weekend open thread – June 25-26, 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: The Latecomer, by Jean Hanff Korelitz. A marriage borne out of tragedy produces triplets who feel a strong disconnect from their parents and each other. I do love a dysfunctional family saga and this is one of them, although I think I still prefer Korelitz’s The Plot.

I make a commission if you use that Amazon link.

{ 1,021 comments… read them below }

  1. Georgianna*

    Roe is gone, what do we’re do now? Everyone, please go to AidAccess.org now and purchase some abortion pills to keep on hand, for yourself or to have to give someone in the future who needs them. It’s the best way to support one of the only organizations that is currently sending abortion pills to people in states with bans. They are in Europe, so red state laws don’t apply to them. We need to make our own networks now.

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      Hi, y’all. Aside from this message above, I’m going to ask that we keep the Roe decision off of this post because I’m not able to moderate it this weekend (and it already turned into a moderation headache on the Friday post). That’s just a reflection of the demands on my time right now, nothing more. Please do act in other ways. Thank you.

  2. Valamaldoran*

    I’m getting my fallopian tubes out this week. People who’ve had this done: is there anything you wish you had known beforehand? What kinds of food did you eat after?

    Any and all advice is appreciated!

    1. Dwight Schrute*

      I have no advice but congrats and I’m jealous! I’ve been told I’m too young multiple times.

      1. Valamaldoran*

        Thank you! I’m very fortunate, and I know my experience is not the norm. Keep trying!

      2. Gatomon*

        Are you in the US? The r/childfree wiki has a list of friendly doctors organized by state. The doctor I saw is on there; I was 27 and childless and single and had no issues with her.

      3. I'm A Little Teapot*

        if you’re on reddit, or even if you’re not, go to r/childfree. They have a list of doctors that may be helpful to you.

      4. Kayem*

        I had that happen so many times, I had given up. Then when I was scheduled for an ablation, I found out my insurance required the tube removal. Turns out they don’t want to risk having to pay for the complications of an ectopic pregnancy or other similar complications, especially since I was approaching 40. I would have preferred having it done when I asked for one instead a steady string of being told I was too young/needed kids first/needed my husband’s permission when I was single, etc., but I took what I could get.

    2. Gatomon*

      I had my tubes tied via clips in 2015. I really didn’t have any pain, I took OTC painkillers at night the first few days afterwards. I was pretty tired and slept a lot. I’d heard trapped abdominal gas could be uncomfortable, so I got an electric heating pad. I didn’t really need it, but it was nice and I’ve used it since. Oh, bring a pad with you and have some at home. You’ll have bleeding most likely but IIRC you aren’t supposed to use tampons.

      I didn’t have any food restrictions, just lifting restrictions for a month. I have a history of vomiting after the anti-nausea meds they give you wear off, so they gave me a patch to wear behind my ear. This worked great.

      1. Valamaldoran*

        This is great to know. Thank you! I’m definitely asking about the anti nausea patch.

        1. Gatomon*

          Do it!! They really don’t want you to vomit after abdominal surgery but for me, it historically happens well after I leave the hospital. IIRC the patch was good for 24 hours.

        2. Falling Diphthong*

          To put in a counter on the nausea patch–despite a history of no trouble with nausea after general anesthesia, my reconstructive surgeon gave me a scopalamine patch. It triggered projectile vomiting on the way home from the hospital, which is a less common but not unusual reaction.

          Not saying “never ever” but if you’ve had anesthesia without nausea in the past, a reason to hesitate on experimenting.

          1. Valamaldoran*

            Both times I was fully under, I threw up after waking up. (Not after wisdom teeth, which I assume was twilight sleep or something.)

            Thank you for the info!

          2. JSPA*

            Seconding, test the patch ahead of time, don’t use if it makes you vertiginous or nauseated.

            Other anti- emetics exist, and are commonly used, but some are short-acting benzos that can cause retrograde and/or anterograde amnesia and/or follow up moments of “absence.”

        3. DuskPunkZebra*

          Slight caution with the patch: it can make your eyes dilate and it can be difficult to see, like after going to the eye doctor. I’m particularly sensitive and it can take a couple of weeks for my eyes to go back to normal.

          1. LoJo*

            I was wearing a patch while flying due to migraines. Apparently, I accidentally touched my eye. My daughter and I were waiting to board the plane and daughter freaked out as one of my pupils was fully dilated. The other eye was fine. She was convinced that I was having a stroke. Luckily a quick call to a doctor friend confirmed that it was the patch. It took several days to settle down.

      2. Mimmy*

        That’s interesting that you had bleeding after having your tubes tied – I had mine out at age 31 (though I think mine were tied using a special band) and I don’t remember any bleeding. I know everyone’s experiences may be different though.

        1. Gatomon*

          Yeah! It wasn’t too heavy and I don’t remember it lasting very long, just being annoyed that I had to use pads.

    3. MuttIsMyCopilot*

      I had mine out in 2016 and was pretty nervous since it was my first surgery ever, but there was barely anything to it. I was at the hospital for a few hours and the procedure itself was maybe 30 minutes. I took the rx painkillers for about a day, but I probably didn’t need them.

      Bending and lifting was uncomfortable for a few days, but I was fine to sit up, walk around, and eat anything. Some people get nausea or constipation from the anesthesia, but I didn’t. I did have some shoulder/clavicle area pain from the gases moving around but it wasn’t a big deal. I highly recommend it and would do it again in a heartbeat!

      1. Valamaldoran*

        Thank you, this is reassuring. I’ve had surgery before, but never in my abdomen. I’m rather nervous.

        1. IT Squirrel*

          The shoulder pain is apparently very common after abdominal surgery where they use gas to inflate you (so they can do their thing) – my nurses (different surgery, same basic process) told me that nerves from the diaphragm run through that area and when that gets irritated the pain transmits up to your shoulders!

          Valamaldoran, you may well also find that it’s more comfortable to lie on one side than the other while the gas dissipates, so you may want a few pillows to prop you up if that side isn’t natural to you.

    4. namidaame*

      Expect your top walking speed to be “shuffle” for a few days. Other than that, I felt fine after mine. Was back to work (office job) after 3 days. My gyno recommended taking GasX for the potential trapped gas, and I had absolutely no issues with gas/bloating/referred shoulder pain.

    5. Janet Pinkerton*

      I went in to get a cyst out and ended up with a tube out as well. It was honestly a very straightforward and easy surgery! I had two tiny scars plus they went in my belly button. The biggest thing was not picking at the glued wound in my belly button as it healed. Basically my advice is don’t worry, listen to your doctor’s advice, and take it a little easy that day. I got a tattoo a week later with no issues.

    6. StellaBella*

      I had mine out at age 37. I wish I had known how sore I would be for a week. I ate a lot of smoothies and blended foods. Avoid stuff that makes you super bloated/gaseous. Drink a lot of water to flush your system to help you heal. If you have a hot water bottle to rest on your tummy at night before bed or when you hurt, use it. Take ibuprofen (or what the doc gives you) for the pain. Do not lift anything heavy for two weeks. Watch the stitches and clean as needed. And celebrate.

      1. Valamaldoran*

        I have a hot water bottle and heating pad. And I’m planning on taking it easy. Thank you!

      2. nobadcats*

        And take lots of vitamin C to speed healing. It really helps.

        I cosign all the recommendations here. I got the filshie clips in my mid-30s, FINALLY, after years of trying to get the surgery. It was a laparoscopic surgery, so they fill your abdomen with gas to expand the area for the camera and lasers. The gas is very uncomfortable for a day or so. I only had two small incisions, one in my navel and one just above the pubic bone. No stitches needed, just tape.

        Unfortunately, fibroids became the bane of my existence for the next 20 years. First fibroid surgery was also laparoscopic, but it was the first time I had the anesthesia reaction of vomiting after surgery. Definitely get an anti-nausea patch, or what your doc recommends. Vomiting, even after a relatively “easy” laparoscopic surgery is no fun.

        Take care of yourself, eat pudding all the time, load up on smoothies (more vita C plus protein!), and be KIND to yourself. Even minor surgery is hard to recover from. Listen to your body and rest when it tells you to. Good luck, my thoughts are with you.

          1. nobadcats*

            I’ll be thinking of you, my dear. Mama’s been at this rodeo a few times. Hydration and meds are so important. My last surgery 5 years ago was a total hysterectomy due to the fibroids invading my entire torso. My roomie made me take all of the rx meds on my doc’s schedule even when I felt like I didn’t need it. She was like “X drug at Xhour, Xotherdrug at Xhour, and NO YOU’RE NOT MAKING MAC AND CHEESE RIGHT NOW, GET BACK IN BED, I’ll make the gd mac n cheese, which you’re not even going to eat.”

            I hope you have someone who can look in on you like my bestie did.

            1. Valamaldoran*

              My husband is/will be at the ready, and is an awesome human.

              Thank you for the thoughts and kind wishes!

    7. river*

      For me an antihistamine was necessary because sneezing was pretty painful. I did get referred pain in the shoulder blade area from the abdominal gas, but knowing what it was helped me put up with it. It went away after a day or so.

      1. Valamaldoran*

        Oh, I sneeze pretty violently. I’ll keep the antihistamine in mind. Thank you!

        1. Middle Aged Lady*

          I have heard to hold a pillow to your abdomen when you must cough or sneeze and it helps.

    8. Mid Lady*

      Take it easy afterwards. I expected it to be like the one other laparoscopic surgery I had had (appendix) and overdid it.

      Also if you still have functioning ovaries and/or uterus, expect some changes. I have read (but don’t have source links) that the fallopian tubes have hormonal receptors, so removing them — as opposed to ligating them but leaving them in — means your system may have to find a new equilibrium. For me that meant my cycle length changed and periods got a little heavier.

      1. Valamaldoran*

        I’m going to take it very easy.

        Yes, my SIL warned me about the hormone changes. They’re taking my Paragard out when they do the surgery, so I’m hoping that helps. (My cycle length changed and my period got worse when they put it in.) So maybe it’ll even out?

        Thank you!

    9. aubrey*

      I found it easier than expected – pain wasn’t too bad at all, had a bit of gas pain that was worse than the tiny incisions for sure. I felt a bit nauseous so ate basically broth, smoothies, and applesauce for a day afterwards. As another commentor said, sneezing hurts so yes have an antihistamine if you have allergies! I was tired for a couple days but then felt normal except for some tenderness at the incision sites and just being a bit cautious with moving around.

      My one surprise was that I had some kind of delayed reaction to the anaesthetic (combined with not eating all day) and fainted a couple hours after I got home. Stood up quickly and got tunnel vision and cold sweats, yelled for my partner who caught me. Scared the crap out of him because apparently I was white as a ghost and totally out for a couple seconds. The doctor said it was not common but not an issue and just to take it easy and be ready to sit if I felt dizzy. It only happened the once though.

      All in all I would do it again in a heartbeat and highly recommend it to anyone who wants permanent BC!

    10. A Tired Queer*

      More applicable for heavier surgeries, but worth saying all the same: be wary of painkillers trying to trick you into doing more than you’re ready for. A dear friend thought that making cookies immediately post-hysterectomy was a good plan. Cookies that required hand-mixing. It was not, in fact, a good plan. Give yourself permission to take it easy!

      1. Valamaldoran*

        I’ll be home resting, and my husband will be working from home to keep an eye on me. But I will definitely keep this in mind. Thank you!

    11. fhqwhgads*

      You may find that you become exhausted by, say, standing up for 10 minutes for the first week or so afterward. Do not be alarmed. This is normal. But also annoying. Plan your plans accordingly. I was surprised by how wiped I felt what on a normal day would be almost nothing.

    12. Melody Pond*

      I had my laparoscopic salpingectomy done back in 2017, I believe. I’m someone who seems to take longer to get past physical discomfort – I was advised to take one week off, but for me personally, I really needed two weeks before I was ready to go back to work.

      I think constipation would’ve been a big issue, had I not been constantly guzzling water with a hefty dose of magnesium Calm powder mixed in. (I’d checked with my doctor about this beforehand, as an alternative to actual stool softeners.)

      I also remember that I could only stand to sleep on my back, which is not my normal sleeping position. I also had to sleep with an extra throw pillow on top of my stomach, because the cats were so used to jumping on top of me! And obviously that was a no-go.

      But, I would absolutely do it again. I don’t regret it at all, and I’m especially glad I sprang for the full removal of my tubes, as opposed to just getting them tied/snipped.

      Good luck!!!

    13. Laura Petrie*

      I had a laparoscopic operation on my abdomen to remove endometriosis so not quite the same as yours. However, here’s my advice:

      You might have a really dry mouth after surgery. Get yourself something like starburst or some hard fruit candy. I was given a sandwich to eat on the ward and my mouth had no saliva at all and I struggled to eat.

      Keep well hydrated. If you’re not eating that much, add a bit of juice to your water to help keep you going a bit.

      Take it easy and have your painkillers regularly, even if you think you don’t need them.

      The anaesthetic might do weird stuff to you. I felt really emotional and grumpy.

      Get some mild laxatives. Having a poo after abdominal surgery is not a pleasant experience, especially if you’re on strong painkillers.

        1. IT Squirrel*

          You could also look into stool softeners (we have one called Movicol) which makes going easier, but without causing your system to go into overdrive like some laxatives, which can be quite painful.
          I also recommend getting a large bottle (obviously small enough to lift, but a decent size so you don’t have to keep refilling – I found 750-800ml was a good size) to keep at hand filled with water to make sure you drink plenty (seriously, drink plenty, then drink some more, then have a little bit more just to be sure).

          Good luck, it can all seem very scary going in but once you’re out the other side you can focus on recovery :)

      1. Legalize Texas*

        The anaesthetic might do weird stuff to you. I felt really emotional and grumpy.

        I mentioned this below in my comment about talking to your anesthesiologist, but next time you have a procedure under general anesthesia you should describe how you felt and ask if they can avoid it by changing the drugs they give you. My general advice to everyone is that you should always tell your anesthesiologist anything you’re worried about (pain, nausea) and any bad experiences you tend to have with anesthesia. They can actually change what drugs they give you in the IV very easily, to avoid things with side effects that you might not like or to give you things that will help treat an issue you are concerned with. Talk to them! There’s a reason they come see you before the procedure, that’s your chance to let them know what you need.

        I also used to get very sad, unhappy, and crappy feeling after anesthesia, and finally one time (actually the time I was getting my tubes out) I described it to the anesthesiologist and asked if it was a side effect we could avoid. He said it might be from benzos, and that they often use Ativan in the IV to keep you calm as they put you under. He said he’d do it without and that if my problem went away, then I’d know to ask for no benzos in the future. Sure enough I felt fine afterwards, so now I know to avoid benzos in the future. You might be having a similar issue, and it is actually potentially avoidable.

        That said, it did mean he had to use a different combination of drugs which tl;dr was a little more uncomfortable for a few minutes right before they put me under. To me that was one million percent worth feeling fine afterwards, but ymmv. Either way, you can (and should!) ask about this if you are ever put under general anesthesia in the future.

    14. Catabodua*

      Mine were clipped during a c-section, so different than a stand alone procedure, but I have found any abdominal work… have a pillow nearby for when you cough or sneeze. For me, it felt like my guts wanted to shoot across the room and holding a pillow up against my midsection was a huge help.

      I won’t discuss pain since mine was part of a much larger surgery and I don’t think my experience would apply. Best wishes that it’s simple and an easy recovery.

    15. Kayem*

      I had mine done in 2016 when I got my uterus lasered. Mine was done laparoscopically and the only issue I really had was trying to be careful in the bathroom after the large cocktail of surgical opiates they gave me, as I didn’t want to pop the sutures. Be prepared with some stool softener just in case.

      My partner, bless him, reminded the surgeon that I wanted pictures, so they turned the camera around and I now have a lovely picture of my liver for the scrapbook. So if you’re into that sort of thing, make sure to ask. My brother thinks I’m insane, but I love it

    16. Legalize Texas*

      I had a bilat salpingectomy (removal of both fallopian tubes) a few years ago and it’s the best money I’ve ever spent in my life. The recovery was so, so easy.

      I didn’t even take the Rx narcotic painkillers they gave me. I filled it just in case I needed it, but it never hurt badly enough for me to bother. I alternated ibuprofen and acetaminophen every 2 hours, which is the pain management protocol we used in the surgery dept I worked in at the time, and that was fine. I was sore but at a totally tolerable level. I did not want to risk any constipation or nausea from the narcotic painkillers so I avoided them, and that was completely doable.

      So, about constipation. What one of the nurses warned me ahead of time that I will share with you is fiber and stool softeners. She said specifically have docusate sodium stool softener (NOT the kind that’s a high enough dose to be a laxative, do not take laxatives, stool softeners only) and take it starting right around the surgery. I also take psyllium fiber, which you need to avoid taking at the same time as any meds. You basically really want your first couple bowel movements to be reaaally easy, and bulking fiber + stool softeners will do the trick. Even if constipation is not a problem you normally have, remember they were just manipulating your insides and almost certainly put drugs in your IV that will slow down your GI tract. I wouldn’t have thought of it ahead of time but this totally worked and I can say it did turn out to be necessary. Thanks preop obgyn nurse!

      Relatedly they do use gas to inflate your abdomen while they’re working in there, and some of that is gonna have to work its way out afterwards. I didn’t have any big issues with this but have some GasX on hand in case you are really uncomfortable, that stuff works amazingly well.

      Rest and eat well. Because you will feel almost completely fine, you can get tricked into doing too much. A few days after surgery I collapsed in a dizzy spell because I had been up and about as normal and eating sparsely while busy, like I normally would do. Keep in mind you are still actually recovering and healing and should dial it back for a little while even if you don’t feel like you should need to.

      Lastly, and this is the advice I give everyone for every surgery that comes from working in surgical depts, tell your anesthesiologist what you’re worried about. They can change the drugs you get in your IV to help with whatever issues you are most concerned with. I get nauseous very easily so I always ask them to focus on preventing postop nausea, which is something they’ll have done before and know exactly how to handle. If you’re more worried about pain, mention that. I also once asked if they could make me less groggy when I woke up, and the anesthesiologist said he’d try not giving me any benzos like they would normally do. Sure enough, I did not feel groggy when I woke up that time, so now I know to ask for that. There is a lot anesthesia can do to change your experience! Definitely talk to them about your concerns, not just your surgeon.

      1. Legalize Texas*

        Also, notes about these kinds of procedures for anyone who’s interested in them:

        1) A salpingectomy, where the tubes are completely removed instead of just cut/cauterized/clipped, is emerging as the gold standard for female sterilization procedures. It has a significantly lower failure (i.e. pregnancy) rate and a much lower rate of later ectopic pregnancy, but the risks and complication rates are exactly the same. Also, with the other kinds of tubal ligations, it’s possible for your tubes to heal without you knowing about it, especially if you’re younger when you first get it done. That can’t happen with a salpingectomy.

        tl;dr a salpingectomy is not any riskier than a tubal ligation, but it is more effective, so more and more surgeons are moving to this procedure as the gold standard procedure for surgical female sterilization.

        2) You can often find a doctor that’s not going to be the “you’ll change your mind” police. I got mine at 28 and I live in Texas. I literally just called around to OBGYN offices in-network for my insurance, got on the nurse line, and asked them point blank if they had any doctors there who were open to sterilization for 20-something women. I actually ended up getting it done by a doctor at the first office I called, after a little back and forth where they checked with their docs and got back to me. That wasn’t the only office that was encouraging, either! In fact not one of them was hesitant, they were just varying degrees of encouraging.

  3. Tortoiseshell*

    Can anyone share their experiences with getting the arm birth control implant/Nexplanon?
    I have patch-style birth control for medical reasons and I keep forgetting or not wanting to take it. It also allows me to ‘skip’ periods by not using it, which is SO nice but not really… medically appropriate.
    It might be more convenient for me than pills or patch, but I am just getting over a fear of needles…

    I will come back and check on this but I probably won’t be able to keep up with replies.

    1. SP*

      I had a coworker who had one and got pregnant while using it. Cute kid though. If you are looking for convenience I have had a Mirena IUD and personally don’t get periods while on it (combined total of 15 years using them).

        1. Poffertjies!*

          3rd mirena. This is my second round with it. It varies by person but I haven’t had any side effects and my periods are gone.

          1. IUDevangelist*

            Also jumping in to say that I love my Mirena! I’m three years into my second one now. I had spotting for the first 6 months to a year, but it steadily dwindled and I haven’t had a true period in at least five years and have otherwise had pretty limited side effects, especially after the first year, unlike the pill. I’ve had friends get the arm implant and have a good experience, but I like that you can’t feel/see an IUD and that it lasts longer (the Mirena lasts 5 years vs 3 for the arm implant).
            If you decide to get an IUD, ask your doctor about pain management options for when they put it in – I didn’t realize it was an option when I got my first one and have later learned that it totally can be. The second one was significantly less painful, but the first one hurt. Still totally worth it for the peace of mind/lack of periods/lack of babies (all of which I would essentially throw myself into the sun to achieve), but still, I wish I had known before.

              1. Pieforbreakfast*

                When originally approved for US the Mirena was given a 5 year efficacy rate despite being 7 years in Europe. I know this because due to circumstances I had one still at 6.5 years and my Ob/Gyn was like “it’s fine, I follow the European rule”. The US has moved to 7 years at this time for birth control but use for helping with heavy bleeding is 5 years.

          2. Emily Dickinson*

            I’m about to go get #4, even though my partner has taken care of things. I just really love not having a period, and the insertion is way easier after kids. I’m also almost at year 7, because pandemic, but it’s approved for 7 years in Europe and my doctor cousin assured me I was fine. Possibly something to consider if insurance is an issue.

          3. Lady Danbury*

            Yet another Mirena plug! I’m on my second one and will probably never use anything else. I love not having a period and not having to worry about BC. The adjustment period when you first get it isn’t fun (lots of spotting) but if you can push through then you get the long term birth control of your dreams! I didn’t experience any side effects with my second, so it’s truly a one and done adjustment.

      1. Clisby*

        2nd the Mirena (although I got my first at age 49 so never needed another.)
        I had my second child at age 48. This is unlikely to apply to a lot of people, but I started out getting Depo-Provera shots, until it suppressed my estrogen level farther than is recommended. Then I got the Mirena. I actually had to push back against the providers at my doctor’s office – a doctor was crazy enough to tell me that my chances of getting pregnant with no birth control were about the same as a 25-year-old taking BC pills. I said, “I just had a baby less than a year ago. I think I don’t want to count on chances.”

    2. LoJo*

      Two of my daughters had the Nexplanon. Both for five years. They generally last three years. They are on their second implant. They’ve had great experiences with the Nexplanon. It’s the only Progesterone only option. Neither has a period.

    3. ImplantQueen*

      I’m on my third cycle of the implant, and it’s still my birth control of choice! Due to my weight it’s effective for 2 years (I would recommend checking with your doctor), and I don’t really menstruate. Personally, it’s been a really carefree method of birth control, and I haven’t personally encountered negative side effects.

      1. Numbat*

        For me the implant sucked (felt like it made me a bit mentally… unbalanced? Emotionally weird?) But Mirena has been wonderful. Hurts on insertion, change or removal (worth asking for laughing gas or other pain relief) but it’s worth it for me.

        1. Clisby*

          I was surprised when mine was removed because insertion *was* painful. Removal was a breeze. (Obviously, this will not be everyone’s experience.)

    4. Love to WFH*

      It’s fine to use hormonal birth control to skip periods. There’s actually a theory that having lots of periods is bad for us.

      1. SP*

        Yes! I’ve read this – I think the theory is that back in ye olde times women had fewer periods anyways due to more pregnancies, which skipping birth control sort of mimics.

    5. KuklaRed*

      I had a similar one. I loved it. Worked great and as soon as I had it taken out (because we wanted to have a second baby) I got pregnant.

    6. Wordnerd*

      I’m on my second Nexplanon, and I haven’t experienced any side effects like weight gain (something the internet mentioned when I first got it). But my husband and I aren’t terribly sexually active, so I can’t really speak to its overall effectiveness, I guess? I also still get my period but it’s usually lighter and the cramps are way better than no hormonal birth control at all.
      The insertion and removal process is not that bad, it certainly hurt less than the unsuccessful IUD insertion that led me to choose the implant. It’s also a little tricky to make sure you don’t hit or hurt the implant – I had to get IV fluids in February because of a stomach bug and it affected where the nurse (phlebotomist??) could put the tourniquet and draw the blood.

    7. KM*

      I’ve had it for three years and I love it! I had breakthrough bleeding the first few months, but after that it’s been so nice to not have to worry.

    8. Part Time is Best Time*

      I’ve never tried the arm implant, but I wanted to suggest NuvaRing as an option because many people seem to forget about this one! It’s super easy to use and my doctor said that I can safely use it to skip periods. But of course ask your doctor what is appropriate for you.

      1. Stitch*

        I love my Nuvaring. I had horrible PMS before I found it. Oral pills gave me stomach problems.

    9. Ellen Ripley*

      I just got my second Nexplanon implant a few weeks ago. I was in a similar boat (forgetful about taking BC on time), and I had an issue with an IUD coming loose on me so Nexplanon was a good next option.

      The implant process itself was really fast and easy, though it did leave a decent sized bruise. You pick which arm to implant in (it goes on the back of the upper arm), then they use a numbing shot (which was the worst part), then the insertion (took about two seconds) and it was all done.

      As far as side effects, I felt a little moody at times during the first few months (my previous bc was non hormonal so I’m sure my hormones needing to adjust played a role in that). I also spotted many day out of those first few months, so I became good friends with panty liners. After that, no period, no pregnancy, for five years (I got okay’d by my gyno to keep it that long). The no period happens for about 25% of women I think, and my gyno said your egg still travels out every month, there just isn’t a thick uterian lining that gets flushed out with it (the hormones keep the lining thin so the egg can’t stick and be fertilized). So not having a period isn’t actually harmful.

      I just got it replaced a few weeks ago (again, pretty quick and easy) and so far I have a little spotting but no mood changes this time around.

      1. allathian*

        The egg can be fertilized, but the embryo can’t attach to the uterine wall. Eggs are usually fertilized somewhere in the fallopian tube, and if the embryo attaches too early, you get an ectopic pregnancy. Some pro-lifers consider this an equivalent of abortion, even if they don’t necessarily have a problem with birth control that either physically prevents the sperm from fertilizing the egg (barrier BC like condoms) or prevents the egg from maturing (the pill).

    10. Wilde*

      I’ve had two (one before pregnancies and one after) and 10/10 recommend. They’re common among my peer group and I only know one person who had theirs removed due to breakthrough bleeding.

      I still get periods. They are similar to what I had on oral birth control and I’m not bothered by them. The convenience is worth it for me as I would often get bleeding if I forgot to take my pill.

      The procedure itself is really straightforward and not painful at all. The bruising after is pretty significant but easily covered. I think both were a little tender for a few days and I needed to be careful heavy lifting. For this reason I had them put in my non-dominant arm.

    11. Laura Petrie*

      At the time I had mine put in, I was scared of needles. It was fine though, the local anaesthetic was a bit uncomfortable but nothing like I expected. I had quite a bit of bleeding for the first few months and my GP advised me to carry on with the progesterone pill I had been taking previously. After things settled it was absolutely fine, no issues at all and no periods, which is great.

    12. DuskPunkZebra*

      I’ve had mostly good luck with mine, no breakthrough babies like some mention, but it made my cycle really strange and long when I did bleed. It was 3 months between my last two, and each of those went a week and a half or two.

      I’m having mine out (it’s time anyway) when they sterilize me in September.

    13. ana_hardy*

      I’ve had two Nexplanon implants and one of its predecessor Implanon. No problems at all with either, insertion was fine (local anaesthetic was the most painful part). I also had very limited periods with it.

    14. Legalize Texas*

      I looked into the implant before I ended up just getting sterilized, and I think it doesn’t go well for a lot of people. I do not remember the specific numbers but some 20+% percent of people who get it have frequent, irregular bleeding. It’s the most common issue and the biggest reason that people have them removed early.

      For what that’s like, a friend of mine got it and bled lightly almost nonstop for over a year. That’s a completely normal side effect. That said, it’s got an incredibly low failure rate, I believe is the most effective form of temporary (i.e. not surgical sterilization) birth control on the market.

      Also, I’m not sure why you feel that missing a period is not medically appropriate, but I want to say that it is totally ok to do as long as you’re not doing it for more than 3ish months at a time. You don’t need to bleed any more often than that, unless the hormones themselves are not working for you for a different reason.

      1. Legalize Texas*

        PS I mention this only because I am also extremely afraid of needles and bleeding nonstop would have been a total dealbreaker for me, so the idea of possibly having that problem and then having to have it removed early really put me off. If I hadn’t happened to have had a friend who had this issue I would not have looked into it, and I would not have known how common of a side effect that is.

        If the possibility of more bleeding at first isn’t a big deal to you, then it’s a pretty good option practically speaking. Highly effective, nothing to remember, progesterone only.

    15. I'm Just Here For The Cats!*

      I’m a bit late so I hope you see this on Monday. Does anyone know if the patch or the arm BC give estrogen? I have a medical condition where I don’t make enough on my own so I take BC as a replacement. Unfortunalty my oral birth control may be causing some other problems so I would like to look into other forms.

    16. meow*

      Another Monday comment!
      I got my Nexplanon implant about a year ago. I have terrible ADHD. so the pill was not an option for me! I also have high blood pressure and used to get a lot of migraines, so I was recommended a progesterone only method. I chose the arm implant because it seemed less invasive/painful than an IUD.
      When I got it, I had a huge bruise that took like at least a week, maybe two to go away. Mine is on the inside of my left bicep. I don’t notice it pretty much ever unless someone squeezes my arm there. I do have a tiny scar from it, and I’m a little scared of removal, but I love it! I had a lot of spotting/bleeding for the first six months or so, but now it’s pretty rare. Definitely nothing that ruins a pair of underwear, and no regular period.
      I had horrible cramps, migraines, and huge huge anxiety attacks before my periods without birth control. The arm implant changed my life completely. I wish I hadn’t waited so long to do it (though the reason I couldn’t was because of my insurance/fear of going to Planned Parenthood and someone from work finding out).
      I would highly recommend!

  4. Pet meds*

    Pet owners of animals that take meds, have you ever gotten custom-compounded scripts from an online pharmacy? One of my cats needs a pricey cream that is really straining my budget, because I can only get it at the small family-owned pharmacy in my one-horse town. (Inexpensive pills exist, but she can’t take them, for gross reasons I won’t get into.)

    1. CatCat*

      Yes, Diamondback Drugs (looked it up and looks like it’s now Wedgewood Pharmacy). Got my pet’s chemo drugs compounded there. Recommended by the vet oncologist we had. Very good experience.

      1. Filthy Vulgar Mercenary*

        I used Wedgewood for years for two dogs and have had all great experiences with them. Fast and courteous and when one of my dogs died (of old age) they sent me a hand written really kind card.

      2. Missing Isabelle*

        We also used Diamondback when our cat needed chemo drugs – the savings was amazing. It made the difference in being able to afford to keep her (10s rather than 100s of dollars per month,) She lived several months past the maximum the vet thought she would have and had a much better quality of life than expected. Hope with the name change that it is still the same quality as before.
        Isobelle has been gone for over 3 years and my heart still hurts. So glad for 2+ years of extra time.

    2. Annie Edison*

      I just got my first order of a medication for my pet rat from Wedgewood today actually! No complaints so far, although it did take a few days to get the first shipment sent out

    3. North Wind*

      I used Stokes pharmacy (they’re in Canada, I’m in the U.S.) for my cat’s prednisolone liquid suspension. They gave an option of three flavors. It was $35 + shipping for about a two month supply if I remember correctly.

    4. Out & About*

      Yes, we get ours from RoadRunner in AZ and we live on the east coast. Reasonable price and flavored safely for a cat!

    5. Ali G*

      Yes I use CareFirstRX (not associated with CareFirst insurance). They are based in NJ. My dog’s Pimobenden kept having shortages and the pills themselves were huge. Now I cut one tiny pill in half and he gets half 2x a day. It’s great.

    6. pancakes*

      Yes, my cat wouldn’t take a certain pill so we had it made up as liquid. They called back right away to confirm and check which flavor kitty might go for (tuna, and no, but we were able to get it into her better than pills). It may have been Best Pet Rx, I can’t recall.

      1. Anonymous healthcare person*

        Our vet was far away so we got all animal meds at a regular pharmacy (prescribed by vet, just much closer for refills etc). Dogs must have much higher drug metabolisms than humans, as there was always lots of concern about the dosage amounts of pain meds for my elderly dog! They got used to it though. Oh, plus much cheaper than vets for some meds.

    7. *daha**

      Our vet prescribes compounded medications for our pets from time to time. The pharmacy is Wedgewood. Most recently, we received pain medication for a cat that was in the form of a painkiller to be rubbed into the inner skin of the cat’s ear where it could be absorbed easily. It came as a paste in little no-needle syringes. I was instructed to put on latex gloves (so as not to absorb any medication myself) and dispense a certain number of units as marked on the syringe onto my finger, and then to rub it in to the cat’s ear.
      It was much less of a struggle than pills or liquid dosing. Wedgewood was fine to work with, though not as fast as working with a local pharmacy or directly from our vet would be.

    8. Maggie*

      Yes I also use wedgewood and they were recommended by my vet. Had no issues with them and customer service has been adequate

    9. Middle Aged Lady*

      Yes. My dog needed prescription eye drops and Northwest Compounders in Tualatin, OR did a great job for me.

    10. Catabodua*

      Confirm that your vet will approve the script. We were using Chewy and our vet stopped approving the prescription in their system so Chewy can’t fill it. Our vet wants patients to go through their “wonderful online portal” that is also about 3 times more expensive. So, just flagging for you – make sure your vet will actually do it before you spend too much time researching.

    11. An Australian In London*

      I have found that a great many kitty meds can be acquired from human doctors and pharmacies far more cheaply than from vets.

      My rescue cat in Melbourne has FIV, FLV, diabetes, and is blind in one eye. He needs two insulin shots a day, one set of eyedrops twice daily, and another set of eyedrops when his feline ocular herpes flares on. (FYI herpes in cats is an airborne disease and is routinely spread in catteries. :( )

      In Australia it was costing something like AUD$80 per individual insulin pen from his vet… but it’s the same pen that humans use. I asked my GP about getting it through them – I was open about it being for my cat, and I asked for an Australian private prescription so there was no burden on the public prescription subsidies. Doctor thanked me for thinking of that and agreed that it wasn’t a drug in any kind of shortage, and has been writing private scripts since.

      It costs AUD$35 for a box of five pens done this way, vs. $400 for the same amount through a vet.

      Back to the question at hand: his two eyedrop meds are both via a compounding chemist as both are anti-virals not normally done in eyedrops. Here his animal eye vet specialist prescribes, but they were the ones who recommended we get them through a compounding pharmacist they use. These meds literally aren’t available any other way.

      All this is to say: yes absolutely look into not only compounding vet pharmacies, but compounding pharmacies for humans also.

    12. Anono-me*

      Please if any of the medication is temperature sensitive, please look into expected transit times, and expected temperatures along the shipping route. Semi trailer can get very hot.

      Good luck with everything.

  5. teenage boredom*

    I’m hosting a 15 year old family member for the summer and I’m starting to hear “I’m bored” a lot. I don’t mind making suggestions when I have them but I also think learning to deal with boredom and find things to do is a useful skill to develop. I don’t have kids of my own though and I don’t know if I’m off base.

    She does have access to lots of books, a large deck to hang out on (though she never uses it), a sound system, a laptop, tablet, and Nintendo Switch. She doesn’t know anyone here, though she does talk to friends on her phone many hours a day. She also has more structure coming in a couple of weeks when a planned activity starts but for right now she’s mostly in charge of her own entertainment during the week days while I work.

    Parents of teens, any advice? Is it OK to let her manage her boredom on her own or should I be stepping in every time she says she’s bored (about once a day)? Right now I step in sometimes but am leaning toward doing less of it.

    1. Dark Macadamia*

      It’s good for kids to be bored! I think about this sometimes because with the rise of smartphones/social media I almost have to consciously TRY to be bored compared to when I was a kid. Like, the things I do when I’m bored now (scrolling, apps) are still boring, but I rarely have time to come up with actually interesting things because there’s always an internet right there to mindlessly fill the time.

      I would maybe do a one-time conversation about what she’d be interested in trying, supply some options, and then let her deal on her own after that. It sounds like most of her options right now are books or screens – could you bring her to a craft store to choose some kits or supplies to try a new hobby? Give her a list of places nearby places she can go to herself or be brought by you? That way you’re expanding the choices available to her, but not forcing anything or making the decisions on her behalf.

      1. teenage boredom*

        Yes, she has lots of craft kits that she has picked out and I’ve bought for her. She does use them sometimes.

    2. Ginger Pet Lady*

      I think it’s okay to have her manage it. I’d suggest asking her at a time when she’s not complaining of boredom what she would like you to do when she says that. Does she just want validation that it’s hard to be away from family & friends for the summer? Is she hoping you’ll suggest something? If you’re at work there’s not a whole lot you can do.
      Does she ever get to leave the house? If there are places she could walk to close by, maybe you could show her those on the weekend. Take her to the local park. If there’s a library, see if she would like a library card. If there is a coffee shop, ice cream place, etc. walk there with her so she knows how to do it on her own.
      If she would like art supplies, stuff to bake and/or cook, a garden project, etc. those might be possible as well. See if she has any interest in watching youtube cooking videos and take her to the store to get ingredients. Maybe take her to a craft store and see if anything sparks her interest – again she could learn from YouTube. My inclination (as someone who has raised teens) is to give her freedom to leave the house and tools for longer term projects/interests. But let HER decide which ones.

      1. Chilipepper Attitude*

        I really like ginger pet lady’s advice!

        And as ragingADHD said, make a plan with her for the weeks until the planned activity starts.

    3. Rara Avis*

      That’s hard, if they don’t know anyone or have any structured activities for several weeks. I’m the parent of a lonely only (14 yo) whose friends are all in camp right now. It’s hard if you’re working, but is there any volunteer work they could do? Take them to a movie? Walk or play Nintendo with them in the evening? My kid is into art so I suggest they get their paints out when they’re bored. They are also getting voluntold to help their dad move his classroom.

    4. RagingADHD*

      I mean, are you going anywhere or doing anything with her at all between now and the structured activity? She can’t drive. Is there anywhere she can walk or take public transit while you’re working?

      Two + weeks alone in the house all day with nowhere to go, no plans, and nothing but books and electronics might be a cozy break for an overworked, introverted adult, but for a teen away from her friends it kind of sounds like torture.

      Saying she’s bored once a day sounds like a real need, not whining. Sometimes “bored” means lonely.

      Teens don’t need constant caretaking like little kids, but they aren’t houseplants. They need human contact and some structure.

      I don’t think it’s a matter of stepping in on an ad hoc basis, but of looking big-picture at the next couple of weeks and working with her to make a constructive plan for activities she can do with you and on her own.

      1. teenage boredom*

        I’m aware she’s not a houseplant and needs human contact. I regularly take her places after work (ice cream, walks, library, movies, shopping etc.) and we spend a large portion of every day hanging out together, talking, watching movies, cooking and so forth.

        1. misspiggy*

          In that case the Captain Awkward approach might be what’s left. “You’re bored? I’m sorry to hear that. What do you think you’ll do about it?” (Delivered with genuine sincerity and interest.)

          This trip is a good opportunity for her to start the transition into having more control over her time, and becoming used to being on your own, outside your nuclear family, in new places. Which is scary and uncomfortable, but she’ll hopefully look back on it later as valuable.

          1. Falling Diphthong*

            I second the “What do you think you’ll do about it?” with genuine sincerity and interest.

        2. RagingADHD*

          Well, that’s good! It wasn’t apparent from your original description.

          What are her interests and hobbies when she’s home? What are her electives in school? Crafts, sports, fashion, gaming, art, music, dance, science, languages, etc? That can give you a guide as to what sort of projects she might need permission, supplies, or ideas to dig into.

          Some 15 year olds can get something going all on their own and will proactively ask if they can go to the fabric store or build a ballet bar in the back yard.

          Others (especially in a new place) may need help brainstorming, or not be sure what’s okay to ask for. I don’t think the Captain Awkward “what are you going to do about it” is entirely appropriate because it is for adults who have agency over their own lives.

          This kid does not have full agency. She is in your home and dependent on you. There is not much she can do about it without your help and permission. So I’d advise more of a “what can we do about it” approach.

        3. MissGirl*

          A lot of activities I’m seeing suggested or tried are passive and not active. My nieces and nephews have tons of energy and turn really grumpy if they’re not active. They’re not even aware of it but their parents might push them out the door. Afterwards they’re much happier. Can you take her to a park and kick a ball, are there nearby hiking or biking trails? Someone maybe willing to lend her a bike or roller blades for a few weeks.

        4. Nancy*

          Libraries often have activities for teens, check to see if yours does. I see someone mentioned teen reading groups, Which is a great idea. My library also hosts movie nights and craft afternoons for teens, so that may also be an option. Is there a pool nearby? Any type of classes through a community center or other local org? They may offer one day or one week classes designed for teens.

          Look for things that are more active, she can do on her own (any place she can walk to?), and even involve others her age.

      2. Batgirl*

        It’s not always true that you should be alarmed at a complaint of boredom! The kids in my family have lots of friends, siblings and shops and entertainments (also, a beach) within walking distance and if they only claim to be bored once a day during the summer, we count ourselves lucky.

    5. Cartographical*

      At that age you can always ask if she’d like your help solving the problem when she brings it up in the future so you know what kind of input she’d like. You can also have a talk about what her options are (such as whatever you’ve suggested or would usually suggest) and make a list so she can go to that first in the hope that instead of “I’m bored” you can hear “I’d like to do X”.

      There’s bored and there’s lonely — bored is okay, lonely is a little harder. If you’re WFH and it’s feasible, she might like to hang out in the same area where you’re working and play her Switch or watch a movie on a laptop, just to feel like she’s not rattling around in the rest of the house. If you’ve got a pet, at that age my kid could waste a couple hours a day walking/grooming/training whatever animal would hold still long enough. That kind of thing can take the edge off of feeling lonely.

    6. Cheezmouser*

      Not a parent of a teen, but I remember being a young person and being bored, and then seeing a quote from someone (forgot who) that said, “boring people are bored.” And it’s true! You’re responsible for finding stuff that interests you. If you’re bored, that means you’re being boring, not that the world around you is boring. So go find something interesting to do.

      1. Adults are supposed to help*

        As a general rule, “it’s your own fault you’re experiencing a negative emotion” isn’t the greatest messaging for teens. I’m not a big fan of “only boring people are bored” or the many variations thereof for my kids.

        Kids don’t need to be rescued from boredom, but they might need help figuring out a solution. That’s what adults are there for! In my house, “I’m bored” is met with “That sounds frustrating. Do you have any ideas for what you’d like to do? We can toss some around together if you want.”

        1. RagingADHD*

          Exactly. Boredom can also be frustration, when you know what you want to do but aren’t allowed / able to do it.

        2. Irish Teacher*

          That’s a brilliant answer. I really don’t like the idea of criticising people for expressing their feelings, especially teens. Yeah, “I’m bored” might not be that big a deal but if they get dismissed when they make a throwaway comment like that, I’d be worried they might not feel comfortable saying if they were to develop depression or anxiety or something later on, as those are rather harder to talk about.

      2. Falling Diphthong*

        An example I really liked, that extends to boredom: A commenter (elsewhere) realized that her faculty mentor, the smartest person she’d ever met, was extremely talented at finding things interesting. Like, on a plane ride she was sitting by some teens who loved Twilight, and she emerged from the flight with an idea for a new literature course. She wasn’t dismissive of anyone’s interests, but instead found ways to spark her own interest in new things.

        As a parent, I am pretty sure I universally responded to “I’m bored” with “you could clean something.”

        1. Texan In Exile*

          That was always my mom’s answer: Then clean the bathroom.

          I learned to keep my complaints to myself after that.

        2. Peonies*

          Yes, saying you are bored in my house means you are getting a chore assigned!

          I am not sure if I would take that route as a non-parent with a kid in an unfamiliar place. My kids have their friends nearby and know that they can ask me for a variety of things to do (pool, library, etc)—well for my youngest, the oldest can drive himself places— so it is different.

          I think there have been a lot of good suggestions. I would just ask if the teenager wants help with that. It sounds like activities and interaction abound after work hours, so the issue may be just during work hours. Might be worth exploring if there are places the teen can take themselves during the work day. Walking or public transit or maybe someone has a bike to borrow for a couple of weeks for transportation. Library, movie theater, pool, even just a trip to a candy store or coffee shop could break up the day.

          1. Texan In Exile*

            Good point! After reading what others have to say, I would probably not say that to a kid who’s not mine. It’s one thing to hear it from your mom – it’s another to hear it from an aunt or other adult. I like the “Oh! What are your ideas about how to address?” approach a lot.

      3. Pool Lounger*

        ‘Ever to confess you’re bored
        means you have no Inner Resources.’
        —John Berryman

        I read that as a teen and it totally changed my thoughts in boredom.

    7. LBD*

      Does she have any chores, responsibilities or tasks to do? Those kind of activities aren’t ‘fun’ but they can be satisfying and give a sense of structure and purpose. They can also help spark enjoyment of things that we do for entertainment that have become boring.
      She might need to work up to it but an hour or two a day isn’t excessive. After all she would put in much more time than that on school during the school term.
      Don’t approach it as punishment for being bored but as lessons in life skills that are of value to her.

      1. Observer*

        Don’t approach it as punishment for being bored but as lessons in life skills that are of value to her.

        Exactly. Which is why I would NOT set this up as a response to her expressing boredom. That makes it feel punitive. Just setting it up on its own is different.

        1. Irish Teacher*

          Yes, responding to “I’m bored,” with “well, you can do this unpleasant task, so,” makes it feel like a “gotcha!” and also like “never express your feelings or you’ll be punished for it.” I know when I was a kid, I would have thought less of an adult who did that. And more importantly, we want to encourage kids to express their feelings.

          But asking a kid to help with chores is perfectly reasonable. And gives more of a structure to the day. Having the full day to do what one likes is fun for a day or two but can eventually start to lack structure.

    8. allathian*

      Some boredom is necessary for creativity to flourish, and you’re right, it’s something that everyone needs to learn to deal with in a constructive way. From your replies it sounds like you’re doing a lot of stuff together after work.

      I second the suggestion of chores. At the very least, she should be doing her own laundry and keeping her bedroom reasonably clean and tidy.

      At 15, she should be able to cook a few basic dishes at least. Does she cook at home? Do you cook? If you do, consider including her in that.

      1. Salymander*

        I second this. My teenager is responsible for preparing at least two of their meals and most snacks every day. My kid is super picky about food due to a lot of sensory issues, and it can cause quite a bit of stress and anxiety. We deal with it by giving kid everything they need to manage it themselves without any adult interference. We try to always keep a variety of easy foods they can make that don’t bother them to eat. That takes a lot of the pressure of picky eating off of both of us because there are always alternatives to unpleasant foods. I make dinner, occasionally with their help, but they make their own breakfast and lunch. This works really well to break up the summer days, because lunch is usually some kind of tofu and noodle or rice combo with vegetables that takes a little planning and prep work. At least an hour of my kid’s day is spent preparing meals and cleaning up. When kid is ready to eventually move out on their own, they will have a bunch of easy, healthy meals they can make that are really inexpensive.

        1. allathian*

          That’s great! Our microwave is on the kitchen counter, and we taught our son to use it as soon as he was tall enough to reach any warm or hot food in it safely, he was maybe 7 or 8. He’s been using the oven to cook frozen pizzas for about a year, and he’s 13 now. He’s been making salads for several years, but he hasn’t cooked from scratch yet. Something to think about for us, too.

    9. Bibliovore*

      If there is a public library near by , they may be open to teenage book buddies as volunteers for summer reading. They can meet other teens and be a great help.

      Also as a the neighborhood widow lady, I am grateful to the 12 and thirteen year olds who have been helping out with tasks like giving tge dog a walk around the block, training reinforcement for simple commands and carrying the clean laundry basket up a flight of stairs.

      1. Texan In Exile*

        I heart your neighbors.

        (Our catsitter, who has since moved away for college and now for work, used to – for free – mow the lawn and shovel the sidewalk of our 80 year old neighbors. He was the sweetest kid ever.)

      2. Salymander*

        These are great ideas, and your neighbors sound lovely!

        Summer reading programs at the library probably have a teen specific summer reading program with activities. Ours does YA lit themed escape rooms, teen craft projects, teen movie nights, and science and engineering type activities. There are also lots of things you can borrow at the library other than books, such as tools, sewing machines, and lots of other things. My local library has several drones that you can borrow. They have a drone race and obstacle course every summer for older kids and teens. It is pretty awesome.

    10. Falling Diphthong*

      I agree with my brother-in-law’s observation that having to figure out how to deal with being bored was a good learning experience for him.

      I would cite the laptop and such as counters to boredom, to the extent that I think never having to solve being bored is a real detriment to modern life. But she has those, so… I would ask her if she has any suggestions on how not to be bored. She could do an online tutorial in something, for example, with a Youtube channel on some topic of interest. (I get quite drawn in by the historical fashion ones, for example–it can be neat to do a deep dive into something you don’t know much about, led by someone passionate about that topic.

    11. Cheesesteak in Paradise*

      Society of kids her own age is the main missing thing here. Find a way for her to meet and spend time with other teenagers. Weeks until that happens sounds like too long.

      1. allathian*

        Yes, although that really depends on the kid. Some can start talking with other teens right off, while others need a bit, or in some cases a lot, more time to warm up. My son’s one of the slow to warm up types, and I don’t think he’d even bother trying to get to know people he’d never see again after the summer. He’s been a scout for 6 years, and while he gets along with the other kids well enough in his troop, he hasn’t become friends with them to the point that he’d want to spend time with them doing other things.

    12. Not So NewReader*

      If it were me, I’d talk about what I do when I feel bored. Sometime boredom comes with the inability to think of something to do, which means I need a nap or go to bed earlier. I also have an “I am bored list” that I pull out – this list is really good when there is a substantial snow storm and I am stuck here for a moment. My list contains everything from stuff I need to do to random projects I’d like to do.

      I went through a long spell where the boredom would hit while I was at work. I noticed it hit every day about 2-3 pm. I had a very physical job and part of my boredom was simply running low on fuel. I needed a small afternoon snack. Because in this case the boredom hit predictably around a certain time, I made a plan for what I would start working on for that period of time after I had that snack. I do the same thing at home- small healthy snack plus a plan.

      You can talk about what you do when you get bored (or when you had hit boring times in the past.) You can segue into talking about goals and working on a goal each day (or most days). Since I have been doing life on my own, sometimes I write a list of things I will do the next day before I go to bed at night. This way I wake up knowing what I am going toward in the morning.

      I want to throw out some food for thought. My parents were pretty much hands off- not really available to me. I used to get crushing headaches from sheer boredom. I am not saying this is your family member. What I am saying is that I really noticed adults did not talk much about how they filled up their days and filled up their lives. I also noticed that not many adults around me had interests or hobbies. I am kind of in awe that you want to help her with this instead of some of the reactions I have seen in my own life. I do agree that you shouldn’t intervene every time she says that but I think a one time conversation about handling boredom might be a good idea. Go with a conversational tone and talk about things from your own life that you have done when boredom hit you. Ask her what she thinks she can do. Then listen. I came up with ideas but many of the ideas involved adult help- to get me started or get me over a hurdle if something was in process. Listen for hurdles.

    13. X*

      Is she allowed to leave the house by herself? And are there places for her to go?

      I had a lot of boredom problems at that age, and part of the issue is that I wasn’t allowed to go anywhere unsupervised.

    14. Irish Teacher*

      As a teacher, I would say not only is it OK but it is important to let her manage her own boredom. I usually roll my eyes at any “kids these days” stuff, because there isn’t much difference between kids today and those of my own childhood in the ’80s and ’90s, but the one change I have seen is that they are far less able to entertain themselves. When I was at school, it was brilliant when a teacher was out and didn’t leave any work. You could read, do homework so you hadn’t so much to do that evening, doodle, chat quietly to your friends if the supervising teacher wasn’t too strict, plan stories, play pen and paper games with the students next to you. Today, my students start complaining, “what do we DO, Miss?” about 20 minutes into a class like that or ask to play hangman or some activity. Which is fine, but…they seem to need teacher organisation all the time. I think kids need less structure today.

      Now I wouldn’t put her down or dismiss her when she informs you that she’s bored. Not that anything you’ve said indicates you’d do that, but I have heard of people basically punishing their kids for saying I’m bored and the last thing you want is to teach a kid that if you express dissatisfaction, you’ll be punished. I like the “I’m sorry to hear that. What do you want to do?” That validates her feelings and encourages her to find something to do herself.

    15. Filthy Vulgar Mercenary*

      It’s good for her to be bored but she needs a way to build the skills or to do the things that make her not bored (in other words, don’t just expect she will just figure it out; when I get bored I freeze). So, some ideas are to ask her what she would do if her clone was coming to town and she needed to entertain them; what about if she was entertaining a younger boy or older girl? What was the last time she remembers being interested in something and can she do that/recreate aspects of it?

      Physical activity, creating things, learning about things are all good. Hiking, crafts, interactive fun museums. Meetup.com has some fun in person (or if you don’t want to send her alone) online groups for ideas.

    16. Clisby*

      Good lord, I have 2 children (now 26 and 20) and I’d have gone crazy if I tried to step in every time they were bored.

    17. Anony*

      I would definitely incorporate something with physical activity into her routine or otherwise make it an option she can choose. Biking, walk in the park, walk a neighbor’s dog, running? There are also creative “chores” that could get her active – e.g. walking to the farmer’s market and picking up the week’s produce every Friday morning. Does your city have summer activities? Might be worth checking a local calendar. Some have free activities like concerts, yoga in the park, Zumbathons, etc.

    18. Bex*

      “I’m bored” is a common and also ambiguous complaint. I’ve got an almost 17 year old and hear it.

      At this age, let your nibling manage their boredom to an extent. Every day shouldn’t be unrelenting, but it sounds like you’ve provided entertainment options and outlets, and that there is something coming up.

      We all have to learn how to deal with being bored. It’s part of life. As we get used to living on budgets etc we find out we can’t do everything fun all the time. This is a good and low stakes way to learn (I say this because physical distance from friends is likely to reduce chances of questionable shenanigans in my experience).

      That said, make sure you’re planning out an activity for you to do on weekends. Maybe put her in charge of planning – here’s the budget, here’s how far we can go, what looks fun? Are there podcasts or comedians you enjoy? Do you have any old family recipes you can share?

      From experience … don’t try to “set her up” for friendships with kids of your friends. It might happen and awesome if so! But if not, it can lead to an awkward few hours of teens hanging out and being low key annoyed.

      But at the end of the day, boredom is a part of life and we all need to deal. Maybe she deals by playing games, or napping, or watching silly shows. Maybe she starts going for walks or exploring online activities. All this is good.

      One note … make sure you’ve had a digital citizenship talk with niece. Acceptable and unacceptable viewing and sites, behaviors, safety precautions, etc. Talk with parents to see if it’s been done and if so, reinforce their standards. But it’s important. She’ll likely roll her eyes and say she’s heard it before blah blah … but it’s important to reiterate this stuff.

      1. Observer*

        One note … make sure you’ve had a digital citizenship talk with niece. Acceptable and unacceptable viewing and sites, behaviors, safety precautions, etc. Talk with parents to see if it’s been done and if so, reinforce their standards. But it’s important. She’ll likely roll her eyes and say she’s heard it before blah blah … but it’s important to reiterate this stuff.

        This. A Million times over.

    19. Snoozing not schmoozing*

      She’s saying she’s bored, but it sounds like she’s lonely and feeling lost in a new place. Aren’t there any group activities for young people where you live? Through the local schools, the Y, a community center, craft store, city parks? Was she dumped on you unexpectedly that there wasn’t time to plan anything in advance, and to ask what she usually does in the summer? Does your library need young volunteers to help with younger kids in programs? Your local hospital need young volunteers to visit kids and teens? Don’t you know anyone with teenagers she could try to do something with?

    20. Jane of All Trades*

      When I was that same age I spent six weeks or so with family that I didn’t previously know. One of the things they did was have a couple of suggestions on how I could meet others. For me this included going to bible study (I’m not religious but they are, and it was a great way to meet kids my own age), volunteering, and introducing me to some of the teenagers in their subdivision. I didn’t really connect with the neighbors, but really enjoyed the other activities.
      It sounds like you have a bunch of activities you do with your guest, but maybe meeting some teens around her age could help.

    21. Observer*

      Is it OK to let her manage her boredom on her own or should I be stepping in every time she says she’s bored (about once a day)?

      Not only ok, but very good for her.

      But also, assign some chores. At 15, unless this is some sort of paid vacation, she should be helping out. The fact that it will give her something to do that will fill up some time is actually not the most important reason to consider it, but it’s definitely something.

    22. Catabodua*

      Are you able to break away from work to drop her somewhere then pick her up? I’m thinking to find her a volunteer gig close by – many animal shelters would love to have a teen around to walk dogs and clean kennels. It gives her a few hours out of the house doing “something” but not overly structured.

  6. Recipes Appreciated*

    So, um… Next week I finally have to go back to that place we don’t talk about here on weekends. And I’ve been voluntold to bring a pasta salad for a potluck lunch. So, does anyone have any suggestions for a good pasta salad to bring to work? Maybe something with shrimp? Something else?

    1. AcademiaNut*

      For something shrimp based, how about cooked shrimp, diced avocado, halved cherry tomatoes, cooked chopped asparagus, sliced red onion, a chunky pasta, fresh herbs (I might go for basil and oregano, or mint) with a dressing of lemon juice, olive oil, garlic and a bit of dijon mustard whisked together.

    2. Ginger Pet Lady*

      I love a good pasta salad!
      My favorite is simple:
      Pasta (I like rotini, but have used others)
      Olives (black or kalamata)
      Halved cherry tomatoes
      Artichoke hearts
      Salami (Either 1/2 inch cubed or if all I can get is presliced I cut the slices into quarters)
      Pearl mozzarella balls, halved
      I’ll add some diced grilled chicken if it’s a main dish, for a potluck I’d probably leave it out.
      Then I just pour the bottled Olive Garden Italian dressing on it.
      Super simple, and safer for a potluck than a mayo based salad.

    3. Dark Macadamia*

      I wouldn’t do shrimp unless you know for sure that no one has allergies! I have a friend who’s ended up in the hospital just from being near an unexpected shrimp dish at work.

    4. Rara Avis*

      I do a tortellini pasta salad with sugar snap peas, cherry tomatoes, and capers. The dressing is 1/4 cup each of mayo, vinegar (the original recipe called for cider vinegar but we’re a balsamic household), and Parmesan.

    5. Cartographical*

      I’d avoid the shrimp as already noted. If you want to go with chicken for the protein, rotisserie chicken is actually pretty good for a larger salad. We really like a Greek pasta salad. It’s basically what it says on the tin. I start with my basic Greek salad but dice the veggies to no bigger than the pasta size (we like fusili) and make twice the dressing. Veggies, cooked pasta, feta, and dressing all together and you’re done.

    6. WoodswomanWrites*

      If anyone at the potluck is like me, they’ll prefer ingredients that can easily be heated up in a microwave. Although I’m a pasta fanatic, for some reason I’ve always found cold pasta unappealing. Some combinations of ingredients work great for heating up, others don’t. Then again, I have no idea how common this is or if it’s just my own idiosyncrasy.

    7. Recipes Appreciated.*

      These are some very good suggestions so far. I probably should have brought this up earlier. No shrimp allergies that I know of, but dairy, tomatoes and soy allergies. I like little cherry tomatoes because they add so much color and flavor. Maybe sliced red peppers as a substitute for tomatoes?

      1. yesterday's child*

        with this info, I’d look for an asian type flavouring – no soy sauce, but maybe a dressing of garlic, lime, sesame and ginger. Then noodles, and shrimp/chicken/etc and lots of cut-up, or lightly stir-fried vegetables. Or just raw.

      2. My Cat is a Righteous Dude*

        Ooh, just saw this “no dairy” post… ignore the recipe link I shared! Sorry!

      1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        People get silly about it :-P “don’t ask work related questions” got morphed by commenters into “DON’T SAY WORK” and it gets a little precious.

    8. Stunt Apple Breeder*

      I make a cold salad with spinach gnocchi, halved cherry tomatoes, mozzerella pearls, lemon juice, and prepared pesto. Sometimes I put imitation crab in it, when it’s just for my family, or a light drizzle of basalmic reduction over the top before serving. It holds up well overnight but is icky by day 3 in the fridge.

    9. Russian in Texas*

      Yes! I cheat a little with this one.
      Start with a box of Suddenly Salad. Any pasta salad flavor.
      Cook pasta according to the box. Drain, rinse (cool off).
      Add-ons: slices Kalamata olives. A bunch – I use half a tall glass jar
      Halved cherry tomatoes. A pint or so.
      Blanched cut green beans. For my lunch salad I use frozen, but if you want a pretty color – use fresh.
      Chopped parsley.
      Crumbled feta.
      Dressing – 1/3 cup of good olive oil. Couple tablespoons of red wine vinegar. One to two chopped shallots. The dressing packet from the box. Whisk together.
      Mix everything, let it cool in the fridge for few hours.
      You can add shrimp or diced ham to it too.

      1. Russian in Texas*

        I see no tomatoes or dairy – roasted red peppers instead maybe? And ignore feta.

    10. the cat's ass*

      There’s my old standby, hippie salad from the long gone health food cafe Edibles, (yup, that was the name) in Brookline, MA: Rotini, drained tuna (packed in oil makes it a bit richer) green onions, feta, pepperocini, vinaigrette, and any other veggies you care to chuck in. Enjoy!

    11. ICodeForFood*

      I don’t have a strict recipe, but for work potlucks, I used to do a tuna and pasta salad. That way if there was nothing else that I could eat (I’m a picky eater) I would have something with protein in it. It was basically tuna salad (tuna mayonnaise in the UK), elbow macaroni, some cooked green peas, maybe some green olives. There are lots of recipes if you google tuna pasta salad.

    12. Madame Arcati*

      Pesto, halved cherry tomatoes, mozzarella. Simple to make and shop for as not many ingredients, usually popular, handily vegetarian. I like fusilli for any kind of pasta salad.

    13. Workerbee*

      You all are so nice. If I were voluntold to bring a specific dish to a potluck, that would mean someone else took my decision out of my hands, which would piss me off. Grocery store pasta salad would be my choice, or “forgetting” entirely and skipping the potluck. Given that we’re still in a pandemic ‘n’ all…

  7. Dark Macadamia*

    What are your favorite “upbeat apocalypse” songs?

    I heard Modern English’s “I Melt With You” today and was reminded of stumbling across a list on this theme before. My other favorite is “We Will Become Silhouettes” by The Postal Service, which has been on my mind often throughout the pandemic.

    1. Moira Rose*

      “99 Red Balloons” is a classic. Obligatory mention of the obvious R.E.M. song. There’s that Toad the Wet Sprocket song about a missile silo but it’s admittedly not bouncy at all.

      1. Dark Macadamia*

        99 Red Balloons always makes me think of Scrubs (there’s an episode that references it several times) and Glee (“what’s a luftballoon?”)

    2. Grey Panther*

      Two by Jimmy Buffett: “Apocalypso” and “Volcano.” They’re end-of-the-world stuff, but they always make me smile anyway.

    3. Bluebell*

      It’s not officially an apocalypse song, but I always think of Only You by Yaz, because of its role in the TV series fringe. (I know it’s been in other shows and movies, but that’s the one I remember)

    4. Chaordic One*

      “The Last Night of the World,” by Bruce Cockburn. “Apocalypso” by the Motels (different than the song by Jimmy Buffet).

    5. The Prettiest Curse*

      The ultimate upbeat apocalypse song is It’s The End of the World as We Know It by R.E.M. (Just make sure you yell LEONARD BERNSTEIN at the right moment.)
      Other songs that fit that general vibe: Not in California by K. Flay and almost anything by Mitski – the video for her song The Only Heartbreaker involves an actual apocalypse!

    6. Put the Blame on Edamame*

      It’s super specific but “There is no depression in New Zealand” by the Front Lawn

      1. Felis alwayshungryis*

        Cool! I recently discovered The Front Lawns when Jesse Mulligan played ‘How You Doing’ on RNZ – been meaning to check out more of their work. It’s delightfully weird.

    7. Torvaun*

      Tom Lehrer’s “We Will All Go Together When We Go”
      Weird Al Yankovic’s “It’s Christmas at Ground Zero”
      Sheldon Allman’s “Crawl Out Through the Fallout”

        1. I take tea*

          Tom Lehrer is a genius. And a generous one – you can find the lyrics and sheet music and quite often the music online at tomlehrersongs dot com. (I just read that it will be shut down at the end of 2024, so act nowish)

    8. Blarg*

      For a subtle, quiet, apocalyptic love song: Temptation of Adam by Josh Ritter

      Others (some lean more protest)
      Holy Smoke – Mighty Mighty Bosstones
      The kids are ready to die – Airborne Toxic Event
      Mosh – Eminem
      March of the Pigs – Nine Inch Nails
      Not for You – Pearl Jam
      Anything by Rage Against the Machine
      Zero – Smashing Pumpkins
      Talkin’ about a revolution – Tracy Chapman
      My generation – The Who
      Zombie – Cranberries
      Better off dead – Bad Religion

    9. No Tribble At All*

      How Far We’ve Come — Matchbox Twenty
      We Didn’t Start The Fire — Billy Joel
      The Only Way Out — Bush
      Dig Down — Muse
      This Too Shall Pass — OK Go

      Slower ones:
      The Impossible Year — Panic! at the Disco
      World Gone Mad — Bastille
      The Show Must Go On — Queen

    10. Texan In Exile*

      Tom Nichols wrote a great piece about about MAD and MTV. I will put the link after, but google “I Want My Mutually Assured Destruction” for his piece in the Atlantic.

      From the piece: “messages about nuclear weapons, nuclear war, and the end of humanity, by some counts, appeared almost hourly on MTV, making nuclear destruction second only to sex as the most ubiquitous video theme flooding the eyes of America’s youth in the 1980s.”

    11. Damn it, Hardison!*

      Everybody Wants to Rule the World by Tears for Fears (my other ones are already posted)

    12. What Is Sleep Even*

      Jill Tracy – Doomsday Serenade
      Vera Lynn – We’ll Meet Again (as heard in Dr. Strangelove)
      Jason Webley’s Back To The Garden is silly apocalypse.

    13. ecletica*

      “This Year” by The Mountain Goats
      (chorus” “I am gonna make it through this year if it kills me!”)

    14. Vio*

      firstly Upbeat Apocalypse needs to be the name of a band, song and/or poem. maybe a movie
      secondly although I’ve heard some of the songs I’d never even thought about it being a genre or theme but now I love the idea
      thirdy does anyone know any upbeat apocalypse movies or books? I’d assume they’d have to be somewhat black comedy but would love the contrast of a cheerful one

    15. Patty Mayonnaise*

      Can’t believe no one has mentioned the song that defines the genre: 1999.

  8. Sharna Pax*

    If anyone is looking for some light reading, I wanted to recommend Alexis Hall, who I’ve recently become obsessed with. I guess he’s mostly in the romance category, in the sense that he writes books that mostly have two people (usually queer), and a happy ending, but his books tend to jump around in genre – there’s some fluffy/swoony romcoms, some angsty stuff that skews closer to lit-fic, one erotic novel about the BDSM scene, one sweet and wholesome YA book, one mystery novel, one eldritch fantasy Sherlock Holmes pastiche, one regency screwball comedy, and an entire trilogy where he basically rewrites the Fifty Shades books to make them queer, sex-positive, and marginally more plausible. If anyone wants something light but immersive to read to take their mind off everything horrible, I recommend Boyfriend Material, which is modeled on nineties romcoms and feels quite real and moving despite a lot of silliness.

    1. Bluebell*

      I have a friend who adored Boyfriend Material because it’s so spot on about fundraising events. She is avidly waiting for the sequel.

      1. fueled by coffee*

        I LOVED boyfriend material. Had some trouble getting into the other Hall book I tried but I think it was more of a genre issue for me than a writing one.

    2. RedinSC*

      Fun! I just checked out one from Hoopla. Always looking for new recommendations, thanks!

    3. Annie Edison*

      Omg this sounds perfect! I’ve been on a romance kick for months now and have been trying to branch out into more queer romance

      1. Ariaflame*

        The Fifth Gender by Gail Carriger? She does a fair amount of paranormal romance but she’s also doing some SF stuff and this one combines queer (and interspecies romance) with murder mystery.

      2. cleo*

        There’s a lot of great queer romance out there (and some not so great stuff too). Here are a few of my favorites. Most of the authors I’ve listed identify as LGBTTQ+

        Historical romances:
        Cat Sebastian – she has a couple trilogies set in Regency England (one m/m and one m/f with bi and non-binary MCs, a mm series set in post WWII England that’s “Agatha Christie but make it gay” and a series set in 1960s US.
        Olivia Waite has a f/f trilogy set in Georgian England
        E.E. Ottoman writes lovely, low conflict romances set in the US with trans MCs
        Aster Glenn Gray – like Cat Sebastian she seems to be on a mission to queer historical romance and I’m here for it.

        Contemporaries –
        Rebekah Weatherspoon – tropey romance with a variety of pairings. I think her latest triology is not queer but most of her other stuff is. I particularly like Treasure (f/f) and Xeni (m/f bi)
        Alyssa Cole – she mostly writes het mf but has a couple mm and ff. Rescuing the Princess is completely ridiculous but fun if you like royals from tiny made-up countries.
        Roan Parrish – Garnet Run series (m/m) is a good place to start
        Loving April French – kinky m/f with trans bi woman MC
        Rachel Spangler – f/f
        Skye Kilean – relatively new author who writes the whole rainbow
        Kris Ripper – The Love Project trilogy or Queers of LaVista are good places to start. Zir lastest, Book Boyfriend, is an excellent satire of romance tropes and is good but very silly and much different from zir other books.
        Adriana Herrera – mostly m/m
        Anna Zabo – mostly m/m
        Jayce Ellis – m/m

        And here are a few places to look for recommendations.

        lgbtqreads dot com – it’s run by a queer YA author and has a very extensive Romance section.

        Book Riot also has good queer romance recommendations. I particularly like Laura Sackton’s essay about reading queer romance novels and dating in her 30s. It’s mostly about her experiences reading but lists a lot of worthwhile authors.

        AutoStraddle dot com also covers fiction by and about queer and trans women, including romance.

        1. Sharna Pax*

          ooh, I love Cat Sebastian’s Page books; I think they’re the best things she’s written so far.

    4. Still*

      Thank you. I need some light reading to take my mind off of things and this sound like it might hit the right spot. I’ve just booked one of them at the library!

      In similar vein, I warmly recommend Casey McQuiston’s books: her “One Last Stop” is a slightly-supernatural romance between two young women in NY, but it’s also about finding your place in the world, a beautiful queer found family, and getting together to help the community; “Red White and Royal Blue” is a delightful gay romance in a political setting. Both have some smut but it’s tasteful and not very explicit (you have a good idea what’s happening at any given time but it’s more about how it feels to the characters than what body part goes exactly where).

      “That Summer” and “The Book of Two Ways” were another two fun summer reads, the kind of books that you can read in one go during your flight, but that are interesting and not mind-numbing. They both have women around 40 as their protagonists (though, SPOILER for trigger warnings –

      – the former has rape as a major plot point, and it’s dealing with its aftermath in the following years, and the latter includes some marital cheating).

    5. Perstephanie*

      If it’s any further enticement, “Rosaline Palmer Takes the Cake” takes place among contestants at a (very thinly) fictionalized version of “The Great British Bake-Off.”

    6. GoryDetails*

      I’ve enjoyed several of Hall’s books, including Boyfriend Material (definitely wacky-rom-com vibes there). My favorite so far is Glitterland, where slightly stuffy guy falls for a very free-spirited club-kid type – nice mix of emotion, some angst, and high comedy.

      Fans of Hall’s work might also like KJ Charles; The Magpie Lord is one that I enjoyed. Oh, and TJ Klune – the Verania books are wacky, sex-pun-laden fantasy romps, starting with The Lightning-struck Heart.

      1. Sharna Pax*

        I really like Pansies, as well – intense small-town romance between two men who left their town as kids and ended up back there as adults. Slightly overwritten, in a way that works because the characters are dramatic people and that’s just how they think. Lots of cool Springsteeny stuff about small towns and masculinity and gender norms and finding a way to love your hometown and yourself at the same time.

        I do really like KJ Charles. Think of England is probably my favorite, but she’s just very reliably smart and readable. And if you’re into Victorian and Edwardian adventure fiction, you’re in luck because she’s constantly riffing on it in a really delightful way.

    7. Enby's mom*

      If you were giving these a movie rating would they be PG or R? My teen wants to read LGBTQ lit but has had to put some down because they are too spicy.

      1. GoryDetails*

        I listed some younger-YA-level LGBTQ books in my post in the reading thread farther down; maybe some of those would be of interest to your teen? Also, TJ Klune’s The Extraordinaries (teens/superheroes) is good and not-too-explicit.

      2. Sharna Pax*

        Depends on the book.

        Boyfriend Material is probably fine; it has two mild sex scenes, both of them vague on the details, nothing graphic.
        Looking for Group and The Mysterious Letter don’t have any sex scenes, but both those books are Hall doing a specific genre (YA about gaming, and eldritch Sherlock Holmes pastiche, respectively), so they’re not for everyone.
        Waiting for the Flood is not my favorite, but it’s a nice little novella that’s very PG.
        Rosaline Palmer Takes the Cake is basically a beach read with maybe the same level of sexual content as Boyfriend Material.

        The rest of the books are adult romance with a fair amount of graphic sex. Your kid will probably want to steer clear of all of them, but especially For Real.

    8. cleo*

      Yay. I’ve been reading Alexis Hall since he was first published (before if you count blogs) and it’s so exciting to see him get wider recognition. He’s such an eclectic writer – I never know what I’m going to get when I open a new novel by him but I know it’s going to be interesting (even if I don’t love it).

      As an avid queer romance reader, I’m finally having my moment. I don’t usually get in on the ground floor of pop culture – I never discover little indie bands before they get popular, etc. But. I did read TJ Klune back when he was an indie author writing gay werewolf romances.

  9. brighter than sunshine*

    I’m looking to move out of home and into a sharehouse.
    Tips on what to look out for when deciding on a place, questions to ask?
    I don’t have a deadline, so I can afford to be choosy.

    I’m a single woman in my late twenties and working from home full time. I’m pre-filtering on practical considerations like if there is room for a desk, proximity to public transport and markets.

    1. Yet Another Unemployed Librarian*

      I haven’t heard the term sharehouse before but I assume you mean a house where you rent with some number of roommates?

      I would ask a lot of stuff about the people living there and what kind of house rules they have. Are they loud and social or do they require quiet, are there pets, how do they split chores in common areas, does anyone smoke?

      1. WoodswomanWrites*

        I’d add to these questions about food and groceries. It’s helpful to know if people all pitch in for some shared staples or if everyone has their own food, if people cook for each other or if everyone prepares their own dinners. I’d want to know if there any agreements about what kind of food can be in the house and if any food is fine or if the household is vegetarian, etc.

        I’m realizing how long ago it was that I lived in a shared household because an outdated question that popped up in my head was about arranging to have my own landline. I’m remembering dial-up internet.

    2. AcademiaNut*

      How much space do you get in the kitchen, what’s the schedule for cooking, how do you handle cleanup, is there anything you aren’t allowed to cook. Is there laundry, and are there any restrictions on how you can use it. How many people share a bathroom? Can people have guests in? Overnight? What are the rules? Are there quiet hours? What are the rules involving smoking, marijuana, and illegal drugs? How do you handle shared expenses?

      For shared accommodation, the big areas of conflict tend to be money, housekeeping, guests and noise.

    3. Sharna Pax*

      I would look for a place that has a lot of questions for you as well. A place where they don’t much care who moves in as long as they pay rent is not likely to be a place with a stable and reliable community. If they want to get to know you, find out your interests, get a sense of how social you are and how much quiet time you need, that’s a good sign.

    4. Lizzie (with the deaf cat)*

      If you are working from home, it might matter a lot just how noisy the place will be while you work, how many interruptions there are etc. Will you have your own bathroom and toilet? What’s the house policy on music- volume, type, is it 24/7 etc. How is the kitchen space shared? Years ago a uni student friend, vegetarian, suffered greatly in a share house where other students cooked a lot of steaks and never cleaned the grill at all- so think about whether other people’s eating or food preparation preferences might matter to you. Are there clothes washing facilities? What is your preference re dope smoking, alcohol use etc. Are there any household pets?
      What things in your current living situation would you like to keep, and what things do you want to be different?
      What about friends/partners visiting or staying over, how would you like that to operate? Will you have a lock on your room’s door?
      Make a huge list! Then see what you can group together around privacy/sharing/money etc.
      An exciting change for you- I hope it goes very well.

    5. Bread Addict*

      If you work from home full time discuss that with them. Some of them will likely do that or hybrid but some make work retail, pubs or on site work. That can lead to issues around using the heating in winter if you are the only one home, and how bills will be split. Also they may feel you are home so should do more chores as you are home to make the house dirtier. Use more dishes at home, etc. They may want you to shower during “off peak” times for the bathroom. Sign for their parcels.

      Also how do shared things like trash bags, loo roll, and all that get purchased. Do you share food? Do you get your own cabinet in the kitchen? How are chores split? Does anyone use drugs on site? Pets?

      Make sure there is a separate shared living space in the form of a living room. Especially if you work from home from your room, thats a lot of time to spend in your room every day. You will want a separate space to escape into and also hang out with your flatmates.

    6. Elizabeth West*

      Bookmarking this post in case I get stuck with roommates (please no).
      Definitely ask about how bills are divided up. I’d also ask about guest policies, particularly overnight ones.

    7. Texan In Exile*

      I lived in a shared house in DC for a few months. Here’s what I discovered:

      * Nobody was in charge of cleaning the (shared) bathroom and I was the only one who cared if it was clean. So I was cleaning a bathroom for other people.
      * The other people left their dishes in the sink all the time.
      * The other people, when they did rinse their dishes, removed the drain trap first because otherwise, food got caught in it.
      * Apparently, it’s very difficult if not impossible to get trash from the counter to the trash can.

      I moved out after a few months, mostly because I was leaving town (I was tired of working for $12/hour as a temp and full-time jobs in development, if you could get them, paid $20K for someone with international experience, fluency in a foreign language, and a master’s degree. I think DC is designed for people whose parents still give them money) but also because I couldn’t bear to live like that anymore.

      1. Sharna Pax*

        Whereas I live in a shared house in Seattle, and here’s how it works:

        We have a cleaner come every two weeks, and the rest of the time everyone is responsible for keeping shared spaces clean. We don’t have a chore chart, but we have a star chart where we give ourselves credit each time we do a task, so at the end of the month you can see how much you contributed.

        We take turns taking the bins out to the curb, and have a calendar that tells us whose turn it is when.

        We each have our own hall cubby, pantry shelf, fridge shelf, crisper drawer, storage area in the basement, etc. When something like the fridge gets dirty and needs to be cleared out and cleaned, someone texts the house thread, and we have a brunch and then spend an afternoon cleaning together. Same thing if we have an area that needs reorganizing or we want to bring in some new furniture.

        Anything that affects the whole house, we text each other about, whether it’s “I have a sore throat so I’ll be taking a covid test and wearing a mask,” or “I’m watching Our Flag Means Death in the living room at 8, join if you want.”

        Overall, it’s a lovely, warm, respectful household, because we all went in with clear expectations about what we wanted and clear lines of communication, and none of us wants to be a bad housemate.

        1. Clisby*

          Paying for a cleaner to come in every 2 weeks is a great idea, if the housemates can afford it. My husband and I (who get along fine) have done this for years, because we both hate housecleaning. We don’t mind cooking, washing dishes, taking out the trash – but deep-cleaning the bathrooms? Mopping the kitchen floor? Not gonna happen if it’s left up to us.

    8. Quinalla*

      You’ve gotten great suggestions on logistical things, I’d also say hey after I’m hear for say a month, can we reconvene and go over further tweaks, things we forgot, etc. and then maybe have a quaterly or every 6 months meeting with group to go over what’s working well, what can we improve, anything major coming up kind of thing. Buidling in reflections regularly really helps to give people space to bring up something tricky.

  10. Yet Another Unemployed Librarian*

    Crafty thread! Anyone been making anything cool lately?

    I am finding small amounts of time to be very beginner at crochet. I messed around with some acrylic yarn just to learn how to do single crochet and basic stuff, got a book that has been really helpful, and then I tracked down some cotton yarn and am making a washcloth. With stripes. Going pretty well so far! I am still working on exactly where all my fingers are supposed to go. I didn’t like the acrylic yarn at all; am I a yarn snob?

    1. RedinSC*

      oh, you should look at Tunisian crochet. It’s no more difficult and it’s kinda fun! There are youtube videos on how to do it.

        1. Ariaflame*

          I have a readers wrap for that I’ve been doing for… Ok a few years now because my social crafting with others kind of shut down for a few years, but it’s nearly there…

    2. eeeek*

      I crocheted when I was a youn’un, a bazillion years ago (0r 45, giv’rtake). Wanted to pick it up again when I saw cute amigurimi – and still haven’t gotten the hang of re-learning the yarn and hook management. So this weekend instead I’m sewing up some pillows for the couch (SO much easier, for me) and maybe thinking about making a pouf/dog bed that I can stuff with fabric scraps I’ve been saving. (The pouf pattern is a freebie from Closet Core Patterns – I’m really hoping it works out!)
      Yep. I’m distracting myself from the notion that in the U.S., I’m a human being who is not fully in charge of my personal healthcare decisions, because, yanno, really I’m just a vessel/incubator. (Except that I’m not even that, any more, so I guess I’m utterly worthless?)

    3. Dark Macadamia*

      I haven’t been doing much lately, only one simple embroidery this year because I got stuck on the more complicated one I started around January! But I’m going to a steampunk wedding this summer so I made a bustle skirt to wear over a normal dress with some other fun accessories, and my kids chose fabric for little corset/vests for themselves :)

      1. Inkhorn*

        Now I’m wishing I had somewhere to wear a bustle skirt….

        I’ve been dyeing a couple of secondhand tops with Rit. They need restitching, because the polyester thread didn’t take the dye, but otherwise it’s been a success.

        …and I’ve only just realised how macabrely apt it is that the lighter-coloured top – a t-shirt with a built-in cape – has turned out a lovely Handmaid’s red…

    4. Gatomon*

      I started crochet last fall, it’s great! It took me about a scarf and a half to really get the muscle memory down, and I watched a lot of videos before finding someone’s yarn-holding technique that worked for me. I think acrylic yarn really depends on the brand. I’m not a big fan of Red Heart Super Saver’s feel, but the cost and range of colors is hard to beat. It’s fun to go to the yarn store and pet all the yarn. :)

      1. Midwest Manager*

        Red Heart Super Saver is really the scratchiest stuff! I’ve been using Joann Fabric’s house brand: Big Twist. They have some really soft acrylic yarn. Lion Brand has some nice stuff too. I’ve heard Hobby Lobby’s house brand acrylic is quite nice and budget friendly as well. I just finished a small lap blanket using Bernat Satin yarn. It’s so nice!

        My spouse tells me I’m not allowed to buy any more yarn until I’ve got room in my yarn closet to house it. My project bag has the most accurate statement: “I crochet. But my real hobby is collecting yarn.”

    5. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      Acrylic yarn is mostly gross, but I am a yarn snob :) it’s hard on the hands because it doesn’t have any stretch and cheap acrylic is just scratchy and unpleasant. It also has no breathability which makes wearing stuff made from it sweaty and yuck. It can be alright to practice with, and there are some nicer acrylics I’m willing to crochet blankets with, but in general I don’t buy acrylic yarn.

      1. Bread Addict*

        This! I make crochet amigurumi with acrylic.

        But for like clothing, jewelry and anything that would be on the body no acrylic. Usually I go for cotton.

    6. Put the Blame on Edamame*

      I am down to doing metallic scratch off pictures but it’s fun! Want to get back into cross stitch,I have a whole Pinterest board of ideas but am waffling on which to pick.

    7. river*

      I tried something I’ve never done before, and dyed the hair of a doll, (rainbow high Harper Dune) from blond to black using Rit all purpose, and it came out green. A very dark green, but definitely green. It doesn’t look right!
      Her hair is nylon from what I understand. I didn’t want to use Rit Dyemore which is for synthetics because I didn’t want to take the risk of staining her vinyl face/ears. So I’m going to try overdying it with dark brown and see what happens. I’m waiting on the dye in the post.

    8. Hotdog not dog*

      Not liking acrylic yarn doesn’t make you a yarn snob! Half the fun of crochet is the feel of the yarn, so you’ll want something that feels nice. Acrylic is meant to be durable and inexpensive, so it rarely has an inviting texture. It’s good for learning new stitches, since you won’t feel as bad “wasting” it on practicing.

    9. Val*

      I have been crocheting basic cat rugs for our local Humane Society. They are sized to fit into metal cages so they have something soft to sleep on and are sent home with the cat when adopted. Simple to make and rewarding.

    10. Lifelong student*

      I used to make an afghan a week but lost my crojo in January. I was recently invited to a craft group so have picked it up again. I did a sunflower square afghan and am now working on a school colors afghan for my granddaughter who just graduated from high school and is off to college in the fall.

    11. Bazza7*

      Not a yarn snob, I prefer to use woollen yarn over acrylic yarn anyway. I love the smell of it as well. Though acrylic yarn had come along way, such as Lion Brand (USA) yarn and Stylecraft (UK).
      I am currently working on my last 50 odd hexagon motifs and then I can start sewing together a blanket.

    12. Paris Geller*

      I have a bunch of yarn from 2020 when I thought I wanted to learn how to crochet and promptly lost interest, but I’ve been having a lot of fun making pom-poms! I’m hoping to make a large pom-pom wall hanging. They’re really easy and fun. Maybe one day I will retry crochet but for now I’m enjoying making little yarn balls.

      1. Dark Macadamia*

        This is great! Around 4th grade we did this “warm fuzzy” project where we all made pom poms and stuck eyes/feet on them and I was obsessed for a long time. I made TONS of them

    13. HamlindigoBlue*

      I’m working on two knit summer tops right now. One of them will be done today and the other soon after. One was made using a cotton/wool/nylon blend of sock yarn, and that’s the one I will be glad to be done with. The other is a cotton/acrylic blend. I don’t like acrylic either, but I don’t mind the blends. I also want to make a few more iced coffee cozies (pattern is called Sunshine Iced Coffee Cup Cozy). I made two last summer, and I used them all the time on my summer straw cups.

    14. PastorJen*

      I’m trying (again) to learn how to crochet. I started trying to learn at the beginning of the pandemic when I gave up trying to learn how to knit. All of my knitting projects ended up looking like piles of trash that someone lovingly crafted out of yarn. Crochet has been easier, but I haven’t fully gotten the hang of it yet (my stitches are still too tight). I’ve been working on crocheting an adorable dinosaur named Fred from a kit I bought from The Woobles. So far, I’m four stitches off, so I need to figure out where I missed them, or poor Fred will end up with only one arm and half a tail. :)

    15. Academic Fibro Warrior*

      Knitting and crochet are 2 of my favorite things! Not a yarn snob. Natural yarns are nicer to work with and have a better drape. Acrylic I find tends to split off tiny fibers thay get in my eyes and nose and irritate them. Natural fibers can get expensive, so I get mine from destash Facebook groups and ebay a lot or sales.

      Expression fiber arts, falling leaf fiber, and bad sheep yarn are probably my favorite companies. EFA does weekly free patterns and Chandi makes extraordinary videos with each new pattern to show each technique. A lot of free patterns I found aren’t terribly great especially with garments. Not complex usually but often the fit is problematic. I’m making the textured laguna wrap and cross aster crochet shawl from EFA and the monsoon knit sweater from Annie’s.

      I love these hobbies so much! Enjoy!

    16. Felis alwayshungryis*

      No shame in being a yarn snob! I don’t like acrylic either; it squeaks. Fibre art is so tactile that you absolutely have to love the feel of what you’re using (balanced with cost, of course – as much as I’d love to use madeleinetosh exclusively, finances don’t allow!)

    17. Salymander*

      I’m knitting socks again. These are a lovely shade of purple, made of merino/alpaca yarn. I can read or watch TV while I knit if the pattern and stitch I use are fairly simple, so I’m just making basic socks. I do more complicated things sometimes, but I love making socks so that is what I make most often.

      I have been making a quilt for ages and ages. I will work on it every day for a week or so, but then I get tired of it and leave it for months at a time so the work goes slowly. It is made of a bunch of fabric from clothes I made in college, clothes I made for my kid when they were small, and fabric I bought and stashed away over the years. It is all blue, purple and turquoise colors and some of the fabric has butterflies printed on it. It will be really pretty when it is done, maybe 20 years from now.

      1. Yet Another Unemployed Librarian*

        The quilt sounds lovely! I have some old t-shirts that I wanted to have made into a quilt but I do not have that skill at all, and I’m not sure if I messed it up by cutting out the designs myself; I think I probably should have left the shirts intact for now. I don’t know where to start finding someone to put it together.

    18. Madame Arcati*

      I hope to finish sewing a concert skirt today – in the style of an Edwardian walking skirt so gored with gathers over the bum. Made of poly satin with a leaf/twig jacquard pattern. Just the hem to do! (Must do gardening first though but that’s another thread).

    19. Seeking second childhood*

      Baby blankets again. Attempting stripes that aren’t self-striping and I’m so very annoyed at Bernat for these two colors of the same line being slightly different thickness when worked.

    20. Dancing Otter*

      I finished a quilt yesterday! It has different pastel solid colors of flying geese on a white background, with a print border of dots and circles. (Reminds me of LifeSavers candy.)
      It’s for a baby shower at the end of July, so for once I’m not staying up to two a.m. the night before something is due.
      Now I just have to chose which of my many UFO projects to work on next…

  11. RagingADHD*

    For those who have fostered kittens, any tips on getting them to show well at an adoption event? We have two left, a bonded brother and sister, both all black.

    They are playful, sweet and charming IRL, but they tend to curl up and go to sleep in the enclosure at events, so they get overlooked.

    1. eeeek*

      Can you print out some photos of them being playsome and sweet, maybe with captions? “Gru is stalking mah toes!” and “Mabel thinks she is invisible when she hides behind that pillow!” That way, sleepy presentation isn’t the only thing people see.
      But also – as I’ve learned the hard way with my very anxious doggo – curling up and sleeping can be a rational response to stress. It’s not relaxation, but anxiety: think, “overwhelmed and shutting down” vs. “so excited I’m sleepy”. Maybe it’s fair to present them as quiet and shy, but playful and friendly once they get to know you?

      TBH…I would gravitate right to those guys, myself. Every best cat ever has given me the hairy eye from a curled up “don’ bother me” pose. Not great in public meetups, maybe. But with time and quiet, best hellos and cuddles followed by decades of human servitude. (Kai the Excessively Loud Siamese says hello and wishes the littles luck.)

    2. Lizzie (with the deaf cat)*

      Do you have any photos of them awake and playing? Maybe you could print some off and attach them to the enclosure!

    3. LBD*

      Can you pose them sleeping on an adorable pet bed/cushion/doll bed in a colour that contrasts dramatically with them? Give them tiny teddies and pillows? Have a picture book and a small child to read them a bedtime story?
      They sound adorable! I hope someone falls in love!

      1. KatMeowm*

        I adopted a bonded pair, and because it was during the second month of the pandemic (i.e., lockdown) I actually didn’t meet them first. After I passed the preliminary interview, I spoke directly to the foster meowm on the phone and got a lot of insight into their personalities. In a lot of ways, I think it was better than actually meeting them (which in BC times I would’ve done in a shelter). I think having pics posted of them awake and playing is good, but telling people about their personalities is also good. My girls were womb mates, but SUCH different personalities!

    4. Falling Diphthong*

      Maybe a sign to that effect? Having happily adopted from such an event in the past, I would put a lot of weight on testimonials to what the cats are like when they’re comfortable.

      At our adoption event, Cat 1 immediately bonded with my son. When I asked about a companion the coordinator said that Cat 2 would be a good mix for her age/energy wise. Even though Cat 2 was hunkered in the middle of her enclosure, and on going to the meet-n-greet space remained hunkered under the couch. The fosterer’s tale about her was that the first time she was let out into the whole house she vanished and eventually was discovered inside the grand piano, and in fact after a week or so she became the family member most likely to gaze back at you from the crisper–we call her The Spanish Inquisition.

    5. Elspeth McGillicuddy*

      I have no experience with adoption events, but I have noticed my cats tend to be more active and playful when hungry. Makes sense to me-no wild animal ever caught dinner by having a nice nap. Obviously don’t starve your kittens, but it might be possible to time things so they are due for dinner or maybe even a smidge late at the event. (Maybe bring treats or tidbits for potential adopters to give them? It’d make my heart go “awww” at least.)

      1. Sloanicota*

        Yep – when I had video showings during Covid I’d always try to schedule them just before dinner and then bring down a can of tuna so they would appear on camera and not be dancing around the edges of the screen ignoring me. If you know the times of the showings you can try adjusting the feeding schedule so it works well for this.

    6. Macaroni Penguin*

      Have you tried making personality cards?

      Kitty Name: Jellybean
      Purrsonality: Active and playful. Would fit into any home!
      Favourite Saying: Grab the crinkle ball that is life.
      Favourite Colour: Blue
      Star Trek or Star Wars: Star Trek

      Basically, you can be as serious of funny as you wish.

    7. philmar*

      tbh that would be a huge selling point for me. I really want a low-energy sleepy cat. :3

    8. RagingADHD*

      Thanks for all the suggestions! We are back now, and they are running around the house like adorable maniacs as usual.

      It seems like the tabbies and tuxies get all the love. We just keep posting them on social media and hoping for the best.

      1. Filthy Vulgar Mercenary*

        Maybe bring an iPad to the event and play videos of them being their playful selves?

        1. Anon today*

          My thought exactly. I volunteer at a shelter and they have little cards on the enclosure with likes/dislikes. So, it’s a great way to describe them when they aren’t being themselves. Also, if you put “dislikes: current gas prices” you will get people to pause and you can do the “is there anything you’d like to know about Agents J and K? They are so X when they aren’t worn out from all their paparazzi at these events.”(and I am hoping those are their names)

    9. The teapots are on fire*

      I think somewhere on the sign on their showing space you should include the following: “You can wear black pants!” because surely that is an underappreciated benefit of having a black cat.

      1. Disco Janet*

        See, I wish I had thought about this when I adopted a bonded pair – one with white fur and one with black. None of my clothing choices are safe! Haha.

  12. Pop*

    We astonishingly were offered a spot at a daycare for my 11 month old and need to decide ASAP. Prior to this, my husband has been working PT/weekends so we haven’t had her in any sort of structured care (although we have had family, friends, and paid babysitters watch her). It just feels so high stakes to decide. I’ve read all of the materials, did a tour, and asked questions. I think if there WERE more options I would feel less stressed. But I keep reminding myself that out of the 25 places I contacted, this would have been one of my top five places to pursue. And finding care feels like a part time job that I don’t have energy for. Ugh.

    1. Dark Macadamia*

      It sounds like your hesitation is more about the scariness/unknown of having your child in daycare for the first time than it is about any concerns relating to the place itself. You’ve put a lot of thought into it and would be likely to choose it even with more options available so go for it!

      1. Pop*

        I think also this did come up quicker than anticipated so we haven’t been on any tours to see other facilities. We like this facility and it ticks all of the major boxes (pickup is inconvenient). But we don’t LOVE it, and I hear all of these stories about how people love their care providers. I suspect we will either love it with time or I will be okay with just liking it pretty well!

        1. RagingADHD*

          People love their caregivers based on their relationship to the children. So, you know, this is one of those situations where you have to give it a chance based on liking to let the love happen.

          You’ve done the research that it’s a good, safe place. Give it a try!

    2. Good luck*

      Everybody feels hesitant to send their precious child off to some stranger all day! Even if it’s someone you’ve thoroughly vetted and you’ve talked to them a bunch of times and you’ve reviewed their programming and toured their space, they’re still a stranger. It’s totally normal to feel hesitant or unsettled. I did!

      I had to unexpectedly go back to work early and we found a daycare provider super quick. No time to do a graduated start, no time to have a bunch of meetings with the provider, no time to get used to the idea. I met the provider once, toured the space, called the parent references, and then just felt super uncomfortable for a month or so until my kid had been to daycare a lot and everything was fine. My friends who had the time to visit six places and mull it over etc etc ALSO felt super uncomfortable for a month or so until their kids had been to daycare a lot and everything was fine. Daycare transition is tough on everyone, no matter how prepared you feel. Hang in there!

    3. Janet Pinkerton*

      I understand this. Ask what their current COVID policies are (so you know if a baby cough means no daycare until the cough is gone plus a negative PCR, which is our daycare’s policy…) and if it’s workable for you, do it! I super empathize. My 4 month old doesn’t start until August but we too had to take the first/only offer.

    4. Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain*

      How restrictive is the contract? Can you cancel if you end up not liking it? You’re still on the lists for other places I assume, so if one opens up, can you switch later? I would take the spot and still keep looking at other places just in case. You may end up loving it, but it still doesn’t hurt to have a backup plan, or just gather more information as to what’s available.

      1. Generic Name*

        I agree. Unless you’d be locked into a contract, is there any harm in accepting and then pulling her out if it feels like the wrong place for her?

        1. Pop*

          Unfortunately it’s a 12 month contract with a 90 day to break clause. Financially, breaking it is an option if it’s REALLY an issue, but it’s a lot of money so wouldn’t be our first choice. Knowing we have the money to pull her out immediately though does give me some peace of mind. Thanks for your thoughts, everyone.

    5. overeducated*

      Do it. It feels high stakes, but most of us do wind up with “pretty good” rather than ideal choices. If this is realistically your best choice, sign up. We had to switch day cares from an in home to a center when our kid was 11 months (he just wasn’t adjusting and covid precautions were poor). It happens.

    6. Quinalla*

      When I was picking a daycare for my kids, I looked at 4 different places, 2 were immediate no (deal breakers – one was way too small, clearly they had built it to the exact minimum SF requirements and had other issues, the other was completely disorganized at all points of communication and during the visit and staff were rude), 1 was pretty good, the other was slightly better. None were perfect and looking back either of the two possibilities would have been fine. I went with the one we did because I clicked with the owner really well and the facility was a little bigger and newer, but the other one would have worked fine too. No place will be perfect and if it really is bad, yeah you can always break the contract if you have to. And any place you will have to deal with some hurdles. We had to deal with a couple things from minor to pretty big deals over the ~11 years my kids were there (would have been longer, but COVID), but everything got sorted out to everyone’s satisfaction.

  13. nice shoes needed*

    I’m looking for suggestions for slightly dressy shoes. I usually wear running shoes, or birkenstocks or keens, but I need shoes for dressy occasions. I have a pair of Dansko Fawnas. I like them, they’re comfortable on my feet, but my lower back starts to hurt within an hour or so of having them on. Clearly they change the way I hold myself. I don’t love ballet flats – I like shoes with a strap. I have a number of foot/knee issues. Am I doing the danskos wrong? Other suggestions. I do sometimes have to dress up!

    1. Mrs. Pommeroy*

      I think you are probably not doing the Dansko Fawnas wrong but might need orthopedic inserts. Especially as you already have a number of foot/knee issues, inserts could greatly improve how you hold yourself and put less strain on ankles/knees/back.

    2. Verde*

      Look for something with a softer sole. (And agree with the inserts statement above.). Fly London shoes are hella expensive, but you can find them on sale at Zulily a lot of the time. They have a super squishy air sole and it absorbs a lot of shock. Caveat: They do not hold up well if you are walking intensely in them, but they would be great for the occasional dressier occasion. That’s just one example, but any brand that has a soft, shock-absorbent sole. I have a pair of Naturilizer sandals that I got this year, they have a nice soft wedge and look pretty good. And arch support.

      I have a fair amount of ankle/knee issues and my PT was all about the softness of the sole – as much as you can get. (Gel inserts are pretty helpful, too.)

      1. pancakes*

        Idk about softer. The problem with ballet flats, I think, is that there’s very little support in the sole, which tends to be pretty flimsy. Fine for walking short distances, but that’s all.

        Lori’s Shoes in Chicago has had an online shop for ages and generally has a number of walkable choices. I’d start there.

    3. Maryn*

      If you have foot and knee issues, you probably need something flatter than the Dansko Fawna. The heel is only a little over an inch, but it’s enough to completely shift your weight forward, straining knees, ankles, and feet. (I have knee issues.)

      My dressy flats right now are Clark’s Ashland Spin, Clark’s Roseville Mary Jane, and Rockport Cobb Hill’s Pearl Mary Jane. All were comfortable immediately, so if they’re not that way for you, they’re not the right choice.

      Depending on the nature of your foot and knee issues, a shoe insert might help a lot, but for me, the right shoe and low heel height was the solution. I can walk the kinds of distances usually reserved for athletic shoes in these.

    4. philmar*

      Cole Haan has dressy shoes that are very comfortable. When I worked retail I had a pair of Cole Haan low wedge heel peep toes that were as comfortable as sneakers. I think it may have been from the Cloudfeel line. Online they seem a little expensive but I got mine at an outlet mall for fairly cheap.

    5. Susie*

      Rothys has a Mary Jane style shoe. They also have removable insoles if you want to replace them with something more supportive.

    6. Snoozing not schmoozing*

      I get cheap shoes that are reasonably comfortable, then add a good Dr. Scholl’s insole. If I like the thicker insoles (like a full length gel insoles), I get the shoes a half size larger than usual.

    7. Try Hotter Shoes*

      Hotter shoes from the UK. There’s a US website, too. A bit pricey but comfortable and some are more dressy. They carry some grandma shoes, but you’ll find some cute Mary Janes and other styles. They also have some in wide widths.

      1. Esprit de l'escalier*

        I’ve been ordering Hotter shoes for years. I have extremely wide feet, and their EEE-width shoes are the only ones I’ve found that (almost) fit. They have good discounts/sales periodically — I rarely have paid full price. In fact I got a postcard from them yesterday touting a 60%-off sale.

      2. Aww, coffee, no*

        As a UK person, strong second to the recommendation for Hotter shoes. I have five pairs of their ‘Shake’ shoes, in different colours, because they’re so comfy. I wear them for the walk to work (3 mile round trip) so I’m on about my fifth pair each of the black and navy colours – but that’s over a period of 10 years! I once estimated that I get about 1000 miles of wear from each pair, which I reckon is pretty good going.

    8. Chauncy Gardener*

      Naot has some very cute styles and they are all very comfortable with adjustable straps.

    9. Camelid coordinator*

      I like to wear heels, so my advice may not be perfect for you. I do like the brands you wear, especially for fun, and they fit my wide foot well. For heels I like Rockport & Aerosoles. Miz Mooz are adorable but maybe not quite as comfortable. For almost all of these I size up, wearing an 8 regular instead of a 7.5 wide.

  14. Jackalope*

    So for those of us that are super stressed out right now, what is everyone doing for self-care? Anything you’re going to do to make life more survivable?

    I’m planning to have a dance party this weekend with 2 of my friends, and I’m hoping to buy some in-season fruit tomorrow. I’d like both strawberries and cherries if I’m fortunate enough to find them.

    1. eeeek*

      Fresh strawberries as self-care. It’s a thing, right? I got some at a nearby u-pick, and made a lovely pie. Well, lovely enough – I need to work on my lattice technique. I have enough berries left to make a few pints of jam, and may reserve some for making a fruit shrub for future cocktails (n/a friendly).
      This is helping to contain the boiling rage within. Containment is a work in progress.

      1. Jackalope*

        I’m hoping to buy an extra flat of strawberries and make jam this weekend. I tend to make it about every other year (I make other kinds of jam the alternating years), and we are getting a bit low.

      2. Strawberryselfcare*

        Also over here using strawberries as self care – planning to rage-bake a angel food cake today with fresh strawberries and whipped cream. Then I’ll use my approximately 1 million leftover egg yolks from the cake to make pasta tomorrow. Creating something beautiful and delicious can be soothing.

      3. Damn it, Hardison!*

        It’s a theme! I bought two baskets at the farmers’ market, one of which is earmarked for strawberry milkshakes.

      4. Potatoes gonna potato*

        I love strawberries. Unfortunately last week I got a batch that was perfect but hidden inside was a huge strawberry with fungus on it. The last few trips I made to the grocery store had nothing but fungus-ridden strawberries. Its so strange and hard to find a good batch.

        1. acmx*

          I have the same problem writing these as I do when I paint – going smoothly then out of the blue I lose flow and make a mistake :)

        1. acmx*

          This particular one (just add dot org) is currently sending postcards to Florida counties to remind them about voting by mail. It’s also for campaigns. Currently, nothing directly relevant to Friday…

          They give you a script to write and you provide the postcards and stamps. You can request 10-50 addresses (no individuals’ names) at a time.

    2. Dark Macadamia*

      *jazz hands* DENIAAAAL!

      Mostly I’m just trying to focus on the things I can control/improve in my own life, like decluttering, applying for jobs, doing fun summer stuff with my kids, etc.

      I’m not much of an organizer/protester type but I have a huge stack of postcards I’ve been writing for voter turnout in the primaries and will probably make some donations this weekend.

    3. SparklingBlue*

      I’ve once again just turned off the news and doomsaying, and focus on making happy memories.

      1. Falling Diphthong*

        Sincerely, turning off the news has been a great help to me several times over the past few years. Reading MORE about it feels like I’m engaging, but I’m not actually changing anything.

    4. Person from the Resume*

      Reading. I use reading as an escape. I lucked out that I just finished a great but darker book so it was slow going on Tuesday. And now I’m reading a breezy family drama that’s easy to escape into. I’m going to be reading a lot books that are lighter or easy to escape into (not related to the political situation) for a few weeks.

    5. Person from the Resume*

      Also it’s the last week of pride month and there are 3 Pride fests/parties/events. I’m trying to go to them to check them out. Looking forward to the bands at the one today. The other two are iffier. Folks will no doubt be talking politics but I’m going to to enjoy the last days of pride.

    6. Not So NewReader*

      I gave up coffee. (whaaat.) I have been a big coffee drinker for decades. As the years rolled by I drank less and less but that was easy because there was just way too much coffee in my life initially. Too much coffee does help the body to get rid of important vitamins and minerals. I anticipate feeling a tiny bit better because of this because I will be hanging on to more of the good parts of what I eat. And a happy side effect, it’s one less expense.

    7. Paris Geller*

      My main thing is trying to make sure my environment is calming and not stressing me out more. I’m a naturally messy person, but organizing and cleaning has been bringing me joy right now for a few reasons. One, it feels good to just DO something, and two, when I’m done, I feel much more peaceful in my surroundings. It doesn’t make the state of the world better, but it helps if I’m not fighting my apartment every day just to get out the door because I misplaced something in the chaos or have a bunch of things I don’t use.

      Also trying to do as much swimming as I can! It’s really the only form of exercise I enjoy and I find when I’m in the water my mind completely empties. It can be tough to do often because my apartment has a pool that’s more for fun (as one would expect), but sometimes I go late in the evening when most of the families have left. I do also have a gym membership that has a lap pool, but it only has a few lanes so they fill up frequently and it can be difficult to fit going into my schedule. Still, I’m trying to get in at least one swim a week.

      On a more serious note, I restarted therapy, which doesn’t always feel like self-care but is probably the best thing I can do for myself.

    8. MEH Squared*

      I anger-donated last night because money isn’t everything, but it’s something. I vented/commiserated with friends and Twitter. I listened to MILCK’s “Quiet” with Samantha Bee on repeat. I did some writing because that’s my creative outlet.

      Today, I did my Taiji routine, which soothes me. I did all my weapon forms to the aforementioned MILCK’s song which invigorated me. I have a Taiji class in a half hour, which I hope helps me feel even better. After that, who knows?

    9. Stitch*

      I have a therapy appointment on Tuesday. I’m seeing a new person in the old practice and trying to.be hopeful that I’ll find it more helpful this time.

      I’m also joining the JCC so I can do exercise classes again.

    10. Salymander*

      I am spending a lot of time at my community garden plot. I bought a beach umbrella and I bring it and a beach chair to the garden with snacks and flasks of iced tea and sparkling water. I can sit there for hours, reading and watching the birds and insects. It is really great for reducing stress, even right now when it feels like the world is falling apart.

  15. Jackalope*

    Book thread! What is everyone reading this week? Anything good?

    I loaned The Blue Sword by Robin McKinley out to someone a few years ago and they just gave it back. RMcK is my favorite author, so I’m rereading it and enjoying it. I’d just about gotten to the point where I was going to break down and buy another copy, too, since I couldn’t remember who I loaned it to.

    1. Annie Edison*

      I just finished “Honey Girl” by Morgan Rogers and it was gorgeous- I definitely shed tears a couple times. Queer romance plus anxious/depressed millennial dealing with post-grad school burnout and difficult family history. Filled with beautiful truths about love and connection and what it means to live a good life

      1. Person from the Resume*

        I’m apparently in the minority, but I hated Honey Girl. I did finish it listening to the audiobook at 2x speed. I went in with high hopes (maybe why I kept listening to the end) and was disappointed and annoyed by it. So your enjoyment may vary.

        I honestly thought “difficult family history” was actually an emotionally abusive father which none of “honey girl’s” friends and chosen family bothered to point out to her.

        The father is a long-time medically retired, government civilian who everyone including his daughter, wife and coworkers call “Colonel.” (I was in the military, I work for the federal government now.) That’s so not normal it felt like a caricature. Very obviously overbearing. Why is the main character or their friends not calling this shit out with me understanding that it’s hard for the main character but somebody should say “that’s more strict, demanding, controlling than normal parenting, friend. Your father is emotionally abusive.”

        IDK there’s been a few books lately where no one says the word abuse but I’m reading and thinking this is abuse/this is not okay. I don’t care if the strict, controlling parent believes they are coming from a place of love and doing for their own kids good.

        1. cleo*

          yeah, I had a similar reaction. Between the MC’s depression and her abusive father, it was not the light read I was expecting.

      2. Paris Geller*

        I second this recommendation! Loved Honey Girl. It was so great to read a book about a main character in their late 20s having that very familiar post-grad school or first job crisis so many of us go through.

    2. Teapot Translator*

      I’m reading another Mrs Pollifax book to relax.
      I also finished Fuzzy Nation by John Scalzi, The Bear and the Nightingale by Katherine Arden and A Master of Djinn by P. Djèlí Clark.

      1. Virtual Light*

        I also loved the Arden and the Clark, I’m a bit behind on my Scalzi. Nice picks!

      2. PhyllisB*

        If you like Mrs. Pollifax (I did, too!!) You might enjoy two series by Simon Brett that feature older characters, One is the Mrs. Pargeter series and the other is the Fethering series. Also Richard Osman has written three books that feature elderly people in an upscale retirement center who solve mysteries.

    3. PX*

      I’ve been binge reading all the Loretta Chase as I’m on holiday and its wonderfully escapist for me (and nostalgic as I started reading historical romances at a way too early age!) Lord of Scoundrels is still the best! Any recommendations for authors similar to her?

      Currently moved on to Lisa Kleypas, tried Stephanie Laurens and some of them are fine, but a lot of her writing for me was like…the way these women cant seem to function if the man is around kind of makes me want to scream. Not sure if its the fact that these were some of the older books but just. No. Too many quivering knees and feeling faint at the sight of some dude!

      1. Fellow Traveler*

        Oh! I love Chase but never got into Kleypas or Lauren’s- I always felt the characters weren’t as well defined and the prose not to my taste- there was always something very colloquial about their style.
        Other must read hisorical romance authors on my list: Sherry Thomas (though she doesn’t write as much romance anymore), Courtney Milan, Sarah MacLean.
        Evie Dunmore is a recent author that I,ve really liked. Mary Balogh’s early stuff- her last few series were kind of “meh” for me. I also love Judith Ivory and Laura Kinsale – classic romance, with all that implies. I tend to like my romance novels with smart strong heroines, preferably not teenagers, a hero who always does the right thing, a touch of stoic angst and longing, and a good grovel at the end, and not too much plot or intrigue to get in the way of the romance part.

      2. Sharna Pax*

        Try Meredith Duran. And KJ Charles if queer romance appeals to you. She does mostly m/m, and I think she’s miles better than most of the romance writers out there.

      3. PX*

        Thanks for these recs – will check them out! Already gave Meredith Duran a go and its not bad :D

      4. cleo*

        I love Loretta Chase. I have a couple queer romance recommendations that I also love and think might work for you.

        Olivia Waite’s Feminine Pursuits trilogy – f/f
        Cat Sebastian – she has 3 series set in the Regency / Georgian periods (mix of m/m, m/f with bi MCs, nb/m)

    4. Put the Blame on Edamame*

      Young Mungo, which is beautiful and heartbreaking without being poverty porn. It’s set in Glasgow which I recently visited so feels a bit closer.

    5. Hotdog not dog*

      Lilac Girls by Martha Hall Kelly. A New York socialite, a woman Nazi doctor, and a Polish teenager’s lives intersect during WWII and it’s aftermath. Historical fiction based on actual people and events, it was fascinating from the first paragraph. The author clearly did her research.

      1. PhyllisB*

        There is a sequel to Lilac Girls. Can’t remember the title. I got Lilac Girls from the library and let my mother read it first because I was reading something else. She talked me out of reading it; she said it was too sad/upsetting. Yes, I know I can make my own decisions about what to read, but she knew with what I was going through at the time that sad and upsetting was not what I needed. I might try it sometime in the future.

    6. Angstrom*

      “Agincourt” by Juliet Barker. Nonfiction. The details are fascinating — I had no idea that Henry V had to pawn valuables to finance the expedition to France.

      1. Inkhorn*

        Adding this to my wishlist.

        I’m currently reading “Powers and Thrones” by Dan Jones, a history of the middle ages that contains – in relation to Charlemagne’s grandson Bernard of Lombardy – my favourite footnote ever:

        “Aggrieved, he started to think of his association with the Pan-European empire not as a mutually beneficial partnership, but as a binary choice between independence and subservience.*

        *See also Brexit.”

    7. Person from the Resume*

      I am only halfway through, but I’m recommending the The Other Mother by Rachel M. Harper. Complex generational family drama like Alison often recommends.

      “Jenry Castillo is a musical prodigy, raised by a single mother in Miami. He arrives at Brown University on a scholarship—but also to learn more about his late father, Jasper Patterson, a famous ballet dancer who died tragically when Jenry was two. On his search, he meets his estranged grandfather, Winston Patterson, a legendary professor of African American history and a fixture at the Ivy League school, who explodes his world with one question: Why is Jenry so focused on Jasper, when it was Winston’s daughter, Juliet, who was romantically involved with Jenry’s mother? Juliet is the parent he should be looking for—his other mother.”

      There are 7 parts, each told from a different family members point of view and varying from being told in the past when their family was set in motion or in the present where they deal with the fallout of Jenry not knowing his family history.

      Highly recommended so far.

    8. Falling Diphthong*

      The Cannonball Tree Mystery by Ovidia Yu. Series started in Singapore in the 1930s; now it’s the Japanese occupation. I think the author does a good job at balancing the lighter tone (I don’t think the main character is going to be killed; violence isn’t lovingly lingered over) with conveying that this is a really tough time and everyone has PTSD as they try to not get randomly killed by the occupiers for dozens of small things the wrong armed soldier might take as an excuse to do that. This book is set in 1944 and there’s a nice tension between the established characters regarding the different ways everyone tries to just get through and keep themselves and their families alive. Is it good to hope the allies swoop in and rescue you, or should you be trying to make a new life under the new regime?

      Su Lin is working at the English-language propaganda paper and running the acting governor’s household (due to events in the last book), and it’s very clear this is entered into in the spirit “if you aren’t seen to be helping, you and your family can be killed.” She started the series dreaming of becoming a journalist, and she’s taken steps toward that, but outside events have really constrained her choices.

    9. Mephyle*

      The Steerswoman by Rosemary Kirstein. I had never heard of this author or series; found out about them from a post on Tor (publisher) about books that look like fantasy but are really scifi.

      Enjoying it tremendously so far. It is very affirming about the value of truth and science, with many interesting sides, like a few sentences on why women are mostly more suited for life as a scientist than men. Not preachy though – the plot and characters are drawing me into the story in a can’t-put-it-down way.

      If the ending lives up to the rest of the book I will certainly be wanting to read the remaining 3 books in the series. I hope and expect so.

      1. Virtual Light*

        Yessss Steerswoman. I felt the same way halfway through. IMO the author had a bit of trouble wrapping the book up, but I enjoyed it a lot and will definitely dip back in at some point. The world was just so lovingly drawn. It was interesting to see how long ago it was published (1989.) It helped me to understand some of the choices the author made as I mentally compare it with other women-authored sci-fi/ fantasy from the 80’s.

      2. acmx*

        I liked the first book but lost interest by the 2nd. Got too slow for me.

        You might like Doris Egan The Gate of Ivory (a trilogy).

      3. Person from the Resume*

        I could have written this a year or two ago down to hearing about it on a Tor list. It is absolutely up my alley, and I wonder if skipped when it was originally published because it looked like fantasy.

        I will say that IMO boom 2 and 4 are also great. Book 3 goes on a tangent goes on a tangent that I didn’t care for as much.

        I liked it so much I bought books 1, 2, and 4 to have them to keep and read again after reading the books with library copies.

        And I keep hoping the author gets around to publishing the remaining 3 books.

    10. Nicki Name*

      The Grief of Stones, an immediate follow-up to The Witness for the Dead, and just as amazing.

      1. Teapot Translator*

        Is the main character less angsty this time around? The author likes her main characters angsty and I’m not in the mood, so I may wait to read it if it’s the usual.

    11. PhyllisB*

      Just finished 10 Beach Road by Wendy Wax. Very good. I won The House on Mermaid Point by her from Goodreads, but when I realized it was #3 in a series I put it aside until I could locate the other books. (I can’t stand to read a series out of order!!) Now to locate book 2!!

    12. Maryn*

      I’m nearing the end of the best read of the year–so far, anyway. It’s “The Book of Koli,” by M.R. Carey. Koli is a British Huckleberry Finn, that kind of character and voice, in a post-apocalyptic world in which trees are lethal and nearly all tech is lost–and what remains is in the hands of a single family that uses the tech to intimidate and control the simple villagers.

      No spoilers here, of course, but Koli’s resourcefulness coupled with his immaturity, unrequited love, and a few honest mistakes makes this a fascinating story.

    13. Elle Woods*

      I finished David Sedaris’ latest book, Happy-Go-Lucky, in one rainy afternoon. It deals with heavier topics (his father’s death, COVID, and more) than his usual work but I still enjoyed it.

      1. GoryDetails*

        I love Sedaris’ work and want to read that one, but I won’t buy the edition with the clown on the cover. I just… don’t want that image on my bookshelf {wry grin}. Am hoping the paperback has a different cover!

    14. Henry Division*

      I started VALIS by PKD and uh maybe not the best thing to read right now as his stuff is full of harsh existential dread.

      But I did just finish A Marvellous Light, which was a fun read. Queer Victorian murder mysteries are exactly my cup of tea, and this delivered. Warning that it is much more explicit than I expected.

      1. consuela*

        yesssssss marvellous light! so good. (and agreed—more explicit sex scenes than i expected. i thought they were fine, but i had to warn my mother when we read it for our two-person mystery club.)

        we’ve also recently been enjoying all books by louise penny (i recently read her latest). i’m sure lots here will know her name, but wanted to mention.

        would love to hear any other mystery recommendations!

    15. GoryDetails*

      Have been reading a lot of LGBTQ+ books for Pride month, putting lots of them into various Little Free Libraries when I’m done with them. (Have been pleased to see quite a few area LFLs that are specifically decorated and labeled for welcoming, diverse books.) Among my recent favorites:

      CHEF’S KISS by Jarrett Melendez, a sweet graphic novel about a young gay man who – after failing to find work in his chosen profession – stumbles onto a promising role as chef in a local restaurant, while crushing hard on the handsome lead chef. Some great scenes regarding his post-college friendships, delectable cooking scenes, how-to-apologize-to-friends bits, tense moments with the over-ambitious parents – and some whimsy regarding a pig with a golden palate.

      COLOR OUTSIDE THE LINES, a charming anthology aimed at the younger end of YA, featuring stories with interracial and/or LGBTQ characters. Some tales have fantasy settings while others are real-world.

      ALMOST FLYING by Jake Maia Arlow, another younger-YA book, this one about a girl coping with the unwelcome news that her father’s about to remarry – to a woman she didn’t even know he was dating, and who has a daughter a bit older than she is. The unwelcome stepsister has issues of her own, but the story demonstrates both the bad ways to blend families and the good ways. Along the way, the girl manages to get close to her crush, and to achieve her goal of… riding roller coasters!

      BITTER WATERS by Chaz Brenchley, this one definitely NOT YA – a lyrical, sometimes grim, often entrancing collection of fantasy tales, from seafaring adventures to historical plots. I really enjoyed this one.

    16. Virtual Light*

      I’m reading Nettle and Bone by T. Kingfisher, and it is exactly as good as my high hopes were hoping. In the veins of fairytale re-tellings, but somewhat dark and creepy in parts, it’s the story of a woman who goes on a quest to save her sister. It has all of the lovely Kingfisher offbeat world-building, dry asides, feminism, comforting plot beats with a twist, and beautiful language. It is also giving my feminist rage a bit of catharsis. I might buy it to put it on my shelf and re-read. I think that people who like Naomi Novik, Katherine Addison, Sharon Shinn, or Victoria Goddard would enjoy it.

      Also just finished re-reading the three books in Zoe Ferraris’ mystery trilogy set in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, starting with Finding Nouf. The author married into a Bedouin-Palestinian family and lived in Saudi Arabia with his family for years. These books give a nuanced look into Saudi culture that I find fascinating. One of the protagonists is a female lab tech for the police who wants to advance in her career, and another is a devout and kind Bedouin/ Palestinian desert guide who helps the police in their investigation. Until Saudi women get more books translated into English (any recs?) this is probably as close as I’ll get to having any insight into this culture at all. (nb the 2019 Man Booker prize winner, Celestial Bodies, was written by an Omani woman, Jokha Alharthi. It is available in English and was quite interesting.)

    17. Rara Avis*

      I have a coworker whose daughter is named Aerin. He was quite surprised when I knew that it came from The Hero and the Crown (his wife’s favorite book.)

    18. Stitch*

      If you like McKinley, Spinning Silver and Uprooted by Naomi Novik have a very similar vibe.

      I’m reading The Extraordinaries by TJ Klune and a book called Napoleon’s Buttons about certain chemicals and history.

    19. OtterB*

      I have been rereading the Comfortable Courtesan series by LA Hall. They are popcorn and comfort books for me. Not exactly romance, although there are some romance subplots, but Regency-era historical fiction about the intertwined relationships of Clorinda, who is a courtesan when the series begins, her household staff, and her patrons and friends. More LGBTQ and POC representation than most books of that era. I forget now where I originally saw them recommended.

    20. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      I finally got around to Kaiju Protection Society and really enjoyed it. I also read the Joe Hill anthology that has Black Phone in it because I do horror better as reading than watching – it wasn’t bad, but I won’t be rereading it.

      I just got home from seeing the new Baz Luhrman “Elvis” biopic, and it was pretty and the guy playing Elvis was excellent, but mostly it made me want to read a good actual biography of Elvis Presley.

    21. Seeking second childhood*

      My library just added Ilona Andrews to its ebook offerings so I’m plowing through Kate Daniels. I had read the first few as loaners from a friend and it’s fun to catch up. (Although I was not prepared for some of the more serious plot turns… and I should have been because it’s post-apocalyptic shapeshifter battles.)
      Waiting on the to be read pile is Soulstar, book 2 of C.L. Polk’s Kingston Cycle.

    1. Bread Addict*

      I will not bow by breaking benjamin

      Problem by Natalia Kills

      Remember the Name by Fort Minor

      Hall of Fame by The Script

      Basically anything that makes me feel powerful and strong as it motivates me to keep going. I tend to do timed intervals on my running because I am rebuilding my stamina and endurance. Like x minutes running y minutes walking. Any song that can keep me going and motivates me to accomplish my goal is the best song.

    2. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      I Like to Move It – will.i.am
      Dynamite – Taio Cruz
      Give It A Go – Timbaland
      The Devil Went Down to Georgia – Charlie Daniels Band
      Party Rock Anthem – LFMAO
      Smooth – Santana
      Suds in the Bucket – Sara Evans
      Waka Waka – Shakira

      I have a lot of Five Finger Death Punch, Shinedown, AC/DC, and Eminem on my workout playlist too.

    3. The teapots are on fire*

      Higher and Higher by The Mint Juleps
      Happy Medley by Mandy Patinkin
      The Road to Shambala by Rockapella

    4. The OG Sleepless*

      Daft Punk’s Alive 2007 album
      This is the Sound of the Underground-DJ Baby Anne
      The Hand That Feeds-Nine Inch Nails
      FCKD-Hyper

    5. Henry Division*

      The entire MCR album Danger Days makes for a pretty good run. Also:
      “Runner’s High” by The Pillows
      “Sonne” by Rammstein
      “Hysteria” by Muse

    6. Pocket Mouse*

      I have a whole running playlist that’s just selected Robyn songs. Other than those:

      This Too Shall Pass, OK Go
      We Will Become Silhouettes, The Shins
      The Skin of My Yellow Country Teeth, Clap Your Hands Say Yeah
      Don’t Stop Me Now, Queen
      Under Pressure, Queen
      Hello, Martin Solveig & Dragonetti
      Shame On You, Indigo Girls
      Walking On Broken Glass, Annie Lennox
      Any Way You Want It, Journey
      Time to Pretend, MGMT
      She Moves in Mysterious Ways, U2
      Time Is Running Out, Muse

      (I listen to podcasts while running now so yes, these are a little out of date.)

      1. Pocket Mouse*

        PS, I think finding a song with a tempo that matches your running cadence is a great way to go, regardless of genre or lyrics. If you’ve got a watch or phone that tells you your cadence, try searching for “running songs ### beats per minute”.

        1. Henry Division*

          Spotify at some point had a running segment of their app that catered BPM playlists and also tried very hard to match what your BPM was. It wasn’t great but it was an interesting idea. Not sure if it’s still around!

    7. Emma2*

      This is a great question – I have been thinking of updating my running playlist. Some of my favourite songs to run to are:
      Beyonce – Formation
      Eminem – Lose Yourself
      House of Pain – Jump Around
      Cardi B – WAP (I realise this will not be everyone’s thing)

    8. philmar*

      High BPM songs. Spotify will actually create playlists for you called like “120 BPM running songs” which I often use, but I think their algorithm has already gotten a feel for my taste.
      I have a specific running playlist for when I have to do a short run but relatively fast:
      She’s Kerosene – The Interrupters
      Kiss with a Fist – Florence and the Machine
      Here It Goes Again – OK Go
      Dreaming of You – The Coral
      Baby Don’t You Lie to Me – The Fratellis
      Heat Wave – Martha Reeves and the Vandellas
      Love Potion No. 9 – The Clovers
      End of the World – REM
      The first 4 get me going at a really fast pace and the rest keep me motivated :)

    9. LuJessMin*

      “Walking On Broken Glass” by Annie Lennox. Always chose it for the last kilometer of a 5K to get me to the finish line.

    10. londonedit*

      I have a ‘Ridiculous 90s songs for running’ playlist. I don’t know about anywhere else in the world, but in the UK in the 90s there was a huge trend for ridiculous dance songs (like No Limit by 2 Unlimited, Rhythm is a Dancer by Snap, anything by Sash!, I Like to Move It by Reel 2 Reel, Rhythm of the Night by Corona, etc etc). They provide a brilliant hit of nostalgia for me, they make me laugh, and they’re up-tempo for running or gym stuff.

  16. WoodswomanWrites*

    It’s time for a bird thread.

    I love pelicans. I never tire of watching the brown pelicans along the coast, gliding just barely above the waves, or starting high in the air and then diving like an arrow into the ocean for fish. Seasonally, I also get to see the larger white pelicans in quieter protected waters inland with their slow paddling along the surface and corralling fish as a group. They’re like choreographed ballet dancers, ducking their heads underwater in synchronized feeding.

    I recently had a sighting of both species soaring above me in their respective groups but overlapping in the air. I’d never seen them together like that. Whether it was coincidence that they were sharing the same air flow patterns to glide along, or they were actively checking each other out for a bit, I don’t know. Whatever they were doing, it was a wondrous experience.

    1. Resolutely Rach*

      That sounds beautiful. I’d love to see some pelicans!

      I think I got the recommendation for the Cornell app – Merlin Bird ID – from the AAM weekend chat thread. I was delighted to get to use it for the first time last night to identify European Starlings – a huge flock of them in a large tree by a river next to a main road. The sound coming from the tree was tremendous and they kept flying up in a group then resettling within the tree. Perhaps trying out the best perch for the night?

    2. Pumpernickel Princess*

      Nesting bobolinks in a grassland meadow this past week! It was my first sighting as a birding newbie, and their songs and flight patterns were so much fun. So melodious!

    3. Angstrom*

      Brown pelicans are amazing fliers. I remember watching them using the lift from incoming waves, skimming along parallel to the beach with one wingtip just inches from the wave face.

    4. Chauncy Gardener*

      I love watching the Great Blue Herons come in for a landing at our pond. Dinosaurs!
      And the hummingbirds are so amazing, when I get that flashing glimpse of one. I’ve been working on adding various plants for them over the years and it’s working!

    5. Lizabeth*

      The House Finch babies are still following the parents around begging for food. Have a Song Sparrow pair visit the bird bath- love hearing them sing. The bluebirds are using my mailbox as a perch and, of course, it’s covered in droppings now. Yuck! Thinking about putting the spike things on to deter them.

      1. pancakes*

        Same here with our local finches. I’ve also seen it happen a couple times this week on the Cornell Ornithology Lab Sapsucker Woods cam, where baby grackles beg their parents for food (and get fed) on the tray towards the bottom of the frame. The babies are nearly as big as their parents at this point and very noisy!

        The other drama is that a couple times we’ve left the cam running on the living room TV while prepping dinner, etc., and caught a fat raccoon eating the bird seeds after dark.

    6. Elizabeth West*

      Hahahaha, this post reminds me of the time a guy and I were sitting on a California beach and a bunch of pelicans flew over. We threw towels over our heads as the poo went *PLOP PLOP PLOP PLOP* all around us. :’D

    7. Not So NewReader*

      [She lives where there’s pelicans, you guys! oh my!]

      I like to watch the eagles.

      I also like to watch my friend watch the birds. His family heritage taught him to watch nature and “read” what is going on. He is also a person of unshakeable faith and he believes that sometimes we can receive messages of consolation or reassurance from Above. A typical story- one day we were on our way to get a part for one of our vehicles. There was tension with getting the part, it was hard to find, pricey and so on. We passed a field of with a couple dozen wild turkeys. The birds were pretty chill, just hanging out and looking around. He commented, “The turkeys are showing us calmness. I just need to calm down and understand we will find this part and get it install and it will be okay.” And so he did. We got the hard to find part and it worked out okay.

      Did he bring about his own happy ending? Perhaps. But the thing that struck me here was how often do we feel upset and we DON’T look around for things that reassure us? For me, too often. I would have just zoomed by those turkeys and thought nothing of it. Not any more.

      That’s one example, my friend has done this many times over the years. It’s a different and interesting take on things.

    8. The OG Sleepless*

      My husband and I and a few other people were swimming at a beach in the Virgin Islands once when a bunch of pelicans started dive-bombing the water. It felt like Thanksgiving turkeys were dropping into the water all around us. BOOM BOOM BOOM.

      We finally have a clutch of baby bluebirds in our bird house! This is the boldest clutch I have ever seen. If you walk up to look inside, three of them will be sitting right at the entrance looking at you.

      1. Sharp-Dressed Boston Terrier*

        [It felt like Thanksgiving turkeys were dropping into the water all around us. BOOM BOOM BOOM.]

        God as my witness…

    9. Business Narwhal*

      I hope this fits with the bird thread theme. Where I live there are a lot of that’s little brown birds, quite cute but often overlooked.
      One day I was at pole vault with a group of other kids. Me and my friend were standing on the side lines and she was holding her pole over her shoulder.
      Suddenly one of those little birds perches on it, we all kind of just stare at it in shock. My friend slowly moves the pole off her shoulder to in front of her and the bird barely notices. By this time everyone is looking and the instructor is taking pictures. Meanwhile the bird is just sitting there. My other friend moves in to pick it up and then the bird flies away, ON TO ANOTHER KIDS HEAD! Eventually the bird flies off into the forest. Kind of random story but I thought it might work with the bird thread.

      1. WoodswomanWrites*

        Everything about birds fits in this thread. :)

        That’s an incredible story!

    10. Generic Name*

      I went to the black hills for the weekend last week with family. We arrived late afternoon, and I heard a strange deep buzzing sound. I knew it was a bird, and I finally identified it as a common nighthawk! We also used the Merlin app to identify birds by song. I know a fair number already, but we identified several that I’m not familiar with.

  17. Porch Screens*

    So…swimming pools! My husband and I have been kicking around the idea of getting a pool installed at some point in the future. For those who have a pool or have had one in the past, was it worth the time and money? We’re DINKs and don’t have big crowds over on a regular basis so we definitely wouldn’t need or want anything huge, just something big enough for maybe 4 people at most.

    Part of me really likes the idea because I enjoy the water but my husband is not comfortable swimming in public spaces and it’s difficult to get anyone else to go with me to the lake due to life schedules in general. We also live in the southern US so it definitely gets hot enough that we’d be able to get anywhere from 5-6 months of use out of it each year. On the other hand, my folks have pooh-poohed the idea anytime I’ve mentioned it with warnings of how expensive and time-consuming it would be to maintain one. I do understand there’s work involved, but…well, my folks – especially my mother – have a habit of pooh-poohing lots of things and sometimes it’s with good reason and sometimes it’s turned out to be not as big a deal as they made it seem. Thoughts or suggestions? TIA! :)

    1. L. Ron Jeremy*

      I purchased a home with a pool. Was expensive to heat and the maintenance was a pain.

      Sold the house 10 months later to move to Phoenix to continue my education.

      For me, it wasn’t worth it, but I’d say you should go for it if expensive and burdensome don’t bother you.

      I would never buy a home with a pool again, especially with the worsening drought here in the west where I live.

      1. Clisby*

        LW talks about getting 5-6 months of use out of it in the southern US, which implies to me there’s no plan to heat it. Of course, “southern US” is a big area, but I live in Charleston, SC, and nobody here would think of heating a pool May-October, at the very least. When we moved from Atlanta to Charleston and rented a house at one of the beaches for a year and a half, we could swim in the ocean May-December. A backyard pool might be considerably more shaded than the Atlantic Ocean, so YMMV.

    2. Alice*

      Is that “room for 4 people to do laps” or “room for 4 people to soak” or something in between?

      1. Porch Screens*

        Mainly just room for people to soak. Also forgot to mention that if we did this, we’d almost certainly look to do a long-lasting above ground pool with the option to have a deck built around it a little later. Something like that would be feasible for us with a bit of saving and budgeting.

        1. Dainty Lady*

          Ah, I didn’t see this before I posted. This is a more reasonable plan. Still. Be very very cautious.

    3. Dainty Lady*

      I do not like having a pool, I wish we didn’t. Expensive, time consuming, potentially dangerous, and once it’s in, it’s in. Does not add value to the house. If you have ANY concerns about water availability, DON’T DO IT. I feel strongly about this. Surely the choices are not limited to the lake.

      1. Clisby*

        I have no strong feelings about it one way or the other, but *definitely* do not think a pool will add value to a house. If anything, I think it’s more likely to detract from the value of the house.

    4. Can't think of a funny name*

      I’m going to disagree with other commentors…I put an inground gunite pool in…have had water since November 2021. It’s a lot easier to take care of than I was expecting. It’s salt water so you dump some bags of pool salt in and the chlorine generator turns the salt into chlorine. 1-2 times a week I put muriatic acid in and occasionally have to add other stuff. You can get a robot or suction side or pressure side cleaner to do most of the cleaning. I have a screen over my pool so that helps…keeps out leaves, etc. Probably takes me about 15 minutes a week to test the water. It is expensive to heat but we don’t have a cover b/c my boyfriend was afraid the cats would try to walk on it and fall in so in the winter my electric bill is 3-4x what it was without a pool and in the summer so far it’s been 2-3x b/c I have chiller…I swim laps so water has to be cooler than if I was just floating. My pool is a lot bigger than it sounds like you would get so you electric bill might not go up as much as this…my pool is 52′ x 11′ (on average) 21k gallons. It was very expensive to put in (like $100k) and like another commentator said, doesn’t add much value to the house…in FL where I am, it adds about $20k from what I can tell.

    5. Not So NewReader*

      Check with your home owners insurance to find out what the cost increase would be.

      And check with building code. Here above ground is better, as in-grounds are required to have a fence around them.

      With either in-ground or above-ground, I have noticed that people get a privacy fence between the pool and the near by roads. (This might be in addition to any required fence for an in-ground pool.)

    6. Green Mug*

      We love our pool. It’s a saltwater, gunite pool and very easy to maintain. I also have an automatic pool vacuum. That’s worth every penny. Every day, I float with my book on an inflatable raft. Sometimes we just hang our feet in and chit chat. It’s heavenly.

    7. Epsilon Delta*

      We had a pool when I was a kid. I loved it till I was about 13 then I lost interest in it and swimming in general. My most vivid memories are that it was extremely time consuming to clean, and you have to check the chemicals frequently. As a kid I would check the chemicals, but my parents took care of actually adjusting the chemicals in the pool so I don’t know how involved that is.

      As an adult, my additional reactions are that I think they’re quite expensive to maintain and insure (and I understand it can be a nightmare if someone gets hurt or gods forbid drown). They seem like a boat – fun a couple times a year, headache the rest of the time. Personally I would never buy a house with a pool or have one installed.

      In your shoes since you actually like swimming, I would calculate all the costs to install, maintain and insure, all the time you’d spend using it (be realistic), all the time you’d spend maintaining it, and how much it would cost to have it removed. See where that takes you.

      1. Felis alwayshungryis*

        Yeah, same. After a certain age, my friends and I wanted to go to the beach or swim in public pools (read: where there were boys). After I left home, my parents had it filled in; they weren’t that into swimming and the amount it got used by the neighbours’ kids wasn’t worth the expense and hassle.

        When I was looking at buying houses, a pool was an absolute deal-breaker. That said, there have been a few very hot summer nights where I’ve wistfully remembered taking a late night cooling dip!

    8. Hey it’s Teatime*

      A small pool is less of a pain, but only if it’s also big enough for an automatic vacuum/cleaner to catch leaves and debris. That’s the annoying part – water testing and chemical management isn’t that bad.

      We made a stock tank pool and it was nice the first summer but ultimately annoying to keep clean because it’s all manual (and we put it directly under a magnolia tree, silly!!)

      My friends have a “cocktail” pool which is perfect for about 6 to lounge in and they love it. It’s in-ground and has a step for sitting all the way around. No messy trees nearby either!

      In your case the deck around would create similar sitting opportunities. If it’s only warm enough to swim 5-6m of the year, having the option to dangle legs in and just sit around it will increase usage.

      Since the deck will probably be the more costly part/greater investment, you could consider the layout/structure so that if you ultimately don’t love the pool, you could take it away and close up the opening in the deck. Also look at your local code re pool enclosure/safety requirements.

      That said I think you should go for it. When it’s super hot and you can have a quick cool-down dip or lounge in the water with a book and a drink right there at home, it’s delightful!

    9. Healthcare Worker*

      I grew up with a pool and have had one as an adult and love them! Larger pools are easier to keep in balance, it seems. They are work but the rewards are great!

    10. Girasol*

      If you’re just soaking there are inflatables for that. You could consider starting with something cheap and see if you like it enough to spend on a high quality pool and deal with its maintenance, or if you use it once or twice and meh.

    11. Seven hobbits are highly effective, people*

      I bought a house with an existing in-ground swimming pool that’s probably older than I am (no records on this pool were supplied by the previous homeowner, but talking to the neighbors the best guess is 1960s), so definitely a different situation than yours.

      Keeping the water balanced isn’t too bad as long as nothing goes wrong, but at least where I live when something DOES go wrong, you cannot actually get an expert out to look at it within the next month or two because they are booked up and you will be trying to do your own maintenance and repairs. The only way around this is to pay over $300 a month for ongoing pool service and then maaaaaaybe they can fit you in sooner since you’re an existing client. I have had months when the pool was not working because we’d (me and any friends/relatives I could rope in to help) disassembled part of the pump and the sand filter and were waiting on a particular o ring before we could put everything back together again.

      It reminds me of when I was trying to keep a 35 year old car running, except that I can’t give up and donate it to charity if I get tired of trying to fix it since it’s a large, watery hole in my back yard. (This is where an above ground pool would be a major advantage, since you can probably get rid of that by draining it and renting a dumpster, whereas I’d need to spend a bunch of money having the hole filled in.)

      There’s also a direct relationship between how much effort you put in to keep it clean all year round and how much of a pain it is to get it open for pool season. Pools are really only usable during the summer here, so I have more months of using the leaf skimmer and cleaning the filter but no swimming than I do of swim months. I would not recommend that anyone put in a new in-ground pool where I live unless they are intending to spend the $300 a month for regular year-round pool service.

      It’s nice when it works, though.

      1. fhqwhgads*

        FWIW, my ongoing pool service is about half that per month and includes chemicals. My pool is probably only 10 years younger than yours. We’re in an area where it’s not necessary to close the pool, and we don’t. Guy comes weekly. Any time anything’s been wrong (broken part, etc) he just fixes it during the next regularly scheduled appointment. So I guess my advice for people is: shop around for your pool-maintaining human.

        1. Seven hobbits are highly effective, people*

          I think the issue here is that residential in-ground pools are pretty unusual so there just aren’t that many competing pool servicing companies to choose from. I know when I’ve called around in the past it hasn’t really helped to get anyone out quicker or at a lower price, and I never did find anyone who would even give me a quote on repainting it since I guess everyone else has vinyl pools with liners now?

    12. Golden French Fry*

      A family member had one in their last house and it was nice ‘when it worked’. I don’t think the pump ever functioned properly, and for whatever reason they decided to DIY the weekly maintenance/chemical application. The water turned green and cloudy, and it didn’t help when the neighbors had their pool built and all the dirt blew over into it. I think their other neighbors with the same type of pool were quoted $14-20k on a repair at some point, so it really is a huge investment.

      If you’re willing to fund the upkeep and any repairs (by experts!), do your research on the implications for your homeowners insurance, and have strong boundaries around people wanting to use your pool more than you’re willing, go for it. I have a lot of happy memories hanging out with everyone there, but under no circumstances would I want my own.

    13. Loopy*

      My brother and sister in law have one in Phoenix AZ and use it an enormous amount (just the two of them) and now refuse to live without one. They say it’s worth the money and effort to them and are always in it.

      If you have the money and use it enough, seems the effort isn’t as much of a burden.

    14. Lady Danbury*

      I grew up with a pool and still live near enough to my parents to use it regularly if I choose. Even then, I rarely use it. I remember my uncle say that you get the most value out of a pool in the first few years, before the novelty wears off. After that, it becomes an expensive hassle. In my experience, that’s absolutely true. Obviously ymmv, but it seems like most people overestimate how much they’ll actually use a pool.

  18. Jopunzi*

    Schools question (I guess). I live in Europe but am moving to the US this summer (different story). My 15 yr old niece, who also lives in Europe, is thinking of doing a year abroad in the US in a year. Ideally this would be in the state we are about to move to, so we can support her if necessary.

    My niece is a soccer star and likes reading and video games. I guess I would call her gender non-conforming. She does not appear at all feminine and gravitates to sportswear of the baggy kind; she also doesn’t do makeup.
    My husband and I are a bit worried about her being bullied in an American high school environment. He was bullied relentlessly in high school in a year he was in the US, though of course that was a long time ago.

    What do you think? Should I advise her against coming? Or is there something I can do to help vet potential high schools for her? (I don’t have kids and am not in the US, so this is very new territory for me). Thank you!

    1. Cat*

      Well, its impossible to compare all of Europe to all of the US. There are parts of the US that are far more accepting and progressive than parts of Europe and vice versa. Unless you are more specific about where you are coming from and where you are going, you’re not going to get any useful answers.

      1. Gilead*

        I don’t think accepting and U.S. belong in the same sentence anymore. Especially compared to Europe.

        1. Virtual Light*

          Eh. I see where you are coming from (here and in your other comment below) and also feel the rage, but the US is essentially split into two viewpoints right now and that’s a very big generalization. About half of the country by the numbers, and any major city in a blue state (and non-zero number of red ones), would have good odds on finding a progressive school environment. My friend’s son (11) goes to public school here in Brooklyn, and she jokes about how her kid said something like, “It’s ok if we’re late to aftercare. They’ll still be sharing everyone’s pronouns by the time we get there.”

          If the OP some cities or states in mind, the commentariat could probably give quite specific information and impressions.

        2. Cat*

          More than half of Americans don’t agree with the direction this country is going and are accepting. There are comments in this very thread describing positive experiences for gender non-confirming kids in schools. Supreme court decisions are not representative of every high school in the US. A lot of Americans seem to have this naive view that Europe is better than the US in every way, but that’s just not true. There are parts of Europe that are shockingly conservative compared to the US.

    2. Alice*

      There will definitely be some schools she can go to that have healthy cultures. And I don’t think it’s purely geographic either. After you pick a geographic target, can you contact some schools to get more info? I’m sure that the school staff would be able to pass questions to the school’s LGBTQ+ student group and pass the answers back to you.

    3. Chauncy Gardener*

      Agree with the comments above. The US is enormous and basically like 50 different countries, with various regions within each state as well. Where are you going?
      And as an aside, I do hope you get a chance to take a leisurely drive across the US. It is so helpful to see the various areas and how different each are, both in terms of culture and geography. It’s a great way to understand the country better.
      Unlike the European parent company of a previous place we do not mention here who was thoroughly convinced that Chicago was in New England…

    4. Yeah summer!*

      I agree with the range of experiences in each state and rural vs suburban/urban.
      But I’m so curious about your own experience. I assumed it was a developmental problem. Was it rare in your home? What do you credit the difference to?

      1. rubble*

        what in the post are you seeing about the OP’s high school experience? what developmental problem?

    5. RagingADHD*

      Agree with others about the wide differences in high school culture, and I’d say that’s true down to a town / neighborhood or individual school level.

      The fact that she’s a soccer player is going to help her find more acceptance than if she were into gymnastics or choir, because of the relative subcultures in those activities. And having a solid group you connect with helps a lot.

      I’m in a deep red state, but my 15 year old attends a very large , diverse high school with strong arts and music programs. There are a significant number of band and theater kids who are out as queer or nonbinary, and some of them are quite popular.

      OTOH, an acquaintance of my other daughter changed pronouns in middle school and wound up switching schools because of bullying. But there are other kids who are in the baggy-gender-neutral-clothes-zone, or who identify as gay, who have plenty of friends and get along just fine.

      So it really depends on the school and the connections they make.

      1. RagingADHD*

        One thing she may need support for, kind of on the flip side, is that immature kids who want to be allies sometimes make assumptions that can be hurtful in a different way.

        Like assuming a girl who likes gaming and doesn’t wear makeup can’t be cis or het. Which is, of course, also wrong and alienating. I have seen a bit of that among my kids friends who are so eager to show allyship that they get obnoxious.

        1. Jon d*

          I think the whole concept of allyship is obnoxious. It went from helping marginalized people evolved in to nothing more than virtue signaling. I think the over the top displays of being a good ally come from a place of ego and not from humility.

          1. RagingADHD*

            Eh, it’s developmentally appropriate for teens to be immature, self-centered, and lack self-awareness. One hopes they grow out of it, but of course that doesn’t make it easier for their peers at the time.

            I guess if teens are going to be immature and obnoxious, better they should do so in an attempt to be positive and helpful, than in being deliberately hurtful and ostracizing.

    6. Falling Diphthong*

      There is so much variation. There are high schools where kids welcome the chance to show they are allies to the gender nonconforming. There are high schools where no one cares. There are high schools where it would be terrible. (My own kids, for all they sighed and rolled their eyes and said “yeah yeah don’t be a bystander”–their experience with school bullying was light years from mine a generation earlier.)

      The best insight would come from talking to a kid at the high school in question. Even that’s going to be a limited view–like if you asked one person “What’s the AAM commentariat like?”

    7. the cat's ass*

      You just described my 16 yo and she’s doing fine in our part of Northern CA. I think it depends very much on location. Good luck, she could have an amazing time here.

      1. E*

        I came here to say the same about my 15 year old. LOTS of kids in our area are gender non- conforming, especially girls. We’re in Chicago suburbs

    8. Invisible fish*

      I believe that if she attends a larger school, one in or connected to a city of some size, she’ll be fine. I teach high school, and honestly, the children are what give me hope that the world is getting better. They are kind, accepting, honest, and trying to do right behind each other. Do they sometimes make “mistakes”? Sure! But cruelty is rare – there’s much more likely to be a lot of “No, dude, remember Tara uses ‘they,’ not ‘she.’” “Oh, dude – sorry, dude – my bad, my bad. So like they was saying, when you read this, you kinda get that – what is that called? That foreshadowing stuff? Yeah, what they said.” (I’m not exaggerating the slang. They’re hilarious.). ¡Viva the year abroad! If she ends up at my school, she’ll have a pack of friends and a great time!

      1. Filosofickle*

        I have a friend with a 12 y.o. and teen calls her bruh and dude constantly. It’s pretty funny.

        1. Invisible fish*

          On more than one occasion, I’ve had to remind my students that while I don’t stand on a lot of formality, I really prefer NOT to be called “bro.” :)

    9. Gilead*

      I’m going to go out on a limb and advise that she doesn’t come. Things here are going down hill fast for women and gender/sex nonconforming folks here. Watch the tv series “Handmaiden” if you want an idea of where things are heading.

    10. Anony*

      I would first ask, What is she looking to get out of the experience? If she’s a soccer star, it could also conflict with her progression in sports – or at the very least the school’s soccer team should be a major factor in her decision. In my personal opinion it would make sense to save the year abroad for college, but it all depends on what she wants to get out of it.

    11. philmar*

      I just moved from the US to Europe and I would say teens basically look the same. Some dress super fashionably and some wear athletic shorts and t-shirts. Teens are teens, I don’t think Americans are meaner than Europeans.
      I liked reading and video games and played sports and didn’t wear makeup and sometimes I got called a lesbo but in the grand scheme of things it was just people being dicks every once in a while (northwestern Virginia). If she’s great at soccer she’ll probably make friends with the soccer team. I would be more concerned with her language/accent. She won’t get bullied for it but it will get attention, positive attention, where people think it’s really cool and want to know how to say swear words or I want to hear how you say X word with your accent. I had a friend who I didn’t know was British for a long time because she hid her accent because people always wanted to ask her about it and she was sick of it.
      Overall I think a year abroad as a teen is an incredibly valuable experience.

    12. Alexis Rosay*

      Varies greatly by state, city, etc. My friend’s daughter is in 7th grade and she mentioned that almost her entire class came out as bi one day while waiting for the teacher to take attendance. She’s in an exurban community that is purple-red, not a liberal city. All that is to say, I think kids are very open on gender and sexuality even in places where their parents aren’t. But of course, I know there are probably plenty of places where it could be an issue.

    13. Person from the Resume*

      It depends on where you go state, city, school.

      I’d like to know more if she’s actually gender non-conforming or if she is just not stereotypically female. A lot of sporty girls prefer sporty clothes, and no makeup, and shorter hair and that’s not gender non-confirming. Playing video games or sports is not an inherently male trait.

      You can’t know. But a soccer “star” would probably have a decent shot at forming friendships with her teammates.

      If she’s happy with how she presents herself, happy with her identity, I think it has a good shot of going okay. It sounds like she’s up for this adventure.

      OTOH I don’t know how common a year abroad is. I don’t know if she has a choice of school or there’s some sort of limited list. This is something you should find out when researching schools.

    14. Mockingjay*

      My girls were raised and attended school in Germany until their teens. Moving back to the US was quite a culture shock.

      The biggest problem was maturity – mine were more advanced than their peers and took school seriously, and had a very refined sense of personal responsibility. We also had problems placing them in appropriate level classes due to the difference in school systems and curricula. Transportation was a huge issue for them; we moved to a suburb and they were extremely frustrated that they couldn’t hop on a train or bus to anywhere.

      My advice: have your niece visit first. If school is in session, contact your local school district and inquire if she can visit for a day or two. Also find out if the district participates in exchange programs. An urban environment is probably better. My girls had a German friend who did an exchange program and was with a very nice host family but in a very rural area with few activities. (We flew him to our town for a long visit.)

    15. LimeRoos*

      Super late to the party – but agree with everyone on vetting the local high schools. Back when I was in high school, we had a few different exchange students during my 4 years. And my school was about 2500 students with a lot of different curriculum tracks. The two students I remember most were in totally different groups – one was a big theater nerd, so hung out in the music department, was in some honors classes, was in a few theater productions. The other student was a swimmer so he did swimming (and maybe diving or water polo, forgot what season it was), I think was also in some honors classes, and travelled for the swim meets. I’d definitely contact the local high schools because some may already have those programs in place to help your niece.

      Also, she’ll definitely be super popular for the first few weeks because omg Europe! It’s really exciting meeting exchange students in high school. Plus, a lot of teens like soccer, reading, and video games. For my high school, you could do sports and music, theater and football, and no one really cared? We had some star athletes who were also leads in musicals. I’m sure there was some bullying, but like, everyone seemed to have their friend group and no one wanted to bother people they didn’t know over stupid stuff.

      Side note – I’d also see what extracurriculars they have that she’d want to participate in. That will help focus on what school to enroll her in. My cousin – not Europe, but I was in the Chicago burbs and she was from Tennessee – came to stay for a summer and ended up running w/ the high school cross country team during their summer training and had a blast. She said everyone was super nice, and she was able to pick up some speed after the 2 months running with them. So if she wants to play soccer, see if their soccer team is good. See if there’s a video game club or book club she might like. There’s a chance the high school may even teach her/your language – we had French, Spanish, and German classes at mine, Chinese after I graduated – so there might be a language club she’d want to check out.

      But mainly, I think just check out the local high schools for exchange programs or how to enroll, see what there is for teens to do in the area, and see what the high schools have for clubs and sports. If there’s enough that sounds appealing for her, I think she’d have a great time! Especially since she’d have family already over here. I know our exchange students stayed with host families and seemed to have a good time, but homesickness is definitely a thing.

  19. Eye Surgery*

    I’m considering getting laser eye surgery to hopefully ditch glasses and contacts for good! I’ve been wearing them since I was 12 (I’m over 50 now). I love the idea of not needing them anymore. Has anyone had this surgery done? How was your experience (good and bad)? How old were you when you had the procedure? Knowing what you know now, would you do it again? Did you end up still needing to wear glasses or contacts or eventually needing them again? Thank you!

    1. Sigh*

      I was 36. Absolutely no regrets. I did end up needing reading glasses but I was forewarned especially since I work ona computer all day. I only wish I had done it sooner.

    2. Square Root of Minus One*

      I did it 3 years ago. I was 31, had worn glasses since I was 7 every single waking moment (so badly short-sighted I kept them for everything, even reading).
      It wasn’t my best moment because I had a panic attack and the pill they’d given me for that never kicked in, so I thought I would lose it when they were done with one eye and doing the second. I didn’t. It was an unpleasant 20 minutes and some care then. Seriously, I’m so much happier now. I’d do it again in a heartbeat. Don’t need correction now, might later, it still wouldn’t change my mind.

    3. Elf*

      I did it when I was 25, almost a decade ago. I definitely see better than I ever did with glasses. For immediate recovery, getting all the drops in in the first few days was very hard but I have always had a really hard time with eye drops. Luckily I only needed the extra saline drops for a couple months (it takes a couple months for the nerve that tells your eyes to make tears to grow back so temporary dry eye is pretty universal). You spend some time in the immediate aftermath with that “something in my eye” feeling; in my dominant eye it was gone within 24 hours but in my other eye it was almost a week.
      I haven’t needed any kind of glasses yet and I definitely see better than I ever did with them even though I was corrected to 20/20. I do get a bit of halo effect around bright lights at night, so I am less happy with night driving than I used to be, but I can certainly still do it. I recommend trying a TLC Laser eye center; they get better results by virtue of being super choosy about their patients, so if you get the free assessment you will have a very good idea of how it will go.

    4. Doctor is In*

      You might ask your ophthalmologist if you show any signs of cataracts, and if surgery is in your future. If so, cataract surgery will correct your vision. You will have to wear reading glasses afterward, unless you get special lenses inserted.

    5. Slightly Less Evil Bunny*

      Haven’t had it, but I’m really curious. Especially about anyone who got the surgery when they were older. My prescription is crazy strong, but now that I’m mid-50s I’ve begun needing multi-focal lenses. Always assumed that your eyes needed to stop changing for doctors to consider you a candidate, so I’ve never gone and gotten evaluated. Maybe I should, just to get a definitive answer.

      1. Lives in a Shoe*

        I had it done when I was either 49 or 50. Immediately began using reading glasses for everything, and I knew that my eyes had been exhibiting age related farsightedness before the surgery. I still do not use corrective lenses for distance sight eight years later. I assume that at some point I will need mild nearsightedness correction. The surgery itself was OK, the next day was painful, and I would do it again and earlier.

      2. Clisby*

        I had my cataract surgery at age 68. My glasses prescription was nuts – it cost $700-$800 anytime I needed a new pair. My eyes were always changing – for the worse. What mattered in my case was that my insurance (and, according to my ophthalmologist, every insurance company this hospital worked with) would not pay until my eyesight was so bad that it could not be corrected to 20/40. I finally got that bad, and this past November had my cataracts removed and new lenses implanted. It’s like a miracle. Only, of course it’s not a miracle, it’s medical science.

        I have to wear glasses for reading and most computer use, but now I can drive without glasses, walk around town without glasses, function in my house without glasses (unless I have to read something really close up like a recipe).

        No downside to getting evaluated.

    6. Torvaun*

      Two years ago, when I was 34. My experience was great! There are a couple things that are unnerving when they happen. First, the procedure involves a part where a machine pushes down on your eyeball and you go blind in that eye. It’s uncomfortable, but not painful. Second, you can smell it when the laser is reshaping your cornea, and it’s a bit like burning hair.
      In the end, my vision went from about 20/150 to about 20/15. I absolutely would do it again in a heartbeat.

    7. Pool Lounger*

      I was 20 or so. It lasted 10 years, then I needed glasses again, but my eyes are still waaaay better than they were before the surgery. It’s now been over 15 years and I can still drive without glasses, whereas before I could barely shower without them. I’d definitely recommend it.

      1. Jackalope*

        Yup, this was my experience too. Got it in my 20s, needed glasses again about 10 years later (but I work on the computer all day), but my eyes are still way better than they were. For example, I can still drive without my glasses, and I exercise without them and am fine. I am still capable of reading without them, but my eyes have very uneven blurriness, so that tends to give me a headache if I do it too long…. But I CAN.

    8. Russian in Texas*

      I did mine about 12 years ago. The surgery took 5 minutes, the only restrictions afterwards were no eye make up for 30 days, wearing the eye protection to sleep for 7.
      Unfortunately after about 11 years I needed glasses again due to astigmatism and age related night vision issues, and I am not eligible for another correction.
      But I loved the every second of my glasses – free life. If I knew how much, I world have done it in my 20s, not my 30s.

    9. Sloanicota*

      I was told it makes more sense for people thirty and under, because the procedure does *not* cure the type of vision loss that occurs in older age (I think where you need readers?) – so if you do it too late you may end up back in glasses again sooner than you thought. However I feel like there’d still be a benefit for those who are totally dependent on contacts now and might only need occasional help later. I did it when I was 26 and it was totally worth it. I wish I’d done it even sooner! But I did get dry eyes from the procedure and now use eye drops daily. This is a tradeoff I’m willing to make, personally.

      1. HBJ*

        Fwiw, my mom got this done well past that she. Yes, she did start to need reading glasses a few years later, 5-7 maybe? But she still is so happy she got it and wishes she would have down to much sooner.

    10. A Frayed Knot*

      Best. Thing. Ever! I had Lasik 20+ years ago, when I was around 38 years old. I wore glasses since I was 6 years old; my eye doctor said I was almost legally blind before the surgery. When I walked out of the office and could read billboards and the license plate of the cars around me, I was ecstatic! In my early 50s, I began to need reading glasses, which my doctor said would happen. I’m okay with that. I can still navigate most of my life without glasses, even at age 60. I do have glasses that I wear for driving, mostly at night, but I am not legally required to wear them per the DMV. This is truly the best thing I have ever done for myself and highly recommend it to everyone who is eligible.

    11. Stephanie*

      I had it when I was around 35, and it was definitely worth it. I had a bit of increased dryness for a while after, but it wasn’t terrible. I did end up needing reading glasses a little earlier than most people do, but everyone ends up needing them at some point, so it really didn’t bother me. It was so great to no longer need glasses or contacts to see. Totally worth it.

    12. Podkayne*

      Suggestion: get screened for Fuchs Dystrophy+ dry eye before you pull the trigger on the lasik. Lasik surgery can make these two conditions more difficult to deal with later. Get screened for cataracts, too, as that could be a miraculous way to correct your vision. If you’ve got trouble driving at night because of halos around on coming headlights lasik will not help with that.

    13. Recruiter*

      I just had PRK done 5 months ago at the age of 33. My prescription wasn’t too strong at -1.50. I had originally qualified for LASIK but then with the additional tests had to get PRK. I honestly thought the laser part (like 10 seconds per eye) was super cool. The following 3 days were hard as it hurts to look at any light. I’m still waking up in the middle of the night some nights with my eyes tearing like crazy because it feels like there’s a grain of sand in there but I have eye drops on me at all times and that helps.

      Overall, it’s been worth it for me. Your experience will depend on the exact procedure you have.

    14. Catherine*

      I had Lasik 9 years ago when I was 58. I immediately had 20/20 vision and didn’t need reading glasses until a couple of years ago. Piece of cake and it was amazing to not need to put my glasses on first thing in the morning. Definitely recommend it. Still have 20/20 vision today.

    15. Eye Surgery*

      Thank you all for sharing your experiences. My ophthalmologist said my eyes are healthy, so I have no worries there. He also told me that several of his clients had Lasik surgery, and he can’t recall hearing about any bad outcomes. That news was reassuring, and you’ve all had positive experiences, but I know there are risks, as there are with any surgery. I would love to be free of glasses and contacts! I’m strongling leaning towards getting it done next year when the budget will allow.

  20. Sigh*

    Sigh… I have a 9 year old child. He has a friend where we the parents get along too. Our families somehow fell into a great “babysitting” situation where once a month each family takes the kids for the afternoon (2 days a month each family babysitting 1 day). It works out great. The babysitting family still gets work done as the kids play well together / entertain themselves and the other parents get to go on a date.

    No one “advvertises”or brags about this… it’s a play date. An acquaintance in the kids class somehow figured out we do this and is just “showing” up at these play dates. We’ve had lots of play dates with acquaintance outside of our situation. I probably sound like I’m wining (Other parents feel the same way). This babysitting situation is “our thing”. It took a while to get into a routine for the situation. It took time for the kids feeling comfortable playing together or by themselves. We know each child’s medical issues, food likes, concerns. This is really just to give each parent a few hours. In addition this scenario isn’t taking up all weekends of the Month.

    The other parent has other ideas on how they want this to work – doing expensive activities, making it all day, more frequently , etc.

    I know I/ we sound snobby but how do we say this is only a situation suitable for our two families.

    1. PX*

      Next time they just “show up” for one of these play dates I’d be pretty direct – either at the beginning or at the end (depending on your comfort level for awkwardness) and just say something like “This is a arrangement just between our families and based on our needs, we arent interested in changing it or adding more people to the mix currently. So please dont show up unannounced or without invitation again”.

      Essentially this person is using the fact that no one wants to be direct or communicate clearly to their advantage and clearly have no shame about doing so, so you kind of need to return the rude to sender, otherwise they will just do whatever they want.

    2. Run mad; don't faint*

      …I’m wondering how this family found out. Because if your kids are the ones inviting them, then you all may want to have a chat with them and figure out how to get the three kids together at other times.

      Otherwise, I think you can tell the other family that you all have a limited amount of time (you can bring up limited money too if you want) and that this is a babysitting arrangement between the two families. Then make plans to get your kid and the third one together for a separate playdate to reinforce that you’re not rejecting the kid, just that this situation doesn’t work for you.

      1. Sigh*

        The other family figured it out after a few months. I guess both families bring the kids to the same park. While we are flexible with this arrangement we usually stick to the same babysitting weekends. Other family must have noticed 1st Saturday of every month same kids and parent show up, same with pizza on the alternating babysitting day

        1. Sigh*

          Both kids know not to invite without permission; both families agreed these few hours of our area meant will just be for our two kids to avoid situations like this

        2. Run mad; don't faint*

          So the third family has gotten in the habit of showing up at the park at the same time as you? That’s less egregious than showing up at one of your houses. It also makes it easier to see how this happened; families do run into each other at parks if they go there often enough. I can see that they might choose to go there on the first Saturday because they know their kid will have someone to play with. At the same time, the park aspect makes it harder. You can’t forbid people from showing up to a public place. You can refuse all offers to go other places and make the event longer though. And you can consider occasionally going to another park, or another pizza place without telling third family, so as to lessen the association that you all will always be at these places at particular times and dates.

          I am wondering how they found out about the pizza place though. That’s a little different. While it’s possible they also stumbled across you there, it wouldn’t surprise me if one of the other parents or one of the kids let something slip.

        3. anonagain*

          Is the new family showing up at your homes or at the park? Are they leaving their kid with you or are they staying the whole time?

          1. sigh*

            THe pizza place is near the parks and our homes. I can see Run Mad’s point about coming to the park when you know others there. I think it’s more that they would see our two families walking off together in the direction of our respective homes (they know our address due to class list). Other family probably put two and two together. They have conveniently shown up at our houses with the “we were in the neighborhood and thought we’d stop by to see if your kid is available for a playday – oh look friend kid is here too, Can I leave other kid here for a while?”. This happening once or twice I can understand, but it’s happened a few times. It’s a small town. I also always call someone first before an impormtu playdate.

            1. Run mad; don't faint*

              So they’re really taking advantage of the situation and not just a bit oblivious. In your shoes, I’d start telling them “no” any time they show up at your house uninvited. You already have a child over, really need to get something done and can’t possibly watch a third child, so sorry.

            2. Falling Diphthong*

              “No, we’ve set this up as a two-person playdate. Another time.”

              I have been in your shoes, and setting the barrier was hard. But the mom who knew best how great it would be for her kid to be added to all my child’s playdates wasn’t hearing anything more subtle.

            3. Not So NewReader*

              Wow. So this is like they are just dumping off their kid? Do they leave while their kid is with your kid?

            4. SP*

              “I’m sorry, you can’t leave them here as I have a couple of things to get done and want to keep it manageable. If you’d like to stay and supervise the kids, that might work!” Then watch them run away and never try it again.

            5. Sloanicota*

              Passive-aggressive approach: I think you’re going to have to mix it up a few times. Take both the kids off in a car somewhere for the next few weeks to break the other family of this habit. You might need to shift around the date/time you have your planned gathering so it’s not so easy for this other family to just drop by. If you know a time the other family is reliably busy (church? Right after school?) try that time to make it harder for them. Doesn’t have to be forever. More directly, you might have to just talk to them and explain that three kids is too much, no they can’t leave their kid, sorry etc. You can try both options!

              1. overeducated*

                I agree with this comment, changing the routine a little might help. I’d also consider saying “sorry we aren’t able to supervise Jimmy today given plans, hope to get together another time” rather than “this is a two person playdate” – it is about the burden on parents, not the need for your two kids to play without the third, and I wouldn’t want my similar aged kid repeating variations of that on the playground.

            6. Dark Macadamia*

              This is completely wild to me, like even if it was genuinely a coincidence they’re still literally showing up at YOUR house and saying “oh, I was thinking it would be nice to leave my kid here with you!” Shouldn’t they be offering to take your kid??

            7. Batgirl*

              So she goes from pretending to offer to take your kid off your hands on a playdate to dumping her own child on you? She’s also pretending that she doesn’t already know there’s a group of adults in the house before dropping by even though she timed it that way? I’d be so tempted to say “Yes, other family are here, and you already knew that”, but I would probably stick to a guided hand on the back towards the door. “Oh sorry, we’re just not free to do any babysitting. It was so nice of you to offer the play date too, but like I said, we have plans. Some other time.”

            8. anonagain*

              That’s wild. I can’t imagine showing up to someone’s house and just leaving my kid with them.

            9. Person from the Resume*

              “oh look friend kid is here too, Can I leave other kid here for a while?”

              “No”

              Just say no.

    3. Falling Diphthong*

      Piles of empathy. I had a neighbor with similar-age kid to mine who knew how things should work–she was lovely in some ways, frustrating in others, but her instinct to rearrange your plans to her better plans led to lots of barriers set up and held around her, not only by me.

      Sadly I’ve found that a firm “this is a two-person playdate today” and then holding to that is what it takes. You just have to say no, because she won’t pick up gentler hints, because her plan is clearly an even better iteration of what you’re already doing.

      I would make sure to include her child at other times.

      1. Sigh*

        We definitely include the other child in play dates. It’s just that these two times a month are a two person play date.

        1. Forgotten*

          Yes, and I think everyone is commenting that you need to actually say that to the other family. There’s no other way around it.

    4. Yeah summer!*

      I agree with all the comments that the dropping in mom is wrong/ socially awkward. I do have concerns if there might be extenuating circumstances. I live in a military town and there are lots of hardships with starting a circle.
      But mostly I sure do feel for this 9year old whose mom is trying to drop them places. I’d imagine they are picking up on that rejection too.

      1. Sigh*

        As far as I know there are no circumstances. I asked the mutual teacher in general if she knew an kids who needed a buddy / parent having a hard time we’d be happy to help. I think she is one of those parents who expects to be invited to everything.

    5. Dark Macadamia*

      “Sorry, we already have plans.”

      “Oh, this is actually an arrangement just for our two families but we’d love to make plans with you another day!”

      “My kid loves playing with yours but please don’t show up unannounced like this.”

      “Sorry, I can’t take on another kid without notice.”

      “Um, are you leaving? I can’t watch your kid today so you shouldn’t leave him here unattended.”

    6. Not A Manager*

      It’s hard for me to follow the exact set-up, but it sounds like you are willing to include Third Child in *other* playdates, by invitation, on occasion? If so, then when Third Mom shows up uninvited to this one, I’d say something like, “oh, I’m sorry I can’t invite Third Child to join us today, but how about if all three kids get together next Thursday?”

      I think you should probably only have to uninvite the child once or twice before the message gets through, but in case you do need to keep uninviting, you don’t need to keep offering a new time! That’s a polite first gambit. After once or twice, you can just say, “oh not today but for sure another time soon! I’ll give you a call.”

  21. Bobina*

    Gardening Thread: Its officially summer (or winter) – how are all the green things growing?

    I went on holiday and basically left my plants to the whims of the weather. Some came through pretty okay, some did not. It appears I really cannot grow ranunculus to save my life for some reason. Of about 10 corms I planted, only 2 sprouted and promptly died – the others all seem to have rotted based on the fact that when I emptied the pot there seemed to be nothing in there other than soil. I had the same issue last time I tried, so I’m kind of bummed as the flowers are so pretty!

    1. Falling Diphthong*

      With boundless enthusiasm. I did some weeding yesterday, but my hips inform me that they want today off.

    2. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      My raspberry bushes are giving me a good solid handful every morning :D and my peach tree is still covered with probably a couple hundred little hard green peaches. This is the first time I’ve ever gotten green ones even, so I have no idea how long they take to ripen.

      My husband’s tomatoes are doing much better this year than previous as well, we have probably 9 Romas in various stages of growth and a couple of his heirlooms as well.

    3. Chauncy Gardener*

      I adore ranunculus! But I cannot grow it. I think my area is too cold maybe?
      My peas are in! My husband and I spent an hour shelling peas last night and probably got a gallon. Does anyone know how many peas you have to plant to harvest enough for a year? My mind is boggling at the thought. How did our great grandparents do this?
      My cucumbers do not look great so far, though. I planted them from seed and they seem….unenthusiastic.

    4. Blarg*

      My little balcony garden is thriving. So glad I went with dwarf/bush type determinate tomato plants. I’ve been doing succession planting of some smaller varieties and it’s been working much better than the out of control indeterminates I couldn’t properly support last year.

      A couple that have done well: tiny Tim, micro Tom, cherry falls. Geranium kiss is my biggest but hasn’t gotten over 4’ tall so far.

    5. GoryDetails*

      My self-watering-planter veggies are mostly doing well – the chard, basil, and cucumbers are burgeoning (and it may be possible to have too much chard!), the eggplants and two of the tomato plants are starting to blossom, and the herbs are all well. But most of the pepper plants are struggling; I even replaced one failing-to-thrive seedling with a more robust one. In past years I’ve had bumper crops of peppers, so I’m not sure what’s wrong this year.

    6. The OG Sleepless*

      Heat and drought. Story of my garden right now. I broke down yesterday and started watering my grass. I never water grass-it should be sink or swim as far as I’m concerned. But it has been so dry here, I don’t want my sod that I worked so hard on to die. Most of my impatiens have died or are close to it. Watering the hydrangeas trying to keep them happy.

    7. MeepMeep02*

      We are actually harvesting apricots! I planted an apricot tree last year – a tiny little thing barely taller than my kid. Wasn’t expecting anything of it. It now has so many apricots on it that the branches needed support to not break under the weight. They are delicious.

    8. Sparkly Librarian*

      Seems like it’s past time for all my plants to bear fruit – waiting is hard! Lovely foliage overall, but I’m wondering how long it takes for a watermelon plant to flower and then set fruit. And the cucumber has a couple flowers but hasn’t gotten as tall as I’d’ve expected. Tomatoes got planted late but are starting their lil green golf balls.

      I’m really looking forward to a new friend coming by to hang out in the garden. I think we’ll weed and collect some marigold and calendula flowers, and maybe sow carrots if I get that bed prepped this weekend. Definitely welcome company!

    9. Girasol*

      The snap peas are still borrowing the tomato cages to climb on. They got a slow start, but the tomatoes – and everything else – took off in a series of alternating hot spells and unseasonable rains. So I’ll pick the peas once more and pull them out, try to stuff the overgrown tomatoes into their cages, and plant the pea bed with melons, cukes, and zukes. The whole garden looks like something from the humid midwest instead of the desert west, just exploding. We’ve frozen several pounds of snap peas and I’ll be freezing greens – bok choy and chard – and canning currant syrup soon.

    10. Susie*

      We planted a cherry tree last year and did not expect fruit this year. We were surprised and our tree had a few dozen ripening cherries…until the birds got them. Lesson learned. Plan for netting next year.
      Our greens are amazing this year. We are growing beets for the first time this year and planted them too close to the kale. The leaves of the beets grew super fast and are now shading the kale leaves.
      Hopefully well get cucumbers soon. I’m seeing flowers on the zucchini and little green tomatoes on the tomato plant. I’ve been pretty laid back about pruning, but my gardening goal this year is to be better about it. Fingers crossed our zucchini and tomato harvests are much higher.
      We did put in a drip system this year for the vegetable garden and it has made such a difference. Plants are growing beautifully and our water bill is barely higher than normal.
      I’ll start seeds for our winter vegetable soon. Haven’t been super successful (not because the seeds don’t work, but due to dogs and small children who like to dig and our delay in transferring the starts) with this in past years, so hopefully this year is the year the stars align and the seeds grow into plants that get planted.

    11. pancakes*

      I’m not growing any veg this summer, just taking it easy with herbs and pollinator-friendly flowers, but I’ve got to do something about my rubber plant. I picked it up at Home Depot when I went in for something else a couple years ago because they were near-ish the register and inexpensive, and it was maybe 7” or 8” high? It’s now around 5’ tall and needs to be moved from the windowsill it lives in to a bigger pot on or nearer the floor in another room. Time to read up on pruning options too, I suppose. It’s been repotted a couple times over the years but I don’t want to go too monstrous with its pot.

  22. Refrigerators...*

    My (very old) refrigerator is not working properly (it was here when I moved in, 15 years ago; it’s the old white models freezer on top, no water or ice dispensing). The freezer is creating ice but is not freezing (pre-this problem it was self-defrosting, i.e., no ice, but food was frozen). There is a bit of ice forming in the refrigerator part, and water that drips down from the freezer. I am planning on a kitchen remodel in the fall so would rather not buy a new refrigerator until that happens, when I might have more choices – right now, the space limits the kinds of refrigerators I could get. I cleaned the coils in the back, but that did not seem to make a difference. Anything else I could try?

    1. Run mad; don't faint*

      See if your fridge has a drain tube. If so, it might be clogged which could cause the problems you’re seeing. You can google instructions on cleaning out the tube for your exact model of fridge; I haven’t done it for years and would hate to steer you wrong!

      If there are any vents on the fridge, make sure the wire screen covers are clean. If there’s too much dust on them, that can cause the temperature to fluctuate as well.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        That’s what I thought of also, there’s a tube that runs down the back of the fridge that sometimes gets clogged up. I haven’t done this in a long time, either.

        I just checked and there seems to be YouTube videos on “how to clean a refrigerator drain tube”. I do remember that this is not hard and it did not take me long to do it.

        1. Swisa*

          Yep! Our fridge had a blocked drain tube. Our freezer was still working, but it was regularly leaking water.
          We followed a YouTube tutorial to thaw it with hot water. We also snaked the drain tube as best we could with a long zip tie.
          It took an hour or two, and we had to soak up a lot of water with towels, but that fixed it!

          1. fhqwhgads*

            I have been meaning to do this with our secondary fridge, and I have watched so many youtubes, and we must have some rare unicorn of a model because I cannot for the life of me find the tube I need to clear. So I am jealous of your having done this successfully, but also you’ve reminded me I should dig into that again.

              1. fhqwhgads*

                This is what I’ve been doing but even when I found one (exactly one) video that was supposedly the right model, it definitely wasn’t. The spot where they said it is, it isn’t. So I’m trudging though best hopes for similar models.

    2. Alice*

      I’ve heard that there were big delays in appliances getting shipped and delivered. You may want to do your fridge shopping now in order to be sure of getting it in September when you want it installed.

      1. Peonies*

        Also confirming. We waited about six months for our dishwasher that finally came last summer. And when our garage freezer gave up the ghost a couple of weeks ago, we had to call all over town to find an upright freezer in stock and we were very flexible on brand, color, and size since it was just going in the garage.

      2. Gatomon*

        Yes, I ordered one in April that was “in stock” with Lowe’s and it most definitely was not. After the third rescheduled delivery, I canceled and ordered it straight from the manufacturer, who had it in stock and for less with free delivery. But it still took a few weeks to get here.

        Just narrowing it down to in stock items was difficult, the big box stores are pretty cagey about whether some model actually is orderable or not and the local appliance places had exactly 1 model under $2000 in stock, and it had poor reviews.

        Personally, if the fridge is dead, I’d either order dream fridge now and squeeze it in someplace (even if it’s the garage…) or I’d just get the smallest apartment/dorm fridge and then plan to try and sell it come college season. The feasibility of a small fridge really depends on how many people you’re trying to feed and how accessible the grocery store is though.

      3. AllTheBirds*

        Co-signing. We’re waiting for 3 appliances post-remodel and *hoping* they arrive by December.

        Is there anywhere else you could position a new fridge (garage, for example) until you begin remodeling? Because I wouldn’t wait another second to buy the fridge you’re planning on, especially if it’s in stock somewhere. My SO is a kitchen designer, and they’ve been grabbing in-stock units as soon as contracts are signed, because availability is so bad right now.

    3. rubble*

      how are the seals doing, and does the motor/compressor sound different to how it used to?

      (if it’s the motor you might be stuck unfortunately. and I second ordering a new one asap if you can, because of delays)

    4. ShinyPenny*

      Might need to be recharged with coolant? (Whatever they’re using instead of freon these days.) Years ago my ancient fridge started needed to be recharged every 8 months or so. Kept the fridge going for a couple more years. It was an inexpensive fix (back then, lol).

    5. Seeking second childhood*

      This may sound goofy, but you might try defrosting it. If the vents inside get blocked so that air doesn’t circulate well enough, weird stuff can start to happen. 2ND suggestion, clean all the vents and fans on the back and bottom. My old house, when I cleaned underneath I think I got enough of the former owners dog’s hair to build another dog.

  23. Put the Blame on Edamame*

    Hot weather dinner ideas for a gluten free person please? My usual repertoire of soups and stews not cutting it.

      1. Scout Finch*

        That made me think of a cold bean salad that is a fave of ours. I think it is gluten free (depending on the dressing used). Leaves a lot of room to adjust the beans or veggies to your taste/needs.

        1 can of black eyed peas, rinsed & drained
        1 can of white corn, drained
        1/2 cup died red onion
        1/2 cup diced green pepper
        1/2 cup diced celery
        Mix & cover in your favorite vinaigrette dressing. (I love the lite raspberry walnut from Ken’s).
        Chill before serving.

      2. Texan In Exile*

        I love lentils with chopped veggies and vinaigrette. It’s so fast and easy and packed with protein.

    1. Lady Whistledown*

      Chicken piccata can be made gluten free with cornstarch and freezes beautifully for nights you only want to heat up the microwave. A family member has celiac and I always keep some in the freezer for their visits. Meat and veggies on the grill outside also keeps the inside temps lower.

    2. Cormorannt*

      Personally, I like a big garden salad with some protein (chicken, poached egg, salmon) on top when it’s hot out. Leftover rotisserie chicken works great for that, but I recommend reading the ingredients list carefully. Plain chicken is usually fine, but some seasoned ones have ingredients that contain gluten.

    3. Mrs. Pommeroy*

      Gluten-free tortilla wraps that you can stuff with whatever you fancy – fridge-cool vegetables are a favourite here in summer – and can basically have any time of the day without feeling stuffed after eating.
      Also, cold fruit soups? Refreshing, sweet, can be thickened a bit to keep you full for longer… Lots of recipes out there on the internets!

    4. AcademiaNut*

      Taco salad – cook ground meat with taco seasonings, mix the warm taco meat with crumbled Doritos (some types are gluten free) and grated cheese, add lettuce/tomato/avocado/cucumber/pickled jalapenos/red onion and mix, top with hot sauce.

      Bean and fish salad – lettuce greens, white beans, cherry tomatoes, cucumber, red onion, canned sardines or tuna, capers or olives, dress with lemon juice and olive oil.

      Rice salad – Cook long grain rice in boiling water. Take peas, corn, diced celery and onion, diced tomato and bell pepper, chopped cold meat (rotisserie chicken works well, so does canned tuna), maybe some crumbled feta cheese, some olives, and dress with a vinagrette dressing. You can vary the ingredients quite a lot.

      For hot weather Korean mul naengmyeon is fantastic, if you can get pure buckwheat noodles (ie gluten free). Cold beef broth (as in bits of ice in it), flavoured with a bit of kimchi juice, served over cold buckwheat noodles with some sliced cucumber and Asian pear, sliced cold beef, and half a hard-boiled egg.

    5. Falling Diphthong*

      Shrimp salad:
      1 lb cooked shrimp
      1-2 avocados
      bunch of cilantro
      juice of 1 lime, mostly to prevent discoloration

      Chop, toss, season with salt.

    6. Chauncy Gardener*

      There’s a watermelon and feta salad recipe on the internet that is awesome! I think it’s been mentioned here as well with many accolades.
      Also, any kind of salad with grilled chicken or other protein either mixed in or on the side. We’re not GF, but we sure eat like it at this time of year.

    7. cat socks*

      The blog Iowa Girl Eats has all gluten free recipes. She has some good salad recipes for the summer.

    8. yesterday's child*

      buckwheat crepes with savory filling: egg and cheese, or egg ham and cheese, mushrooms, peppers. Add a side salad. and a buckwheat crepe with chocolate and banana for dessert.
      Buckwheat is a cousin of rhubarb, and contains no gluten.

    9. slmrlln*

      Have you tried green gazpacho? Some of the recipes call for a slice of bread, but it works just fine if you leave it out.

    10. Batgirl*

      My favourites are:
      – Baked sweet potato with cold egg mayonnaise.
      – Feta and olive Spanish omelette
      – Chicken Caesar salad with nicely griddled chicken and fancy anchovies.
      – Pizza! I don’t know how but it never seems too hot for summer.
      – Mackerel pate open sandwiches on toasted rye bread.

    11. Nameless in Customer Service*

      Potato salad. Potatoes have a large specific heat capacity — hot potatoes warm one up, and cold potatoes cool one down. And the other ingredients are very variable according to your taste.

      Also, inspired by your user name — if you’re tired of regular hummus, edamame make a really delicious hummus.

    12. Girasol*

      A stir fry with chicken, beef, pork, or shrimp and a lot of fresh veggies from the garden or the farmer’s market.

    13. Gatomon*

      If it’s the heat from cooking and not the food itself getting you, Tinkyada makes a rice pasta that you can cook in an energy-efficient way. Boil the water, add noodles, stir for ~2 minutes and then turn off the heat, cover and set aside for ~17 minutes. Turns out delicious and even reheats well, doesn’t stick to the pan. Since you can turn off the burner, it’ll make less heat in the kitchen.

      1. Esprit de l'escalier*

        Seconding Tinkyada pasta. I especially like their spinach spaghetti and fusilli, which I’ve been ordering from Vitacost as I can’t find them locally.

    14. AllTheBirds*

      Brown rice, cooked
      Black, pinto, cannellini and/or garbanzo beans
      Can of corn
      One or two mangoes, diced
      Cilantro
      Red onion
      Cumin
      Salt and pepper

      Cook rice. Drain beans and corn. Mix it all together!

  24. IrishEm*

    I’m playing my first TTRPG today! I am excite!
    Trying desperately to come up with a good character but I keep looking for pun opportunities instead of an actual character.

    1. Just a different redhead*

      Sounds like a potentially very fun rp personality for your character ^_^ It may sound silly, but see if you can put together a character based on as many puns as you can, and make it part of their background. (Circumstances arose during one campaign I was in where I wrote up several jokes, poems, and a song for a character…. They weren’t a bard XD )

    2. Nicki Name*

      What’s wrong with pun opportunities? Run with it! You’ll probably wind up with a truly unique character.

      (In Pathfinder there’s even a class specialization built specifically around making witty remarks…)

  25. Scout Finch*

    In one of the update posts this week, Egmont Apostrophe mentioned something about ads for condoms in Chicago (I think in the “lie on res” update).
    That made me think of one of the cutest ads I have ever seen. Search for “Zazoo condoms ad I want the sweeties”. (I don’t want to make AG moderate, so will not post actual link to the youtubes).

    1. Lirael*

      I don’t think that’s a cute ad tbh. The idea that when your kid is dealing with big emotions (as tantrums usually are) you wish they didn’t exist is a bit horrible to me.

      1. Scout Finch*

        OK. I will stick to the employment related posts in the future.

        As a former tantrum thrower, I assure you that my single, (untreated) mentally ill, chronically underemployed mother wished I did not exist several times. Either of because of or in spite of her issues, she raised 2 independent children to be contributing members of society.

        1. Lirael*

          Single mother here with plenty of mental health diagnoses. I’ve never once wished my kid didn’t exist.

          For what it’s worth, though, I do go around telling people that unless they want kids very very much, they shouldn’t have them, because it’s haaaaaaard. Also my mental health got a hell of a lot worse in my quest to become a mother.

          YMMV obviously. This ad… it just makes me extremely uncomfortable.

  26. Lady Whistledown*

    Canadian immigration!

    With the caveat that we are (extremely) well aware that Americans are not always welcome abroad, we are strongly considering having my husband use his GI Bill to get a Master’s or PhD in Canada. I work for a global Fortune 500 company with multiple offices in Canada and feel reasonably confident that I could request a transfer.

    Montreal is preferable though I know I’d need to dust off my language skills to make that work.

    Am I crazy? With a good lawyer and some planning it seems possible but I’d be curious for the commentariat’s take on how hard/expensive/slow this process could be.

    1. Ontariariario*

      There are piles of english neighbourhoods in Montreal.

      There is a points system, so the best place to start is to see how you score.

        1. Lady Whistledown*

          If you had to put a guess on it, what level of French would be needed? I enjoy languages but they’re harder for my spouse.

          1. Teapot Translator*

            Before the new law, I would have said, “Eh, make an effort, it’s always appreciated. If languages are hard for your husband, he’ll be mostly ok, lots of anglos and there are mainly anglo neighborhoods in Montreal.”
            But, I don’t know what’s the impact of the new law.
            But! Montreal is a really nice city. The current mayor is trying to make it more bike friendly. All the outdoor activities have started again after two years. Vaccination was a success here (high rate of vaccination). Really good metro system.

            1. LadyWhistledown*

              i was able to spend a week in Montreal previously and I have a favorite coworker who lives there – definitely an impressive city!!

          2. Mephyle*

            What level of French is required? Over the last few years, it has made the news that several francophones from France failed Quebec’s test. (See, for example, an April 6, 2021 article in The Guardian, titled “Pardon my French: dismay in Quebec as francophones fail language test.)

            1. Glomarization, Esq.*

              Link in reply, or use search terms: quebec immigration selection conditions knowledge of french

            2. Glomarization, Esq.*

              But to clarify, the “new law” referenced here is about what language is required for new arrivals to receive government services. The language testing requirements for permanent residency are a different animal.

      1. Cormorannt*

        I strongly considered moving to Quebec City in 2015, but I am a fluent (non-native) French speaker and I would have qualified for a NAFTA visa due to my profession. Not sure how things have changed with the USMCA but at the time certain professions would qualify you for a visa as long as you had a job in that profession. The process was pretty streamlined and not difficult, but the list of professions was pretty specific. The normal visa process involves a point system and I would likely not have qualified on points. My language skills might have gotten me a Quebec special exemption. Quebec has (had?) some special immigration rules due to language and their massive demographic crisis. That would have required passing a French language exam and some other hoops, iirc. I never ended up moving so I can’t say how hard the actual process would have been.

      2. Lady Whistledown*

        Good to know about the neighborhoods! I grew up bilingual with Spanish so I am hoping the wiring in my brain will let me add French into the mix. I’ve done some preliminary research (and plan to contact a lawyer) but thank you for the tip to look for the points scale!

      3. Yet Another Unemployed Librarian*

        Your username makes me laugh, my son just learned “The Blackfly Song” in school and goes around singing “in north Ontar-I-O-I-O” all the time!

        I had another comment but it may have gotten eaten by the system.

    2. Valancy Snaith*

      Montreal is very accessible for anglophones.

      Are you familiar at all with the basics of immigrating to Canada? How desirable of applicants would you be? It’s fairly easy to attain a student visa, but be sure to check that the GI Bill will be available to an international school and that it will cover the full amount of international tuition, which can be many many thousands of dollars.

      But if you want to stay permanently after schooling, that’s a different thing entirely. You’ll have to apply for permanent residency, which is a long and arduous process that can be expensive, and currently the immigration system is very, very backed up. People have been waiting multiple years for PR decisions. It’s a slow process, can be expensive, and stressful.

      1. strawberry time!*

        To be fair, waiting multiple years for a PR decision is historically more a norm than an exception. About 6 years ago the gov’t cut down processing times, but 15, 20 and 30 years ago a 3 year wait was standard, and 5 years was certainly not far out of “normal”. My SO had to wait about 4 years, he met all the points, and had been living in Canada for years under various student/work visas. It’s just a long process.

    3. Marny*

      My husband and I moved to Montreal for a year. If you can get a work visa through your company, you’ll be in good shape. We only stayed a year because the government had even started processing my husband’s residency application with those 12 months (I’m a Canadian citizen, he isn’t). I’m happy to answer any questions you have— there are lots of little complications you may not know about. Also you’ll be fine only speaking English so long as you plan to stay working for an American company. Plus there are lots of free and low-cost government-run French classes.

    4. yesterday's child*

      It sounds like you want to transfer and your husband wants a student visa. That doesn’t sound that complicated. For Montreal – there are two english language uni’s there: McGill and Concordia. Do these offer the program your husband wishes to persue? I don’t know how long it would take your company to transfer you, but getting a student visa should take less than 6 months (* regular times. Apparently the visa processing is backed up now, and I don’t know who has priority). My company recently sponsored someone for a work visa (so, different from your situation), and it took about 6 months longer than planned. Maybe apply for school this fall, with a 2023 fall entry?

    5. Yet Another Unemployed Librarian*

      I am American and my husband is Canadian; we moved to Canada when he was transferred within his company. It probably will be slow, yes – it took me over a year to get my permanent residency and the lawyers described our case as a “slam dunk” since we are the nuclear family of a citizen. My visitor record (document that let me stay in Canada while waiting for the PR) specifically stated that I wasn’t allowed to attend any educational programs, so you’ll want to make sure your husband has… not that.

      You definitely need a lawyer; if your company has people transferring between countries regularly, see if they provide any help. We got all the lawyer stuff plus taxes done for both countries for the first year from the company and that was hugely valuable in both money and time/effort. You probably already know this but you do have to continue filing taxes in the US; there’s a treaty about not paying twice but filing can still be a pain.

      Things that might make sense to do in advance to make things easier later:
      – Make sure your passports are current and you have all your other documents – birth certificates, etc.
      – Simplify your US financial situation as much as possible (if this makes sense, I mean, don’t do anything you’d regret if you don’t end up moving). For example, before we moved we had to roll over IRA accounts that we had at a local credit union into accounts at a large national institution; technically the credit union had phone service and such but realistically we weren’t going to be able to access it. The fewer accounts you have the easier taxes – and just managing them – will be.
      – If you have a car consider what your plan for it is. Apparently it’s a huge and expensive pain to import a car (we didn’t do it as ours was not worth it).

        1. Blueprint blues*

          Can I ask what the pain was? I imported my car into Canada 20 years ago and it wasn’t that hard. Have some paperwork at the border, then take it to a shop to get daytime running lights and emissions taken care of. I’m curious if it’s harder now.

          1. Glomarization, Esq.*

            My clients have hired an import broker to handle the paperwork (search terms: car import broker Canada). There will be a tax, and a duty if the owner of the car is not a Canadian citizen. Depending on the year, make, and model you have to get a recall certificate, and you may pay an extra luxury fee. Honestly I’d always suggest just hiring a broker, who will be up on the newest rules and has experience with the required paperwork.

            Once the car is in Canada, yeah, you have to get the car “Canadianized” at a federal inspection centre: headlights, mph to kph, a few other modifications, and a Statement of Compliance with Canadian regulations.

    6. Glomarization, Esq.*

      If your husband’s GI Bill will pay for schooling in Canada, and if your company will transfer you to Canada, then there will be logistics dealing with IRCC, but it won’t be hard. For housing, you can contact a Realtor in your destination city to help find something and you may have to exchange paperwork via FedEx or e-signature. Note that everybody in the province of Québec tends to move on July 1 so it can be a challenge to find a lease that does not run July 1 to June 30.

      If your company will do your work permit paperwork, then that permit won’t be expensive for you. However, you should hire a Canadian immigration lawyer for assistance with your husband’s study permit, because there can be a couple of pitfalls in the paperwork that aren’t obvious if you don’t know what IRCC is looking at. Ballpark, an immigration lawyer may charge $1,500 to $2,500 plus IRCC fees (“disbursements”, search terms: IRCC fee list) plus tax, in Canadian dollars.

      Work permits are more complicated and can involve more than one application, so it’s kind of impossible to give even a ballpark figure for what you may pay a lawyer. Hopefully your employer can handle it. Or you can (have your lawyer) apply for an open work permit as the spouse of someone seeking a study permit.

      As for timelines, for applications made from the U.S., study permits are taking 12 weeks for processing and work permits are taking 10 weeks (use search terms: IRCC check processing times).

  27. Pumpernickel Princess*

    Shirts recommendation request!

    Where can I find a good selection of floral button downs? Fresh, modern, bold prints and a less fitted cut would be great. I’m checking out Wildfang and love some of their stuff, but it’s a little pricy for my budget. Any other brands or makers come to mind?

    Brands I already like for reference: Umvvelt (all ocean themed prints!), Warp Weft (a New England based maker with nature themed fabrics), Toad&Co, Prana.

    1. Turtle Dove*

      I like JCPenney for short-sleeved, all-cotton, button-down women’s shirts that are floral. I used to find that kind of shirt at Eddie Bauer too. For long-sleeved shirts, I prefer Talbots. Their prices are higher, but they sometimes have sales.

    2. Marcia*

      J Crew Mens has great short sleeve floral button ups (and other patterns)! There’s the factory/outlet stores which usually have a sale going too. I also have some good ones from Target’s Goodfellow line.

    3. Leopard Dot*

      Boden’s patterns definitely sound up your alley. They’re a bit expensive, but they always have a few options in the sale section.

    4. Fern Sea*

      A surprisingly good and durable option is Target’s ridiculously cheap Goodfellow brand. I’m an AFAB enby who’s quite round, and their men’s button-ups are generous enough to fit my unusual frame.

      Depending on your size and budget, Mokuyobi’s got great fun prints for femmes and mascs, and Trash Queen is an awesome indie designer who’s plus-size friendly and gender neutral.

  28. Alice*

    So I finally got up the gumption to see a clinician about being evaluating for ADHD as an adult. Turns out that this clinician “almost never diagnoses ADHD in adults, never if they hold a job.” Well, we didn’t really need to do the appointment then, did we….

    They said, “You’re doing fine; it sounds like you do have some kind of slight inanattentional issue, but DEFINITELY not ADHD; try doing some CBT workbooks.”
    I am 38 and not infrequently pulling all-nighters in a profession where that is NOT normal to make up for delays caused by my procrastination/executive function/task initiation/laziness/lack of focus, and you think workbooks are going to solve my problem? I have already read and tried more than 20 organizational self-help books; they take up more than a hole shelf on my bookcase. None of them offered the one tip that works really well for me: when inspiration aka focus aka motivation for project X strikes, DO NOT STOP – even if that means working outside of normal hours, or into the night, or when you were supposed to go to dinner with friends or choir rehearsal. As you can imagine, that’s a coping strategy that allows me to get a lot of great org done, but at the cost of work-life balance and social support.

    This was my first time seeking behavioral health help and it felt useless. And so complex! The process of finding someone who took my insurance and was taking new clients, and making an appointment via the scheduler who never answered the phone in *six* rounds of voicemails – forget the clinician’s “having a job means you don’t have ADHD” – they could say, successfully making an appointment proves you don’t have executive function problems.

    Thanks for letting me grouse anonymously. I don’t want to talk about this with friends because I don’t want to tell people in my real life about these issues. (Although they know already, it’s a running joke that I am often frantically trying to find my keys or finish my project or whatever.)

    1. Anon for this*

      I am so sorry to hear this. Could your GP work on this with you? My GP prescribed me Ritalin a year ago to see if it has effect on my executive functioning. (Unsurprisingly it took me a year to overcome supply chain and functioning issues; I took the first pill 5 minutes ago. A bit nervous tbh.)

      Could you just do what you would do if you had a official diagnosis, or do you need it officially for some reason?

        1. Virtual Light*

          Thank you for checking in! It turns out it’s Adderall XR not Ritalin (I got a generic and didn’t know which it was).

          It’s… amazing. I feel able to get stuff done without having the same need to push and remonstrate with myself and trick myself. I am so angry that I spent so much of my life with my brain chemistry messed up when there was a solution. Ironically it helps that I just (skim)-read Spark, about exercise and the brain. The neurochemistry stuff was a bit more detailed than I could handle, but i was like “OH. THIS IS A BRAIN PROBLEM, NOT A PERSONALITY PROBLEM.”

          I have often found your posts helpful in understanding ADHD, thank you!

          OP, I can empathize with how hard it was for you to make that appointment. Please keep taking baby steps to get the care you deserve.

    2. Lizzie (with the deaf cat)*

      Hi Alice, that sounds both disappointing and intensely annoying! Do you know anyone who has been diagnosed as an adult, who could tell you how they found a competent clinician? I am sorry you dealt with one with such a narrow perspective. He should specify that he only diagnoses children in whatever info he details on his website/whatever.
      There’s often people on this site who say “I have just been diagnosed as an adult”, here’s hoping someone can weigh in with some practical ideas for your search. At the very least, I guess you now have another filter question to ask of any prospective clinician – do they diagnose adults. I hope you will find a helpful person soon! Best wishes, Lizzie

    3. AnonAgain*

      I was diagnosed as an adult. My psychiatrist sent me to a psychologist who worked with adults. Diagnosis included a battery of tests (it wasn’t just an office chat). So I second finding the right clinician.

    4. RagingADHD*

      Yep, find a new doc. My GP told me the exact opposite: that they frequently see kids whose parents *think* the kid has ADHD when they don’t. But that they had never yet seen an adult patient say they suspected ADHD and be wrong.

      My initial DX was from a psychologist that my GP referred me to, and it was a clinical interview, no testing. In the US, there are strong differences of opinion about testing. My original psychologist considered testing useless, because one of the hallmarks of ADHD is the variability of symptoms. You could get a testing snapshot on one day with one result, and a completely different picture the next day or next week.

      Other clinicians consider testing very reliable and won’t DX without it.

      Good luck! I hope you get some help soon!

    5. Rainy Day*

      No advice, just want to sympathize with how hard it can be to get a doctor appointment, and how frustrating it is to have doctors dismiss your issues. It really sucks to invest time and money into trying to get help, only to not get help. (Especially when you go to the appointment prepared with a list of all the things you’ve tried yourself that didn’t work…if you can’t fix something yourself, obviously there is an issue that needs professional help!)

    6. ecnaseener*

      It’s frustratingly common for clinicians to just not believe in adult ADHD, despite piles of evidence that it’s not always diagnosed in children and most children don’t grow out of it. Try looking for providers that explicitly state they work in adult ADHD (doesn’t have to be their main specialty, but if they don’t list it as a thing they can help with, assume they can’t/won’t)

      1. Irish Teacher*

        That makes no sense whatsoever – the clinicians’ view, I mean. Given that when I was a kid in the ’80s and ’90s, ADHD was virtually unheard of. I doubt any of my classmates would have been diagnosed with it and…surely some of them had it.

        1. fhqwhgads*

          That’s weird. When I was a kid in the 80s and 90s every single class I was in for elementary and middle school had at least one, but usually 2-3 kids with definitely diagnosed ADHD. I know because they’d get sent to the nurses office like clockwork to have their ADHD medication dispensed to them.

          1. Irish Teacher*

            Ireland is rather behind when it comes to special educational needs. When I was in school, the only help available in schools was really the “remedial reading teacher” in primary schools, who would take the kids who were struggling for reading out for an hour or something each day and they would very obviously get easier spellings than the rest of us for their spelling test on Friday. Beyond that, special needs did not exist, except for stuff like Downs’ Syndrome where kids were placed in special schools. Just googled and it was recognised in 2000 in the UK. Can’t find a date for Ireland, but…I would assume it would be later.

    7. Spessartine*

      Check out ADHD Online. I just learned of it from the adhdwomen subreddit and am considering taking the assessment myself–it seems to be legit, and is (in relative terms when talking about health care) inexpensive. Fear of being dismissed has kept me from seeking a diagnosis before now (I’m 33 and hold down a full time job, so I’m right with you there), but I feel like it’s getting worse as I get older. The traditional route just seems so daunting and discouraging. I also hate/fear making phone calls and have no insurance. Great combo!

      1. RagingADHD*

        For you and OP: make sure to check their list of states where they provide treatment, and if they can’t prescribe in your state check with your GP to see if they will prescribe/ manage ADHD meds based on the online diagnosis.

        I am very leery of how oversimplified that website’s pitch is. A record of diagnosis from them is not going to guarantee treatment from your local doctor.

        My GP is very ADHD-friendly but stopped managing meds a while back, because she needed to refocus her practice and keep appointments available for sick people instead of routine check-ins for healthy people every 3 months. So I had to find a psych practice anyway, and some of them require re-confirming your diagnosis with their own assessment before they will prescribe.

        It could be totally fine and legit and still not wind up being useful, so make sure it will work before you drop money on it.

        1. Spessartine*

          I don’t have a GP so that was the first thing I checked. I live in Colorado where they are able to write prescriptions, although unfortunately no teletherapy. Online reviews are mixed and I haven’t decided whether or not to give it a go yet!

    8. Niev*

      I relate to so much of this. I was diagnosed at 25. By that time I had absorbed a slew of self-books, amassed a collection of coping mechanisms and workarounds, and accrued some not-insignificant baggage about my professional competence and abilities. I have also worked all-nighters at a job that did not require it, lost out on innumerable opportunities, and also relate to “I am motivated now so MUST KEEP WORKING FOR AS LONG AS POSSIBLE.”

      It is hard to get psychiatrist and therapist appointments. There are a lot of helpful suggestions here. Ask your regular doctor for psychiatrist recommendations as well. Getting diagnosed and starting medication unequivocally changed my life. So I urge you to keep trying, because it’s worth it.

    9. not my regular name*

      Argh. I had pretty much the same situation, but when I wanted to be evaluated for autism as an adult because I was having trouble holding down a job for more than a year or two at a time. I went to the neuropsych that my insurance was willing to pay for, and after an entire summer of appointments and a great deal of paperwork, he said that I definitely didn’t have autism because I’d ever held down a job. (Even if I’d been let go from several jobs for behavioral reasons! Just being able to acquire a job in the first place was enough, apparently.)

      He then sent my GP a detailed report that he didn’t send to me directly that said that I was bipolar and cited things like “dressing inappropriately for the weather” because I was always wearing long sleeves to appointments. Thankfully, my GP told me about this rather than just adding it to my file uncritically and specifically pointed that one out as crap since she knew that I wear long sleeved UPF 50 clothing all summer to manage melanoma risk factors. (Something this fancy neuropsych did not think to ask me about.) There were other examples too, that’s just the most egregious because it could have been explained by a simple question. We eventually decided to just ignore his entire report because it was pretty much just his opinions, many of which were based on not liking my (non-femme, gender non-conforming) appearance rather than any actual diagnostic tools.

      So anyway, I’m sorry that happened to you and it’s just a thing that happens sometimes, apparently. It frustrates me immensely that doctors can just have whatever non-standard opinions they want about specific mental health conditions and take patients for evals without first disclosing those opinions.

      1. Zweisatz*

        Well my sympathy to you too! What a shitty way to treat you as a patient. I’m glad to hear that your GP is on your side though, that’s very valuable.

    10. Alice*

      Thanks to all who replied, your info and experiences are really helpful to read. I appreciate all of you!

      1. consuela*

        Just here to echo the encouragement to find a neuropsychologist who will truly listen to your experiences, work with you to understand what’s going on, and give you a thoughtful second opinion. I got diagnosed with ADHD last year at age 42, and it’s been life-changing. Keep listening to your gut, and don’t give up until you feel you have an evaluation from someone who’s heard you.

        I think asking all care providers you already see is great; I also asked my friends who are social workers, doctors, nurses for suggestions. (I realize this may not be for you if you don’t want to talk about this publically). A friend of a friend had recently been diagnosed, and I got the name of where she went. They didn’t have spots, so I asked them for recs. I contacted all those recs at once and when they didn’t have spots, asked *them* for recs (I had a spreadsheet). I ended up with an appt 3 months out at a clinic 1.5 hrs drive from my house. (Thank goodness for friends who lend their cars.)

        Same as above — the actual screening was a conversation followed by a long battery of tests. Once I had the DX, I got meds. It was life-changing, and for that reason alone, I encourage you to keep your head up and keep pushing to get a second opinion, in case it *is* ADHD you’re dealing with and meds are something you’d like to explore.

        I also asked and got recs from the neuropsych for ADHD coaching. I did a few sessions (all I could afford) to get some basic skills with the specific goal of not failing a huge project I’d been struggling with (my doctorate!). I know many coaches work with people who aren’t formally diagnosed, so (depending of course on money, time, and all the other factors), maybe this would be helpful support now, even while you are still pursuing a second opinion re formal diagnosis.

        You mentioned self-help books that don’t work. YMMV, obviously, but I’ve valued resources aimed at ADHD adults. Faves include Marla Cummins’ podcast; the “Smart but Scattered” book (for children but I learned so much for myself); and “AHDH 2.0” by Hallowell and Ratey.

        Non-med things that are hugely helpful to general de-fuzzing of the brain are: no sugar; no food coloring; strategic use of caffiene (small amounts help me focus); exercise daily; same work routine every. single. time.; pomodoro method; reduce decisions (e.g., I buy shirts in bulk) and life admin demands where I can. I also, uh, changed jobs to one that better suited my brain, and it has been amazing.

        Maybe waaaay too much info here, sorry if so! I felt so lonely and lost during my diagnosis process, so am offering all these words here basically as perspective — you’re not alone, and your experiences are worthy of being listened to and not dismissed. Things can get better — whatever that means for you.

    11. MissCoco*

      I’m so sorry, that’s really frustrating and also completely wrong.
      I don’t carry a diagnosis because the psychologist who evaluated me in college said “you meet criteria based on testing, but your grades are too good”, which was SO demoralizing and invalidating.

      My partner was diagnosed as an adult, and he found that just going through private pay was the fastest and easiest way to handle the diagnosis and sort out treatment. Obviously, region, # of visits, and probably 15 other criteria will play into this, but for him it was around $2000 for the first year with multiple diagnostic appointments and a fair amount of medication troubleshooting

  29. Anonymous Cat*

    Hi everyone! Does anyone have any suggestions on how to get tight stomach muscles/stomachaches to stop?

    I’m not asking for medical advice! More like stress relief.

    I feel anxiety in my stomach and I’m trying to get it to relax. I’ve tried hot pads, tea, paced breathing, and paired relaxation exercises. I’m about to go for a walk.

    Anyone have any suggestions for what else to try?

    1. kina lillet*

      How about antacids/pepto bismol? I’m not sure I’ve felt the tight stomach muscles sensation you describe, but I’ve certainly found that a anxiety-like stomach ache fuels my anxiety in a vicious circle.

      1. Anonymous Cat*

        I actually asked a pharmacist about OTC for this! But she seemed to think that if it’s caused by stress and not by a biological ailment that Pepto wouldn’t help.

        1. kina lillet*

          True enough, but if it helps remove any of the sensation, it might help cut the vicious circle. On the other hand, pepto is so gross.

        2. Mephyle*

          That was a bizarre answer from the pharmacist. Stress can definitely aggravate stomach acid secretion, even on a small time scale (think of something stressful, immediately feel the burn of a squirt of acid) and an antacid (e.g. Melox) can relieve that on a similar short-term time scale.

        3. Chauncy Gardener*

          I totally agree with the above comments. Prilosec or tums can really help. I once thought I was having a heart attack and it was just acid! Acid is an amazing substance. Also, sweet potatoes and squash can really help an acid stomach
          Can you do some yoga perhaps? Hot bath?
          Good luck and I hope you feel better quickly!!

    2. Just a different redhead*

      I’ll just throw out some things that have helped me when experiencing a similar feeling.
      If you haven’t already tried it / don’t have a reason not to, might you consider drinking peppermint water?
      You did already say paced breathing, but maybe you could also try singing or humming, especially something you find peaceful?
      You said relaxation exercises, but since I’m not sure what kind, I’d list sometimes the on-purpose tense-then-relax works so maybe a set of sit-ups and then lay flat for several minutes?
      Maybe hugging something soft and focusing on the hands’ sensory input would make your body focus on that instead of tensing stomach?
      I hope that you feel better asap either way.

      1. Anonymous Cat*

        Hi! Tense-then-relax exercises is actually what paired relaxation exercises are so you nailed that one!
        Sometimes they help but so far not today.

        I’ll try the sensory input one.

    3. Yeah summer!*

      Mirilax if that’s a need.
      And yoga. Restorative yoga is great. Or back bend postures-Cobra or bow. And twist postures-reclined spinal twist, triangle, extended side angle. And garland.

      1. Anonymous Cat*

        Are those poses good for relaxing tight stomach muscles or for relaxing in general?

        1. Yeah summer!*

          There are specific restorative postures that target stomach but largely just generally relaxing.
          The twist and back bend postures specifically target the abdominal area. For sitting professions, there is a lot of time spent kind of folded. The anterior muscles shorten. So stretching anterior muscles and strengthening posterior muscles helps to counter that.

    4. RagingADHD*

      What kind of tea?

      Peppermint and ginger are both good for the stomach. Chamomile is relaxing. I’d recommend linden leaf (tilo) for even deeper relaxation than chamomile. I usually find it in the grocery store with the Goya brand spices instead of with the teas.

    5. Ranon*

      Blowing bubbles (like the kids bubble solution with wand kind) is another option for controlled breathing that has some fun to it too. If water calms you down you can do it in the shower, the air currents do fun things

    6. Rainy Day*

      Look up magnesium supplements (drink powders, gummies, tablets, etc.). They’re supposed to help with stress/anxiety. (I take it in gummy form because my doctor told me I’m slightly deficient in magnesium, but I’ve read a lot of reviews where people said it helped them relax and be less stressed.)

    7. Run mad; don't faint*

      When you’re out for your walk, concentrate on what you hear, what you see, what you smell and what you feel (like rain falling, wind blowing, the sun hot on your back). List some of these things as you go. It will help you to focus on the here and now, which can help circumvent anxiety. Is there a meditation labyrinth anywhere near you? I find walking one and stopping to meditate in the center relaxing. You can focus on the steps you’re taking as you go, or your breathing or what you see, hear or feel.

      If those ideas don’t work, put on some good music and dance around a little. Or go for a jog. Do some form of exercise, enough to get your endorphins up, and that could help to relax you.

    8. Wordnerd*

      I always feel my anxiety in my stomach, and I want to second someone else’s suggestion to hug a big stuffed animal as a way to put that energy somewhere else.
      I also find just a distraction helpful? Maybe a video game like Stardew Valley that is low-stress but requires a lot of attention?
      (Plus, of course, therapy if the anxiety is becoming a problem in your life!)

    9. star*

      Search for Adam Hocke yoga Love your belly.
      It’s a yoga session (podcast format) where you lie face down over a bolster/rolled blanket. As someone whose stress also goes to their belly, I find the sensation of welcoming that into the belly space really helps directly.

    10. Tib*

      So your actual stomach or your abdominal muscles? What about working on your pelvic floor muscles? Specifically releasing vs clenching? Everything is connected, and you might find the tension starts there. My pelvic floor PT told me to imagine an elevator going down to help the muscles relax.

      You could also try a full body scan exercise when you have stomach anxiety to see what else is tense. Maybe if you target that, your stomach issues will also lessen.

    11. bratschegirl*

      Massage therapy can target any muscle group that you ask the practitioner to focus on, including abdominals. You will also need to learn to interrupt the cycle of repeatedly tightening them, but getting in there and loosening things up, and then knowing what that feels like, is a place to start. You’ll likely need multiple sessions. And then, at random times during the day, just check in with yourself and see what you might be holding and try to let it go.

    12. Chaordic One*

      If it is just stomach aches and you aren’t having any related problems (such as cramps, constipation or diarrhea) exercise can help. Certainly a long brisk walk would help, but there are also other things like cycling or swimming or jogging. Also making sure you stay hydrated. In addition to just consuming fluids, you might want to try a sports drink to keep your electrolytes up.

      1. Katy*

        Seconding the recommendation of swimming. It strengthens your core, exercises your whole body and is really good for anxiety.

    13. Swisa*

      When I get really keyed up, sometimes taking a bath with nice bath salts is what helps the most. I really like Dr teal’s melatonin salts.

      And taking a walk, without electronic devices.

    14. ana_hardy*

      I have this! Still a work in progress but I find I am not in pain if exercising, plus I have prescription medication from my GP to take if necessary. I have also given up alcohol.

  30. Anon for this*

    Has anyone here successfully moved to Canada? What is the ideal order for following the recommended steps for successfully moving there? What should be done first? I’ve been wanting to move for a few years, and have been steadily making progress in building skills that should be in high demand there, but I’m not sure what the first step in actually… doing it… is…

    1. Marny*

      I did this, but I have dual citizenship. If you’re trying to go as a “skilled worker”, your best bet is finding a company that would sponsor you to work there. It’s arduous because many companies don’t want to go through the visa process if they can just hire a Canadian. However if you get a job with an American country that will transfer you, it’s a bit more likely to be more smooth. You really should speak with a Canadian immigration lawyer about your options.

      1. Valancy Snaith*

        Have you looked at Citizenship and Immigration Canada at all? That will be your starting point for determining whether you are eligible, what stream you would fall into, and what the process is like.

    2. yesterday's child*

      it depends who you are and what you mean by “moving”. If you’re an American (and maybe Mexican), get skills that will allow you to find a job with a nafta visa. After a while, you can apply for permanent residence. If you’re a citizen of Australia/NZ and some European countries, you can get a working holiday visa. Otherwise, if you want permanent residence immediately, there’s a points system. Immigration Canada has more info.

      1. LZ*

        I immigrated to Canada in 2005 with a NAFTA visa, but in order to get the visa I had to have a live job offer in one of the designated NAFTA occupation categories with a Canadian company. The list of NAFTA occupations is fairly long, but the list of ones that an American can get hired for *prior* to moving to Canada is probably pretty short. In 2005 oil was booming and geologists were in short supply, I’m not sure I could get hired the same way now in 2022.

    3. CatPerson*

      I understand from friends who want to move there that they have a very limited number of people they will allow in unless you have a job lined up in the country.

    4. Glomarization, Esq.*

      What “recommended steps” are you referring to? There is a number of different streams and subcategories as well as province-specific streams. Each one has its own requirements and preferences, and some are more straightforward (or complicated) than others. If you’re feeling overwhelmed by the options and procedure, you might want to schedule a 1-hour consultation with a Canadian immigration lawyer to help you sort it all out. You wouldn’t want to spend years and $$ trying to meet qualifications and then find that you should have started trying something else a few years ago.

  31. Saturday Anon*

    How do you keep going when everything seems hopeless?
    My job is difficult and my family situation is hard right now. And of course the world seems to be getting worse.

    What do you do to keep going? I’m finding it hard to keep putting one foot in front of the other.

    1. Saturday Anon*

      Also feeling very lonely because I’m single and might be forever. How do people cope?

      1. fueled by coffee*

        You might be forever… or you also might not. Forever is a long time.

        Therapy is a good place to start for techniques on how to reframe your thought process so everything doesn’t look so hopeless, and to help cope with the stress from work/family. You don’t need to be in the throes of clinical depression to get help, and if it’s affordable for you (or if you can find someone who does sliding scale therapy), I would highly recommend that.

      2. Irish Teacher*

        Sorry to hear you are going through all that. I will say that being single does not necessarily mean being lonely (and having a partner does not necessarily mean NOT being lonely). I would say cultivate friendships. If you have friends or family members with small children, maybe offer to babysit. Most people will be grateful for a bit of help and children can certainly help with loneliness.

      3. Lirael*

        …might be forever – I feel you there! It’s nearly 5 years since I left my ex and for the first couple of years I was very much la la la “never is a long time, OF COURSE I won’t be alone forever”…. and now covid and the state of the world have happened and it’s well over 5 years since I slept with anyone and I’ve literally been on one date in that time that didn’t go well. While I still think it’s unlikely that I’ll be alone forever, “forever” and “for the foreseeable future” look pretty much identical. And it suuuuuuuuucks.

        I don’t have any answers about the loneliness, but the thing I struggle with is that I have close-by friends that are great and who give me support as best they can…. but they don’t get me as a person. And I have friends who get me as a person but they are far away and I rarely see them. But, yeah, I guess make sure you have both kinds of friends, and try and see them as regularly as is realistic.

        Good luck. I feel for you <3

    2. Falling Diphthong*

      Do not doom scroll. Take a break from the news.

      Seek out something positive. As an example, I check Bored Panda most mornings, and today they had a charming thread of parents and grandparents doing supportive things for their LGBTQ kids. I have learned to skip most of the “100 times awful people were awful” threads–there is something very appealing about the second-hand outrage emotion, but it is so completely useless.

      Can you take a break from the family situation? Just let it be its thing for the next three weeks with no input from you? (I am assuming from next post that this is not a partner- or minor-child- family situation.)

    3. Not So NewReader*

      Just factor in that everything is harder right now. This means start a few minutes earlier, get extra rest, put time into eating good foods.

      Cut way back on the news. Maybe go down to 15 minutes per day.

      Help someone near you with a problem they are having.

      Reuse things in clever ways and congratulate yourself for your clever idea.

      Keep a gratitude journal. This sounds simplistic but there are days where I am grateful to be reading AAM online. Take less for granted.

      1. Chauncy Gardener*

        Seconding the gratitude journal. And really really write things down. That’s what is making a huge difference for me vs just thinking the things in my head
        Hang in there! We’re all in this together!

      2. Wishing You Well*

        Sorry to hear you’re struggling. A lot of us are there with you.
        Yes, take a break from the news. It’s just gloom and doom.
        Don’t forget to exercise and get fresh air into your lungs.
        Circumstances always change and often improve. Please be very kind to yourself.
        Internet Hugs.

    4. Marny*

      I find that when things seem hopeless, coming up with something I can do in response is energizing. Volunteer for an organization or cause you support or a political candidate’s campaign. It’s also a great way to meet like-minded people.

      1. Girasol*

        Yes, this! Don’t forget all the organizations that need people out planting in parks and wild lands. It’s very de-stressing to be out in the sun and fresh air getting exercise while doing something worthwhile, and you tend to meet great folks that way.

    5. the cat's ass*

      Hugs to you! It’s tough out there! We don’t know what the future holds, even as we long for it. I find less MSM helps, and more herbal tea, hanging out with the cats, or baking helps; confiding in a friend, going for a nature walk, or meditating.

    6. Jean (just Jean)*

      In hard times I try to maintain adequate nutrition, fluids, sleep, exercise, and minimal leisure. Credit to NSNR and friends IRL. Don’t stress if you do this imperfectly by using frozen vegetables (not fresh); stretching in the bedroom (not lifting weights in the gym); sitting alone on the front porch for only ten minutes (not spending an hour in a coffee shop); or otherwise ignoring so-called higher standards. This is *your* life, not a public exhibit.

      I found comfort in a support group which I highly recommend. It’s wonderful when people “get it” because they travel the same road. You don’t have to waste time with explanations; you can just say “if I deal with one more [whatever] I’m gonna scream!” Bonus: Online meetings eliminate the cross-town rush through traffic and the trip home in the dark. You can even join an otherwise too-distant group in a different time zone.

      For inspiration I think about other people in difficult situations who did not give up their ideals. Three memoirs I read years ago still sustain me:
      – Gray is the Color of Hope by Irina Ratushinskaya (a political prisoner keeps her belief in religion, poetry, and individual dignity)
      – Generation Lost: China Under the Cultural Revolution by Zi-Ping Luo (a young woman and her siblings pursue education prohibited by the government)
      – Through the Narrow Gate by Karen Armstrong (Spoiler alert: Karen Armstrong, who left a convent after seven years, speaks respectfully about her hard work and the determination of other aspiring or professed nuns.)

      Re singledom: I enjoy my friendships and am learning to redefine my loneliness as solitude. Neither replaces a more intimate relationship but both keep me contented enough to hope for future change—or better able to accept disappointment if it does not happen.

      1. Saturday Anon*

        How did you find your support group? Did you just google and find one or do you need to be recommended to one?

        1. Jean (just Jean)*

          I looked online for organizations focused on providing information/advocacy/support to people in my specific circumstances and found a local group in my general metro area. If I hadn’t found a national nonprofit I would have looked at the state or local level (e.g. one local hospital has a multi-week group for people newly diagnosed with diabetes).

          I’m not aware of needing to be recommended to anything. My sense is that most groups will welcome anyone seeking help with their particular concern.

          Sometimes it’s hit or miss whether you feel comfortable with the other members. (Example: a 25-year-old military widow with very young children may prefer not to be in a group where all other widows are age 60+ with adult children.) Sometimes you can find support with a tangentially related group. (Example: join a group for parents of young adults with a variety of serious health challenges, if you can’t find a group for parents of young adults with, say, cancer or schizophrenia.)

          I hope you can find companionship and encouragement!

    7. OTGW*

      I’ve been throwing myself into fanfiction lately, especially this last week (though some of it is cause I’m having Feelings about the Kenobi show). Specifically, Star Wars fanfic. Idk, it’s just a comfort for me. I exclusively read fanfic back in March and April 2020 when everything was peak Awful ™. I think immersing yourself into something familiar like that would help—get your mind on other things, on other problems that have no consequences IRL.

    8. Batgirl*

      When I was really struggling, I dealt with things in small bites. If one day at a time is too long, then I did one hour, or five minutes at a time. Prioritise the absolutely necessary things needed like eating and sleeping – you will never feel good if you neglect those, even if you can only manage small bites and small naps. I also looked for joy in the little things like a new book, a bath, a recipe or nurturing a plant. I also felt despair over being single or meeting anyone, but once I got moving with my self care, it actually turned out to be very nice to break from dating and concentrate on myself. Please do let us know how you are going forward, I know it’s tough to find yourself in strange and lonely waters, and I’ll be thinking of you.

    9. I took a huge chance yesterday and I'm ok with it.*

      Coming here to agree with everything already posted.
      But if you are looking for something quick to reset you when you are in a doom spiral, try repeating this to yourself. “thoughts aren’t facts”
      I took an anti-anxiety class from a meditation teacher at beginning of the panini and this was one of the tips that stuck with me. It’s short, easy to remember and works quickly to reset your mind.
      You are not alone, take care, no one is judging you harder than yourself.

      1. Saturday Anon*

        I have a lot of trouble with the “thoughts aren’t facts” practice. It’s hard to convince my mind it doesn’t know best!
        But it’s definitely true I judge myself the hardest.

        1. Zweisatz*

          Another one I found helpful is “Nothing lasts forever.” It helped me during days with particularly bad mental health, to remember that I’ve felt differently before. But it’s also a great mantra for shitty circumstances/feeling bad in general because it is objectively true.

      1. Observer*

        One thing I want to emphasize. One commenter pointed out that it’s ok if you take their advice but don’t implement it “perfectly”. That’s a REALLY important point, and applies to pretty much all of the good advice you’ve gotten on the thread.

    10. Aphrodite*

      Here is what I do:

      (1) Cut out all news on television, radio, internet, newspaper, etc. Stop all subscriptions and try to cut yourself off from all of it immediately. It will be hard, it is addictive, but it is one of if not the best thing you can do.

      (2) If you have a local website (NextDoor or something else) that can stay but use the “Hide” button generously. Anything with complaints, whines, politics or other useless/negative pieces gets quickly removed from my sight.

      (3) Make a point of being extra nice to anyone you deal with in person, on the phone or in person.

      (4) Develop and nurture an inner pool of calm that you can access when you come across something upsetting. This could be a driver cutting you off, a nasty person in a store, a co-worker showing irritation, really anything. Pay close attention to your feelings and when you sense them moving toward the tense end of the spectrum dive immediately into that inner pool of calm and inhale it deeply.

      (5) This may or may not be something you are interested in but I recently ordered 1,000 business cards that I hand out as often as I can. They have a big “Thank you!” printed i a fancy font at the top with an image of a bouquet of red roses next to it. Underneath in a more sedate font it says, “I wanted to let you know that I think you are doing wonderfully at your job. Please always remember that it is only your actions and your thoughts that matter in your life. And you are doing great today!”

  32. No Tribble At All*

    Cats Thread! Obligatory Alison’s Cat Appreciation: that’s such a well-framed photo! Please tell Hank he is a handsome boy.

    One of my cats decided my husband’s one-on-one with his boss was the best time to hop up on the desk and yodel for attention. The way the camera is located, his boss couldn’t *see* the cat, but boy did he hear her!

    1. Falling Diphthong*

      Destructobot naps in the sunbeam from the east-facing back door through the morning, then moves into the room my son is using as a workspace and naps in a south-facing window in the back of his Zoom calls.

      1. No Tribble At All*

        DESTRUCTOBOT

        Did the cat come with the name, or did you name the cat after their personality emerged?

        1. Falling Diphthong*

          After personality emerged: she is very fascinated by gravity and likes to experiment with it. The happiest moment of her life was the time she knocked a box off the dining room table, and it wedged in a chair back (rather than falling) and she immediately hopped in (and it held) and she sat there beaming, having worked out the hover part and now she just needed steering.

          Destructobot and The Spanish Inquisition are internet pseudonyms.

    2. cat socks*

      We have a sliding door and screen door that open out onto the deck. The other day, I left the sliding door open and let TabbyCat and FloofyCat get some fresh air while went into the kitchen to do dishes.

      After some time, I looked up and noticed the screen door was open and the cats were gone. I ran outside and did a quick walk around the house and looked under the deck, but didn’t see them.

      I have three other cats, so I quickly checked iniside to make sure they were accounted for. Thankfully, they were sleeping upstairs and unaware of the escape.

      I grabbed a container of food on my way back out. Shaking it immediately brought TabbyCat out from underneath the deck. I grabbed him and put him back inside.

      Then I looked under the deck again and saw FloofyCat. A few more shakes of the food and he came out where I could grab him.

      I should have known better to lock the screen door because I’ve seen FloofyCat try to pry the door open before. Thankfully they are both food motivated and the sound of crunchies drew them out.

      1. North Wind*

        Some years ago, my cat needed major surgery.

        She had an oversized crate for transportation because she needs a lot of personal space, doesn’t like feeling claustrophobic. It was soft-sided, and the sides zipped together. The zips are on the outside of the crate, but as I’m driving to the hospital for the surgery, she just casually hooks her claw on the inside portion of one of the zips, opens a gap, and starts wandering around the car.

        I was on the highway at this point, and really nervous and emotional because I felt guilty about making her have the surgery. I knew it would be a big freaking deal, she does not remotely do well with being handled, and whether to do the surgery or let her pass on at that point in her life was a judgment call. So I’m practically in tears knowing how much she’s going to hate the surgery and recovery, and wondering if this is a sign to just call it off and go home. Anyway, we get to the hospital, I get her back in her carrier, and we go in.

        The way surgeries work is you drop your pet off early in the morning, and they keep them crated until it’s time for their surgery. I knew they wouldn’t be taking my cat until the afternoon, so I asked if I could sit with her in an empty exam room to wait, rather than have her be in a small crate surrounded by loud scary people and dogs and other cats coming and going. They were super sweet and agreed – so she and I are sitting in this room all day.

        Well, at some point, she’s walking on the exam table and around the counters, and she gets to the end of a counter and lays her paw on the door handle that’s right there, and just looks at me. She looks at me, she looks at the door, she looks at me, she looks at the door. Like, come on mama, I found the way out, what are you waiting for? THE GUILT!!!

        Anyway, the surgery/recovery was indeed rough, but it was successful and added years of good health to her life, so it ended up being ok.

    3. Damn it, Hardison!*

      One my cats messaged my coworker yesterday. She rolled on my keyboard trying to get my attention, and she managed to send a Teams chat. My coworker was more than a little confused. Fortunately it was nonsensical; the day she types out a complete sentence is the day we know the feline uprising has started.

      1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        My mom’s cat used to do that, but only when mom was instant messaging or emailing me, never anyone else. I’d get total gibberish and then a minute later, “Mo says hi!” (Mo is now in my collection of tinned kittens on my office shelf.)

    4. the cat's ass*

      We had the mobile pet vet come to the house this week and check out punk kitten, anxious adolescent cat and elder statesman-cheerfully demented old cat. It was delightful and while old boy needs to see a cardiologist, it was informative and the cats were really chill because we were at home.

    5. eeeek*

      I am delighted that the elderly Siamese who loves doggos is working his way into the ordinary life of the anxious beagle mix we adopted in late 2020 (bad timing to get access to dog training, classes, calm in-home vet services…) It’s taken a long time to get here, but this week included the two of them sauntering shoulder to shoulder around the house together (on patrol, you know), going out in the back yard for hunting lessons (cat is Very Concerned about the proliferation of chipmunks in the garden), and briefly colocating peaceably on the couch. Cat is very cool; Doggo keeps shooting me panicked looks like, “is this okay? is this weird? is he okay? he rumbles! is he broken? I’m not sure about this, mom.”
      In early days, we were pretty sure the cat wouldn’t be safe around her – so this is huge.

    6. Ey-not-Cy*

      We adopted a gray tabby last year after my daughter took her cat to live in her new apartment. (That cat is so happy now–no longer depressed, living her best life-just her and her girl, finally!) Anyway, Mouse, (I know, husband named her) is just like a real toddler. If she doesn’t think I’m getting up soon enough to get breakfast ready she makes noise in the bedroom, or comes in and tries to pull the bedcovers down. Or she tears up the toilet paper if we’ve forgotten to put it away, in the bathroom. She’s clumsy, still, at over a year old! There are a lot of times she seems to just notice things that have been around the whole time she’s been here. She definitely learns things from our four year old cat, that she should have learned much earlier. But she’s also very sweet and insists on morning cuddles with my husband, who is her human. The looks she gives him are adorable. She and our other cat (brown tabby) get along very well.

    7. ESus4*

      We had an unexpected visit from a peahen!! (Female peacock). Giant shiningly magnificent bird strutting through the back yard. She and our younger cat spent about an hour interacting through the glass patio door, including what looked like imitating each other’s postures. It was so great to watch!

  33. Niagara Bound*

    Family resort-style recommendations? We are doing a road trip from Boston to Niagara Falls in August. Hoping to stay for a few days at a family-friendly vacation place with our 6-year-old (family camp, farm stay, lakeside lodge ..). Ideally a place that includes meals and activities and is on the water. I’ve searched around the Finger Lakes area (though open to others), but so far haven’t found the right place. (I am *not* looking at lakeside VRBO/AirBnB properties – we want some on-site “infrastructure”.)

    Recommendations and advice most welcome! TIA!

    1. Squidhead*

      People in my area (central NY) seem to like Old Forge. Never been myself, but maybe worth a look? I think it’s more “camp” than “resort.”

  34. Rainy Day*

    I go shopping with my mom about every other week, and it’s getting frustrating. Basically, I’ll drive her to Target and Walmart and anywhere else she might need to go that’s a bit “out of the way.” She likes the company, and it’s helpful to have me there to get heavy things or reach high shelves. Plus, my car is smaller and much better on gas. I currently live with her rent-free, so I figure it’s one of the things I can do to help out and “repay” her.

    But she always insists on doing certain things that don’t make sense and that make shopping with her frustrating. As an example, if I need to stop at a store on the way home to run in and grab a single thing, I will ask her to wait in the car, but she insists on accompanying me and ultimately makes what was supposed to be a quick stop either much longer or incredibly awkward (I won’t provide details because when I did this post got way too long).

    As some other examples, if there is a long line at the self-check-out section, she’ll insist I go first even though she takes much longer to check out (she only puts a few times in each bag and will double or triple bag things to get a lot of extra free bags). Or she’ll try to convince me to go to the same self-check-out register as her (i.e. she wants to stand right next to me and wait as I check out, then check out her items while I stand next to her and wait), which makes no sense because it’s faster to go to separate self-check-outs registers (and I feel like it would be confusing for other people waiting in line).

    My mom isn’t the most reasonable person (she is anti-vaccine, anti-mask, anti-abortion, believes in conspiracies, etc.), and I have to live with her so I have to be nice. Does anyone have any suggestions on how to nicely tell her to just be cooperative when we go shopping instead of arguing with me?

    1. WellRed*

      This might sound wacky but for when you want to just pop into a store and leave her in the car, can you just…pull into the lot, throw the car into park, leaving car running and say “be right back!” And then just book it into the store? I’m laughing as I type but I move waaaay faster than my
      Mom.

      1. HoundMom*

        I also have an elderly mom who I love but asks me to do some things that seem nonsensical and time consuming. It was driving me batty but I read an article by a man who lost his wife to Alzheimers. He said that he wished he had spent more time being in her world than fighting to get her into mine. It really resonated. Perhaps that could help you?

    2. Alt anon*

      I don’t see what her opinion on masks and abortion have to do with your shopping experience with your mother. I feel like your projecting your difference of opinion with her on these issues on to how she shops with you.

      1. Irish Teacher*

        I think there is a difference between being anti-mask and anti-mask mandate. A reasonable person might say, “I don’t think we need a mandate any more. We have to trust people to make their own decisions at some point.” But there are people that are actively anti-mask, like they get offended at seeing people wearing them and…I don’t think that is reasonable. There is no logical reason to be annoyed that somebody wears a mask. Even if there weren’t a pandemic taking place, that would be bizarre. Now, of course, I don’t know where on the spectrum Rainy Day’s mum falls, but given the also being anti-vaccine, it sounds like this is a bit more than “hey, now that we’re at risk of covid becoming endemic and most people are vaccinated, I think it’s safe enough to let people take off their masks if they want to an just keep an eye on the situation and be willing to reinstate the mandate if medical experts deem it necessary.”

    3. MissGirl*

      I would stop trying to fight this battle. Accept that this is how your shopping trips will go and that they’ll take x amount of time. Stop arguing, cajoling, or convincing her that your way is better. Her way is better for *her*. Save your personal errands for your alone time. Remind yourself that this is the price you pay for free rent.

      1. AvonLady Barksdale*

        Agreed. These shopping trips are how you pay her. Expect they will take ages and be frustrating, but one day a week is doable. Run your personal errands separately .

      2. Ginger Pet Lady*

        This is what I’m thinking. These trips are not just about the utility of getting things. These trips are about time with you and time out of the house. It’s not surprising she doesn’t want to spend that time sitting alone in the car!

    4. Cendol*

      Aggressive non sequiturs? You have my sympathy! My solution for this was to stop spending as much time with my parent, but I had the luxury of moving away. At home, I got very good at changing the subject. You might be able to redirect her ranting energy toward more innocuous topics. For instance, I was always able to get my parent to start telling me the latest updates in their war against garden pests.

      Or, as Alison recommends in workplaces-full-of-bees that you can’t escape, put on your anthropologist hat and treat it all as a fascinating glimpse into another world.

      Also, pick your battles. The self-checkout thing sounds a bit like you’ve reached the BEC stage with your mother, to be honest. As a neutral onlooker I promise I never notice what other people are doing at the self-checkout! If I saw that you and your mom had swapped places at the machine I would at most assume you were paying separately and/or you were kindly helping an older person out.

    5. pancakes*

      It seems to me that “being nice” doesn’t require doing absolutely everything her way — I think it would be perfectly nice to say, for example, “it’ll take too long and tie things up if we go to the same register, I’m going to take this one,” and just walk over and go about your business. Is that something you’ve tried? It seems to me that if you wait on her to be cooperative (rather than putting yourself in situations where you don’t need to wait on her) you might be waiting forever.

    6. Missb*

      My mom holds similar views so I know how frustrating that can be. Particularly in a pandemic when I wouldn’t want to spend extra time in a store.

      Could you consider just taking her to where she needs to go and letting her do her thing while you do absolutely no shopping at all? Like, don’t buy a thing on the excursions with her. Just help her shop her stuff, let her check out in whatever way she wants, even if it makes zero sense to you. It may help preserve your sanity, even if it means more trips for you to get your own stuff in peace.

      My own mother will drive me crazy with her shopping habits. She is super slow (intentionally, not because of any health or physical issue), seems to treat grocery shopping as a grand adventure and wants to engage employees for long conversations. Me? I have a list and I want to get in and out quickly. I do not love shopping. I do not love shopping with her, but when she’s in town, I take her. It’s an exercise in patience for me. She’s also late for every single thing, which I judge harshly but that’s just who she is.

      Someday she will be gone. Meet her where she’s at, and do your shopping without her.

    7. strawberry time!*

      How much extra time is she costing you? Let’s say 2.5 hours/week, so 10 hours per month. How much is rent where you are? $600/month? So, it’s like you’re earning $60/hr after tax, for a job that is 10 hrs/month.

    8. Dark Macadamia*

      Honestly this sounds miserable for both of you. She seems frustrating but it also seems like you’re simultaneously trying to accommodate what she wants AND control how the shopping trip is “supposed” to go when a lot of the conflicts don’t really matter. You know best what level of “nice” is required for you to have a place to live but most of this can be solved by just accepting it’s the cost of your housing and not dwelling on it so much. It doesn’t sound like she needs you as a caretaker (memory or mobility issues for example) so just… give each other some space?

      If she insists you checkout first, go. Stop caring if she waits instead of using a different register, and don’t count her bags.

      It’s rude to tell an adult to stay in the car like a pet. Either save those errands for when she’s not with you or handle it like two friends on a road trip who are both doing their own bathroom/snack run and meeting back at the car. It sucks if you end up being the one waiting instead of her, but you don’t actually have to lengthen your time in the store just so she can browse and she doesn’t have to sit being bored in the car just because it’s easier for you.

    9. Turtle Dove*

      I take a sick friend to the grocery store most weeks, and we usually share a single self-check-out register because she needs help lifting and bagging items. One of us goes first while the other one waits, then vice versa. She does what she can with bagging, and I help. It felt weird to me at first, and I felt self-conscious that we were doing it “wrong.” But it’s been fine. It sounds like you’re efficiency-minded like I am and see the benefit of two people checking out at the same time using two different registers. I try hard to set aside that sort of consciousness of time when I’m with my friend. She sets the pace, I encourage her not to rush, and I accept I won’t be in and out quickly like I prefer on my own. It’s my gift to her as a helpful friend. I think you’ll feel better if you shift your attitude like that with your mom. It sounds like she “spends” your good will in other ways (anti-mask, etc.), so it probably feels like yet one more annoying accommodation. But it’ll be a gift to yourself if you can make that shift.

    10. Not A Manager*

      You can’t change her, and you don’t want to change the fact that you take her shopping, so you’re going to have to change your expectations. It helps me to stop thinking of certain chores as task-based (“stop at store, get gas, pick up cleaning”) and changing them to time-based (“run errands with Mom for 3 hours”). If you set aside 3 hours to run errands, it stops mattering how long you allocate to check-out as opposed to how long you allocate to impromptu stops. Once you’re hitting the end of your 3 hours taking into account travel time, don’t add anything more to the agenda no matter how “convenient” it might seem.

    11. Batgirl*

      I’m not sure I see the sense in making a nice gesture for your mum more time efficient. I mean, if you wanted to make it super time efficient and purely about helping her with a task, then you could just get a shopping list from her and get her what she wants in record time without her even tagging along. Shopping with my mother takes a LOT longer than going alone, but I know that going in and I treat it much the same way as going for a meal with her, in that the point is to linger a bit. You did say that one of the goals in going is giving her company, so it would make sense not to leave her in the car on one of the stops and it would also make sense to check out together companionably. If this is just a super annoying thing for you to pay for purchases together, or have her with you for your stop-off shopping, perhaps do her shopping trips half as often? Get just her things on those occasions and make time to do your own errands in the gaps between trips.

    12. Not So NewReader*

      A couple thoughts I don’t see mentioned:

      Once in a while can you tell her to just give you a list and you will grab the items? We told MIL that we were tired and making it a fast trip. She’d give us the list and we’d go get the stuff. Eventually it morphed into that she just gave us the list all the time.

      Will she use curbside or does she have to look at everything?

      That need to get out of the car and the need to stand next to you in line set off warning bells for me. Not everyone and not all the time, but I have seen this type of behavior go into more and more difficult problems and a health condition. So there is that to just keep in the back of your mind.

      Can you encourage her to go shopping with a friend or another family member, just to give you a break once in a while? This one is kind of sneaky, when she sees that shopping is different with them maybe she’d loosen up with you?

      I do love the idea of thinking of it as getting paid $60 per hour as mentioned above. I am pretty sure that would have helped me in a similar situation. But going in a different direction can you make this time in a reprieve of sorts from all her beliefs and just live in the moment? What this would look like is just idyll chatter about weather, products, and things you see while driving around? This would be a view of what is immediately in front of you, as opposed to bigger life issues. Try not to let one annoyance bleed into another annoyance.

      One thing I told myself is that we receive what we send out. I held on the hope that when I am old, someone would care enough about me to drive me around because I did it for my elders. I used this sort of reasoning when nothing else was working atm.

    13. Snoozing not schmoozing*

      I’m what might be considered elderly. Yuck. But if I was running errands with a family member (one living in MY house without paying rent), and that person got impatient with me because I don’t move at their pace, and who told me to wait in the car like I was LESS THAN, I would promptly hire someone to help me dump their belongings on the sidewalk and change the locks.

      1. pancakes*

        I can certainly understand feeling that someone in that situation needs to have a lot more patience and a broader perspective, and I think that’s very fair to say. I think it’s a mistake, though, to characterize waiting in the car as something that signifies being less than. If I’m running errands with a friend with a car I won’t always accompany them inside if I don’t need anything from the same place and would rather check my emails or whatnot. (Likewise if we’re on foot and, say, there’s a bench outside, fwiw). It has nothing to do with not being equals. Similarly, sometimes people need to make a relatively quick trip for various reasons — having someplace to be, or knowing the store will be unpleasantly crowded at certain times of day, etc. It doesn’t inherently mean they think their companion is less than if they’d rather run their errand on their own, as quickly as possible.

        If I was running errands with someone and they wanted to pick up prescriptions or talk to a pharmacist, and asked me to wait outside for that reason, that’s another occasion that comes to mind where it’s a perfectly reasonable request, and has nothing to do with anyone being less than or more than.

        Rainy Day didn’t suggest wanting a bit of space for these reasons, but it seems to me they’re likely to come up now and then. It also seems that wanting to zip through the store on occasion without making it a lengthy excursion isn’t an unreasonable thing to want. It’s not as if running errands is their only chance to spend time together.

        I think there’s some room for more consideration on both sides here, without either party pinning their whole relationship on this.

    14. Mockingjay*

      Skip the shopping occasionally. Order pickup. Go out and do something else and pick up the groceries on the way home.

      We brought my father-in-law to live with us last year. He’s a dear and it’s gone very smoothly for the most part. I was prepared to make our home safer, ensure he got his meds, nutritious meals and such. But Hubby and I had no idea just how much SLOWER things are for the elderly. We had to recalibrate our expectations for everything: meals, errands, just walking around. A surprising amount of time is spent just sitting and listening to music or watching baseball games (his tastes are not mine), because he’s desperate for companionship but is just not up to establishing new relationships.

      So my advice is to occasionally switch things up. Don’t go too far out of their routine, but mix in small outings to break up the monotony of their very small world.

      And too I run my errands separately. I consider it “me time.”

    15. kiki*

      I’ve never had much luck with changing the habits of others to become more efficient, so what I’ve gotten better at is reframing goals and timeframes in my mind. So, instead of having the goal of a shopping trip with my grandparent being to get the items we need as efficiently as possible, the goal in my mind is to allow my grandparent the assistance they need to run errands at their pace. And I also just go into anything assuming it will take two hours, minimum.

  35. KoiFeeder*

    Fun fact about using passionflower for sleep. It does, technically, work. To regulate your circadian rhythm. This may be a problem if your circadian rhythm was the problem in the first place. Whoops!

    So, anyone have recommendations for sleep aids? Benadryl/DPH and chamomile make me fall asleep earlier, but I’ll stay soundly asleep until my circadian rhythm intends for me to wake up, which is not great.

    1. Stitch*

      I’ve had good results with a GABA/Ashwagandha supplement. Neither melatonin nor CBD worked for me.

      1. KoiFeeder*

        Oh, yeah, I probably should’ve mentioned that I think I’m allergic to CBD! That might’ve been helpful.

        (I know I’m allergic to marijuana and I know that it’s from two allergens, one shared by nightshade and one shared by tree nuts. The marijuana allergy is severe enough that I am very afraid to try anything derived from that plant.)

    2. Elf*

      Be careful with Benadryl for sleep. It is perfectly safe in the moment, but daily use is a bad idea because total lifetime exposure is a major dementia risk. I use Benadryl for sleep very occasionally (and also for immediate allergic reactions sometimes) but not regularly.

      1. KoiFeeder*

        I looked at that study! That study only followed individuals who were 65 years or older over a period of three years. From my understanding of how the brain works, at 23 I probably don’t need to be as concerned about the risks as someone 65 years or older should be.

        But it’s a moot point, as benadryl will simply put me out until 10am even if I’m taking them at 8pm.

        1. Seven hobbits are highly effective, people*

          It sounds like you’re looking for things that help you wake up earlier rather than help you get to sleep, maybe? Benadryl should probably be metabolized enough to no longer be the reason you’re still asleep by then, based on how often they say to take it for allergies (every 6-8 hours).

          I know for me, I have to set 3 alarms in the morning 15 minutes apart from each other to actually wake up properly if I need to be up before I naturally would (noon, to be on the safe side). The first one shakes me out of whatever deep sleep I was in, then I roll over and go back to sleep more lightly until the second alarm (which lets me bring my pre-alarm dream to some kind of resolution, usually), and sometimes don’t actually fall back asleep between the 2nd and 3rd alarms but usually do. That half an hour of lighter, broken sleep is key to me not being totally out of it and ready to actually get up.

          This does not make me popular with anyone sharing a room and/or bed with me, unfortunately.

          An acquaintance of mine has a device that purports to detect what phase of sleep he is in and wake him up when he’s in a good sleep phase to be woken up even if it’s up to x amount earlier than his alarm would otherwise go off. He seems happy with it, but I have no idea how much science versus marketing is involved.

          1. KoiFeeder*

            A little bit of column A, a little bit of column B. My brain wants to fall asleep between 2-4am, and if I wake up at 6am on four hours of sleep I will be exceedingly unpleasant to be around. My brain wants to wake up at 10am-noon, and if I do that it is a Problem for my job.

            1. Seven hobbits are highly effective, people*

              My brain’s preferred sleep schedule is pretty similar, and while it’s certainly not ideal, I’ve found taking Benadryl around 8-9pm will get me sleepy enough to be asleep by 10pm (I also find that listening to podcasts in a dark room will get my brain quiet enough to fall asleep – I’m usually out within 10 minutes and have no idea what actually happened in the rest of the podcast, so I’ll listen to the same one multiple nights, skipping forward a bit further each night until the whole thing sounds familiar, then grab the next episode), and the three-alarm system allows me to wake up at 6am in a decent enough mood to get through the day.

              I wish that there were more professional jobs where my natural sleep cycle would be an asset. I have yet to find anything suitable, and I am very tired of the constant battle.

              I hope you find something that works for you.

    3. Pippa K*

      Trazodone is commonly prescribed for insomnia and is really good, at least in my experience. I took it for difficulty falling asleep as well as waking up during the night. It’s non-habit forming, safe for most people, doesn’t leave you feeling effects the next day, and an old drug so it’s pretty inexpensive. Does require a prescription, though, at least in the US.

      1. KoiFeeder*

        My insurance fought me tooth and nail over a CPAP for six months, and continues to try to revoke coverage every year since then. Anything that will have to be covered by insurance is… unlikely.

        1. Seven hobbits are highly effective, people*

          If it’s a cheap enough prescription drug to be affordable on your particular budget, you can buy it out-of-pocket without using your insurance as long as you have a valid prescription. This would require your doctor to be onboard with prescribing it, but would skip the insurance fight. Costco has a bottle 30 tablets of 100mg Trazodone HCL for $6.79 as the cash price, so it looks like it’s one of the drugs that’s relatively affordable.

          I have no experience with this drug and am not giving advice on whether or not it would be a good choice for your situation, I just wanted to chime in about prescriptions requiring your doctor to be in agreement but not always your insurance company.

          1. Pippa K*

            Seconding this – and just to add, of course people’s dosages will vary, but the bottle Seven Hobbits describes would be about a 3-4 months supply for me, making this by far the least expensive medication I purchase.

          2. KoiFeeder*

            Oh, I could afford that. I’m used to like… $500 off of insurance, so I’m always nervous about prescription medication.

  36. Sundial*

    I got called for jurty duty AGAIN, and I really wish the pre-screening form was more thorough. They will never, ever choose me based on my connections (defense hates me because my family is full of cops) and my profession (prosecution hates me because my experience is in regulatory compliance/legal) so I’m always eliminated.

    I really wouldn’t mind serving if it actually accomplished something, but I get called constantly, and it always means hours of sitting in a freezing-cold room for nothing. It’s like they think I’m tricking the system and they call me more often to “catch” me.

    1. pancakes*

      How do you envision a fair system working where people can self-opt out instead of having to turn up for jury duty alongside everyone else? I don’t like the idea of people having even more room to try to excuse themselves. I don’t like the idea of people being automatically excused on account of family ties, either. I have cops in my family and have done criminal defense work myself in law school – is the idea that I can’t quite effectively do the latter on account of genetics? Or need one to cross out the other to possibly have impartial offspring? People’s points of view on things do sometimes strongly reflect their parents’ and other family member views, but opinions aren’t in fact passed down genetically, or accumulated strictly by proximity to people who have them.

      1. Sundial*

        I’m not asking to self-opt out, that would be insane. I’m asking for the questions they ask when you’re in the room to occur on the currently-minimal online survey you fill out beforehand.

        1. Juror #3 excused*

          Probably because you could still serve on a jury just fine if you were the last alternate seated during jury selection.

          I’m an engineer and my wife is an RN, so I’ve only lasted a few minutes on the few times I have been selected for a jury pool..

        2. pancakes*

          That seems rather close to self-opting out to me, if the idea is that you’d give your own reasons for opting out in print and someone would give them a cursory review, without being able to ask you any follow-up questions, before approving or rejecting.

        3. fhqwhgads*

          None of the things you listed are guaranteed exclusions though. It just means if the lawyers still have people they want to dismiss when you end up in the room, they might choose to dismiss you. But that’s them choosing to do so. Unless your connections are connected to people actually involved in the case, it’s not a reason to excuse you.

      2. KoiFeeder*

        Actually, in 2020 when I got called for jury duty I got taken to a website to fill out the form, and there was an open section at the end where they asked if there was any reason you might be unfit for duty (no case details given, just as a general thing). Apparently “I am immunosuppressed, high-risk, and will haunt this courthouse for all eternity if jury duty kills me.” was considered a valid reason to not choose me (maybe they just didn’t want the kind of person who would seriously threaten to haunt a courthouse after death).

        1. Jean (just Jean)*

          “I am immunosuppressed, high-risk, and will haunt this courthouse for all eternity if jury duty kills me.”

          Thank you for making me laugh! (I threaten to haunt anyone who gives me an open-coffin funeral.)
          More seriously, may you live long in good health.

        2. pancakes*

          There’s always been a medical exclusion available where I am, but yeah, I would expect (and hope) them to be more rather than less generous with it these past couple years.

    2. 653-CXK*

      The last time I was called to jury duty was 2015, where I served on a week-long trial. I was selected again in 2019, but they cancelled my service before I was supposed to serve.

      I don’t mind jury duty. I bring puzzle books to keep me occupied – usually waiting to be called, but during trials while waiting for people to come in and during lunch. I never did them when we were deliberating (obvious reasons).

      1. 653-CXK*

        Aiee…editing fail…

        …usually waiting to be called to one of the courtrooms for voir dire, but also if I’m impaneled on a jury, I do a few puzzles while waiting for people to come in before the trial resumes, and during lunch breaks.

    3. Maxie's Mommy*

      You could still serve on a civil, non-criminal trial. Those are more fun anyway, IMHO.

      1. Charlotte Lucas*

        Yep. My sister works at a law firm, & when the lawyers get called, those are the types of cases they’re more likely to be chosen for.

        You don’t say where you are, but should we assume you live in a densely populated county? The rule in mine is that you get called no more than every 4 years. I always get called. My SO has been called once – & it was cancelled due to holiday scheduling. Sometimes it’s just the luck of the draw.

    4. Ginger Pet Lady*

      Around here, if you’re called and you show up, you don’t have to do it again for 2 years. I’ve been called again before the 2 years are up (sometimes because it’s a different court system, sometimes the same court) and when that happens, I’m able to send them the proof that I served on the date and place I did and they excuse me.
      It does seem to happen exactly at the 2 year mark every time, but once every two years isn’t bad.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        In my area it’s 6 years.

        I think I’d email who ever coordinates jury pools and ask them. Here we have a Commissioner of Jurors Office. Perhaps you can check with them to see what they say.

        Definitely check on the time frame between calls to be on a jury. Maybe you are being called too much.

        I agree there are inefficiencies in our court system, but most of our systems are incredibly inefficient so there’s that.

        1. pancakes*

          That’s a good point – in NY it’s six years after you serve, eight years if you served more than ten days.

          1. fhqwhgads*

            Whoa. Here if you serve you can’t be called again for 12 months and there’s nothing special about length of trial.

    5. Idyllic Gulag*

      Through gang-affiliated family and the fact that we’re both former private security contractors, I figured my brother and I would never be seated on a jury, but somehow my brother ended up on a trial the last time he was called. All depends on what either side is looking for.

    6. Snoozing not schmoozing*

      My husband works directly for the presiding judge, works closely with all the judges, and knows nearly every attorney. He still gets called for jury duty – and has had to serve if there’s nothing about the case to disqualify him.

    7. Batgirl*

      The part where you’re getting called up constantly definitely sounds exasperating. It should be if you’ve turned up for consideration that you get a break before the next time.

    8. kina lillet*

      Yeah, I think some people through the mysterious machinations of bureaucracy end up on really frequent cycles. I’ve been called a couple times, but my husband is called basically every year……by his old home county in another state, where he is no longer on the voting rolls, and every year he has to tell them “I don’t live here and haven’t lived here for more than a decade.” Never changes.

    9. fposte*

      Last time I was called the defendant was self-representing; unfortunately he used up all his peremptory challenges before the last seat was filled, and the last juror was a K9 cop who knew the whole police force. I’m sure he never thought he’d be seated.

      I think the issue with your situation is that it’s not the court that doesn’t want you, it’s the attorneys, and they don’t get to prescreen the jurors.

  37. emigration*

    Is there such a thing as emigration consultants who will look at your situation and tell you what countries you might be able to emigrate to? I’ve found them for help navigating the immigration process for specific countries but I am looking for a service that can give me a whole list of countries I would be eligible for.

    1. Cheesesteak in Paradise*

      Doubtful this exists because they would have to know intricate law about every country they suggested. People are only going to have passed law exams in one country usually.

    2. Glomarization, Esq.*

      You may have some success crowdsourcing info on the /r/IWantOut sub r e d d i t. Before you post, the participants there will want you to have read the sub’s resources, including how to format your post properly so that it’s not deleted.

  38. Jackalope*

    I don’t see a gaming thread yet so I’ll start one. What games is everyone playing this week? As always, this includes any kind of game, not just video games.

    I’m playing Fire Emblem Warriors: Three Hopes, which just came out. It’s fun seeing everyone from game one, but I’ve never played this style of game and so at this point I have no idea what I’m doing! But it’s still been fun.

    1. MEH Squared*

      I’m playing Dark Souls II (Scholar of the First Sin) at the moment, which is a FromSoft game. It’s my idea of taking a break from Elden Ring. I’m looking forward to Stray by Blue Twelve Studio which is coming out soon. You get to be a cat with a backpack in it!

    2. Henry Division*

      I started on Death’s Door, which I thought was a Hades clone but it is instead exactly like Tunic, art and all. If I didn’t know for a fact this game came out first, I would call it a copy.

      So far it’s fun! I wanted an adventure/exploring game where I got to fight bad guys and be a cute lil crow and that’s what I’m getting. I know the game has some problems, but so far they are pretty minor.

      1. MEH Squared*

        I love Death’s Door! It’s so creative and fun (even though the combat is a bit lacking). I’m glad to hear it’s like Tunic because I have hesitated to play Tunic. I was very excited for Tunic, but did not gel with the demo. If it’s like Death’s Door, though, I’ll give it a go.

        1. Henry Division*

          They are so far extremely similar. Except Tunic doesn’t explain anything at all (this is its gimmick) so I can definitely see how it doesn’t gel with everyone. The bosses ARE harder and yeah it takes way too long to get a sword, but once you do it’s pretty great. I’d say give it a try. Steam is extremely forgiving about giving refunds for games you only play once, and it’s also on Xbox Cloud.

          1. MEH Squared*

            I was so hyped for it and it should have been my jam, but I was having spatial issues with it. I don’t mind the ‘not explaining anything’ as I’m a veteran FromSoft (Dark Souls) player! I have it on Xbox Game Pass for PC so it’ll cost me literally nothing to try it out. Thanks for the comparison that makes me much more inclined to play it.

    3. Emotional support capybara*

      Chugging along in Yakuza Kiwami. Watching Nishiki’s downward spiral is just. Oof. Kiryu continues to chug Respect Women Juice with a chaser of F Toxic Masculinity Juice. I would have paid good money for a standalone Majima Everywhere game and whatever he’s paying Nishida, it ain’t enough.

  39. OTGW*

    My husband and I are thinking of subscribing to one of those delivery meal plans—Hello fresh, blue apron, etc. I think it’ll be good for meal variety/including more healthy food and also just less to think about re: what’s for dinner when it’s pre-made 3-4 times a week.

    My question is though, this obviously isn’t a supplement for like, daily stuff—snacks, dairy, cereal. We’d still need to grocery shop weekly-ish (sometimes we can do every other). I’m worried about the cost. For those who use a meal delivery plan, was it worth it for you? I think if we’re not buying so much meat (we have it at every dinner, in some capacity, due to his culture) it should balance out but I’m not 100% sure, so I’d like to hear yall’s experiance. Thanks!!

    1. YNWA*

      With HelloFresh, I get 3 meals a week usually for about $62 shipped. I currently buy groceries every other week and the bill is around$70 (more if I’m buying toilet paper). I used to buy groceries once a week for about the same amount. Not having to buy protein because it’s in the meal kits has been a godsend and it’s nice to have vegetarian options via HelloFresh as well. Plus you get to try different ethnic dishes which can be super expensive to price out.

    2. Dark Macadamia*

      For me it definitely raises my overall food costs, but it’s worth it for the meal prep aspect. This varies by service, but HelloFresh recipes are easy to replicate so you can use the kits to introduce new recipes and then get the ingredients cheaper at the store next time you make it. I tend to do a box about once a month so it’s more like a treat than a regular expense.

      1. Yet Another Unemployed Librarian*

        This is what we’ve landed on too. HelloFresh every week started to get a bit too repetitive – you can start to see how they remix things to get “new” recipes. The only issue I’ve had with replicating them at home is some of the spice mixes, but I have found some close enough alternatives just by googling.

        Some meal kit services do offer extra groceries you can order outside of the dinners, but again you are paying a bit extra for the convenience. I do find it is nice to not have extra quantities of ingredients when they are new to me or things that we wouldn’t normally buy so that you aren’t having to pay for a full bottle of a spice or sauce and then not knowing what you’ll do with the rest.

        Also, watch out on HelloFresh for meals with an added cost – at least here in Canada there are some options each week that cost a couple dollars more than the base price, I think when the protein is more expensive.

        1. Dark Macadamia*

          Lol yes, who knew there were so many ways to combine black beans and poblanos!

      2. OTGW*

        That’s what I’m kinda leaning too—expensive, but worth the time. Heh, I didn’t think about doing it once a month—that might even out it all, and let us vary things up without having to get takeout/use too much effort. Thanks for the response!

    3. Maggie*

      Home chef was disgusting so don’t get that. Also most aren’t quicker than just cooking things yourself. I find them gross and a huge waste.

      1. E*

        I agree about the waste – all the containers, ice packs, etc. We get Purple Carrot delivered about once every 5 or 6 weeks, just to switch things up, but it’s not particularly cost effective and I feel guilty about the waste. The recipes are interesting though and my teenager likes to cook dinner from the boxes. The meals do take a long time to cook, mostly because PC doesn’t do much prep for you

        1. WellRed*

          My roommate did hello fresh or freshly. I hated all the nonrecyclable packing. And even the recyclable. If ordering meal kits gets a teen cooking, though, I’d call that a huge win.

      2. OTGW*

        Lol thanks I’ll take that one off the option list. Yeah, the waste is also a concern. Eh, at least looking at the cook times online, it’ll be a lot faster than what we do at home, but also—does that equate out the cons. Thanks for the response!

        1. Yet Another Unemployed Librarian*

          I also find that the HelloFresh meals are not quite as fast as they are listed. Whatever it says for the time I usually mentally add 5-10 minutes. That may have more to do with the small children in my kitchen making me less efficient though… also, sometimes they cheat by not counting oven heating or water boiling time in the “30 minutes” or whatever! It’s not the same as hands-on prep time but I do need to know if that’s going to impact when dinner is ready.

        2. Food is not disgusting*

          My family has been using home chef for several years and never had a problem with the ingredients. Just to add another opinion.

        3. RosyGlasses*

          Sunbasket was a really good option for us and had middle of the road waste in comparison.

    4. the cat's ass*

      I’ve used Blue Apron on and off for years; good rotation of recipes and very high quality meat, poultry and fish. They have gotten more expensive and definitely add to my grocery budget. We had a bit of a problem with some of the deliveries which were left outside our fence and they got stolen but once that got fixed, it was okay.

    5. S*

      It was because it took the stress of planning and shopping out of it. It was more expensive but with 2 working parents and a small kid who seemed to be able to either meal plan or grocery shop but not both it felt worth it to us. We threw away less food too. But it’s definitely a personal weighing of your values around time/money.

    6. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      Avoid Dinnerly – I tried them once, had enough hassle that they’d fully refunded me before the box was even delivered, and then when it was delivered, it was dropped after 11pm so it was out overnight. THEN even though the temperature outside hadn’t gotten above 10 degrees (F) in over two weeks, let alone since the box was dropped, all the food was spoiled when I found it at 8am, so badly that I could smell it without even opening the box.

    7. Qwerty*

      Some groceries stores have meal kits available, I tend to get them at Kroger occasionally. They are spread out throughout the store and vary between “here’s the right portion of ingredients + instructions” to “no prep, stick this fresh or frozen meal in the oven”. It’s a lot more affordable since you aren’t paying for shipping a refrigerated box. How interesting the meals are depends on the store and whether its a store prepped item or a brand item. Brands are also getting into the trend – Tyson has meal kits that you dump into an instant pot or crock pot

    8. Golden*

      cw: weight, diet

      I’ve never done it but had a friend that did, and their major complaint was that the meals were high in calories and causing unwanted weight gain. You mention wanting healthy foods in your post, so it may be worth seeing how some sample recipes from the various services stack up against your typical meals.

    9. California Dreamin’*

      We did Hello Fresh/Home Chef three meals a week for about a year when I found myself really stuck in a rut and burned out with cooking (I’ve cooked pretty much 6-7 nights a week for a family ranging from 2 to 6 people for 30 years now, and I’m So Tired of planning meals!) I really liked it for that year, just to give myself a break. I liked hello fresh better, but for some of that year we had six people at home and only home chef can do that many servings. Both services yielded some recipes that we really enjoyed and still make today, though I just buy the ingredients myself now. The packaging was hard to reconcile, but the whole thing was a form of self-care for me and I had to do it.
      I now order Hello Fresh for my mom who has early dementia and can’t plan meals anymore. She can follow their instruction cards, and it provides her with pretty tasty meals that she can put together but doesn’t have to come up with or shop for (I choose the meals for her based on what I know she’ll like and which ones seem easiest. I’ll pick the ones with the shortest prep time or the ones labeled “easy cleanup.”) It’s working pretty well, though sometimes I’ll find a stray package of Hello Fresh ground beef or pork in her fridge and wonder what the heck she made with the rest of the meal bag :)
      Personally, I think these are great services for a lot of situations. I’d give it a try!

      1. Seven hobbits are highly effective, people*

        If she gets to the point that even the prep is a bit much, my dad has been happy with Tovala, which is a service where they sell you a special countertop oven and then ship you meals to cook in it each week as a subscription meal service. You just scan the QR code that came with the meal, which comes in a little meal tray, and the oven knows how to cook it. Some weeks there are issues with the meals not arriving in time due to shipping issues, but it seems like it’s been better this year than last year.

        In my dad’s case, he’s fully able to meal plan and cook, but it just isn’t a thing he’ll do on a regular basis – I blame early absorption of 1950s gender roles. It was a big upgrade from the frozen food, takeout, and diet shakes he’d been eating previously.

        1. California Dreamin’*

          I’ve seen those advertised. What an interesting product! Glad to hear they work out well.

    10. Internist*

      I think the equation really depends on how you would eat without it. My sister has been a Sun Basket subscriber for years and adores it. Before she subscribed she was basically eating out constantly, so she’s saved money and learned how to cook.

      If you’re currently cooking all your meals at home then your costs will definitely go up. But it could still be worth it for the greater variety and to take some of the planning off your hands.

    11. Melody Pond*

      A few months ago, my husband and I switched from HelloFresh to a lesser-known service called HungryRoot. I gotta say I’m really digging HungryRoot! Their meals are SUPER simple, often only 3-4 ingredients total, but the ingredients are often healthier. For example, linguine made from cauliflower, fusilli made from lentils, quinoa-rice blends, and often a vegetable or a protein. About half the time, the protein is already cooked!

      I do feel like I spend a bit more than I did on HelloFresh. I probably spent $60-80 a week on HelloFresh (usually 3 meals?), and I currently spend $100-$110 a week on HungryRoot (3 dinners, 2 lunches). But I feel like I get WAY more food and value with HungryRoot. For one thing, HungryRoot doesn’t change the ingredient portions to fit the exact recipe, so we often have leftover ingredients. But the leftover ingredients are usually something that’s really easy to use up in extra lunches – like extra multi-grain buns that can work as sandwich makings, extra sauces that go well on salads or other pasta.

      Also, you can set it up so that in addition to your recipes, you get simple ready-to-eat breakfast, snack, or dessert items. I’ve currently pared this back myself, and only “add on” to my normal order when I see snacks or breakfasts that look really good to me. But I like this way of doing it.

      The other thing I really like, as a picky eater, is that instead of rating entire recipes, HungryRoot prompts you for feedback on individual ingredients. You can rate an ingredient as something you’d like to receive “Often”, “Sometimes” or “Never”. For me, that works really well, because I only get recipes with ingredients I know I like.

    12. SG*

      I did HelloFresh briefly just to try it out. I’m vegetarian, and I liked the recipes overall, but I was put off by the lack of whole grains — it’s all white rice (no brown rice and white flour products (i.e. pizza crusts, etc). Not sometimes, but all the time. This was a deal breaker for me.

    13. Pharmgirl*

      If you’re in a rut and just don’t know what to cook it might help for a few weeks. But my experience is that it’s really for people who have money but not time, but want something healthier than takeout. And/or someone who want to get better at cooking. You’re paying more for the convenience of it. And if you’re a decent cook, I don’t know that it’s that much of a time saver since you have to still go shopping for other staples. Over time the meals also tend to feel similar – so while it’s gets you out of a rut for a while, the food starts to taste repetitive.

      One option might be something like Hungry Root? They have the option for pre made foods but they also are kind of like a grocery. So you can get staples, breakfasts, snacks etc in addition to some meals.

    14. Annie Edison*

      I’ve done Hello Fresh and Blue Apron for the past few years. I don’t have exact numbers, but I think it does add some cost to my grocery budget as compared to when I was meal planning for myself, but would be less expensive than getting take out most nights.
      It’s been a lifesaver over the past couple years while I was single, caring for a parent with Alzheimer’s, and starting/running my own business. It was like a little present to myself every week to have someone else plan my meals for me and do most of the shopping, and freed up some mental space on the weekends where I could relax a little instead of having to think about meal planning/prep and doing a big grocery run. For me the added cost was worth the savings in stress/time/decision fatigue

  40. No Microwave*

    Our microwave bit the dust and we’ve opted not to replace it (for health reasons).

    For those that do not have a microwave, give me your best tips for reheating leftovers and other things that most people use the microwave for (no more melting butter in 30 seconds, sadly!)

    We have a oven/stove and a toaster oven/air fryer/dehydrator.

    1. RagingADHD*

      The only way a microwave would affect your health is if the shielding is compromised or you are trying to heat unsuitable containers.

        1. RagingADHD*

          You can put crappy frozen dinners in the toaster oven just as well. The appliance has nothing to do with it.

    2. KoiFeeder*

      Honestly I like my air fryer for reheating foods that are meant to be crunchy, like french fries. I never use the microwave for those anymore.

      1. YNWA*

        I use my air fryer for a lot of items. Not just crispy ones but I’ve used it to heat up potpies in the summer when running the oven is just too warm. Corn dogs, a lot of different leftovers (although you do have to worry about overcooking sometimes).

    3. BRR*

      Wait, what are the health reasons?

      But to answer your question, I’m a huge fan of a good toaster oven. Mine was a worthwhile upgrade.

    4. Wishing You Well*

      I’m sorry you don’t like microwaves. They’re so convenient!
      Microwaves are energy efficient. I don’t want to heat a giant oven for many minutes just to warm something up. I recommend you get an instant hot water tap. I have one and it’s absolute HEAVEN.
      You won’t believe how handy having nearly boiling water is for food prep.
      Best of Luck.

      1. pancakes*

        That seems harder to clean than an electric kettle. I don’t use my kettle for food prep much at all though – mostly we use it for tea.

        1. Pocket Mouse*

          Not sure what you’re envisioning, but I think this is just an extra faucet, out of which comes very hot water (which can then be used for e.g. pasta on the stove as usual, but with less time/energy used to get it to a boil).