease*

        The highway through Pennsylvania will never not be under construction. Every time I’ve driven through, I somehow end up feeling like I’m in a pin-ball machine.

        1. Potatoes gonna potate*

          There’s a joke that the Brooklyn Queens Expressway in NYC will never not be under construction.

          Whenever my dad drove on the FDR highway esp as recent as 2017, he loved to point out that it was under construction when he arrived to this country (1979) and has never not been under construction since then.

          1. Paralegal Part Deux*

            There’s a highway like that in Mississippi – Highway 49. It’s ALWAYS under construction. I saw a meme the other day that said “Girl, work on yourself like you’re Hwy. 49!”

            There’s one section I know that’s been under construction since I was in high school in the late 90s.

    9. MedievalProf*

      I learned to drive in a rural area and moved to a big city with a car in my 20s. What calmed my anxiety was narrating out loud everything that I saw happening. In your case: “Ah, here’s an on-ramp, and I see that silver Corolla is going to merge ahead of me. Let me slow down a little to give them space.” Eventually, I found I didn’t need to do this anymore, but I notice that when I’m in a particularly squirrelly situation I start narrating — some 13 years later!

    10. HannahS*

      I was a terribly anxious driver when I started. Things that helped me were:
      1) Practice! It sucks, but it will help.
      2) Weirdly, highway driving at night is WAY easier for me–there are fewer cars on the road and while there are some drunk fools, I’m driving slowly in the right lane and they tend to stick to shenanigans on the far left. The aggressive commuters aren’t around.
      3) Not sure where you live, but it look me a LONG time to become comfortable with urban driving (cyclists, parked cars, pedestrians, traffic laws taken as a suggestion) and much less time to become comfortable driving in the suburbs. Is there a nice suburban grocery store or mall or something that you can make regular trips to?
      4) Remove every other stressor. Don’t worry about arriving on time. Don’t pass the person going ten below the limit in front of you. If you miss your exit, get the next one and pull into a gas station to check a map. Focus only on driving safely, and worry about the other stuff when you’re more comfortable.

    11. WellRed*

      Sympathy. I never had bad anxiety when younger and quite liked driving. Now I hate it and avoid highways as much as possible. When I go to visit family I have to drive through Boston god help me. I go early so there’s less traffic.

    12. Choggy*

      Honestly, I think a little anxiety when driving is a GOOD thing, because it makes you a more alert and careful driver! I had not driven in over 10 years due to my living in Boston, always near a T train. I have now lived in the CT suburbs for 14 years so have to drive everywhere. I had a daily commute on a two lane highway until Covid so have been WFH for over a year. I’m just now starting to go back into the office, and while I am hating it, it’s good to get back out there, and having a purpose to my driving is helping as well. I still avoid one highway and take a back way to get to other work locations, which helps. I agree with other posters who say that practice is key to get yourself more comfortable, just keep doing a little more and it will become easier.

    13. Disco Janet*

      This is easier said than done, but the only thing I’ve found to really help with this is basically exposure therapy. AKA stop avoiding it, because the more you drive on it, the less anxious you’ll be.

      Also, coming from the perspective of someone whose mother didn’t learn to drive until her mid-20s, driving anxiety can cause some bad habits that don’t go away when the anxiety goes away. Two things she does as a driver that I know stem from her past driving anxiety, but are now ingrained habits – and they actually make her driving LESS safe:

      1. Gripping the steering wheel too tightly. This causes her driving to be very shaky – the wheel is constantly moving a little bit left and right because it’s hard to hold it smoothly when your grip is so tight.

      2. Hesitating and doing things very slowly. Like when she needs to change a lane, once she signals and it’s clear, she will start to get over, then go back a bit the other way, then get over a little more, then a little more, etc. it takes her forever to change lanes, which is frustrating for the cars behind her.

      You might not have either of these problems, but I’m sure they are much easier to correct earlier on before they become ingrained habits. She’s aware of them now and wishes she’d realized they were an issue in her 20s so she could have reminded herself to loosen her grip, just get over, etc., and unlearned those habits more easily.

      Her advice is to go on a road trip with an arrival deadline that will force you to use the freeway. Shortly after she got her license she started a new job six hours away, and she had no choice but to take the expressway.

    14. the cat's ass*

      I SO feel this. But i drive to work on the X way daily, and it was practice that got me there. I started driving the x ways at off hours so there weren’t a lot of others driving, then started to get comfortable with getting out of the far r lane and more into the middle lanes. It does get better with practice, but be gentle with yourself! It takes time!

    15. Qwerty*

      Hi! This was me! You are doing great! I didn’t really drive until my late 20s (had the same anxieties and aversion to driving so despite getting my license at 16, I let my siblings take our shared car and for years just lived in cities with good public transit). Here are some things that helped me when I ended needing to have a car to get around.

      – Keep practicing during low traffic periods like Sunday morning and slowly inch closer to times with increased traffic.
      – See if a friend will help you practice during rush hour, or some time when it’s bumper-to-bumper. You aren’t really moving and merging is a lot of using your blinker and trying to nudge your way in, so it separates the “moving fast” from “trying to merge” to let you practice those skills separately
      – I’m not sure what they are called, but look into secondary side mirrors. My side mirrors have a little mirror that covers the upper-outer corner so I can see the side from two angles and reduce the blind spot. It made a huge difference in my ability to merge, because I’m short and literally can’t see anything if I try looking over my shoulder on the driver’s side. My car came with them, but my dad liked them so much he was able to find some that he could attach himself (I think his are lower quality since they are after-market)
      – Try speeding a little, preferably on a low traffic day. It helped me get more comfortable at the speed limit, because it changed my baseline for “scary fast”
      – Take routes that require you to be on the expressway for a short stretch. You get on, merge, stay on for 2-5 miles, then get off. Probably only saves you 10min compared to standard roads, but its a short stretch that the anxiety has less time to build up and you can build up your confidence.
      – When other people are driving on the expressway, be observant and pay attention to what the other cars are doing. Part of my anxiety was that I didn’t know what the other cars were going to do since people are not good at using their blinkers. Getting the experience to subconsciously notice that this car was probably going to merge into my lane without a blinker, or that car has trouble staying in their lane helped reduce the mental energy that my conscious brain was exerting.
      – Is there anyone outside your city that you’d be able to visit and practice driving around their area? Metro expressways are often more difficult than suburb expressways, so it might help you get more comfortable. I live downtown in a midsize city and I specifically take the on-ramp that is a bit further from my apartment simply because it is less chaotic and easier to merge.

      I think most phone GPS apps have an option to avoid highways when plotting a route, so that’s also something you can use until you get more comfortable, to at least reduce your anxiety.

      1. Side street to heck*

        Great advise! I already use the avoid highways button everywhere I go. That’s the problem lol. I’m doing most of the things you listed but the bumper to bumper thing and mirror thing are new. I’ll definitely consider those, thanks!

    16. Chaordic One*

      I have a bit of this. I have a terrible fear of changing lanes and missing something in my “blind spot” (the area that you can’t easily see in your rear view mirrors behind you and that is often blocked out by the rear roof pillar of the car. Some cars are worse than others because of the styling and the small rear windows and thick roof pillars. Some new cars have this feature called “Blind Spot Monitoring” where, if you attempt to change lanes and there is a car in the blind spot, the steering wheel will vibrate or something will beep. I really want this feature on the next car I get.

      1. California Dreamin’*

        My new car has this, and I appreciate that it’s probably a good safety feature, but it drives me bananas. If you’re driving in fairly heavy traffic and need to change lanes, you’d want to put your blinker on to let people know you want to get over, then you wait for someone to leave an opening for you. But the car starts beeping aggressively and loudly at me the whole time my blinker is on because all it can see is that there’s cars around me .

    17. I edit everything*

      Get out of the metro area, and practice on highways that are more rural. City expressways are probably the worst places to practice, because depending on where you are, they combine the worst of all driving: narrow or non-existent shoulders, high speeds, and lots of traffic.

      Get someone to help you get out of the city to a nice open stretch of highway, where you can just cruise at speed with very little traffic around you, and where the shoulders are wide enough that you can pull off if need be. I love highway driving of this sort, because it’s just smooth and easy. Much better than city driving, with all the stop lights and honking and unpredictability.

      It is doable. I once drove a rental truck pulling our car on a trailer on the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway in New York City in the driving rain and lived to tell the tale. I never want to do it again. But there’s a certain pride in the accomplishment.

    18. Bluesboy*

      My wife’s issue was merging, and it was because she approached it too much like a normal junction, slowing down. So she’d get to the junction at 30kph and meet traffic at 100kph. That made it impossible to merge so she would practically have to stop the car.

      She got calmer when she understood that if she accelerated instead of slowing down, she could merge at close to the same speed as the flow of traffic. It was counter-intuitive to her until she got the hang of it, but it helped a lot!

    19. Not So NewReader*

      You have gotten some outstanding suggestions here, OP.

      FWIW, I think 20 miles each way is a major accomplishment. Please be gentle with you and tell yourself that you are doing great. You know first hand, if you told a friend that they were not doing enough at x, that friend probably would give you an earful right? Spend more time telling yourself how well you ARE doing. Celebrate the success you have had. This is important, do not skip this step. If you skip it all you will have is, “I am still not good enough!” And that message sucks.

      Here in NYS we get a discount on our insurance if we take a driver’s safety course. You can find them online, now. I started doing these when I realized my fear of driving was getting worse the longer I had my license. I realized that I needed to put myself where people were talking about driving and talking about how they handle various situations that come up. I noticed I had a tendency to NOT talk about driving because- it bothered me. Of course, lack of knowledge helps fears to grow. I had to break the cycle- don’t talk about it, gather more fear, don’t talk about it, gather even more fear. We only have to do the course once every three years and we get a discount for those three years. The discount the first year pays for the course. Classroom setting or at home online is probably the least intimidating way to absorb what is being said. If you can, ask a question or two.

      Next. When you take these longer drives what does your self-care look like? I was skipping water so I did not have to make so many pit stops. This is such a horrid plan, without proper hydration, the mind does not function sharply and in turn, the fears come to the foreground. Ditto for rest and for eating a proper meal.

      I have to ask because I had to ask myself. Why are you making yourself take the highway? Have you looked to see if there are non-highway roads that you could use to get to the same spots? Yes, it may take you an additional 20 minutes but if you don’t lose years off your life-expectancy it might be worth that 20 minutes of your time.
      I had all kinds of stupid stuff I told myself, “Grow up!!!” or “Everyone else does it, if I can’t do it then there must be something wrong with me.” None of this self-beating worked, imagine that.

      One last thing and this is getting down into the weeds. Pick a spot you want to go to. Find your route. Use Google street view or similar so you can see the roads before you have to drive them. Plan your trip, including planning out what your self-care will look like (rest/food/water). Do you have some basic emergency equipment in your car? If no, gather some and put it in a tote in your car. Start out at a time when you know the roads are not busy. Maybe the weekend is best. Take your drive. Anticipate that the nerves are starting to gang up on you and take a break BEFORE the nerves get you jangled. Go to a rest stop or get off the highway for a snack at a restaurant/fast food place/whatever. Ten to fifteen minutes might be just right. You can review the next leg of your trip if need be. Then resume your trip.

      I see about having to transition to highways in the course of going to job interviews. Definitely try to plan your trip where you do not need to use highways. Interviews are enough stress with out some tractor-trailer baring down on your little car at 100 mph. If you arrive at the interview calmer and more in control, then don’t worry about the additional time it took to get there. It’s a small price to pay, really. Just start out earlier, that’s all.

      I am concerned that you are linking driving on a highway to your ticket to freedom of living/working somewhere else. That is simply not true. Worse, this odd connection might be hindering you from conquering your fear. Unlink the two, treat them as two separate things that you can work on one at a time.

    20. Potatoes gonna potate*

      Not sure if I can offer any advice, but I’m really really happy for you that you are able to get away from your emotionally abusive BF. Being dependent for any reason sucks but it’s still hard to break out of it, so, I’m really proud of you.

      As far as driving, i’ll share my experience. I got my license at age 30. I took driving lessons and even after passing my exam, I took a few highway lessons. It was expensive but it was worth every single penny. For the first year or so, I would drive locally on the weekends to the grocery store or mall. I would also get on the highway without a destination in mind and just drive. I’d follow different signs, practice entering and merging and exiting off the highway.

      I actually didn’t really drive on a highway with a destination until about 2 years later. Around that time, I also began driving to work once a week with a coworker and it was actually really great having him sit with me. He was really patient and a great teacher, it really helped my nerves.

      This year I moved to a new state and b/c I’m home and not commuting into the city, I’ve been driving almost every single day for up to 2-3 hours a day. If I wasn’t confident before that, this definitely would have made me confident now. It’s 6 years since I got my license and I’ve driven in several different states, as well as Canada.

      So I would say – if you can afford it or need to budget for it – definitely get a few lessons. It’s worth every penny. And once you’re off the lessons, just drive even if you have no destination – what that does is that if you miss the exit, no big deal, just get off the next one. Also most highways will have a shoulder that you can pull over into if you need to without disrupting the flow of traffic.

    21. Not a cat*

      Oh, friend. I was you a few decades back. When I was learning to drive ( aged 17, later age-wise than the norm), I got into a very, very minor fender bender and my father screamed at me and punished me so harshly (basically, I wasn’t allowed to attend my high school graduation or any of the fun activities around it), I literally couldn’t drive without my hands shaking uncontrollably. Afterward, I took some lessons from a driving school and was lucky to have friends who would ride along and talk me through it. Eventually, I got past the fear. Interestingly, my sister totaled my father’s brand new car right after she got her license and of course, she was coddled.

    22. Elizabeth West*

      OP, I didn’t get my license until I was 32, and driving on the highway made me HUGELY uncomfortable. I learned to drive at 16 in a very small town with no traffic to speak of and on empty country roads, and just never got it because I wasn’t able to obtain a vehicle. So when I did start driving, even the traffic in OldCity freaked me out, though I got used to it in time.

      The only way to get over it is to practice. You could try going out very early in the morning on a weekend, when the traffic dies down and there are fewer cars on the road jockeying for position.

      I have travel anxiety and I still get agitated when I have to go somewhere new on an unfamiliar route. If I can, I’ll get on Google Street View the night before I have to travel and virtually “drive” the route, making a mental note of landmarks and signs. (I don’t use GPS because I keep my phone location turned off.) It helps me feel like I know the way; it’s very stressful to try and see where you are when cars are right up your butt. But at least the anxiety around actually knowing how to navigate the highway among other vehicles has lessened. This might also help you.

    23. Koala dreams*

      If the anxiety is a big problem, look into medical help or therapy.

      For garden variety anxiety, practice when there’s fewer cars, and be generous to yourself. 40 miles round trip is great! I’ve only done road trips with friends or family, where someone else drives the last leg of the trip when I’m tired.

      If there’s an extra difficult stretch of the road, see if you can practice with a teacher. My city has some of those, and the ones near the driving school go much better for me, especially the lane changes. I’m glad I took a few lessons in other cities too. Expensive, but it makes a difference.

      I’ve come to accept that driving is more difficult for me than for my friends, and plan accordingly. More breaks, shorter distance per day, parking further from the entrance. I’ll get there sometime, but it isn’t a competition.

    24. Starling*

      When I learned I would practice when I knew the freeway wouldn’t be busy. I don’t know if that’s an option where you live, but a destination a little farther than comfortable, with no time limit, little traffic, and a milkshake (or whatever floats your boat) upon completion. Just work up and practice regularly. It does get easier!

    25. MissCoco*

      40 miles is great! You should appreciate how far you’ve come to start with.
      I was a passenger in two cars that were totaled in accidents within a few months of getting my license as a teenager, and one was a highway accident. Needless to say, it took a few years before I could get on a highway without anxiety. Now I can confidently do country expressways, and I can do city highways, but still get stressed in rush-hour traffic (which I think is 100% normal and fine, it’s a lot of cars going fast, no need to consider myself a failure for finding that difficult)

      GPS was a huge help for me, but make sure you have it mounted or somewhere you can clearly see it without having to look down. As much as you can, practice, practice, practice. Even just taking a detour where you’re on the expressway between two exits can help because it’s all giving you more positive experiences at those speeds and with those traffic conditions.

      I would make a habit of going out and doing whatever amount of miles or time you can do without being really anxious (slight anxiety is good since it helps you learn to tolerate it, but if you get really anxious/miserable then you’re just strengthening the association between terrible experiences and highway driving).

      If you’re ever somewhere more rural, definitely try out expressway driving there — it’s SO MUCH easier than city expressways

    26. Courageous cat*

      I don’t have this problem (which, as a typically very anxious person, I credit to my learning to drive young enough that I didn’t have anxiety) but my suggestions would be:

      -Start taking Ubers/taxis on highway routes as often as you can, to get used to the highway (often the biggest hurdle I’d think) and also to watch how the drivers handle every situation.

      -Stay to the right always. Knowing you can pull over can be comforting.

    27. Squidhead*

      Late to the thread but I learned to drive in the 90s and relied exclusively on paper maps for a long time. The advantage to them is that you can get a better overview of the roads that way (I tend to zoom in too far on my phone). So, with some practice and experience, it got easier to look at the map ahead of time and think “oh, that’s probably gonna be a left ramp” (I’m in the US, most ramps are on the right), or plan out “If I go down one more block it looks like I can make a right and a right instead of an annoying left.” So, tip number one is to look at maps ahead of time when you can. Turn on satellite view and you can literally see the lane markings…you’ll know that after 1st Avenue you need to get in the middle lane because the right lane becomes turn-only, or you can see where the ramps overlap and the merge might be difficult at busy times, etc.

      Tip 2 is to navigate for someone else while they drive. Road signs in most places in the US are pretty good but you need to practice looking for them. So if you know you need to stay on 96East and you have looked at a map (or phone or whatever) enough to know that 96 has a big junction with 78 in Springfield, then you are prepared to watch for all the 96E signs and help the driver follow the correct ramps (but you don’t have to be driving the car at the same time.) If you’re not in the US you’ll have to decide how useful this idea is based on your signage!

  5. Laura H.*

    Little Joys Thread

    What brought you joy this week?

    I turned a year older yesterday and was treated to some meals with lovely folks in the days leading up to it. It cheered me up and the conversations were lovely. Sushi family birthday lunch later today!

    Please share your joys.

    1. Princess Deviant*

      Happy birthday! Sounds like you’re having a lovely time and enjoying spending time connecting with people again.

    2. allathian*

      Happy birthday!

      The weather’s finally turned here, and when we got our first proper thunderstorm this summer, I laughed for joy.

      1. WorkNowPaintLater*

        We had one of those storms yesterday – wind, lots of rain, lightning and no storm warnings. And it cooled off.

    3. Might Be Spam*

      I won a battery powered Oster cup-sized blender at a health fair on Friday. It can plug into my laptop to charge. I’m waiting for my banana and peaches to freeze so I can try it out.

    4. WoodswomanWrites*

      I rescued a bird that had gotten inside my local grocery store after it flew into a window. I asked the staff for a towel that I put over it, they brought me a box to put it in. Since my phone was at home, I brought the towel-covered, in-box bird home and called the wildlife hospital. They told me it was likely just stunned and to give it an hour to recover and if it didn’t, to then bring it in. It was a California towhee and looked like a juvenile bird, so I took it back to the store in case its family was nearby, placed the open box on a bench outside in the shade, and let the staff know to call me if it didn’t fly away on its own. Sure enough, off it went unharmed. I’m glad I was there to help.

      1. James*

        My dates are ripe! I have a date palm in the back yard, and every year for about a week and a half we get dozens of dates from it. Delicious, and fairly good for you. With three kids free food is something I value. And while the kids like dates well enough, they are not a favorite food, which means I get to eat a fair number of them. :D

        I grew up in Ohio. Dates were something the kings in Arabian Nights ate. Seeing my kids munching on them casually, or watching my daughter grinning while picking the windfalls, makes me feel like we’re living in a story somehow. Plus, I grew up foraging. I think I knew every gooseberry bush and raspberry patch in the county I grew up in. Sharing that joy with my children—perfectly ripe seasonal fruit free for the taking—is something I always enjoy. Fruit from the store is picked slightly before it is ripe, to survive transport; even a red delicious apple is truly delicious when you pick it fresh from the tree at just the right time.

        Also, happy birthday!

        1. I take tea*

          Oh, sounds lovely. I’ve never eaten a fresh date. It does sound like something from Arabian nights.

          Now I crave cool, fresh plums…

    5. Seeking Second Childhood*

      Happy shared birthday!
      We had a backyard barbecue with some old friends traveling through the area, and my popup tent kept us dry & comfortable enough to keep out the guitar.
      I did get hugs, I did not get a migraine. :)

    6. Redd*

      My little girl is having a word explosion. She’s pretty far delayed in her speech development but in the last three weeks she has gone from using around 10 words sparingly to constantly chatting with around 40 words. I’m so thrilled.

    7. I take tea*

      Happy birthday :-)

      My favourite fanfic author posted a new installment in my favourite universe and it’s long! I’m just ridiculously happy about it, because I’ve reread everything several times now.

    8. WellRed*

      I woke up to find My new roommate brewed a big pot of coffee and left a note saying “enjoy.”

    9. Laura Petrie*

      Happy birthday!

      I finally started using the plug in heat pad I bought myself awhile ago and it is the best thing ever! Really good for pains from my endo.

      I’ve lost almost 5 kilos since I started trying to be a bit healthier. I didn’t want to ‘diet’ or get obsessive about what I eat so I’m happy with how things are going.

      Guinea pig snuggles!

    10. StellaBella*

      Happy birthday! My little joy this week was cleaning my apartment today. I am almost done, trip to the recycling center, 2 of 3 loads of laundry done, hoovering, kitchen, bath, bedroom, floors. So happy to have a day off to clean! Last two weekends have not had the time so stuff was starting to pile up. Also at the grocery today I found shampoo bars in paper cartons, literally no plastic! I am trying so hard to go plastic free.

    11. the cat's ass*

      sort of an update: my neighbor with the loud music/unlicensed venue/ bad attitude got visited by both city inspectors AND a delegation of irate but polite neighbors. He had to get a permit for 3 hours only and was told if it ran a second over/neighbors called, he was done. It was actually pleasant this time! So far so good! Thanks for all the support from the commentariat!

    12. Chaordic One*

      I’m so tired of our long hot summer. Yesterday and today the temperature did NOT get above 90 degrees farenheit and it dropped below 80 before 10:00pm. Yay!

    13. Wishing You Well*

      After waiting 30 days for a recheck, I had good news from my eye doctor yesterday: My retina is fine!
      YAY, no surgery!

    14. really*

      My joy is seeing this thread started every week. Many happy returns to a lovely contributor!

    15. Dancing Otter*

      Two good things this week.
      My adult daughter, who lives with me, got a job, in her profession, less than 30 minutes away, full-time salaried, with benefits! She had been out of work since theaters shut down a year and a half ago.
      I have lost enough weight to have knee replacement surgery. They told me in January that I had to lose 50 pounds first, which I haven’t quite reached, but they said yesterday that I’m close enough. Extra bonus, my PCP reduced my blood pressure Rx since I lost so much weight.

    16. Voluptuousfire*

      I bought a new scale since the old one was on its way (or weigh?) out. It specifically says not to use it on a carpeted surface since the Wright may read inaccurately.

      I used it on the carpet in my spare room, thinking the warning was bunk. I weighed 136 lbs, according to the scale. I cracked up laughing, since that’s not a weight I’ve seen since I was a freshman in high school 27 years ago. LOL

      I giggle if I think about it, which makes me smile.

    17. GoryDetails*

      A small one: I spotted a handsome garter snake in my garden the other day.

      A not-small-at-all one: visited the Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens in Boothbay with a friend, and it was STUNNING. Gorgeous flowers in the formal gardens, extensive trails that were mostly easy – with a few narrow-windy ones for the more ambitious hikers, and the spectacular huge wooden troll sculptures scattered throughout the trails. Really marvelous, well worth the long drive.

    18. ecnaseener*

      Hey thanks for asking this every week, it’s a good reminder to reflect on my week and find myself a little joy if I can’t think of anything :)

      (Made myself lamb meatballs for some end-of-the-week joy!)

    19. *daha**

      It suddenly occurred to me to check if anyone in my state had the license plate GEFILTE yet. No one did. Now it is mine. It came in the mail and I mounted it to my car last week.

    20. Paralegal Part Deux*

      Happy birthday!

      I went to NOLA with my sister and her two kids to the Audubon zoo. We had a blast. It was hotter than the hinges on the gates of hell but still fun. Absolutely adore New Orleans!

        1. Paralegal Part Deux*

          Honestly, we loved the African section the most, and the giraffe in particular! It was just so much fun to go. You will not be disappointed, I don’t think. The only part we didn’t hit was the sea lions and that was due to it being so hot (97 degrees with a heat index of a billion it felt like) that we just skipped over that and headed for the a/c. Even in September, bring plenty of water/Gatorade!

    21. California Dreamin’*

      My teenage daughter has been struggling with mental health and has spent the summer attending a full-time therapy program about an hour away. I have to take her in the morning and pick her up at the end of the day, so it’s A Lot of Time in the car. Whereas a year ago she would have sat silently looking at her phone, she now happily chats with me the whole time. We’ve been enjoying critiquing car models and colors (we’ve noticed a pretty new shade of gray that seems to be showing up across lots of car makes) and we also play something we’re cleverly calling “Spot the Tesla” because they suddenly seem to be popping up everywhere. I’m not loving spending four hours in the car every day, but the bonding is nice!

    22. German Girl*

      My friends and I staged a dance performance this weekend. We were sold out. Everything went according to plan even though we had some very hurried costume changes and we had such a great time.

      Now I’m done with the four loads of laundry generated by this event and sitting happily exhausted on the couch.

  6. Princess Deviant*

    Is there any way to make outdoor cats (as in they live at home but go out awandering when the mood takes them, which if you have cats you know will mean in and out every 5 minutes!) become indoor cats? I’d like to keep mine indoors really, but think it might be too late to do that.
    They’re my first pets, I got them from a wild colony and they’re very domesticated now.
    Not sure this is doable?

    1. Bagpuss*

      I think it depends on the cats. Some will make the adjustment, others won’t.

      You can try limiting outside time, for instance locking the cat flap at night, and see how they respond.and also making indoors more attractive- lots of attention, toys etc, ensuring that they have places to go when they want to be away from each other/ humans in the house.

    2. Lonely Aussie*

      Could you get them like an aviary or cat enclosure? They still get to enjoy some outside time but they also aren’t wandering or exposed to the dangers that outside cats are. There’s all different kinds, some portable, some fixed and in all sorts of sizes and materials.

      1. Seeking Second Childhood*

        Friends built a “catio” outside a sitting rooom–cat door in a small window led to a small screened porch in the yard. Shelves for them to sit on & screen door for people access. Bonus, the litter boxes were out there, and that’s where the primary pet person did the brushing. Technically separate from the house so it wasn’t a building permits & taxes kind of thing. Held down with ground stakes of some sort.

    3. TechWorker*

      Tbh I think it depends on the cat, you would have to try keeping them in more/keep an eye on doors and windows and see how they react.

      Very much depends on your garden, but we have cat fencing which IMO is a really good compromise between indoor and outdoor (though to be fair our cats have always had it, they didn’t previously roam and perhaps they’d be more stressed if that’s what they were used to). It’s basically fencing with overhanging netting that either attaches to existing garden fencing or a freestanding version, ours came from ‘purrfect fence’. If you have a very large or very tiny yard, or there’s lots of things like overhanging trees or roofs they can get onto easily it may not be an option… and it’s not cheap (especially if you need someone to install it, we did ours which took a while but didn’t really need many specialist skills).

      They’ve managed to get out once, through a loose bit where the fence hits the house that is now pinned down. Otherwise it gives total peace of mind (they’re not being run over or ruining other peoples gardens, also not killing birds) whilst still letting them go in and out as they please and chase butterflies :)

    4. Asenath*

      It depends on the cat. One of mine, who had never had to live outside, adored getting out and I decided she was going to be indoor only after one of her many adventures landed her at the vet when she was hit by a car. She didn’t like it much, but did adjust, and I didn’t do much except ensure she didn’t take a runner when anyone went in or out. I had previously trained her and another cat to accept a harness, which was OK except of course they could only go out with them in the back yard (I didn’t want to let them meander along city streets, even on a harness) and when they had constant supervision because they almost invariable tangled themselves up in bushes or other plants. The second cat had had a rougher start in life, spending months (at my best guess) scavenging for herself, and when she realized she had a new home which was warm and dry with regular meals, she didn’t want to go out. She would sometimes act like she did if I and cat 1 were out in the yard, so I’d put a leash on her and bring her out. She’d sniff around a bit, wriggle out of her harness, and go to the back door meowing for me to open in so she could go back in. So converting or keeping cats as indoor only depends a lot on the individual cat, but it’s certainly possible for a cat used to roaming to adjust to indoor life.

      1. KristinaL*

        I adopted a young adult kitty who had been a stray, and he never shows any sign at all of going outside. He’s also pretty shy with most people (but he feels safe with me), so I think for him, being outdoors was stressful.

    5. WS*

      I managed to change a roaming cat into an inside cat but it took about a year. I started by keeping her in at night and playing with her in the evening so she would be tired. Then I slowly curtailed the time she was spending outside but still let her out if she asked, and eventually one winter I didn’t let her out at all and by the time it was spring, she was okay with it.

    6. Wishing You Well*

      All my cats were completely indoors from kittenhood and they still wanted to run outside. We had to be constantly on guard for escapes.
      Best of Luck

    7. Oriana*

      Maybe you could try walking your cat? If they don’t mind leashes, might take some getting used to though, I’m still working with my cat! And she may never like it sadly :(

    8. Pam*

      I’ve done it with lots of cats- they adjust pretty well. One of my rules- more litter boxes than butts.

    9. Princess Deviant*

      This is so helpful, thank you!
      I think one of them (female) will adapt very well, but the other (male) probably won’t. I’ll try it anyway! One is better than none.

    10. A Feast of Fools*


      Just make sure that their indoor environment is as exciting and rich as the outdoor one, at least for the first several months.

      It can be very intensive and won’t work if you’re not there to play with them, hide treats, put on bird videos (and then play with them afterward to release their energy), but they’ll be happier, healthier cats for it.

      I’ve found that pole-and-string toys work best for engaging with my cats. Something like Da Bird. Then it’s a matter of finding out if the cats are “birders” (want the feather at the end of the string to fly high) or if they’re “mousers” (want to stalk / chase the feather on the ground and around corners. Either way, the more lifelike the movement of the feather (Flying Bird, Injured Bird, Resting Bird, Feeding Bird, Curious Mouse, Injured Mouse, Fleeing-for-Its-Life Mouse), the more engaged the cat will be.

      You’ll also need a sturdy scratching post, scratching pad, and probably a cat tower. Some cats stretch their fingers vertically, and some prefer to do it horizontally, so it’s best to provide both types.

      But if you don’t have anything interesting inside your house (according to a cat) and you just shut the door and never let them out again, they’ll grow frustrated and either develop health problems or “misbehave” or both.

    11. Rara Avis*

      We kept our semi-feral rescue inside for the first three months and it wasn’t a happy experience for anyone. (Although he will pee in a litter box, he won’t poop there.) However, over the pandemic he has taken to spending more and more time inside, and just in the past few weeks has taken to meowing loudly and jumping up in our over the sink kitchen window to notify us that it’s in time. We had him nearly two years before he started coming up into a chair or couch for a cuddle.

    12. Siege*

      Just do it. It took me about three days to convert a very elderly mostly outdoor cat to indoor-only. The main thing is, you have to recognize that you’re not making the cat happy but it can’t matter more than making the switch. I didn’t do anything special with it – it was a huge change for the cat but I didn’t increase treats or whatever because I wanted it to be not noteworthy for him. But he’d been literally starving, filthy, and sick, and it was the start of fall so the weather was turning, so regular meals, being clean, dry, and warm, and getting treatment for fleas and worms was quite enough. :)

    13. Meep*

      Are leash walks an option? One of my cats is into that. We take her out once or twice a day.

    14. Paige*

      We had an indoor/outdoor cat that we converted to indoor-only after he mysteriously injured his leg. He had to have surgery and stay confined where he couldn’t run or jump for 8 weeks (the first 2 weeks he had to stay in a cage with only 5 minute non-caged breaks). It suuuucked, but it did make it easier for him to stay content with staying indoors, and this was a cat who previously spent most of his days outside (we always brought him in at night).
      Obviously, you don’t want to go through that process unless you have to, but it’s definitely possible to keep them happy inside. We keep the (screened) windows open when we can so he can smell the outdoors, he has a cat flap onto our screened-in porch, tons of toys and perches throughout the house, and he gets “outside time” in our garage, where there are sometimes bugs or lizards he can chase. We make sure there’s birdseed in a feeder next to the porch so there’s always birds and squirrels he can watch. He doesn’t even meow to go outside at the door anymore–back when he did, we would either scoop him up and brush him in another room(which he likes) or get a fishing toy and play with him, casually leading him away from the door. Basically, teach him that the door is not the place where he gets a reward.
      We have two other cats who have been indoor-only their whole lives. One ALWAYS wants to escape, and the other very much does not. But the one that wants to escape is the super curious one anyway, and I’m pretty sure the escape is more about curiosity than genuine desire to stay outside–the one time they got out and we didn’t see, they showed up at the porch and sat outside it until we saw them there.

  7. LadyWhistledown*

    Best way to support a friend with complex health issues from afar?

    I have a good friend who is finally on the path to a diagnosis after three years of getting blown off by doctors because she looks healthy and fit. It’s taken a large deterioration in daily function to have anyone listen.

    While we don’t know the diagnosis yet (and there may be multiple) I’m not sure what to do or say. My default is that I don’t have the words but I’m so sorry she’s going through this. She’s an incredibly independent person who won’t ask for or hire help even when physically debilitated and it’s hard to see her struggle.

    Folks who have gone through this on either side, what worked (or didn’t) for you?

    1. river*

      As some who has an ongoing illness, what I want from my friends is to not feel like they’ve forgotten me just because I can’t get out much. Small things are enough, a text convo or a cup of tea together and a chat, or send a funny picture.
      Also, being aware that every little thing in life is draining of energy. Things you take for granted as easy like showering, eating dinner, or even digesting are tiring. So cut your friend some slack if they’re not chirpy or seems preoccupied.
      Remember their eating restrictions, ie don’t bring a food gift they can’t eat, and don’t expect them to do all the work of educating you on their illness. (Every individual’s illness is different, they won’t be a textbook case. Almost nobody is.)
      Most of all: Don’t tell them how they should feel. Listen, and ask if they want advice before giving any.

      1. CoffeePlease*

        I’m genuinely curious here. How do we balance not expecting others to educate us with knowing that no one is a textbook case? I have a somewhat atypical, highly unpredictable presentation of a fairly common health issue. I know that no one is going to understand my exact situation, as this health problem varies and lot and is not well understood. If I tell people what I have, they assume all sorts of different things that are true for others but usually not for me. From the other side, I can’t possibly become much of an expert in all of the health conditions others have, especially obscure ones or ill-understood ones. Plus, some people want to chat and share and compare and others just want to be able to cancel an outing without everyone judging.

        1. allathian*

          That’s a very good question. I think the most important thing is to avoid assuming things and to let the person who has the health issue take the lead on how much they want to share. It’s also important to remember that legally competent people have the right to determine how and if they’ll seek treatment for a health issue, and to live their lives as they see fit even if it’s suboptimal from a health perspective.

          1. LadyWhistledown*

            This is really helpful. My friend likes to share a decent amount and then I try to quickly research the basics so that she’s not starting from scratch. It helps that I work in a healthcare adjacent field. The help I wish she would ask for is more around childcare and cleaning since she can absolutely afford it (my husband has had in depth budget discussions with her husband and we know they have significant savings). I see how stressed she is but she doesn’t feel like can outsource. Again, therapy is involved because of terrible insecurity and self esteem. I know all of this is above my pay grade but when you care about people you want to help how you can (without getting too attached or weighed down by the choices you have no control over).

            1. Not So NewReader*

              People are odd/funny, ya know. It could be that she does not place a high value on outsourcing childcare and cleaning. Those two things might be therapeutic for her when logically that might not be the first thing anyone thinks of.

              Maybe she would get more meaning out of adaptive equipment or home therapy equipment.

              Ask her what she would highly value at this point given all that is going on for her. The answer does not have to make sense to anyone, it only has to make sense to her.

      2. LadyWhistledown*

        We’ve definitely talked about the Spoons theory of disability and I think it’s been helpful for everyone involved to assess where they’re at. She’s at many many negative spoons (caring for two kids mostly solo while far from family or a network of friends). It’s been dreadful for her health and I know she’s feeling scared about what the tests will come back as. Like, is it going to be slow deterioration or a quick series of relapsing episodes? How many “good days” will she have left? She already has a therapist and medication but the grief is really raw and I don’t want to shy away from the enormity of the emotions or make things worse.

    2. Gem*

      Try not to ignore symptoms and to thoughtful about symptoms. I have a friend whom I love but she studiously ignores the fact that I’m sick, even when I’m taking my meds in front of her, checking my vitals, looking visibly unwell… I don’t know if she thinks I’m ashamed of my condition but it would mean a lot for her to ask “are you ok? Do you need to slow down?”
      Another friend recently, seemingly, forgot about my health. She wanted to hike, which was fine, but led us off the path (to be fair, I could’ve stopped us but I thought she knew where she was going), got us lost in the woods, and then panicked. I had limited meds with me because I thought it was going to be a short excursion but as someone who will die, quickly, without my medication, I couldn’t give into panic. I was able to navigate the way back (with my friend loudly worrying about how stupid everyone else would find us) and by the time we arrived I was getting sick. Honestly- keep in mind that people are working with different abilities and consider how you as a presumably able bodied person can be supportive.

      1. LadyWhistledown*

        Excellent reminder. She’s the type to power through so it’s good to check in about how she’s feeling. For the past couple years it’s pretty much always been some form of “stressed/tired/in pain” and as an outsider I know she could 100% comfortably outsource some of her biggest stressors but she just… insists she can’t. I’m trying to stay as compassionate as possible since she’s an adult who knows her options. I’ve watched her kids for her in the past but I work full time and it’s a drop in the bucket when she needs real help.

        1. ShinyPenny*

          It’s hard to convey how heartsick it feels, to contemplate voluntarily giving up a core part of your identity (ie, Mom Who Cares For Her Own Children), in the midst of being forced to accept the new identity of Sick Woman or Disabled Woman, while simultaniously having to actually LIVE EACH DAY as Sick Woman or Disabled Woman.
          Maybe she can’t right now, because she is refusing to be robbed of one more priceless treasure.

          1. LadyWhistledown*

            I appreciate this framing a lot. I think (as an outsider) I’ve heard a lot of the struggles and knowing a bunch of her family it feels like a self esteem issue. Ie her parents always made negative comments or made her feel worthless. So in the past she has mentioned not feeling like she deserves to. Plus growing up poor she’s loathe to pay for help even now that her husband makes six figures.

            But it could be an identity issue. She’s been making the impossible work for years now. Raising two kids while working part time from home, staying fit, and having a really clean house. She’s an incredibly capable person who hates to ask for help.

            Reading the comments has been an eye opening insight into what may be going through her mind. I still think she desperately needs more help and it’s better to find that help while you can make choices vs. Waiting until the need is dire, but I’m going to mentally focus on just listening and being a friend.

    3. StrikingFalcon*

      Check in with them to see how they are doing, especially after an important appointment. Be available to talk about the frustrating medical stuff if they want to or to be a distraction if they want that, but let them take the lead (you can always ask what would be helpful in any given conversation).

      Don’t give random medical advice about how [your cousin’s best friend from high school] cured their [unrelated, mild illness that affects the same body part] with [current nonsense fad]. I mean, you probably know not to do that, but the number of people who give me weird advice about things like juice cleanses and gluten-free diets and then seem to genuinely think that if I just [did this one simple things that doctors hate!!], my genetic autoimmune conditions will magically go away is bizarre.

      As for the not being willing to accept help…. this is a common and difficult thing about chronic illness. When you are first diagnosed, or first grappling with the possibility of a diagnosis, asking for help (or in fact, just needing help) feels like failing or giving in to the condition. It takes time to learn that you can’t fight your body, you have to work with it and its imperfections. There’s really not much you can do, as a presumably able bodied person, to speed your friend along that path, except to just support them as a good friend. But since they aren’t receptive to help right now, let them do things on their own, even if they are struggling. You can ask – once – if they want help, but accept their answer if they say no.

      1. LadyWhistledown*

        Oh man her mother in law tries to link everything to vaccines (her preemie daughter’s delays are clearly because of childhood vaccines. My friend’s illnesses must be COVID vaccine related). People can really be TERRIBLE about medical issues.

        1. StrikingFalcon*

          Ugh. Yeah people can really suck about these things. My (least) favorite are the people who are simultaneously “medications are evil” and “why haven’t the doctors fixed you yet?” It’s like they think doctors just wave a magic wand or something. Don’t underestimate how helpful just being a sane person she can talk to about these issues is.

    4. Laura Petrie*

      Be understanding if plans have to change at the last minute. My chronic illness flares up and I often need to cancel plans. Before I got my diagnosis my then ‘friends’ just thought I was flaky and ‘didn’t look ill’ so stopped inviting me to stuff.

      I struggle with asking for help at times and it is difficult to come to terms with not being as independent as I used to be. With time I’ve realised people who care are happy to help. I’m stubborn but my husband is patient and keeps offering help and support.

      Sometimes I just need someone to listen to me vent and complain and just be a supportive and friendly face.

    5. Treefrog*

      It sounds like you’re already doing this, but validating that she’s ill, it’s not her fault, and you believe her is really important. Running the gamut of doctors not believing and dismissing symptoms is horrible. Not offering suggestions or ‘have you tried xyz’ is useful too, it’s human nature to want to try to offer something that might help when someone you love is struggling. But when I’m already sick and exhausted and desperate to be better people offering suggestions makes me feel like the person thinks I’m not doing enough to try to get better.

      On the not accepting help, I don’t have a good answer for this because it’s something I still struggle with. All I can say is it seems so obvious from the outside that I should ask my neighbours to take my trash out for me when I’m housebound, especially as my neighbours are lovely and do it cheerfully, but internally it’s one of the hardest things I’ve had to do. I was very independent, had a high flying career, lots of travel, and a very full life before I got sick and the past couple of years for me has been a period of grieving and trying to accept the way things are that still hasn’t ended. Asking for help isn’t just a practical way to get the trash out – it’s publicly stating that though I look young and healthy I’m not (which invites judgement), it’s admitting to myself that this is what my life has come to and I’m not capable, it’s being scared people will either not believe me or pity me…. If you have the sort of energy limiting illness where you could physically do the thing but it would put you in bed for a week after it’s also hard to feel like you actually don’t have the ability to do the thing. If you’re the sort of person who has always thought of yourself as fit and healthy and the person who helps others, it’s also really hard to be the person in need of help.

      Finally, it’s much easier to say yes to an offer of something than to reach out and ask. I love my friends who have kept in touch, sent me chocolate in the mail when I’ve had a rough week, suggested we watch a film together over the phone, sent me funny photos of their pets and other light hearted ways of keeping connected so everything isn’t one long medical update, and just wanted to be a part of my life even though it has changed beyond all recognition. You sound like a great friend :)

      1. ShinyPenny*

        Seconding every bit if that.
        It’s so awful when you technically CAN take the garbage out, but only by giving up walking the dog/cooking dinner/showering for a day or two (or more). And asking the nice neighbors is possible– but so completely impossible as well.
        It finally occured to me to call up the garbage company to ask if they offered any disability services. Yeah. For five bucks extra a month, they will come up my little driveway to get the bin, AND bring it back. It took me about 20 years to make that call. I just didn’t want to be a person who needs disability services. There’s a huge amount of shame/guilt/confusion/distress that’s pretty invisible from the outside. I really wanted to just be ‘regular me,’ strong and competent and independent. It’s hard to let go of all that.

  8. Owlgal*

    I have 3 chronic illnesses that are continuously altering my life. And while I do work full time, I spend considerable time on my days off either resting up from or resting up to work. The biggest piece of advice is to hold fast to being a friend. Keep inviting them to do activities. And, if possible choose things that aren’t too physical in nature. If they say no today, that doesn’t mean it’ll be a “no” next week. Try to be flexible. And, please try not to minimize their condition over time. I know it gets old, hearing about their pain (or whatever else they’re experiencing), but it’s definitely not old news to them.

  9. Bobina*

    Leaving aside the politics of the Olympics this year, whats your favourite random Olympic sport? I’ve really enjoyed watching Archery this year – super simple rules, quick matches but high tension! I watched the womens individual semi-final and finals and thoroughly enjoyed it (perfect sets AND a shoot off!).

    My other random favourite is usually handball but I’ve not managed to catch any matches so far.

    If anyone wants to watch something fun and quick that isnt random (to me) – Rugby 7s is always a great spectacle, and the womens matches I’ve managed to catch have all been amazing (including some of the ones for lower classifications, not just medal matches). Last night I dreamt about buying tickets for a 7s tournament so clearly its a sign that I need to put that on my list for next year when (hopefully) things are back to normal!

    1. Virginia Plain*

      I am living proof that you don’t need to know anything about a sport to emotionally invest in it. I’m not very sporty (have dabbled in rugby and fencing) and I have watched, enjoyed and been gripped by the skateboarding, the bmx, the swimming, the artistic gymnastics, the trampolining, the dressage, the archery, the triathlon… Sometimes with team GB to support (doing well in the pool and on the bmx track amongst other things) and sometimes just admire their excellence! The skateboarding was really enjoyable even though I had no clue what the commentators were describing most of the time – a sight to behold especially in the women’s street event when the gold and silver medallists were both 13yo. I had to look some stuff up but I now know what a nollie is, and a nose grind! And that a disaster is a trick and not an indication it has all gone wrong…

      1. Bobina*

        Same! I didnt list all the sports I enjoy watching because its basically all of them (and sometimes get way too invested in and then wind up stressed even as a neutral!) but I do love seeing all these amazing things people can do. And some of the backstories of athletes is incredible – my favourite so far is probably the mens 3m synchronised diving where the Japanese pair was a 40year old and a 20something year old – the latter was told they’d never be a professional athlete due to a rare skin condition, and yet here they are! At the Olympics!

        And yes, I want to catch up on the womens skateboarding because I watched the mens and that was fun (like you, very little idea of what any of the words mean, but its still fun to watch)

    2. Lonely Aussie*

      I am really looking forward to the eventing, especially the cross country and show jumping. I don’t mind dressage but I love seeing the host country represented in the designs of the jumps, the course builders always do an amazing job. This years course looks amazing. I also think cross country and show jumping are a lot more interesting for non horsey peeps and a lot easier to understand which makes it easier to watch with the family.

      1. Bobina*

        Ooh I’ve definitely caught jumping before and like you say, much more accessible if you’re a newbie like me. But I saw a hilarious video via TikTok of the US dressage which had an amazing music choice, and things like that can totally make me get behind a sport :’D

    3. The Dude Abides*

      Sevens is amazing, and I encourage anyone who can get to an event to do so. The party in the stands is as much fun as the rugby itself.

      Also, if anyone has any questions about rugby, I’d be happy to inform. One of the things I’ve missed most during the pandemic is being able to referee rugby in general, and sevens in particular.

      1. Bobina*

        You’ve also reminded me of my other goal which is to watch more live rugby games next season, so I’m going to stick a reminder in my calendar to buy tickets for that too!

        1. The Dude Abides*

          I would love to do the same, but now that the stateside November test has moved west, there’s nothing close. I’m also skeptical of Chicago or St Louis getting a MLR franchise this decade.

          1. Bobina*

            Maybe its because I always remember Chicago from the Ireland-All Blacks game that made me think Chicago was a big rugby city? But alas, the challenges of a big country!

            How is MLR doing? I remember hearing about it when it started but havent seen much since. *goes off to have a Google*

            1. The Dude Abides*

              For the amateur game, Chicago and the surrounding area is a hotbed.

              I was at that match, front row right by the players’ tunnel. Even got a selfie with Faumuina.

              MLR has done well this year despite the pandemic, the championship is tomorrow afternoon in LA. I could do without the multiple franchises named for alcoholic beverages though.

      2. allathian*

        I caught the women’s sevens final, New Zealand beat France. It’s one of those sports that I didn’t even know women played at such a high level. The games are also very short, 2 x 7 minutes.

        1. The Dude Abides*

          For women, Sevens is the more likely pathway to play the game professionally. There are a tiny group of countries where women playing XVs are professional, but the game isn’t there yet.

        2. Bobina*

          Yup. The fully professional womens 7s circuit is still relatively young, but its already made a huge impact for the game in terms of improvement. Fiji for example who got the bronze will be absolutely unstoppable if they continue and get a few more years of development.

      1. Bobina*

        Yes! So many random sports I only ever remember every 4 years. Did you catch the whitewater version (on a rapids course – looks so fun!) or not sure if they still do the one on a flat course?

        1. MissGirl*

          Yes! I was at a restaurant and they were showing it. I totally wanted to go on that course. It does look so fun.

    4. Person from the Resume*

      I loved the women’s street skateboarding; Margie Didal (didn’t win a medal) but was smiling and grinning the whole time. The rounds were 45 seconds or a single best trick so they were quick to watch. I wish that some of the older (in their 20s) skaters would have won and not two 13 year olds. Those 20 somethings and the 31 year old American are getting their first shot at the Olympics and they’re getting beat out by actual children.

      Also men & women’s street BMX.

      The mixed team triathlon was fun because it was an extremely close race the whole way (and edited for time so you saw the exciting bits).

      Even as a fan of mountain biking, the cross country mountain biking was boring. The leaders spread out quickly and maintained the whole race. Only exciting bits were a couple of crashes, mechanical disappointments, and trouble spots.

      Whenever I see hardball, I think it looks fun but I have no idea what the rules are.

    5. Anima*

      I actually looked some of the volleyball matches up. Thanks Haikyuu (which is an anime about volleyball). Real volleyball is as amazing as anime volleyball, who would have thought!

    6. twocents*

      I’m not big on the summer games but I love curling. I couldn’t tell you anything about how it’s played or scored. It’s just oddly soothing to watch.

    7. Elizabeth West*

      I don’t watch the Summer Olympics, only the Winter, but last round I watched curling for the first time. I have never laughed so hard in my life.

    8. TechWorker*

      I’m watching lots! I always enjoy gymnastics/diving/trampolining (I think because as a kid I was desperate to be a gymnast :p). I also really enjoyed watching the bmx tricks – new this year but they do pretty crazy stuff!

    9. Seeking Second Childhood*

      I just learned of the new mixed relay team races–men & women on the same team–and I’m going to have to go look for video since I missed the events.

  10. Talula Does The Hula From Hawaii*

    Is there a list of what scripts (for lack of a better word) work for AAM comments.
    I know of ones like and but saw someone quote a couple lines from a post (while trawling the archives) and wondered how to do that and what other options are available.

    1. Myrin*

      You can quote stuff by using “blockquote” in place of the “b” and “i” you already know about.
      On the right side of the page, there’s a box saying “How to comment” – if you click it and go to the very bottom, Alison details what HTML you can use on this side.

  11. Myrin*

    Warning for medical stuff, health, and cancer in particular.

    Has anyone else experienced people having vastly different reactions to being told about an illness? Like, opposite reactions? Regarding not their emotions but the perceived severity of said illness?

    I found out two months ago that I have black skin cancer (I believe it’s more commonly called just “melanoma” in English? But “black skin cancer” is the literal translation so I’ll stick with that for the purpose of this post). I’m currently in the process of having all suspicious moles/areas successively removed and so far, it’s turned up two positives. These are not metastases – they evolved completely independently from one another and were both still in the very first stage, so they could simply be removed and I’m “healed” at least regarding that area (of course, all of these surgeries had to be done twice: the original one and then a second one to remove the amount of cells/skin/tissue appropriate for a cancerous environment).

    (An aside for the posters who know me: I’m doing well. I’m generally not prone to worry even in situations like this one but there was a week where I was waiting for a third lab report on a really gnarly-looking mole where I could barely think of anything else and was just so afraid at all times. Thankfully that particular finding turned out negative and I’ve since calmed down again but it’s still taking a mental toll, especially since I’m extremely predisposed for skin cancers from both of my parents’ sides.)

    Now to the question at hand which is more out of curiosity than anything else:

    People react SO DIFFERENTLY it made me realise how little cancer is actualy understood by the general population and I continue to be astounded by every new reaction I get:

    – There are those who think I’m already halfway to my grave. Doesn’t matter that we’re talking about a first stage cancer which could be removed in its entirety; no, I’m dying. I do appreciate the concern (truly!) and I’m not without fear – after all, I don’t know what else is slumbering in other parts of my body. But as far as I’ve told people, I’m okay.
    – There are those who think it’s basically no big deal at all. And it kinda isn’t but I also don’t like the dismissive note that sometimes takes? You can tell that a lot of people have a vague understanding that skin cancers are (generally) among the more easily treatable cancers and/or that they’ve encountered white skin cancer before (which is usually harmless) and somehow conflate the two.
    – A surprising amount of people who think I just had a preliminary stage, as in, something that would end up evolving cancerous cells if you let it be but which hadn’t already done so, but calling it actual cancer (for reasons, I guess?) or I’m still waiting for a report and… just… saying I have melanoma for… brevity reasons?

    I don’t particularly mind any of those but at this point, I’ve started playing Mind Roulette going “Sooooo, any bets on how this person is going to react?!”. I know how people with chronic illnesses or disabilities have to deal with a lot of skepticism/ignorance/dismissiveness but I honestly hadn’t thought there would be such a plethora of completely opposite reactions, especially to something as well-known as cancer!

    Has anyone else experienced something like this?

    1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      I would suspect it’s partly that people respond through the lens of their own experience with cancer, if they have one, and partly that cancer is such a wide range of conditions with different severities, people are doing the mental calculation of “oh crap, is that a Really Bad One or only a little bad, gotta say something, don’t know what, just spit something out” and saying something that doesn’t really make sense to the situation because they’re not sure what they SHOULD say. Like, based on a family history, my response to the word “melanoma” is a little more dire than a lot of folks, so (to a small extent) my first instinct when you say it is that I feel like I have to mentally temper my response so’s to not to overreact and worry you more than you might already be. But you just said you’re fine, so is that overthinking and infantilising you? Crap, how can I respond without sticking my foot in my mouth. And so on. :) it’s easier to do the “math” in a written comment, obviously, than a verbal conversation.

      TLDR: responding to other people’s not-great news is fraught and a lot of people are bad at doing it well. :)

    2. Asenath*

      Well, you do get different reactions to an announcement that you have cancer (and by the way, you’re right, “melanoma” is the usual English term for the type of skin cancer I think you’re talking about). With me, it was breast cancer, and initially I didn’t want to tell people I’d been diagnosed with it because I didn’t want to deal their reactions. One of my friends who died from breast cancer had such an aggressive and advanced case at diagnosis that she was on palliative treatments from the beginning, and she got so annoyed by concerned reactions that she snapped “I’m not dead yet” at someone who tried to help her do something she wanted to do. My case was much less serious, but still, when you tell people you have cancer a lot of them do tend to assume you’re on your deathbed, even if, as in my case, it was caught early, was one of the less aggressive forms and I had a very good chance of survival. I don’t think I encountered anyone who said that they thought I didn’t really have breast cancer while I was waiting for test results (although I minimized what I told people; if I mentioned the tests at all, I said something vague about the doctors wanting to do some kind of routine test). And I think the reaction varies by type of cancer; many people think all forms of breast cancer are an automatic death sentence when really there have been great advances in care and treatments that were not available to, say, my great grandmother who died from it. Or for that matter, to one of my aunts. But a lot of people know about the less dangerous forms of skin cancer, so I can see them assuming that of course that’s what you have. Melanoma is rarer, if they know about it (from all those warnings against tanning), they are probably going to make the opposite assumptions about outcome, even if in your case, the doctors have caught it nice and early.

      What I did in the end was go public, in a way, with my diagnosis at work (I’d already told a very few of my closest friends and relatives). I knew I couldn’t hide it forever because of needing time for treatments, so I let one or two people know, with permission to mention the diagnosis to co-workers. This way, since I hadn’t spoken about it directly most of them didn’t come to me with their reactions to the Cancer Case In Their Midst. One, very kindly, said she had a friend who had been treated for breast cancer and could connect me with her if I wanted to talk things over. Mostly, people just tactfully didn’t notice my regular absences, and if they gossiped and speculated among themselves over my prognosis, I didn’t have to listen to them.

      Good luck with your continuing treatments.

    3. Not A Manager*

      I think people address their own fears, really, when they react to other people’s health news. They might be so afraid of cancer that they respond as if any diagnosis is a death sentence; they might be so afraid of cancer that they refuse to even hear or believe your diagnosis; they might minimize your diagnosis in order to protect themselves from discomfort.

      My own opinion whenever I get a weird response to sharing bad news (death in the family, medical diagnosis, experience of crime, etc.) is that the person is speaking more to themselves than they are to me.

    4. RiverGirl*

      I wonder if your terminology is confusing people. I’ve never heard of black skin cancer, only basal cell, squamous cell, and melanoma. Basal cell and squamous cell are treatable. I have basal cell cut off me all the time and don’t worry about it for a second. Melanoma, however, is quite serious and can even be fatal. I would react very differently to a diagnosis of melanoma. I hope you don’t have melanoma. You might want to check with your doctor to find out what kind of skin cancer you have. Not all skin cancer is malignant melanoma.

      1. Myrin*

        I’m not a native English speaker and these conversations don’t happen in English. I 100% have/had malignant melanoma. And like I said, “black skin cancer” is a translation – I always make sure to speak very carefully about such things and there is literally no ambiguity in my native language.

      2. Cordelia*

        hi Myrin, I think you can add this response to your list – an assumption that you don’t understand your illness, and advice to “check with your doctor”, because your experience is different to that of the person you are speaking to. I have a different health condition to you, but have had this experience a number of times unfortunately. I wish you all the best with your treatment

        1. RagingADHD*

          This was a language barrier, not condescension. Looking for offense doesn’t help anyone.

        2. Myrin*

          To be fair, this was partly my fault – I should’ve made it clearer in the original post that the implication of “this is the name in English, right?” and “a translation” was that I don’t normally talk about this in English because it’s not my mothertongue, I’m not in an English-speaking country, AND that I stuck to the literal tanslation because I wasn’t exactly sure if “melanoma” alone really expressed what I wanted to express and also because several dictionary sites led me to believe that it’s a valid way of saying it *shakes fist*.

          I don’t love when someone tells me “You might want to check with your doctor to find out what kind of skin cancer you have.” when I’ve just spoken in what feels like great detail about what kind of skin cancer I have (it feels like insinuating that I’m just talking out of my backside for no particular reason, although I appreciate that that was probably not the intent) and also because I’m really, really on the ball when it comes to stuff like this and, among other things, made a copy of and very carefully read the lab report, not to mention that my dermatologists are great and answered all questions I had in great detail. But that’s all stuff that RiverGirl couldn’t have known and, yeah, I could’ve been clearer from the get-go.

          1. StrikingFalcon*

            You weren’t unclear. As Myrin says, this is a common and unhelpful response people have to the news of other people’s diagnoses. I’m sorry someone put you in the position of feeling like you needed justify your understanding of your own diagnosis to the satisfaction of strangers who think they know more than you do.

      3. Pennyworth*

        I think how people react can depend on personal experience. To me the term ”skin cancer” makes me think of the superficial blemishes that my father used to have burned off his face with liquid nitrogen, whereas melanoma is a far more serious cancer that can require deep incisions and I have known someone who died of it. I too have never heard of the term “black skin cancer”, if someone told me they had it I might easily assume they had not seen a doctor because that is not what a doctor would call it.

        1. Myrin*

          Well, I’ve since learned that this was apparently a mistranslation on my part (and if I’d known it would cause such confusion, I would’ve made it more explicit that I’m just translating medical terms from my language; I’ll be sure to be more careful about that in the future). I’m indeed talking about melanoma.
          But that doesn’t matter regarding the reactions I get IRL because these conversations don’t happen in English and the phrase that translates to “black skin cancer” is the medical term and indeed what every doctor calls it.

          1. Deanna Troi*

            I thought it was clear from your original post that you were talking about Melanoma, and that in your language it is called “black skin cancer.” I’m not sure why some people are acting like you haven’t consulted with a competent doctor or don’t understand your own diagnosis. I often think that people don’t read the whole post before they respond, because it seems like responses regularly contradict something that was in the original post.

            I also agree with Cordelia that it is offensive that some are acting like you must not actually have malignant Melanoma because YOUR experience and treatment aren’t the same as THEIRS. One of my best friends had malignant Melanoma and was treated at one of the biggest university hospitals in the US, and her treatment was the same as yours. So yes, Cordelia is right – a fourth way that people respond is “you must not understand your diagnosis because when I had this diagnosis, it wasn’t like this.” I don’t think the language barrier has anything to do with it in this case.

    5. RagingADHD*

      IME, the way people respond to all kinds of news, from diagnosis to a bereavement, to a life event like announcing a pregnancy, has very little to do with the content of the news, and everything to do with the person’s own coping style.

      People who catastrophize your diagnosis are usually going to be the same people who are always looking at the worst-case scenario, and who are comforted by a lot of intense emotional engagement. They show they care by over-investing, because that’s how they wish people reacted to them.

      People who minimize tend to be two types: the nice ones are same people who deny and minimize their own problems. They seek reassurance that their own problems are no big deal, so that’s what they offer in return.

      The other kind of minimizers are toxic one-uppers who feel that other people are competing with them for attention. But you’d probably know who those people are, because they’re like that about everything.

      A huge lesson I learned in dealing with chronic illness is that when everyone else is giving the “wrong” response, I’m perceiving it that way because I am more upset about the situation than I’m admitting to myself. I need to sit with myself and figure out what kind of comfort I need, so I can ask for it.

      Everybody finds different things comforting, and when peoole have to guess they are usually going to guess wrong. I find that when I can ask and get the comfort I need from at least one person, then the other folks being clumsy don’t bother me. I can receive the intention, rather than the words.

      But if I haven’t found that connection to get my needs met, their clumsiness can be painful.

    6. Double A*

      I think this is because there really are hugely varying types and prognoses for cancer. I think people who react like all cancer is a death sentence are probably people who are very afraid of dying and as such don’t really learn about the details of ailments, they just think they’re scary. A lot of people are quite ignorant about biology as well, so they literally don’t understand what cancer is.

      There are indeed some cancers that aren’t, for the most part, a big deal (either they’re easily operable or tend not to spread quickly), and some of those are skin cancers, so that might explain the reaction you’re getting about your cancer.

    7. NoLongerYoung*

      Just wanted to say “support” from me to you, first.

      Having had to educate on a different cancer, I agree with Red Reader that you are dealing with people’s own lens of experience with that disease (or even disease in general). And, layer onto that, their own emotional health / ability to empathize with another person, plus their varying experience in articulating thoughts – and it’s fraught with difficulty.

      One thing to think about is what your expectations of them are… this may depend upon where they are in your circle of friends vs work friends vs other categories. There was such a gamut of responses, that I realized longer term, that I was disappointed in some and amazed by others, in the responses (words vs actions) over time. And, their self awareness. I have a cousin who came to me immediately (upon a hospitalization), visited, and then explained why she could not bear to be there more than a bit – and I understood completely. The honesty of why changed everything about that situation.

    8. talos*

      Skin cancer is weird. I know how to think about internal cancers, but skin cancer is in this place where it *is* often relatively easy to remove, so I have a hard time knowing how severe any particular skin cancer is.

      1. Myrin*

        Oh yeah, I think that’s the case for a lot of people!

        My grandma had an extremely rare and highly aggressive kind of skin cancer in 2009 but fully recovered from it. Now my uncle – her son – was dianosed with the same rare and aggressive kind of cancer last year and sadly, he hasn’t been that lucky and it had already formed one metastasis. He’s getting immuno-therapy and it’s working incredibly well in a way where he might actually heal completely, but it might also just stop working one day and it will continue to spread. But until this thing with my uncle, my mum – his sister – had no idea about any of this either, or rather, had a hard time imagining it, exactly for the reason you say – she heard that they had safely removed the original cancer and was relieved and only later found out that skin cancers, too, can spread metastases.

        And I think what’s often tripping people up about my particular case is that of people who die from skin cancer, 90% (or so? I can’t make myself searching for studies again because the last time I did, I read all types of horror stories and promptly fell into an anxiety spiral, but it was a very high number) die from malignant melanoma, the thing I have/had (hopefully “had”), and while people might not know those numbers, they very often associate “melanoma = really bad”. But also, you aren’t 90% likely to die if you have one, it’s just that when you reach a certain point, your chances are really bad.

        But so far, I’ve not reached that point! Both cancers were still in the very first stage and could be completely removed exactly like any old non-malicious mole. But I’ve found that even people I explain this to often can’t really comprehend that because their association of “melanoma = really bad” is so strong and overrides what I’m saying.

    9. Not So NewReader*

      I have kind of a different thought going on here. When someone tells me they have cancer, I get very serious suddenly. And this is because I am not sure the extent of their problem until they tell me. Unfortunately, I have people around me that can say, “I have the Big C A” and leave me to fill in the details. Out of respect my default is to take a very serious tone. Yeah, I could initially be accused of acting like the person is dying. But I’d rather be accused of taking things too seriously, than not being serious enough.

      Cancer is such a wide topic also. Around here, people won’t even ask what type because that might involve mentioning private areas. I know a friend died from cancer- she’s been gone for years. I still don’t know what kind it was. I am either very respectful of her privacy or very uncaring about her situation, that one can appear either way.

      Not really a consolation, but I found back in the 80s when my mother was dying of a catastrophic illness (not cancer) people were really odd like you are talking about here. We are not good at talking about disease and even worse talking about death.

    10. Hrodvitnir*

      Heh, yes I understand. I’m pretty lucky in that my background includes cancer research (and hopefully my future also contains it!), so most of my close friends are relatively au fait about the realities of cancer.

      I got diagnosed with colon cancer in February this year, had 1/3 of my colon removed, and am now having chemotherapy. People really want to see this as something with a nice, easy end date. As someone with no lymph node invasion but extramural vein invasion and metastasis to the omentum, I’m in a particularly weird place as far as 5 year survival goes (pT3 N0 M1c).

      I’m pretty understanding of the fact that people just want to be supportive and don’t entirely know what to say, but the reactions of people who I like but am less close to can be… weird. Possibly even weirder is people’s reaction to my experience of chemo, as the understanding of the variability of different regimes and individual response is very poor (and I only see people in person when I’m able to act pretty normal, so that skews peoples’ understanding.)

      I have no advice, but yeah, I definitely understand.

      1. Myrin*

        Oh no, I’m so sorry to hear this! Are you the same person who used to comment here and on CA pretty regularly but under a slightly different name (without the “d”, I think?)? Not that it matters a lot but it always hits me just a tiny bit harder when I’ve been seeing a name around for years and suddenly I learn something like that.
        And yeah, I’m with you in that the unexpected reactions are usually from people I like but am less close to. Not that I blame them! I probably would react awkwardly to an acquaintance revealing something like that, too.

    11. 30ish*

      Yes! I also had melanoma and basically only got reactions two and three. That may also have been because of how I presented it. My father has had it several times, always detected at an early stage and so I may have gotten used to it. But there is a feeling of like „hey, this is serious!“ and for about a week while waiting for lab results I looked down the abyss and it did change me, people who lack that experience do not get it. best of luck to you!

      1. Myrin*

        Are you me? Your last sentence is extremely spot-on regarding how I’ve been feeling these last three months.
        Also, I hope I’ll be your father one day (not literally, obviously!!). Like, the person who had always had them detected at an early stage and as such got herself and others used to it. That’s been the case so far! But I do hope that there’s nothing more sinister brooding away in my body somewhere.
        Thanks so much!

  12. Redd*

    Does anyone have advice about where to post a novel in progress and get some feedback? Most of the sites I’ve seen so far seem pretty geared toward teens and/or supernatural romances.

    1. river*

      What you need is a critique partner. Usually you can find one that’s right for you by joining a witer’s group and asking if anyone is available. You tell them your genre, age of audience, etc, and they tell you theirs, and you decide if you’re compatible. You swap stories and give feedback on each other’s work.
      Compatibility is important for good quality feedback.
      I found my critique partner through Fiction University, a blog run by Janice Hardy. She has/had a list of people interested in finding partners, I think it’s called Critique Connections.

    2. Sloan Kittering*

      Keep in mind, if you have published it online as you go, most traditional publication folks would consider that “published” which hurts your chances if you ever wanted to go the agent/publisher route – but you may not! I agree that if your goal is feedback an individual beta reader or a critique group is going to be more effective, but if you’re looking on online, there are critique and beta reading groups you could search for on Facebook. Archive of Our Own allows original character stories, I just don’t think that’s the most popular element of the site and I doubt a very literary work would be as successful there as something that read more like fanfiction, which is the site’s focus (so yeah, supernatural romance). Also I don’t understand it very well, but Amazon has a new serial self-publishing site, I think it’s called Kindle Vella – I don’t think it’s supposed to be drafts you’re looking for feedback on, so much as a final product you’re selling – however, talking to folks who self publish it seems to be a spectrum. I’m sure you’re already familiar with Wattpad but that might be an option too. Good luck!

    3. RagingADHD*

      Check out the hashtags “amwriting” and “writers” on Twitter. There’s a group that organizes critique partner matchups. I cant recall that hashtag, but you’ll find it down the writing-twitter rabbit hole.

    4. I edit everything*

      I’m part of a FB group that swaps beta reads for romances. I’m sure there are many, many such groups for every genre.

    5. Maryn B.*

      Take a look around AbsoluteWrite.com/forums. It’s a busy, active writing community with many professionals. You probably want to find a critique partner or form a critique group, since the novel is not complete–and there’s a board for that. There’s also a board where you can share work for critique and an enormous amount of content about structure, writing, grammar, syntax, genre, query letters and synopses, self-publishing, the publishing business, just everything you’re going to want to know at some point. People who have MFAs in Creative Writing often remark that they learned more at AbsoluteWrite than at college.

      1. Elizabeth West*

        Absolute Write Water Cooler is also a good place to get the skinny on agents and publishers.

    6. SummerBreeze*

      QueryTracker has some great message boards. And if you’re female or female-identifying, search Binders Full of Writers on Facebook. Tons of groups where writers exchange tips and get answers and find CPs.

    7. SunnySideUp*

      There are subreddits set up for this sort of thing, and depending on your genre and interests, they can be pretty well-established.

  13. Venus*

    How does your garden grow?

    I am picking tomatoes, I should look at the garlic to see if it’s ready, and the flowers are beautiful!

    1. Meh*

      After two years of waiting I almost have a handful of blueberries to harvest. I spent $100 on bushes to get one handful of berries.

      1. Hotdog not dog*

        Gardening has never been a cost effective way to get food, but it’s super cheap therapy! I don’t even try to guess what we’ve spent, I just enjoy the peace, fresh air, and exercise…if there’s something good to eat at the end of it, that’s a bonus!

    2. Me*

      I’m out there everyday watering in this heat. I’m picking green beans, the occasional sun gold cherry tomato and lots of zucchini. I picked up a cute harvest basket this week, since I’m usually trying to hold the veggies in my hands while watering.

      All of my tomatoes are growing like crazy and setting tons of fruit. My cucumbers are a bit slow but I’m harvesting a couple every few days. My long pie pumpkins are finally showing female flowers after what seemed like weeks of only male flowers.

      I’m questioning whether I’ll get a single ground cherry this year. The plants are flush with cherries but the squirrels keep taking the green husks and eating the green fruit. I literally planted 15 plants and have yet to get a single cherry make it to the stage where one could safely eat it. Sigh.

      1. Venus*

        Too much Nitrogen in the fertilizer (the first number). You would need to find something to offset this (a fertilizer with 0-high-high at a guess, but check the internet for better ideas). Good luck!

    3. Pinkie Pie*

      It’s Florida and July. The garden is being solarized until end of August. I’m going to study square foot gardening for the community garden plot.

    4. Girasol*

      I just put in a fall crop of carrots, beans, and broccoli. And then I top-dressed an arborvitae with acid fertilizer solution and discovered a new wasp nest. Well, actually, they discovered me. I ran for it and now I’m hiding indoors.

    5. The Other Dawn*

      I finally have some jalapeno peppers, though only four mature ones so far. The habaneros and scotch bonnets only have a few blossoms.

      I’m eyeing my crabapple trees and thinking I might try my hand at crabapple jelly this year, though the thought of preparing all those little apples…

      1. Venus*

        I remember having a metal applesauce maker years ago, with a wooden cylinder that crushed the cooked apples. There must be a way to batch the crabapples, no?

        1. The Other Dawn*

          I’ve found mostly recipes that call for trimming the ends off as well as the stem, and then cutting them in half. Not a big task with a few pounds of regular apples, but a few pounds of crab apples after prep will probably be tedious since they’re pretty small–not much bigger than cherries. I did, however, find one recipe that doesn’t require the prep other than taking the stems off, I believe. I might go with that one.

    6. GoryDetails*

      Heirloom tomatoes are starting to ripen, and I’ve harvested more eggplant and peppers. The okra is blooming, so I should have pods very soon. Cukes and squash have lots of flowers but no fruit yet, despite some hand-pollinating, not sure what’s going on there…

    7. Sparkly Librarian*

      Tomato sandwiches have featured in this week’s lunches, very satisfactorily. Tried a new recipe for zucchini fritters, which was so-so (they stuck to the foil but tasted all right) because I’ve finally gotten to the too-much-squash stage. (Last year we harvested 60-ish but I didn’t get there.)

      I was scheduled to plant the cool-season crops, but a) it’s been too hot! and b) we had a giant tree taken out, so my shady bed isn’t shaded anymore, and I think I have to wait a while yet.

  14. Porch Screens*

    Does anyone have any experience with screening in a porch, specifically a front porch? I’m strongly considering screening in our front porch at some point but even after some quick internet searching I’m still at a bit of a loss on (roughly) how much to plan on spending as well as how to find someone to actually do the work – neither my husband nor myself are particularly handy so I’d prefer to have someone do it for us, but we also live in a fairly rural area that doesn’t exactly have a lot of ‘obvious’ contractors or building companies to get in touch with.

    Any suggestions? Things we should plan for or inquire about once we *do* find someone willing to do the work? Ideally we’d use it for a good part of the year once screened in and as the porch runs the length of the house, there’d be plenty of room for seating and other things. I’d also like it to function as a catio for our two housepanthers, one of which used to be an outdoor cat before we adopted him and who loves to window-watch and will door dash if we aren’t paying attention. Thanks in advance! :)

    1. Kathenus*

      When I bought my house I had the front porch screened in by a handyman/carpenter. It wasn’t cheap, cost me $2000 about five years ago, and not huge just runs along the front of the house. Part was the fact I wanted it done quickly, another factor is it has round columns versus square so took some extra work to frame it out due to that. But he did good work and I’m really glad I did it. I had my back porch done later, a much more involved project, that comparatively speaking cost a lot less – and two years later had to have parts of it redone, so kind of you get what you pay for. Even though the front porch was pretty expensive I’m totally glad I did it, I use it all the time.

    2. Not So NewReader*

      If your area has a neighborhood forum, you can try that.

      You can also check with neighbors for who they recommend and who they avoid.

      Rural areas can tend to have gathering spots such a coffee shops or hardware stores. You can go in and ask people there also. This one takes a moment as you kind of want to strike up a conversation then ask.

      Just so you are aware lumber and building supply costs are skyrocketing. If you can hold off you might want to.

  15. ALM2019*

    Has anyone been trying to buy a house in the current market? I was looking for a few months for a small townhome or condo in the Philly suburbs. However everything I put an offer on had 15+ offers and the winning one was always all cash, waived inspections, or both! I’m a first time buyer so I certainly didn’t have that much cash and wasn’t willing to waive inspections. Quite a few of the places I lost out on have popped up for rent – so its brokers and investors buying them up. I’ve since stepped back and am deciding between renting a nicer place or trying to wait out the market. Has anyone else been going through this? What has your experience been? Its definitely been a hit to my mental state recently as I was so excited to get out of my apartment.

    1. Meh*

      We are a few weeks away from closing on a house. We put in offers on many other places and were rejected for similar reasons. We switched realtors (the first one didn’t run comps, give advise, nothing) and our offer on the next house was accepted. I’d make sure your realtor was aligned with your goals, knowledgeable about the area you are looking, makes you feel confident that she knows how to help you make the most attractive offer you can.

      What helped us (might not work for you). We didn’t waive inspections but did say it would be a void only -meaning we wouldn’t ask the seller to do any repairs but we would still retain our option to walk away. We also put down a large earnest deposit. Our loan is zero down (VA) and we were previously rejected because someone put a larger down payment. So the large earnest money seemed to be appealing – like we were weren’t going to walk away.

      Waiting it out comes with the chance of increase in interest rates. So that’s something to factor in. I hate the pressure of having to make a split second, emotionally charged decision on the largest thing I’ll ever purchase.

      Best of luck in your search!

    2. Dark Macadamia*

      Yep. My family lives in a very competitive area and we’re reaching the point of just giving up for a year and seeing how things change. It’s so discouraging! We could afford a pretty nice place under normal circumstances but we can’t afford to waive everything so we’re not having any luck.

    3. ATX*

      It’s happening here in Austin. Homes going for 100-500k over asking, all paying in cash. The solution is to get really lucky, or buy outside of the city (or just continue renting…). Unfortunately most end up doing the latter and normal folk (who don’t have 1 million in cash or a business that buys all these homes) end up moving 30-45 minutes away.

      The avg days a home is on the market, non summer, was around 5-7 days. It’s crazy here!!

    4. Decidedly Me*

      We bought our house in a similar market. Almost everything was going for above asking and had many offers. You had to waive all contingencies. We made sure to have a quick inspection done before putting in an offer. The time between viewing the house the first time and hearing we got it was all of 4 days – which was how fast everything was going.

      A family member very recently bought a house. She had to go a fair amount over asking and had lost a lot of offers by not being able to go high enough. Also had to waive all contingencies and had to offer free rent back for a month. Due to offers always being over asking, she widened her search area and ended up further out than originally planned.

    5. Let me be dark and twisty*

      Yep. DC area here. The market is crazy. I’m putting the final touches on to prepare for selling (I need the cash from the sale to help with the down payment) so I’ve been watching the market for a while. What I’ve learned about my area is that the houses that sell quickly, and the ones that get into bidding wars, are the ones that are turn-key/move-in ready – neutral paint, little furniture, completely depersonalized and uncluttered. Houses that are a little outdated, are colorful, haven’t depersonalized or uncluttered, tend to stay on the market longer and don’t get into bidding wars. If you’re okay with buying something outdated, then you might be successful. The key is to find something that you can live with till you have the money to make the upgrades or customizations you want.

      Another option you could look into is new construction. I don’t know what Philly’s like but down here, we’ve got new construction townhomes and condos going up everywhere. There’s less competition for those and sometimes you can get a pretty good deal. My first house ended up being new construction, a unit that was almost done (the developer picked out all the finishes) because it was guaranteed to be done when my lease was up and it was a steal because everyone else was looking at the ‘ready to build’ units and the developer really wanted to offload this unit so they threw in some extra options to get me to buy.

      1. Lady Alys*

        A friend of mine just moved into her new condo in Bethesda. She had closed and gotten a guaranteed price late last fall, but construction material shortages have forced the prices of those units for more recent buyers up by anywhere from $40,000 to $70,000, so even new construction can be a nightmare.

        The latest “Planet Money” podcast (from NPR) has a very interesting (and short) story about why this housing crunch is as bad as it is.

    6. Coco*


      We lost 7 offers over 6 months and won the 8th one. And we paid 30k over asking and waived all contingencies including home inspection and appraisal waiver. The home appraised for 15k less than the purchase price so had to pay the difference upfront.

      Was it worth it for us? Probably. My spouse hates renting and we now have twice as much room as we’ve ever had. It sucks that we overpayed but the interest rate is pretty low and nothing has come on the market that I like more.

      It really does suck though when you see the house you put an offer in and lost end up a rental.

    7. Chaordic One*

      My parents have been looking and have given up for the time being. All of the houses they liked and that met their needs (for example, they can’t really deal with steps anymore and need a single story house) ended up being snapped-up for above the asking price within a couple of days of being on the market. They ended up signing a lease on a very nice rental house that is close to what they’d like to buy. They feel they are buying themselves some time and are still looking, but without much enthusiasm.

    8. NoLongerYoung*

      I managed in February, but had to go for a less choice town, I went over budget (almost double my original intention – and what I would have paid for lovely free standing home in the area of my choice 3 years ago), and had to waive any contingencies/take as is. And I heard about it through a family member, AND it was the ugliest, most neglected condo ever.
      Took 6 weeks and 3x as much time and money as I thought, to bring it up to really useful for my mom. I could have left it with the tripping hazards of multiple styles of flooring, and dark with limited dim lights/30 year old paint, and a shower that didn’t work well… but knew all of those things needed to be fixed eventually and before anyone moved in was best.
      But – as it turns out, the one next door is worth about 25K more than what I wound up paying (incl repairs), so the market is at least holding it’s own. And, truthfully, I needed to get something now for mom so… this was the best I could do on my budget. I figure it is the used 150K Prius of homes. It works. I can afford it. I had it serviced and detailed, and it is good for now. I had to get something, so this fit the bill, even if I didn’t get my wish list (cheap and pretty are pipe dreams now).

    9. Stunt Apple Breeder*

      I am renting a place close to my job for the time being, and asked my landlord what his thoughts were. He monitors the real estate market for additional investment properties and told us to wait it out.

    10. Generic Name*

      What I want to know is who has hundreds of thousands in cash to buy a house outright? Is it investment companies, or maybe people from California who sold a million dollar shack to buy a 300k 2 bedroom bungalow or whatever?

      1. ATX*

        Both. For Austin, it’s people coming from Cali and random companies that have the cash.

    11. RC Rascal*

      You might try looking at smaller condo buildings. During the Great Recession a lot of lenders restricted lending to buildings with 50% or more in rentals. In response many smaller buildings (10-18 unit) in my area passed amendments limiting rental rights. My building passed one in 2012; anyone who purchased a unit after that date does NOT have the right to rent it. It keeps out the investors and the Air BnB types.

      We have had 3 units come for sales this year. 2 of them sold as second homes. The agents for Investor buyers kept contacting us ( I’m the Board Prez) trying to get is to make exceptions if they were to purchase the unit. (Or, as they say, “clarify” the rental policy. There is nothing to clarify; the unit may not be rented. Period. ).

      All 3 of the units would have sold many times over if we allowed rental right. Because they weren’t rentable, they actually sat on the market for about 30 days each, and this is a nice building.

      IMO the current raging real estate market is mostly rich people trying to get richer.

    12. Alexis Rosay*

      Yes. Unfortunately, you will need to look at cheaper places and cheaper areas and expect that they will go for over asking price. Waiting longer is a tossup. The market could cool or it could heat up more—no one knows and anyone who says they know is selling you something.

      I bought a place in a similarly hot market four years ago. It was much smaller that I thought I would get and in a much less desirable area. I’ve come to love the area and have mixed feelings about the house. Maintenance bills and neighbor conflicts have been a huge stressor, but having extra space during wfh has been a godsend.

      Best of luck. Owning is not necessary better than buying—only you can decide if the trade offs are worth it to you.

    13. Anonymous home buyer*

      I recently bought in one of the hottest markets in the country, and I credit a very experienced and well-connected real estate agent with tons of experience in the target area.

      1. Alexis Rosay*

        I think this is important. We had a real estate agent who was honest with us and didn’t let us waste time bidding on places we had zero chance of winning. When I hear of people bidding on more than a dozen places, I have to wonder if their agent is being honest with them. Also a very good financing guy set us up with a loan guarantee that could stand up well to cash offers.

    14. it's me*

      I was hoping to move this year, but I think I’ll have to wait—I’m picky, and it’s not a great market for being picky. That said, I’m avoiding single-family developments that allow rentals, rather going for an older townhouse-condo with a HOA not just because renting potential means more competition but because I don’t want to face the renters/AirBnB neighbors issue. I have toured quite a few houses over the past year or so but have yet to put in an offer anywhere yet. My realtor specializes in townhouses and is good at gently cautioning me away from properties he can guess I’d end up finding less than satisfactory.

  16. Pocket Mouse*

    I have a light fixture with two bare bulbs that I’d like to cover. (I’ll post a link showing a similar fixture in a reply.) I rent and am not in a position to replace the whole unit. Any advice appreciated!

    The fixture is about 10.5” diameter where it attaches to the ceiling, and two standard bulbs come straight down across from each other such that the outsides of the bulbs are about 9.5” apart. There are two little flares in the fixture, one where each bulb screws in, and there’s a screwdriver-sized hole in one side of the base on the opposite axis from the bulbs. The middle of the base comes down a little lower than the flared parts, and the part that comes down that far is about the same diameter or wider than the flared parts (so I can’t, for example, set a chopstick across the edges of both flared parts because the middle is in the way). There’s a little nub in the middle of the base that theoretically screws off but I haven’t been able to loosen it, and it’s not a shape that anything can attach to.

    Has anyone successfully covered bulbs in a fixture like this, or have ideas about how to do it? It seems so far that the likeliest solution will involve one or two paper globe-like shades or a drum shade of some sort, just not sure if the spacing and (lack of) attachment options will allow either.

    1. Not A Manager*

      I’m sure you know this, but in most leases this would be the landlord’s responsibility in the first instance. If the cover was there when you moved in but has since been broken or gotten lost, it’s your responsibility, but if it was never there the landlord should take care of it.

      In either case, it might be easier to ask the landlord first whether they have a replacement cover they can provide, even if you need to pay them for it. Sometimes even small-scale landlords and management companies order multiples of items for replacement purposes.

      1. Pocket Mouse*

        None of the bulbs in the place have ever had covers, and when I asked the maintenance person if there were spares that could be installed, I was told no, and if I chose to install any, I would have to remove them and replace the original when I moved out. The maintenance person is all-around great and really on top of things, so I feel it was a trustworthy answer. I’ll check the lease just in case, though.

      2. Christmas Carol*

        In the relatively small city where I live and own rental property, any light fixture without a shade or cover would be considered a violation of the “code” and would not pass the annual inspection required for a rental property license. Even if the lack of covering was due to the tenant breaking or losing the cover, it is still the landlord’s obligation to provide or replace a cover. My only recourse is to take it out of the damage deposit if it was the renters fault. If there wasn’t a shade when the tenant moved in, it’s on my dime.

    2. pieforbreakfast*

      I took a paper umbrella/parasol (Etsy has them, they are popular for weddings), glued it open, cut the handle to a couple inches and drilled holes into the base of what was left then attached the umbrella to the lighting base with wire.

      You could also look for house salvage stores, bring a photo with you and ask the staff if they know of any cover that would work.

      1. Pocket Mouse*

        Ooh, interesting! How did you attach it to the base? And how far down does it come from the ceiling at the lowest point? I have a tall lamp in the room so am keeping shadows in mind.

        1. pieforbreakfast*

          I used wire picture (so flexible) and looped it around what I could- like you could loop around the flanges and the middle stem. Or cut the handle so it can sit along the middle stem and wrap the wire around both . The umbrella is light so not much is needed.
          As for depth, you can adjust this by how low you cut the handle, and you don’t want the bulbs touching the paper.

      2. Lizzie*

        I have done this in the past, and recommend you use an umbrella without any kind of resinous coating, because they do small when they warm up! – mine was a fancy, resinous coated pink paper umbrella, it gave a lovely light during its brief life as a light shade.

    3. acmx*

      Try using Mouse Milk on the middle part to see if that looses it and you can use that for the shade.

      Otherwise I might hook the drum shade around it. Like with plant hooks or Command strips- MacGyver it.

    4. The teapots are on fire*

      Look for clip-on shades that are made for fixtures like these and just make sure the diameters are compatible with the spacing of your bulbs. They have spring clips that fit around the bulb itself.

    5. Seeking Second Childhood*

      From your description you may have something that you can get a replacement for at any big box store, Habitat fir Humanity’s ReStore, or online.
      Old wiring is not for learning without an electrician — for example, our 1940s house was wired in a way that the kitchen fixture was live when the lamp was off.
      But attaching a,cover is mechanical not electric. 15″ you said? Try this one.

  17. Meh*

    We are a few weeks away from closing on a house. We put in offers on many other places and were rejected for similar reasons. We switched realtors (the first one didn’t run comps, give advise, nothing) and our offer on the next house was accepted. I’d make sure your realtor was aligned with your goals, knowledgeable about the area your looking, makes you feel confident she knows how to help you make the most attractive offer you can

    What helped up (might not work for you). We didn’t waive inspections but did say it would be a void only -meaning we wouldn’t ask the seller to do any repairs but we would still retain our option to walk away.
    We also put down a large earnest deposit.

    Waiting it out comes with the chance of increase in interest rates. So that’s something to factor in. I hate the pressure of having to make a split second, emotionally charged decision on the largest thing I’ll ever purchase.

    Best of luck in your search!

  18. Drtheliz*

    Last week I posted very late asking for onesie pattern recommendations for babies. Thank you all – I went for the Baby Sweater Buffet, so far I’m about halfway down the torso and it looks a treat! I’ll try and post a picture to the “crafting” sub-thread once it’s done – it’s going to be a little red/orange/yellow dragon suit :)

  19. Damn it, Hardison!*

    I am looking for suggestions for what to do with money that is currently in my savings account earning pennies a month. I am fortunate enough to to have a significant amount of money (well, at least significance to me, more than $25,000) sitting in 3 separate saving accounts. This is my emergency fund/car fund/house fund, so I would like to keep it fairly liquid in case I need to draw on it. My job is stable, my car is in good shape and only lightly used these days, and I can’t find a contractor to do any work on my house, so baring an unforeseen emergency it’s going to be parked for a while. Any recommendations for options, and pros and cons? I do plan to max out our IRAs but will wait to do that until the end of the year.

    1. Rachel*

      Mutual funds are a good option because it will grow but it’s not a risky investment so you don’t have to be too concerned about market fluctuations. It’s not guaranteed to never go down of course, but it’s the safest investment option over a savings account. It’s also fairly easy to withdraw money from so it’s fairly liquid. I recommend finding a financial advisor who can help you choose the best option based on the risk you are willing to take.

      1. Girasol*

        Yes, this. There are advantages to mutual funds that aren’t tax sheltered like IRAs are. Postponing taxes with an IRA is useful, but having some savings on which you’ve already paid taxes can be helpful too. And the funds are reasonably easy to liquidate in an emergency, where tax sheltered funds are not so much.

    2. MissGirl*

      You can do an online savings account that has higher interest rates. I have one through Goldman Sachs. You can put some of it in a term CD. My bank says if I use it, I just lose the interest I already accumulated but there aren’t any fees associated with taking it. I figure it’s emergency so a small chunk may never get touched.

    3. Choggy*

      I always move a specific amount of my savings, when it grows past the point of being the cushion I need, to my mutual fund to grow it a bit more but still know it’s available as needed (saving for a retirement home). Once you set it up, the transfers are very easy, though you do have to remember to move the money from checking, wish they could just take it from savings directly. I forgot once and my husband almost had a heart attack when he saw the amount taken out of our (mutual) checking account. Oops!

    4. fposte*

      Right now there’s not much actual high interest assets around; in general, the more liquidity you want, the lower the growth/interest will be. Three year CDs are topping out at just under 1% (and of course it’s frustrating to be locked into that rate if rates get better in, say, a year). That doesn’t mean you can’t want to capture some more than you are, just warning you that you won’t be able to get a lot more. And generally with an emergency fund or money you plan to use in the short term you want to keep it out of stocks and stock funds because of the potential for loss, so that means lower growth/interest.

      One possibility is to look at no-penalty CDs or to do the math on penalties for breaking a CD early (usually a few months to a year’s interest). Ally has an 11 month no-penalty CD that gives .5% interest, which is about the best you’re going to get for no penalty. There are also high interest checking accounts that usually require you to use the account for a certain number of debit purchases monthly (I’m seeing one that gives over 2% and requires 12 purchases, for instance). Your preferences will also depend a little on your general inclinations–are you happy to move stuff around and do precise math to get an extra $50 in a year, or are you somebody who’d rather choose something that’s good enough and leave it alone?

    5. Sloan Kittering*

      This is a great question for me. I have money in my bank account and money in a managed fund but once the money is invested, it’s quite hard to get it back, so I tend to horde it in my bank account, which I know is stupid. For anxious people like myself, there’s almost no limit to how much cash I would need to have on hand to deal with emergencies – home repair can easily run 10,000 or more, I have a high-deductible medical plan, I live in an expensive area so a six month cushion is a lot of money, etc.

    6. I need coffee before I can make coffee*

      Your best option, given the stated purpose of your funds, is probably moving it to a money market type savings account that earns slightly better interest than regular savings. Anything else (CDs, mutual funds) you risk losing money because you had to cancel the CD, or withdraw from the mutual fund right when it dips in value. You should think of emergency funds as insurance, not money that should be making money. That said, you should decide exactly how much you are comfortable with as emergency money and then move anything over that into other investments.

      1. Wishing You Well*

        Great comment!
        Here’s a technique I use to increase interest income: set up multiple CDs, so if you have to cash one out, you don’t lose what you would with a single, huge CD. Also, stagger the maturation dates so they come due at different times to minimize taking a loss.

    7. NoLongerYoung*

      Only note, that you don’t have to wait until the end of the year to max out your IRA. If you think the market is going to continue to go up (and I don’t market time), the sooner you invest, the more time it has to grow, IMHO. The only reason to wait for the end of the year is if you are afraid you will need it for some emergency and not fund it. I put mine in on a per pay check basis the first half of the year, so I’m fully funded by the mid-year. That gives it all year to grow tax free (the point of the IRA over time).

      Just a thought.
      I do every paycheck because putting it in a bit at a time also means I don’t get stuck on the idea that I picked a “bad” time to invest it – I simply put it in and let it ride. Whether the market is going up or down, since I have a 20 year horizon.

    8. ten four*

      Index funds through Vanguard. They are low fee and low fuss, and you can choose funds that match your comfort levels in terms of low risk vs. aggressiveness. It’s quite easy to get your cash out again too because they aren’t tax advantaged (although yes: max out the tax-advantaged funds first!)

    9. Epsilon Delta*

      We keep our emergency fund in a high interest savings account. Currently getting 0.4% but that’s lightyears more than most banks offer. There are no restrictions like with a CD, and also no risk of loss like with investments. For a $25,000 balance, 0.4% works out to about $100 a year.

      The main downside is that most of these high interest accounts are online only, but it hasn’t been too much of a challenge as a secondary account. We can do transfers between it and our primary bank easily.

      1. Lady Alys*

        Where are you getting 0.4% ? That might make me consider switching from what used to be ING…

        1. Blue wall*

          I’m getting .5% at Ally Bank; the Frugalwoods has a blog post w high interest savings rates listed.

    10. Damn it, Hardison!*

      Thank you, everyone! You’ve given me a lot to think about. There are definitely much better options than my current savings account, which is what I was hoping for.

  20. Oatmeal*

    What would you make of this type of argument between two people? The example below is a couple but it Could be a parent/child or two friends etc.

    Monicas upset wirh Chandler about his bad health habits. She’s yelling at him and listing all the things he does, some of which are exaggerations. Chandlers first response is to point out what’s incorrect. For example, she says “you smoke 10 cigarettes a day.” and he says “I only smoke 2.”

    I think Chandler is missing the point when he fixates on the quantity of cigarettes while Monica is saying that he smokes. But I also think it’s unfair for Monica to exaggerate and I feel Chandler fixating on the untrue thing is a response to being shamed.

    1. WS*

      Monica is exaggerating because she wants him to change, Chandler is nit-picking because he doesn’t want to change. Neither is approaching the problem in an effective or productive way.

      1. Patty Mayonnaise*

        Agreed – neither are working to solve the problem effectively, and I wouldn’t want to be Friends with either of them.

      2. rkz*

        Yes, you said what I wanted to but much more efficiently! I say this as someone who would be the Monica in my relationship, except that I recognize that Chandler isn’t going to change his habits unless he actually wants to, so I say very little about it unless my Chandler brings it up himself. Monica may genuinely be afraid about what will happen if Chandler doesn’t make some changes, and she could maybe share those feelings in a better way that doesn’t demonize him.

    2. WellRed*

      If Monica wants to make a point about his smoking, she’d be better off not exaggerating and sticking to actual fact to avoid exactly what happened here. However, it’s Chandlers life and nagging someone to stop smoking doesn’t work.

    3. Not A Manager*

      If Monica were smart, she would concede the point immediately. Two cigarettes is still a health hazard, and she’s better off sticking to her main point than nitpicking over details.

      But just as Monica and Chandler are caught in a system, you might be too. You are highly unlikely to be able to affect how Monica and Chandler argue with each other. Why are you invested in this?

      1. Oatmeal*

        I’m Chandler in this scenario. I’m trying to be rational and see Monica’s concerns and not let my own emotions cloud anything. After I pointed out the inaccuracy, I said I see their point.

    4. fposte*

      The substance of the argument is irrelevant here, IMHO—Monica needs to stop yelling at people about their health habits, whatever the number is, and Chandler needs to learn not to engage when Monica loses it.

      1. Clisby*

        +1 about the yelling. That rarely accomplishes anything, even with children, unless you’re yelling about some kind of emergency (“Get out of the street!” “Don’t touch the stove!”) If yelling is your main means of communication, people are just going to tune you out.

    5. Person from the Resume*

      I disagree with you that “fixating on the untrue thing is a response to being shamed.”

      I am a naturally accurate person. I would correct someone who made such an outrageous mistake. 2 versus 10 is off by a huge percentage. If someone had the basic facts that wrong, I would discount any further discussion from them because they don’t have their facts straight. Monica could just say “you smoke,” but instead she lies … that factually inaccurate statement in your example is a lie BTW.

      I agree smoking is unhealthy but Chandler knows that because everyone knows that. The same with weight and healthy eating if that’s what the argument is about.

      I don’t think Monica deserves any slack here. Sounds like she’s picking on someone and exaggerating their bad habits. That’s not helpful and not a way to convey concern about someone’s bad habits.

      If I were Chandler, after defending myself against her lies, I’d tell her to shut up about my health.

      1. Bluesboy*

        Could I BE any more Chandler in this case?

        My wife will say ‘you never’ or ‘you always’ and I’ll say ‘that’s not true, because last Tuesday…’

        She might be wrong in exaggerating, but I’m wrong too, it isn’t constructive. Ideally, I stay calm, say ‘please don’t use absolute terms, it makes it difficult for me to focus on the real issue’, my wife switches to ‘often’ and the conversation becomes more constructive.

        Other times I’m grumpy, don’t pull it off, and we have a proper argument. The issue might be started by my wife exaggerating, or by me overreacting, but it doesn’t matter, the balanced conversation is better for me, so whoever’s fault it is, the goal is to change the conversation to be constructive instead of confrontational.

      2. Oatmeal*

        I say it’s a reaction to being shamed b/c this was done to me all my life from others. If I ate one piece of candy, or had a spoonful of ice cream, they would say I ate the whole bag or finished the entire pint. If I ever said “it wasn’t that many” they’d say shut up and “you know what I mean.” Constantly eyeing what I’m eating and yelling at me later. There ARE times I have wolfed down a whole pint in one sitting, or eaten a large quantity of something, but it’s not as often as they made it out to be.

        Monica has never yelled at me about this until now, that’s why I’m inclined to cut some slack. I’m trying to see it from their side, that they’re scared I’m sending myself to an early grave, but I think my focusing on the inaccuracies/exaggerations is a knee jerk reaction than to absorb their overall message.

        1. Person from the Resume*

          I disagree. You’re normalizing their exaggeration/lies. You say this has gone on all your life. That’s awful. Sounds terrible and maybe abusive. Picking on and shaming you over and over again.

          You got to do you. But consider Monica isn’t that great here. You’re saying she’s exaggerating because she cares, but yelling and listing flaws and exaggerating those flaws is not loving and caring. Loving and caring would be more along the lines of saying “I love you and I want you to be healthy and live a long life. Smoking is not a healthy choice.”

          I think you’ve somehow normalized a fight (not a good thing) into showing care.

      3. Poor Monica?*

        There is at least a possibility here that 1)Chandler’s accuracy is off or 2) Monica is exaggerating because Chandler is refusing to engage on something that matters to both of them but Chandler things it only dealt impact himself.

    6. SoloKid*

      Perfect world Chandler would ignore the # and say “why does my smoking bother you?”, and Perfect Monica would reply “I’m afraid you’re going to land yourself in an early grave.” or “Our curtains smell like an ashtray”.

      Perfect Chandler should be smart enough to look past the exaggeration to understand Monica doesn’t want him to smoke, and Perfect Monica should be smart enough to use her feelings (use I statements) instead of shaming Chandler.

      What do I make of it? Two immature adults that want to be right instead of coming to a mutually benefical solution.

    7. RagingADHD*

      I think Monica, Chandler, and you are all focused on the wrong thing. (Assuming you’re neither of them).

      Neither accuracy nor fairness matter at all in this argument, because all three of you are trying to force a highly emotional exchange into a rational framework.

      Monica is saying “I love you and I’m afraid you’re going to suffer and die young. I see you hurting yourself and it’s breaking my heart.”

      Chandler is saying, “This doesn’t feel like love, it feels like control. How can you love me if you don’t respect my own agency?”

      They might be able to get somewhere if they could say what they really mean instead of talking about the cigarettes. But very few people are prepared to do that.

      1. ecnaseener*

        I don’t know if Chandler is saying anything of the kind. I read him as saying “Of course I don’t smoke 10 a day, that would be way too much. If you have a problem with 2 a day, you need to say so.”

        1. RagingADHD*

          Then it wouldn’t be an argument.

          If both people are engaged in an argument, they’re both emotional. Why would Chandler care whether Monica is correct if he didn’t have any emotional stakes?

          Chandler may in fact be emotionally repressed and lack self-awareness, so he doesn’t even know why correcting Monica matters to him. That’s typical of most people, and that’s why arguments like this never accomplish anything.

          1. ecnaseener*

            Re” Why would Chandler care whether Monica is correct if he didn’t have any emotional stakes?” I honestly don’t get the question, why would anyone not care about someone making blatantly false statements about them?

            But yeah, of course he has emotional stakes, I never said he didn’t.

            1. RagingADHD*

              Because a random person making random statements to or about you that have nothing to do with reality is just noise. Would you get upset if trolls on the internet said your hair is made of cheese?

              I should hope not, because that would be unhinged.

              People in a relationship who argue about each other’s behavior aren’t actually arguing about numbers. They’re arguing about the relationship itself. The numbers are a proxy.

              1. ecnaseener*

                This isn’t a random person though? This is clearly an argument between people who care about each other.

                I really don’t get what you’re trying to communicate here and I don’t think we’re going to understand each other, let’s leave it there.

                1. RagingADHD*

                  My point is that the argument didnt start over the number of cigarettes.

                  If Monica had stated the precisely correct number of cigarettes, they would still be arguing.

                  If Monica agreed that it was two and not ten (or Chandler admitted that he underestimated how much he smokes) it would not solve the underlying conflict.

                  Monica wants Chandler to stop smoking. Chandler doesn’t want Monica telling him what to do. That is the core conflict, and the number of cigarettes is just a derailment.

    8. Wishing You Well*

      I would change the channel.
      Seriously, though, unless you’re Monica or Chandler, I’d stay out of it. If this happens in front of you, I’d leave. This isn’t something that needs an audience.

    9. ecnaseener*

      Ideally Chandler would continue to engage with the topic after he corrects the record, but I don’t think there’s anything wrong with saying “Whoa, that’s not even close to the truth.” You can’t have a productive conversation without acknowledging the basic facts.

      People who intentionally exaggerate like Monica will often respond with “Come on, you know what I mean!” Like in her head it’s so clear that she’s just exaggerating for dramatic effect, and when she says 10 she *means* 2-but-it-feels-like-10-to-me and she expects Chandler to engage with the discussion as if it really is 10. Which isn’t fair to him, because it is in fact 2.

      1. RagingADHD*

        Or maybe he smokes six a day and they’re both exaggerating in opposite directions. Or maybe Chandler really smokes twelve a day and is in denial.

        There’s no telling.

    10. Not So NewReader*

      I’d ask them to talk about something else with me. They have to sort themselves out and decide what is important and what is not.

      A friend got into it with their spouse. Turned out the friend had a toxic job that was wildly demanding (think 16 hour shifts as normal, working on days off, constant put downs, etc.). Additionally, friend had their own health issues going on.
      Somehow this all came to a head and rested on the spouse’s smoking. Instead of fixing their own stuff, the friend harped on the spouse. “Spouse must fix themselves.” omg. It got bad.
      Finally, friend got a much better job with a lot less hours and harmony and peace fell upon the couple.

      Often times a single issue can be used as a crutch so as to avoid dealing with other issues. Granted there is a lot going on here, spouse could consider not smoking, friend could consider not yelling but none of these solutions fixed the underlying lying situations that were immediately pressing. In my story here if spouse quit smoking, my friend would still have a toxic job and still be yelling- just over other things.

  21. Albeira Dawn*

    My local game store has opened back up for in-person play (with masks). I’m new to the area, so I stopped in to play a couple games of Pathfinder. The DM was great, the game was great, most of the other players were great! There’s talk of making it a regular group.

    Unfortunately, there’s one player that drives me absolutely insane. He’s not even that bad of a person or anything, he’s just a classic rules lawyer who can’t seem to stop talking, even when the DM is in the middle of explaining the consequences of another player’s actions. It’s my biggest TTRPG pet peeve and I have no interest in playing with him regularly. He’s VERY interested in a campaign though.

    I think my plan is to message the DM something along the lines of “Hey, it was super fun, you were great, but my playstyle doesn’t match with [other player] so I don’t think I’ll be joining the campaign. I’d be down to hop in on occasion though!”
    I’m trying to be more direct and honest with people while still remaining kind and thoughtful. Am I striking the right tone? Am I being too harsh? Should I just lie and say my schedule got too busy?

    1. Dr.KMnO4*

      I think your message is perfect. You aren’t badmouthing the other player, just saying that your style doesn’t mesh with his. Also, telling the truth in this situation seems better than going with a white lie like being too busy, since then the DM has some feedback about how the session went.

      As an aside – that player would drive me up a wall too. I HATE rules lawyering, and I hate it when people talk over other people during RPGs.

    2. Tib*

      You’re not being harsh at all. It’s good for the store to get that type of feedback. They’re the ones who have some control over who’s welcome and who’s not and if a particular person is mentioned as driving players (and potential customers) away, then that’s useful information. It’s up to them if they want to dig further or not, but you’re being kind and honest and not harsh at all.

    3. RagingADHD*

      That sounds fine. Very reasonable and just direct enough without being personally insulting.

    4. Generic Name*

      I think the message sounds great. Maybe other people will chime in also withdrawing if Mr. Always Right is playing a campaign and the DM may decide not to host that particular person. I can’t imagine a DM would enjoy constantly arguing with them either.

      1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        As a DM who knows a few of those folks – I stopped letting them into my games at all.

  22. Llellayena*

    Question about dinner plates!

    I have a very dated set of Corelle plates that I’m looking to upgrade, and I’m not really finding designs I like in the current Corelle line. I love their durability though, my current set I think was a wedding gift for my parents (so almost 50 yrs old). I’m considering switching to a different company but that means switching materials. Can anyone tell me how porcelain or bone china has held up for you? Or if you have other suggestions? I’d rather not go stoneware, mostly due to the weight and thickness (storage would be more difficult). Thanks all!

    1. Choggy*

      It took me a long time to find daily dinnerware I liked. I ended up finding a white set at Crate & Barrel (not much of a pattern person). To me, they have a the sturdiness of a Corelle, but are a bit more refined. Can’t say that we don’t have one or two chips, but have held up well for the last few years. My dilemma is finding forks and spoons (how do they just disappear?), they don’t make the pattern any longer so my husband resorted to picking up some forks at Kohls when he saw some. I don’t like the new forks, so I make him use them! :)

          1. SarahKay*

            I’ve had some luck finding discontinued lines on eBay. Set up a search and let them email you as and when something appears.

    2. Let me be dark and twisty*

      I went bone china. I picked up a set of Corelle dishes when I moved into an apartment in college and have wanted to upgrade from “college chic” to “a grownup lives here.”

      Though bone china is a little pricier than Corelle, I found the weight super similar. No issues with general use, in dishwasher and in storage. The biggest challenge I have with my new bone china set is that people freak out when I put them into the dishwasher. Who cares?! I’d rather use them and they get chipped in the dishwasher than to never use them because they need to be handwashed.

      1. SarahKay*

        Interestingly, my Mum tells me that bone china is much less likely to chip than stoneware or porcelain – something about how it’s made, or the materials? She has bone china for all her crockery, uses it every day, for every meal, and just puts it in the dishwasher. She started collecting the set about 35 years ago and it’s all still in excellent condition.

    3. Stephanie*

      I’ve found bone china to be more durable and hold up better than porcelain. We decided to use our “good china” as our everyday dishes a few years ago because it seemed so silly to have an entire set of dishes just gathering dust in the cabinet. I was a little worried that it would prove to be more fragile than the porcelain dishes that we had been using before, because they are thinner and lighter. But, unlike our previous porcelain dishes (which chipped a LOT), we only have maybe two chips, with heavy use and daily runs through the dishwasher.

    4. Kathenus*

      This may be unhelpful since you say you’ve looked at current Corelle. A few years ago I was in the same place, had all white Corelle set for many years and bored with it. Found a square shaped flowered pattern that I liked and still have. To me the durability of Corelle was premium to me so even if the pattern I found wasn’t perfect I know that I would tend to chip other types so was willing to prioritize staying with the brand versus the perfect pattern. And just the change was enough to freshen things up for me. You may be on the other side, and want to prioritize finding just the right pattern. Not sure the extend of your Corelle search but a quick one for me showed more patterns than I knew existed in case it’s worth a second look.

      On your comment about stoneware – that’s what I have for my ‘good’ dish set. I do love them but definitely are think and heavy. I have a wrought iron stand that I use to store them so all in one footprint and now part of my decor – you can find some under cookware stands – if intersted.

      1. Llellayena*

        I’ve been obsessing over Corelle’s website so I think I’ve found everything currently available, unfortunately. And the avoidance of stoneware is that in my current studio apartment, there is absolutely no room to store something that will take at least 3 times the space of my current set. I do like the look of some of the stoneware though, sigh.

        1. Elspeth McGillicuddy*

          Have you tried looking for old sets? I searched for vintage corelle sets and got quite a few hits, though I haven’t the foggiest idea if any of them are your style. Some of them seem to be priced collectable high, but others are “nobody wanted grandma’s dishes” low.

    5. Hotdog not dog*

      Thrift stores are often awash in (full) sets of bone china….I picked up an elegant service for 12 plus serving pieces for $50. It’s a plain solid white with a subtle raised grapevine pattern on the rims. I’ve had it for about 2 years so far and it’s held up beautifully. It goes in the dishwasher and microwave. I’m not worried about breaking a piece since my cost was literally cents per piece.

    6. Chaordic One*

      My mother purchased a set of “Pfaltzgraff” stoneware on sale that she loves. They seem kind of heavy to me. One of sisters purchased a set of “Fiesta” dinnerware. They look like they’ll chip easily, but she seems happy with them and chipping hasn’t been a problem, at least not so far. I have 3 different sets of Corelle in different patterns that I mix and match. I might try to make the dinner plates all match if I’m having guests, but not always.

      Many of the more fancy sets of bone china have gold-painted trim that will come off if you put them in the dishwasher and you have to hand wash to prevent that from happening, so it makes them impracti al for everyday use. If you don’t mind losing the gold trim, then stick it in the dishwasher, but they’ll look old fairly soon.

      1. MissCoco*

        Pfaltzgraff was the stoneware on both sides of my family, I think each plate weighs approximately 3 lbs! We used to have to take multiple trips when setting the table for big meals as kids because they were too heavy to carry the whole stack of plates at once. That said, they certainly are durable!

      2. MissBliss*

        I own Fiesta dishes and don’t baby them, no chipping whatsoever. But they aren’t light weight.

    7. Wishing You Well*

      Avoid metallic decorations on dishes. They often aren’t microwave-safe and the design can flake off in the dishwasher. My all-white Corelle set has lasted decades. I’m keeping them because I can mix fancier dishware with all-white Corelle for great-looking table settings.

      1. Don’t put metal in the science oven*

        Second the “no to metal anything on dishes.” We had fancy china with gold edges. I put a bowl in the microwave and spark-city.

    8. NoLongerYoung*

      Alternatively, you “could” go with all white corelle and add table interest with cloth napkins, colorful tumblers etc. The condo for my mom has the tiniest cupboards in the world, so we moved her to corelle, and added re-usable cloth napkins, placemats in her favorite colors, and tumblers. The white corelle patterns don’t get dated as much (we expect her to be using these for the next umpteen years and then they will go to the next college apartment).

      1. Llellayena*

        I got my parent’s Corelle set when they upgraded to plain white Corelle. I don’t mind filling in with some plain white pieces, but I don’t want all white. I want something I can smile at when it’s just me eating lunch on the couch, no full place setting.

    9. PollyQ*

      You could check eBay or similar to see if there are any vintage Corelle sets that you like at a reasonable price.

    10. Elizabeth West*

      I won’t buy anything I can’t put in the microwave or dishwasher, with the exception of vintage Tupperware (I can’t afford new and it lasts for EVAH). I used to have Corelle, but I did break some of it and got sick of the pattern. In fact, I’ve had several sets of less-expensive dishes because I get tired of them.

      The only ones I’ve stuck with are vintage diner china, collected slowly from flea markets. This might be an option; it’s made to be heavy-duty and holds up well. You can get modern versions somewhere like the Webstaurant store online. They have quite a variety of dishes, among about a billion other things, and you don’t have to have a restaurant to order from them.

    11. Llellayena*

      To everyone saying to check for vintage Corelle, thank you! I found a pattern I love (Fusion Charcoal) and I’m just waiting on a response from the eBay seller on whether they have 12 plates in stock (selling in lots of 4 or 8, want to make sure they didn’t overlap). I will need to buy in 4 different transactions. I’m getting lunch plates from eBay (in 2 sets), and will get the rest in sets from 2 different sellers on Mercari. Not sure what I’ll do with the 12 black mugs that will come with the sets though, I’ve got too many mugs (that I like!) as is. Oh well!

    12. Belle*

      If you don’t want a pattern, I have found the Corelle dishes in plain white good. They go well with any style of decor, hold up well over time and is nice looking for holidays. I was able to buy them through Amazon. And they have matching server platter options too.

    13. Seeking Second Childhood*

      I wanted nothing I couldn’t put in a dishwasher. I bought plain flat white plates in a couple of sizes from Ocean State Job Lot, then got a variety of boels in blue&white from an Asian market that carries restaurant serving ware. Haven’t looked back, just plan to sub in simple stuff when things start to chip.

        1. Seeking Second Childhood*

          I went to close that link and noticed it has 2 designs. Ours is the one with only blue&white. Go dragons.

  23. MissGirl*

    I’m contemplating renting out a room in my basement and am curious about the ins and outs of a contract. I’ve almost always had roommates but that was usually a handshake agreement. When I bought my house, my friend moved in but I trusted her as we’d already lived together in a previous apartment. Now that it’s my own house, I’m much more leery about doing it this way.

    Luckily, I earn enough I don’t need the income but it would be nice. I barely use my basement. I’d limit it to single women. Any advice on how to navigate it with a stranger?

    1. Meh*

      Be super super picky. We rented out our basement (which was a self contained full apt with exterior entrance, thankfully) and a separate main house room. We let our bleeding hearts guide us and got burned twice (non payment mostly). If things about the application give you pause, don’t ignore them. Spotty work history, atrocious credit, messy personal life, etc.. This is a person you are going to share a space with. (I’m still discovering things that are missing from my home thanks to the last renter).

      If you’re sharing laundry/kitchen etc make sure your needs are aligned. Smoking habits, friends over, music, pets, etc. It could be a helpful exercise to write down all of your expectations and see if that would be onerous to a potential roommate. You can download rental agreements online, but research your local tenant laws and what you would be subject to.

    2. Choggy*

      Make sure, if you do rent, that your contract is rock solid so if you do have to evict them, there will be no issues. That being said, it might work best if you could ask your friends or relatives if they know anyone looking for a place to live, but someone who comes with good references. Additionally, I don’t think it’s a bad thing to get references (previous landlord, roommate, etc.) from anyone looking to live in your home. I don’t know how leases work, but you can probably set something up with an end date in sight just in case things aren’t what you expect them to be, or if you just don’t want to rent the space any longer.

    3. fposte*

      If you haven’t, I would check with a lawyer in your area first to make sure you understand your obligations and options.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        omg, yes. Make sure you understand landlord-tenant laws. Here in NY they definitely favor the tenant. This is because of crap that happened decades ago. However, once someone moves in with you it is a super long time to get them out if you want them to go. And the problems start with the sentence, “I trusted this person…”. Here in NY, some landlords have been over a year without any rent and there’s no end coming soon. I know of an instance where a tenant owes into 5 digits and the landlord is stuck.

        Our homes can be our refuge from the world outside. I’d think long and hard and do some research before bringing others into your home.

    4. Nicotena*

      Just a note if you’re posting this anywhere, at least according to craigslist, you can’t limit housing to single women, as that’s considered housing discrimination (INAL – maybe someone else can comment on this?). You can limit to women if you’re sharing a bathroom with them, I think? There must be a way to say “space for only one person” so maybe in effect that’s the same thing.

      1. fposte*

        Owner-occupied buildings with fewer than four units are exempt from much of the federal law about discrimination. There may be state law in play, which is a good reason for MissGirl to consult a lawyer.

      2. WellRed*

        I advertise for female roommates all the time because yes, we’re sharing a living space.

    5. Coco*

      It depends on how much you want to be involved? We have a rental property and hired a management company. They get 10% of the rent a month and they deal with advertising for tenants, vetting the tenants, collecting rent, dealing with any issues, etc.

      It works well for us but then we don’t live in the same building so don’t know how weird it would be if the tenant says to you ‘appliance isn’t working’ and the process of for you to say ‘call management company’.

    6. the cat's ass*

      I’ve been renting my in-law apartment to grad students at the local U for 12 years. Only got burned once because i ignored my gut. Fortunately the guy was asked to leave his program and of course left my home as well (and left it disgusting, he didn’t get his deposit back! ) I have a month to month rental contract, first, last and security deposit, parameters for behavior (no smoking, no candles, no pets, etc). You may not be able to say “single women only” in the ads, but you can certainly only interview them only! I use a housing search program attached to my local U which is TONS better than Craigslist, which brought me a lot of dodgy people who didn’t read the ad (eg, showed up with a beautiful giant dog who wanted to eat my cats-yes, no pets applies to everyone) or wanted to litigate the ad. Nolo press has a great book about rental/tenant law which i found profoundly helpful. I also run a credit check, and get personal and professional references. Good luck!

    7. Texan In Exile*

      I don’t know if this is a consideration for the room you want to rent or for where you are, but in Wisconsin, there are egress requirements for basement bedrooms. I don’t know what that means for renting a room in a basement, though, but I would be wary of renting a space that is not up to code.

      From WI code: “Basements, which include spaces used for sleeping, shall be provided with at least two exits. The two exits shall not be accessed by the same stairway or ramp and shall be located as far apart as practical. One exit shall be a stairway or ramp, which leads to grade, or a door located at the basement level, which leads to grade via an exterior stairs. The second exit may be via a stairway or ramp, which leads to the floor level above the basement or an egress window located in each bedroom.

      Sub. (6m) states that windows used for exiting purposes must be operable without the use of tools, and the net
      clear opening shall be at least 20″ x 24″, and a sill height of not more than 46 inches above the floor.”

      From someone selling egress windows:
      “There are many South Eastern Wisconsin homes that were built long before egress window requirements or that may have been built when the requirements differed from today. If you converted any room of your home into a bedroom (that doesn’t have an egress window) you are actually required to install one. Without one the building or remodeling project would never pass an inspection.”

      1. NoLongerYoung*

        yes on the egress. I used to be cavalier, but my mom’s prior basement -which is where I slept when visiting – had only the one wooden stairway and windows likely impossible to exit – between the size and the height. And every piece of furnace/hotwater heater equipment was there. Even if there is not a law (and I’d be surprised if there wasn’t), think of how you’d feel if something did happen. Same with Radon, and CO2 detectors.

        I am following as I have an (upstairs) guest room, and renting it would so help the retirement plan. But my introvert tendencies are fighting my frugality/ financial needs so hard! So I get it.

      2. Wishing You Well*

        Many states have an egress law. A relative had to install an egress window to allow another relative to live in the basement. Personally, unless the basement is a self-contained apartment with an outside door, I’d advise NOT renting. Could you tolerate a person in your kitchen and common areas every day? You’re also subject to all landlord laws including eviction. Know landlord laws ahead of time.
        If you proceed, put EVERYTHING in writing including house rules and have your renter sign it. Also, get a security deposit – no exceptions. Do credit and background checks. Don’t take in someone with a hard-luck story. It could mean they won’t pay rent once they’re in or the people who know them have decided not to help them, maybe for good reason.
        Best of Luck

  24. Let me be dark and twisty*

    Any advice for cleaning rust off oven racks? I did the dishwashing soap + dryer sheets trick and it got most off the rust off, except for around the joints.

      1. WellRed*

        It does work great but I was so relieved to use the last of mine this week because it stinks like mildew.

  25. NerdyKris*

    What should I do with a rescue that absolutely hates me even after a year? I adopted two kitties that came from a hoarder house in March 2020 to replace my previous babies. My previous ones were incredibly snuggly and passive right from the start. These two were not. One quickly warmed up to me and likes to snuggle, but her friend hides behind the couch all day long. I had a fort for her, but I had to take it away just to get her to come out and socialize. She stayed in it so much that she gained weight and now won’t or can’t groom her back. She has severely matted fur on her back that keeps growing.
    I have to find a groomer to come over and fix the matted hair, but it’s going to keep happening if she keeps hiding from me all the time. What can I do to make her like me? She accepts treats at 7PM exactly (her decision), at which time I can get a few quick brushes in. Rarely she comes up on the bed for snuggles. I can’t let her hide, because when I do I don’t see her for weeks at a time. I’m in a small two bedroom apartment.
    And is there any way to help an adult cat learn to groom herself?

    1. Sloan Kittering*

      Hmm. This might sound a bit weird, but perhaps the vet can get you antidepressants or anti-anxiety meds for the cat? After a year, this sounds a bit off to me. I’m assuming you’ve tried bribing her with wet food (they only get it on your lap, from a fork you’re holding) and playtime.

      1. NerdyKris*

        I can’t get close enough. Bribing doesn’t work. Toys don’t work, she just sits there terrified and runs if I get any closer. She has a distance she’ll stay from me, and will show her belly when doing that, so she’s sending mixed signals. I don’t know how the treat thing started, but she just started screaming until I give her treats at the same time every night, in the same location, and that’s the only time I can get close to her. If I don’t give her treats she attacks my ankles.

        The one time I locked her in a room to deal with some feces matted in her fur, she tried repeatedly to throw herself through the window pane while howling in terror.

        1. fposte*

          But she’s eating somehow, right? So maybe pill pockets with medication are a possibility?

        2. comityoferrors*

          That doesn’t sound like mixed signals to me, actually! If she has a distance she’ll stay from you, let her stay there and just chill out with her. Showing her belly is a good sign that she’s gaining some trust/comfort around you…at the distance she’s choosing. Approaching her when she does that is likely negatively reinforcing that trust – she’s saying “hey, we’re alright, I’m okay here” and then you’re getting up in her face.

          If she’s willing to lay near you sometimes, I highly recommend sitting on the floor with her at that distance and being completely engaged in something else (reading, your phone, knitting, whatever you want). Sit perpendicular to her so she’s in your periphery but not directly in your line of sight. Talk to her in a gentle and soothing voice every so often — i.e. “good girl”/”you’re ok” to help her associate your voice and tone with a calm, pleasant experience for her. You can try briefly making eye contact with her (if she’s looking at you already – don’t draw her attention to make eye contact, that will seem threatening) and doing the “slow blink”, then looking back to what you’re doing. I would sit with her for at least half an hour, then get up and leave without approaching her.

          If she comes closer to you during this, because she’s so skittish, I wouldn’t react much. Talk gently to her, maybe do a slow blink and look away if she’s looking at you curiously. If she approaches you, let her sniff around, maybe offer whatever you’re engaged with so she can sniff it and rub her head on it to mark it. If she seems calm (ears up, tail straight up or at a ~45 degree angle), slowly offer your hand to sniff and bump against if she wants to. If she rubs against you, try to pet the side of her face or her chin/chest. I’ve found that trying to pet the top of a skittish head’s cat makes them GTFO pretty quick, but a side or under approach seems safer to them.

          I also recommend giving her hiding spots again. She’s obviously distressed without being able to hide, and it sounds like the spots she’s hiding in now are difficult for you to access and check on her, so give her alternatives that are better for you. You can use covered cat beds, or a cardboard box with a door cut into it, or a cat tower with “rooms”, as long as you’re putting these somewhere that is relatively quiet and not directly in the open. If you’re able to, giving her places up high (large cat towers, shelves, even just some way to access the top of a bookcase or something) will likely make her feel more comfortable without having to ‘hide’ in the sense of not being visible to you. Give her at least a few options of places to feel safe and secure in every room where you want her hanging out. This should encourage her to move around more, too – if the only place she felt safe before was the fort, I’m not surprised that she never left it. Your house must feel incredibly exposed for her if she was previously in a hoarder house; she used to have so much stuff to hide in!

          It sounds like she is slowly warming up to you (demanding treats, showing her belly even if from a distance, and the nighttime cuddles thing is a really good sign!), so encourage that. But make sure you’re encouraging her in cat language, not people language. Cats interpret direct eye contact, direct approaches, sudden movements, etc. as threats, not as friendliness. The joke about how much cats love cat-haters has a grain of truth, in the sense that the “politest” way you can treat her in cat language is to straight-up ignore her for the most part. Obviously you want to work towards her enjoying your attention, but less is more, especially as you build the foundation of trust with her.

          1. Not So NewReader*

            I can vouch for sitting on the floor and just waiting. My husband did this with one rescue we brought home. It was months. Finally she came out and sniffed his sneaks.

            It took her about a year maybe longer to find the confidence to go in and out of all the rooms in our house. She spent months in the guest room. Finally she came out and went into the bathroom where she spent more months. Gradually, she decided to check out the house.

            It was more and longer time before she stopped hiding from company.
            There were reasons for her behavior. It’s not that her previous owner didn’t love her. The owner did and took good care. The other animals in the house were not kind, they were cruel. So she developed lots of fears.

            Your cat does NOT hate you. Your cat is scared to death of daily life. Just like a small child you will have to pour lots of love into this animal before you see much return on your investment. She is eating that is a wonderful sign, she’s decided to live. Hopefully she is eliminating waste, if not you might figure out what to feed her to help her bowels work correctly. Don’t forget, when bowels don’t work right, the thinking can get messed up. If you want her to sort life in a clearer way try to figure out what it takes for her organs to work correctly.

            The cat I was talking about earlier was a lot of work because her fear was that great. She was 2-3 years old when I got her so it took a while to undo all that negative stuff going on. It was probably a couple years before we saw real personality show. Once her personality blossomed she was something, boy. She was the cat who found the newspaper on the table. The headlines were about the WTC, so they were very large print. The cat was trying to push the letters off of the newspaper. She also tried to push the pattern around on the linoleum in the kitchen. She was full of stuff like this, but it took time to see it.

    2. Animal worker*

      It’s hard to describe really well in writing versus having a conversation on it, but one really helpful strategy for working with shy or fearful animals is to start where they are behaviorally and then let them set the pace for how quickly they are comfortable moving forward. It’s common and pretty normal for people to move at the pace we want and not the one the animal is comfortable with. In your description, an example might be taking the fort away to try and encourage socialization. I totally understand the impulse, but a goal that might work better is to work towards her coming out of the fort to socialize. In the former, her safe zone is taken away to try to compel the desired behavior. In the latter, she has her safe zone when desired/needed but hopefully you can work towards building her confidence to come out slowly over time. I’ll work on a second response with some ideas on step by step ways to help with this. I don’t know if this is possible, but if there’s a way for Alison to share my contact info I’m happy to also help work with you directly. I’ve worked with animals for over 30 years and working with shy/fearful ones is something I’m very passionate about.

      1. Animal worker*

        These are initial steps that I’ve used with shy cats in a rescue when I volunteered there, and which were shared with staff and volunteers to help give them more tools for working with they shyer animals.. Even though these are written for a shelter environment they are applicable at home too:

        Slow and Quiet – The first goal is to increase the cats’ comfortability in their environment with all staff/volunteers working with them being asked to move slowly and speak quietly to reduce startling or scaring the cats.

        Verbal Cues – Suggest adding the use of verbal cues such as “door” before opening/closing the door, “treat” when offering a treat (both to alert the cats before the action, but also to use as a future cue when the treats are placed out of direct sight of the cats), and more options to be discussed in the future for other needed activities such as “litter box” before cleaning/moving/removing the litter box, “bowl” before putting in or taking out a bowl, etc.

        Human Pez Dispenser – In order to begin changing the cats’ perception of humans, want to begin offering a high value food option to the cats, with no behavior required to earn it and no human presence while eating it to begin. Simply say “door” and open the door nearest the cat, say “treat” and place a high value food item near the cat (how close depends on the cat’s body language, but if possible near enough that they initially don’t need to get up to reach it if that doesn’t stress them too much), then say “door” and close the door and walk away. Let the cat eat the treat at their own pace. If you notice the treat is gone, this can be repeated. Ideally this step will happen throughout the day to use both repetition to build trust and confidence, but to be spread throughout the day so the animal is still motivated for the treat. The amount given should be relatively small, it’s better to have multiple small interactions than fewer with higher amounts of the food.

        One of the most important parts of the above is the part about NO BEHAVIOR being required of the cat to get the treats to start building the relationship. If they learn that you = free treats, they’ll slowly start to have a positive association with you. But if you = treats only if the cat has to do something they’re still scared of, it can have the opposite effect.

      2. Animal worker*

        Here are some additional techniques that might help

        Three techniques can be very beneficial when working with a nervous animal
        1. Food preference
        2. Limited window of opportunity
        3. Proximity training

        Food Preference
        • Finding out favorite foods helps find the most effective reinforcers
        • Offer different types of treats and see which they seem to eat most quickly
        • When possible, restrict these favored treats to be used only during training/socialization sessions

        Limited Window of Opportunity
        • Use the animal’s preferred food item(s)
        • Place in the enclosure, and move as far away as needed so that the animal is not nervous because of your presence (keep in mind this might be leaving the area completely)
        • Check after a certain amount of time (no more than 30 minutes recommended to start), if they haven’t taken the treat, remove it
        • The goal is to teach the animal that they have to act within a certain period of time, or lose the chance to eat that favored item
        • Once the animal consistently eats the food within 30 minutes, lessen the time to 20 minutes, 10 minutes, then 5 minutes
        • When they are consistently eating the food within about 5 minutes, proceed to the next step, which is proximity training

        Proximity Training
        • Once the animal understands the limited window of opportunity concept, and eats the preferred food within 5 minutes, begin approximating yourself closer and closer to the animal, including possibly hand feeding and possibly tactile
        • As with all training, start at a distance where the animal is comfortable
        • If the animal will not come over to eat in the 5 minute period with you there, remove the food and try again later
        • If they won’t come over consistently, you are too close, and should move further away so that they succeed
        • As always, let the animal dictate the pace of training!

        1. nekosan*

          Thank you! I hadn’t thought of limited window of opportunity. (I’ve been trying to make friends with a cat I pet sit for; it seems unlikely with the few times she sees me, but I try anyways. I’ve won her brother over, with treats!)

      3. Animal worker*

        One additional thing I forgot is play! Again it can be starting where she is, behaviorally – so things like tossing/rolling toys to her then leaving at first so she can play unobserved. Wand toys where you can be farther away might also grab her interest, she can react and play but stay separate where she’s comfortable. Some of the shy shelter cats didn’t take treats well but did respond to play and toys so another option to consider.

        1. Cookie D'oh*

          Definitely agree with playtime! I love Da Bird for a wand toy. Cat Dancer is fun too. It’s just a coiled wire with bits of cardboard at the end, but my cats love the way it bobs around.

    3. Pam*

      I have had a rescue or two over the years that never became friendly. Essentially, they were feral house cats. I could trap them if needed for health care/moving, but otherwise let them live out their lives.

    4. merope*

      I can’t speak to the behaviour aspect, but as for the grooming: I have seen a rescue that works with feral cats using an oversize toothbrush toy to pet the feral cats. This both gets the cats used to touch and keeps the carer at greater than arms’ length, thereby avoiding a painful smack from the cat. You can search “Giant Toothbrush” on Amazon for an example.

  26. Theater etiquette*

    I went to a musical a couple of years ago and saw an audience interaction that stuck with me and wondered should have happened instead.

    Matinee performance on the weekend. It was a nice theater in DC but I can’t remember the name.
    The musical was Beetlejuice
    The audience was slightly more than 50% full but no more than 65% I think.
    The three women involved were about the same age as far as I could tell

    I was sitting a few of rows behind a woman who was really into this performance. Far more than anyone else in the audience. Louder laughing, louder clapping, louder reactions. Maybe some calling out of ‘yes!!!’ and the like.

    A couple of women sitting closer to her (not in the same party/ we are all strangers) asked her to keep it down. She refused. After a while, they asked her again (she was getting more into the musical). By this time it was almost the end of the performance. She refused more vehemently. There was a quieter moment (applause was winding down and the performers moving onto another scene) when the loud clapper yelled something like ‘I paid for these tickets to watch this so f&@$? Off’.

    The two women backed off. I saw them complaining to an usher after the musical ended.

    Who was in the right? The loud clapper? The ones who wanted her quieter?

    Should they have talked to an usher sooner? Could an usher have done anything?

    I’ve not seen that kind of thing before even in a movie theater so no idea.

    1. WellRed*

      When participating in a public event one must be considerate if others and that depends on the type of event to an extent. I wouldn’t expect silence in a musical but it’s also not cool to be disruptive, which it sounds like this was. I loathe being in a movie theater and being near some one who talks at the movie.

    2. fposte*

      Loud lady was wrong; it’s rude to interfere with other people’s enjoyment of an event. I’d have complained to an usher earlier but also asked, given the theater wasn’t full, if it was possible to be reseated elsewhere.

    3. Let me be dark and twisty*

      My opinion (and from my experience ushering) – the ones who wanted her quiet were in the right. They should’ve spoken to an usher after the first time she refused to quiet down. The ushers usually have two options – they can reseat the people who are complaining to be further away from the noisemaker or they can eject the noisemaker from the theatre. Normally if someone’s going to be ejected, then the usher will get the house manager to do it.

      The noisemaker did pay for the tickets, but so did everyone else.

      (And also depending on how loud she was, she may have annoyed the actors. I’ve heard of an instance where an actor got so annoyed with a noisemaker that he told the stage manager, who told the house manager, who tracked that person down and kicked them out.)

    4. Dark Macadamia*

      If she was only making noise WITH the audience but at a louder volume, I’d say she was fine (probably annoying though) but if she was singing AT ALL, even quietly, she should’ve shut up. And it would’ve been nice to tone it down since everyone else ALSO paid to watch the show and it’s possible to experience enjoyment without broadcasting it.

      They should’ve told an usher sooner so she’d get an “official’ talking-to and they could keep an eye on her to be escorted out if needed – not much that can be done after the show unless they were hoping to get a refund, which is pretty crappy.

    5. RagingADHD*

      They should have either said something to the usher after her first refusal, or (more practically) gotten up and moved to different seats, since there was plenty of room.

      I agree with the other commenter that if Loud Woman wasn’t actually interrupting the songs or dialogue, but just having louder reactions at appropriate times, then she wasn’t really in the wrong to be more enthusiastic. If the theater had been more full, it’s possible her reactions wouldn’t have been so noticeable. If that’s the case, the shushers should have let it go instead of escalating. It sounds like she wouldn’t have been shouting out anything if they’d left it alone and just moved.

    6. Fellow Traveller*

      Often the ushers will re-seat patrons, so yeah, I think the patron should have asked the ushers to intervene sooner. The ushers are there to ensure the enjoyment of everyone and should be trained to handle things like this.
      Honestly, for me, part of seeing a live performance is experiencing the collective audience experience and I love when people react loudly and have a good time. I once when to a show where when the heroine shot the villain at the end, someone very loudly yelled “You go, girl!!” And it was the best. I do think standing up and obstructing another patron’s view would be crossing a line, as would negative or disrespectful behaviour towards the performers (like, say, heckling… unless it was a comedy show).

    7. lapgiraffe*

      Change a few details (Moulin Rouge, Boston) and I was the woman trying to get some loud, obnoxious people thrown out. I, sadly, didn’t see Beetlejuice, but I imagine it similarly wants the crowd to “get into it” to an extent, but the people at my show were blitzed. In an effort to make the place more like the actual Moulin Rouge or something you could buy full bottles of Champagne and they gave out real glassware, so the people to my immediate right were drunkenly dropping bottles and glassware, mid show, talking loudly, the whole 9.

      I complained to an usher at intermission, and I think they may have said something to the annoying people, but they took great offense and then were actually worse during the second act, two started making out and eventually they left before it was over by climbing up and over chairs, I kid you not.

      The worse part is that despite my complaining and despite it getting to a really ridiculous level, the theater management did NOTHING. I complained again at the end but they could care less. I think that there was a strategy on behalf of the theater (and maybe the producers?) to create this debauched atmosphere to get people to spend more money on concessions, or perhaps to distract from what was, I’m sorry, a truly terrible musical. The whole ordeal left such a bad taste in my mouth that I haven’t gone back to that theater despite there being shows I want to see.

    8. lemon meringue*

      I think that loud woman has also shown up at every musical I’ve ever gone to. When she truly lets herself go, she sings along to all the songs at top volume and reacts to the dramatic moments in the show as if they were real.

      1. anonymouse for this*

        Lol – and she’s also been at a few cinemas I’ve been to. I don’t understand yelling and clapping at a cinema screen – it’s not like the actors can hear them so what is the point.

  27. Bee Happy (they/them)*

    I’m currently looking to switch banks and while I’m shopping around, I have no idea what really to look for in a good bank. I’m pretty sure I want something with no monthly maintenance fee (right?) but interest percentages, loan policies, options for cash back…I don’t know how to compare. Does anyone have tips and/or a bank they recommend? I’m also open to looking at a credit union, but I don’t know how many of those I actually qualify to apply for an account at. I live in a city that’s kind of dominated by a couple multinational banks, but I’ve never actually heard anything good about either’s customer service, so I’m not really looking at them.

    1. fposte*

      You don’t need one bank to do everything for you. I use a local credit union for paycheck deposit but I don’t have any loans with them, and I use an online bank for higher interest savings. I’ve had CDs with half a dozen banks across the country. FWIW, especially if you’re talking home loans, the bank is highly likely to sell it on anyway.

    2. Elle Woods*

      With regard to credit unions, you might be surprised at how many you qualify to open accounts at. (I know I was.) Some simply require you live in a particular set of counties, have a relative that is a credit union member, work for an organization that belongs to the credit union, or live in a particular state. Membership is much less restrictive than it used to be.

      As far as what to look for, the biggest thing to keep in mind is how you bank. Do you prefer to do mobile banking or in-person banking? If you need in-person services, how convenient are their locations?

      With regard to accounts, one thing to keep in mind is account minimums. Many financial institutions now offer “free” accounts but you must maintain a daily minimum balance of a certain amount ($100, $500, $1000, etc.). Speaking from experience, I wound up creating a spreadsheet of things (fees, account minimums, interest percentages, locations, etc.) to compare everything. It really helped me narrow things down a bit. Good luck!

    3. tab*

      If you qualify for USAA, they will give you a free, interest earning checking account. They also have great deals on insurance too.

      1. Private*

        I do all my banking and insurance with USAA. Highly recommend. Very good customer service, all my atm fees are reimbursed, and it’s convenient to have everything in once place.

    4. Jackalope*

      I would totally recommend a credit union instead of a bank. When I was trying to switch from a bank to a credit union, I posted a question on Facebook about what my options were in my area, and then went with the one that the most people had had good experiences with. I also wanted to make sure it was big enough to be able to do some of the things that banks can do. But a CU is generally going to have fewer fees, be more customer-friendly, have better interest rates, etc. And in my area there are some that are only open to people with very specific jobs/veterans/etc., but most are open to anyone who lives in the area.

    5. NoLongerYoung*

      I did credit union… and kept my (W** F**) bank account because I was trying to keep my credit score decent while I got my first mortgage). As soon as I got that mortgage – not through WF, btw – I closed the account and kept the credit card (I autopay my cell phone with it and pay it off each month to keep the CC alive; it’s my oldest credit card).
      The credit union has been great. Their mobile app periodically can’t read some of the mobile deposit checks. But they have solid dual-factor authentication and the ATMs are convenient enough (and credit unions are on a big network of fee free if you learn their logo for it).
      The fees at the Big Bank were atrocious and insidious. I keep the minimum balances, but I got tired of the constant new ways they found to raise them.

      On savings – I do have the credit union high interest CD which is not the same as their savings account (regular) rate (and no high interest account is beating inflation right now). But do better – as fposte notes – checking out other resources for saving too.

      1. The Dude Abides*

        Re: shared branching, the Co-Op website has a search feature that will help you locate ATMs and branches in the network.

    6. Generic Name*

      Avoid keybank and Wells Fargo. Keybank is slow and has draconian policies, and Wells Fargo directly contributed to the Great Recession. They also screw over their customers. My husband has also had multiple problems with first bank. He will deposit a check and the funds won’t be available for days on end. I also highly recommend local credit unions.

      1. Observer*

        I think that at this point anyone who hasn’t been living under a rock should avoid Wells Fargo – I wouldn’t trust them for anything.

        Banco Popular is a bank I’ve had pretty bad experience with. I would not recommend them. Noting like Wells Fargo, but just things like making it hard to manage you accounts, tons of non-obvious fees, and unhelpful service people. Their site was also a major mess, but this was long enough ago that this could have changed.

        I’ve had good experience with Chase. Apple Bank, not bad. Bank of America seems reasonably good, from what I heard from some people who use them.

        But the others are right that you don’t have to have ONE bank for everything. Especially credit cards.

    7. *daha**

      I’ve been very happy with credit unions for many years. I have found there are plenty that are open to anyone who lives in their service area to join. One of the big issues for me is making sure I can go to ATMs to take out cash without paying a fee. In my part of Michigan most credit unions are part of a network that lets any member of the network use any of their ATMs. That means I don’t have to track locations of branches of my specific credit union. I did find that one very large credit union (Lake Michigan Credit Union) was not part of the network and it cost me money to use their ATM, and that’s a mistake I didn’t repeat.
      Probably any credit union you look at will have an app that lets you deposit checks from your phone plus all the other online transactions and transfers you like, so you won’t need to go into the actual branch of your credit union very often at all.
      They should all have their fee schedules posted online, so you should be able to compare costs without traveling around.

    8. Sparkles McFadden*

      I have always used credit unions. They are a lot more open to membership now so you can probably have no problem qualifying. The credit union I’m in is part of a co-op so I can use ATMs/branches of other credit unions.

      I also have accounts at TD Bank since it’s easier to find an ATM while traveling. (Not a bit issue in the last couple of years, of course). It’s the only bank that hasn’t annoyed me. No need to to put everything all in one place.

  28. ICanSee!*

    I’m concerned about my contact lens shipment getting stolen.

    When I ordered contacts in 2019, they were marked as “delivered” early in the morning, and I was freaking out all day because I couldn’t find them anywhere around the outside of my house. Then someone in plain clothes and an unmarked car dropped them off at my house in the evening. (So maybe they were delivered to the wrong house?)

    Same thing happened in 2020, except the contacts never showed up even after I waited a week. The contacts company had me confirm my address and they resent my order with a signature required. (The delivery person just left them on my front step without asking me to sign though.)

    Since they’re expensive and I can’t afford to pay for multiple orders of contacts, I’m scared that my order for this year will go missing or be mis-delivered, and then the company won’t want to send more because they did last year. Any suggestions? The only thing I can think of is sending them to my work place, but we get a ton of mail and packages because it’s a big company, so I don’t know that a tiny box of contacts wouldn’t get misplaced.

    1. Let me be dark and twisty*

      Could you rent a PO box or parcel locker at the post office just for delivering your contacts or other packages?

      1. ICanSee!*

        I looked up the prices at my local post office and unfortunately it’s really expensive to rent them. (I’m not totally sure if I’d need a small or medium size, but it’s $59 and $101 for each respectively. The contacts are $150 and I only order them once a year.)

        1. Callisto*

          I have a PO Box and pay $59 for the smallest one for a year. My postmaster told me that size is irrelevant; if something doesn’t fit they will just insert a postcard telling you to come to the desk for the item.

          1. HBJ*

            Yea, or if it’s small enough (based on the size of my contacts shipments, it absolutely will be), they’ll put it in a parcel locker and put the key in your box.

          2. ICanSee!*

            Good to know! I’m surprised they’d do that since it seems like everyone would get the smallest box once they found out.

            Weirdly, the contacts website charges an extra $8 when shipping to a PO Box. Seems like they wouldn’t have to do anything extra that they’d need to charge for, so that doesn’t make sense.

            1. Callisto*

              I use the actual post office street address and make the box number look like an apartment. This was also suggested by the postman, to get around places that refuse to deliver to a PO box. Per him, it’s nonsense because both FedEx and UPS are there constantly for subcontracted work.

              So, if you have PO Box 456:

              123 Main Street
              Unit 456
              My town, State 78901

    2. WellRed*

      Would it be worth the peace of mind to order and pick up locally, even if the contacts cost more?

      1. ICanSee!*

        I’d do that if it was like $20 more or something, but it’s a significant difference. If I get them from my eye doctor, it’s $237. Online they’re only $150.

    3. BRR*

      Can you ask the contact company to require a signature from the shipping company before this order is sent?

      1. NoLongerYoung*

        You would think so on the required signature – but my work laptop was left ON MY FRONT STEP – even though it was signature required. Fortunately, not stolen because they did stick it behind a hedge covering… but seriously? They were paid extra to get a signature!

        1. BRR*

          At least if they don’t get a signature the liability is probably on them? I was thinking of it mostly that the contact company could more easily seek the money back from the shipping company just in case.

        2. ICanSee!*

          That’s what happened when the contacts company reshipped my package with signature required! The only reason I knew it was delivered was because I heard something my front step.

    4. Pharmgirl*

      What carrier do they use? Can you have it sent to a FedEx or UPS store for pickup? We do this at my pharmacy for some patients.

      1. Choggy*

        Yes, this, perhaps you can request they be shipped to a secure location where you can then pick them up.

      2. Clisby*

        That would be my suggestion as well – here, both FedEx and UPS will hold packages for you. If they’re being sent by USPS, I’m not sure what to do, though. Not sure where you’re ordering contacts from, but I know some people can get them through Walmart – they might hold an order at the store.

      3. Reba*

        Yes, in fact a couple times this past year when I’ve had a package stolen–or misdelivered, I sure get enough of other people’s packages, I assume mine end up elsewhere–the seller replaced the order but insisted that it go to a shop where I could pick it up. I live within walking distance of several locations, so it’s not a huge burden to me.

      4. ICanSee!*

        The contacts company ships via USPS, so I looked into if they’ll hold packages for you. They will! I have a first class package I’m waiting on right now, and it seems like all you have to do is look up the tracking number, then go to the “delivery instructions” section, and request that it be held at your local post office. It’s free to do too! I’ll do that since it’s the least work and won’t cost anything. So cool!

        1. Seeking Second Childhood*

          Thanks for asking that — we had a delivery snafu recently and I’ll be doing that with critical items in the future.

    5. Cambridge Comma*

      Change to a different discount contact lens company or contact your current one and ask for their advice before you order.
      Where I live you can ship to a collection point (usually a local shop), is that a thing where you are?

  29. Retiring soonish*

    How do you retire?
    I mostly mean, what do you plan to do with yourself?
    But also, what is your financial plan in general – tips for SS, financial planners, medicare, etc

    1. fposte*

      This is a big subject! I recommend the “Preparing for retirement” page in the Bogleheads wiki as a starting point for the money side; I’ll put the link in followup.

      I loved a post on another forum by somebody who had a Big Four–four categories of activity that would allow him, at the end of the day, to say “This was a good day.” His categories were physical activity, learning a language, following a creative pursuit, and playing musical instruments, but I think the specific categories don’t matter so much as the idea of them. I therefore have a color-coded spreadsheet with categories, because I’m like that :-).

      1. Retiring soonish*

        Oh, I love the Big Four categories idea!
        And I will look at the Bogleheads wiki. Thanks

      2. Bethlam*

        I have a PPT document with something similar. My company created a 3 Strategies for Success plan, with a high level mission statement, then goals, Strategies and key tactics. The main 3 Strategies were then broken down into individual slides with 3 parts to each.

        I used their model and created my 3 Strategies for Retirement Success, wrote a mission statement, chose my 3 categories, and then developed specific paths for my idea of success. And it’s color coded of course!

        I found doing this reminds me of what I consider important and what I want to accomplish.

    2. NoLongerYoung*

      The WSJ retirement column is great, too, and the first place I heard that “it is not what you retire from, but what you retire to…”
      I love fposte’s point on the big 4. I hadn’t thought of it that way, but I probably have 4 (that differ, including friends/social/emotional; giving back; physical – which I’m combining as much as possible with the friends/social; and learning (which is suppose to be language and instrument, but at the moment is water colors and how not to fall off the elliptical while reading).
      For me – a key point is that you don’t switch the flip one day – you transition. I am trying to move from being completely work driven, to having some shared new hobbies (see, water colors/painting classes) and spending more time building up my friendships

      For hints on the financial plan – I wish I’d been able to start that when I was much younger. (won’t go into my story here, but it is grim). I have thus had to learn to live now on my post-retirement budget – I’m currently saving 45% of my take home pay on an after tax basis.
      * I’ve figured out where I need to move and put my plan in place (I will have to adjust in a few years – a couple early mistakes) on what I can afford – midwestern small town, etc.
      * I’ve been learning the early basics of retirement 101 through the educational material on Vanguard etc. (they have a calculator on both budget and anticipated income). I compare calculators but read only trusted sources.
      * On Medicare, I did get the medicare for dummies book (It’s pretty good) and marked the key dates on my calendar – I have to decide in the next x months if I’m going to stay on my work coverage or switch to Medicare.
      * On Social security – I figured out I personally must not draw on it until I’m 70 (longevity in family so I do much better letting it get that extra – which is a lifetime uptick). Which means I work in some capacity until then.
      * It also means I have reluctantly started exercising more again – not just to keep my weight down, but for flexibility, cardio, etc. (search for the recent article on why swimming is great). Good health / maintaining what you have is one thing many do not think of. I’m hunched from 12 hours a day at the keyboard and have cataracts from the screen time. It’s time to address my workaholic compulsions.

      Most of all – think about what you envision as a good / happy retirement. Where do you see yourself? How do you see yourself spending those days? with whom? And strive to start bringing those things into your life today. You don’t / won’t be able to flip a switch on the day you retire, and miraculously be that vision. You may need to work towards it the same way you did your career if you are like me (hopefully you are not). LOL. YMMV

      1. Retiring soonish*

        Thanks NoLongerYoung!
        I think the idea of transitioning is part of what I struggle with – thanks for putting words to that for me.
        I tend to have serial hobbies, I don’t stick with things for long. I learn them and then move on. So I think I struggle with how to get involved with something in preparation when I know I won’t be doing it for that long.

        I hate that work sort of defines me, or at least fills my day, and I think I secretly judge myself for not having a hobby or outside work activity that I can say is part of my identity. My spouse has a couple of things that are part of his identity and has some on the back burner he will pick up again when he has more time.

        1. NoLongerYoung*

          I struggle with this too – I dabble, don’t dive. So I call it “learning” and just try different things. I’ve discovered that what I do enjoy are those I do “with” people. So I have a friend I take painting lessons with, a friend I took a fabric collage class with (and I take it to her house to work on), etc. I was hoping to love quilting but need a lot more room to expand that, and enjoy the design more than the doing.

          I do the same thing with exercise. I am try friend dates (regularly walking the dogs together, mild hikes, hopefully water aerobics soon).

          And the same thing with cooking – I have a friend that I help with her native dishes (so I can learn them), and one friend who comes here and we bulk cook (and split) an existing and a new gourmet recipe from her repertoire at least once a month. I used to be an amazing cook, but lost interest in just doing it for me. More fun with someone, and I don’t get bored.

          Lots of ways to say it, but I just say “I am a continuous learner.” I know I get bored when I’ve mastered something, so I accept it and am still looking for something that holds my interest for longer than simple mastery.

    3. Girasol*

      On the non-financial side, I did things you’re not supposed to do and nothing bad happened. They say “Never retire from; always retire to!” But I was so burned out on a toxic job that I fled to retirement. Advisors say “You must have a retirement Purpose! Get a job! Start a business!” I was financially stable and just couldn’t dive back into the job market knowing it would mean even more age discrimination. But I volunteer. As a woman I still have “second shift” at home: housework, yard work, meal prep, and all. My aging father needed help too. I get the exercise that there was never time for when I worked, and explore opportunities and hobbies that I always wanted to do some day. That keeps me awfully busy and challenged and happy. I still scrabble to explain myself when people ask “But what do you do all day??” and when I tell them, they repeat, “Well, yes, but what do you DO?” as if anything that you don’t get paid for doesn’t count. I wonder if the advice is more of a fit for men of my dad’s generation who defined themselves by their jobs and were lost in retirement when all-golf-all-the-time began to wear thin. It doesn’t seem to fit as well for women and perhaps for modern men whose lives are more broadly defined. So perhaps you can take some of it with a grain of salt.

    4. Virginia Plain*

      From my parents’ example (I can’t give practical advice as we are in the uk and it’s all different so this is the fun stuff): do the things you didn’t have time for when you had to work, or more of the things you enjoyed doing. My parents travelled (to China, Australia, New Zealand, India, and more!), got a teeny house in France and spent about a third of the year there, went on lots of lovely walks, ate out, kept the house nice, looked after the garden, went to spend time with their grandbabies and went swimming and had ice creams after, saw friends and relatives for a meal or drinks (at home or out), bought cashmere jumpers or nice dresses…

    5. ronda*

      I felt kind of nervous for the 1st couple of months.
      Changing from work defining your schedule to doing whatever is a bit of an adjustment.
      So do expect the change to cause some feelings, but know you will likely get used to it in a few months.

      I am not very self motivated to accomplish things, but I do the following things currently and can always change it up if something is no longer working for me.

      water aerobics classes
      yoga classes
      tax aide volunteer preparing tax returns
      tour guide volunteer (if they ever get to re-open after covid)
      craft group in my apartment building
      going out to eat
      attend some local zoom presentations (they would have been live in past, do that when they come back) on environmental issues
      visit family for thanksgiving to New Years

      for financial:
      I have been reading many FIRE (financial independence/retire early) blogs. I like mr money mustache and livingafi. I like the way both of them write. mr money mustache also has an interesting forum if you like that kind of thing. (as does bogelhead if you like them better)
      but also, dont let perfect be the enemy of good enough. make good decisions, but dont worry about making perfect decisions.

    6. Texan In Exile*

      On the non-financial side (even though you didn’t ask :) ), I am preparing for a long life by trying to stay as strong as possible. Both my grandmothers lived to 97 and my great-aunt will turn 100 this year.

      My husband’s mother died at 76. When I met her, she was in her 60s and could barely get out of a chair by herself. She was an alcoholic (if I had been married to Mr T’s dad, I, too, would have drunk heavily, so I don’t blame her) who did not eat healthfully and didn’t exercise.

      I see her as my cautionary tale – when I don’t feel like exercising, I think of her. If I am going to live, inshallah, until my late 90s, I want to be as strong as possible. I try to do some kind of exercise every day, even if it’s just a 20 minute PopSugar or Fitness Blender workout.

  30. Nao*

    My partner and I work remotely and decided to move cross country aiming for mid Sept. We want to start from scratch so we’re thinking of renting a SUV to fit a few small boxes (clothing/books) and our 2 cats. Does anyone have advice or can share their experience with this same scenario? Especially with looking for rentals out of state?

    1. WellRed*

      I’ve never done it but I live in an area with an insane rental market. People get jobs or whatever and then can’t find housing, especially with pets, so make sure you lock that down ahead of time if that’s a concern.

    2. NoLongerYoung*

      You may want to rent a very short term (like month to month) in the new location initially. My SIL and bro moved to a (big city) where they knew no one, and found the first part of town they landed – based on budget – was not what they wanted…too much through traffic, not the stores/restaurant availability…. but it took over a month to figure it out.
      I won’t post on the move cross country, but yes – I did ship about 30 boxes (10 at a time, the limit for UPS at the time – rules may have changed) ahead to a friend, and then moved from one coast to the other in the smallest toyota (their version of the Yaris at the time). And then back again 2 years later. Same method.
      I weighed the cost of replacing those items in the boxes against the shipping cost. (I love, love my books and had some items it was cheaper to ship and hang onto as well – like my knife set. The LeCruset went in the car… LOL).

    3. Chaordic One*

      Prices of rental cars (and SUVs) have gotten insane. My sister inquired about a renting a car for a day while on a business trip and was quoted a price of $240 a day for a mid-sized car. (The car rental company considers a Toyota Corolla a mid-sized car.) You might consider renting one of the smallest rental trucks, like one with a 10-foot long cargo box or a small cargo van. The cabs are quite wide and the seats comfortable. You should have room to put cat carriers on the floor of the passenger compartment. No, it won’t be quite a comfortable as an SUV, but even with the worse gas mileage, it will probably cost less than renting an SUV.

      (There are those recent stories in the newspapers where tourists in Hawaii were renting U-Haul trucks to drive around because the prices of rental cars have become so high.)

    4. ronda*

      I drove cross country in march 2020 to move. I just brought what I could fit in my car (clothes / few personal items) and found a place when I arrived. I had already visited the area once before for a few days and thought I might like it. I can always move again after my lease is up if I find I was wrong about that!

      I had looked at the map and googled apartments beforehand, but didnt want to rent without seeing, so I stayed at hotel and picked a place to rent. I was able to get mattress delivered on day moving in, but living room furniture was 6 weeks for delivery. So…. maybe airbnb for a while until you find a place and have furnishing scheduled before moving into your place.

      I used amazon to buy all my kitchen stuff :). I also got a few things like pillow, sheets and towels at target.

      I dont know what kind of travelers your cats are, but I can imagine that might be a problem for them. look at dogs dont understand basic concepts like moving on hyperboleandahalf to see what I am imagining.

      getting rid of all the stuff before moving was a little stressful. I have joined the buy nothing group on Facebook in my new location and if your location has one, it might be a good place to give away any stuff you are trying to release before moving.

    5. Rara Avis*

      My husband and I moved cross country for a job when we got married. At the tail end of our honeymoon we flew to the new city to find an apartment, then went back home to pack and move. 5 years later we moved back and lived with his parents briefly while we looked for a place to rent.

  31. Lioness*

    Not sure how to word this but does anyone struggle with being too productive or wanting to be productive? I use a calendar and to-do lists and once I run out of errands or chores, I feel somewhat restless. My current hobbies are similar to crossing stuff off a list (reading, gaming) and curious if there other hobbies that work better with this way of being?

    1. Chilipepper Attitude*

      This speaks to me!
      I run out of things to do at work all the time and talking to the boss does not help.
      I also flit from hobby to hobby, once I sort of learn it, I move on because I feel restless.

      I don’t have an answer but I hope someone does!

    2. Qwerty*

      Crafting? I feel like there is always something to do or to learn. My family likes to paint wooden figurines, so there’s a lot of steps that are sometimes a bit physical (like sanding) to burn off energy. You can easily alternate between doing a fun step and doing something off your chore list so it breaks it up more. Plus you end up with an actual object at the end that you made, so you’ve got something tangible that you accomplished for the day.

    3. Person from the Resume*

      Sort of! I’d never call it too productive. But yesterday ended up as kind of a wasted day for me. I did the usual weekly and daily maintenance chores. I looked around and had a task I could do that wasn’t urgent and kind of complicated. (Clean off the kitchen table which has collected things that don’t have a place but several items in the table are to be donated or sold and that is a big chore and I’ve never done either.) Because it is overwhelming I did nothing. Because these tasks don’t have a deadline they get pushed off.

      For me an external deadline (visitors coming) make it happen. Without it I am restless with a vague “I should be doing something but I’ll just read this book/watch the Olympics instead.”

      I do have an endless to read list. I love tracking books (through GoodReads) and adding books to the list, but sometimes I am just not in a reading mood.

    4. NoLongerYoung*

      Two directions this conversation can go – one is ideas for other things. Like “learning/taking classes” and new activities you can add.
      The other is – do you have an ability to just “be” and think deeply? It may be worthwhile to try yoga, meditation, journaling, as a way to learn to turn of the “do” and just unwind and be. I struggle with running from my thoughts and fears/anxiety, and learned from the earliest age to always be productive (even my hobbies had “something to show for them” and did not “really” bring me joy other than accomplishment).
      It’s been a transition to figure out how to let go and just sit quietly in a chair or on a beach – and deal with my deeper thoughts. I am very early in this journey, so others may have more ideas on how to get that past that first hurdle of “must do, if I sit – (amorphous anxiety) will come…”
      But it was enlightening to me to realize that I simply was being the energizer bunny, to the point where I’d push until midnight and drop exhausted into bed, simply so I wouldn’t have to / need to think too deeply.

    5. Dr.KMnO4*

      Maybe some sort of needlework? Knitting, crocheting, cross-stitch, and needlepoint all have a product you are making (which might satisfy your desire to be productive) and can give you the satisfaction of crossing something off a list (rows, sections, etc.). Also, with knitting and crocheting, even if you don’t want to make things for yourself you can always make them for your friends, or make things for charity.

    6. Anima*

      I recommend sewing. If you reach yourself or start off with a book and/or YouTube, you’ll not going to be good at the beginning (well, except you have extreme talent). But if you keep on track, you *will* get better. Sewing clothes is super easy to break into to-do lists like “learn how to do french seams today” and later “make closures on this skirt, hem the thing tomorrow”. It fits well with a planned and organized lifestyle (it fits for me at least, and I consider me fairly good a planning).

  32. Victoria, Please*

    Ideas on birthday gifts for a one-year old grandchild, since the gift is much more a message to the parents at this point? Frustratingly, what the parents want is not something my husband, whose actual grandchild it is, is interested in giving. (Yes, I’m calling this his problem, I am not investing more energy in figuring it out than posting on AAM!)

    1. fposte*

      Board books! Sturdy, but NBD if they get damaged, and they prompt engagement with parents.

      1. Squirrel Nutkin*

        Yes! Especially ones that have the little ones do things like the [i]Pat the Bunny[i] series or [i]The Monster at the End of This Book[i].

      2. Random Commenter*

        Seconding this! Goodnight Moon is a classic and Everywhere Babies, because you g children love looking at faces.

    2. Qwerty*

      I gave my nephew a donation to his college fund, a sweet card, and token gift for opening that was a bit sentimental (I think it was my favorite childhood movie and note about sharing my childhood friends with him). Nephew loved the large cardboard box I wrapped it in, his parents loved my note, overall success.

      1. NoLongerYoung*

        As someone who had a family member take the amazing gift I’d stretched to afford, and sell it at a yard sale… because said child “reached for and liked the disney princess version” at a store a few weeks later… I try not to get invested.
        If no college fund is set up yet, a savings bond (they are electronic) also works.
        Token gift. For kids that love unwrapping, I’ve even taken the token gift and wrapped it in multiple layers of boxes… (say 2 or 3 nested boxes, each one wrapped). Since it’s the unwrapping and not the gift that is the fun. (I don’t recommend gift bags, just because the fun is in the tearing here…)

    3. Mom of 3*

      Board book + cash for college.

      If cash is not an option, bubbles, duplos, little people playset, an outfit, any needed gear for upcoming seasons (Eg. Snow boots/pants). A ride on toy.

    4. I edit everything*

      Sandra Boynton board books. All of them. One-year-olds are plenty old enough to be read to. They are sweet and fun to read and have good rhymes and rhythms and all. I still remember some of them from when my pre-teen was little.
      “One hippo, all alone, calls another on the phone…”
      “A cow goes moo. A sheep goes baa. Three singing pigs go La la la!”
      “Red hat. Blue hat. Green hat. Oops!” (That poor turkey…)

    5. Slinky*

      A couple Christmas’s ago, I gave my cousin’s one-year-old a pair of cute stuffed toys, which she LOVED! A local store was selling baby-safe ones shaped like vegetables, so I bought an onion and an eggplant. She kept reaching for them instead of the more expensive presents! You kind of just never know what will hit with a kid, so I tend not to spend a lot at this stage. Board books, like others have suggested, are great for this age, as are stuffed animals.

    6. Janet Pinkerton*

      Oh I’d really like to know what the parents want that you husband isn’t interested in giving! You have piqued my curiosity.

      1. Generic Name*

        Same! I try to give my niece and nephew toys and stuff they can play with independently (both under 6), which I know my sister appreciates. My mom loves to give clothing, so I try to go in a different direction.

      2. Disco Janet*

        Same. Honestly, I always find it a bit rude when someone asks for a gift idea (if this is what happened), then decides they don’t like that gift and get something else. My in-laws have done this before, and it’s always for a sexist reason like “Oh, we know you said he’s getting into the play kitchen stuff, but we can’t buy him things for that – he’s a BOY.” So I hope your husband has an actual reason, OP.

        If baby is standing/close to walking, water tables or walls were a big hit with my kids as toddlers.

        1. Victoria, Please*

          My husband did not ask for gift ideas and then reject them, petite chou. This thing has, ah, been mentioned in passing multiple times. It’s a quite expensive set of wooden toys with “age appropriate educational play lesson plans.” He’s dug his heels in because he hates to be manipulated and he feels like his daughter has fallen for clever advertising and is now hinty hint hinting.

          I’m all for a very large box with some kitchen bowls and wooden spoons and things, myself, but he needs to lead on this.

          1. Aurora Leigh*

            Ooh, I think I know what you’re talking about and as a new mom myself I will say the advertising is very convincing lol.

            There are tons of less expensive wooden toys is they’re trying to avoid plastics. A ball pit is also great fun!

          2. Janet Pinkerton*

            Thank you for sharing! And I’m annoyed on someone’s behalf (not sure whose, honestly) that his daughter is hinting and not directly asking for the thing. That would be very frustrating to me. And plus it’s going to prove to be ineffective!

          3. Disco Janet*

            Okay, fair enough – glad to hear that wasn’t the scenario (though can we not with the petite chou? Thanks.)

            There are lots of great wooden toys out there that aren’t super expensive. Wooden play food, the rainbow toy I can’t remember the name of but you could Google – it’s a stacking/balancing thing, wooden fidget toys, the Haba discovery blocks, etc. I bet if you Google “wooden toys for baby” there are parenting and review websites with collections of the best ones. (My kids are 6 and 8, so I’m sure there’s some new ones out there I’m not aware of.)

          4. Observer*

            There are a lot of good toys that are developmentally appropriate and educational for children this age (The buzzwords for the parents) that kids actually like.

            One brand that my kids like is Meilissa and Doug. Not the cheapest, but they are genuinely good quality, so if you think there is going to be more than one, they can get handed down. And they don’t need lesson plans! That’s utterly eye rolling.

            Point your husband to their site and let him decide what he wants to do about it.

      1. mreasy*

        Yes to play food!! Any wooden Melissa & Doug toys are great – including the play food they make that velcros together and can be “cut” eith the included “knife.”

    7. Fellow Traveller*

      I always liked getting clothes for my babies. The like expensive stuff I would only buy secondhand. Hoodies or sweaters/ sweatshirts were always useful. But if one is going to go through the trouble of ignoring what the parents want, maybe they should run alternative gifts by said parents first. For me, if gifts come into the house that I don’t want, they will eventually end up in the trash or the donation pile sooner rather than later, even things from my parents.

      1. NoLongerYoung*

        yes, I had a friend who gifted her sig-other’s nieces “gorgeous” outfits from a high end, union square store. She saw them in the local second hand consignment store a few weeks later (I had recommended the second hand store as a place to find great used books). The overwhelmed mom of 2 under 2, did not want things that were difficult to get on, IMHO high maintenance, and she had strong color preferences.

        So I stay away from clothes. LOL. and any high end gift with expectations. My good intentions often don’t match the reality of their lives. I do – for the older ones now – take them with me for experiences. (Exploratorium, Monterey bay aquarium, etc) memories to keep, not things. And a gift card.

    8. Anona*

      Board books with diverse characters! Books are expensive and I always appreciated these (my kid is about to turn 3).

    9. Virginia Plain*

      A book. A lovely picture book that their parents can read to them and when they are older they can read themself.

    10. Victoria, Please*

      Thank you all for the ideas! If my husband asks me what I think, I’ll have some good suggestions for him.

    11. Pikachu*

      Rockabye Baby! cds. They take popular artists and turn their albums into lullabies. Shania Twain, Iron Maiden, Eminem, Fleetwood Mac… there is something for everyone that is far less obnoxious than EIEIO.

  33. Elle Woods*

    My father had his own construction business, which he ran from home, for 35 years. He retired a few years ago and sold off his equipment and supplies. The

    1. Elle Woods*

      (Oops. Hit the wrong button and published an incomplete comment. Sorry, Alison!)

      My FIL had his own construction business for 45 years. He retired a few years ago and sold off his equipment and supplies. As part of his company, he also had a large lot in an industrial park where he stored things. He sold that lot a couple of years ago to a neighboring business, who was kind enough to let him keep some stuff (a couple of semi-trailers) in it while he worked to get them cleaned out. You can probably see where this is going.

      It’s going on three (maybe four) years now since he sold the lot and the new owner is anxious to get everything my FIL had out of there so they can fully use the space. The problem? My FIL insists on bringing everything home and he & MIL don’t really have the room for it. FIL has paper records going all the way back to the first days of his business and will not part with them. It’s driving my MIL, hubby & his sister crazy because the house is becoming overrun with stuff that it’s hazardous. We’ve all tried pointing out IRS rules that say you only need to keep stuff for 7-10 years but FIL will not hear it. My hunch is that FIL has a strong emotional attachment to the records and can’t bear to part with them.

      Has anyone dealt with a situation like this before and, if so, what strategies worked or what advice do you have?

      1. fposte*

        Honestly? I’d consider a storage locker. FIL is, at least in this area, a hoarder, and he’s not going to be logicked out of it. Putting the stuff in a storage locker would at least solve the safety problem. Down the line it might be worth considering digitizing the stuff, but I suspect FIL will want to hang on to the actual paper “just in case,” so I wouldn’t embark on a project of that size without his serious buy-in.

        1. Qwerty*

          Digitizing the records could also be fun project for FIL ( I know many retired men who had trouble transitioning to retirement). If you can’t get him to fully get rid of the records, he could start by digitizing as a backup since paper is fragile, which will allow him to go through the sentimental process of remembering everything. Afterwards, he might be less attached to ALL of the records and might become open to reducing them – probably holding onto early years and milestone years rather than all 45yrs worth. Or possibly going through 45yrs of records will make him want to chuck it all out the window.

          1. Person from the Resume*

            A great idea. Once paperwork digitized it’s taking up no physical space so no one will carefully he continues to downsize it.

            1. Person from the Resume*

              And after digitizing for a while he may realize that at least some types of paperwork doesn’t need to be saved or digitized.

        2. WellRed*

          Yes to the storage locker. Digitizing would be great if he’s amenable but I suspect he won’t be.

        3. Elle Woods*

          We hadn’t thought of the storage locker suggestion. My hubby & SIL are going to call around today to see if there is a unit available near FIL’s house. In the short-term, that will be a good solution.

      2. NoLongerYoung*

        Just downsized mom, and had a hoarder husband (was not able to divest of his until he died).

        Time is one thing. If he just retired – and 3 years is not long – it’s hard to let go of what defined him (if that’s how he is seeing it). You may try to triage – “Let’s keep the tax returns but we don’t need the daily register receipts).” “If we put the tax returns themselves together here, we can look at them later (label well) and digitize those when we get back to them.” “We have enough room to keep one box per year/ how about keeping the returns – and your customer list (or whatever he thinks he needs”). For me, it was a negotiation – what about it did she want to keep? Memories of the hours of work she put into the ledgers and notes? Phone numbers and contact information (nearly everyone was dead, but… that’s not something I was going into)….
        He likely will feel like you are throwing away/ mimimizing his life. So give it time. Renting the storage unit and bringing a box a week to digitize may work. (I can’t count on mom to digitize any longer…). Mostly, she wants to use it to tell us stories – “remember when we managed this apartment complex and….” This can be about the need to prompt and remember.

        Also, storage units add up. (Hoarder deceased spouse almost financially broke us with this one). So if you can add a shed and get it to, say, those tax returns per year, it will pay for itself. Given that he may not ever let it all go.

        1. Elle Woods*

          I’m sorry about your spouse. What you’re describing about your mom sounds very similar to what my FIL is dealing with. I’m trying to be gentle with the whole situation because I imagine he is struggling with the end of his career and not seeing his business outlast him. I’m going to see if he’ll allow me to help him sort through things with him and digitize some of them.

      3. Girasol*

        Would it make him feel good to donate some to organizations that might appreciate it? Maybe to Habitat for Humanity or a school shop class or some such?

        1. Elle Woods*

          He did donate a lot of his tools and various odds & ends to organizations that could use them; doing that gave him great joy. Almost everything that’s left is boxes of paperwork (general ledgers, financial statements, cancelled checks, tax returns, etc.).

  34. First Time Cat Guardian*

    Has anyone had success with programmable automatic cat feeders? The reviews for all the ones online are mixed and the people at the pet stores near me are not knowledgeable about cats (plus they don’t stock them in the stores). My cat used to just graze all day so I could just fill the bowl once. But then I tried splitting up his food into two meals so I could try out a second cat food (thought he’d like some variety), which backfired because now he eats everything all at once and is hungry later. I’m going on quick vacation in a week so I’m worried about him getting hungry since the cat sitter is only coming over once a day (she’s willing to move in for the weekend but I really don’t want my mom having that much free time in my place and it would unnerve the cat)

    1. Pandemic Pumpernickel Princess*

      Yes! I love mine and it totally saved my sleep/relationship/having to get up pre-dawn to feed a yowling hungry cat. It’s an Arf Pets brand dry feeder that I got off Chewy. Haven’t had any problems so far, highly recommend!

    2. Flower necklace*

      I have a cheap one that opens up around midnight to give my cat a quick snack. I checked and Amazon doesn’t even sell it anymore, which is a shame because it’s been reliable for years – I don’t think I’ve even changed the battery. It’s not digital. It has a little dial on it (similar to a kitchen timer) that you set to count down to the time it’s supposed to open. He only needs it for one meal, so it works well for me.

    3. Dark Macadamia*

      We have an Arf Pets feeder that we use for breakfast so the cat doesn’t wake us and then reprogram for two meals when we’re gone overnight. It’s been great and the only problem that’s ever come up is if the power briefly goes out it will mess up the timing (but still feed him at appropriate intervals).

    4. Pool Lounger*

      We use WOPET Automatic Pet Feeder, $70 on Amazon. Has worked great for years. Has battery backup in case the power goes off. Our cats love it.

    5. RC Rascal*

      I had one to feed my diabetic kitty a lunch and a midnight snack. Aspen Pet brand from Amazon. He used to beat on it to try to get more food. I used to have to replace it every 18 months or so because he would break it.

    6. Purt’s Peas*

      I use a PetSafe feeder, it’s excellent. The first one I ordered had an issue with the conveyer but it was easy to exchange the feeder for a working one.

      I like the one I have because it dispenses 1/8c measures, and a lot of the other ones dispense only larger amounts—more than my cat should eat in a serving. It is a true lifesaver in the morning :)

    7. Pikachu*

      My cats are on different foods so I have two Petlibro ones from Amazon. I’ve had them for a month now and they’ve worked great. The portions are smaller than you would expect, so that took a few days to adjust, but overall I’m happy with them.

  35. Jackalope*

    Cat and critter people: a question about biting! As I’ve shared before, we got a pair of kittens in June, and for the most part things are going really well. Our 2 older cats have started to get used to them (and even show mild signs of interest in them), they are growing like weeds, and they are fun and affectionate and playful and all of the things you hope kittens would be. But my problem is that they’re…. mouthy. They will chase each other & jump & bite and claw all in fun, which is fine as long as they’re both okay with it. But sometimes they’ll extend it to us as well, and that’s NOT fine. For example, when they’re sitting on my lap purring and I’m petting them, sometimes they’ll nip my hand and then want to keep lying there purring. Or if I have to pick them up when they’re roughhousing, they’ll keep doing the biting and disemboweling scratching at my hand while I’m moving them (this is less of an issue because I’ve figured out a way to pick them up so they can’t reach me to bite or scratch [with my hand right behind their front paws], but sharing it as one of the times they do this).

    I have seen no indication that they’re doing this because they’re scared or angry, and they aren’t biting that hard (no broken skin, for example), so I know a lot of it is kitten rambunctiousness. Maybe it will generally go away when they get bigger, but… I want to discourage it, since they are carnivores with sharp teeth and a) it hurts a bit now, and b) it will hurt a lot more in the future if they don’t stop. I successfully taught one of my older cats to stop doing this by pushing him unceremoniously off my lap whenever he nipped, but I am looking for some other options too. Any suggestions?

    1. Animal worker*

      I have a very similar thing with my cat, a rescue I’ve had for two years. I can’t say I’ve eliminated the behavior yet, but if she does it gently I just say no softly, pull my hand/arm away briefly, then after a few seconds go back to what we were doing as long as she doesn’t repeat it. If she keeps doing it or does it harder, then I do a sharper no and stop interactions for a while. She’s my first cat, and I don’t yet understand why she does this since I try to not give her any reinforcement for it. But she’s mouthy/chewy on items in general as well so maybe it’s a personality thing? Luckily it does not appear at all aggressive, and she’s generally pretty easy with even the mouthing/biting, so I’m not overly worried about it but I do find it odd since I can’t figure out what is maintaining the behavior of her doing it to me.

      But a good rule of thumb for animals, especially young ones, is don’t allow them to do anything to you that you wouldn’t let them do when they get older/stronger. So definitely agree with your path to discourage it now.

    2. First Time Cat Guardian*

      Squeal or yelp when they bite you so they know that it hurts. They should start backing off the pressure so that its a painless nibble (or my cat just gently holds my finger in his mouth).

      For the nipping while petting – watch the tail. If it starts speeding up, that means a nip is coming because they are overstimulated and you can slow down or pause your pets until they settle a bit. Sometimes if my cat is a nip-y mood but still wants pets I put a toy mouse next to him so he can bite that while I pet him.

      1. Generic Name*

        This is what I’ve done with the kittens in my life. They learn boundaries of what is too rough based on your reaction. If you Yelp or put them down, they learn that if they want pets or snuggles they can’t nite or scratch. Also only play with them using toys and never your hand. A kitten attacking your hand is kind of cute and doesn’t hurt too much, but a full grown cat can cause serious injury, as you know.

      2. KristinaL*

        Also, if the kitty bites, getting up and leaving for at least a bit can give the cat the idea that you don’t like it.

      3. Nicki Name*

        Yes, cats understand “Ow!!!”. They’ll yelp if another cat is playing too rough and the other cat will understand to back off. It works the same if it comes from a human.

    3. Callisto*

      This is a normal part of their development, but you’re correct to reign it in. Especially before they get bigger/faster/sharper, as Animal worker mentions above.

      Pulling away never worked for me; they tend to latch on and thus you’re making the injury worse. We growl and hiss, which works great even though you feel stupid doing it at first. Practice by watching cougars on YouTube and imitating them. (Bonus: once you learn to do that deep throat rattle, you’re aces at clearing out gunk when you have a head cold.)

    4. Animal worker*

      Thanks for these other perspectives, I’m definitely going to keep them in mind with my girl. I have done more of the yelp thing if she actually bites down a bit as much out of surprise as anything. Never tried the hissing, I think I was afraid that it would escalate the situation. But since what I’m doing isn’t really stopping the behavior I might have to steal some of these strategies to try out.

    5. Sylvan*

      That’s normal for kittens. I wouldn’t really try punishing them; cats aren’t human and don’t understand human things like that. Try doing what adult cats do to teach their kittens about biting. Yelp or go “ow” and pull away as if they hurt you.

      1. Sylvan*

        Also, hissing is a threatened behavior, a “leave me alone” one. Some cats do hiss at kittens for biting or being aggressive. I know you don’t want to provoke them, but it might work?

    6. Purt’s Peas*

      I’ve only had adult cats, so can only speak to as they get older. IME the most important thing is paying attention to the cat, and stopping before they nip you, even if they’re purring.

  36. I edit everything*

    I asked last week about non-obvious things to do at/around Niagara Falls. We didn’t have time to get to Lockport, as someone recommended, but we did get up to Fort Niagara. I was pleasantly surprised by the whole experience. I expected the town to be more gaudy/touristy/cheesy than it was, and Niagara Falls State Park itself was very pleasant, even if the falls hadn’t been there. We could only wave at Canada, though. And the Falls themselves were awesome, in the true sense of the word.

    If you’ve ever thought of going and blown off the idea as cliche or whatever, go anyway. Do the Maid of the Mists (totally worth it). Take all the pictures. Be awestruck.

    1. Disco Janet*

      Glad you enjoyed it! I first visited Niagara Falls at age 12 and rolled my eyes the whole way there about driving 6 hours “to see bunch of falling water,” and I also ended up being completely mesmerized and awestruck. Was a very nice “I told you so” moment for my mother, haha

  37. Callisto*

    Is it a thing to hire a landscaper just to remove noxious plants, like the flora version of pest control?

    Our property is becoming overrun by poison ivy and everyone in our household is severely sensitive to it (my husband was even hospitalized once).

    I feel weird to call a service and outsource something so miserable, but it’s really getting out of control.

    1. RagingADHD*

      Yes, this is a thing. Just be sure you’re clear about what you want done. Some companies might not be interested, but they can probably give you a referral to someone who does it.

    2. Pennyworth*

      Doing miserable things for other people is a business opportunity! There will be someone who will happily take your money to clear your poison ivy.

      1. PollyQ*

        And it’ll be less miserable for them, since they’ll have experience and equipment. This is definitely a “throw money at it” problem.

    3. NoLongerYoung*

      Have done. I did the removal myself the first time, and wound up in the ER after 11+ hours of cutting and stomping down one long day to fill green waste and a huge trailer for the dump. So… much better to hire it for the future times. In my case, what I have growing in the back comes back regularly… so it’s an ongoing battle. (Not poison ivy, though)

      So just because you can do something, doesn’t mean you should….

    4. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      Look into goat rental – then you can get entertainment with your yard cleanup :)

    5. Pippa K*

      I once hired a small company that specialises in poison ivy removal. It was worth every penny. I’m extremely allergic and the risk of continuing to try to deal with it myself was too high. The expert came out with a small crew, pulled up poison ivy from more spots than I even knew existed, and gave me tips for avoiding it or remediating it in future. He even gave me a couple of pairs of elbow-length gloves to wear if I had to do yard work that might expose me. One of the ivy plants he removed weighed over 30 pounds – there can be a lot more there than you think. I’d absolutely hire someone to do this again!

    6. The Other Dawn*

      It’s most definitely a thing, and it’s money very well spent. Don’t try to get rid of stuff like that yourself. Landscapers have the tools and equipment to get it done right and often very quickly. You get sit back and watch the magic happen. (From the window. Don’t go and camp out in front of them…that would be weird for them. LOL)

      We hired a landscaper several years ago for the first time. I believe it was to have them demolish the weed-infested, overgrown flower garden. I felt so frivolous at the time, but it was SO worth it. We now have them mow the lawn so we don’t have spend the weekends (or my husband’s one day off a week) doing yardwork. Plus we’re getting older, I’ve had back surgery, my husband needs surgery, etc. We’ve since had them remove trees, fix a drainage problem, remove a big lilac bush and all the poison ivy under it, and rid the creek bank from weeds and replant grass there.

    7. Elf*

      100% hire for that – in my area there is organized day labor, which I’ve found very useful for finding odd-jobs people. I’ve had much worse luck with actual companies (much more expensive, less work done less carefully) so I make sure to pay/tip well, have water/food, etc. and try to get contact info if they did good work.

      I’m feeling incredibly lucky for yard work at the moment, because I found a local high school kid who is mowing my lawn and weeding my asparagus while I’m away for $20 (it’s a tiny lawn, I told him to tell me if it ever takes him more than an hour). $20 an hour is a fair wage and I’m happy to pay it but it would be way more than $20 a week for a landscaping company no matter how little work it is.

    8. WS*

      Yes, I had someone remove overgrown agapanthus from my back yard (that had been there since the original owners in the 1970s and spread everywhere) because I am contact allergic to it. It took about 2 days.

  38. Website building?*

    I’m looking into building a very simple website based around a hobby, say underwater basket weaving. I get a lot of questions on my process and so on, so I thought I’d just simplify life. The fanciest the site might get is a calendar on when I’ll be at local craft shows and a contact form.

    Does anyone have recommendations on good website builders? I don’t currently have the funds to outsource, so this is currently all on me. I want a custom url involved (at least down the line), and I don’t know how easy it is to incorporate that customization into the overall site. I have very minimal coding abilities, so I want this to be a pretty user friendly process. TIA!

    1. Texan In Exile*

      I like wix. My cousin, who has no coding or web design experience, took a template she and I had found there and, in just one weekend, made the whole site for her business. (She is an optometrist who owns her own practice.)

      She has her own domain name, which costs money (but wait for the half-off sales that wix has all the time!), but you can also have a free domain name that incorporates the word “wix” in there somewhere, if I remember correctly.

    2. RagingADHD*

      With a fairly minimal knowledge of basic HTML, I have found WordPress themes extremely easy to use. There are a ton of free ones, you can just pick one you like and all the prettification is built in. Then if you want something like a calendar widget, it’s a free plugin.

      The directions and tutorials are all quite straightforward, IME.

      I’m not sure what you mean about incorporating the custom URL into the whole site? Once you buy the domain name, you just install whatever platform you want onto it.

      1. sagewhiz*

        A huge shout-out for HostGator dot com. Through them you can register your domain name and for a pittance get the Baby plan, something like $18 a year I think? The customer service is truly outstanding. You call, you get a real live person in TX, who speaks English—meaning words we understand, not tech-talk.

        Then use Wix or WordPress—I’ve worked with both, and personally prefer WordPress. Both are WYSYG (what you see is what you get) and fairly easy to use. WordPress offers tons of free templates to choose from. Plan to go down the rabbit hole looking through them all. As a writer you can bet I’m not a techie, and I maintain most of my current site with no problem. Of course, everything has a bit of a learning curve.

        Figure out what you want to offer at your site, then write up everything in Word files, where you can draft, revise, till you’ve got it all right. Then just copy and paste into the web pages.

        Also, don’t plan to get it all done at once. And when it gets a bit frustrating, walk away. Much easier when you approach it as fun, not *work.*

    3. Callisto*

      Wix and Squarespace are the names I see recommended over and over.

      If you plan to ever expand and possibly offer sales online, they both have options for integrating Stripe/Apple Pay/etc.

    4. FD*

      I like Wix and have built several small websites with it.

      WordPress is decent but it’s better if you feel more comfortable with a bit of coding and customization–I think it’s not the most intuitive unless you’re just using an ‘out of the box’ template and sometimes updates break your plugins.

      1. Filosofickle*

        I agree, speaking as a former web designer.

        For most people, you have to be happy with the WP template 100% out of the box for it to be realistic. My last site was WP and it was a good solution but it took a fair bit of work and code knowledge to customize. While you don’t need technically need coding knowledge to build in WP, things can break or get weird and it’s hard to resolve those glitches if you can’t read the code. The great thing about WP is you pay for the template once, upfront, and then it’s yours forever. All you have to pay is for the hosting. WP templates are not all created equal, however. Some templates are awesome and some aren’t — look for reviews of the source.

        I’m no longer that patient, so my current site is in Wix. It’s a lot more user friendly and customization is a snap. You don’t have to know any code at all! Overall my site looks nicer and performs better — I really like the built-in mobile optimization. However, I dislike having to keep paying every year. That grates since as a former designer I feel like I should be able to do this without relying on a service! But I’m paying for convenience.

    5. Anima*

      Seconding WordPress. They have a plan were you can get your own URL, but it’s a bit expensive. It’s really easy to customize, so far I didn’t even have had to code, even though I could. I run my blog there.

      1. Elizabeth West*

        I pay $18 each annually on WordPress for a domain name for both my sites (my indie press and blog), but if you want to install plug-ins or sell anything directly through the site, they require you to upgrade to a Business plan.

        Their change to this policy forced me to move my short story collection from my book site to Amazon and charge more for it. I added stories to justify the price increase. I had Premium, but they removed the option to redirect from PayPal to a download page, which meant people ordering it would have to wait until I could get in my email and manually send them a PDF. To me, this is not acceptable customer service. I don’t sell enough to offset the cost of the Business plan. It pissed me off, but there was nothing else to do except move it.

        So keep that in mind if you plan to sell anything and you’re using WordPress. Other than that, it’s fine. My work portfolio is on Wix; I found that a better fit for a portfolio since it’s more customizable without me having to know a lot of HTML/CSS.

        1. RagingADHD*

          You’re talking about hosting. You can use WordPress to build your site with any host.

    6. RosyGlasses*

      I would avoid WordPress unless you know how to do regular security patch updates. Because they are open source, they are hacked often. Squarespace is a really good option if you have minimal coding skills. I haven’t used wix in years – it seemed more clunky in the design area back when I used it but not sure how it is now.

      1. RagingADHD*

        To be fair, running the update consists of seeing the notification icon and clicking “update.”

        1. RosyGlasses*

          Unless you use a quantity of plugins – sometimes those updates don’t really work as planned.

    7. mreasy*

      I have used Squarespace and found it very intuitive and easy. They will handle the domain for you as part of your account.

  39. Overeducated*

    What do you do to recharge from work when you need a break you’re not getting?

    I took a week of vacation from my year round M-F job around 4th of July, but my youngest child was miserably sick until meds kicked in properly on Friday afternoon, which meant I got very little sleep and didn’t really get to relax or do fun outdoor stuff during the day. I went back to work still exhausted and now I’m staring down the barrel of only the odd holiday weekend until Christmas (my spouse who teaches and my older kid’s school schedules don’t have any overlapping breaks until then). How do I make up for feeling like I “missed my chance” for this year? What kind of mini-breaks or changes to routine are most refreshing?

    1. CorgisAndCats*

      I have two young children and I feel this so much. I would say if time is a premium take a mini-break solo. It is great spending time with spouse and children but I find I can recharge much faster if I am alone. Often one or two nights without any kid or house needs is plenty for me to feel rested and recharged, especially if it’s local or only an hour-ish drive away. Pick a weekend and get some rest and relaxation!

      1. Dark Macadamia*

        +1 when I’ve been really burned out I’ve done a solo getaway, usually getting a massage or pedicure then staying in a hotel for the night. I bring snacks and a portable project/craft, then just hang out in the room, watch tv and sleep in as late as possible. Replace the massage with hiking or shopping or whatever activity you don’t get to enjoy on your own very often :)

    2. Disco Janet*

      Can you take a weekend away – like without the husband and kids? I was going through a major burnout period a couple years ago, and I booked a couple days at a favorite (not too expensive or far away) vacation spot and had some me time for a weekend. It was hugely refreshing to just think about myself for a few days. I was fortunate to be able to do this because my mom was nearby and could help out when my husband was at work, but if your spouse teaches I’m assuming they might be on summer vacation, and probably have weekends off.

    3. Llellayena*

      Take off a random Monday, no kids just you. It’s amazing how not having to go to work on Monday makes Tuesday much easier to face.

      1. twocents*

        Yes, I’ve really come to prefer Mondays off to Fridays. You get the added benefit that most people take Fridays off, so it can be a quieter day to wrap things up for the weekend.

  40. cat lover*

    It’s definitely do-able but you have to be stubborn because the cats will really bug you about going outside for a long time. Eventually they get used to it. It is worth the effort because indoor cats are healthier, have lower vet bills, live longer, and don’t kill the native birds, butterflies, and other creatures that need to live outside. Good luck and stick to your guns!

      1. Princess Deviant*

        Thank you! I think they will bug me but you’re right, it’s much better for them in the long run. :)

  41. Lady Bookmarm*

    Found out this past Monday I’m pregnant!! (Our 1st). That said, am 4w3d and am scheduled for an HCG blood test Monday. Neither of us want to get our hopes up bc of friends struggling with infertility and far more. I’m taking 25 mg B6 2x/d to hopefully stop ms in its tracks. We’re passing the time with movies, reading, etc. Any advice for the early months? I have no idea when to tell my parents either….

    1. Double A*

      Congratulations! My best advice is what worked for me; I view those early weeks as pretty tenuous and don’t get very attached/invested. If the pregnancy doesn’t stick, it’s because it’s not viable. I had a chemical pregnancy last summer, which I think of as basically a late period (if it weren’t for more sensitive tests, I probably wouldn’t have known I was pregnant). But I’m now nursing the baby I conceived a few cycles later!

      For me, understanding the biology of what’s happening in pregnancy and being pretty unsentimental about it is helpful. There’s an article on Axiom called, “Why pregnancy is a biological war between mother and baby” that is a fascinating overview of what’s happening during pregnancy that for me helps me be kind of detached from it in a way. That works for me; if this approach to pregnancy doesn’t sound helpful, then don’t google that.

      You just really have no control, so other than taking your prenatals, eating well, avoiding drinking etc. just keep living your life! Although I do recommend getting exercise before the morning sickness hits.

    2. Blackcat*

      “I have no idea when to tell my parents”
      My advice for the first trimester is to tell the people who would be supportive to you if you lost the pregnancy. That is NOT my parents, so they found out at 20 weeks.

      With each of my pregnancies, I have been hit hard with HG right at 5 weeks. I go from feeling “meh” to not being able to keep down fluids within just a day or two. There’s nothing you can do to prevent severe nausea–taking the B6 now might help with any nausea now, but it won’t prevent nausea from getting worse. I am pretty debilitated from weeks 5-14ish, but that’s atypical. It is normal to be quite fatigued through the first trimester, so working your schedule to sleep a lot (maybe doing more take out, relying on your partner to do more cleaning, etc).
      One thing to keep in mind is that everyone experiences pregnancy differently. I *hate* being pregnant. I’m super sick, then my joints hurt, my fetuses can dislocate my ribs (I’m hypermobile and petite and grow large babies). I know other people who LOVE being pregnant. Most are in the middle. Try not to compare what you’re experiencing to someone else.

      1. Disco Janet*

        Agreed! I did tell my parents right away, but knowing I would want their support if something did go wrong.

        And oh gosh, +1 to all the HG stuff, not comparing, and knowing it’s okay if pregnancy doesn’t feel like some magical, amazing experience.

    3. RagingADHD*


      When to tell entirely depends on your temperament and relationships. We called all the grandparents and siblings immediately as soon as I told my husband.

      I’d say that anyone whose support you’d want if you got bad news, share the good news with them right away.

    4. Hrodvitnir*

      Congratulations! No experience here, but Blackcat’s advice re: telling people sounds good to me.

    5. Pop*

      Early months: continue your routines as much as you can! Nine months is a loooooong time (nine days post partum here). I tried to stick to a lot of the normal things I do until I HAD to change for whatever reason. Weeks 8-15 were the worst for “morning” (all day) sickness, so before and after that window I just did as much as I could of my normal life. Save the reading, movies, etc for when you’re out of energy – most likely in a few weeks and then again into the third trimester. Good luck!

    6. Alexis Rosay*

      Congratulations! Crossing my fingers for you.

      I lost a pregnancy at 6 weeks after telling about 10 family members. Realized that was a mistake—They were overly supportive and I couldn’t deal with being asked for daily updates on the progress of the miscarriage (it’s a process that can take a surprisingly long time). YMMV. Next time I’m planning to wait until 12-14 weeks. I have friends who waited until 20 weeks.

      It’s good you’re taking vitamins, but even the most healthy habits can’t stop miscarriages, so it’s helpful to adopt the mindset that it’s mostly out of your control—and if something goes wrong, it’s not your fault.

  42. twocents*

    Exercise thread! Or any type of movement that you enjoy really; doesn’t have to be strictly what you think of as “exercise.” What have you been enjoying lately?

    I realized over this past week that I missed weight training — like feeling strong the way that you do with weights — but I don’t miss the hour-long round trip to go to the gym. I found that my old gym class has an at home version, so ordered some weights! The subscription also gives me access to other classes, so I’ve been having a lot of fun with getting back into weight training and then moving my body however I feel like on the other days (eg step or dance). It’s really lifted my spirits and helped ease some of the stress that I’ve been feeling lately.

    1. Stunt Apple Breeder*

      I have done yoga off and on since I was a teenager. I’m trying to build back my upper body strength so I can do inverted poses again as well as increase hip strength/flexibility. I took a hard tumble while running a few years ago and sprained several things simultaneously.

      I was rather pleased that I managed a pigeon pose the other day but am still struggling with chatauranga/half-staff even with blocks. I can, however, do a plank with no issues. Any other ‘easier’ pose suggestions to help me work into the half staff would be welcome!

      1. Chilipepper Attitude*

        Go from plank down to chatauranga with yoga bolsters or folded blankets under you. You can just come down till just above the bolsters/blankets and “fall” on them if needed. This builds up your strength. Also practice pushing from on the belly up to the chatauranga position.

        This assumes that your yoga version of chatauranga and mine are the same. In my school of yoga (Iyengar), we push up to chatauranga (a position that is like you did a push up but stopped a few inches from the floor). I know there is also a flow chatauranga that is part of sun salutation. But we focus on the chatauranga part separately.

        Oh, and we curl the toes forward, just like a pushup, until that version is mastered, before pointing the toes.

        1. Stunt Apple Breeder*

          Thanks! I practice vinyasa styles primarily. The bolsters aren’t helping me, I end up collapsing down on them because of an unstable shoulder. I’ll try pushing from the floor up instead.

          1. Pikachu*

            I have a wonky shoulder too, and it really helped me to focus on getting my forearms perpendicular before lowering into chaturanga. I started trying to get the form by setting blocks the tall way behind my forearms and basically trying to lower into it without knocking them over. Might be something to try, if you aren’t already.

    2. The teapots are on fire*

      I’m sore from a Fitness Blender upper body workout, and today I went hiking in a nearby county park on a short trail with some good hills. It’s a little warm for me and I have to cover up in the sun, so next weekend I SWEAR I’lll go earlier when it’s cooler. Probably.

    3. Girasol*

      What with covid I’m avoiding the city bike trail, but I’ve found a lovely rural ride nearby with some quite challenging hills and pretty views.

    4. Dark Macadamia*

      My apartment’s pool reopened in June so I’ve started swimming in the evening sometimes and it’s so nice!

    5. pieforbreakfast*

      I started weight lifting classes taught by a neighbor and I’m loving it. It makes my paddling adventures less tiresome, too.

    6. The Dude Abides*

      I’m about to start week 5 of an 8-week running program designed to get me back into rugby refereeing shape (whenever that may be).

      Given everything else going on, I’ve enjoyed being able to spend 1-2 hours sweating buckets and getting my sprinting legs back.

    7. Nessun*

      Oh Lord how I miss lifting!!! My gym closed and there’s not one nearby. I’m looking at options but everything is far too far away. I like to lift heavy, so the exercises I do at home are to keep muscle memory and form correct, but I really want to heave the big plates up. Not sure when I’ll ever have the chance again. And I unfortunately have no space for the big stuff (not to mention if I drop 250+ lbs my downstairs neighbor might be ….pissed). Good on you for finding a way to do it at home!

      1. twocents*

        I feel you! It was fun to get to a point to deadlift 200 lbs, but I figure it’s more important to do something consistently that I can keep up than try to get keep at that level. Plus weights are really expensive, so just having a little something is more manageable!

    8. OyHiOh*

      Ice skating! Not figures or anything, just skating in circles. I loved skating as a child and when I went back to the rink a few weeks ago, discovered that the ankle I twisted about 6 times in high school is now outrageously weak and unstable. So it’s exercise/movement, but also physical therapy. Ever other lap or so, I hang on to the boards for 5 or 10 minutes and do balance ball exercises on my left ankle. It’s getting better but twenty years of neglect takes a while to work out!

      1. Lissajous*

        Oof, I hear you. I just started ballet again after 20yrs to build foot and calf strength back up and even with my regular squash and yoga and Pilates, there sure are some muscles that didn’t get used otherwise!

    9. mreasy*

      I’m not allowed to do anything vigorous for at least a month (healing from surgery) so I have been going on long walks – 60-90 minutes. I have been listening to an audiobook or music, and it enables me to discover new routes around my neighborhood and the larger area. I’ve already found a waterfront parklet I didn’t know about.

      1. twocents*

        That sounds really nice! It’s interesting what you can notice when you try to be present in the moment and explore the area.

    10. Angstrom*

      I’ve really missed social dance over the past year. Contra, ballroom, swing — all great ways to get your heart going and exercise your smile muscles. :-) I’m afraid it’ll be a long time before we’re comfortable again having friendly strangers in our arms.

      Right now, it’s a lot of bicycling and some hiking. Rode a couple of centuries this summer. Hiking hills with p9les can be a good full-body workout. Use them like an x-c ski pole to get full range of motion.

      1. allathian*

        Yup, Nordic walking (with our without hills) is a great cardio workout. It can be as effective as running, but it’s far easier on your joints.

  43. gelato*

    Fellow transmasculine people: any advice for finding men’s dress shirts that fit you across the shoulders?? Is there a narrow-shouldered oasis out there somewhere that I don’t know about? I’m tired of trying on one “narrow fit, extra small” shirt after another with no luck.

    1. The Dude Abides*

      Am a cishet male, but have worked clothing retail and have also had issues with dress shirts fitting.

      Have you gotten measured in the shoulders and arms? I will only shop for dress shirts that are listed by neck/arm length, as I need a larger neck size due to my broad shoulders.

    2. Unkempt Flatware*

      Have you tried Eshakti or similar services that custom make to your measurements?

  44. Epsilon Delta*

    Why is it that when I’m sitting on the couch an hour or two before bedtime watching TV or reading, I start to fall asleep (and if I let myself, I can stay asleep for hours this way), but as soon as I get up and go to bed, I lay awake and toss and turn for hours?

    I’ve tried going directly from the couch to the bed (skipping the bathroom etc) when I start nodding off, but still something about going to the bedroom or physically getting up seems to wake me up. Is there a solution?

    Also I’ll note that I don’t think this is related to how well I’m sleeping in general. Falling asleep on the couch isn’t correlated to my sleep quality the night before or anything like that, and I usually get 8-9 hours of sleep.

    1. Kathenus*

      Can’t answer your questions on why but total solidarity to you on all of this, I have the exact same experiences. Very frustrating.

    2. Generic Name*

      I like to read in bed before I go to sleep. It’s a good transitional activity from being up to falling asleep. I like to read fantasy novels or historical fiction. Anything that doesn’t make me think of my own or the world’s problems.

        1. Kathenus*

          Thanks for this, interesting read. I particularly liked this suggestion:

          Doing the “going to bed” routine an hour or more before actually going to bed usually works for me – brushing teeth, turning down the bed, opening or closing the window, dressing for bed, etc. The stage is set to sleep when you do drag your tired self to bed and there’s nothing you need to do that requires being alert or active, so you slip into sleep more quickly.

          1. WellRed*

            I recently set my phone for a wind down mode. About 45 mins before bedtime it chimes. By bedtime it’s in night mode, notifications silenced, screen dimmed. I do start bedtime routine.

      1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        yup – I read in bed for 20-45 minutes (or longer, depending on how interesting the book is :P ) before I actually put everything down and start trying to go to sleep.

    3. Might Be Spam*

      Same here. I’m feeling drowsy right now, and as soon as I put down my tablet and lay down, I will be alert.
      At night, I’ve been putting on a podcast that I already heard so I can fall asleep.

    4. Flower necklace*

      I listen to an audiobook to fall asleep. Not every day, but pretty often. Even when I wake up in the middle of the night, I put it back on. There are days when I think I can fall asleep without it but I can’t. I’ll lie awake for an hour and then fall asleep within a few minutes after I turn it on.

    5. Nicole76*

      Could it be that you need the sound from the TV to fall asleep? I learned that if I start an episode of a show I’ve watched before on my phone and set a timer for 25 minutes I always fall asleep before it ends. Giving my brain something to latch onto instead of lying there in the quiet stewing in my thoughts has prevented the tossing and turning for me.

      1. Epsilon Delta*

        Definitely not! I have always been fascinated by people who turn on their TVs/radios to fall asleep, because I normally need near-silence to fall asleep (except, apparently, when I actually want to watch TV lol).

        1. Flower necklace*

          Sometimes I wonder if it has to do with the fact that my dad read to me before bedtime as a child. And then, when I was too old for bedtime stories, I was scared of the dark. I’d go to bed early because it was easier for me to fall asleep when lights were on and my family was still awake.

          I’m not afraid of the dark anymore, of course, but maybe there’s a connection.

    6. ecnaseener*

      I’ve always assumed that it’s the act of getting up and moving to the bed that makes my body think we’re Up Now

      1. WellRed*

        I have the same problem when watching tv in bed. All I do is click the remote off and bam! Wakey wakey.

    7. Not So NewReader*

      My rule of thumb is that if I sleep in front of the tv, I should go to bed earlier.

      How’s your exercise doing? Do you take walks? This can be any number of things from exercise, food choices, eh, the smell of your laundry detergent. (Allergy to fragrances.)

      I started tackling my sleep issues by cutting out tv and food one hour before bed. I just sat and read. Oh, my things got better. You may actually need a plan to wind down each day. YMMV, of course.

      1. Lizzie*

        Ok here comes the wave idea of sleep. Think like a surfer. You want to catch your sleep wave. Miss it, and you will just have to wait for the next one. People have an ongoing ninety minute cycle of being more alert and less alert. Pay attention for a week in the evenings to see when you are less alert, sleepy even – that is when your ‘sleep wave’ is going past.

        Say you notice sleepiness happening at 830, watching tv and becoming quite drowsy. You think to yourself Oh, must go to bed, am sleepy. You feed the cat, get ready for bed, eventually get into bed at 9 and Oh No! You are awake! Not sleepy any more! Then you start to get anxious and think I was sleepy, but now I am in bed I am not sleepy, worry worry worry… But actually you just missed your sleep wave at 830 and your next sleep wave won’t be along until ten pm, and then 1130 etc.

        So – pay attention and spot when your own sleep wave goes past. If it is at 9pm, either be in bed ready to sleep by then or plan to be in bed ready to sleep for 1030pm. Or midnight. And if you have missed your wave, relax and think calm and pleasant thoughts while being assured that there will be another one!

    8. Dwight Schrute*

      For me it’s the act of getting up and moving that wakes me up. The same thing happens if I start to fall asleep in bed but then realize I need to use the restroom and get up to go

  45. HamlindigoBlue*

    Crafting thread! What is everyone working on?

    I’m working on a pair of socks for a test knit. I started using 9 inch circular needles for socks. I usually do magic loop, but I wanted to try these smaller needles. They definitely take some getting used to because they are tiny!

    I’m also working on a summer tank (Back to Basics Tank) using the Premier Chameleon yarn that goes from white to pink in the sun. I had to take a break from that one because the smell from the yarn was pretty overwhelming (it reminds me of bug spray). Hopefully, it will have aired out a bit once I pick it back up.

    1. Pandemic Pumpernickel Princess*

      That yarn sounds neat!
      I just picked up some fabrics for a baby quilt that I’m making. The recipients are the first of my close friends (AKA people I’d go to the effort of making a quilt for) to be expecting, and I’m so excited! I went for an animal theme with the fabrics, which are blue, green, and pink and have everything from giraffes to little hedgehogs on them. Hamlindigoblue, keep us posted how your socks and tank progress!

    2. Lizabeth*

      Making another set of masks out of fun fabrics. One of the ladies at my local quilt shop turned me onto a different pattern that is FABULOUS! Google “midnight baker mask” and you’ll get her YouTube video link. Super easy and they don’t fog up my glasses! It’s shaped enough that it isn’t sticking to your nose and mouth. I used a feature fabric (mostly Halloween) and muslin plus elastic.

      My other project is I “finally” figured out what coat pattern I bought some fabric for…couldn’t find my idea sheet on it to save my life. Looked through some old folders on the computer and found the photo, found the pattern company online and just got the pattern in mail. Now just have to refigure out how I was using the fabric….

      1. Slinky*

        I’m planning on making some more masks, too. I also volunteered to make a giant mask for a bronze bust at my workplace. I made a mock-up to make sure it would work first; I never had to make a 22″-long mask before! The mock-up looked great, so it’s time to make the final version.

    3. Dark Macadamia*

      I usually like to make my own embroidery designs but haven’t had the energy to get moving on the two I currently have planned, so I bought a pre-printed one (Zenbroidery Cubist). It’s twice as big as I was picturing despite having the dimensions clearly listed lol, but I’m having a lot of fun deciding which stitches to use as I go. I’m doing a kind of galaxy color scheme with blue/purple/pink and I think when it’s done I’ll make it into a little doll quilt since it’s not really something I intended to display.

      I’m also converting a free bookshelf off Craigslist into a wardrobe for my kids’ dress-up clothes! Basically just installing a closet rod and decorating a bit but I think it’ll be cute, and a huge improvement from the overstuffed dresser drawer (aka… the floor, mostly) they’re currently using.

    4. OyHiOh*

      I went out sketching this morning. Don’t love the piece but that’s not really the point (I dislike drawing, it’s a weak skill, therefore I do it on a regular schedule to grow the skill).

      My art smock currently has sawdust, paper machie dough, clay, and acrylic paint on it. I’ve been prepping and sanding a frame, painting it gold and building pieces for a 3D still life (the clay and paper machie).

    5. Lifelong student*

      I’m working on a flower square afghan. The center of the squares are roses. I made this one before and it was the only one of the over 100 afghans I made that I actually used in my own home. I generally give them all away. But a friend chose that one as the one her aged mother liked best- so I need to make another for myself. I use bits of leftover yarn from other projects and have roses of different colors.

    6. HannahS*

      I’m making maternity dresses! I cut apart and traced a stained knit swing/t-shirt dress. The first one is almost done. The fabric is blue with darker blue Greek key motifs, and the second dress will be a green/pink peony print.

      I’m planning to try out the Watson Bra pattern, too, and see if I can adapt it for nursing. I tried on a maternity bra and it was like a horrible flesh-coloured boob prison.

    7. Seeking Second Childhood*

      My hands have been bothering me since I did something to one during yard work a few weeks ago. So I put everything away except one crochet hook and cone of cotton. My tension is all off, so I frogged the potholder in progress, and I’m starting over.
      Boring but easy to put down & pick up to get my hand back.

  46. TV*

    I’m a long time single lady who is getting into the dating scene for, well, the first time ever and I’m not sure if this is normal or I just keep swiping right on the wrong guys.

    So, is it normal to not be that interested in some of the interests of a potential partner? I keep having convos with these guys who are like, I love sports and hiking, what sports do you like/where do you like to go hiking? So I tell them I am not really into either of those things but I am interested in going to a game sometime or maybe a long walk on a easy trail! You know, as a way to do something together. But it seems they only want to do things that are of total interest to them and they stop talking to me soon afterwards.

    I mean, I love musicals, true crime, yoga and barre but I guess my expectation is that my partner generally understand those things, maybe watch a few musicals with me or join me for a mini yoga session at home. Not like, have them come to barre class with me every week or join me for a live performance of whatever musical is in town if they would rather not.

    For what it is worth, my last ex and I had some common interests but it wasn’t a big deal that I didn’t want to play video games with him or if he didn’t want to watch trashy reality TV with me.

    1. Generic Name*

      Maybe swipe on guys who don’t list any outdoorsy activities at all? I agree that couples don’t have to have 100% overlap in their interests to be a successful match, but there needs to be a reasonable overlap of course. But it also sounds like the outdoorsy dudes are just self-centered if they can’t imagine a relationship with someone who won’t be their outdoor adventure buddy. There seem to be a ton of those types in my area. The guys who are perma-bachelors and expect a woman they date to be a male version of themselves, or they just don’t have time to go on dates because they’re so busy kayaking and ice climbing. It sounds like the dating process is working and these guys are self-selecting out.

      1. TV*

        I’m for sure getting the vibe from some of them they want to date a female version of themselves, haha!

    2. RagingADHD*

      It is completely normal to share a few interests with your partner, but not all. It’s also normal to throw out conversational feelers to try to find those areas of common interest.

      I’m not sure how online dating is these days, but maybe there’s something in their profiles where you can see if the guy is really looking specifically for someone to do x, y, or z with.

      The thing to remember is that the whole point of early conversations and dates is to weed out people you aren’t compatible with. So as long as you’re being realistic about your tastes and expectations (which it sounds like you are), having these guys self-select out is a sign of success. The process is working correctly.

    3. Bobina*

      Not sure what platform you’re using, but it might be worth making sure you have *your* interests listed, and also what you’ve written up here: “these are the things I like, but I dont expect you to care about them as much as I do – just like I wont care as much about your things as you do!”. Or a line I’ve used which was something along the lines of “you should be comfortable doing your own thing”

    4. Lotus*

      It seems like the issue here is that these guys only want you to do what they like, without any compromise the other way around, rather than the interests themselves. You have to find someone who isn’t so self absorbed.

      In my experience, this is a common pattern with men in straight relationships. They tend to push their own interests onto women, but refuse to learn about and sometimes look down on whatever the women are interested in.

      1. Lotus*

        Also want to add, while I don’t think partners need to share ALL interests, some partnerships won’t work out if you two prefer to lead fundamentally different lifestyles. Like, if you’re a homebody/primarily prefer indoor activity and he likes being outdoors all the time, then that might be a little too opposite.

    5. Dark Macadamia*

      This reminds me of a tumblr post I’ve come across a few times where the woman describes men on dating apps being really offended when she says she’s not interested in sports, in a way that suggests they think she HAS to like their thing, but then when she’s like “okay cool so will you watch Fashion Week with me because that’s my thing” and they’re like EW NO how dare you expect me to like your thing. I think it’s a very common gender socialization issue that there’s more expectation for women to be the Cool Girl who supports her male partner’s interests, but it doesn’t have to be reciprocated because girly stuff is icky.

      My husband and I have enough common interests to enjoy doing a variety of things together, but there is NO overlap in our hobbies. It’s never been a problem because even if we find each other’s activities sooooo boring we’re not disparaging about it.

      Different hobbies/interests are normal – what matters is your expectations about relationships and attitude toward each other’s interests. A dude who insists you have to go camping with him every summer, gets angry when you say you’re not into hiking, or tells you musicals are stupid isn’t going to be a good match for you, but someone who’s like “okay cool, so what DO you like to do on a sunny Saturday?” might be!

      1. Washi*

        Did you and your husband meet online? My mom and dad also have zero overlap of hobbies and are super happy together, but I have no idea what they would have talked about during the pre-meeting chatting that happens in online dating. I wonder if that chatting part tends to go better if you have some sort of interest/hobby in common to latch on to at first.

        (I have not online romantically dated but recently tried Bumble BFF, and funnily enough, ended up chatting A LOT about hiking on that app, maybe because it’s a common hobby in my area and is an easy topic of conversation.)

        1. Dark Macadamia*

          Nope, we got together by proximity/shared friend group in college. I don’t know if we would’ve been interested in each other’s early chatting topics online!

          1. Texan In Exile*

            Same! Mr T and I have almost no hobbies in common other than traveling and eating – he is deep into politics and volunteering on campaigns and I like to read and garden, but we met at our 20 year reunion and I thought he was hot.

    6. WellRed*

      I think it’s more likely they just didn’t click with you rather than being put off by your lack of interest in hiking (and really, everyone *says* they like hiking, I think just cause it makes them sound fit and outdoorsy). And just as many women don’t like sports as do. Guys know that. How many has this happened with? Have you gone on any dates yet? Are you not getting to a quick first meet over coffee/drink whatever?

    7. Callisto*

      My hot take: online dating commodifies relationships to the point that men treat it like a game, where they insert compliment/attention coins and receive a compliant woman to do their bidding in return.

      I did not find one single guy worth my time using OLD. My relationships have always come about through real-life interactions, usually through hobby groups or entertainment events (concerts, festivals, art shows).

      I know that’s easier said than done in our current reality, when public events are limited.

      1. TV*

        I’m trying OLD before I attempt something like a matchmaking service specifically due to lack of events to meet people at. With the Delta variant, it might be awhile.

      2. lapgiraffe*

        I totally agree with this, and I understand that in person meetups are not an option for a lot of people right now, but it doesn’t change the fact that the gamification is real! Kudos to anyone who’s had good luck with the apps or an online service, but I’ve actually drawn a hard line in the sand and don’t even dabble in them because it’s a flawed system from the word go. It also seems to make people so unhappy! My friends talk about it like a substance abuse problem or a toxic friend they need to break up with, they know it doesn’t make them feel good but they can’t walk away from it.

        When I was job hunting I kept telling friends “this feels terrible, like online dating,” and only months in did I realize that it’s not that job hunting is like online dating, its that online dating is like job hunting. You’re reduced to a resume with pictures, and no one reads the resume.

        1. allathian*

          Yeah. I guess I’m lucky in that I met my husband before dating apps like Tinder really took off. We were introduced to each other through my best friend’s husband and his coworker, who is a friend of my husband. I tried online dating before I met him, but quickly realized that wasn’t for me. I’m just not into casual dating at all. When I was single, I was so insecure that I felt really threatened by the idea of my potential dates going out with other people. I was exclusive before I’d even gone on a first date, and expected the same from my potential dates, so I never got even a first date.

    8. Leaf*

      Some people seem to place a high value on finding dates/partners who share their interests, love the same music, watch the same shows, etc. I never really cared for that. I personally like my partner and me to have some overlapping interests and introduce each other to the non-overlapping ones, occasionally joining in. IMO, it’s far more important to have shared values, goals, and lifestyle preferences than have shared interests.

      1. TV*

        Ok, this makes me feel a lot better. This is the way I thought it was! My sister and her husband have been together for 10 years and their hobbies overlap maybe 10-15%? They are on the same page with shared values and goals but he goes and bikes with his buddies and she makes crafts in her craft room.

        1. Leaf*

          This is how my husband and I are. Over time, we’ve discovered new shared interests and favorite TV shows, etc together. Sure, we sometimes have disagreements about how to spend our free time, but we resolve them. I just don’t see hobbies as a dealbreaker, and I firmly believe that things like conflict-resolution styles, expectations from the relationship, willingness to change/compromise, overall open-mindedness, and overall approach towards marriage, life, work, are more important considerations.

          FWIW, we met online! At that time, I didn’t want to get into a relationship unless it was “the” relationship (or at least had serious potential to be). Contrary to conventional wisdom (“Get OUT there. Meet LOTS of guys. Talk to everyone! You never know!”), what actually worked for me was being somewhat picky while talking with someone I matched with and deciding whether to go on a date with them or not. By the way, I recommend getting a drink or coffee on the first date, not a whole meal. I was also picky about deciding if I wanted to go on a second date. I went on very few third dates, and maybe only a couple of fourth dates. My barometer was “Am I excited to meet this person again? If I never saw this person again in my life, would I care?”

          1. allathian*

            Sounds familiar. My husband and I like a lot of the same music, both of us are into action, sci-fi, and crime movies and tv shows, for example. But I also like costume drama and he likes horror, which I can’t stand. Luckily we have enough interests in common that we can watch stuff together. I watch a few shows that he wouldn’t want to watch, though, mostly shows like “Say Yes to the Dress”. Neither of us likes more or less scripted competitive reality shows that are based on humiliating the contestants, like “Big Brother” or “Survivor”. We also avoid dating drama shows like “Ex on the Beach” and “Love Island”.

            My husband is a marathon runner and weight lifter, whereas I’m less fit than I should be, and my preferred exercise is walking and riding a bike, and tai chi. He’s very active and gets a lot of pleasure out of maintaining our cars, and I couldn’t care less about any of that. I play computer and mobile games, but he played so much in his teens that he doesn’t touch them now. Both of us are readers. Some books both of us read, but not all.

    9. MissGirl*

      I might be the female version of these guys. I hike twice a week, I ski every weekend in the winter, and my vacations are heavy on adventure. I’d have to have a crazy connection to date someone who wanted to spend their days at museums or concerts or gaming.

      My brother and his wife married young and grew into really different people. I don’t think they would’ve dated had they met five years later. On one hand they have a lot of fundamentals in common like where they live, how they raise their children, and religion and politics. On the other they have struggled and I’m not sure what their relationship will be when the kids are grown.

      I will tell you even though I’m super outdoorsy and get lots of messages, I can’t get a guy to go on a date with me. So there’s that too.

    10. Catherine*

      I don’t OLD anymore because I found similar interactions off-putting, and because men demanded a lot more one-sided emotional support early on than I was willing to invest before meeting.

      I will note that I don’t want a partner whose interests fully overlap with mine, and our chemistry would have to be supreme for me to stay with a partner who shared certain of my hobbies. Like, no thank you, this is my space and my refuge and you are not welcome to join me in doing it! We’re having an alone day! See you at dinnertime!

    11. mreasy*

      Guys who aren’t interested in finding something you have in common to do on a date are showing their true colors early on. (Also maybe it’s the true crime but I would be wary of going on a hike with someone I’d just met.)

    12. HannahS*

      It’s normal, but it’s also a preference or style or personality thing. Like you, I wanted a partner who respected my interests and would occasionally join me for the sake of togetherness. At the same time, though, it was important to me to be with someone who wanted to structure their daily life in the similar way that I did (i.e. kind of a homebody, don’t mind going out for low-key things on weeknights but not all the time, enjoying familiarity and routine).

      I don’t care if my husband wants to watch Star Trek, listen to music that I don’t like, or play sports for a few hours a week; I just do my own thing while he does that. I would care if he was itching to go camping and rock-climbing every weekend, because then it’s either a major time commitment for me on something that I don’t like or too much time spent apart.

      I think on the one hand, some people struggle to imagine a relationship where they aren’t perfectly mirrored by the other person, which is silly. On the other hand, some people structure their entire lives around their hobbies and it’s fair for them to want to be with someone who is similar. Most couples I know have a few activities that they enjoy together and many that they enjoy apart; I do also know a couple that LOVES rock-climbing and structures their leisure time around rock-climbing/camping/wilderness adventure.

      As as aside, online dating is hard! I went on a LOT of dates that didn’t go anywhere; the ratio of conversations you start/first dates you go on versus second dates you go on is totally different from in-person dating.

      1. Angstrom*

        I like Captain Awkward’s view of first dates: the sole purpose is to determine if you want a second date. If you walk away knowing you don’t, it was a successful date.

        Yes, a partner should be interested in your interests, even if he/she doesn’t share them. My wife has several art and craft hobbies. I don’t do any of them. But I enjoy seeing her work, I ask questions so I understand her work, and I try to help when she has problems with some of the equipment. Most importantly, I enjoy her enjoyment of what she does.

        Someone who’s really interested in getting to know you would be asking things like “What got you interested in X?” “How did you learn to do it?” “What do you enjoy about it?”, etc. They may not care about X, but they should care that you care about X.

        Someone who dismisses your interests as unimportant or “girl stuff” is not worth your time.

  47. Paper billing*

    This is probably a question for people in more rural areas: how long do you store paperwork caused by living in the boonies where everything is old-fashioned and on paper?

    My utilities and most of my medical providers all send paper bills in the mail, and expect paper checks sent back. (A few allow online CC payments, but they all have a whopping “convenience fee” I refuse to eat.) I am drowning in paperwork, with no idea how long is reasonable to retain it. Once the check is cleared? Once a calendar year passes? There aren’t clear guidelines, like with legal/tax paperwork.

    The current cluster*** that is the postal service has me thinking about this more seriously, in case I need to prove a payment was lost.

    1. The Dude Abides*

      What % is the convenience fee? From what I’ve seen, it often mirrors the transaction fees charged by banks and card processors.

    2. RagingADHD*

      I keep paid bills for one year, and ordinary bank statements until I file that years’ taxes.

      1. Person from the Resume*

        That takes time. It is a solution but firing up the computer and scanning and saving the scan would take me 5 minutes for a single document. Multiple pages longer. Time to do this would add up to hours in a year.

      2. Paper billing*

        This might be the push I need to invest in a scanner. My ink jet bites anyway, maybe a laser combo printer is worth the splurge.

        1. Bagpuss*

          You could take photos instead, if you don’t have a scanner – or keep stuff and scan once a week or once a month.
          For bills, would keeping it until the next bill arrives work? Presumably at that point it shows that you don’t have any arrears so with that and your bank statement showing the check you should be fine for most utilities etc.

        2. No Tribble At All*

          At the risk of recommending another pricy electronic, may smartphones have file scanner apps. Iphones have built in file scanners which save multi-page pdfs to folders, for example. You sometimes have to finagle the lighting and flatten out the letter, but I scan anything important like that.

    3. Burnt eggs*

      I keep for one year, then (when I lived in the farm) burnt the past years worth. One hanging folder for each regular bill, and a misc for the random, irregular ones so I could have at least the last bill and my account number.

      1. Texan In Exile*

        Almost same – hanging folders by category. In January, I move all the previous year’s bills to a folder called “last year” and the old “last year” bills go to the shredded bag in the basement. That bag will go to the annual shredding event at my library in Sept.

        I would go straight from previous year to shredding, but Mr T gets panicked at the certainty in that system, so I had to add an extra folder and an extra step.

        I prefer getting paper bills, btw, but we pay online.

    4. Llellayena*

      Does your bank have a digital bill pay option? Utilities don’t usually charge extra for that because it’s not a credit card. I get paper statements but pay through my bank’s online bill pay. In theory I’d keep about 3 years of statements (it’s usually more because I don’t clean it out all that often), but if I switched to digital statements I’m not sure I’d need to worry about saving them.

    5. WellRed*

      So, not sure why you need to keep utility statements for long. On the off chance you need to prove a payment, wouldn’t you just go your bank?

    6. Girasol*

      Lost payment: My bank offers two kinds of online bill pay. You can direct utility bills to the bank, have them cut a check automatically, and then review what happened in the monthly statement. Or you can have the bills sent to yourself and log into the bank website to request individual checks to be cut and sent. I do the second. So when the city sent a warning that I’d missed a big irrigation payment a whole year ago, it was easy to log into the bank website and see that the check had been cashed. The city wanted photocopy proof, so the bank sent a scan of both sides of the check that I had ordered them to send and the city had endorsed, and that settled the matter. That method still involves paper. Sometimes the postman left our box open and bills blew out so I never saw them. I tried having utilities bill the bank instead, but at the time the electronic billing from the electric company to the bank was still too new and unreliable, so I changed back. Either way there’s still a paper check sent via mail from the bank, but at least it never sits in a rural mailbox and the bank keeps better records of it than I ever did.

    7. Epsilon Delta*

      Ooh, I am not in the boonies but I do love my filing system and resist the online account statements for most things because I can find things in my system more easily! This is probably because I was raised by an accountant, so she kept everything very documented and orderly and I picked that up as my baseline.

      I have a file cabinet and each bill/utility/etc has a folder. I pay the bill, write on the bill the date and how I paid it (e.g. online, check number, etc) and then I file it. I keep the old ones until the folder gets too full, then shred anything over a year old. It’s really not necessary to keep them longer than a year (or a couple months even), unless it’s tax-related.

      In terms of proving that you paid something, if you have to mail a check, you can get checks that have a carbon copy behind them so you can reference the check number and date even after you send the actual check out (I think they are called “duplicate checks”). And if the company cashed your check, that will of course show up in your online banking or printed bank statement. As others noted, if you have online bill pay through your bank, that can be a good option.

      In terms of proving that a payment is lost, you might have difficulty with that if you have to rely on paper checks. I don’t know if there’s a way to do it other than using certified mail (an additional cost comparable to the convenience fees they charge online), and even then the company might not care when it was mailed, because to them it’s still late. I used to mail our mortgage check and in October 2020 the postal service took nearly two weeks to deliver it. The bank believed me that it was mailed on such and such date, but didn’t care. Fortunately it arrived the day before the late fee was to kick in.

      1. Person from the Resume*

        I don’t think paperless is all that great. Saves people other than me time. I have to remember to login to each website and look at my bill and pay. It’s faster for me to get my mail and tear open the envelope and see my bill. Delivery of the bill is even something of a prompt to pay instead of me remembering. (OK TBH; I’ve set reminder on my phone to pay bills monthly. I do not rely on my memory.)

    8. Not So NewReader*

      Once a check is cleared you have proof on your bank statement that you paid it.

      It took me a while, because I saw my parents save every shred of paper. Here’s the scoop- if you miss a payment the utility companies tell you about it IMMEDIATELY. You see it on your next bill, “hey you did not pay us!” I have watched this for 40years. Never once did a utility company say, “You did not pay the bill from January 1019.” I have not seen this EVER, I have watched for 40 years now. lol.

      Mortgage and real estate taxes work in a similar way. They tell you and nag you. However, I keep those because the consequences are more severe if I cannot prove something.

      I group everything by the year it happened. Because sorting bills is a PITA, I wait until January of the next year to clean out the previous year. I get rid of all utility bills- phone, lights, cable. These are companies who want their money and they want it NOW. This is an incredible chunk of paper, too. I do not save this from year to year.

      I keep anything that I reference on my 1040. This means I keep a bunch of medical stuff but I keep it in the file for the year I paid it.

      I keep credit card bills. Not to prove I paid them but as a reference for when I bought something or where I bought it. It’s amazing what you can piece together pouring over credit card bills.

      Each new year I get rid of the file from 8 years ago, this leaves me with 7 years of records. So each years file has income tax stuff, medical stuff, last year’s tax return, property tax paperwork, credit card records, and bank records.

      Vet records go in the pet file. When the pet passes, I get rid of all those records and start over with the new pet.
      Same with the oil burner records- the furnace has its own file because I will keep those records as long as I have the furnace. (Yes, I got a new furnace so out went the old records.) I handle car records in the same way.

      It’s a pain to set this up. But you will find your file system feels like it is “self-cleaning” as you have a method that you use for when it is time to destroy stuff.

      If you have not purchased a shredder please consider it. I live in rural America. I routinely see the trash flying of the back of the garbage truck. Just because we sent it to the dump does not mean that piece of paper stops existing. It just has a life that we no longer know about. Shredders are an important part of personal security.

    9. Observer*

      and expect paper checks sent back.

      Check with your bank, but you should be able to handle it this way. We’ve been using our bank to send payments for YEARS. Any vendor / bill recipient that they don’t have account information for get a paper check. But it creates a really nice record of what’s going on.

      Scan the bills, and also download your activity, preferably to a checkbook app, so that it’s easy to find. Also, most banks will let you see copies of checks that were cleared.

      1. My Brain Is Exploding*

        My sister! I do things the same way, except we don’t have an oil burner and aren’t rural!

  48. The Dread Pirate Roberts*

    Question for fans of reading!

    I was having a discussion with my husband the other day and he mentioned that he feels the genre Historical Fiction is self-indulgent wish-fulfillment for people who wished they lived in a different Era. He went on to say that he felt it was appropriation and insensitive.

    He used World War II fiction as a specific example of people who read about a real time in history that saw a lot of real suffering and death and that it was an insult to the people who lived and died in that time period to fictionalize their suffering and use it as entertainment.

    He argued that if you want to write or read about things that really happened, read nonfiction, and if you want to read made up things, read fantasy.

    Now, I read all sorts of books, including but not limited to historical fiction, nonfiction, and fantasy, and I happen to disagree that reading or writing fictionalized accounts of things that really happened is wrong or wish-fulfillment. But when he asked me to explain my viewpoint, I kind of… couldn’t think what to say? I tried the “it’s important to read this so we don’t forget” argument and also the “those who don’t study history are doomed to repeat it” adage with a side helping of “fiction is more popular than nonfiction and its important for these stories to be told,” but he wasn’t convinced. So now I’m wondering if I’m in the wrong! I don’t like to just assume I’m right and that my choices aren’t hurting other people, so I’d love to learn if I’m in the wrong here.

    So I would love to hear others’ opinions! Do you think historical fiction is insensitive? Why or why not? Thanks for discussing!

    1. Dark Macadamia*

      Nope, I think he’s ridiculous lol. The point of fiction, broadly, is empathy. It helps us process big ideas, define our values, immerse ourselves, and relate to others.

      Nonfiction can be really inaccessible for many reasons: it’s dry, it’s detail-oriented, it’s technical, it requires contextual knowledge and specific vocabulary, etc. There’s also a level of academic distance where like, sure you can recite the dates of all the important battles but do you have any sense of how it actually was?

      Historical fiction, because it immerses you in the time period at a personal level with characters you can relate to, creates a connection that you’re much less likely to receive from nonfiction, and that connection helps you gain a different perspective and understanding. It humanizes experiences that might otherwise feel too distant to seem meaningful.

      Both genres have value because they appeal to different types of readers and are written with different purposes (and I think calling it just “entertainment” is oversimplification, you don’t generally choose fiction to “learn” but that doesn’t necessarily make it trivial or “fun” either). I think it CAN be insensitive if it’s done poorly, like when a white author decides to Fix Racism by writing about slavery or whatever, but that doesn’t mean the genre as a whole is appropriative or disrespectful – and nonfiction can be super problematic too.

      1. WellRed*

        This is brilliant and the 3rd paragraph is exactly what you should tell your delusional hubs about the value of historical fiction.

    2. GoryDetails*

      I’m not sure this will convince your husband, but you could explain how many people are drawn into non-fiction history books after reading fiction about a particular time and place. I know this happens to me all the time; one rousing Regency romance drew me into books about the historical era, the fashion, the art, etc. WWII fiction led to non-fiction, including fabulous books about the code-breakers in the UK and the resistance teams in Europe and much more. Maybe if he considers historical fiction a gateway drug to non-fiction, he’ll grudgingly concede that it has a place?

      And if not, continue to read what you like and enjoy it!

    3. Lotus*

      I feel like I’ve seen this topic on this thread before.

      I don’t think historical fiction is any more appropriation than if someone wrote a fictional story about a current war or current event. The genre has been around for centuries.

      Of course, the topics should be handled sensitively as needed. White people should stay away from writing revisionist colonial or antebellum history for example (like Pocahontas).

    4. Myrin*

      I don’t think it’s insensitive so much as it can lead to a very distorted understanding/view/image of times past, either because the author themselves didn’t do a lot of research or because readers can’t differentiate between something that is in a book due to artistic freedom (e. g. because it furthers the plot and isn’t unbelievable, it’s just that an expert would recognise it as false) and something that’s there because that’s actually how [historical thing] was done. Just like with critical thinking or reading comprehension skills, young people especially should be made much more aware of this, but that they often aren’t is not the genre’s fault.

      Heck, I’m a trained medievalist and even I sometimes have a hard time deciding whether something in a movie or book set in the Middle Ages is actually realistic/likely/plausible, simply because if it’s not in my wider area of expertise, I’m still a lot influenced by popular representation/the general public’s idea of [thing] even though I often should know better.

      I can’t deny your husband’s claim that “Historical Fiction is self-indulgent wish-fulfillment for people who wished they lived in a different Era”, although I would replace “is” with “lends itself to be” because I don’t think one can speak in absolutes here.
      However, I do find it strange that he uses, of all things, the WWII era as an example for this. Maybe that’s because I’m German and there are just naturally a lot of very strong memories of that time around me in my daily life (heck, my grandpa is 90 and shares his memories of the war with me semi-regularly), but also because that time is so recent that I don’t think the “wish-fulfillment” angle holds up in that regard.
      (Nevermind that I would never think of a fictionalised account of 1942 as “Historical Fiction”. Like, I know it is but it’s also so present to me that it wouldn’t occur to me to lump it in with IDK Iny Lorentz’s books.)

      So I would generally say that I can understand where your husband is coming from but I disagree hard on historical fiction being appropriation (? Why?) or insensitive as a rule (it can be, but that’s the case for every genre), and I’m more in line with your thoughts.

      1. Lotus*

        Yeah I think being aware of the “fiction” part of historical fiction is important. Especially, being aware that the values espoused by characters in historical fiction will usually reflect modern values than actual values of the time.

      2. Elspeth McGillicuddy*

        I think Americans, naturally enough, have a very different view of WW2. It’s remembered in a lot of ways as a heroic time, as a chance to Smite Evil. There was a lot of moments that make really great stories too-Normandy, the Battle of the Bulge, plus totally awesome military technology like tanks and fighter planes. Also, our soldiers, when they went home, left all the destruction behind.

        Add in that America is such a younger country-we don’t have so many centuries of knights and Prussian military and all that to look back on When we want a legend, we have to look much closer. Even the Wild West was only about a century and a half ago.

        There definitely is a whole genre of fiction, a lot of books and a lot of war movies, set in WW2.

        1. fposte*

          I’d say, though, in fiction for young people there’s some really good work on the counternarratives to that–on the experience of Japanese Americans in internment camps, for instance, or Black soldiers in Europe. At least in writing for young readers American exceptionalism is very much diminished as a narrative.

          1. Elspeth McGillicuddy*

            Hmm, I’m actually of two minds about that. Because the bad parts are there-both the things we did straight up wrong, like the internment camps, the unavoidable ugly parts of any war, like dead young men on the beaches, and the controversial parts, like the nuclear bombs. It’s important that we remember that and learn from it, so that we do not make the same mistakes and so that we treat war with the weight it deserves.

            But I really do believe that defeating Hitler and Imperial Japan were worthy goals, and that there were extraordinary acts of courage in the doing of it that are worth honoring. That part is just as real as the bad, and just as important to remember. Because that part may, no, inevitably will need doing again. Not in my lifetime, pray God, and maybe not as bad as Hitler, also pray God. But there’s bound to be another evil man with a powerful army sooner or later. It’s important to remember that evil has to be fought sometimes.

            The currently popular “politically correct” (for lack of a better phrase) history is just so cynical sometimes. I get that it’s a reaction against prior idealism, but it is only half the story.

            And I must confess, I MUCH prefer to read a good hero story than one about the darker side of humanity.

            1. Calliope*

              I mean, a book about a teen in a Japanese interment camp probably does have a hero – the teen. Your story doesn’t only have to have the American establishment as heroes to have one.

              1. Calliope*

                (I also think you’d be hard pressed to find one that said defeating Hitler wasn’t a worthy goal.)

            2. Tali*

              The problem for me comes down to painting Nazi Germany and Imperial Japan as cartoon villains and the US/Allies as heroes. These narratives always focus on Normandy and Pearl Harbor and almost never focus on stories like Leningrad or Nanjing or Nagasaki or any other fronts of the “world” war. Do colonial subjects who fought for the Allies get to be heroes too?

              When we romanticize this war we ignore the boats of Jewish refugees turned away by the United States. We ignore the colonization of Okinawa that still continues to this day with tons of land taken up for US military bases that destroy the natural coral reefs and disrupt the lives of local citizens. We minimize the roles of other countries and don’t even teach or learn about what happened in Spain, in Italy, in the USSR, in Finland, in North Africa, in Korea, in Myanmar… these stories also need to be told and understood.

        2. The Dream Pirate Roberts*

          This is such a good point! Hubbie and I were both nodding and “hmm!”-ing reading your comment.

          I was actually just have a very similar discussion at work recently. One of my coworkers was saying that she doesn’t understand why people are still so fascinated with World War II, and I said that my pet theory is that World War II is one of the very few times in American history that white people can look back on and say, “We were heroes; we were on the side of good.” And to fposte’s point, from what I’ve seen, children’s literature has actually gone much further than adult literature to grapple with the truly immoral and horrific things that we as Americans did during the war, such as imprisoning Japanese Americans in internment camps.

          1. Not So NewReader*

            Enduring fascination: There were lots of moving parts to WWII and stuff is still coming out. There was just so much going on all at the same time. With all the horror comes a craving to see all the heroic efforts. Heroic stories add to the incredible amount of writings out there. And there is some comfort in reviewing a horror when we know how the horror ends.

            But there are enough of us alive that have parents/grandparents who served and what happened to them still shapes our lives. My father with the German surname. I believe he had difficulty getting a job after the war because of his surname. Lots of folks did. This had impact on my life growing up and it impacted the way my father acted towards employment. (“Get a job and CLING to it for dear life!!!” oh gosh.) This is only a small example- other people have much, much larger examples.

            Regarding the internment of Japanese Americans. I found a story in a Chicken Soup book about a family who took over the business of an interned family. They put the profit to one side and kept the business running. When the interned family was released, they came home to a fully functioning business and a nice bank account. Some people “got it” in the moment it was happening and they took what actions they could- these stories are so important. I love these stories because I like to think about how this could be applied relevant to today’s world.

            I do prefer non-fiction works. And I do tend to agree with your husband, OP, but I am more lackadaisical- eh, read it if you want but it’s not for me. I do not see it as serving one singular purpose. People are much more complex than that. Young Me needed to read about WWII because my parents would not talk about it. I had to find out what the Big Secret was. Older me read because I wanted to learn about how to triumph over adversity. Now? I don’t read it so much as there’s enough (too much) tragedy in the news.

      3. The Dream Pirate Roberts*

        It’s very enlightening to hear your perspective on WWII! My husband and I were both interested to hear that your grandpa lived through the war in Germany. We were both wondering: do you have a sense of whether he is offended or hurt by there being so much fiction written about WWII? Specifically, do you think he feels that his history has been turned into entertainment? (I by no means wish to turn your grandfather into The Spokesperson for WWII, so I apologize if this is insensitive to ask!)

        1. Myrin*

          Not insensitive at all, I just fear that I won’t be much help about this because I honestly don’t think that he has any opinion on that topic at all.

          He’s not a big reader (I’m honestly not sure if he is aware of “historical fiction set during WWII” as a sub-genre) and when he watches TV about the war, it’s always documentaries (we asked him a few years ago why he’s so borderline-obsessed with them sometimes and he said, to my complete bafflement, that he’s always on the lookout for people he knew back then; like, he’s not searching for a specific person or anything, just in general).

          He’s also a very pragmatic person and not particularly emotional (he is where I get the “emotional coldness” I sometimes talk about from) and just from that, I have a strong feeling that if I asked him if he feels like his history has been turned into entertainment he would answer something along the lines of (pardon me!) “What kind of rubbish question is that? What does that even mean?” because he generally doesn’t care about things like that. This has made me curious, though, and I think I will actually ask him about that!

          My grandma was very different from him and from what she’s said when she was still alive, she was able to read any such stories with interest but they would automatically evoke memories in her and it would follow her into her sleep and probably beyond that. That’s not because of the “entertainment” factor, though, but simply because someone detailing their life in 1942 would automatically lead to her thinking about her life in 1942, not in a traumatic way but just through that connection that is the shared year.

          I do have to caution, of course, that all four of my grandparents were still children/teenagers during the war – they certainly have a different perspective on it from someone who was an adult (and had subsequently already lived through WWI and experienced the political upheaval preceding the war which my grandparents have only the barest of recollection of) or even from older teenagers (both of my grandfathers were just young enough that they weren’t drafted anymore during the end months but the boys who were one or two years older were and they have very different stories to tell).

          So, that was a long comment with probably not that much substance but I hope you got something out of it anyway!

          1. The Dread Pirate Roberts*

            I definitely got a lot out of your comment! Thank you so much for taking the time to reply and to tell me about your grandparents. They sound like they would both be lovely to talk to, and I hope it you do ask your grandpa his thoughts that you have a great conversation! It had definitely been an enlightening conversation, and I think my husband and I both got a lot out of it. I hope you enjoyed it, too!

    5. PollyQ*

      You are right & he is wrong.

      Vast quantities of fiction are set in different eras than our current one, and there’s nothing “appropriative” (*massive eyeroll*) about that. Sure, some of it is escapist, inaccurate, wish-fulfillment, but you could just as easily as say that about a present day spy thriller. But much of it is well-written, nuanced story-telling that depicts & grapples with real-life history and its effects on the present. Lastly, who even would be hurt by your reading historical fiction? The actual 19th c. handsome Scotsmen?

    6. Person from the Resume*

      Historical fiction allows the reader to get into the head and mind of a fictional character. Any non-fiction will be drier because if the author is really dedicated to facts we won’t get the same exact quotes and internal feelings and emotion. More empathy.

      That said, I’m kind of creeped out by fictionalization of a real historical figure like for example The Personal Librarian which fictionalizes the life of a light skinned blank woman who passed for white likely in order to have career. She burned all her papers before her death in order that she wouldn’t be found out. It’s had to be heavily fictionalized. I’d prefer authors in this situation just write fiction influenced by the historical character’s life instead of using her name and exact situation because the author is making it all up.

    7. RagingADHD*

      I think your husband is entitled to read what he likes. And he should read a lot more of what he likes, like a LOT more, because then he wouldn’t be bored and meddle in things that are none of his business – like what other people like to read.

    8. Reads all the things*

      You’re right and he’s wrong. He’s reached a rather sad new level of lunacy and wokeness; and I question his actual understanding of appropriation.

    9. Asenath*

      If historical fiction is just “made up things”, so is all other forms of fiction, including fantasy. I’d like to see the fantasy novel that didn’t take something out of some real event or movement or belief system and make up things about it! I think there is nothing inappropriate about reading or writing anything about any place or time – well, OK, I personally don’t like graphically violent stuff that seems to glorify violent criminals, but my views on appropriate writing and reading are pretty broad, including stuff I personally never read or write. And readers read for different reasons. The entertainment value of a great tale with interesting characters is high, no matter where or when it is set. It shouldn’t be dismissed just because it’s fun. Fiction, again set in any era, often serves as a vehicle by which the reader can vicariously experience some place or some thing that they otherwise never could, and I think that’s a good thing. A good historical novel, moreover, can inspire the reader to learn more about the period or the person by reading non-fiction – that’s happened to me many times. In fact, I attribute my life-long fascination with history to the historical novels I read as a child. And a good novel is not necessarily wish-fulfillment for the reader – many a book gives a fascinating view into a person or lifestyle the reader might not even find attractive, but wishes to understand. Finally, there are many, many stories in World War II (or in any other period you care to name), and they can all be retold. I would argue that the stories of suffering are those that most need to be re-told for new generations, but I think even a stronger argument is that we learn through story, and story is probably the best way to convey the things that underlie the facts – the cultures and beliefs and ideas of the people the facts describe, which have changed so much.

    10. fposte*

      Historical fiction isn’t a monolith. There is definitely is historical fiction that is closer to historical romance, in the older non-relationship sense of romance as well as the current one; that can be disguised time travel, where our hero/heroine is happily anachronistic in their beliefs and is a leader for All That’s Good and Right in their era. But there is also historical fiction that is astonishingly vivid about the experience of living in a different time, and some of the best of it isn’t stories of Great Moments/People in History but what it was like for an ordinary person to experience a family drama or friend drama in a different place and time.

      I’d say he doesn’t have to like it; not everybody does. But the good stuff really isn’t what he describes.

    11. MissGirl*

      I read my great great great grandfather’s journal or tried too. It was a list of dates and places with very little stories. We are a people that learn through stories. I honestly appreciated his journals more after reading the historical fiction of the time. I think we need both.