weekend open thread – June 18-19, 2022

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: Counterfeit, by Kirstin Chen. Rules-follower Ava Wong gets swept up into her college friend’s luxury handbag counterfeit scheme. It’s both a crime caper and an exploration of race, stereotypes, friendship, and who we believe.

I make a commission if you use that Amazon link.

{ 964 comments… read them below }

  1. Bumblebeee*

    Has anyone managed to treat snoring and actually stop? I had my deviated septum fixed years ago and at the time my surgeon looked inside my nose and throat and said based on my features I shouldn’t be snoring. Yet I do. Loudly. Every night. I have seen lots of snoring treatments out there but feeling doubtful about if any of them are actually effective. Curious about other people’s experiences and what you tried and how you found it. Both success and unsuccessful stories welcome.

    1. Heck, darn, and other salty expressions*

      Have you had a sleep study done? You could have issues with the soft palate or your tongue falling back to far when you sleep.

      1. gsa*

        I agree. I have sleep apnea. It’s not a big deal, but you need a prescription and machine to fix it.

    2. RagingADHD*

      Seconding the sleep study. Snoring is a risk factor for apnea, and it isn’t something that necessarily shows up in a physical exam when you’re awake.

    3. PollyQ*

      My aunt had some surgical procedure done in her throat, and it made a big difference. My father and I both use a CPAP, and that’s solved the problem, although we do have to use the damn thing every night. And yes, agree with the rec of getting a sleep study done. If the cause is sleep apnea, then there are a bunch of associated health risks.

    4. Snoozing not schmoozing*

      My husband has been using a CPAP machine for several months since they no longer make the nose strips. He adjusted to it pretty quickly and not only has his snoring dramatically decreased, but the machine monitors how many good hours of sleep he gets each night.

    5. Asenath*

      Being checked out for sleep apnea might help. I did it at home with a CPAP machine equipped with a chip that recorded data; I didn’t have to sleep at a hospital or clinic. It revealed sleep apnea, and buying and using my own machine solved the snoring and other sleep problems.

      1. rr*

        You were able to do this without a sleep study? My understanding was that you had to have a diagnosis before buying a cpap machine. Not asking for medical advice, but I would appreciate any information you have (including the type of machine you used/use).

        1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

          Sleep studies can be done at home rather than in a hospital sleep lab – the hospital or doctor provides loaner equipment with a demo (which may be in person or video chat) on how to set it up, then downloads the information and interprets it and proceeds from there as appropriate. My husband did his sleep study this way during COVID because they were doing almost all sleep studies that way at the time for health/safety reasons, but it was an option in some cases even beforehand.

          1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

            (I assume that’s what Asenath is referring to by “I did it at home” any rate. I may be wrong, but to my knowledge, you are correct in that a diagnosis/prescription is required to purchase a CPAP as it is a medical device.)

        2. Asenath*

          The data was reviewed by a doctor, a specialist at a local hospital, who strongly recommended I use a machine, and specified the settings. There is, in fact, some kind of sleep study center at that hospital, but when I learned about the home option, I liked the idea better than that of going to the hospital overnight.
          I was fitted out with a Phillips Respironisc with full face mask for the test, and liked the setup well enough that I chose to get the same. There was a recall on that model later, but I had no problems with it. The fitting and the equipment all came from a respiratory technician employed by a medical equipment company specializing in breathing equipment. She also gave me a copy of all the reports, including the doctor’s recommendation. But the test was at home – I brought the rented equipment home, set it up and used it the way they showed me for the required period, and returned it, complete with all the data on the data chip.

        3. Asenath*

          I swear I typed out a long response on my tablet and it vanished! I’ll try again. I think it was a sleep study. I asked my family doctor about the possibility and she gave me information for a business that specialized in medical devices associated with breathing, and which also offered sleep apnea services. I went there, someone – I think a respiratory technician – interviewed me and went over some options. I rented a Philips Respironics device with a full face mask. That particular model is under recall now, but it wasn’t then and worked for me. It had a little removable computer chip. I took it home, set it up as instructed, slept with it on for the required period, and returned the equipment. The data from the chip was sent to a doctor at a local hospital. There is, in fact, a sleep study place there. I’ve gone past their office frequently, so I knew about that option but I didn’t particularly want to spend a night or more sleeping at the hospital. The doctor sent back his report and recommendations (I was given copies of all the data, including his report), and I guess that counted as the medical authorization to get my own device.). I felt better after using it (and no snoring), but really realized how much I needed it when I decided to spend a couple nights away from home without it. Now it goes with me everywhere, including when I travel.

        4. KoiFeeder*

          You can have at-home sleep studies! They tried to do one for me but I move too much and dislodged everything, so I had to go in.

      2. Rara Avis*

        My doctor does sleep studies with a wrist monitor (like a fit bit) attached to a finger clip oxygen monitor. You do it at home.

      3. ProducerNYC*

        My husband also got dx of sleep apnea with just an at-home sleep study. He didn’t believe me that his snoring was like fighter jets taking off every night. His sleep AND mine are so much better now, and it definitely saved our marriage (how do people live like that for decades? It takes about two nights of bad sleep to break me). Good luck!

    6. Filthy Vulgar Mercenary*

      I used to snore SO badly that I had a sleep study. I don’t have sleep apnea and had really mixed feelings about that.

      For me it was a combination of losing a little weight (I carry all my weight in my face and neck, so the extra weight was pressing on my throat), changing medication that was relaxing my throat/tongue and making me snore (I needed it to help me sleep but found a different combination plus therapy plus guided meditation to listen to before sleep plus sleeping with my dog), addressing my allergies, and sleeping on my side. It wasn’t any one thing but a critical mass combination of all those things.

      1. Danish*

        I write this comment from the depths of despair* hoping someone has a solution: ever since the ad format changed, I am lucky if I can read any of the comments. This only happens on my phone, and only on this site, but as I scroll through comments, if I accidentally open a reply then I cannot move past the comment box. If I try to keep scrolling I will be forcefully jumped back up to the open comment form after a few seconds.

        At first I thought maybe I was just fat thumbing it and accidentally hitting reply as I scrolled, but having done several experiments changing where on the screen I have my thumb, including just flicking the screen to let it scroll and removing my hands from my phone entirely, it will still yank me back up to the open comment box.

        *okay despair is too strong, but it’s DEEPLY aggravating and keeps me from being able to read the great commentary, which is sad!

        1. Danish*

          Well this was supposed to be it’s own top level. I assume I ended up nested because I GOT JUMPED TO AN ACCIDENTALLY OPENED COMMENT BOX. Cry. Illustrating my issue admirably.

          1. The Cosmic Avenger*

            Danish, I just tried AAM on my Samsung Galaxy S20 in Firefox and I didn’t have that issue, I was able to scroll back and forth past an open comment box, and also click “Cancel reply to comment” and have it disappear. Have you tried another browser? It’s been a while, but I used Dolphin Browser for a while back when phones were slower and I wanted a very basic, quick browser.

            1. Danish*

              Hmm, interesting! I am currently in Firefox on an s10+, though it was doing this is Chrome as well. I’ll see if downloading another browser helps. I’d say, maybe my phone is too old, but I have no idea why that would manifest in this way 8|a

              1. pancakes*

                Clear your cache in the browser. It can’t hurt and often seems to help with things like this.

              2. JSPA*

                DuckDuckGo. I figure I’m on my honor to look at the ads on my laptop (where they don’t make site usage impossible) to balance the ad suppression of DDG on my phone (which otherwise makes my phone freeze).

          1. Filthy Vulgar Mercenary*

            Thanks for recommending this. I have been having all kinds of functionality issues and they’re only on the AAM site on Safari. AdGuard doesn’t seem to be helping but I will find one that does.

            1. Filthy Vulgar Mercenary*

              Update: I got a free trial of the pro version of AdGuard and it works!

          2. The Cosmic Avenger*

            Then that’s probably what was happening to Danish, despite their having this issue in FF; I just remembered that I installed an ad blocking extension, one of the reasons I switched to FF on my phone.

            1. potato jacket*

              Firefox has a reading mode that might help, click the little icon in the address bar that looks like a document with horizontal lines on it.

      2. Pennyworth*

        My ex use to snore like a sleeping dragon, taking up tennis and losing some weight helped a lot.

    7. Christmas cookie*

      Echoing all the comments about a sleep study. My father was a lifelong snorer and life long heavy caffeine drinker. He got a CPAP at age 55 and said he never knew he could sleep so deeply. Snoring went away as did the caffeine habit. That was 10 years ago.

    8. Swisa*

      My husband’s snoring was “cured” by doing a sleep study and now sleeping with a CPAP.

      And the sleep study was in home. He just had to wear a monitor for a night or two. He didn’t have to go somewhere else to sleep.

    9. Seal*

      Another advocate for doing a sleep study. In my case, a new doctor took one look at my throat and soft palate and asked if I snored. Turns out I had severe sleep apnea, so he prescribed a CPAP machine. No more snoring and I wake up feeling rested for the first in many years.

    10. Academic Fibro Warrior*

      I’ve been after my husband for years to get a sleep study but he won’t….so no good advice on stopping completely. But. I got tired of smelling this yucky apartment and ordered an air purifier. My snoring (light and occasional) has stopped and his has lessened considerably. We’re both taking a lot less allergy medication. I also got a roomba because I cannot physically keep up with the cleaning on hardwood floors frequently enough to keep the dust and dirt under control. I run it in a room or two daily and that’s also helped air quality, so that we are stuffed up a lot less often and mouth breathing a lot less. Since partner can’t seem to remember to clean unless I schedule it for him and I start it, I had to find another way.

      It’s not 100 percent better but it is 90 percent better. One time I had an apartment that had a wet dirt floor in the air return and I got a home test thing that let me know how moldy the place was. It was a local place so can’t speak to general availability but it was cheap and good enough to determine good/bad/okay air quality. (It was very bad lol).

      A sleep study would be i think helpful too but it can’t hurt to work on air quality, too. In the home we don’t really notice because we’re used to it.

      1. olddog*

        What type of air purifier do you use? would welcome any recs for air purifiers that might reduce my (cat and pollen) allergies.

        1. Intellipure.com*

          Intellipure has a great rep, & I love mine. They filter much smaller than the COVID virus. Used by places like the Cleveland Clinic. Not cheap, and replacement filters aren’t either, but I’ve had one cold instead of four since getting one. My dentist has a unit in every treatment room, & says everyone’s allergies have been much better.

          Intellipure.com or via NaturTyme in Syracuse, NY (10% off on the 10th of the month; order over the phone for home delivery.)

    11. Be kind, rewind*

      There is also a mouth piece that can be used instead of the full blown CPAP. My husband has sleep apnea but didn’t quite need a CPAP. The mouth piece looks like a retainer that he wears at night. It definitely worked, but it pushes the jaw out a bit, and stopped using it after a while because it was uncomfortable. YMMV

    12. bratschegirl*

      Sleep study, and if you need CPAP, my hub has used one for years with the type of mask that basically looks like an overgrown oxygen cannula. Nothing over the mouth. Works great for him, and I got to stop sleeping with foam earplugs in every night as I had for decades to block out his snoring (and he’s now at hugely less risk for stroke etc.).

      Then again, my dad is a window-rattling snorer, had a sleep study, came out of it with a dx of no apnea. So this isn’t a slam dunk, but it’s the likeliest cause and needs to be ruled out.

    13. Wishing You Well*

      Please do a sleep study with your doctor. Untreated sleep apnea led to my dad’s diabetes and heart attack.
      I hope you don’t have apnea and I hope you get relief from snoring soon.

    14. Alexis Rosay*

      My husband used an app on his phone to record his snoring at night. It think it’s called SnoreLab and it helped immensely. The app would give him a score based on length & volume of snoring, and he would enter in factors that could be related, then look at how they correlate. He was able to identify the issues that most impacted his snoring and successfully address them. For him, the biggest impacts were from his weight and the amount of fast food (or any other very salty food) he ate on a given day. With weight, he doesn’t have to be super thin or anything to stop snoring, it’s really a 10-15 pound range where being at the bottom of the range correlates with light snoring and being near the top correlates with heavy snoring.

      The factors may not be the same for you, which is why the app is great to discover what could be impacting your snoring. I’d highly recommend it as something cheap and easy to try. Lots of folks are recommending sleep studies too, which is great! But this might be something to try first, and go with a sleep study if it doesn’t benefit you.

    15. FACS*

      My spouse snores like a polar bear. He is tall and lanky. Sleep study=apnea. He uses a mouthguard (does not need CPAP) and a new pillow and the difference is amazing. He feels so much better!

    16. kiki*

      I was able to go to my dentist and get a mandibular advancement device, basically a mouthguard that makes it so my lower jaw juts forward. It worked really well.

      CW: discussion of weight loss
      I actually don’t need to wear the mouthguard often anymore. My improved sleep resulted in weight loss that reduced the severity of my sleep apnea. I do some daily tongue, mouth, throat, and breathing exercises to keep it under control

    17. Filosofickle*

      Sleeping on a foam wedge solves about 80-90% of my snoring. It’s about 7″ at the highest side and it works best if I am pretty high on it so it’s not just my head/neck but my upper shoulders as well. I don’t sleep quite as well on it but it’s how I saved my ex’s sanity.

      I also tried the “smart nora” device, which is sound-activated and slightly inflates under your pillow when you’re snoring, but I never adjusted to it and it just woke me up all the time.

    18. A. D. Kay*

      If you decide to look into a CPAP, I suggest CPAP dot com. They have a telehealth option for diagnosing apnea: they will send you a home test, and a qualified medical professional reviews the results. I think then you can get your health insurance involved, etc. I would beware of any CPAP supply company that requires you to supply a credit card AND wants you to reorder hoses every three months.

    1. Doctors Whom*

      He has a text service that will text you an effin’ bird every day.

      They are absolutely the best part of my day. I love them so much!

    2. Elizabeth West*

      I love Effin Birds. I follow it and Swear Trek on Twitter and it just makes my day. I have a large collection of the EB posts to use as reaction shots, lol.

    3. Seal*

      I have the page a day calendar on my desk at the place we don’t talk about on weekends. Highly recommended.

  2. A la mode*

    How did you develop your sense of style? I’m moving to a new place that I can decorate (with paint, artwork, some new accessories), and I’m finding it surprisingly challenging to figure out what I’d like/where to start!

    1. Jean (just Jean)*

      My basic approach to home style is to work with my interests, preferences, and limitations. As devoted readers, Spouse and I built up a fairly large book collection ( 2 tall and 6 short IKEA bookcases). Our home’s small size meant almost no room for “just for visual effects” furniture, but I’ve indulged my fondness for bright colors. Over the years we’ve had a dusty pink loveseat (now gone to the Dumpster in the Sky), a maroon futon (couch), a claret-red armchair, and several bright red metal folding chairs which take up very little space when not being used.

      A couple of framed posters with dark-red mat board (found in a thrift shop), a pair of red vinyl-upholstered 1950s soda-fountain chairs (Craigslist), and a red-and-white-checked vinyl tablecloth extend the red colors from the living room to the dining room. We have several pieces of mid-century brown wood storage furniture or end tables (from my grandmother, the thrift store, and Craigslist). We also have white, metal, open shelves to hold/display groceries and serving dishes. Walls and carpeting are Landlord Beige–boring but inoffensive.

      The overall effect is quirky but comfortable. It’s not House Beautiful–or Apartment Therapy–but it makes me happy.

    2. Jean (just Jean)*

      Interesting question! I thought I posted a long reply. If it’s disappeared into cyberspace, I’ll re-type it tomorrow morning.

    3. LouAnn*

      I started with one or two pieces of furniture and artwork I loved, then replaced my college furniture, posters, etc., over time with new items that spoke to me.
      But you have a chance to start fresh. It’s exciting but has its own challenges. Think about what you like: sleek, cozy, neutral, colorful. Lots of stuff or uncluttered. (I have three things on my mantel; my sister has many. Both look good!) Look at inspirational sites and magazines. Notice what you like at your friends’ houses. Mix it up. Everything doesn’t have to match. Look at items you already own that you love. Why?
      Good luck. This is quite exciting!

      1. Sloanicota*

        I also find that it helps to start with one or two things you love! Suddenly you have direction! If you’re not sure, try a rug you really like that fits the space and go from there. I even pick a personal theme for my decorating (could be a color or a motif) so that I can narrow down my choices – otherwise I’m just overwhelmed by all the stuff that might look good.

    4. Peonies*

      I collect images I like and try to find patterns (I like blues and greens, for example.) Houzz and Pinterest are possible ways to do this online.

      I also take cues from my house. If it is an apartment or otherwise likely to be short term, that’s not as much of a focus for me, but if I am in a house I try to choose things that suit the house. So in my current house the furniture we purchased for this house, which is a new home, is more modern in feel than the things we had in our last house, which was built in the 1920s. We didn’t start from scratch, but for the pieces we needed, we leaned more modern,

      I also will look to favorite pieces of art. For example, I have a painting that is predominantly blue and yellow and it has been in a couple of my living rooms, so those rooms have had a lot of blue.

      1. Sloanicota*

        Yeah, I really like the farmhouse/shabby chic look, but my house is more formal and those items never look as good in it. A future house I’d lean into that look, but not here.

    5. river*

      A useful game to play to figure out your style: Find some magazines that feature a bunch of similar items on a page/spread, like various chairs, various sofas, etc. The rule is you have to pick one that you would theoretically live with. Even if you dislike them all you still gotta pick one. No thinking about practicality, you’re not actually buying it. Choose on instinct, within 30 seconds.
      After you’ve done this multiple times, you will know your taste a lot better. You start to see themes with your choices. You realise what you like, and also what you can’t stand. Once you understand your taste, then you can start actually looking for pieces to buy that fit with your life.
      (it works with fashion too, you just need a page that has a lot of options).

    6. just another queer reader*

      I am no style expert, but I’ve started buying and putting up Real Artwork (beyond free posters from college, lol). I got it from an artist whose work I like to look at. I’ve also multiplied my plant collection so that it’s taking over every window/ radiator, which is certainly an aesthetic!

      A cool scientist I follow, Laurel Bristol, was interviewed about her beautiful home. She said something like “I don’t really have a specific style, I just love my friends’ artwork and buy it and hang it up.”

    7. Jess DosPescados*

      For paint, whatever you choose should have at least a satin finish. It’s easier to clean and the shine helps to gently reflect light in the room, which helps even small rooms feel well lit and less cramped.
      Saturated colors (more pigment) can take more coats to properly fill in the color, so take that into consideration when you’re buying paint.
      A tinted primer can be really useful in changing paint colors on a wall, especially if the change is drastic. Primer will also give your paint a neutral or helpful background to work against, rather than fighting for ground against whatever you’re covering up.
      Once you’ve decided on a paint (or paint & primer combo) take pictures of the lids because they have have the exact formula on them and the labels fade easily. If the brand of the paint isn’t included on the formula label, include it in your notes. If a substitution needs to be made, knowing the brand helps a lot. Same for wood stains. Keep all the info about your place on the same drive so it’s easy to find.
      Don’t store paint in your garage or anywhere else that isn’t climate controlled, it reduces the lifespan of the paint and greatly increases the chances of it rotting.
      If you need to do touchups with your paint, take it to wherever you bought it (or a big box home improvement store) and have them shake your paint for you. It shouldn’t cost anything and they literally have a special machine for doing exactly that. It will ensure the pigment is evenly distributed and that any settling has been remedied.
      Buy a paint key and a rubber mallet to open and close your paint cans, tap gently with the mallet in circles until the lid is completely closed-smack too hard and you’re wearing paint and keep the mallet & paint key tied together with twine or tape so they’re harder to lose. Tap the paint can lids closed on a stable, flat surface that’s been covered to protect it, same with opening them.
      When you’re painting, assume you’re going to get paint everywhere and protect everything you care about by moving it out of the room where the paint is.
      A low tech air purifier (4 good paper filters, 1 box fan, tape together into a cube so the fan pulls air through the filters and back into the room, use the back of the cardboard fan box as the bottom of the box to stabilize it & manage airflow through the filters) can help manage the smell from even low VOC paints, which helps reduce stress on vulnerable people, pets and yourself.

      As to your personal style, bring things into your home that you love. You don’t need a coherent style that makes sense to anyone but yourself and trying to find things that speak to you is the most important thing.

      1. MissCoco*

        The one caveat to the paint finish is that if it’s an apartment with wonky walls (wiggles, poor patching jobs, etc) I’ve found eggshell or even flat finish is the way to go as it doesn’t reflect light off the inconsistent bits as much as satin. Adding flat to our current bedroom made a huge difference in how obvious the very unique geometry of our Victorian’s walls are

        1. Peonies*

          Also flat is the easiest to touch up. It’s a trade off. The somewhat standard use is eggshell on regular walls, satin on bathroom and kitchen walls, and gloss on trim. I will also say that good quality paint is usually worth the money because it covers better (so you don’t need as many coats), is easier to work with, and holds up better.

        2. pancakes*

          Matte, bright white is much more modern-looking than a satin finish, too. I think it’s the best way to brighten up a room that needs an update. Satin finish paint is landlord paint, to me. It shouldn’t take many coats to paint any one room because modern paints are so much better than they used to be. Much less heavy scent too, even the ones that aren’t specifically low-VOC. I agree with Peonies, gloss for trim.

    8. Run mad; don't faint*

      For artwork and decorative pieces, I’ve just bought what I’ve liked over the years. It ended up being cohesive enough because there were commonalities.

      When you paint, if you have your furniture and rugs first, it can really help. You can pull colors from the rug or throw pillows to try. Or you can do what I usually do which is get tons of paint chips in colors I like and throw them around different parts of the room (on the couch, on the floor by the window, on the floor away from the window) and see which ones I like enough to get samples of. Paint the samples in different places, both near and away from windows. See how it looks by daylight vs by lamps. Lighting plays such a role in the color working or not. My living room faces east, and so many colors that look great at 8 am look flat, dark or overwhelming by 2 pm.

    9. Not So NewReader*

      For me it started with a strong sense of what I do not like: fall colors.
      Then it moved to costs. I wanted stuff that would blend with the stuff I already have and the pieces I knew I would keep. (Some furniture was just to carry me through until Better Thing came along.)

      As I aged and my 8 hour work day started feeling more like 12 hours, I targeted practicality. I don’t want things that involve intense cleaning. Time went on, and what I enjoyed earlier started feeling like clutter, I got rid of a lot of the decorative items.

      I use color to limit my purchases and limit how much can go in a room. I prefer lighter colors, because I like and feel better in a house that seems bright and cheery. Even dusty pastels can darken a room. When I select a paint I think about how the light in the room will mix with that paint. I have a spare room that is storage plus tools and a work area. I picked out a butter yellow colored paint for the walls and a soft blue paint for the trims. because it reminded of linoleum in my childhood home. I still smile when I walk in the room. It’s cheery and organized and a pleasant place to work on things.
      With my bedroom I went the opposite way. I wanted a sense of a “little den”, a little cozy spot with everything very simple and accessible. Costs of course, were running in the background through all this. I bought paints off of clearance tables, “oops paints” where the customer did not like the color. To kick start the colors in my bedroom I found a wall-to-wall rug for $99. It was olive. I went with an “oops paint” that was corral colored. And then I dragged in dashes of purple around the room. (Purple flowered bedspread and closet curtain; a couple small purple vases and so on.)
      A friend thought it looked like something out of a magazine. I wouldn’t go that far but I am very happy with it. And this is after years of debating what to do. Once I settled down and just decided to do things cost consciously, the process moved much faster.

      I have a den with a lot of books. Books can really darken a room especially if you have one entire wall with built in shelves. Here my idea was to lighten the room up in anyway I could think of. The room is now a soft yellow with a light oak floor. (I did not change the floor. I added a rug that a friend gave me, so my dog has a rug to lay on when I am in the den. If I did not have the dog, I probably would take the rug out because it adds to the clutter and reduces the brightness of the room.)

      I can honestly say I did not start making lots of decisions until I drew some boundaries for myself.
      The first hurdle is color- will the item go with my color choices for the room?
      The next hurdle is cost- if the item is X price will I get X dollars of enjoyment out of it?
      The third hurdle is maintenance- what is going to take to maintain this piece and do I see myself doing the maintenance for years to come.

      Other hurdles do come up, such as can I get the item home and into the house on my own. If it needs to hang on a wall, go upstairs, get refinished or whatever, will I be able to do that myself or will I have to hire it out and incur yet more costs. I have even repaired and reupholstered a few pieces of furniture- but not every piece is worth the effort to me.

      Take your time, places fill up with stuff just in the process of living. I have yet to see any shortage of Things I Like. Pick the cream of the crop at a decent price and bring that home. Double check yourself by asking, “Will I be mad at me, if I toss this out in 10 years?”

    10. Sloanicota*

      It’s funny, because these days I would say that I have a very particular style I like, but I didn’t realize it until I lived with a roommate. We were always drawn to opposite things and it made me notice what goes into decorating. She likes geometric shapes and symmetric arrangement, bright colors / high contrast, and prefers a lot of visual stimulus (so if there’s a blank wall she’d like to put three shelves each full of different sized items with something hanging and something sticking up). Her decorating always looks nice, but it made me realize I prefer soft organic shapes and arrangements, soothing pale earth tones, and minimalist decorations (in the same spot she would put three shelves, I might hang one picture).

    11. Swisa*

      My husband and I aren’t good at this, so we paid his cousin to help. She has a better eye for it!

      1. fposte*

        I have a sibling who has a pretty good artistic eye, but he and his partner nonetheless hired a designer, I think just for the living room/dining room area, and the result was *awesome*. When I think of designers I think of McMansion foyers or something, and this was probably 500 square feet of a house that’s maybe double that. It really changed my view of interior designers.

    12. Dont be a dork*

      Style (in a home) is a thing that happens over time. For starters, look at what makes you feel happy or comfortable. That has to be your baseline, because who wants to live in a place that looks amazing but you don’t feel like you can spend the day there wearing sweats?
      As you can, pick up art that speaks to you and hang it. You’ll generally have some sort of theme (not deliberately) to your art because most of what appeals to you will be similar to something that appealed before.

      1. Pennyworth*

        Its also worth paying attention to what you don’t like and think about why. I don’t like my SIL’s style – her house is always immaculate, but I find it unwelcoming.

      2. Amy Farrah Fowler*

        Yes to the idea that it happens over time. I always loved that when I was a kid and I asked adults (aunts, grandmothers, etc) about items in their house it was always a story – Oh, I got that as a wedding present, or I saw this in a resale shop and then found this item over there that matched it, etc.

        When I left home and got married, I decided I didn’t want my house to just be whatever I found at Pier 1 or Ikea, I wanted to take my time to buy things I truly loved, that found me through my journeys in life. I still have a lot of years left in the journey and plenty of room in my home as things grow and change throughout the years :-)

        Find things that speak to you and make you happy. Find a color palette that makes you smile, go from there.

    13. Emma2*

      Can I recommend the Domino Book of Decorating (the green one). It is at least 10 years old now, but I still find it excellent – they look at rooms and talk about what works and why, and have suggestions about how to combine things to achieve different types of styles. I think it is a fantastic resource for those of us who may see rooms we like but do not have an innate sense of what to do to achieve something similar in our own homes.

    14. LNLN*

      I started using Pinterest a few years ago to plan a kitchen remodel. Based on what I was pinning, I started recognizing my style. I actually have one, I just did not realize it. Recently I used Pinterest to plan a bedroom redecoration and it was again very helpful. Good luck!

    15. Rose*

      Join some Facebook groups for “(your favorite style) home decor” and you’ll get a ton of ideas all the time! I’m in a few goth/witchy ones, and get tons of inspiration from seeing what other people have done to incorporate their personality into their decorating. But there’s groups or Pinterest boards out there for everything- nature, cottagecore, futuristic, anything that strikes a chord with you

    16. Mary S*

      Personally I have two main ways of planning design. First, I always notice set design in movies and TV shows and often find myself inspired by them. For example, I took that approach in my bedroom and used the I Love Lucy set for inspiration. So now it’s sort of mid-century modern but slightly feminine. Second approach is to think about what activities I plan to do in the room and what vibe I want while I’m doing those activities. For example, in my living room, I plan to read, talk, and watch movies/TV. I decided the vibe I wanted for that would be “cozy library” and ran with that as inspiration. Living room is traditional/transitional and cushy, with lots of functional furniture that makes those activities easier. Plus lots of color because that feels “cozy” to me.

    17. Anonymoss*

      One of the things you might look at is your color palette. My mother and I have a similar decorating rule which is that usually our most colorful/saturated items are also items that can be swapped out easily. Our big furniture, dining room sets, couches, etc, are all in the neutral range, because we can match them with everything. But my lamps and pillows and entry-way table and the like are all as colorful as I’d like. And then if I move away from that color or look, I can always change them much easier than trying to get a new couch or table.

      I would also look at picture frames. Especially if you want a collage or many together. My mom always tried to make sure that pictures in a room or a collage all had the same frame or similar ones. In my room, two of my walls have collages with frames of black, dark reddish-brown, and gold. In the living room, the frames are gray or black. This makes the pictures looks like they go together much more coherently. Also, experiment with size! I have two lovely paintings I got on my travels, and the frames are much larger, but it’s proportional and works really nicely.

      If you have the money, hiring a designer for a day or even a few hours to go through your new place can be great. They might not help you with everything, but they might have ideas or move things around in such a way you wouldn’t have thought of, but work great.

      Like others have said, I would definitely look around at what you’ve got already that you love, or look at design pictures to see what you’re drawn to or what you reject. It can be really informative.

    18. Jasmine Tea*

      Before you think about decorating style think about your living style. Do you want to spend many hours every week carefully dusting and caring for many beautiful things that have great meaning for you? Or do you want to have a very easy to care for home? If so lean toward minimalist. I like pretty things but most of them have a function besides just being pretty. In my very young days I did house cleaning for a living and decided when I got my own home I was not going to spend my life cleaning it. My shelves of photos are in a cabinet with glass doors so they don’t have to be dusted every week. I don’t have bookcases just to put a whole bunch of pretty things on them to look at. I love photos in magazines and online that show those pretty things but that’s not the way I want to live.
      Lots of nice comments here. I envy people who can look at a color, for example WHITE and see that it has blue or yellow tones in it. I just can’t see it! And I so wish I could!

    19. nobadcats*

      I moved to a new apartment just under a year ago after 13 years in the same flat with a roomie. Some of the first things I chose were my sofa (a small sectional in slate grey) and the living room rug (ivory and red). Then I found some throw pillows with wild colors that I really liked and started planning around those colors as well. I found some dishes that had colorful, not matching, patterns and it became a theme of choosing “sock you in the eye” colors to go with my neutral-toned sofa and drapes. One thing I didn’t want to do was have my furniture clash with my art. I have an extensive, eclectic collection of originals photos/prints/paintings. I had five boxes of art to ship to this place, I’m still not done hanging, because I haven’t made those decisions yet.

      One reason I had to buy a lot of stuff was that I was returning from Saigon 13 years ago, and my roomie had most of the furniture because I had sold all mine when I moved overseas. I had also sold most of my dishes and flatware, so had to replace those as well. It was a great way to start from scratch to my taste. Which can best be described as eclectic to go with my art.

  3. Long-distance mover*

    I’m planning a cross-country move (CA to the midwest). I’ve done a couple cross-country moves before, but it’s been a while. I’m pretty comfortable with planning the details, but wondering if anyone has any life hacks or great suggestions, i.e. something you wish someone had told you?

    1. Peonies*

      These may be too basic for you since you have done this before.

      Get rid of stuff you don’t need ahead of time. I always think I have done this and every move there are at least a few things I unpack and think I have no idea why I bothered to move them.

      If you have kids unpack their rooms first. Everything is easier if the kids have their beds and favorite things set up. Next priority (or first if you don’t have kids), is your bedroom and bathroom. Everything is easier if you can take a hot shower and get a good night’s sleep. After that I do the kitchen mostly because it get rids of so many boxes.

      Label every box well on both the top and multiple sides. It is so frustrating to be looking for something and have badly labeled boxes or be unable to see the labeling because boxes are stacked on each other and the labels are facing the wrong way.

    2. Stunt Apple Breeder*

      Use clear totes for small breakable things and essentials that you need to unpack first. It’s easier to see the glasses and dishes you will need to unpack for your first meal. It’s also a good way for your helpers to remember to be gentle with the fragile stuff.

      Buy a new broom and mop when you get your new place. Superstition aside, these items are awkward to pack and it’s nice to make a fresh start with a fresh broom.

      Bring some of your favorite foods from the old region to the new one. I moved cross-country just before a statewide stay-at-home order was declared as COVID became widespread, so I was fortunate that I had brought plenty of staple foods and essentials with me. I had figured it would take me a couple of weeks to figure out which stores had the best deals. I also wasn’t sure the stores in the city I moved to would have the foods/brands I liked. (If you are a Twin Bing fan, Cherry Mash just isn’t the same ;) )

    3. Seal*

      Pack a box of essentials like soap, toilet paper, hand towels, etc. and label it open first. If you’re driving, put that box in the car. Then you don’t have to scramble to find that stuff when you get to your new place.

      Sort, toss, purge before you move. It’s easier to get rid of things ahead time and makes packing easier.

      Label the top and sides of boxes so it’s easier to see what’s in them when they’re stacked. Also, they make Post-it notes with adhesive on the entire back that are great for putting on plastic bins. Literally a game-changer for labeling things.

      Good luck with the move!

    4. just another bureaucrat*

      Last time I had to move someone strongly recommended a first things you’ll need bag or box that will basically let you not need to unpack. And then a cleaning supplies box you know you can find right away. Make sure you include toilet paper in that first things box.

    5. Rain rain go away*

      Label things according to the rooms they are going to go in, not where they are coming from. When I moved cross-country from a cold state to a warm state, there wasn’t standard coat closet. Movers had no idea where to put “coat closet” boxes; I then had to carry multiple boxes up stairs to store in guest room.

    6. ShinyPenny*

      Labels are essential, but for the Critical Things box(es) it really helped us to also have a visually distinct “species” of box dedicated to Critical Things. So, all the regular boxes were brown cardboard, but I got a six-pack of white fold-up/office-type boxes for the Criticals when we were helping an elderly relative move into a Senior Living apartment. It really helped to be able to scan the stacks for white boxes instead of needing to focus on all the labels. (I think we ended up using 4 of the six.)

    7. Pocket Mouse*

      Refill all your prescriptions shortly before the move. If you currently rent, leave a note in the mailbox or mail something to your old address so the new tenants can reach you if anything important-looking comes in the mail.

      I recall a small handful of threads asking similar questions over the past year or so, a couple of which I commented on with the tips above. Try searching ‘cross country move’ and the like to find them for additional advice?

    8. RC+Rascal*

      I used to get transferred yearly for corporate moves. While they did all the packing and moving for me, there are some things I learned:

      Be able to easily locate several lamps and light bulbs upon arrival. Many apartments and some houses don’t have any over head light outside the kitchen and dining area, especially if they were built in the 1980s or 1990s. Typically the moving van gets done unloading in the late afternoon, and you are left surrounded by boxes in the dark.

      In your easy access box of essentials, please be sure to include a shower curtain AND the shower curtain rings. I know this because the moving van once left me off at an apartment in Michigan in January. It was below zero outside, I had a raging case of bronchitis, and was up until 3AM opening every box looking for the shower curtain rings because I really needed to take a shower and couldn’t find the little buggers anywhere. (They were in the last box. Ugh).

      Prior to your move make sure all your stuff is in the room it belongs. This will make it much easier to unpack. If say your TV remote control is in your office and gets packed in your office stuff, you will be very unhappy when you are unpacking your living room and hoping to watch TV, only to be unable to find the darn remote.

      1. Yet Another Unemployed Librarian*

        Ooh, and batteries too. 9 volt batteries! (Why? Smoke alarms!!)

      2. Kayem*

        Definitely second the shower curtain and rings! I’d throw in a cheap curtain rod too because every rental I’ve been in has not included that and I always discovered it right as I needed the shower.

    9. kiki*

      You can ship books for cheap with media mail pricing. If you’re moving without hiring a truck, this can free up a lot of space for other things. And books are an easy thing to send in advance.

    10. Pennyworth*

      Have a kitchen essentials box clearly marked so you have mugs, plates(paper if necessary) and cutlery for meals on the first day.

    11. Kayem*

      We had to move cross country twice in one year. Here’s a few tips not covered by the others:

      Invest in several packs of file boxes (we got them for cheap on Amazon). Use those boxes to pack books, documents, craft supplies, or anything that’s non-breakable, smaller, and on the heavy side. Never ever, ever, ever pack hardback books or CDs into a box larger than that. If you’re doing your own loading and unloading, you’ll be thankful for that! Also, place those boxes all over your home for throwing random stuff into. There’s always a bunch of tiny little things that was overlooked the first time or doesn’t fit in any one box category and it’s just easier to throw them in one of these boxes at random and worry about it on the other end.

      Why I like file boxes and have used them for every move: They have a large space right on top of the lid where you can write contents info really big with a large Sharpie and it makes it easy to see at a glance. They stack very neatly in a nice uniform way that allows for more efficient use of space rather than trying to fit a zillion boxes of different sizes and shapes in. They can be reused for multiple moves and between the moves, can be used to store all sorts of things, or flattened for easy storage.

      Even if you hire movers to pack and unpack the truck, buy your own dolly to cart boxes around. It will come in handy before the truck is packed to move things out of the way. Also after the truck is unloaded, because stuff will be in the wrong room or you might decide to move things to different rooms later, or even just need stuff out of the way again.

      If you have pets and will be doing an overnight stay at a motel, take full advantage of the luggage cart, especially if you’re doing it by yourself. My cats were not happy about being wheeled around on a luggage cart, but I appreciated fewer trips back and forth.

      Also for pets, this is advice from our vets, fill several gallon jugs with the water you regularly give them. So if you give them tap water, fill it with your tap water. If you use a specific brand of bottled water, give them the bottled water. Use that water for them along the trip and then after you arrive, slowly transitioning to the new location’s water like you would transitioning to a new food. It helps to cut down on travel stress, especially for cats. Also, if you travel with cats, don’t be surprised if one or more of them hold off on litter box use for a few days. Some cats do that on long trips, though dogs usually have the opposite problem, which is why you should pack extra towels and a few rolls of paper towels.

    12. Little Miss Cranky Pants*

      Late to the game, but here’s something to consider. On the day of, order all the breakfast and snack stuff you’ll need for a couple days and have it delivered or do a curbside pickup in your new place. The last thing you want to do upon waking up the first day in your new place is to schlep out and find a grocery story and shop. Have it sent to you if possible, and you can mostly stay home the next day and just unpack.

      And remember, you don’t have to get it all done at once. Set up your bedroom, bathroom and kitchen first; the rest can wait! Good luck!

  4. Varilux or other premium progressives?*

    Has anyone tried the Varilux X series progressive lenses (or something comparable)? I just got my first pair of progressives, Varilux Physio, and they’re really not working for me as well as I’d like because I want to be able to use them at least for quick computer work (arm’s length) without switching glasses. It seems the X series has a wider viewing area without distortion for the arm’s length which is what I’m seeking. In case it matters, my distance prescription is very mild, but I want to be able to correct my near vision without taking on and off my glasses.

    1. Varilux or other premium progressives?*

      p.s. I know I could get single use glasses but I’d prefer to use progressives. I’m also interested if anyone has felt like I do at first with progressives but adjusted to comfortably using them for arm’s length computer work.

    2. Come On Eileen*

      A lot of people need time to adjust to progressives! I work for a vision care company and we have a product called Unity Via Plus II that you could look into if you find the ones you’re using just don’t work well. (I don’t get any kickbacks for recommending these, just feedback that a lot of patients really like them)

      Here’s a link if you want to learn more:
      https://www.unitylenses.com/unity-via-plus-ll.html

    3. Not Australian*

      I have been wearing Varilux for many years and I find the *only* way to deal with computer work is to have a separate pair of cheap single-vision glasses specifically for that purpose. This is because the usual position of the screen just doesn’t work with the Varilux without forcing me to hold my head in an uncomfortable way. I’ve seen – but only once, and a long time ago – someone with an unusual set-up where their screen was inset into their desk on a very shallow angle, which allowed them to look down towards it, but otherwise (unless you’re using a laptop) there is IMHO a basic incompatibility between a fixed PC screen and Varilux lenses.

        1. Chaordic One*

          This is what I have. The last time I had my annual eye exam, the ophthalmologist noted that my eyesight had not changed and I didn’t really need new glasses. He recommended getting a pair with a special prescription for computer use. (Yeah, I think he just wanted to make a buck.) But it has worked out well.

    4. RagingADHD*

      I have no idea of the brand, but I have 3-zone progressives with near, arms length, and distance vision. Took a little getting used to but they are great for the computer.

      1. potato jacket*

        I don’t know which kind I have but it’s been rough adjusting to progressives. I got two pairs, the one with bigger lenses is easier but ugh.

    5. The teapots are on fire*

      I do have premium progressives, but I don’t know the brand. I just shopped around until I found a place with very good opticians and they pick for me. Dispensing glasses is a high art and you have to get someone good.

      But I do have progressive computer glasses as well because I have a fair bit of correction for close reading and I got tired of tilting my head way back. The computer glasses I use are “office glasses”, so very good distance vision up to about 12 feet or so and they are progressives so i can read tiny print when I need to. I wear them all day at work with no problems and only change to drive home, and honestly I’ve driven home accidentally with them a couple of times and I’ve been fine and only noticed when the high-up highway signs were just a tad blurry.

    6. Long-distance mover*

      Thanks all! For those of you who don’t use their progressives for computer use, I’m kind of wondering what is the point of progressives if I have to switch glasses for computer use. I mean, isn’t the point of progressives to not have to switch glasses back and forth for most primary activities? Honest question!

      1. Just Another Cog*

        I think the problem with progressives and computer use is that the mid range area is so thin. I couldn’t even use lined trifocals with the computer, the side to side strip for that distance was just too narrow. It was hard to hold my head still enough so that I wasn’t looking through the reader or far distance sections. I agree with you that we should be able to use the progressives for everything.
        My old eye doctor talked me into progressives and when I told him I couldn’t see the computer, he said “well, of course you’ll need a separate pair for that kind of work.” Aaagh! There is a reason he is my old eye dr.

  5. Free Meerkats*

    On the 8th I had cataract surgery in my right eye. I get the left one done Wednesday the 22nd, and I can’t wait. At my follow up appointment today, my right eye is 20/20, better than the corrected vision in my left.

    I can see stuff when I wake up without hunting for my glasses! The first time that I remember. I’ve been wearing glasses since I was 4. And I didn’t realize how much my color perception had changed. This is SO cool!

    So far, the only downsides I’ve found is I’ll have to use readers and my dry eye problems are a bit worse in the operated eye. But that could resolve as I heal, according to the ophthalmologist.

    Anyone who’s had this done have any advice?

    1. WoodswomanWrites*

      My mom has macular degeneration in both eyes. She has substantial vision loss in one eye and gets periodic injections to keep the other eye from getting worse. She developed cataracts and had the surgery last year. At age 93, she is seeing better than she has in decades. Like you, she ditched her glasses except for reading and that’s with only one good eye. She also doesn’t need to get her eye injections as often anymore. I can’t remember what her doctor said about how long it would take to fully heal. Six weeks maybe?

      My mom’s opthalmologist prescribed drops to put in her eyes three times a day to promote healing for a few weeks after the surgery. Maybe something like that would help your dry eye symptoms?

      Congratulations on getting your vision back!

      1. Filthy Vulgar Mercenary*

        did that after laser eye surgery and just moisturized the heck out of my eye with both daytime drops and nighttime eye gel. No dryness issues now, 20+ years later.

    2. Haven’t picked a user name yet*

      I had PRK surgery about 6 years ago (I was mid 30s at the time. Too young for cataracts but my eyesight was so bad I was nearing the partially blind diagnosis. I used eye drops for probably about 6 months, needing less and less as time went. I can totally relate to the amazement of not searching for glasses in the mornings, or feeling stressed traveling and knowing I would be incapacitated if I lost glasses and contacts.

      I wish you luck on your second eye, and the dry eye will eventually go away.

      I hope it is as life changing for you as it was for me.

    3. Grey Panther*

      Yay for you, Free Meerkats, and I’m right with you. My cataract surgeries were last month (May), and like you, I’m now living in a state of constant amazement at how different my vision is—clearer, sharper, it’s just a joy. Also like you, I’ll end up using low-level reading glasses, but I’m definitely okay with that. The restored vision is just so great! (Can’t wait to take the eye test for my driver’s license renewal in a few months.)

      My only suggestion would be to be diligent about the eyedrops regime that you’ve probably been prescribed. Mine, for each eye, was 7 days of antibiotic and 30 days of prednisolone, four times a day. The surgeon also recommended that I include a good OTC lubricant eyedrops in that schedule. They also said to wait 5 minutes between the different meds on each administration—that is, 1 drop of antibiotic, wait 5 minutes, 1 drop of prednisolone, wait 5 minutes, 1 drop of the OTC.

      With three different meds, and different start and finish days for the courses of treatment in each eye, I definitely needed to keep a running written track—I knew there was no way I’d remember it all otherwise. (Now, after almost 6 weeks, my family says the resulting record looks like I’m tracking arrivals and departures at Grand Central Station.)

      Otherwise, congratulations, I’m really happy for you, and my only advice is to just enjoy looking at stuff! Isn’t it great?

      1. Free Meerkats*

        I had dropless surgery where they injected the healing drugs into my eye, so no medicated drops, just regular ones. Those in-eye drugs gave me a Liquid Light Show in that eye for a couple of days; yellow and black for a couple of hours and solid black for 2 days. If you’re old enough to remember Liquid Light Shows, you’re probably old enough to need cataract surgery.

        1. Grey Panther*

          LOL. Am happy to be old enough to have known—and enjoyed—light shows, but I don’t recall any that were specifically yellow and black. And yeah, I know, if you can remember that time you probably weren’t there … yup, I was there. (Hee, hee, hee!).

          The dropless surgery sounds great, and would certainly make the postsurgical regime a lot easier.

    4. Imtheone*

      We kept a basket with Kleenex, the drops, and the schedule since our house is on two levels and kind of spread out. It helped make keeping up with the eye drop schedule less annoying. Also set reminders on a timer or the phone.

    5. Wishing You Well*

      Ask your opthalmologist for eye drop suggestions and when you can start using them.
      I use Refresh Plus eye lubricating drops. They come in little vials and are preservative-free, so I can use them as much as I want through the day. (I use them twice a day.) Other eye drops might restrict how many times a day you can use them.
      Also, I had to get prescription readers due to astigmatism. Hopefully, you can get the cheap ones.
      Cataract surgery is a miraculous thing these days! CONGRATS!

      1. Suprisingly ADHD*

        Seconded on the Refresh drops, I had lasik last summer and they were by far the most soothing thing I tried! The little vials were the perfect shape, and the little cap can snap back on the top so you can put the empties in your pocket if there’s no pail around.
        Ask your doctor if they have samples of them, mine gave me a few day’s worth for free.

    6. Sara without an H*

      I had both eyes done earlier this year, and it’s definitely worth it. For the dry eyes, ask your ophthalmologist about eye drops. I still keep a bottle of Systane on my desk for those occasions when I’ve been staring at the computer too long.

      The change in color perception was astounding. After my first eye healed a bit, I headed for our local art museum just to enjoy the changes.

      Good luck and here’s to a speedy recovery!

      1. Grey Panther*

        Agreed, Sara. Systane and Refresh were the two OTC drops that my surgeon recommended, too.

    7. SofiaDeo*

      The “Systane” brand (if it’s available in your country) of drops and gel is the best one I have found for dry eyes.

    8. Clisby*

      I had both my eyes done back in November. It’s life-changing. I still have to wear glasses for reading and computer use (not for a video or the like – for reading text), but for the first time since I was about 7 years old, I can walk around my house or neighborhood without glasses. I can drive without glasses. I could go to the beach without glasses.

      1. Grey Panther*

        Congratulations, Clisby. It’s an amazing feeling, isn’t it, to automatically reach for the glasses and then think, “Oh, right, I don’t have to do that any more. Yay!”

        1. Clisby*

          Yes! I have been really nearsighted since I was a child, and it kept getting worse and worse. I had cataracts for years, but my ophthalmologist was monitoring it to see how bad it was, because insurance wouldn’t pay for surgery until it was impossible to correct my vision to 20/40 with glasses. Finally I got there. It’s so weird that sometimes I’m going about my day perfectly normally and then sit down to read the newspaper or something, and I have to search around for where I left my glasses. Because they are no longer a permanent appendage to my face.

      2. Free Meerkats*

        I’ll definitely need readers, but probably won’t need glasses for anything else. The astigmatism in my left eye is worse than my right so I may not get 20/20 in that one.

        I decided on just the basic lenses because my astigmatism is relatively mild and what the multifocal lenses would have cost will buy a lifetime supply of readers (and an inexpensive used car…)

    9. Chauncy Gardener*

      Just keep up with those Renew (or whatever brand your doc recommends) eye drops. It’s been a good ten years since my surgeries and they really make a difference
      Congrats!

  6. Appletini*

    US-Centric thread, sorry.

    For those planning to celebrate Juneteenth: What are your plans? I’ve been unwell recently so unfortunately my planning went by the wayside. Are you coming from a background of having celebrated every year or is this your first opportunity?

      1. Academic Fibro Warrior*

        I’m white and work at an HBCU, so I’ve gotten quite a bit of practice of decentering myself lately. To fit with my institution’s goals of promoting and celebrating Black culture and history, I’ve done a lot of reading and seeking out intellectual material from the diaspora to introduce my students to. So….I see honoring Juneteenth as part of that and sought out events in our city that do that as well as historical and cultural resources that celebrate Black heritage to let my students know. I won’t go to a celebration unless invited because I know how important that space is, and I’m up against writing deadlines so I can’t really take the time anyway, but I likely will eventually go to the museums and historic sites to honor that history and learn what my schools actively didn’t teach.

        I have Monday off but only because I’m teaching this summer lol.

      2. fhqwhgads*

        My workplace gives us the day off as a paid holiday. Since it’s Sunday we get the Monday off.

      3. Clisby*

        I’m retired, so I always have long weekends at holidays. My husband gets it off since his workplace is closed any time the stock market is closed. My son is working this summer at a local college, and I don’t think he gets it off – I don’t see it listed as a holiday on the summer calendar. It’s a holiday for city and county employees here.

    1. WoodswomanWrites*

      My workplace honors the Juneteenth federal holiday so I have the day off. I’m going to a celebration hosted by a local community group, the first time I’ve honored the date by attending an event. I’m bummed that I won’t be able to attend a free outdoor performance of a play based on Brown vs. Board of Education, presented on Sunday to not conflict with Juneteenth events on Monday. The play will be a five-minute walk from my house but I have a commitment that day.

    2. AvonLady Barksdale*

      There is a festival on my block today and for once we have beautiful weather. The man who’s hosting decided to “leave Sunday for the fathers”. I’m so happy the festival is back after a 2-year break.

      This is not exactly my first Juneteenth celebration, as I’ve always lived in or near neighborhoods that do parades and festivals. As an adult, anyway. I’m glad it’s a long weekend; the vibe here in DC is very celebratory (the music festival in town helps).

    3. Swisa*

      I went to a festival yesterday, where they had a bunch of booths with black owned businesses.

      I’m white, and this is my first time celebrating. I have honestly felt weird about celebrating because I’m sure my ancestors participated in slavery. But it felt really good to buy stuff from black owned businesses in honor of Juneteenth, so I think I’d like that to be an annual tradition (while still buying from them throughout the year, but definitely for Juneteenth).

    4. Russian in Texas*

      No on the day off, no on the background, and no on the celebration. A celebration would feel weird to me.

      1. Appletini*

        A celebration in general or your personally celebrating? I recently discussed this with the friend who invited me to my first Seder, and we were comparing the idea of celebrating the release of any group from slavery whether or not we belonged to that group or even if we belonged to a group who had been antagonistic to that group (as I had, having been raised a Christian).

        1. Russian in Texas*

          Me personally celebrating. I feel like it’s not my place, and it would be awkward, even though I am 100% sure none of my ancestors enslaved any people in the US.

      2. Anonymouse*

        It does feel really weird celebrating it. It would be like celebrating Memorial Day.

    5. Stitch*

      I have the day off (I work in the public sector) and my kid’s preschool is closed.

      I was thinking of taking my kid blueberry picking.

    6. Imtheone*

      My workplace observed it yesterday, probably because we are k-12 education focused, and that matches with the local public schools.

    7. Be the Change*

      My plan is to sit still, be quiet, read something by George Yancy, and wish everyone whose celebration this is heartily well and safe and to have an enjoyable day.

      I’m thinking of making a private Juneteenth tradition of donating to the United Negro College Fund. Last year I definitively discovered that at least some members of my distant family did enslave some people; two women were actually named in a will. No doubt there were more. I’d like to make at least a tiny step toward making things ever so slightly right.

    8. Nicki Name*

      I’ve known about Juneteenth for a long time but didn’t know much about how it was celebrated. Since 2020 I’ve tried to do a bare minimum of drinking a red soda and further educating myself in some way about Black American history.

      My city is having an official celebration, but getting there would mean a long ride on public transit for me, and covid rates are sky-high here right now so I don’t feel safe doing that.

    9. Tortoiseshell*

      My town is having a celebration so I plan to head over to that. I have never been to one before but I am excited. There will be food trucks, Black-owned businesses setting up stands, and a dedication ceremony for a historical marker.

  7. Appletini*

    Non-US Thread for balance.

    Commenters from other countries, tell us about holidays you’re looking forward to, traditional summer celebrations, etc, if you like.

    1. river*

      This year is the first year Matariki is an official holiday here in NZ. It’s the middle of winter so most people’s plans involve a hot dinner with family I think!

      1. Rocky*

        Yes! We’re having a shared Matariki lunch at work, and then on the weekend I will get up early enough to see the stars, then come home, light the fire and cook a big batch of pancakes.

    2. Vio*

      as usual it was a pretty big deal in UK about the Queens jubilee with massive celebrations and street parties, money being thrown around for bunting… but mostly only in those areas where people aren’t struggling to juggle paying their bills, feeding their children and being able to afford travel to work. we got a very rare Thursday bank holiday, along with an almost unheard of outside of Good Friday bank holiday Friday and a lot of people very confused about whether the saturday and sunday were bank holidays too (about half the businesses treated them as if they were)
      given the massive wealth imbalance, recent scandals involving the royal family, covid still being a thing and boris being desperate for any distraction from his being proven to have repeatedly and flagrantly broken the law it all seemed in extremely bad taste

      1. Scot Librarian*

        In Scotland it was a very very damp squib. Some sweet people near me tried to have a ‘street party’ in a local school car park. I passed the 3 adults and 2 kids on my dog walk, they had a put up one string of bunting and had 4 plastic chairs and a tiny table and were playing Queen. That was it. I went to the beach with my family, it rained and we were chilly – a very traditional bank holiday experience

      2. UKDancer*

        I agree about the bad taste. I did enjoy the extra day off though. I went for a walk around some local gardens to enjoy the weather and escape from the jubilee type stuff and another day I did a really good ballet repertoire workshop on zoom. I didn’t see any street parties in my area.

        Most of my friends thought it was a complete waste of time. I mean I don’t dislike the queen as a person but I resent having a hereditary monarchy as head of state.

    3. Foreign Octopus*

      It’s not a holiday in the traditional sense but 15th August is my favourite day of the year because it’s the Assumption of Mary that’s a public holiday all across Spain. It’s just a great time of the year because everything’s shut, the weather’s always good, no one works, and it’s just a completely chill day that I love taking advantage of.

      1. Flann*

        It is a holiday in the most traditional sense: a Holy Day. In fact, it’s a Holy Day of Obligation!

    4. Garden Kitchen Witch*

      I have plans for the summer solstice this Tuesday morning! Going to travel into a holy site in Wales and watch the sunrise from there. Getting my supplies today for it.

    5. SemiAnon*

      Taiwan here.

      We’re entering the boring part of the year. Dragon Boat festival is over, Moon festival isn’t until mid September, there are no stat holidays in between, and it’s stupidly hot and humid the entire time, so going outside is generally unappealing. We just passed the peak of our first major COVID wave about two weeks ago going indoor places isn’t particularly appealing. On the plus side, we’re getting into mango season.

      1. MEH Squared*

        My parents are Taiwanese and live in Taipei. Good luck with COVID (glad the numbers are going down) and mango is the best.

    6. Asenath*

      I’m in Canada. We had May 24th long weekend, which in spite of its official reasons for existing (the official birthday for the Queen; the actual birthday of Queen Victoria, now on the nearest Monday) is generally celebrated as the start of the summer season and many people camp and go trouting. I do neither, but still like the holiday – and this year, the weather was great, which is not always the case! I’ve know it to snow, which makes the camping and trouting all the more puzzling! My favourite summer holiday (and we have quite several, actually) is Regatta Day, which is the first week in August. It’s a municipal holiday. The actual races are only a part of it – although I always watch one or two of them. There site is filled with booths – food, drink, mild gambling, etc, generally supporting local charities – and there are massive crowds. You always seem to run into people there you haven’t seen in years. Children and teenagers are running around, there’s a special tent for those who need a bit of a rest to sit in the shade for a while, people bring their dogs, and some of them inevitably go for a swim For obvious reasons, it’s been cancelled, or races only, for what seems like ages, but barring some massive change in infection rates it should go ahead this year.

      1. Appletini*

        REgatta Day sounds absolutely splendid. May 24 sounds comparable in use, if not in reason, to our Memorial Day (the last Monbday in May)

    7. DistantAudacity*

      Norway here.

      We just passed our peak public holidays season, from Easter to early June:
      – Easter: Maundy Thursday, good Friday, Easter Monday are all public holidays (lots of people take off Mon-Wed before Easter)
      – Ascension Day, always a Thursday in May x days after Easter – so naturally Friday is usually off
      – Whitsun Monday, date tied to Easter, in early June
      – May 1st – Labour day, on whenever it falls
      – May 17th – Constitution Day, on whenever it falls

      In summary, May is a very short month! And yes, we are very secular but you are not taking our public holidays from us! No more public holidays until December, though.

      Holiday periods are coming up, with people generally being off 3-4 weeks July-ish

    8. allathian*

      I’m in Finland, and I’m looking forward to our Midsummer holiday next Friday. We always celebrate it on the Friday that’s closest to summer solstice (June 21). This year, it also happens to coincide with my MIL’s birthday. Usually we have a barbecue lunch or dinner with family. Many people who have summer cottages spend the holiday there.

      This year, I start my long summer vacation on that day.

      1. londonedit*

        I’m in the UK but I’ve taken this Friday off to celebrate Midsummer with my Finnish relatives! We don’t have any more actual public holidays here until the bank holiday on the last Monday in August, but I’m looking forward to having this Friday off – I think we’re doing a barbecue as well (though in typical British fashion, the weather looks fine for the beginning of the week and rubbish on Friday!).

    9. Irish Teacher*

      Ireland is rather short of holidays in the summer months. We do have public holidays at the start of June and August, but nothing majorly celebrated, though the first of August is Lunasa, one of the Celtic festivals. It isn’t really celebrated by most people though.

      I will note that from next year, we are getting an extra public holiday for the first of February. It too is one of the four Celtic holidays and it’s St. Brigid’s day, so it was sort of the obvious choice. So every year from now on, we will have that day off.

      1. Irish Teacher*

        Oh, I forgot, Thursday was Corpus Christi. I don’t celebrate it; I don’t think most people do nowadays, but there are still processions and I did see some Papal flags on the Churches and so on.

    10. A.N. O'Nyme*

      21st of July, which is the Belgian national holiday – it’s the day when Leopold I swore the oath as first King of the Belgians (NOT King of Belgium , important distinction). My own feelings about monarchy aside, I like have a paid day off. Also we always eat Chinese food (inasmuch as you can get that over here, meaning it’s from all over the place and not necessarily actually from China) so that’s nice.

    11. Russian in Texas*

      If I was still in Russia, Ivan Kupala on July 7th would be a fun one. It’s basically a folk midsummer festival with various water fights, nighttime gatherings, picknics, etc.
      In the spring, Maslenitsa (butter festival) is a big deal. It’s the last week before the Lent. You are already not supposed to eat meat, but can still eat butter, so the whole week you are basically eat blinis. There are a lot of traditions around it, festivals, and on the Butter Sunday the straw effigy of the Lady Winter gets burned (did I mention it’s a church festival). Even the people who don’t belong to the ROC and don’t observe the Lent participate, because blinis and winter fun.

    12. Blomma*

      American here, but have a Swedish parent. We’re headed to Sweden next week for Midsommar!

    13. Michigan mom*

      I am American but my daughter has a new classmate who is a Japanese expat. We were invited to their house in February to celebrate Setsubun and we had the best time. The mother made wonderful food of course but there were masks and bean throwing which the kids liked best. To welcome spring you throw soybeans at a demon mask (or the dad can wear the mask and you throw the soybeans at him!) and you say something like “out with demons in with happiness”. 10/10 highly recommend.

    14. Laura Petrie*

      The part of the UK I’m in celebrates Whit Friday- this year it was on 10 June. In the morning, churches and other local organisations such as brownies, scouts etc walk through the town, accompanied by local brass bands. Late afternoon to night are the brass band contests.

      Each town/village has its own band contest and brass bands from all over the country (and sometimes from abroad) compete for a cash prize. They have to do two songs, one whilst marching and one when they’re static on the stage. The judge will be close by in a truck or caravan so scoring is anonymous.

      It’s a tradition that dates from the 19th century and as far as I know only takes place in this area. Most people book the day off work and it’s a huge thing. It was good to have it back after a Covid absence.

      1. Ms Marple*

        hey, I live in the exact same place! that having been said, I carefully avoid interacting with Whit Friday – both am and pm – as I don’t like either of them. I do enjoy the local Morris Dancing though – our local side dances on Good Friday and on the fourth weekend in August a number of sides congregate from around the country to drag a rushcart through the local villages, stopping to dance as they go. Our Morris Men wear clogs – as worn in 19th century mills – and bowler hats covered in fresh flowers.

        1. Laura Petrie*

          Ha ha never thought I’d meet someone local on here!

          I’m a ‘comer-inner’ but love the band contests. I’m not religious at all and can take or leave the walks, but if I’m at home I go to keep the tradition alive. That said, we didn’t stay long at the contests this year as I wasn’t particularly feeling it

          1. Isobel*

            Waving from Leeds! I love brass bands but have never been to hear the contests. Glad they’re back after Covid.

    15. haurane*

      Switzerland: 1. August – Swiss National Day (Bundesfeiertag, Fête nationale suisse, Festa nazionale svizzera, Festa naziunala svizra).
      While in general quite “Bünzlig” (bourgeois, elitist and self-aggrandizing) there are some traditions like the “höhefeuer (fire stacks on the summit of mountains (gondor calling to aid-style))” and the lioba (hailing over the mountain tops to each others, now a form of call and response song done by local choires) I absolutely love.

    16. WoodswomanWrites*

      Living in the US, I’m enjoying this thread and learning about so many different holiday traditions in other countries.

  8. Anonymous Cat*

    Hi! I posted last week but kind of late.

    Can anyone recommend a good YouTube channel for beginner’s makeup lessons? I’ve tried searching for this but there are so many!

    (Thanks to the people who saw my late posting and answered! I’m just trying to add a few more options.)

    1. cat socks*

      Lisa Eldridge is great for tutorials.

      Other makeup YT channels:
      Emily Noel
      Lisa J
      Risa Does Makeup
      Ali Andrea

    2. Garden Kitchen Witch*

      Nikki Raven did some stuff on her channel for older skin. She’s in her 40s.
      I learned by watching others. I enjoy Notyourbasicsteph, Steff’s Beauty Stash, and MartesMakeup. They go slow when applying makeup and show you what they’re doing.

    3. Golden*

      I started with Angela Bright, especially for eyeshadow. Whatever palette you have/want, she’s probably done a tutorial using it. I know at least some of the videos go over which brush sizes to use and how to move them across your eyes.

    4. Chauncy Gardener*

      Depending on your age, hotandflashy.com is pretty darn awesome, in my opinion!

  9. Frally*

    Dog grooming question. I brush my dog, but lately she has many little clumps of fur that don’t brush out. I have to pull out each clump. Her fur is healthy and is not matted, these are clumps of very light fur, lighter than her regular color. Mostly around her rear flanks. Any idea what’s causing this, and is there an easier way to remove them than pulling each one out individually?

    1. Pam Adams*

      What kind of dog? She is probably shedding,/blowing undercoat. A shedding tool will help.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        Yep.
        I got a shedding tool shaped like a loop.

        My dog has a black fur top coat and his under coat is gray. I take him outside with the shedding loop and comb him. I could do this all day every day as gray clouds of fur just go floating through the air.

        He sees me pick up the shedding loop and he gets all excited. ha.

        Link to similar item in my reply to myself below.

    2. Leslie*

      The EquiGroomer De-Shedding Brush from Girl With The Dogs on YouTube should be good. I haven’t tried it myself but I do enjoy watching her videos.

    3. Lizzie (with the deaf cat)*

      My fluffy cat has this issue, where her fur is very dense. The undercoat just wants to felt up! I cut out the clumps as they become apparent to me. Unlike other clumps of fur, these don’t contain any sticky or prickly stuff in the middle. She doesn’t like the furminator groomer at all (previous cats loved it) so I have adapted to having a comb and scissors permanently to hand when I sit down and she lies on my lap.
      It’s disturbing isn’t it to have brushed a lovely smooth surface and then discover clumpy bits concealed underneath! There’s lots of YouTube videos on stripping out the undercoat; if financially practicable you could find out the cost at a couple of dog groomers and maybe get it done there for the first time. And that way all the undercoat ends up in their workplace rather than your carpet, lol

    4. Sloanicota*

      Your comment that it’s mostly on the rear flanks reminded me that our groomer warned us places that get wet will matt tighter, so you should be extra sure to brush out before/after hosing off or letting them take a dip. My dog gets them from wading through wet grass too.

    5. pancakes*

      A mat-breaker tool could help get them out, even if they’re not mats. It’s important to be gentle if you have to use it, and hold the hair above it in place so that you’re tugging gently on the clump to loosen it and not pulling at the dog’s skin. Sometimes these are called a dematting rake. Agree that it is probably clumps of undercoat coming loose and forming clusters.

    6. Sunshine*

      I love the furminator! It really pulls out the loose fur. I recommended it to a friend years ago and the day it arrived he made the mail carrier wait so he could demonstrate it.

    7. SofiaDeo*

      If you have a Bichon or other hypoallergenic type, with a double coat, they have hair, not fur. Plus their skin is thinner. A metal brush hurts them/their skin, so they don’t want to be brushed thoroughly with it. I use mixed bristle human hair designed ones on my Bichons. They think they are getting a massage, and love it. The stiff nylon helps pull out the mats, moving the soft hair along the stiffer uncoat, while the boar bristles remove dirt/pollen contributing to snarls. I also got an inexpensive small human hair scissors, and occasionally just snip out mats.

  10. houseStuff*

    I’m thinking of selling my house and buying a new house, and in order to sell it, I need to put a bunch of stuff in storage. Any advice about how to keep belongings safe so they won’t get moldy, etc.?

    1. AcademiaNut*

      I live in a very humid climate, and when I store stuff (not in a storage unit, but tucked away) I start by putting them in a room, closing the door and running a portable dehumidifier overnight to dry everything out. When the stuff is dry, I put it in an airtight container, along with a package of desiccant (there are a variety of types). So it starts out dry, and the desiccant collects any moisture that gets in.

      For bedding I use those sealable bags you use the vacuum to suck the air out of, also starting from dehumidified cloth. If you don’t have a portable dehumidifier (it’s a standard accessory where I live), the dehumidifying setting on an A/C works too.

    2. Meh*

      If renting a short term storage unit, spring for the climate controlled indoor option. It’s usually more expensive but your items won’t suffer from heat/humidity.

    3. Not So NewReader*

      If you are using an off-site storage area make sure that it is climate controlled. As you pack make sure that anything you have just cleaned is thoroughly dry. I do this by letting it sit out for a few hours before packing. If it’s cloth or clothing I wash it and give it several days to dry- which is overkill but at least I am certain that it’s dry.

    4. ildrummer*

      If you can’t or choose not to rent a climate controlled unit, consider picking up some free pallets and storing your items and boxes on top of pallets. That will provide some airflow underneath your stuff to keep water from seeping through concrete and creating wet mold issues.

  11. tangerineRose*

    I’ve got a purse I really like that’s about 12 inches high, 8 inches deep, and 13 or 14 inches across. It’s great because it fits all sorts of stuff, but it doesn’t feel too huge (well, it doesn’t to me). The problem is that the purse is wearing out, and I don’t think it’s had that much use. 2 of the zippers don’t work, etc.

    So I don’t think I want the same kind of purse, plus I’m looking for something in pretty spring colors. It should also have a longish purse strap so that it’s easy to hang it off my shoulder.

    Also, I’ve heard some purses are waterproof, which sounds great.

    Any recommendations?

    Thanks,

    1. Melody Pond*

      Silly question, perhaps – but is there some reason repairing your existing purse isn’t an option? Zippers can be replaced, leather straps can be repaired/strengthened, etc. A leather or shoe repair business can usually do these things for purses.

      I’ve done this a few times for my favorite bags, and it’s always been pretty worth it.

      1. fposte*

        I second the Baggalini recommendation. Affordable, cute, resilient, lots of styles to get your exact pocket configuration, lots of colors.

      2. bratschegirl*

        Thirding Baggallini! They have every size and configuration you can imagine, and tons of colors, and they’re indestructible. The dark ones have light colored lining so you can actually find things. Try a cross-body model; my massage therapist insisted that I stop wearing a regular shoulder bag because you really do raise that one ever so slightly and it throws everything else out of alignment.

    2. cat socks*

      I have a Le Sportsac messenger bag that fits a lot of stuff. I use it for travel and have put it in the washing machine. I got it from Zappoa.

    3. mreasy*

      Check out Telfar! They’re extremely hip but they are also affordable & check the boxes you’ve mentioned. I love mine (in spring green).

    4. KuklaRed*

      https://reignvermont.com/collections/fabric-bags

      I have been wearing Bridget’s bags for 15 years. This is the one I am using now, and I love it SO much, I had her make it for me twice.
      https://reignvermont.com/collections/fabric-bags/products/the-day-purse-in-ebony

      Her bags are durable, machine-washable, comfortable, and can accommodate a ton of stuff, when you need to carry a lot. She has many fabrics to choose from or you can send her a specific fabric and she will make your bag with that.

      1. VegetarianRaccoon*

        Oh! I have the Day Purse too. A friend bought it for me a few years back and it’s really a great bag and has held up well.

  12. A.N. O'Nyme*

    Writing thread! How’s everyone’s writing going? As usual this is not limited to fiction writing, any writing goes.

    Still consolidating loose scenes here, but I’m pretty much on a roll with that.

    1. Maryn*

      I’ve corralled my four false starts into only two, which I’m in the process of merging. So much easier than four! I also have a new series ending in mind.

    2. Cendol*

      Hopping off the short story submission treadmill to work on the fanfic I’ve had rattling around my head for about a month. I had to set it aside to meet a bunch of submission deadlines. My acceptance rate has been pretty good for a newbie, but it feels great to be writing fanfic again and to know that 1) no one’s going to reject this story and 2) it’ll be headed directly to an audience that will appreciate it.

      1. Maryn*

        You may already know this, but a lot of “original” novels started as fanfic, then had their canon erased to make them marketable. Whole lot of romance writers did or do write fanfic.

        1. Cendol*

          I do! This used to be a dream of mine (astolat/Naomi Novik is my idol). But it turns out that my original work and my fanfic have surprisingly different vibes! My published fiction is weird and snappy and humorous, and anyone who reads my pseudo-literary fanfic will say, ah, here writes a die-hard Aciman fan. That said, my spouse has definitely urged me to “file off the serial numbers” for several novel or novella-length fics, haha.

  13. A.N. O'Nyme*

    Gaming thread! What’s everyone been playing this week? As usual this is not limited to video games so feel free to talk about any kind of game you want to including phone games and board games. Also feel free to ask for recommendations or help identifying a vaguely remembered game.

    Still Skyrim for me. Having a lot of fun poking around and messing with some new mods.

    1. Vio*

      got around to playing through a few player-created Portal 2 maps. I always love when games are shipped with the tools to make your own content, it’s a great way to encourage it and such content adds to a games long term appeal (and the chances of my buying it). some really clever maps out there and a lot of fun ideas

    2. Lizzie (with the deaf cat)*

      The game Night in the Woods finally became available on iPad earlier this year; I have loved this game, played it through about seven times now. The main character, Mae, is a cat who has dropped out of college and returned home to her parents in their small home town, Possum Springs, after what seems to be a breakdown. Her friends welcome her back, but all are experiencing the financial difficulties of a depressed economy and limited choices in life. Sounds depressing doesn’t it! And yet it is engaging and thought provoking.
      The characters are animated in a basic way, and the audio is of background sound but not their speech, which you have to activate and read for yourself. Depending on who you spent time with and what choices you make, different scenarios take place. Mae’s friends – a fox, a bear, and a crocodile, all have their own distinctive personalities and the other inhabitants of the town are pretty quirky. The script is witty and touching, and the artwork is beautifully done.

      1. Golden*

        I love Night in the Woods! You’ve described it perfectly. I usually don’t register anything about the soundtrack of games or movies, but this one definitely stuck out to me and I put it on frequently.

      2. MEH Squared*

        Night in the Woods is one of my favorite games of all time. I’ve played it three times through and have been thinking of going back for a fourth. There is just so much in the game, and it breaks me every time. Mae IS me (black cats are my fave, plus the mental health struggles are too real). Gregg’s Woods is one of my favorite pieces of game music of all time (Gregg RULZ!). The attention to detail is astonishing, and I found so much more every time I played it.

        1. MEH Squared*

          I’ve actually played it four times, come to think of it. It’s SUCH a good game.

    3. Rara Avis*

      Got my kid a Switch for their birthday, and there was a lot of Zelda yesterday. I think they’re getting a second game from their cousins today.

      1. SparklingBlue*

        I would highly recommend Mario Kart and Pokemon (either Sword Shield or the upcoming Scarlet/Violet) to add on top of Zelda.

    4. Garden Pigeons*

      I picked up AI: The Somnium Files in the Nintendo sale – I like Ace Attorney games but I’ve played them so much I know them mostly by heart, so it’s fun to try something new in the same genre.

      1. Phoenix Wright*

        Hope you have fun! I love AI, and also the Zero Escape series from the same director which I recommend too.

    5. Squeebird*

      Not me, but I managed to convince a coworker to try Mass Effect, and I am now heavily invested in her playthrough. She’s almost done the first game and I can’t wait to hear what she thinks of ME2…

      1. Suprisingly ADHD*

        Oh man, I’m finally playing the first Mass Effect, after playing ME2 twice! I had given up on the first game three times because it was too hard for me to pick up the combat controls; I failed two minutes into the first real mission for hours. This time I rebound the keys so the controls feel better to me, and used my experience from ME2 to make a character build more suited for my gameplay style. I’m planning on eventually taking this run through all 3 games! I also got a bunch of DLC for ME2, so I’m looking forward to that too!

        1. Squeebird*

          Oooh, enjoy!!

          The first time I played ME1, I ragequit after driving the Mako into the lava on Therum one too many times, so I’ve been there.

          1. Suprisingly ADHD*

            Oh man, I get why everyone complains about the Mako, but I actually enjoy the clumsy, bouncy tank. I like imagining my squadmate’s reactions as I drive it up a mountain in search of some ore (or just because it was in the way). My issue was the combat! I would die 2 minutes into any fight after the first mission. I actually looked it up after giving up on the game the second time, the general consensus is that the combat in ME1 is much harder than the others, especially since the enemies scale with the player so you can’t put off a hard fight until you’re a higher level.
            I ended up being a sniper with ALL the armor, and healing powers. Let Wrex get in people’s faces with a shotgun, I’ll just be hiding waaay back here behind this rock!

    6. MEH Squared*

      Elden Ring. I cannot stop playing it. It’s neck-and-neck with Dark Souls III as my favorite FromSoft game of all time. I still find new things even after three playthroughs. I installed Dragon’s Dogma: Arisen (CapCom) to see if I like it any better than I did the first time I played it. Cannot wait for Stray (Blue Twelve Studio) in which I’ll get to play as a cat with a backpack.

    7. Cruciatus*

      Has anyone actually played Ransom Notes? I both hate and love Facebook sponsored ads–it kept showing up in my feed and it looks hilarious and last night I finally just purchased it on Amazon. For those who haven’t seen it, you are given a prompt and have to explain it using magnetic words (which lack proper grammar), so an example they have on their website is: Explain to a child how giving birth works and one response is “lady squeeze — jumbo commotion — plop wrinkly man” using the magnetic words. Not the most hilarious example, but the quickest one I had at hand.

      The reviews are good and this game seems right up me and my friend’s alleys so hopefully it’s as funny as it looks. I was just hoping someone could confirm I won’t regret this purchase!

    8. Ketall*

      I got Queendomino for my 8 year old for her birthday. At first I was regretting not going with Kingdomino, which is supposed to be simpler. But we got the hang of the rules after a few games and now it’s a lot of fun – a good mix of luck and strategy. It does take about an hour to finish – Kingdomino might have been preferable for a shorter play time.

  14. Laura H.*

    Little Joys Thread.

    What brought you joy this week?

    I think I’ve somewhat recovered from the rough week last week, and we’ve finally started moving grandma into the new addition we/she built onto our house.

    Please share your joys big or small.

    1. river*

      I discovered there is a book version of Yes, Minister and Yes, Prime Minister. I had no idea! I got them on Apple books. Exceedingly entertaining!

      1. The Prettiest Curse*

        Back in the 80s, I had a Yes, Prime Minister game on my Sinclair Spectrum ZX. It wasn’t nearly as entertaining as the TV series!
        Are the books novelisations or new stories, or are they the compilations of the TV scripts?

        1. river*

          They are the same stories as the tv show, but told as if they are memoirs. Really well done. I don’t have access to the show, except some clips on youtube, so it was nice to get the whole stories. Of course no book can replicate Jim’s facial expressions!

          1. The Prettiest Curse*

            The books sound like a lot of fun, especially as the self-justifying political diary is a genre that’s always ripe for satire.

      2. Asenath*

        I love the books and the shows. And they have aged quite well – probably because politicians/people don’t change much!

        1. Inkhorn*

          I work for a company with a lot of hospitals as clients, and that episode regularly gets quoted. “Patients? Oh no Minister, you can’t run an efficient hospital with patients.”

      3. fposte*

        I may still have those! Very entertaining. Paul Eddington and Nigel Hawthorne were such great antagonists. I think with some frequency of Sir Humphrey’s line “If you must do this damn silly thing, don’t do it in this damn silly way.”

    2. Llama face!*

      I have three:

      I actually got enough schoolwork done during the week (distance learning) that my weekend will be an actual weekend and I won’t feel like I need to do more catch up work on Sat or Sun.

      Also it is supposed to be gloriously warm this weekend!

      And today while I was outside I saw a cute tiny mostly-yellow bird that had a musical warbly call.

      1. Llama face!*

        Okay technically “today” was yesterday aka Friday since it’s after midnight now.

    3. The Prettiest Curse*

      The Golden State Warriors winning the NBA championship! I had to watch a recording of the final game knowing the result (I’m in the UK and can’t stay up till 5am just to watch basketball), but it was still very entertaining.
      I do wonder what my neighbours thought about us yelling rude stuff about Boston for 2 hours, though…

      1. PollyQ*

        I watched the game live, in the SF Bay Area, with my parents & my nephew, and we all had a blast! The post-game coverage was great too. A bunch of the players have adorable children of various ages, and they were up on the dais celebrating and/or looking super cute, too.

        1. The Prettiest Curse*

          Yes, seeing the cute kids at the end was definitely a highlight! Wish I could have been in the Bay Area for this victory – the one year that they did the parade through Oakland, I went and it was a lot of fun.

      2. Grey Panther*

        +1 to the Warriors. Michael Jordan was great, but Steph Curry is just amazing, and a joy to watch!

        1. Grey Panther*

          Okay, that didn’t come out right. I meant: at the time he was playing, Michael Jordan was great, but Steph Curry is exponentially more amazing.

          1. PollyQ*

            Yeah, those 3-point shots where the net barely moves are never NOT mind-boggling! MJ is also widely regarded to be kind of an asshole, but Steph seems like a genuine sweetie-pie (with the caveat that you never really know about celebs).

            1. Grey Panther*

              I think you’re right, PollyQ. I’ve talked to a couple of people who’ve encountered Curry in real life, and their impression is that he’s a good guy. My niece’s cheer team attended a Warriors/Clippers game this year in L.A., and he and a few other players made a point of coming over to say hello to the kids.

              Also, that youtube of Curry and his wife answering a Make A Wish wish for the teen basketball-playing twins is one I just keep going back to watch again!

    4. WoodswomanWrites*

      As someone who pays little attention to style and my clothes overall, I go years without wearing dresses. I have friends getting married in July and they’re encouraging guests to wear 1920s themed outfits. I ordered a custom-made dress from Etsy, the first brand new dress I’ve bought in about 20 years.

      The wedding will be outdoors and I’m now looking for a matching vintage-style sun hat and some flats (no heels for me ever). I’m surprised by how much fun I’m having with all this and I’m looking forward to attending the wedding.

    5. Not Australian*

      We emergency-adopted a special needs cat this week. We have two much older females and, since our only boy cat died five years ago, have been casually looking around for someone to fill the very large gap he left. We were rather concerned about this because we had a failed adoption about three years ago – luckily a friend of ours was able to take on the third cat in that instance; he really wanted to be an ‘only cat’ – but were quite literally the only people available to adopt this new little person after a number of shelters and charities declined. Had to drive a long way to get him and he was very good in the car, and although he’s very shy he’s eating and pooping nicely and starting to engage with us a bit. Took him to the vet and agreed on a long-term treatment plan, and were told he was ‘a nice little cat’ – or would be, when he had gained a bit more confidence. Introducing him to our two older girls is going to be challenging – they’re terrified of him and he’s terrified of them – so for the time being he’s living in an ‘isolation ward’ until he gets more used to being here. It’s only been three days, and we’re noticing a change already, so paws crossed we will be able to continue making progress at a similar rate.

    6. A.N. O'Nyme*

      Got some new plants! They looked a bit sad when they first arrived but you know…how would you look if you just got sent somewhere by post? They’re perking up nicely now, though – some TLC and plenty of sunlight (at least someone is enjoying these ungodly temperatures) is doing wonders for them.

    7. UKDancer*

      I got a “pupdate” from Guide Dogs UK about the dog I’m sponsoring. Lots of pictures of her unbelievable cuteness and a video of her running with her ears flopping and playing with toys. Also information about how she’s learning to be a guide dog. I’m allergic to dogs and cats so I’d never have one but I love seeing pictures of “my” puppy as she grows up into a big labrador.

    8. Run mad; don't faint*

      I’m awake early, reading in the living room. The sun is streaming in, the birds are singing and the house is peaceful and quiet. I don’t have to go anywhere or do anything right now. It’s bliss.

    9. Not So NewReader*

      The car spit out a necessary part on Wednesday this week. (sigh)
      Repair shop said they would look at it Tuesday, next week (oh NO)

      Friend said he and his friend would replace the part on Friday. (wow)
      Found the part at a store- it was their last one they had (am considering buying lottery tickets with all this good luck going on).

      It took two people 9 hours to get the part in. The repair shop had estimated 6 hours. They said they used over 50 different tools to do the job.

      At 8 pm last night, I heard a car horn blow. My car was BACK! The repair was done. I almost cried tears of joy.

      1. WoodswomanWrites*

        That is so good to hear. You have wonderful friends. Not that I’m surprised, given the thoughtful, considerate person that you are.

        1. Not So NewReader*

          Thanks, I am most fortunate above anything else. My friends did say though, “never again”. I understand. It’s all okay.

          1. Eff Walsingham*

            For no known reason I read your first line as, “The cat spit out a necessary part,” and was both disgusted and intrigued!

            But yes, congratulations on both your now repaired car and your helpful friends.

    10. aceinplainsight*

      It’s strawberry season! I love farm and upick strawberries, they’re only in season for three weeks, and that time started this week! I’m taking some friends from the Place We Do Not Mention to a upick next Saturday and will probably pick way more strawberries than I can possibly eat.

      1. The OG Sleepless*

        There used to be a wonderful u-pick strawberry farm near me. I miss strawberry season!

      2. WoodswomanWrites*

        Yes, strawberries! I’m eating them like there’s no tomorrow and have to remind myself that I’m going to upset my stomach if I eat a whole large container in one sitting.

      1. Voluptuousfire*

        I washed linens and slept with fresh sheets and blankets for the first time in ages. I slept so well!

    11. Elle Woods*

      My cousins are cleaning out their parents’ home and gifted me some of my aunt & uncle’s drinkware that has a 1950s vibe to it. They know how much I love mid-century modern stuff and these glasses are definitely that. It’s turquoise and gold and I absolutely love it.

    12. Russian in Texas*

      Switched car insurance! My current one jacked up the price for the renewal so I was shopping around.
      Delayed as much as possible, because it’s always a drag, but it took all of 10 minutes!
      The joy is in that it only took 10 minutes, after days and days of dreading and delaying.

    13. the cat's ass*

      Went to a big fat beautiful gay wedding. Cried like they were my own sons.
      Visited friends in OC AND went to Dland, where we were some of the only folks masked.
      Took friday off and finished my troop’s GS financials for another year, whew!

    14. Peonies*

      Back on Mother’s Day our 18 year old bought me flowers, chocolates, and a balloon. He did this unprompted, a day early, and with his own money. I was over the moon. Last night he brought his dad a balloon and a bag of his favorite snacks. Again unprompted, early, and with his own money. His dad was so touched. It was so thoughtful and kind and those are the things I have most hoped my kids would grow up to be.

      1. left behind*

        Aww how nice! On mother’s day, my 18-yr-old took a phone call from my dad when I was out. My dad was apparently calling for mother’s day. So, when I got home, 18-yr-old said: “happy mother’s day, I guess” in the most disdainful tone possible, complete with eye-roll. I try to look at it as funny.

        1. Peonies*

          That is kinda funny. Mine has never done anything like this before so it was both very nice and very surprising.

    15. Lucy Skywalker*

      Getting to take care of my parents’ dog when they are away for the weekend
      Seeing my plants and flowers growing in my garden
      Baby rabbits everywhere!

    16. just another bureaucrat*

      FOOD TRUCKS!

      Lovely little ones that I was able to grab dinner from on my way home. So nice to have them out and get to try some new ones and old favorite and barely had to cook during a hot and long week.

    17. Mid Lady*

      I learned last-minute of a Taiko drum performance one evening this week, and since I was sans kiddo I was able to go. I forgot how much I love listening to drumming! Also the group the performers are affiliated with offers classes, so my middle-aged in-process-of-divorce self is signed up for an intro Taiko workshop because, why shouldn’t I do the fun things? :)

    18. M&M Mom*

      This may sound strange, but it definitely made me happy! A year ago when we moved into our new place, there was lots of glue left on the new flooring. Nothing would get rid of it, and the floors always looked dirty to me. Well today, I used liquid Bon Ami, and it finally worked. Miracle product. I can relax now.

    19. StellaBella*

      I am glad this was a better week for you Laura H. My week was very tough so today am resting. My joy is that I got a free, used washing machine from a colleague who upgraded. I have not owned one in a very long time. Now, I just need to clean it up a bit and can soon do my own laundry in my apartment instead of the communal machine in our basement.

    20. KuklaRed*

      Big joy: my recovery from my spinal fusion is progressing well and I am giving myself permission to rest and heal, which is what I am supposed to do. My usual habit would be to push myself to do all sorts of things and end up in pain, so this is progress.

      Bonus joy: My daughter went on her first real vacation in almost 3 years. I am so happy for her – she needs some serious down time and a week in a lovely resort in Florida with nothing to do but swim and chill and snooze is perfect.

    21. Damn it, Hardison!*

      I think I’ve gotten the hang of my new Breville espresso machine (it was my splurge from my annual bonus). I can now make a pretty good iced latte! I also got a new glass tumbler with a lid and straw to complete my experience.

  15. The Prettiest Curse*

    We’re considering getting a smart thermostat and I’m interested in hearing about pros, cons and recommendations, especially from people in the UK. Did it help with energy bills or not make much of a difference?

    1. Angstrom*

      We’ve used “dumb”(not networked) programmable thermostats for many years. Can’t quantify a cost savings because we’ve always had them in this house. They make it easy to sleep cool and wake up warm, and to set different patterns for weekdays and weekends.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        Ditto. I am a big fan of self-sufficiency, and I don’t want it hooked into a larger system. I bought my programmable 20 years ago, when they cost $100 each. It’s still going, working fine. It helps to keep the fuel consumption level. I can track fuel costs and anticipate that I will use between 600 to 650 gallons per year.

        I think these thermostats cost a lot less now. If you do not have a programmable thermostat, I highly recommend do this part.

      2. Falling Diphthong*

        Ditto on dumb programmable to sleep cool and wake up warm.

        I have never wanted to tell my house things while away from it, and so the distance control of the heating and water flow mystifies me. But perhaps they do other useful things that don’t translate well to a commercial.

        1. Peonies*

          We have considered a thermostat that we can control from far away because we have children who mess with the temperature. Yes, you are hot because you are in your upstairs bedroom and have kept the door closed all day. Go downstairs where it is cool, or even just open your door, stop messing with the thermostat.

          So, perhaps this is a use case for the web connected thermostat?

    2. Anonymath*

      I don’t know about in the UK, but in Texas if you have a smart thermostat (especially if you get it for free from your electricity provider) you need to be very careful about the fine print in your electrical contract. During times of peak electricity usage when the power grid is having difficulty keeping up with demand, electric companies can remotely control your smart thermostat setting and raise your temperature to save energy. Many people in my area found that out the hard way during a heat wave a couple years ago.

      1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        My power company (in Indiana) offers that as an option, but it’s opt-in, they knock a few bucks off my bill each month, and their “raised” temperature is actually higher than I set my a/c temperature to anyway, so it’s a win-win for me. :)

    3. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      I don’t do anything with the smart thermostat other than the programmable features, which are easier to set up through the app on my phone than on the thermostat itself. Well, I do occasionally look back and see the history of how many hours a day it’s running and on which mode.

      Honestly, the big reason I got the smart one instead of a dumb programmable one was because my husband (who gets whiny when the temperature hits 65) kept cranking the AC super low at night when nobody else was looking and forgetting to put it back before leaving the house for the day, and the only way I could get him to stop was by telling him that if he touched it one more time I was going to set it to 78 degrees (which housemate and I are both perfectly fine with) and put a passcode lock on it :P (He hasn’t touched it since, and it’s been 3 years. No passcode lock either.)

    4. Buni*

      I confess I never saw the point. My supplier tried to sell it to me as “You’ll be able to accurately track your usage!” but… I live on my own in a 1-bed flat; with the exception of the fridge/freezer if something in my flat is using power it’s because I personally am stood there using it.

      And then they came to do a survey and concluded with the set-up of the building they couldn’t install one anyway.

    5. Wishing You Well*

      We have a programmable thermostat, not a smart one. Given all the hacking mischief, why get something that can be messed with or monitored? Our programmable thermostat does NOT save on energy bills. We’d have to be out of the house for a significant part of the day to do that and we’re not. Also, every time there’s a power blip, the thermostat has to be reprogrammed. We gave up doing that, too!
      Plugging drafts and putting in more insulation is a simpler idea.
      Best of Luck

    6. Laura Petrie*

      We have a Nest and had it installed a few years ago. We really like it, especially being able to control the heating from our phones. If we go out in winter, for example, we can stick the heating on before we get home so the house is nice and warm on arrival

      Not sure we’ve noticed any specific energy savings, but I imagine we will have spent less on gas than we would have done due to not having the heating on while we’re out

    7. Miss Pantalones En Fuego*

      They seem kind of neat but I haven’t bothered to get one. We got a new boiler a year or so ago and it came with a new digital thermostat has a very comprehensive range of programming options and a temporary boost button, so once we set it up we haven’t had to mess with it. However we don’t have any kids and are generally in agreement on the temperature so there isn’t much conflict about changing it. I have a couple of space heaters for the living room which is the only one that gets unusually cold, so I just turn one of those on briefly if I need it.

    8. SofiaDeo*

      We have an older place, and the wiring is incompatible with a Nest. The battery in it wouldn’t charge, so our heat or AC would quit intermittently. So keep that in mind, the Nest salesman certainly didn’t.Also, the Nest model we got *had to have* WiFi working. We discovered this to our dismay during a short winter internet outage, the furnace wouldn’t respond to the thermostat except the built in default low of 55 (which we could not change to a higher default setting)

      1. Observer*

        The need for wifi sounds like someone set up your thermostat incorrectly. The thermostat should be communicating directly with your furnace (which is why you need the “c wire” or something like it.)

        But, you are right – smart thermostats need the right wiring. It’s usually not so hard to get that taken care of though, but if you need to get an electrician in to run the wire, it’s definitely a cost to factor in to your decision.

    9. Observer*

      A lot depends on your use case and what else is available. One thing I found was that the interface on the smart thermostats was WORLDS better than the programmable thermostat I had been using. Even aside from being able to make changes from my phone, just the screen on the thing was actually easily readable VS the barely readable unit with totally cryptic labeling that the old unit had. I don’t need the remote functionality any more, but I may have to buy a new thermostat before next winter (I now have 2 zones in my house, which means 2 thermostats, and the second existing thermostat is ridiculous), and there is no way I’m going to get something like my old “programmable”.

      Another thing to think about – how consistent is the temperature in your house? A lot of the smart units allow you set up sensors and choose whether to factor in the temperature at that sensor into the furnace (or AC setting.) In some houses that’s *extremely* helpful. Also the feature that can sense if you are home and set the temperature based on that can be useful.

    10. Ey-not-Cy*

      Late reply and in the US, but we bought a Nest for our farm, so we would be able to adjust the temp from our home rather than drive 5o minutes (one way) on those evenings it’s supposed to drop low enough to freeze the water pipes. So I’d say it’s saved us gas and time. And yes, we leave the water dripping, but in the midwest it sometimes gets cold enough with the windchill that you do what ever you can to prevent that water damage.

  16. Peony*

    Happy weekend everyone! I am currently dealing with a changing body size and I think my brain isn’t able to keep up with it. (The change is expected and desired, but I somehow can’t register that it’s happening, if that makes sense). I’m kinda swinging between confidence and a lack of confidence, and I’d like to be more… consistent? Detached? I am enjoying moving my body more and I’d like to keep the focus on the improvement in my strength or stamina, rather than how I look (nothing against those who use this as a metric but I find it unhealthy for me to focus on personally)

    I’d love to hear from folks here on:
    1. If you went through something similar, could you share how it affected you (in the context of mental health or self-confidence)?
    2. What are some small things you do to cheer yourself up when you’re having a bad body image day?

    Thank you!

    1. Jay*

      I had bariatric surgery in 2017 and have lost in total 200 lbs. In some ways it’s done wonders for my mental health – I like how I look for the first time in my life and I am much more willing to try new things. And I have also started to grapple with my internalized fatphobia, which is painful. I could have done almost all of this without losing weight if I’d been willing to be the fat woman in the kayak or on the hiking trail. My mind told me “fat people can’t/don’t/shouldn’t” do those things and so I deprived myself of so much joy. It makes me both angry and sad.

      The shame I carried for decades about my weight has not actually lifted; it reappears when I go above a certain weight. I am working to separate my self-worth from my weight. Still.

    2. Filthy Vulgar Mercenary*

      I’ve heard giving yourself permission not to like your body works (body neutrality versus body positivity). You don’t have to love the way something looks – not everything is going to be visually pleasing and that’s cool, you don’t have to agree to that standard that some societies set.

      So what to do to make it more acceptable for you to show up in the world how you exist today?

      Well, for me I joined intuitive eating groups (r/intuitiveeating on Reddit is one and they have tons of recommendations for people to follow on Instagram and books to reach and such).

      I also started deliberately focusing on exactly what you just said – being grateful for the things your body can do instead of making it match a certain shape in the mirror. I did that actively, when I was feeling okay and not triggered by something. Wake up in the morning and lay there and think about the things you’re grateful for your body doing, like even seemingly silly ones like being covered in skin which not all people are and that causes pretty serious problems. If you’ve ever been disabled in some way that you recovered from, such as a broken bone or a flu or a bad reaction to meds, think about all the things your body did to get you to where you are and about the contrast between pain and relief in those areas.

      I read a book that described how hard mitochondria work to make energy for you to do the things you need to do, and I don’t know what it was about the description but I felt such a warm rush of genuine amazement and gratitude for these little things inside me working really hard to overcome the crap I put my body through in terms of lack of sleep and stress and not enough nutrients but all they do is try to take care of me. It was the first time ever, I think, that I felt a sense of friendship toward my body.

      Something else that helped was looking at your body differently than I normally automatically did. Instead of looking in the mirror or down at a body part and saying (subconsciously) that my body is this shape and it needs to be that shape, look at colors and textures. Look at pictures of muscles and bones and feel how your femur sits inside your hip socket. Feel the difference in how your hip feels when you rotate your foot, compared to how your hip feels when you do the same rotation movement from your knee. Or lay on your side or back, and wave your arm left to right – feel how different your shoulder feels when you do the movement from your hand versus your elbow.

      Any kind of integrative body movement that helps you focus on your body sensations instead of your body’s performance helped me (this lady is freaking fantastic and she does a Saturday morning mobility class via Zoom, and also has videos for purchase, she is all about paying attention to how things feel and I have never thought about my body in those ways before).

    3. Swisa*

      Getting well fitting clothes for my new body has helped me. And realizing that bodies change over time, and it’s not just me. Also, fun jewelry.
      Thredup has been great for trying new sizes and styles.

    4. Not So NewReader*

      I lost a lot of weight over the years. I was a size 24 at age 17 and went down to a 6 or 8 in my mid 30s. I never did get used to that. I am now up to a size 10 and in my early 60s. I still don’t have a good handle on what will fit me.

      I think there are some real reasons that are external to my own thought process. One is that the label size on a garment really does not mean much. Sizing is pretty random. The second thing is that I see they cut cloth now to give the wearer an optical illusion of being thinner. For example on a pair of jeans the side seams are now closer to the front because that flatters the user of the jeans. It’s hard to hold the garment up and estimate if it will fit me or not.

      My wise friend felt the way to watch our weight was to watch clothing size. When we have clothes that “used to” fit now suddenly seem smaller or larger then that is clue about what is going on. I loved this part: when our current clothing starts to feel tight that is a sign to slow down on the chow for a couple weeks. If we twig it immediately it’s less of a journey to correct course.

      For me and I think for a lot of people, weight gain happens for reasons that have nothing to do with food. I was amazed when I had to drill down through all my reasons just to lose the weight. It seems that in the process of losing all the weight I had to revisit the emotional hits that brought my weight UP.

      I think be rawly truthful to yourself. This means saying “I remember when X happened. I felt so sad. I still feel sad now.” Then I remind myself “X is over. It’s not happening anymore.” Acknowledge feelings and follow up with an affirmation.

      When you have a down day about your appearance or the way you think you appear, remind yourself that this can be a form of grief. Sadness over something might have been a contributing factor in weight gain. As you exit the vicious cycle (upset/sadness then eat something; more upset and more sadness then eat more) you may have to revisit that sadness/upset one last time on the way out of the cycle in order to put most of it to rest.
      And that revisitation might come as “Gee I look fat today.” OR “Why doesn’t my body look like that model there on the screen?” OR “Why do I have work this hard to look okay?”
      A good counter-question would be, “I am taking my body of the table for debate. So this means I need to see if I can figure out what is really bothering me today.”
      I found all kinds of reasons: The boss sneared at me. My precious dog got sick. My car wasn’t running well and is scaring me. I was worried about a bad tooth. Oh my! We’d be here all day listing off my reasons. Do a double check when you start getting critical of your body. Ask yourself, “If I let go of this criticalness regarding me, what is left? Is there something that I should go deal with?”

      I have no doubt in my mind that I could gain all that weight back and then some. It’s much easier to change our bodies than it is to change our own stinkin’ thinkin’ sometimes. As you work on your physical health also look at your own thoughts. Do you talk nicely to you or do you say things to yourself that you would NEVER say to a friend in a thousand years? If the chips are down, do you try to reassure yourself? This would be something like “I will find a good vet for my dog” or “I will find a good car repair place”

      Interestingly. I asked a friend once what she did to reassure herself or calm herself down. She looked at me blankly. She had never heard of such a thing. Then she point blank said, “I have to do that?” Nope. You don’t have to, unless of course you want to break your cycle with your fear of storms. She had progressed to the point where even a little storm had her extremely worried all day long.

      I found in my life weight gain was like tentacles on an octopus- it reached into every aspect of my life. The road out meant revisiting oh-so-many things. It sounds like you have done a FANTASTIC job on your health. [cheering]. It sounds like now you have reached a point of safety where it maybe safe to revisit old pain or rethink misconceptions that may have contributed in some manner to the period of lack of (or low) self-care that you went through. This is the point where we confirm, “I will take better care of me from here forward.” And that is what you say to that sad face in the mirror looking back at you. “I gotcha. I am going to take better care of me from now on.”

    5. Zephy*

      I am also currently actively trying to change my body size – I don’t want to assume you’re trying to change in the same direction I am, but for context, my goal is weight loss and I’m about 30% smaller now than when I started this process, and it’s been a lifelong struggle.

      I have also never had great proprioception – as far as my brain is concerned, I am a floating head that sometimes has hands and occasionally feet. Where are my arms and legs? That’s none of my business. There’s probably something in there to do with my historical body size, sociocultural messaging around same, sedentary lifestyle, and neurodivergence, but we don’t have time to unpack all of that.

      Having a supportive partner to express appreciation and admiration for my body throughout the whole journey has helped a ton, but that’s obviously easier said than done. Other stuff like needing (or not needing) to adjust clothing and car seats has been motivating. I’ve taken up strength training and long-distance walking as my sports of choice at this moment in time; last autumn I trained for two months to crush a pumpkin with my mighty and powerful thighs, and I’m still riding the high from that, honestly. I’ve participated in a few “walkathon” events, where the goal is just to rack up as many steps as possible in 24 hours, and the latest one saw me rack up over 50k steps (just shy of 25 miles with my stride length). Talking and writing about those accomplishments, reminding myself that I did them and how good it felt, has been immensely helpful when my brain goblins start spewing their toxic BS wrt body image, because despite losing a pretty hecking significant chunk of body mass, I’m still well outside of conventional Western beauty standards at this moment in time. The other weekend I walked twelve miles on a whim – could a [string of pejoratively-intended adjectives describing my body] person do that, brain goblins? I don’t think so.

      1. Persephone Mulberry*

        The proprioception thing really resonates! I have visual documentation that I used to be thin and now I’m not, but my brain…doesn’t really get it. (I am *always* caught off guard when I see myself in other people’s photos). I’ve occasionally described it as almost a backwards body dysmorphia, but this is better. I don’t really think about my body except when my body has to interact with society (airplane seats, weight restrictions, clothes shopping….)

    6. Falling Diphthong*

      I just had a PT eval appointment (checking whether my muscle problems are creeping back or being kept in check) and she had me do endurance tests. While they were tough, I knocked out 2 minutes in each position where in the past I would have collapsed at 10 or 20 seconds. My PT hadn’t even expected me to do that well–in the past we’ve just done flexibility and strength measures. It was a reminder that I am measurably stronger in important ways, even though I feel far from spry and bouncy.

      Would setting a goal like holding a plank (or modified plank), a bridge, etc as long as you can, once/week or once/month, be a good way to track increasing strength and stamina?

    7. KayJess*

      I still struggle with this myself. I realized that I carried a lot of shame about my weight and that I just didn’t like myself in general. Also I think it’s hard to make that adjustment in my mind because it’s part of my identity if that makes sense. But I’ve found it helpful to focus on doing things I love. I love clothes and since I needed new clothes anyway I’ve been trying different looks and having fun with it.

      I also found it helpful to listen to music. Answer:Love Myself by BTS is a personal favorite because I really identify with it. I listen to my favorite music in the car and just sing along with it.

      I’m trying to be patient with myself. I’ve felt like this for a long time so it will take awhile to change how I feel. It’s okay to have a bad and just feel what you feel and process. But I remind myself to just not stay there. And celebrate the accomplishments, no matter how small. I got together with friends to celebrate my ketoversary for instance. If you have friends that are supportive, express how you’re feeling. I’ve found that helpful too. Also I try to practice some self care – maybe doing some skin care, taking a day to rest, etc. I hope this helps.

    8. Academic Fibro Warrior*

      I’m finally at a healthy weight (severely underweight for many years) and because of fat phobic messages I have hard days a lot. Which means I have to work really hard to not slip back into restricted eating especially during high stress periods.

      Food tracking apps so I can correlate directly how eating changes impact how I’m feeling. (No hunger headaches! Who knew?!) Therapist recommended tracking food and not calories to formalize eating habits so I’d stop forgetting to eat. Mantras: food is my partner, food fuels the things I love to do. (Also the food tracking + mantras help me see what foods I want to eat to make me feel better and cut out the foods that my GI system doesnt like at all).

      Tossing the clothes that don’t fit (cause now I don’t have tiny clothes so reducing temptation to eat less) and buying or making pretty clothes for my new size so I have that feel good because I look good chemical thing going on. I have to practice celebrating this weight and finally I’m starting to believe that I like the new weight. Body positive images and mantras have been super helpful.

      But I’ve been working on gaining these 35 lbs for 15 years. The road has been long and I do have lapses. I have to not get angry at myself when I lapse (I’m literally the only person who expects perfection from myself, so I need to remember to be kind to myself), and remember why I wanted this change.

      My husband has been incredibly supportive and helpful and that has really made a difference, too. I enlisted him early in the relationship to just cook when it was time to eat because otherwise we’d never eat if he was waiting on me to ask.

      1. Squirrel Nutkin*

        My weight has been way up and down over the years — I definitely second the idea of getting some pretty clothes in whatever size one is now. It is very cheering!

    9. just another bureaucrat*

      I’m working through something similar. The thing I struggle with that works best is whenever I can ignore the day and focus on the month I’m better. Using the “yesterday I X” is never helpful for me and just makes me frustrated. Looking back across a longer trend. Apple health will sometimes pop up a trend line, they are never short but …they have actually always since I started been in the right direction. And so I do the best I can to measure, whatever your metric is daily, but literally not look at the numbers. They record into my phone, they are not a problem for today me, they are just data and just a record.

    10. Professor Plum*

      It can be hard to see the progress along the journey. Sometimes I have to look at my before and now pictures to remind myself how much I’ve changed. Keep going—you can do it!

    11. kiki*

      I end each day by writing in my gratitude journal. I like to write down something about my body each day, usually about my appreciation for being able to walk, run, swim, play, etc. It’s really helped transform my relationship with my body– before I saw my body as something for other people to enjoy the aesthetics of, but now I appreciate tall the things I can feel and do.

    12. NotARacoonKeeper*

      My answer is a bit different from the others, but I work on battling these issues by reminding myself that my body issues were created by a bunch of men in a boardroom, for profit. My value is not in what my body looks like, but a lot of people make a lot of money trying to teach me that it is. When I remember those things, it’s easier to detach and just…be.

      Seconding others who suggested finding goals that are exciting for you – for me, going longer than ever is exhilarating (swimming, biking, hiking, anything!) Or conquering a hard hike.

      I don’t tend to have hard day’s about my body (too detached, I guess?) but I do renew that energy by enjoying art made about people with bodies that aren’t normative!

    13. Jane*

      I guess I’ve been going through something similar. I needed to gain weight for my health. My body keeps changing so that it’s hard to keep up with clothes that fit well, are comfortable, and are flattering. And it’s hard to go shopping because of COVID.

      Even though I never thought of myself as having a serious problem with my body image, not feeling confident in the clothes I have + the reactions my family / friends have had to my new body have been discouraging even though I feel so much better now and I know I’m healthier now. I’m realizing I’m surrounded by people who are focused on aesthetic goals / fatphobic. It’s making it hard to stay focused on my performance based goals (mostly in strength training, gaining back muscle I lost when I got underweight).

      Some things that make me feel better:

      – Listening to Maintenance Phase
      – Watching YouTube videos by or about people who are mostly focused on performance-based goals, like Natacha Oceane, Olympic athletes, salsa dancers, boxers, etc.
      – Reviewing the progress I’ve made in strength training. I’ve been keeping track of reps/sets of exercises I’ve been doing in my planner. I’ve been doing some of the same fundamental / functional strength exercises for months and it’s exciting to see I went up a progression or can do more reps than I could before.
      – When COVID cases are lower, I plan to join a studio/gym/meetup/sports team to meet other people focused on performance-based goals rather than aesthetic goals. I think it would be so great to be able to call up a buddy to talk about this with who has the same POV as I do.

  17. Life Sux When Health Goes Down*

    Recently learned a close friend suffered from dental issues for TWO whole years and just bore with the pain because the anxiety from making calls and visiting doctors was too much. After helping them make calls and appointments, I wondered aloud to my sibling about this experience. My sibling who has moderate social anxiety commented that sometimes she would rather just slowly die than make a phone call.

    How do severely socially anxious people get help if they need it, but get so anxious in asking for it?

    It felt like just another stark reminder how a population is failed by how systems are set up.

    1. rr*

      Well, as someone who almost did literally die because I didn’t want to go to the doctor, I don’t think there are any easy answers. But from my own experience, at least if we’re talking about getting medical help, I think the really important thing is when someone does ask for that help, is that the people helping are kind and understanding and know exactly when to push and when not to push. I know that is asking a lot and I know I got really lucky that way. And when something else went wrong a few years ago, I again got very lucky with some very experienced, non-judgmental (at least to my face) medical people. I felt like they treated me like a person, not just a condition or a problem.

      I also think it is really helpful to have somebody around you for medical appointments. I know it is hard in the time of covid, but that was really the most helpful thing for me. I know they say this is true for everybody, but for somebody with anxiety of any kind over medical appointments, I think it is really important. I’ve been going to my medical stuff alone since covid, and I find myself less and less willing to go, even given everything I’ve experienced as a result of not going. Any “bad” experience, however minor it is, or not, is something I remember and think over a lot. And those experiences upset me and make me more and more reluctant to go back. Somebody with you can help with that, though not always or always as much as you’d maybe want.

      Again, it comes down to having a support system though. And a lot of people don’t have that. I don’t have much of one myself, at least anymore, not right now. So it takes a lot of work and it is exhausting.

    2. Lizzie (with the deaf cat)*

      Hi, basically the reality is that severely socially anxious people don’t get outside help. If they can make an appointment with a doctor or counsellor, they usually can’t attend it. If they ever manage to attend an appointment, their anxiety is so great that they can’t hear anything they are told which might help- the adrenaline and panic are both too high. Everything seems impossible and overwhelming. 100% of their brain capacity is taken up with distress.
      There are excellent prescription medications which will reduce anxiety – which then means that with a lowered level of distress, it’s possible for someone to start to talk to a counsellor and begin to make changes. Many people don’t want to take prescribed medication, or can’t access it or afford it.
      Sometimes the self-medication someone might be doing to cope- caffeine, nicotine, alcohol, marijuana etc – has become a problem in its own right, but these things are very hard to give up.
      I think the game changer for people with anxiety who can’t access outside help is the internet, if they have it. On the net you can read about and watch people doing breathing exercises (eg ‘box breathing’, ‘square breathing’ etc ) which will actually calm panic and reduce distress. There are many articles and books about how to treat and manage anxiety, many support groups, videos etc. There’s so much that can be learned and done without interacting with other people, as a first step. And that is such a useful first step.

      The first thing is to change the habit of shallow breathing, breath holding, and hyperventilating, all of which make anxiety worse. Becoming aware of them, and breathing differently, brings a lot of control and reassurance for someone.

      Didn’t mean to write at such length!

    3. I hate phone calls too*

      It would be extremely helpful if more places let you make appointments with an online scheduling tool rather than having to call someone. The phone call and asking for help is my main issue. To anyone reading this who offers a service that needs appointments, please allow for scheduling that doesn’t require me to interact with a person.

        1. Fikly*

          Zocdoc is unreliable for scheduling (and highly unreliable for reviews, as they censor heavily).

          I’ve had multiple experiences where I’ve booked appointments with doctors offices that were closed and not even taking appointments, or booked appointments with doctors offices and they weren’t notified the appointment was booked.

          Now imagine you have massive anxiety, you finally went through all the effort needed to make an appointment, you show up and you cannot have your appointment. You’ll never try again.

      1. just another queer reader*

        +1. My partner actively hates phone calls, and will choose medical providers, takeout places, and more based in part on whether you can schedule online.

        I don’t mind phone calls but the limited hours are really tough!

        My dentist office does scheduling by text, which seems to be a nice compromise for a small business.

        1. Princess Xena*

          That’s a good point – one reason I hate doing phone calls is that I usually have to take time away from work just to schedule an appointment because they only take calls during business hours.

        2. KR*

          The limited hours are what makes it hard for me. I hate having to schedule knowing I’ll have to take a day off work, then asking for the day off work and hoping it coincides with the day of my appointment, and then I try to make another doctors appointment for the same day to stack the appointments and take advantage of the day off but they don’t have availability that day, or they don’t answer their phone a lot, or they need an authorization from my primary care doctor and they’re booking out 4 months and also are extremely hard to get ahold of via the phone. It’s all just so overwhelming. My dentist’s office is great and I love them but I avoid doctors appointments because it’s so stressful to balance all the different things that need to happen and insurance and whatnot

    4. Suprisingly ADHD*

      I ended up telling my doctor’s office (by email) that I need to switch to exclusively texts and email communications. I had someone to drive me to most appointments, and my specialist switched to remote appointments in early 2020. It was still really rough until we found the right anxiety prescription for me. Before that, I was using some coping techniques that I had read on the internet, which barely got me through the least that it was absolutely necessary. Writing down scripts for phone conversations, including stuff like the dates I had free, and “I will have to check that and tell you later”

        1. Suprisingly ADHD*

          The phone scripts were probably the most helpful. That was my biggest hurdle, given all the people I had to talk to find the right specialists and get insurance to cover it.

          I also gave myself permission to be “pathetic” sometimes. Like: I had an appointment today, then I cried in the car, ate a ridiculous IHOP breakfast, and now I’m going to bed for the day. Or: Yes, I cried for 20 minutes after that phone call. Yes, that person probably heard me tear up. It’s a doctor’s office, I’m not the first or last weepy person they’ve talked to. They probably think I’m pathetic? Maybe but they still have to do their job, or I’ll find another practice.

          Speaking of, I had to learn how to “fire” a doctor/office/whatever. That was the most liberating thing when I finally did it. I didn’t say it in the office, despite the doctor telling me to my face that grown women can’t have ADHD (total bull by the way). Instead, I said “ok” to whatever he said, made the follow up appointments at the front desk like he wanted, thought about it for a couple of days, then canceled it all by email. Being able to say to myself “wow, that guy was SO wrong, he really needs to study [topic]” felt really good, remembering that every doctor is good at certain treatments and bad at others. I tried several types of specialist before I found one with the skillset I need and a personality I like.

          Find out if your doctor’s office has a social worker. If so, email that person a list of your requirements: takes my insurance, currently accepting patients, treats this specific condition, has morning appointments, etc. Be VERY specific. The social worker will do all the hard work of going through the very outdated list from your insurance (they’re always outdated), calling each one, finding out which ones are actually out of business, asking all your questions. That way, you only have to follow up with one person.

          I also used a template to help organize my thoughts about what I want from each doctor. I don’t know if I can post a link but it’s from Pictal Health. Google “pictal health summary”, click the result that says How It Works, then find the highlighted link to the Google Doc Template at the bottom of step 1.
          I downloaded it as a word document and just used it for myself. I starts with your current concerns and questions, then it’s got spaces for family history, treatments that did or didn’t work, current and past prescriptions, pretty much everything you might need to tell a doctor. It helped me a lot, I bring 2 copies to every appointment so when doctors want me to fill out forms, I just hand them the relevant page and still have copy for me.

    5. PollyQ*

      I’ve enlisted family members to help me find therapists, in ways ranging from asking them to do some research to having them hold my hand (pretty literally) while I made phone calls or send emails. But it’s very definitely a problem! I know not everyone has that kind of support system, though, and I’m sure many people would be reluctant to ask for help, even when there are people who’d be happy to pitch in.

    6. Maggie*

      At some point if you need medical care you’ve got to rip the band aid off and communicate with a medical provider. More online booking options sounds great. If someone’s health is seriously suffering due to not being able to make phone calls, then they need therapy and help asap. There are options for remote and even text therapy now.

      1. Decidedly Me*

        Telling someone they just need to rip the bandaid off really minimizes what folks with severe anxiety go through. If they could just do it, they would! Same as folks with depression (just feel better!) and other mental illnesses

    7. fhqwhgads*

      In my experience one of three things happens:
      1) They do not get said help.
      2) They do get said help because someone offers it without being asked.
      3) Whatever they’re suffering from is finally SO BAD it is more unpleasant than the asking so they do ask.

    8. Gatomon*

      I’m not severely anxious and am medicated, but online appointments are a godsend. My barber is too busy to do walk-ins so booking online is the only way I get my hair cut. I wish more doctors offices, vets, etc. would adopt this. I need to schedule a dental appointment, my yearly checkup and my cat needs to go in for his annual, but I’m too overloaded right now dealing with my mom’s estate to make more phone calls.

      I also find it exponentially harder to call/go to a new place or service versus an old familiar one.

      I’ve always been super frustrated with therapists in particular though. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve called to try and find a therapist after working up the courage to just get no response. Not even a “sorry I’m booked full.” Luckily there is a school nearby that has a decent process so I just call them now when I need assistance and they actually respond and schedule me to see someone. It stinks when they graduate and move on but they just transition me to someone else.

    9. Mimmy*

      I am SO glad there are others out there who dread making phone calls to make appointments! My specific issues are negotiating appointment times and describing why I need the appointment (beyond routine visits). I think I’m better now than when I was younger.

      I like Surprisingly ADHD’s idea of scripts and writing down dates that are free. I also tend to prefer places that allow you to schedule appointments online. That way, I can take my time to look at what’s available against my schedule rather than feeling rushed when I’m on the phone.

    10. SocialWorker123*

      I sometimes have had anxiety/dread making phone calls, and I agree with having more online options, writing out a script with what I want to say. I know several people who have gotten help when a loved one made the appointment/went with the loved one to the appointment.
      Some other tips: rewarding myself with doing something fun after doing the hard thing; breaking down the task into different parts – what days am I free, do I have my insurance card.
      also cognitive behavioral therapy and therapistaid can be helpful, in identifying what is the fear/thoughts getting in the way

  18. Kate, short for Bob*

    Excellent tips. Re paint storage though, I always store mine upside down – means I have to make sure they’re properly sealed, and they get a start on remixing when you put them right way up to open.

    Also makes it easier to get things out of food tins :-)

  19. L. Ron Jeremy*

    My 20 year old cat Honsom went to the bridge.

    Thanks to the commenters from two weeks ago, he got one extra week with us until he showed obvious signs that we needed to act to end his suffering.

    So lonely without him. First time in 33 years without a feline presence in my life.

    1. Meh*

      I’m sorry for your loss. I hope the additional week of snuggles was full of precious moments.

    2. LittleBabyDamien*

      I am so sorry to hear about Honsom’s passing. I hope you are able to find comfort in knowing that you did the best for him at the end, and that you come to a place where memories of him warm your spirit without bringing deep sorrow. He was loved well.

    3. Cats? Young or old*

      Condolences on your loss. I’ve only managed to go a couple of weeks without a cat, since my first (and best ever Tigger some decades ago) and the thought of being without one, especially such a special one, is very lonely.
      I did some kitten fostering the last couple of months, something like that might get you through the gap til your next cat.

    4. Lucy Skywalker*

      So sorry for your loss. All my deceased pets welcome your kitty to the rainbow bridge.

    5. Rage*

      Oh, I’m sorry. But I bet he’s up there with my Cairo, who went last Thursday night, raiding the crockpots for tasty tidbits. I’m glad you got the extra time.

    6. MEH Squared*

      So sorry for the loss of your Honsom. May you find peace and comfort in his memories one day.

    7. Eff Walsingham*

      20 years! What an accomplishment. No doubt your loving care was a major contributing factor to his long life.

      We had to say goodbye to a lovely kitty fella in April. And, although it’s definitely too soon for us in several ways, another mature cat in my husband’s family was in need of a place to go, so we’ve obliged. Turns out, she’s rather lovely too, in different ways. Even though it’s been a terribly painful spring, I’m so grateful for all the love we shared with Mischief while he was with us. So I’m making an effort to keep my heart open for our remaining cats.

  20. The Other Dawn*

    Any recommendations for good websites or YouTube channels/videos that deal with exercises for hip flexor pain? I’ve Googled lots and searched through YouTube, but I’m really overwhelmed with the sheer volume of choices, many of which seem not great or are contradictory to one another.

    Background: I had lumbar fusion in March 2020, which solved the back pain, then started with bilateral hip bursitis somewhere around June/July the same year and have had it ever since. Tried PT and multiple rounds of steroid injections into the bursa (helped, but not long-lasting). Then the hip flexors started up on both sides, I think Fall of last year, and also piriformis pain on the right. PT was stopped since it didn’t seem to help. I’ve done several rounds of steroid injections directly into the hip joint. Those helped a lot and I feel great for about two weeks, then I start declining again. I needed a steroid taper pack a couple months ago due to a sudden onset of sciatica and I couldn’t believe how good my hips felt. Like, no pain at all for about three days. It returned, of course, once the pack was done. I’m now back in pain management and the doctor thinks I have something going on in my back that’s referring pain to the hips. At first I was skeptical because my back wasn’t bothering me, only my hips, but I’ve noticed that when the hips feel good (rare), I definitely now have pain and pressure in my back and it seems to be the level above the fusion. So, I’m going for an MRI soon. (Only took three new orders and two appeals to get it approved. /s)

    At this point, the flexor pain is the worst part of the hip pain. (I still have bursitis, but it doesn’t interrupt my sleep anymore.) I’m convinced there’s a ton of inflammation in there based on how good I felt when I’ve had the direct injections into the hip joint and taking the taper pack. I feel like it’s caused by having a desk job where I sit most of the day. Even though I use a standing desk, and also make sure I get up to move around, it’s not nearly enough. I’m at the point where I feel like a leave of absence from work for a few months (so I don’t sit at a desk), along with intensive PT, is the only way I’ll be rid of this. Can’t afford a leave, though, and I don’t know if STD would apply. It’s wearing me down bigtime and I don’t want to live on pain meds. They’re very useful right now (can’t have NSAIDs), but they’re not a cure. I went so far as to buy a spa to help with pain relief.

    1. Bazza7*

      On YouTube – SpineCare Decompression & Chiropractic Centre, the guys name is Dr Rowe, he covers, hips, back, neck, knees, etc, he puts out a video most days some short and some long. I have followed his tips and found relief particularly for neck and back.

    2. Garden Kitchen Witch*

      I like SpineCare Decompression and Chiropractic Center on YouTube. Good luck.

    3. Hiring Mgr*

      I had a recent hip replacement and am pretty well versed on all things hip related.. you will know much more once you have the MRI/X-ray (I would try and schedule that asap) so the dr’s can tell exactly what’s happening, the severity etc..

      Until then I’d look at simple exercises that work to strengthen the surrounding areas (glutes, etc)

      1. Kate in Scotland*

        Glute strengthening was what worked for me when I had hip flexor pain. And having a PT who properly talked me through what sort of pain is ok/ good pain versus bad pain. Having had chronic pain I got very anxious about experiencing (mild, expected) pain during exercising and it made it difficult for me to exercise effectively.

      2. The Other Dawn*

        Yes, I’m waiting for the radiology department to call me to schudule. The authorization was sent over to them to other day so I should be getting the call Monday or Tuesday.

    4. Ranon*

      When I did PT for hip flexor pain it was mainly a glute issue and 2x per week sessions and 30 minutes at home every day made a world of difference in a few weeks- I went from not being able to sit on chairs to relatively pain free very quickly. Obviously you’ve got more going on, but the big muscles in that area can be pretty responsive pretty quickly.

      Even if you don’t have time for full leave it’s likely worth trying what you do have time for- right now it sounds a bit like you’re letting the ideal scenario stop you from trying for incremental improvements (which is understandable, pain wears you out!)

      If you are sitting in chairs, trying for a forward tilt in the seat might help- I had to set mine so I would nearly slide off the front, which meant my spine stacked properly and my hips stayed open. Would your work offer an ergonomic assessment for you?

      1. The Other Dawn*

        Yes, they we have Facilities people who performed an ergo assessment for me back when I was hired, which was about a year before fusion.

        Hmm, tilting forward. That sounds like it would make for a very awkward working position! But I see how that would help the flexors. When I lean back in my chair as far as it will go–generally when I’m shooting the breeze with my manager or I’m thinking–I feel all the pressure on my flexors release. I obviously can’t work like that, though. I also bought a cheaper version of the zero gravity recliner I use at home for my office and I will use that when there are tasks I can do on my small laptop, like webinars or checking email. That also allows me to stretch out the hips. But between that, using my Varidesk to alternate sitting and standing, and walking around when needed, it’s still not enough. It’s been two years and I’m pretty damn tired.

    5. fposte*

      Ouch, Dawn, that sucks. I agree that glue strengthening is a good go-to for anything in the area, but for a lot of us sitters the hip flexors tighten and pull on the lower back. You might also explore a different PT; I worked recently with a truly great one and the difference between that and a good one is huge. I’ll put links in followup, but I’d recommend somebody who works one on one with you the whole time rather than leaving you supervised by techs to do exercises, and somebody who’s got OCS certification or is a fellow with the AAOMPT.

    6. RagingADHD*

      Bob and Brad on YouTube. (Jokingly self-styled “the 2 most popular physical therapists on the internet.”)

      Very targeted advice that’s easy to follow and works quickly in most cases.

      They are also goofballs, which is nice.

      1. No time for games*

        Second Bob and Brad. I have serious dr phobia. When I twisted my ankle very badly I used there video to handle it myself. I just could not make myself go to emergency room. They outlined difference between a break (which needs a dr) and a sprain ( which does not.) Luckily I have much better anti anxiety meds now but I still wouldn’t go to emergency room unless I was gushing blood or unconscious!

    7. yesterday's bluberries*

      Just curious: why not stand at a standing desk? It reads as if you’re sitting all day. I needed a thick foam mat for my floor, but I stand 6+ hours a day at my standing desk.

      1. The Other Dawn*

        It’s a Varidesk that sits on top of my regular desk. I can raise it when I want to stand and lower when I want to sit. I alternate between sitting and standing, but it’s not enough to keep the hip pain at bay.

    8. Filthy Vulgar Mercenary*

      Have you ever looked into psoas muscle release? Lawrence Gold has a bunch of videos on YouTube, and a whole Free Your Psoas program that you can buy (but most of his stuff can be found for free if you Google it)

      1. Generic Name*

        I had/have issues with my psoas, and here’s what helped me:

        -Physical therapy involving stretches/strengthening homework at home, dry needling, and the auto massaging gun
        -walking at least once a day
        -yoga at home (yoga with Adrienne on YouTube)
        -assisted stretches (my husband has 2 black belts and is very good at body mechanics)
        -massage/sports massage
        -foam roller at home

    9. SofiaDeo*

      Have you looked at an ergonomic task stool, where the weight is partly on your knees? It’s not a full-on sitting or standing position.

      The best exercises I know of for this type of pain are basic ballet/modern dance warm up stretching ones. It helps your core and hips without any weight other than your own. You start lying on your back, gently stretching your hip muscles by supporting your knee in a few positions. This then progresses to a few leg lifts/stretches on your side, then sitting, then a few standing.

  21. Meh*

    Weight lifting apps

    Thanks for the recs from a few weeks ago. I was confused about the Strong Lifts app until I saw it on an iPhone. The android version (what I have) is not entirely clear on total weight vs added weights to log. Although I love the program, all the info says you can’t/shouldn’t use a Smith machine and that’s all the gym has. Does anyone use the Smith? I’m female and just starting so it’s not like it’s overloaded.

    I’m also using the fitbod app on non strong lift days.

    1. Cats? Young or old*

      I lost one of my pair of brother cats a few months ago, and now have only one 12-year-old cat. I’m considering alternatives: adopting another older cat, adopting a kitten or pair of kittens, or continuing as a one cat household.

      I’m getting older myself; the chart at my vet’s office puts my cat, at age 12, at about my same age of 64 human years.

      I am concerned whether I’m too old to adopt a kitten now, and curious what the rest of you all think about aging and acquiring new companion animals. Do you feel a need for a life expectancy longer than the animals?

      I think, based on my parents’ and grandparents’ lifespans, I have a good chance of living another 20 years, so I probably have one more cat lifespan left in me. But would I want to be responsible for another life at the end of mine? Or, would it be worse to live my final years with no cat?

      Thoughts?

      1. Asenath*

        Well, for many years I always adopted adult cats, partly because I like them (although I have been accused of never seeing a cat I didn’t like) and partly, as I grew older, because I started wondering what would happen if I died first; of course, I have spoken about my concerns with close friends and relatives, and I’m sure one of them will step up, but…. Two of them, who live together (so, one household) are about my age and decided after their last cat died, some years ago, that they were too old for another At the time, I was shocked. Anyway, during COVID both my cats died. One was old and developed kidney failure and thyroid problems, which I know is not unexpected, and the other, only months earlier, very unexpectedly. Best guess some kind of heart failure? She was still fairly young. Anyway, it took me a while to adjust, and I wasn’t getting any older, but I picked up another young adult cat at a shelter, thinking at least partly, well, life is uncertain, she may well die first. Maybe it’s time for a one-cat household with an older cat. And then I fell for a kitten. First time I have had a kitten in the house in decades. But so far, it’s working out – the two get along very well, I managed to get through the hyperactive stage (I hope; honestly, the now almost ex-kitten doesn’t seem to be slowing down much, but the older cat is very placid). My last cats, probably, given my age and their life expectancy. But I don’t regret it at all. I still trust to my nearest humans to care for them if I die first, and am still a little puzzled that the friends the same age as me decided to do without cats because they (the humans) were too old all those years ago.

        I had another friend who was the caregiver for her very elderly mother who had Alzheimer’s. She (the mother) had a cat until shortly before she died (the cat was old too, and died of natural causes) and got great comfort from its company.

    2. ActionJackson*

      I don’t like the smith machine because of the bar path. I think it’s best to learn the fundamentals of squatting/pressing, etc without the use of a smith machine.

      1. DistantAudacity*

        Yes, and you don’t get the core benefits of having also having to maintain stability and balance.

        I’m sorry the StrongLifts app is not so good on Android!

        1. Meh*

          The app is totally usable since I’ve been using it. It’s just not as pretty or intuitive as it is on ios. lol. I have gotten stronger in just the two weeks I’ve been doing it!

      2. Meh*

        I’ve squatted without it previously but there’s no regular squat rack at planet fitness. Even dumbells aren’t an option because I’ve maxed out.

    3. Jessi*

      You can start with a bar like they use for pump? I max out around 30kgs as I can’t lift the 30kgs over my head to squat it!

  22. Tash*

    Anyone had laser tattoo removal? What was your experience like? What kind of tattoo did you have removed? How many treatments did it take and are you happy with the result? Any tips on what to expect / look out for in the first consult? (In the UK, if that makes any difference.)

    I’m wanting to remove a fairly small, black-only tattoo from my wrist. If that goes well I’m considering also removing my foot tattoo. I’ve got a free consultation and patch test booked this week.

    Anyway it’s maybe a niche question but maybe someone here will have experience! Thanks in advance.

    1. MuttIsMyCopilot*

      I haven’t, but I know several people who have. The general consensus is that it hurts more than the tattoo did, and black ink is the hardest to remove. I’d definitely take some ibuprofen ahead of time. Treat it like an actual burn as far as keeping the area clean and staying out of pools/lakes. Don’t be surprised if it blisters or scabs over. Any kind of first aid ointment with a numbing agent will help, and those nonstick wound pads are great if you need to cover it.

      Two people I know opted to just do one or two sessions to fade it and then tattooed over them because removal was so painful.

      1. Tash*

        Your comment really surprised me because most people say black ink is the easiest and green is hardest – and ibuprofen is actively advised against.

        I don’t care if it hurts – I really just want it gone!

        1. PollyQ*

          If you do want to use an OTC pain reliever, acetaminophen/Tylenol doesn’t have the blood-thinning issues that NSAIDS (aspirin, ibuprofen, Aleve) do.

        1. MuttIsMyCopilot*

          Interesting! I’ll admit that none of my friends’ experiences are particularly recent and maybe things have changed. I can’t imagine why it would be ill-advised to take ibuprofen, but obviously heed the doctor’s advice over secondhand internet data!

          1. AnonRN*

            Ibuprofen can increase risk of bleeding for some people and is also generally not appropriate for people with kidney disease, so as a generic recommendation “take Ibuprofen” is too broad, but in the case of a specific individual “avoid Ibuprofen” might be too narrow. Definitely a “check with your doctor” thing, even while the broader advice of “this procedure hurts, try to take something for pain beforehand” is solid.

    2. FACS*

      You may want to check with your doctor about getting a topical numbing cream. Seems to help.

      1. Ali + Nino*

        I’ve read that some practitioners will aim the laser through a piece of glass as that also seems to reduce the pain! But definitely verify beforehand. Good luck!

    3. Surrogate Tongue Pop*

      Yes! I have had one removed it… was on the back of my neck and a blue starfish with a black shadow. It hurt, but it’s a short time period. I got something called Dr. Numb to apply a few hours beforehand and cover with cling film. You get the grottiest blisters after, but that is an expected response and….a good one (means your body is reacting the right way to the laser).

      Black came out after first treatment! Blue is the hardest color to remove (lucky me) and if it doesn’t come out with the laser, they switch to a different, slower laser specifically for blue (if your tattoo removal place has multiple lasers). I am 4 or 5 appointments in and the blue is very very faded. But there is some still there.

    4. Sher*

      I had a huge color tattoo removed from my upper arm and the black went the fastest and the blue was the most stubborn. It took 13 laser treatments and at that point I decided to do a cover-up which I love. I was fortunate to have a laser removal guy that used a “chiller” while doing the removal. This blew ice-cold air on the tattoo as he used the laser which made it very tolerable. I brought an icepack with me and strapped it to my arm for the drive home and used it for about 24 hours after the treatment. I developed blisters and scabs etc each treatment (about 6 weeks or so apart) and it was pretty tender for about a week after each treatment.

  23. Cats? Young or old*

    I lost one of my pair of brother cats a few months ago, and now have only one 12-year-old cat. I’m considering alternatives: adopting another older cat, adopting a kitten or pair of kittens, or continuing as a one cat household.

    I’m getting older myself; the chart at my vet’s office puts my cat, at age 12, at about my same age of 64 human years.

    I am concerned whether I’m too old to adopt a kitten now, and curious what the rest of you all think about aging and acquiring new companion animals. Do you feel a need for a life expectancy longer than the animals?

    I think, based on my parents’ and grandparents’ lifespans, I have a good chance of living another 20 years, so I probably have one more cat lifespan left in me. But would I want to be responsible for another life at the end of mine? Or, would it be worse to live my final years with no cat?

    Thoughts?

    P.s. having the same problems with this site loading, reloading, mentioned by others. Apologies for the nesting fail.

    1. Not So NewReader*

      I am in your age group. My dog is 13. I found a friend years ago who said he would take my wild child mutt if I were no longer here. I said I would take his dog if the situation were reversed.

      My suggestion to you is get a kitten if that is what you want. And take the extra step of finding a friend who would take the cat for you, if you were no longer to take care of it. And you can do a reciprocal agreement like I did.

      I plan on getting another dog, but much smaller. I think this time I will line up two friends, one to back up the other friend. That next dog will indeed be my last dog. Weird to be saying that….

      People even put their animals in their wills for the care of the animals. And you’d be surprised who agrees to do this for people. Friends of mine took in another person’s dog. This was odd, because my friends said NO more dogs. And then they took in a dog as a favor. They love the little guy.

      The reason I am saying this is I am thinking of an aunt. The doc told her to get rid of her cat because of allergy.
      She did. It was a disaster. In the end, the doc said get a cat, here’s your allergy med. The costs of being without her companion were far greater than the cost of the allergy.

      Go get your cat and line up a friend.

    2. Not Australian*

      If it’s any consolation I’m older than you and have just taken on a two year old special needs cat, detailed elsewhere in today’s post. As well as choosing a friend to take over if/when the time comes, there are also some charities specifically dedicated to providing loving homes for pets whose humans are no longer able to care for them – although that will very much depend on where you live, of course.

    3. anonagain*

      What’s your current cat like? At this point I think I’d be more concerned with what’ll suit him best.

    4. Doctor is In*

      Lots of older cats need homes and are harder to get adopted, so you might factor that in. Our cats are 12 year old siblings and we would probably try to find an older one if something happened to one.

    5. the cat's ass*

      I’m in my late 60’s and have a cheerfully demented 13 yo kitty. We (hubs is 63 and kid is 16) adopted two kittens recently-they are now one and two and even tho i’d forgotten how much work it is to keep kittens out of trouble, it’s been a blast! We have plans in place for the cats if anything happens to us, and that is very comforting. Especially since older demented guy was a rescue kitty at 9 because his owner became ill and was unable to care for him.

    6. All het up about it*

      So two things:
      1) I was just reading yesterday about shelters that are starting permanent foster programs. Older adults who are nervous about taking on new pets due to their age, but want the companionship, agree to permanently foster an animal. The shelter retains ownership and pays or helps pay for food and vet care. So something to think about or investigate.

      2) We’ve had this thought and we are still a decade or two behind you in age. We did actually write care for our cats into our will, and name a custodian there, granting them funds for each animal. Verbal agreements are great, but written is much better. I’ve also known people who set up an actual trust for their pets. If you live near a vet school and you don’t have anyone you’d want to take your animals after you pass you could possibly work with them on a care plan/trust. I’ve actually heard of people who leave property in trust as well. Then the school has a vet student or someone live at the home with the animal(s) and the trust pays for house upkeep and care of animal and house. When the pet passes the home is sold and remaining funds are donated to the school. That’s probably too elaborate for most people, but there are options you can look into, so you would feel comfortable gettingkittens or any peot you like.

  24. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

    (Both serious and silly answers welcome.)

    Anyone have any idea as to why my power might flicker at exactly 8am, about three days a week but never the same ones? It flicks out long enough to knock my modem/router offline, black out my external monitors and reboot my printer, but not long enough to require resetting of digital clocks. Nobody else but me and my dogs are awake in my house, nothing big like the HVAC is kicking on. I assume it’s not something flipping a breaker because I don’t have to do anything to get it back, it flicks itself back on after just a couple of seconds and I don’t think breakers do that, plus the router, printer and my computers (which are laptops luckily) and their monitors are not all on the same breaker circuit.

    I’m in a single family house and we’ve lived here for almost seven years. This has been going on for about three weeks or so, but as I said, the only consistency is that when it does happen, it always happens at 8am – otherwise, it could be any day of the week, could be a couple days in a row or could be several days of nothing in between.

    1. Haven’t picked a user name yet*

      My guess is that everyone in your neighborhood is booting up at the same time. The substation that services you might be at capacity. (This is probably neither helpful nor silly!!)

      1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        It actually is helpful in that it occurs to me that maybe I should post on the neighborhood NextDoor site and see if anyone else is experiencing the same thing. :)

        1. Not So NewReader*

          This is exactly what to do. If you see a pattern in the comments, then go forward and notify the power company.

          They can trace this stuff through in amazing ways. But they have to know there is a problem first. There’s not enough of them to check everything at all times. They rely on us to report.

    2. Jean (just Jean)*

      Silly suggestions:
      – a local poltergeist with a fascination for technology
      – a squirrel or bird somehow interacting with the power lines
      – signals from the universe that 8 am is an important time
      – interference from a passing planet, time travelers, or (the all-purpose explanation, ha ha) space aliens

    3. pancakes*

      Your neighbors have their weekly check-ins with intergalactic aliens at those times. Maybe there’s also a big facility nearby, like a hospital or school, that switches something on or tests its generators or whatnot at those times?

    4. The Cosmic Avenger*

      Because I have a mostly reasonable aversion to hard disk drives powering off while operating, I put an uninterruptible power supplies on one DVR, and one also in my “server room” which houses a my little network accessible server, and I put the router on that UPS since it’s in the same room. I didn’t get very big UPSs, but they’ll probably power those devices for a few minutes, and we rarely have power outages more than a second or two. They’re not a trivial expense, but they’re not exorbitant either, especially if you just want to power a handful of low-power devices for a few seconds.

      While I understand wanting an answer for this, as it’s not happening to me and I’m already insanely curious, but this is something you could do about it today if you are so inclined and the purchase isn’t a barrier. Since you mention the AC, are you close enough to any businesses to be on the same substation? I wonder if businesses a few blocks away could be starting things up, like their large capacity AC units, at 8am.

      1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        I don’t think it’s nearby businesses, we’re pretty deep in suburbia so while there’s a ton of stuff a couple miles away, it’s all 2-3 miles away and my immediate neighborhood is decidedly residential.

        I was looking at mini-UPSes this morning right after I posted this :)

        1. The Cosmic Avenger*

          Hm. How old is your AC unit? Our old one blew its fuse once, and the tech gave me a spare fuse and showed me how to replace it, but explained something I can’t remember about the multimeter readings he got and said that meant it would start doing that more and more often, so I started shopping for a replacement. It could be that it’s not enough to trip a breaker, but the older unit is drawing more power to start up. If I wanted to test this, I’d leave switch the thermostat from Cool to Off at night, once the house is cool enough, and then set a reminder for, say, 8:30 or 9am to switch it back.

          1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

            It’s only about four years old and gets twice a year regular maintenance.

        2. Observer*

          I don’t think it’s nearby businesses, we’re pretty deep in suburbia so while there’s a ton of stuff a couple miles away, it’s all 2-3 miles away and my immediate neighborhood is decidedly residential.

          Maybe someone who is now working from home has a rather more intensive set up than normal. (Like maybe hosting a service that’s ramping up.)

          I was looking at mini-UPSes this morning right after I posted this

          That was actually my first thought.

    5. RagingADHD*

      What happened three weeks ago?

      Did it start getting hot?
      School let out (kids are all home watching TV)?
      New nuclear particle collider come online in the neighborhood?

      1. Falling Diphthong*

        Tore down a nearby office park, forcing its resident ghosts to seek new homes?

        (Office park ghosts is a thing I would never have imagined without this site, but apparently a lot of spirits decide to haunt offices.)

    6. Lucy Skywalker*

      Silly answer:
      The government is messing with your electricity every morning at 8 just for funzies; because they have nothing better to do.
      (I probably shouldn’t have said this online because you know that at least one person out there will believe it.)

      1. Sunshine*

        Or someone with a vendetta. Did you (ever so slightly) wrong someone who works at the power company? Someone with a high level of pettiness and stick-to-it-ivness?
        I’m imagining someone has an alarm on their phone set for paybacks and switching a flip on and off.
        Also I want this person. To be a book character.

    7. Princess Xena*

      Do you live somewhere with lots of solar panels? Because if you do, the power companies try and lower the central output in the morning and then boost it back up at night to match the fluctuations from a sun-based system. That might be affecting you.

    8. Suprisingly ADHD*

      It’s possible that there’s some kind of scheduled work being done on the lines. If the power company is switching you to a different substation (or whatever type of junction applies), there may be a little *blip* at that moment.
      Or maybe your house decided it needs to reboot, who knows!

    9. Eh, nonymous*

      I live in Tallahassee, FL, and the popular urban legend when these things happen is that the National High Magnetic Field Laboratory turned the magnet on.

    10. PollyQ*

      Any construction going on in the neighborhood? That often starts early in the morning, on a fairly regular schedule.

    11. Juneybug*

      I would call the power company. Push for them to take a look at your system and don’t let them blow you off. Here is why I suggest this –
      Ten years ago, I noticed all of the lights in our house started becoming dimmer over time. I was turning more and more lights on to see in the house. It wasn’t approaching winter so it was not a seasonal situation. I thought I was either going crazy or my eyes needed to be check.
      I called the power company and they blew me off (it’s been cloudy weather, maybe your appliances are going bad, or your light bulbs need to be replaced, etc.). At first my husband didn’t notice but after a while, he was “Hey, why can’t we see the oven light on the control panel anymore? That can’t be good as this is a brand new oven.”
      So I called the power company and insisted someone come out to check our electricity. Lo and behold, our transformer was slowly dying. Usually they suddenly stop working or blow up (which makes me glad they are out on the street). The electrician had never seen or heard of that happening in the 15 years he had been with the company. A new transformer solved my dimming problem. And my eyes were fine.
      Recently we got a new meter installed on the house. I am hanging out with the technician shooting the breeze and happen to mention our transformer slowly dying story. He excitingly said, “That was you??!!” He had heard the rumors but didn’t think it was possible. He wanted all of the details to my story.
      So yeah, call the power company. Your house might be an electrical unicorn.
      I would call the power company. Push for them to take a look at your system and don’t let them blow you off. Here is why I suggest this –
      Ten years ago, I noticed all of the lights in our house started becoming dimmer over time. I was turning more and more lights on to see in the house. It wasn’t approaching winter so it was not a seasonal situation. I thought I was either going crazy or my eyes needed to be check.
      I called the power company and they blew me off (it’s been cloudy weather, maybe your appliances are going bad, or your light bulbs need to be replaced, etc.). At first my husband didn’t notice but after a while, he was “Hey, why can’t we see the oven light on the control panel anymore? That can’t be good as this is a brand new oven.”
      So I called the power company and insisted someone come out to check our electricity. Lo and behold, our transformer was slowly dying. Usually they suddenly stop working or blow up (which makes me glad they are out on the street). The electrician had never seen or heard of that happening in the 15 years he had been with the company. A new transformer solved my dimming problem. And my eyes were fine.
      Recently we got a new meter installed on the house. I am hanging out with the technician shooting the breeze and happen to mention our transformer slowly dying story. He excitingly said, “That was you??!!” He had heard the rumors but didn’t think it was possible. He wanted all of the details to my story.
      So yeah, call the power company. Your house might be an electrical unicorn.

  25. Volunteer Burnout*

    My original problem:
    There is an abrasive volunteer who has been causing a lot of conflict because they don’t seem to understand how to deal with people. Last month I was trying to decide how to cope, and whether to leave my volunteer group.

    Update:
    Thanks to your useful advice and thinking What Would Alison Do?, I told the organizer that I refuse to interact with this person. The organizer is a bit upset with everyone because this abrasive volunteer has personal problems and she wants us to be supportive, but I made it clear that I barely have the capacity to do the basic volunteer work and I have no extra energy for the massive emotional labor this volunteer drains from me. We had an awkward exchange a few weeks ago, but I went straight to the organizer and told her to resolve it, and I don’t expect to hear from that volunteer very often if at all because the organizer knows to avoid it. The work that I do is unique, and the organizer doesn’t want to lose me. I also didn’t force the organizer to choose between us, so she can continue to help the abrasive volunteer with their problems.

    I’m still exhausted from all the problems, but at least my worries and time are now focused on the community we are working to help. It is such a relief! Thank you to everyone who helped me get to an optimal solution.

    1. Salymander*

      I’m really glad you were able to advocate for yourself like that. It isn’t your job to risk drowning just so you can try to keep afloat with someone’s millstone around your neck. I hope things at your volunteer gig continue to improve.

  26. Heckofabecca*

    Does anyone have good resources for supporting a partner with substance abuse issues?
    Thanks so much and I hope you’re well.

    1. Swisa*

      Self care for yourself, and also therapy! And making sure your finances are protected, and that you have people to confide in. My partner doesn’t struggle with this, but we have a close family member. Also, maintaining boundaries as needed.

      Their addiction is chronic, and has lasted multiple decades at this point.

      1. Swisa*

        We also do things like not having alcohol available at events that we host that they attend, and making sure medications are secure. But that only goes so far – the change has to be on their end. A big thing has been realizing that there’s really nothing we can do to affect their addiction, and making peace with that.

        1. PhyllisB*

          Yes!! Good point on no alcohol. My husband and I quit drinking so we wouldn’t have any alcohol around to tempt. One of them didn’t drink they had other issues, but still…we wanted to set a good example

    2. Been there Done that*

      Nar-Anon is a great resource. Go to a few meetings and listen. You may find the emphasis is on you not enabling the addict and loving disengagement. It is hard. They will help. A lot.

      1. Swisa*

        Yes to not enabling! Like with our family member who has substance abuse issues, we will never just give them money, but might be willing to pay a bill directly.

        It doesn’t help to pretend it’s not happening. Honestly, we wish this family member would just be honest when they fall off the wagon, instead of always lying, and we’ve told them that, but they never are.

        In our family member’s case, we wish they would just budget $x per month for substances, and not use around us, instead of pretending that they’re not using, and then spending money they don’t have on substances.

    3. PhyllisB*

      I can somewhat speak to this having three children who have been abusers. The same approach doesn’t work for everyone. First thing:does partner WANT help/support? If they are just saying what they think you want to hear, it’s no good. If you know anyone who has conquered their issues, it might be helpful to ask them. (Yes, I realize that you never consider yourself “cured ” but you get my meaning.)
      Also perhaps consult with your doctor or if you belong to a religious organization consult with your pastor/leader.
      Also ask your partner what kind of support do they need from you?
      There’s plenty more to be said on this, but this will start you thinking. I’m sure others on here will have some helpful comments

    4. Come On Eileen*

      Al-Anon is a fantastic resource for YOU. If the partner is trying to get clean/sober, the best support you can give is to encourage that they attend AA or NA since that’s where a lot of magic happens and where people find long-term sobriety. There’s not a ton you can do for them, other than take care of yourself and learn about boundaries/detachment from the folks at Al-Anon.

    5. Generic Name*

      I assume your partner asked for your help and support? The only resource I know of for partners is alanon. Good luck.

    6. RC+Rascal*

      Get therapy yourself and decide how much of this you can take before you need to walk away to protect yourself. I say this as a child of 2 addicted parents.

    7. Squirrel Nutkin*

      You might try out Al-Anon and/or Nar-Anon for friends and families of people with substance abuse issues.

      They do have you focus on taking care of yourself, but that in and of itself *may* be helpful to the substance abuser: When you take good care of yourself and detach a little, you may feel less emotionally exhausted and resentful, and that can *sometimes* lead to a better atmosphere. And if it doesn’t? Hey, at least you’re taking good care of yourself.

      Remember that this is NOT your fault and that unfortunately, you really can’t control it. Best of luck to you.

    8. Been there!*

      There’s an excellent YouTube channel called “Put the Shovel Down.” Amber Hollingsworth, Master Addiction Counsellor, offers advice for both the person struggling and their family members. It is a tough journey for families, but please know that recovery is possible for everyone. One of the most important ways to support someone is to keep an open mind to ALL paths to recovery. Every single person is unique. What works for one won’t work for another. I have two loved ones in long-term recovery. Both took different paths to get there and are living life to the fullest now. Another way to support your loved one is to get educated on addiction and the science behind it. This was the best self-care for us and started us on the path to healing. Our entire approach toward our loved ones changed when we understood what we were dealing with (i.e. changes to the brain brought on by substance use). The anger went away and that was HUGE. When we dropped the anger, we could stay connected to our loved ones in healthy ways (no more arguing!). This meant that we had more windows of opportunity to hear change talk (when they’ve had enough and express a desire to change), and we learned to be helpful the right way in those moments. SMART Recovery is a great online (and in-person meetings in some places) resource for people struggling and their families. It uses an evidence-based and modern approach to addiction based on the CRAFT method (i.e. CBT and motivation interviewing techniques). Connecting with other families on the journey was very helpful as well. Meetings are great for this. We didn’t agree with everything said at the meetings, so we took what was helpful for us based on our situation and left the rest. We never judge anyone else either for their decisions. We all do our best in an extremely difficult situation that most of us never thought we’d be in. You’re not alone! Good luck.

  27. Irish Teacher*

    What’s the weather like where you are? It seems like the entire northern hemisphere except Ireland is getting a heatwave. Meanwhile, we…haven’t really had summer weather at all yet. It’s probably about 15 degrees Celsius/60ish Fahrenheit here.

    1. Kate in Scotland*

      Scotland has also mostly been heatwave free, we were 13C when it was 35C in southern England. Quite nice today though! Maybe 18C with some sunshine (central belt)

    2. Not So NewReader*

      I’m in upstate NY. It feels like a fall day here. Yesterday was plenty warm in the sun but today is oddly colder with the temp hovering around 68F/18C.

    3. The OG Sleepless*

      Ugh…here in Atlanta our highs have been in the upper 90s with 60% humidity. I mean, you really can’t be outside at all after about 9 AM. I have visitors coming for a mostly outdoor event in a few weeks and I really need to do a bunch of stuff in my yard, and I’m having to go out and just do a bit here and there early in the morning.

      1. PostalMixup*

        Same in Missouri. This is normal July/August weather; we almost never get this in June! Today we got a break: only 90 with 40% humidity! It was glorious.

    4. Falling Diphthong*

      New England: sunny, mild, weekend temps projected to have highs in the 60s, which is cool for this time of year. A damaged ligament in my foot is really limiting my ability to take advantage of all this nice weather.

    5. Eff Walsingham*

      The west coast of Canada is having a cold, wet spring by its usual standards. Normally the winter rains would have tapered off by now and it would feel more summery. But hardly a day has gone by yet when it doesn’t rain some of the time to all of the time. It’s fine by me; I like rain, and last summer was brutally hot. But it’s weird.

        1. Dark Macadamia*

          Happy Juneuary, neighbors! My poor kids were so excited when the pool opened over Memorial Day weekend and we still haven’t gotten to use it. We celebrated the last day of school at a waterfront park where they got to play on the little beach (fully clothed, with jackets, as you do in the PNW) for like half an hour before the drizzle started.

      1. Squeebird*

        Yup, I wore a sweater and raincoat to work this morning. It’s Juneuary, but I can’t complain because this time last year we were having a deadly heat dome so, bring on the chilly weather.

    6. Elle Woods*

      It’s been weird here in the upper Midwest (Minnesota) this week. It was nearly 100F on Tuesday, 63 on Wednesday, 75 on Thursday, 82 yesterday, supposed to 80 today, and 95-100 the next few days with little in the way of precipitation.

      1. MEH Squared*

        I live in a suburb of St. Paul and going through this as well. Yesterday, 78. Today, 90 ‘feels like’ 93. A few days ago, under 70. I hate heat to begin with and doubly so when it’s sandwiched between pleasant sub-70 weather.

    7. RagingADHD*

      Been about 95-100 F all week, with strong thunderstorms and torrential rain several days.

      Typical summer here (Deep South US).

    8. Anima*

      I live in South West Germany and it looks like we are going to hit 40°C soon. Which is absolutely normal in mid-June (now, thanks climate crisis). I’m just glad we did not get summer until June; we’ve had years were summer started in April and did not end until September. It was nice at first, but now it’s just annoying. 2022 seems to be absolutely average, it even rained in Winter! Hope it stays like that, not a big fan of the extreme heat.
      (We will be moving out of this heat bowl that is the Rhine river plain sooner or later because of the heat and drought, I guess we’ll be some of the first climate crisis relocater in Germany.)

        1. Anima*

          Thank you! :)
          I’ve been to Berlin several times and hated the size of it every time; it’s just too big for me. ;) We are thinking Schwarzwald or Kraichgau or something, not Freiburg though, no thank you.

      1. Irish Teacher*

        Yikes, the record in Ireland was something like 33 degrees Celsius and that was back in the 19th century. High 20s would be rare enough here.

        1. Anima*

          Maybe we should move to Ireland. ;) High 30s and spells with 40C are ususal here, also “sand” is a pretty common weather forecast (Sahara dessert sand). No sand forecasts in Ireland? Maaaybe we really should…

    9. Rara Avis*

      Central coast CA: unusually cool for June. We’ve had a couple days with highs in the 70’s. But we’ll be back to normal next week —90’s and even one day hitting 100. And we e forgotten what rain is.

    10. Girasol*

      Southern Idaho has been getting unseasonal amounts of rain, so much that they’re letting water out of the dams for flood control, when two months ago we were warned to limit lawn watering because summer promised to be the worst drought in decades.

    11. E. Chauvelin*

      In Ohio we had several days this week with highs in the upper 90s F and excessive heat warnings declared. Today is much cooler, about 75. It’s supposed to get hot again next week but I’m just glad the break is on the days when I’ll actually be outside not just to walk from my car to work.

    12. Missb*

      I’m on the west coast of the US, in the Pacific Northwest. It is warm enough to plant tomatoes but not hot enough to have any sort of growth. Things are particularly green.

      Last year around this time, we were recovering for a heat wave that put us at over 110 degrees for a couple of days. That was weird, and uncomfortable. This year, it’s just wet and cool, which sort of sucks if you’re a gardener. Nothing is dying but nothing is thriving exactly either, except the peas.

      Looks like next week we’ll hit 80, which will be a nice change. It’s late morning and hasn’t hit 60 yet, though that will be the high today apparently.

    13. VV*

      Central Texas. Feels like hell on earth. The “feels like” temp has been edging up toward 110F some days. I’m moving (back) to the Northeast next month and am nearly counting down the days.

    14. allathian*

      Southern Finland. Today it was like in Ireland, but with a lot of rain. Earlier in the week we had 18-22 C temps and sunshine. I love it, because our utility prices have quadrupled (!) since March, and I’m so glad we don’t have to run the AC.

    15. PollyQ*

      SF Bay Area, and it’s a little cool for the season. Currently ~1pm & 67F. Clear & sunny though. We had a couple days of 95F weather a few weeks ago, but other than that, it’s been a cool May/June.

    16. Llama face!*

      We are having a particularly warm sunny day here in the Canadian prairies. It’s low 30s Celsius actual temp but with a felt temperature of high 30s (due to humidity I believe). But, according to the weather predictors, it is going back down to our more usual low/mid 20s after today.

    17. Been There*

      Belgium: we had the hottest June 18 on record, with temperatures hitting 33C. I’m just happy the heat was short-lived and today we are getting thunderstorms to cool everything down.

      1. Irish Teacher*

        I think 33 degrees was the highest temperature ever recorded in Ireland, but that was back in the 1880s or something like that. Is it the highest ever recorded in Belgium?

    18. Cj*

      95f here in MN. Feels like 101 with the humidity. Tomorrow it is supposed to hit 100 and feel like 110. It is supposed to be quite warm all week, but upper 80’s, low 90’s, so better than today and tomorrow. We have a stiff wind, which helps. I’m glad we aren’t in fire prone country, or the wind would be really bad if one got started.

    19. Clisby*

      Charleston, SC, USA here. Currently getting to high 80’s low 90’s (F). Seems a little early to get this hot, but I always write off June – September as unbearably hot and stay inside with the AC cranked down as much as possible. The rest of the year, temps are pretty great.

    20. Miss Pantalones En Fuego*

      I’m in the north of England and it hasn’t really been that warm here either. Warmer than it has been but there has been a strong cool breeze all through the so called heat wave.

  28. Bernie*

    A 62 year old family friend in Illinois is being treated for a number of chronic medical conditions including cancer. She continues to work to maintain her health insurance. She is very open at work about the side effects of medications and chemo. She has told family and doctors that a number of times her legs give out at work and she falls. They’ve been urging her to go on disability. While at work last seek she felt lightheaded and fell again, breaking her arm and hip. The hip fracture required surgery and the recovery will be long and arduous. Her employer filed a workers comp claim but it was denied. Family members are divided about her filing a claim with the state of Illinois. Some feel the employer is at fault for allowing her to continue to work. Should the family pursue it?

    1. Not So NewReader*

      Soooo- her workplace should have told her to stop working? What about her doc, wouldn’t the doc be in a better position to say that?

      I have to say this. I am 62 but I am a competent adult. I think the family should support her in what SHE says she wants to do. If her workplace and/or doc override her desire to work and tell her she cannot work then the family can help her adapt to a life without a job.

      I suspect the most the work place could have done was give her a job description, tell her to show the doc and ask the doc if she could work and be safe.

      1. Bernie*

        I’m told one of the doctors told her to get the disability application forms but she hadn’t. Right now she is still in a lot of pain and is more concerned about starting rehab. She does not believe though that WC would or should cover it. The employer filed the claim on her behalf as there were witnesses.

    2. Typing All The Time*

      I filed a comp claim when I got hurt on the job. It might work better if it comes from her. Also can she work from home?

    3. fposte*

      Meaning applying through Illinois for the federal SSDI program? SSDI fast tracks for some cancers, so it’s worth looking into it; it also looks from a very quick glance that workers comp may lessen SSDI benefits but doesn’t preclude them, so it might be worth pursuing both.

    4. WellRed*

      She passed out and injured herself. The simple fact of it happening at work does not make it the workplace’s fault. It’s time to get real about her situation and her limitations.

      1. Juneybug*

        I agree with WellRed. It’s sad that your friend is going through this situation but we can not expect work places to dictate our health decisions.

    5. Princess Xena*

      Not a lawyer, and not in Illinois, so my legal knowledge is limited. That said, I doubt the claim will get far. If both doctors and family have been urging her to go on disability, that will probably be seen as proof that she knew there was a risk of her falling and chose to keep working anyways. Her workplace might be held liable if they knew she was at risk and ignored it, but if she wanted to keep working I don’t know that they could have forced her out legally and the worker’s comp results seem to suggest they don’t find the workplace liable.

      1. SofiaDeo*

        Same here (different state, not a lawyer), but HR gave me some instructions when I first became a departmental operations manager. Obviously ill employees could not work. Additionally, if I observed any signs or symptoms that indicated a staff member could not perform job duties, that person needed to have a discussion with someone. If I as a manager became aware of a condition that could affect that person’s ability to do their job safely (no risk to other staff or themselves) I had to call a halt to their work, and notify higher management/HR. I am under the impression, in the US, if you are unable to perform the job duties as listed without potential harm to yourself or others, you can be let go, even if not in an “at will” employment state.

    6. Unkempt Flatware*

      Eek. She needs to do something and quick as it is burdensome to the employer at this point. Very dangerous and potentially litigious for them.

    7. Cats? Young or old*

      What does “go on disability” mean here? If she has short or long term disability insurance with her employer, yes, absolutely she should get on that asap. She is still employed, using pto maybe, also needs to get on Fmla so she keeps her job and insurance, for the short term at least.

      If they meant SSDI or SSi, both are very difficult to qualify for and it takes time, months or years. It’s probably too late now that she’s injured but she could weigh her options

      At 62, she could also cut to the chase and take her SS and retire. but stay employed as long as possible to keep the employer insurance coverage for the injuries, etc. if she has a gap between employer coverage and Medicare at 65, she should get cobra or Aca insurance.

    8. ronda*

      I have heard most people are denied ss disability on 1st try and need to appeal. there are lawyers that specialize in this.
      there are also lawyers that specialize in workers comp, she probably needs to talk to one of them about the workers comp claim (my sister works in this and says it is very case specific)

    9. SofiaDeo*

      Just because something occurred at the workplace, WC doesn’t automatically cover it. Employers are required to note *any* accident at work, but that doesn’t mean the employer is automatically liable. Especially is someone continues to work, but ignores medical advice. Especially if the doc recommended to *stop working* and the person ignored the docs recommendation.

    10. Observer*

      Some feel the employer is at fault for allowing her to continue to work. Should the family pursue it?

      First of all, her family has no standing legally or morally to pursue anything. She’s a competent adult who gets to make her own decisions. They don’t get to do stuff “on her behalf”. If they try, they will get slapped down.

      Sec0ndly, the employer doesn’t get to tell someone that they are not allowed to work because they are too sick. Now, if her performance were so bad that it were actually causing problems then the employer could tell her that they need her to figure out how to deal with those issues of they are going to have to stop working. But most people would be pretty ticked at the employer unless the problems were critical or going on for a long time. Otherwise, decent employers cut employees some slack if they can. They do NOT decide for people whether they “should be” working or not. And in some cases, it could easily be illegal for the employer to actually make this kind of determination for an employee.

      Lastly, what makes these family members so sure that being at work is the issue? The Worker’s comp claim was probably denied because her fall had nothing to do with her work and the same thing would probably have happened if she were in her own kitchen.

      1. Gyne*

        Yeah, I mean, yikes. This family thinks that, in the land of employer-sponsored health insurance, a workplace should be proactively identifying sick employees and not allowing them to work? To what end?

  29. Excuse Me, Is This Username Taken?*

    Any recommendations for cookbooks or cooking blogs? Looking for some new ideas and inspiration.

    1. bassclefchick*

      I enjoy Budget Bytes! Very simple to follow recipes using ingredients you probably already have on hand. I’ve found several recipes there that are now in my regular rotation.

    2. Cheesesteak in Paradise*

      If you are looking for something different, I enjoy Jamie Oliver’s blog. He has both good Italian recipes and good curry recipes. Has a slightly healthy-ish slant too.

    3. Falling Diphthong*

      Blog: I am a fan of Smitten Kitchen. Tonight we are having their chicken curry, butter lentils, and a cauliflower-and-cumin dish based off one of the recipes. (Basically the first time I made it I realized that I really didn’t want to pour the eh sauce I had made over the delectable roast vegetables.) Other repeat recipes from there: turkey chili, which I passed to both my kids because you don’t need a ton of ingredients. Carrot burgers, a reliable pantry dinner. Brownies and olive oil cake which I can make for the dairy-allergic household member. Endive spears with citrus and almonds. A good mix of simple and extra effort recipes, with a lot of baking.

      Of the cookbooks I’ve gotten at the library of late, Carla Lalli Music’s That Sounds So Good is the one from which I took a whole stack of photocopied recipes before returning it. I particularly like the vegetable forward one dish meals that I can make for dinner when it’s just me and spouse during the school year.

    4. SpellingBee*

      Smitten Kitchen is the only cooking blog I follow regularly. Engaging blogger, great recipes and a well-monitored comment section.

    5. Elle Woods*

      Some of my favorites: Pinch of Yum, Table for Two, Bev Cooks, How Sweet Eats, Half Baked Harvest, Smitten Kitchen, Plays Well with Butter, Grandbaby Cakes, Britney Breaks Bread, and Jessica Gavin. (Yeah, I kinda have a food blog obsession.)

    6. Bluebell*

      Another fan of Smitten Kitchen here. Her greens and mushrooms with cheese is a standard for us. A few other blogs I occasionally check for recipes are Love and Lemons, the Serious Eats website, and Cookie and Kate (we are mostly vegetarian)

    7. Charlotte Lucas*

      I love America’s Test Kitchen. I have also enjoyed Milk Street.

      Mark Bittman’s cookbooks are really good, & if you’re looking for vegetarian recipes, try Deborah Madison or Madhur Jaffrey.

    8. pancakes*

      What styles of cooking or types of foods do you like? I always think Leite’s Culinaria is under-rated. Food & Wine magazine and Epicurious have great archives.

    9. Lucy Skywalker*

      One thing I used to do was to see what countries were in the news each week, and then search Pinterest for recipes from each country. I’ve found lots of great recipes that way!
      I’ve also found some great summer recipes on Pinterest.

    10. cat socks*

      Budget Bytes
      Once Upon a Chef
      Mel’s Kitchen Cafe
      Recipie Tin Eats
      Half Baked Harvest

    11. beep beep*

      I really enjoy Bon Appetit’s recipes, though they tend to have very niche ingredients I have to get special, so they’re a once-in-a-while treat. A few of my favorites are their recipes for classic marinara sauce, devil’s food cupcakes (and the peanut butter frosting from a separate recipe), sesame scallion tofu, and a cabbage and pork udon.

    12. Squirrel Nutkin*

      Generally not very healthy, but delicious: *Square Meals* by Jane and Michael Stern — it covers American home-cooking recipes from the 1920s-1960s.

    13. HannahS*

      Smitten Kitchen (American multictural)
      Hot Thai Kitchen (Thai food)
      JustOneCookbook (Japanese food)
      Swasthi’s Recipes (Indian food)

      I love eating around the world from my kitchen.

    14. Damn it, Hardison!*

      So many that I use have already been mentioned (Smitten Kitchen, How Sweet Eats, Budget Bytes, Half Baked Harvest) but I’ll add Woks of Life (Asian, primarily Chinese but other Asian cuisine as well), Alexandra’s Kitchen (especially the bread) and What’s Gabby Cooking.

  30. Goose*

    Inside of the condo that I rent, I have a leaky water meter. I talked to condo maintenance, they can’t fix it. I called the plumber, they said to call the meter company. I called the meter company, they said to call the water company. After waiting all of yesterday for the water company to show up, they say to talk to the association. My landlord and the owner of the condo is out of state. What the hell do I do now?

    1. Pop*

      Ultimately, it doesn’t matter that the landlord is out of state – you should still escalate this to them. It’s great that you started the process, but this is very much not your problem.

      1. Goose*

        The landlord has known about it all this time–he asked me to take care of it. I just reached out to explain everything that has happened s far and asked him to step in. I rent specifically so I don’t have to deal with things like this! So frustrating

        1. Not A Manager*

          Ah, especially since he’s made this your job, I would send the letter I described in my other comment. He has zero incentive to deal with this if you’re shouldering all the costs.

        2. Red Sky*

          Landlord here, usually when I ask a tenant to take care of it, it’s just easier for everyone involved due to all the back and forth of scheduling service appointments between 3 parties. Sounds like your situation has has gone beyond that and I would def want to know if a tenant was getting this kind of run around and would not expect them to keep dealing with it. Ultimately it’s my responsibility to make sure a unit is livable. It’s also in your landlords best interest to take care of this quickly to prevent water damage which can be very expensive to fix.

          And just to be safe, make sure to document everything you’ve done so far. Not saying you’ll need it, but there are some bad actor landlords who’d try to collect from your security deposit for water damage. As long as you notified them of the problem (and you didn’t cause it), you should be fine.

    2. Not So NewReader*

      Send them all the same letter. Outline what you have here.
      Then let them know that if you don’t hear back you will go to the state attorney general.
      Ideally set a deadline for them to get back to you, maybe a few weeks?

    3. Not A Manager*

      I assume that the leaky meter is affecting your utility bills? If so, I’d notify the landlord once about the leak and about your extensive attempts to address it, and give them a summary of your additional charges due to the leak.

      If the issue isn’t resolved quickly, I would then send the owner a letter stating that you’re going to deduct the additional utility charges from your rent until the meter is repaired. There’s no need to be adversarial about it – especially if this turns out to be the water company’s responsibility, it could take months to fix, and in the meantime you don’t want to be paying high water bills. In my area, if you’re overcharged for water eventually the water company will reimburse you, but it’s a long process. You can certainly add in your letter that if and when the utility reimburses you, that you’ll forward that on to the landlord, and that you’ll cooperate with the landlord in any attempt for them to get a credit from the company. In other words, be as collaborative as possible, while still shifting this burden to the landlord where it belongs.

      1. Clisby*

        You’d better check your state’s landlord-tenant law about deducting payments from rent. That won’t fly in my state. You could end up evicted.

    4. pancakes*

      If the landlord keeps refusing to deal with it I think it’s time to get a city or town inspector in. In my area my understanding is that they would check whether the leak is a code violation and give the landlord a fine and a timeline to get into compliance if it is.

    5. Girasol*

      Can you get the most likely suspects on a conference call? I’ve had remarkable luck with making them duke it out among themselves when I was getting the runaround like you’re getting.

    6. Stinky kitty*

      May be different where you’re at,but where I’m at, (U.S.) water utility is responsible for the meter and everything incoming to it, homeowner is responsible for everything after, including the actual coupler to the meter. Where is the meter leaking?

      1. Clisby*

        That’s what I was thinking. I’m not sure why this would be the responsibility of the landlord or of the OP.

  31. Eff Walsingham*

    It’s me, the person who was trying to get 2 nine-year-old cats to accept each other. It’s going very well, all things considered. New Cat is experimenting with new perches and napping spots, while Incumbent Cat has started to reclaim turf in New Cat’s zone. Both are highly vigilant, but no one really wants to run the risk of throwing down. We just provide lots of love and positive reinforcement for both of them.

    Now I have a new question: We have been planning for some time now to relocate from one side of North America to the other, and now it looks like it’s happening later this summer! We’re very excited, but concerned about what is the least stressful / traumatic way to move 2 cats across a continent. We asked the family member with the most experience (breeder and rescuer, has moved long distances before) what they recommend, and they said flying, with carriers that fit under airline seats.

    I have flown sitting next to people who had a cat with them, and the cats were silent and chill. But every cat I’ve had has become very vocal when placed in a carrier. Maybe the plane’s engines will drown them out? And I’ve heard that some vets recommend… I think it’s gabapentin? So we’ll ask about that at vaccination time.

    Has anyone here moved a long distance with cats? What do you recommend doing, or avoiding? I did this once before, decades ago, but we were driving. We stayed most nights in Super 8 Motels which were cat-friendly. The cats were not pleased, but they did all right and forgave us eventually. However, this is not going to be a driving move since neither of us has a current license.

    1. YNWA*

      Yeah, I’ve only driven with cats cross country and the vet gave us a sedative. One cat conked out and slept, but the other–our 6 pound Tortie fought that sedative like a mo-fo and was active and loud the entire drive. I’m really hesitant to fly with cats because I worry about their health but I also don’t want some jerk claiming allergies and making life even more difficult.

      1. I am allergic to cats*

        I’m sorry someone was being a jerk about your cats. I am extremely allergic to cats and have had to ask to change seats twice because a cat was in a carrier under the seat next to me and the second time when a cat carrier was slid under my seat from the person behind me. Cat dander makes my throat close and my chest tight. I just can’t be that close to cats. I wasn’t a jerk about it, I just asked to be moved.

        1. YNWA*

          People who are legit allergic are rarely jerks about it, but some jackhole hoping for a seat upgrade will be a jerk about it.

          1. I am allergic to cats*

            I can see that, unfortunately. I never asked for an upgrade but luckily other passengers volunteered to change seats with me. The kindness of strangers sometimes cancels out the jerkiness of others.

        2. tangerineRose*

          I love kitties and have 2, and I don’t think you were being a jerk about it. You have to take care of your health.

        3. Cat and Dog fosterer*

          The airline I used had a policy of contacting everyone within a couple seats, several days before the trip, and asking if they had allergies. It was a useful policy.

          1. Eff Walsingham*

            That sounds utopian! In my country our national carrier is… well, I think their corporate motto is “If you don’t like it, try walking there!” So I can’t imagine them enacting such a civilized policy, unfortunately.

    2. Not Australian*

      There are specialist pet transport companies who have vehicles fitted out with proper cages, and make routine runs at the same time every week/month. This would not be cheap, but I have a friend who moved six cats that way and felt it was money well spent.

    3. Red Sky*

      I flew cross country with a cat but it was about 30 yrs ago. He also had the gabapentin sedative and was stowed under the seat, but meowed the majority of the way. It was fine, if not a bit comical. I will say to make absolutely sure the carrier you get meets your specific airline’s size requirements. Mine was a tad bigger (but was fine according to the airport’s size chart) and even tho it fit we were almost denied boarding (there’s no way in hell I’d ever allow a pet to be put in the cargo hold area).

      If I were doing it today I’d probably have him on a harness and take him/them out of the carrier and onto my lap for a good portion of the flight just to cut down on the meowing. Current cat meows in the carrier, but usually when you let him out, if we’re in a new and strange environment, he’ll look around and assess his options a bit and will most likely want to go back in and the meowing stops.

    4. Anonyme*

      I have done both driving and flying with cats. With a cross country flight, I actually booked a layover and hotel night to give them a a break. If flying, definitely under the seat in front, not cargo. One cat yelled the whole time, but the engines muffled the noise.

    5. cat socks*

      My vet drove cross country with her cats and recommended gabapentin. It’s a sedative and it was safe to use with one of my cats who had heart issues. I used it for his various vet appointments with a cardiologist because it was an hour drive and it helped calm him down in the car.

      Also, I think Kitten Lady has a video on YouTube about flying with cats.

      1. Eff Walsingham*

        That Kitten Lady video was fantastic! Very helpful. I showed it to my husband as well, because we both have a lot of questions and concerns. (I also found a Jackson Galaxy one, but it wasn’t as relevant to our particular circumstances.)

        The new problem is that I’ve now concluded that we need a pair of Sleepypods! Our current carriers aren’t suitable for this, but those Sleepypods are so sleek and posh, so well designed! Everyone will think our cats are Instagram celebrities. ;)

    6. sswj*

      I think flying is the way to go, with calmative meds (for cats and humans? :p ) Since you know this is going to happen, I’d start acclimating them to the carriers now. Make it a not-stressful thing by giving them wonderful treats and/or catnip when in there, and gradually increasing the time they are in there. They should get the super-special stuff only when in their carriers, and make it really count: roast beef, fish, chicken — whatever they’ll turn themselves inside out for. You can also make sure that at first there’s something in it that smells like you: a towel you’ve used a few times or a t-shirt you’ve worn. Also try to assign carriers, so they each have their own familiar one. They may not enjoy the trip, but they’ll be a bit less wigged out (and so quieter) if they see the carriers as essentially ok.

      Come to think of it, this move will probably help them get along! They’ll both arrive at the same time in the new place, they’ll each be leaving their paw-scent marks at the same rate and neither will have greater claim on the surroundings. And they’ll both be looking for familiar things and may really enjoy seeing another cat that they recognize!

      1. Eff Walsingham*

        That is an excellent point! Maybe the ordeal will help them to bond. Against a common foe, which is probably us. ;)

    7. osmoglossum*

      In 2011, I flew from NYC to SFO with my two cats who were 15 and 16 at the time. About two weeks prior to our departure, I started to put Bach’s Rescue Remedy for Pets in their water every day — it helps with anxiety and fear and is gentle and effective.

      Cats (and dogs) should NEVER be sedated for air travel. I’ll post a link in a separate comment.

    8. Figgie*

      We fly our cats back in forth to our apartment in Mexico every year. Don’t assume that because they hate going to the vet that they will hate traveling. One of our cats tolerates it and the other one loves to travel. We drive from the Midwest to California to spend time with our daughter and then fly to Mexico from there. And both of our cats shriek when they get in the car to go to the vet and are quiet and sleep on the long car drives/plane flights.

      For flying, I would always ask for a private room for their security screening so you can have the door shut and decrease the possibility of them running off in a busy airport. They will remove the cats from their kennels and then take the kennels out to run them through the x-ray. We put harnesses and leashes on the cats when we fly just to make darn sure that if they escape, we will be able to catch them.

      Our kennels have a removable fake sheepskin liner on the bottom with a stiff board inside and a zipper on the end of the liner so it can be washed. We cover the liner/board with a plastic bag and tuck the bag ends underneath the bottom of the board. This is so if there is an accident, we can get it cleaned up easily. I also put ziploc bags in the compartment on the back of the kennel along with some unscented diaper wipes and lysol wipes to clean up anything that misses the bag. This way, you can open the kennel, pull out the cat (with the harness and the leash) and clean everything up. I make sure I have extras of the bags and cleaning stuff in their outside kennel pocket. It has only happened once and that was on a flight where people were getting air sick, so not surprising that the cats didn’t like it either.

      Non-stop flights are easiest, and early morning flights (less likely to be canceled) are also better. We feed them the night before, leave water out until a few hours before we leave. They seem to do fine and we’ve never had toileting accidents and one time it was almost 12 hours from the time they last used their litter box until we arrived (multiple delays in the flights. You will want to have a plan for if your flight is canceled. I always carry extra cat food with small, plastic bowls and a small bag of cat litter along with a small plastic box and a plastic bag big enough to cover the plastic box along with a pancake turner to use as a scoop. Only had to use it one time, but since we ended up spending an extra night that we hadn’t planned on, it was very necessary.

      This stuff doesn’t have to take up much space…as long as the box and pancake turner are unused, you can fill them with clothes. The extra lysol wipes can be used to wipe out the make-shift litter box and then encase it in yet another plastic bag and you can put items into it. It doesn’t take much litter (just a partial gallon ziploc bag full), as our cats aren’t particular.

      We’ve never needed to use medication for our cats. Our vet said to give it a try and see how they did (they were fine) so, I would talk to your vet and see what they say.

      Sorry about writing a book! We love our cats and wondered how they would handle driving/hotels/flying and they have been absolutely easy to travel with. When we let the cat who loves to travel out of his kennel in the very first hotel room he had ever stayed in, he hopped up on the bed, rolled over on his back and wiggled back and forth, purring so loud we could hear him over the air conditioning unit. His entire attitude was something like “why have I never known about traveling before??? This is wonderful!!” The other cat was more like “yeah, yeah, yeah, were is the food? I want food NOW!”

    9. KR*

      I flew my cat off the continent. I didn’t give her any food and minimal water the morning of the flight, and less food than normal the day before with litter box access. I went with the “ Sherpa Airline Approved Travel Bag Pet Carriers for Cats & Small Dogs” because while the dimensions are a bit bigger than what the airlines allow (most are), it is flexible so it easily fits under the seat. I put puppy pads in there in a couple of layers so if my cat had an accident I could take the puppy pads out and replace them easily. I didn’t give her any meds – she was pretty annoyed at first and would give me some half hearted meows during turbulence, but was mostly quiet during the flight. The sound of the plane covered a lot of it but I was flying over the ocean so it was a bigger and presumably louder plane. I gave my dog gabapentin when we flew and he was knocked out sleeping, which is good because he would have been flipping out. I wish I had done that to my other dog too because she must have been scared. If you do that, just test it beforehand when you’re home so you know how it affects them. I also recommend taking a pillowcase or shirt you don’t really care about, using it a few days before you move, and putting it in the carrier so it smells like you. We did that for the dogs with old bedsheets and then just tossed the sheets after. We also left the crates out for a couple weeks so the animals could get used to them. Good luck! You can do this! It will suck but only for a day.

    10. RC+Rascal*

      Prior to 9/11 I flew nonstop with a 4 month old kitten in a Sherpa Carrier. He was not sedated; vet said he was too young. He was good in the airport and we pre-boarded but he started bawling at the top of his lungs when other people started boarding and did not stop until we landed and deplaned. Also, security searched me a lot; I had to take him out of the carrier a couple times in the airport. I had a collar on him and a leash handy.

      Have also driven with current 7 lb princess, never more than 3 hours and in the winter. She likes the seat warmer. She still cries and acts annoyed, but the seat warmer seems to help calm her.

      1. RC+Rascal*

        My parents had a Siamese that traveled like a champ. They leashed trained her and started taking her for car rides as a kitten. They took her all over the place with them before I was born.

  32. Elizabeth West*

    I decided to go to a new nerd convention in OldCity. The hotel I’m staying in is supposedly being renovated, and WHEW, it is not worth the money I’m paying (I’m stuck with it as I had to wait to book). Unfortunately, two of the people I really wanted to see were not able to come. :(

    The area around the hotel, by the big intersection close to where I used to live, is all different. Some things have been redone and other things are just…gone. As in, the literal building is not there anymore. It also just looks weird—I haven’t been here for over two years. I’m toying with the idea of driving by my old house on the way out of town tomorrow just to see it.

    I guess this is my summer of revisiting. I went to see my childhood home in Hometown after Dad’s funeral. It was very different. I also went to the old movie theater on the town square, which has not changed at ALL. Here’s hoping all this will be my final goodbye to the state and I will leave soon.

    If you revisited a place you haven’t been in a while, what was the biggest change you noticed? And what was the thing you were happy to see stayed the same?

    1. Snoozy Snoopy*

      I’m afraid I don’t have much to add in answer to your questions, but I hope you’re enjoying the con and are meeting some cool people!

      1. Elizabeth West*

        Yeah! The writer’s track is pretty cool; I’ve taken a ton of notes. There were four guests I really wanted to see, and two of them made it and two didn’t. One of the ones who didn’t was a big reason I drove all the way over here but a close relative is not doing well so he didn’t come. :(

        I don’t usually make many friends at these things, but I met the person who runs the NewCity Writer’s Guild. Most of their stuff is online so I don’t have to drive up into the city to do anything. My Doctor Who group couldn’t be here, sadly; it was too expensive to bring their TARDIS but maybe they’ll make it next time. Although they have a meeting today (in like five minutes!), I can’t go because I have two more panels to attend. :'(

    2. Russian in Texas*

      I went back to my hometown in 2019 after not being there for 10 years, and so much have changed! The nice small park on the way to the river embankment was turned on to a supermarket. The big road to cross to get to the river became a multi-level highway exchange with underground pedestrian crossing. My old school was expanded massively.
      But the small bakery and the tiny dairy store were still there in the neighborhood!

    3. Eff Walsingham*

      My father left me an old house in Hometown that needed renovation, and while I was supervising that, I got to see quite a bit of the old place. Many times I’d find myself staring at an empty lot saying to myself, “SOMETHING used to be here” but blanking on what it was. Similarly, looking at buildings that I know are new, but being unable to visualize what it used to look like.

      The main street of historic storefronts has barely changed in decades, partly due to deliberate preservation and partly to economic stagnation. Same thing with homes… anything 100 years old is more solid than anything people could afford to replace it with.

      There is a tree in front of my Mum’s old house now. I lived there until I was 17, then visited for another several years until she moved to another community. There was no tree, let alone this tree which is so substantial that there is a SWING suspended from its lower branches. You’ve heard of the Tree of Knowledge? Well, this is the tree of me being a thousand years old. It is taller than the house! It’s quite a tree.

    4. pancakes*

      I went back to my home city for a job one summer during law school, which was itself some time in the past now. I was glad to see my favorite parks and places to go for long walks were still nice places to be. Disappointed that even fewer people lived downtown, and that it was even more of a ghost town on evenings and weekends.

    5. Falling Diphthong*

      Old family story: When my husband was in high school and went to tour the campus where his parents had met, they spent the entire time arguing about what used to be where.

    6. AGD*

      Little Hometown and Equidistant Two Large Cities have all grown considerably. Little Hometown was always pretty, but semi-remote and quiet. It is much livelier now – decidedly medium-sized, featuring a real downtown with nightlife and condos and startups and all sorts of things that were basically unheard of 30 years ago. Equidistant Large City No. 1 long had a major problem with congestion, but now has an extensive, efficient modern transit system to take the pressure off – which blows my mind. Equidistant Large City No. 2 moves better but has always been drowning in interstates and other highways; they’ve been doing some creative things to remove/relocate/otherwise hide the worst sections, which has reunified the central business district and made it much more welcoming.

      None of these places are affordable anymore, though.

    7. RagingADHD*

      Not my childhood, but my dad’s.

      During Thanksgiving 2020, we really needed a safe way to get out of the house so we booked a VRBO country farmhouse in a scenic area a couple hours’ drive away. It was wonderful, and one of the draws was that it was a short drive from the tiny town where my great-grandparents’ farm used to be. I’d grown up hearing my dad’s descriptions of idyllic summers at the farm, and as a very special gift when I got my own house, he gave me a slate tile from the roof.

      Now, I knew when we drove by there that the farm had been split up and sold off decades ago, so it wasn’t a surprise that it’s now a street full of ordinary residential lots instead of farmland. And I knew that the relatives who own the place had just kind of left it sit because they can’t make up their minds what to do with it.

      There were two really shocking aspects.

      First, how badly rotting it is. I didn’t realize that it had been entirely abandoned. The roof is falling in, there were signs of squatters / addicts using it as a flophouse. The whole street is kind of low-rent and dilapidated, and I’m sure this nasty eyesore has depressed the property values for years. It was so depressing, and kind of scary. We didn’t even get out of the car in case the squatters were still there.

      The second was how small and nondescript it was! It was never a particularly nice house to begin with. From my dad’s descriptions, I was picturing a charming, spacious place with a huge farm kitchen and lots of bedrooms for the cousins, but it was a dinky little one-story bungalow. To see it up close, I can’t imagine how they crammed all those relatives in for visits, much less feeding a bunch of farm hands in the kitchen.

      I took a couple of pictures but was reluctant to show them to my dad or say anything about the trip. But when we talked, it turns out he’s been back several times recently and knew exactly how bad it was. But it didn’t seem to phase him. I guess the power of his memories overruled everything, because he still thought it was quaint and lovely. And I know it was the right place because we looked at the pictures together.

      1. Elizabeth West*

        I was gobsmacked to see how small my childhood home was. The people there now showed it to me, and it was just so TINY. I remember it being much bigger, even as a teenager when I was as tall as I am now.

    8. Chaordic One*

      You know, sometimes just looking at places where I used to live with Google Street View can be a real trip. Recently I was looking at the streets I near where I used to live in an L.A. suburb. The biggest shock was a popular hamburger shack near where I used to work that had the absolute best Swiss cheese patty melts and shakes that I often ate at had been torn down and turned into a huge 4-story condominium complex.

    9. Elizabeth West*

      Short update:

      The con was awesome! The panels were great! I learned a lot! I ate too much food! I met some new people (writers)! I saw some people I knew (writers)!

      Re my original question, OldCity just looked so strange. I haven’t been there for over two years. You know how when you’re away from home for a while and you come back and your house looks weird? It was like that. Some stuff near my neighborhood is changed, but my neighborhood has not; I drove by my old house and aside from a couple of details on the outside, it looks pretty much the same.

      I drove down the main business road and stopped by my favorite Mexican grocery. That, the Alamo Drafthouse, and my friends are really the only things I miss. Walked out with $18 worth of pan dulce, heh heh.

  33. Piano anxiety*

    I play the piano and my teacher has suggested playing with others, in a trio and 4 hands. I’ve never done that but it sounded like fun and challenging and a growth opportunity. However, it is proving to be none of those things. I am not even playing with anyone yet but my anxiety is such that I am not able to practice the pieces at all. It is coming out in anger. I have trouble talking with my teacher because her arguments about growth etc all sound intellectually really reasonable, and when I’m with her, I get whatever measures we are practicing, so it seems I’m OK. But on my own, I kind of fall apart and don’t seem to be able to move past this anger/anxiety; I am even wondering if I should quit the piano or find a new teacher. I am a bit ashamed that it’s proving to be so paralyzing, this is not the first time I’ve done something scary! Do you have good suggestions or strategies?

    1. Ranon*

      This is a weird question, but are you breathing when you’re practicing this piece? Wondering if there’s something physically different about it that’s triggering anxiety in your body.

    2. Not A Manager*

      Can you reframe this in your mind? It reminds me a bit of some of the breakup letters that Captain Awkward gets. You don’t need your partner’s permission to break up with them, and they don’t need to agree that your reasons are good enough. It’s kind of the same thing here. I’m not saying that your teacher is pushing you or bullying you – it sounds like maybe you are thinking of this, and presenting it, as a question you are putting to your teacher about the wisdom of these exercises. Your teacher has an opinion about that and is sharing her opinion.

      Can you decide that piano is your personal project, not one you share with your teacher? If you can reframe this as your own project, then I think it will be easier to think of your decisions as your decisions and not collaborative negotiations. If you’d prefer to continue piano without certain experiences she thinks are beneficial, rather than quitting piano because those experiences make you anxious, tell your teacher that. She’s free to decide that she can’t teach you under those conditions, but she’s not then free to keep pestering you about it.

    3. fposte*

      Oh, that’s a way that a fun thing can become no fun. I wouldn’t quit the piano, and I’d give the teacher another try. “I understand your point about shared playing, but the prospect makes me so miserable that I’m thinking about quitting piano. I want to shelve that possibility unless I bring it up again on my own.” If she responds with But you’ll find it rewarding to push through it, etc., you could bring out “Look, even this discussion is making me unhappy enough to leave. Can we keep going without talking about this any more, starting now?” If you think you can’t muster your point in person, you can do it through text or email, too.

      I’m really enjoying playing my recorder and have thought about what it would be like to play with other people or do various other stretch things. And ultimately I come down to “only if it’s fun.” I don’t have to push myself into something for some moral imperative, and neither do you.

    4. Courageous cat*

      Maybe I’m misunderstanding, but is the issue that you feel anxiety over the thought of playing with others? If so, you’re the one paying her right? Just tell her you’re not into the idea at the moment but will consider it for a later time, and currently you want to keep going solo

      1. pancakes*

        That too, that seems like a good idea for now at least. You can always come back to the idea at some point in the future.

    5. RagingADHD*

      The simplest and most reasonable thing would be to tell your teacher you don’t want to, for personal reasons. They may well be correct that you are technically ready in terms of your skill level, or that this would help your growth as a performer.

      But they are not a therapist. It’s unlikely that they understand this is giving you anxiety, and pushing through this is not necessarily the best way for you to “grow” because dealing with anxiety isn’t the same as “growth.”

      It’s apples and oranges.

      Now, it may be difficult for you to tell your teacher “I have thought about this a lot, and it’s not a project I want to do. I’d like to continue working on solo pieces only.”

      But I think you’re better off saying that than pre-emptively finding a new teacher.

      Now, if you have already said that clearly and they are still hassling you about it, then definitely find a new teacher. Not because of the group piece, but because they are being a jerk who doesn’t listen.

      If that’s the case, then perhaps your anger is because of the teacher’s behavior, not the piece itself.

      1. UKDancer*

        Yes. I think the best thing to do is to tell your teacher. They’d probably be really sorry to hear this is giving you so much distress and may not realise how problematic this is.

        If you’re an adult who is paying for this tuition then you’ve a right to express preferences for what you learn. When I have private tuition in my preferred dance forms I always have a voice in what I do. I’ve said to my tango instructor “I don’t want to do out of axis moves because I always feel stressed and on the point of falling” and to my ballet teacher “that move hurts, can we not do it?”

        Good teachers (in whatever discipline) want to work with you so you feel happy and fulfilled.

    6. pancakes*

      It sounds like the problem here isn’t the teacher, who you think sounds reasonable, but the anxiety, which is apparently unmanageable. Try to talk to a therapist, and/or talk to your regular doctor about this first.

    7. Rosie M. Banks*

      Oh, I feel for you! I also know exactly where you are coming from! I play an instrument which has a strong tradition, not just of public performance, but of competition. I used to compete when I was younger, but as I got older, competing made me miserable. I was horribly anxious beforehand, always underperformed, and then was extremely upset later.

      My teacher (who I adore) is an extremely accomplished musician and a very successful competitor, and I was terrified that if I didn’t compete, he wouldn’t be willing to teach me anymore. I agonized about it for a year, and when I finally told him that I didn’t want to compete, he said, “Oh, OK. What tunes would you like to work on next?” He wants me to be the musician that I am supposed to be, not a junior version of him. I can’t guarantee your teacher will have the same perspective, but you won’t know until you talk to her about it.

      Are you familiar with a book called “The Inner Game of Music”? It has really helped me a couple of times when I was struggling with anxiety about the music to get back and refocus on my love of it. I wish you luck with whatever you decide to do!

      1. AGD*

        Very similar story from me – performance competitions kept going badly and made me want to quit for good, and when I finally confided in my teacher about how bad my nerves were, she lent me her copy of the same book!

    8. Treble Maker*

      Hi, piano teacher here! I work primarily with kids, but do sometimes work with adults.

      I let adults have a great deal of say in the direction of their learning. If my adult student told me they absolutely didn’t want to work on duets/trios, I wouldn’t force it. If this is your case, please have that conversation with your teacher. I tend to agree that there can be great value in collaborating, but not if it destroys your love of the piano!

      If you want to work up to collaborating, these are a few strategies I would use with my students:
      *Start with pieces that are several levels easier than your current level. I play duets with all my students from the beginning, but when I start students playing with each other, we start with music that is pretty easy.
      *Practice playing with a metronome or simple drum loop. This will help you get very precise with your rhythm without the stress of another person listening! You may find this frustrating at first, most do!
      *You probably already know this, but practice SLOWLY. Like, painfully slowly.

      If you were my student, I’d want to work with you on this, and work towards your goals. I can’t speak for all piano teachers, but most of us want our students to love making music!

    9. Wishing You Well*

      Is your piano playing a hobby or a career?
      If it’s a hobby, I don’t understand the pressure to turn a pleasant thing into a terror and this is not where I’d spend huge amounts of energy for “growth”. A hobby doesn’t have to “grow”.
      My piano teacher wanted me to get a job playing piano for some local musical. I was 13 and in school at the time. Sheesh. I didn’t do it and only in later years did I realize how nutty her suggestion was. (Yes, piano teachers can steer you in the wrong direction.)
      It sounds like what your teacher is suggesting is too big a leap for you at this time. You need to tell her you aren’t ready and you need to shelve that idea for awhile (or permanently). If she won’t listen, you might need a new teacher.
      I hear you about anxiety and I sympathize. Best of Luck

    10. Not So NewReader*

      My friend plays a keyboard instrument and it seems to have a real special kind of stress. Friend continued on playing and although they were very good at playing the stress never subsided. Finally, it took a toll on their health and they had to quit entirely. They still carry physical damage from that whole experience.

      I agree with the comment about talking to your teacher and if that does not work find a new teacher. With the next teacher express that you want to learn just for your own enjoyment and not with the goal of playing with or for others. Once you have narrowed down the scope of project like this see where that takes you.

      OTOH, I can offer a tamer parallel. The punchline here is to tell yourself a new thought to overwrite the thinking you are using now while you practice.
      So here’s my story. I was learning to drive and I was doing okay, not great. But it was well enough to take my test. Once I signed up for the test, I could not operate the gas pedal smoothly. I kept jerking the car with my uneven touch on the gas pedal. See, even if I wasn’t thinking about the test consciously, the test still ate at me.
      I had to give myself a new thought to overwrite the background noise. I decided to pretend there eggs duct taped to the pedals and I had to touch the pedals in a manner so as not to break the eggs. I used the immediate problem of the fake eggs to overwrite the real problem of nervousness about taking the test.

      It worked, I stopped jerking the car and I passed my test. Fast forward, decades a later I was helping a friend get her license. She was driving better than I was when I went to get my own license. She signed up for the test and bam! she started jerking the car just like I did. The problem just started out of the blue. She was fine before she signed up for her test. I told her about what happened to me, then I told her about the eggs. I got one of those, “What planet are you from?” looks but she agreed to work with the egg idea. We drove around for 45 minutes and she did not jerk the car once. Matter of fact, she only jerked the car ONCE in the several weeks of practice before her test. She passed her test.

      Sometimes when we are not deliberately thinking about something it still can be nagging at us in the background. If you can find something to draw you away from that worry you might be able to overcome this one. I cannot promise you it will get better. I still drive because I have to and not because I enjoy it. Where I avoid driving in bad storms where possible, I have a friend who deliberately goes out in bad, dangerous weather because he thinks it’s fun. (wth?) I will never have my friend’s attitude. I don’t have to enjoy driving, I just have to do it and be safe. Unlike driving, piano playing is optional, you do not HAVE TO do this. Think of it this way, it’s okay if you want to give up the piano because that frees up your time and resources to find something that does not set you on edge and comes more naturally.

    11. PollyQ*

      Option 1: Short-term therapy might be helpful with the anxiety/paralysis (which I TOTALLY get and sympathize with, btw).

      Option 2: Tell your teacher that unfortunately, this isn’t something that’s going to work for you right now, and that you need to focus purely on playing solo for the time being. I’d expect that she’d be OK with this. It’s not as if 3/4-hand playing is “core functionality” for pianists.

      But if playing the piano brings you pleasure, then please don’t quit! There’s absolutely nothing wrong with learning & doing a thing by yourself, for yourself.

    12. Lissajous*

      The comments about anxiety and looking into that are all good ones, and something for you consider if they are applicable to you.

      From the music side, I have a few thoughts:

      I play piano and cello. Cello is the instrument I play with other people, and piano I never have (although maybe one day). One of the joys of piano is that you have so much repertoire available that is solo piano, it can just be for you!

      Now, the thing about being a string instrument is that when I started playing with others, it was in an orchestra, and strings are pack animals – there’s a lot of other people playing the same part. So if I got lost, I could nearly always get back in again, or if I couldn’t play a bit I’d just ghost along a few bars until we got to something easier where I could join in.

      Chamber music (small group music with one person per part – trios and quartets etc) is a very different beast. It does make you a much better player, but it is also very hard (especially sight reading, hoo boy!) Some is easier – Mozart is easy to pick up the idea and get back in usually, but Brahms does this thing where the melody line gets passed from one instrument to the next so it’s much trickier if you don’t know the piece (see above re: sight reading).
      Having said that, the past couple of years I’ve been doing fortnightly chamber music sight reading; the reason it works is because we picked the people very carefully, as much for personality and a good chat ability as playing capability. They’re very relaxed sessions in the evening with a bottle of wine and it’s enjoyable because of the company and the “nyargh nope I’m lost, can we go from B” from any given player without any feeling of “oh you’re not good enough for us” as a result.
      We are all playing so much better because we are doing the chamber music. But we’re doing the chamber music because we like the people and the music; getting better is just a bonus.

      Additionally, sight reading piano is way harder than a single-line instrument (and sight reading pipe organ is harder than piano!). So if this was something you eventually want to like at, I would try and pick much easier music than your current practised-up skill level. That will be easier to find with piano duets than chamber music, I think. The piano part for chamber music is often tricky, although you do get the other parts shown small above yours, so you can find you way back in. And

    13. MeepMeep02*

      Don’t quit the piano – just tell the teacher that this is giving you anxiety and you don’t want to do it. You really don’t have to do something that is this paralyzing if you don’t want to, unless it’s for a job or something. If you’re not a professional piano player, why do this to yourself?

      Now, if you actually do want to give this a try, an informal, friendly jam session might be the way to overcome that anxiety. I play ragtime piano, and every ragtime festival I’ve been to includes lots of jam session afterparties, and everyone joins in and improvises along. It’s a very friendly sort of social environment, so if a beginner wants to join in, they’re encouraged and applauded. I’m nowhere near as good an improviser as some of the people there, and even so I unchickened myself enough to give it a try. Part of the fun of duets/trios/etc is the fun energy of actually playing with others – if you’re just practicing by yourself and drowning in anxiety, of course you won’t enjoy it.

  34. PhyllisB*

    I have a somewhat unusual question that I hope someone can give me guidance on. I’m getting to the age where I feel like I need to have my end of life wishes in place, but here is my dilemma. I have been a registered organ donor for years,and I am still committed to that. However, if I die from a condition that leaves my organs unusable, I would like to donate my body to science.
    Can anyone give me tell how to set this up? The people I’ve asked about this give me blank looks and say they’ve never heard of such a thing. Any suggestions?

    1. YNWA*

      If you google “donate body to science” you should get a list of options close to you. One of the university colleges in my state, for example, takes body donations. There’s also Science Care and the Mayo Clinic as starting points.

    2. fposte*

      It all depends on what program you’re donating your body to and where you are. There are programs that will allow you to donate some organs (one I’m seeing allows for brain. cornea, and kidney removal–didn’t think brains were being transplanted, but maybe they’re planning for the future?) and still donate your body, too. Other programs may not accept that kind of provisional donation. In my state, only a licensed funeral director can transport a body, so I have to plan for that as well.

      So I’d start with a Google search of “donate body to science in [MyState]” and then see what the program requirements are for the results; I’d also check external sources about the programs to see if family members felt they were trustworthy and capable.

    3. Glomarization, Esq.*

      This should be straightforward for a lawyer to put into your Advanced Health Care Directive (or whatever your state calls that document). Use search terms statename lawyer referral number to find a lawyer and discuss fees. If you can’t afford the lawyer you talk to, try search terms statename elder law services. Or look up the law schools in your state to see if any of them have elder law clinics.

      1. Washi*

        So at least in the states I’ve worked in, you don’t need a lawyer to make advance directives and also just putting it in the advance directives alone doesn’t make it happen. I mean, it’s a good idea to put it in there, but I would really recommend Phyllis pick a program, get set up, and let her healthcare power of attorney/proxy know about her plans. As a hospice social worker I’ve had patients say they want to to donate their body/tissues but if they haven’t set it up in advance, it ends up falling on the family to figure it all out and sometimes it just doesn’t happen as a result because there’s so much other stuff going on.

    4. Generic Name*

      This is a great question! I’m a scientist and while I’m not a researcher, furthering research of others is important to me. I’d contact the closest medical school in your area/state and ask them to point you in the right direction. You could also google “whole body donation” and your state.

    5. Asenath*

      Your local medical school, if you have one, might be a place to ask. I’d expect them to have someone on staff who handles questions like that. It must be a fairly common request – it can’t be that unusual to want to donate organs, but to die from something that makes them unusable. It happened to a relative, but in that case, the possibility of a body donation instead didn’t come up.

      1. Washi*

        Yes. I would recommend googling nearby medical schools + body donation. If they have a program, there will be a webpage with instructions/forms and usually a number to call with questions. Also very important that your family is aware of you wishes as whatever medical professional pronounces you will likely need to call the medical school to coordinate picking up your body. And if you know what funeral home you are using, let them know too. They can also be a good resource for local options as they’ve likely worked with people doing this before.

    6. Texan In Exile*

      I wonder if the Body Farm will take bodies without donated organs – I hope so, because that’s my wish.

    7. left behind*

      I would say to have a plan B in case science doesn’t want your body- this happened to my mother.
      Also, surviving family members can get a urn of whatever remains of the remains a few years after the death – have a plan for that.

    8. Kate in Scotland*

      So I have signed up to do this, it was very easy. Here (UK) you contact the local medical school, fill in a form, get it witnessed and send it back. You should tell your next of kin or whoever would make arrangements on your death because they will need to call the medical school straight away.
      You do need a plan C if your body isn’t wanted e.g. because of what you died of – my friend’s gran had signed up but the medical school couldn’t take the body, I think because of cancer.
      It’s also worth thinking about what you would want in terms of a ‘funeral’ if the body is taken. The medical school does a service every year for the bodies done that year, but if it was my loved one who had donated, I’d still want to do a memorial service on a conventional funeral timetable, because I think funerals are important in the grieving process.

    9. grocery store pootler*

      I’ve signed up to do this through a local medical school (my late father also did it, in another part of the U.S.). They sent me a form that I filled out and had a couple family members witness my signature. No lawyer was involved. After I sent in the form, they sent me an official card showing that I’m in the body donation program, and providing brief instructions for when the time comes. I know it might not work out because of organ donation or other issues, but I like having the card, I find it a bit comforting somehow. Different programs vary in the details; the one I’m signed up with does not return ashes, they are scattered at a rural property owned by the university.

    10. PhyllisB*

      Thanks to all who responded to my question. I will do what’s suggested (google first then look on website for hospital in my state that accepts bodies. I appreciate all the input!!

  35. Just a name*

    Cancer support question: An acquaintance, not very close, has started chemotherapy. Our husbands golf together weekly ( most weeks). I was wondering what we can do for her. I think the husband appreciates just getting out for golf (he’s quite sedentary otherwise, from what I understand) but was thinking about what else I can do. I obviously don’t know her tremendously well, so nothing jumps out to me. Any ideas?

    1. Bluebell*

      That’s nice that you want to help – I’d start with meals. If there’s not already a meal train, you could give them a restaurant gift card, or ask when it might work to bring something over. Maybe your husband can ask the other husband, or possibly there’s a point person helping to do that for the family.

    2. just another queer reader*

      For a more thorough answer, I *highly* recommend the book “There’s no good card for this.” It gives a lot of great ideas, written by two people with firsthand experience with illness.

      Anyway, for now: send a card, and have your husband keep playing golf with her husband.

      If you want to offer help or support, make a specific offer that you can sincerely follow through on. “I’d be happy to drop off a meal for you once a week” or “if Acquaintance needs a ride to an occasional appointment during the workday, I could handle that” or “if you’re going out of town for treatment I’d be happy to plantsit.” A specific offer is going to be way more helpful to them than a vague “let me know if I can help.”

      Best wishes to you all.

      1. SG*

        I think this is great, except the best thing to do is not just offer, but say you’re going to it. As in, “I’m going to bring over a meal this week. I can get takeout from (name 3 places) or I can make a dish for you such as X, Y, or Z, or do you or your husband have other favorites? Is there any special food that appeals to you?” She may not have much appetite, but maybe she’s craving her favorite soup from [Restaurant].” The important thing is to just say you’re going to do it, and then give some options.

    3. Ins mom*

      Ask if you can bring lunch or snacks on the golf days, or just keep her company. Offer to run an errand. That said, there’s a big range of reactions to chemo- depending on how much she relies on the husband- maybe she enjoys the solitude when he’s gone!

    4. Wishing You Well*

      I’d ask her or someone who is closer to her what she and her husband need. When asking, offer specific things you’d be willing to do. I hope her chemo is successful.

    5. Falling Diphthong*

      First, being an outlet for her primary caregiver is a real and great help. Anything you do to support your husband in that is helping her.

      Second, food. This meant so much to me when recovering from surgery. Offer a night that works for you and drop off something that stores well. Ask about any restrictions or dislikes, but not having to do all the emotional labor of planning dinner was really huge to me.

      Third, anything like a fun, light book that is easy to put down. e.g. cartoon books, recommending Stone Soup and Breaking Cat News. Maybe a light cozy mystery if she likes those. Not anything cognitively demanding.

    6. Weegie*

      I see others have made food-related suggestions – so just a note that chemo changes the way things taste and that consequently your appetite for certain foods also changes. For that reason, I would definitely not have welcomed presents of food while I was undergoing chemo. I also had a lot of well-meaning suggestions for complementary therapies, links to new research etc, and it just made me feel overwhelmed. Everyone meant it kindly, but they didn’t know or understand my particular illness, and it felt intrusive and burdensome, like yet another thing I had to handle besides all my appointments, etc. I often said that having to handle other people’s emotions about my illness was worse than the illness itself.
      One friend sent easy-to-read books after each of my chemo treatments, which I loved. What I would have found useful was people picking things up for me when I didn’t have the energy to do it myself, or being on call to drive me home after chemo appointments, when travelling is difficult because of the exhaustion. It might be that supporting the husband is actually the best way forward, so that he is freed up to take care of his wife’s needs. The key here is to ask, not assume, what the person will welcome.

    7. Observer*

      Also, what NOT to do or say can be important.

      There are some really good articles on the matter, but a few themes come up repeatedly.

      People generally don’t want to hear how strong or brave they are. Comments about how they look (even positive ones) tend to not land well. And even deeply religious people who are absolutely convinced of the power of prayer tend to look a little sideways at “I’ll pray for you” from most people unless that statement is accompanied by more tangible offers of help.

      And PLEASE don’t tell people that “everything happens for a reason” or anything like that. While that is actually a comforting thought for some people, the source matters. And you are not the right source for such a thought.

    8. Chaordic One*

      Often times people in this situation might need help with the day-to-day things of everyday life. The kind of ordinary chores that your acquaintance probably isn’t up to doing and that her husband may not used to, or good at, doing (if they act in the kind of traditional gender roles that most people do). If you can, you might volunteer to come in and help with things like doing some dishes and mopping the kitchen floor, cleaning the bathroom, and/or doing a couple of loads of laundry. I’m aware of church groups that have stepped up and helped people in these kinds of situations. If you can’t do it yourself, you might consider hiring someone to do it as a gift to your acquaintance. Cleaning services (such as “Merry Maids”) offer gift cards.

  36. WellRed*

    Anyone have a recommendation for a summer blanket? Either a brand or…type? Not looking for a bedspread, something light and airy if that exists.

    1. pancakes*

      We like a light / medium cotton blanket in summer.
      Garnet Hill and The Company Store have nice ones.

    2. Dr. Doll*

      We use something from India that my husband calls a razai or rejai – basically a light quilt with puffy cotton batting. They are usually hand-color-blocked, very pretty. You can get them on Amazon or search for fair-trade ones.

      1. pancakes*

        There’s a lot of those on Etsy, typically listed as Indian quilt or kantha quilt. There are some nice block-printed ones.

    3. Falling Diphthong*

      I like LL Bean’s fleece blankets. We’ve got some on the beds and one on the couch, and I find it scales well to “a little cozier than room temp.”

    4. Double A*

      Do you have cats? I ask because I like our summer blanket but the cats’ claws catch it like crazy to the point where I can’t recommend it if you’re have cats. But if you don’t, it’s the Constant Comfort blanket from the Vermont Country store and it’s very nice. It’s a truly light weight blanket.

      I bought a summer blanket for my daughter off Amazon and I actually think I like it even more, though. It’s a bit heavier which I like, but still comfortable for summer. It also doesn’t catch as badly. Search for “Threadmill 100% Pure Cotton blanket.”

  37. Geek Social Fallacies?*

    My weekly tabletop role playing game group acquired a new pair of players several months ago, and I don’t like them. It’s a public group rather than friends meeting at a house, so I have no leverage to kick them out.

    They’re young, and I believe their irritating behaviors come from inexperience and obliviousness rather than malice, but I’m still very frustrated. It has turned my fun hobby into a weekly exercise in uselessly calling out low key sexism and sitting quietly while the new players do whatever they want without regard for the rest of the group.

    I really like all the other players and would be sad to leave, but that seems to be the best option at this point. A couple young men are oblivious jerks, and I have to quit my hobby as a result. Typical.

    Anyone navigated a similar situation before, or have any suggestions before I pull the plug, so to speak? Thanks!

    1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      As a GM who is also often the only non-dude at the table: Talk to your GM about them. If you take yourself out of the game before explicitly explaining there’s a problem and giving anyone a chance to fix it, you’re only shooting yourself in the foot. Should they notice? Sure, and if the fact that nobody else at the table is picking up on the sexism and jerkitude is part of your issue, feel free to walk – but if you otherwise enjoy this group and the game, and you can give the GM a chance to address the issue, I would encourage it.

      1. Falling Diphthong*

        I want to echo that people can be well intentioned and just not pick up on this stuff until it is pointed out to them. Sure, it would be great if they noticed on their own, but often people are oblivious until their attention is specifically drawn to the thing.

    2. curly sue*

      Ah, gamer problems. Been there, sadly. How is the game set up? Is it a professional/paid DM through a local store, or a volunteer?

      I’d generally recommend a quiet word with the DM about what you’ve seen and how it’s impacting your ability to and interest in participating in the game. If they’re at all amenable to calling out that behavior or redirecting it when it happens, that’s your best bet for a table culture shift.

      1. Geek Social Fallacies?*

        Yes, through a store where the GM is compensated in store credit. He didn’t sign up to be a social moderator for strangers, and I want to respect that.

        As Red Reader guessed, I am indeed the only nom-dude in a sizable group. While I hate to admit this, I’m not sure how to bring it up without sounding like a spoiled child demanding another turn. :(

        1. fposte*

          Is there any kind of policy or framing, by the store or elsewhere, about openness of the group to anyone, or any interest in being less dude-centric? Because that might be a way to approach it–they’re not going to get more women if they allow behavior hostile to them.

          1. Geek Social Fallacies?*

            That’s a possible avenue I hadn’t thought of. The store’s general manager is not a dude and takes no shit.
            They aren’t directly involved in the RPGs, but they know me as a regular customer and may have good insight. Thanks!

          2. DnD*

            What do you mean by “less dude centric”? I’m not sure there is a way to express a vague concept like “less dude centric” without being explicit.

        2. Squeebird*

          Part of the GM’s job is to be the “social moderator” of the table, though. Especially if they’re getting paid to do it! I DM and if the behaviour of new players was driving away a long time group member, I would definitely see that as my problem to solve. You would NOT sound spoiled or entitled.

        3. Suprisingly ADHD*

          Unfortunately, GM is inherently a moderator position. It’s not just about the game rules and math, it also requires making sure that no one player monopolizes the time, or ruins other people’s turns/story.

          Example: One player likes to kill all NPCs immediately, preventing the party from getting quests. The GM should first speak to them privately, then the next time they try that nonsense, say “no, I’m not letting you roll for that.”
          Or: Two players like to take their characters off on their own, and drag out their own “screen time” at the expense of the others. The GM is in charge of time management, and is free to say, “ok, while they’re doing that, what are you guys doing?” and deliberately give the other group of characters time.
          Or, one person decides their character is a racist or sexist or just plain nasty, and uses that as an excuse to say all kinds of awful stuff “in character”. GM needs to say “no one wants to hear awful things in a game we play for fun.” They can ask the player to stop that in the moment, or even require them to stop playing that character and adopt a new, non-offensive persona.
          If the bad behavior is happening outside of play, the GM is still the moderator/manager/master and needs to step in.

          In your case, you are well within your rights to bring the issue to your GM’s attention. It’s possible he has been so focused on the mechanics of the game that he’s not noticing the social tension. If you can message him before your next session, you can start with how much you liked your group’s previous dynamic, and your discomfort with the newest player’s behaviors (be specific). Say that you think it’s inexperience, and that they will probably listen to advice from the GM. Your GM’s reaction to this will tell you whether any change is likely. If other players have been ignoring you in the moment, you might be able to have a similar conversation with any of them you are comfortable enough with.

    3. Sloanicota*

      IME, public groups will *always* revert to the lowest common denominator unless there is someone who feels empowered to set the tone, correct, and ultimately ask people to leave if they are making others uncomfortable. There’s just too many creepy or aggressive people out there, eventually you’re going to end up with one or more. I agree it’s kind to the give the GM a heads-up, but assuming there’