{ 1,007 comments… read them below }

    1. Squirrel Nutkin (the teach, not the admin)*

      So sorry to hear. What a beautiful, beloved kitty.

    2. old curmudgeon*

      I am so sorry to hear of your loss, Alison. Thank you for loving Hank as you did – I know he had a wonderful life as part of your family. Peace be with you.

      1. the cat's pajamas*

        Thank you for sharing your beautiful kitties with us. Sending you internet hugs if you want them.

        I love that photo, he looks a bit like Lucifer from the cartoon Cinderella there. :)

    3. Darn Cancer*

      So sorry to hear about Hank. He was so loved and lucky to have you as his people.

    4. Jean (just Jean)*

      Sympathies. I hope you’ll have good memories and lots of affection from the other cats.

    5. RMNPgirl*

      So sorry to see this! My thoughts are with you and the rest of the kitties. Hopefully they’re doing okay.

    6. Heffalump*

      They never live long enough, but only 6? :( Our temporal life’s loss is kitty heaven’s gain.

      1. Ask a Manager* Post author

        Far too young. He had cancer (an injection site sarcoma, they think). We did radiation over the summer and had hoped it would buy him more time, but he did have a very good last few months that he wouldn’t have otherwise had.

        1. Shakti*

          I’m so sorry for your loss. A a pet is a true companion and a real friend. He was/is so special. Sending many thoughts to you and your family

        2. MEH Squared*

          That is way too young. I’m so sorry for your loss, but I know you gave him a great life for the short time he had here.

        3. MassChick*

          Hank was the same age as my boy (also 2018 born). Gone too young but couldn’t have asked for a better family <3

        4. Unemployed in Greenland.*

          I’m so sorry. This is exactly what happened to my sibling’s cat; it was such a very sad thing, and the kitty far too young!

        5. the cat's ass*

          I’m so sorry about Hank. He was a wonderful majestic kitty with a wonderful family!

        6. I take tea*

          I’m so sorry for the cat-shared hole in your heart. I’m glad he had a good end.

        7. Myrin*

          I’m so incredibly sorry to hear that, Alison, especially with such a rare form of cancer. I still remember when you got him and I truly believe that in you and your husband (and the other kitties, of course!) he had the most wonderful home.

        8. Daily Fan*

          Sending hugs, they take a piece of our hearts when they go. As others have said…Hank knew he was loved. You are the best human!

          We also lost a cat to cancer. She had two years of chemo and then let us know it was her time to go. It has been 5 years and my heart still breaks.

        9. Lucien Nova*

          Oh geez. I’m so sorry, Alison, Hank was lovely and I’m certain he was very happy to live out the life he had with you.

    7. Kyrielle*

      Alison, I am so sorry for your loss. He was lovely, and clearly loved. Rest well, Hank.

    8. MEH Squared*

      I’m so sorry to hear that. What a sweet, gorgeous fluff ball. Rest in peace, dear Hank.

    9. The Prettiest Curse*

      RIP, Hank. Losing a pet is always terrible and I’m very sorry for your loss.

    10. Askew*

      Oh, Hank. I’m so sorry to hear this, he was so loved and will be missed. Such a beautiful boy.

    11. Euphony*

      Hugs to you Alison – I lost my tabby girl Jackson to cancer a month ago and it’s hard. Run free Hank

    12. A313*

      Alison, I am so sorry for your loss. Hank was gorgeous, and I’m glad we got to see him.

    13. Slinky*

      I’m so sorry. Thoughts to you, your husband, and other kitties as you navigate this loss.

    14. Heffalump*

      I’d like to recommend a couple of booklets by Mary and Herb Montgomery. A Final Act of Caring, ISBN 1879779021, is about making the decision to euthanize a pet. Goodbye My Friend, ISBN 1879779005, is for the person who has recently lost a pet. Both are wonderful. My vet gave me these in 1994 when it was clear that my 18-year-old Maine Coon cat Ashbury didn’t have much longer, and they were very helpful. Both books are (sadly) out of print but available used. I’ve given several copies to friends who had lost pets.

      1. the cat's pajamas*

        For a more recent offering, Dr. Karen Fine offers a free online guide to Writing a Pet Obituary, and discusses euthanasia in part of her memoir, The Other Family Doctor. I send this one to friends, too. I’ll reply with the link to her site.

    15. Giz's Mom*

      Oh no! Ever since you posted the cat dossiers on the “behind the scenes” column, he’s been my favorite. (not that the other cats aren’t awesome as well!) Virtual hugs to you all!

    16. Once too Often*

      Oh, what sad news. Hank’s humans & his clowder will miss him dearly.
      Thank you for letting us know.

    17. Heffalump*

      He looked as if he had some Maine Coon in him—did he? I ask because both my cats were Maine Coons.

      1. Ask a Manager* Post author

        He didn’t! At one point we became convinced he was part Norwegian Forest cat and had a DNA test done … only to find out he was 0% Norwegian Forest cat. He was a large kitty though.

    18. Bluebell*

      So very sorry to hear this. I’m not a cat person, but can definitely agree that he was beautiful, and I’ve enjoyed the Hank and Laurie stories.

    19. Britpoptarts*

      Oh, Alison, I’m so sorry to hear about Hank. What a magnificent cat. I’m glad he was yours, because I know he was beloved.

      1. I'm A Little Teapot*

        Because that’s what the cat wants of course. The cat certainly doesn’t care about human standards of behavior.

      2. ThatGirl*

        I wasn’t going to comment but yeah, rest in power should be reserved for tragic human injustices, especially Black folks. I know how hard it is to lose a pet but not the time for that phrase.

  1. ProducerNYC*

    Oh, Hank. I’m so sorry, Alison. I just know you guys gave him a truly wonderful life, though it’s never enough time.

    1. WoodswomanWrites*

      Alison, so sorry to hear this. I hope you and your husband find comfort in knowing that Hank’s life was wonderful because of you.

    2. Aphrodite*

      I am so sorry, Alison. Hugs to you, and I know Hank loved you too. You gave him a wonderful life.

  2. Squirrel Nutkin (the teach, not the admin)*

    Small joys thread. What made you happy this week?

    1. Janeric*

      I took the day off for some life admin and it is beautiful here! I had a great walk etc.

    2. California Dreamin'*

      As I advance through my 50s, I’ve been feeling increasingly dissatisfied with how my aging face and body look. I decided to make a concerted effort to step up my game in terms of developing a more polished and age-appropriate fashion (for casual life… I have a nice professional wardrobe for the couple days a week I’m in an office setting.) Today for a meeting with my child’s college counselor, I put on a pretty new blouse, new shoes that are not Allbirds sneakers like I’ve been wearing nonstop for a couple years, and tried out a brand new lipstick shade. I was so much more “dressed up” than I needed to be, and a year ago I might have just had on a T-shirt and cardigan, but I felt really great! I feel like putting in a little more effort is probably the key to not feeling like I’ve “let myself go.”

      1. goddessoftransitory*

        I find this inspiring. I’ve been dissatisfied with my similarly aged look as well and need to freshen up my look.

      2. 248_Ballerinas*

        Good for you! I’m gradually revamping my wardrobe as a woman of a certain age. Have gotten they-real guidance and inspiration from Marie-Anne Lecouer, The French Chic Expert, on YouTube.

    3. beep beep*

      I found a delightful new bakery nearish me! They have delicious, huge cupcakes and cereal bar treats and even pupcakes. I’m having fun trying all their different flavors.

    4. goddessoftransitory*

      Peanut turned out fine after a Tuesday of barfing all day–fluids and anti-nausea took care of things and he’s been fine so far. Since we’ve been working on his diet he’s much less restless at night, too.

    5. WasThisWeirdOrWhat*

      I rode a horse for the first time in decades! We’re vacationing in Hilton Head, SC, my husband was golfing and I found a riding stable near our rental, so on a whim I booked a trail ride. We rode through forest and swamp on a beautiful late winter day and I couldn’t have asked for a better day!

    6. SG*

      I was walking through a large metropolitan commuter train station when I saw a woman with a white cane getting directions from someone. She then started walking in the correct direction, but this station is convoluted and difficult navigate even for someone sighted, so I offered to walk her to the info desk near the correct train line (different from mine).

      She took my arm, and I walked her to the info desk, but at that point only had a couple minutes to catch my train. One of the security guards saw us and immediately walked right over, assuring me she would help the woman get to where she needed to go. I had been willing to miss my train to help this woman, but I was grateful I didn’t have to. Moreover, I was reminded that most people are GOOD, when it comes down to it. It’s the small gestures like this that restore my faith in humanity.

        1. Jay*

          It turns out that the downstairs drains operate on some kind of pump system, so that left unused for long enough you somehow get sewer gas backing up through the plumbing.
          The building used to be a doctors office and one of the bathrooms has a shower in it.
          Which has not been used in close to three years.
          Apparently a couple of weeks ago it hit critical mass, and I’ve been breathing in sewer gas eight hours a day ever since!
          It’s fixed now, though, and I know how to make sure it never happens again.

          1. Britpoptarts*

            We’re on month THREE of Mystery Toilet Issues and I cannot wait for the (third? fourth?) plumbing company to try to solve it (sometime this week). It is torture to have no working toilets / running water for entire work days. And yes, the SMELL, it is VERY distracting.

            I’m glad your Bad Plumbing Issue has been resolved.

            (Worst plumbing-related disaster I’ve dealt with — as a renter — was annual tree root growth clogging the pipes, leading to whomever took the first shower of the day post-clog to shower in unspeakable muck. The tree was finally ripped out with extreme prejudice, but it took THREE YEARS of Springtime Surprise Muckenings for that to happen. SO GROSS. I still prefer to bathe/shower at night and run the water for a bit before hopping into any shower. I never even got mucked personally, and it was still highly traumatic.)

            1. Britpoptarts*

              To clarify, it has been three months of toilet / plumbing drama at my workplace (and my bosses rarely work a 9-5 in the office, so they were rather oblivious to the extent of the awfulness until it caused them problems personally).

              And I no longer live in the House of Surprise Filth Showers, hallelu.

      1. Busy Middle Manager*

        LOL me too! I felt like I was nuts. Made me do a detailed spring cleaning early! Some dried mushrooms in a novelty food thing I got for Christmas “melted” and to a cabinet. The thing was, I could not tell a direction where it was coming from so I cleaned everything that was already clean to get to that one thing

    7. Kyrielle*

      Got the results on a medical test result, that I was expecting to be good/normal news. And it was.

    8. Middle Aged Lady*

      Backyard fire this evening with my husband, chatting and staring into the flames.

    9. Writerling*

      Nutella cookies a friend sent me! My 1:1 with my writing instructor. Trying two classes at my library. Getting somewhat better at Japanese calligraphy :D

    10. BellaStella*

      I got a new book on a whim and really like it – paranormal romance, called Bride by Ali Hazelwood. Reading on the train to work has also been a joy. And finding two pairs of jean that fit well, first new jean since 2018.

    11. run mad; don't faint*

      My wildflower seeds are coming up! And the tornado watch we had this evening was canceled early as our weather improved.

    12. Irish Teacher.*

      I have a pretty big joy. I had thyroid cancer four years ago and the Tuesday before last, I got a call saying that they’d flagged a lymph node on the yearly ultrasound scan. I had a CT scan last Monday and yesterday had an appointment to discuss the situation. They couldn’t even find the lymph node on the CT scan, so they are pretty sure it was nothing.

    13. vombatus ursinus*

      We’ve had THREE days in a row of proper sun and beautiful blue skies (living in a famously grey and rainy country). It’s still cold but the light makes such a difference!

    14. allathian*

      My husband’s employer moved to a new office space, and I inherited his old office chair for WFH, and our son got my old one.

    15. the cat's ass*

      I got a new MA at the place we don’t talk about on weekends and it’s been terrific!

      I bought a pair of very wide vintage bell bottoms from the thrift store and they rock!

      Kid has decided to go to prom and is getting a tux tailored for the occasion, and it looks great!

    16. NeonFireworks*

      A friend had a baby in January; I got to see her this week for the first time since the birth and meet the little one!

    17. No more looming*

      Not so small: the suspicious lump turned out to be benign. Such a relief. Also my freaked out partner and I have had some good talks and we have managed to communicate better lately.

      Smaller, but important: the sun has shown itself again, for the first time in ages.

      1. Jean (just Jean)*

        What a beautifully worded comment! I’m sure your friend would be delighted to read it. Of course, you know your friend and I don’t. Feel free to disregard my unsolicited advice. :-)

        P.S. Enjoy the baby … and the parent(s)!

    18. carcinization*

      Went to the farmers’ market mostly just to walk around, but the tamale vendor we’ve been wanting to try, but who’s rarely there was actually there, so now we get to try some of their tamales finally!

    19. Llama Llama*

      I went to a national today and saw 21 deer and 24 turkeys! It’s super close to my house and we went more or less on a whim not expecting much because it was raining.

    20. Lucien Nova*

      I’m finally making some decent progress on the avatar I’m making for a close friend.

    21. Middle Manager*

      I got selected for an initial phone screen for a job that is a bit of a stretch. Happy to be getting a shot, even if I don’t make the cut.

    22. I take tea*

      Today was sunny and we went for a walk on the sea. On it, because the ice is still pretty thick. We kept near the shore, but some people walked pretty far, some skated and one even biked! It’s always a bit cool to be able to walk on water.

  3. ThatGirl*

    I posted a couple weeks ago about Chicagoland rescues – it’s really interesting to me to see the wide variety that seem to exist here, from big and professional to tiny. We thought we had a good one last weekend and then the dog got adopted before we even did the interview call. We’re meeting a dog tomorrow and the rescue seems to mostly be one woman who also owns a grooming and doggie daycare business. But if he’s a good fit, we may have a new friend soon :)

    Anyone got good, chaotic or funny pet adoption stories?

    1. Mobie's Mom Now*

      My husband and I went to check out a couple dogs several years ago at a rescue in our area, and for assume reason, I was drawn to this chubby little chihuahua mix, but she was not invested in us – not mean or scared, just couldn’t be bothered. So we adopted her! And somehow, she became very attached to me, but still didn’t care at all about my husband – he was pretty salty about it all the way to the end. She passed away last August, and even though she wasn’t the perfect dog, she was fiercely loyal and loved me with an alarming amount of devotion! I miss her – there’s never going to be another Millie.

    2. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      I have told both these stories here, but they’re good ones :)

      When I moved back to the midwest from the west coast, I had a friend who was getting ready to move overseas to where his wife was working, and he was looking to rehome their dog to someone they knew and trusted. So I adopted her from him, and she was the nicest dog ever. (Her vet had put that on her chart. “Nicest dog ever.” I have many Angua-being-nice stories.) My friend and his wife decided gradually that they weren’t going to stay together, and he was preparing to return to the US. I told him that he was welcome to crash on my and my housemate’s couch for a while to get himself sorted out on his return, but he couldn’t have my dog back. He did move in with us when he got back, and he never actually left – he and I will be having our seventh wedding anniversary this fall, and we joke that he married me for the dog. We had to take her in to cross the bridge the day before our 4th anniversary, but I have two more dogs since then, so now he stays with me for the other two dogs. :)

      A few years after that, he had had to say goodbye to his old man cat that had crossed the bridge at 17 (I was housing him while friend was overseas too), and was ready to get new cats – he wanted a pair that would get along. So we went out to the humane society and he proceeded to snuzzle every cat he could find in the place. I am not much of a cat person, so I tapped out early and was just standing in the front lobby dinking around on my phone, when suddenly I realized I could not move my head. The kennel I was standing in front of was not, in fact, empty; it housed a 9 month old shadow who had burned every SHRED of courage she would ever summon up in the rest of her natural life to reach out of her kennel and grab me by the bun with both paws and cling on for dear life. After a minute, I asked one of the volunteers to go tell that guy in the green shirt that his cat has his girlfriend by the head out here. He came out, extricated her, and goes “Well, that’s one.” The volunteer was like “One what?” He says “Oh, I came here for two cats. This is one.” She says “Well, she has a littermate back in sick bay with an eye infection, that’s why she’s out here quarantining instead of in there with the rest of the cats, to make sure she doesn’t have anything too.”

      The two cats (who are now nine years old) actually had Pirates of the Caribbean themed shelter names. The one with the eye infection ended up losing her left eye a couple months later, because the infection wasn’t clearing up, and now she is Captain Kyna Whitepaws, SCOURGE OF LAND AND SEA!, and her sister, Princess Kiara Scaredyfluff, is literally the chicken-est chicken that ever catted, like, she won’t come out of the basement, if anybody takes half a step toward her she flees, she seriously burned through her entire lifetime of courage getting my attention to take her and her sister out of the shelter. (And the Captain makes up for it be being pretty much completely fearless.)

        1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

          All my pups are named for kick-ass womenfolk, mostly of literature :) my middle pup is named for the star of Tamora Pierce’s Lioness quartet, and my youngest woofapotamus is named for Abigail Adams, Abigail Bartlett and Mother Abagail.

          1. Cat and dog fosterer*

            My foster dogs are mostly named for kick-ass female nerds! It’s fun to explain science history to random strangers.

        1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

          Me, texting husband two floors down: “Is the Princess cowering under the sofa?”
          Him: “Yes, did you think in her direction?”
          Me: “I just told her origin story on the internet.”
          Him: “I’m not going to see her again until Tuesday.”

      1. Genevieve en Francais*

        Oh my heart. I love all of this so much. It is my first time reading these but please re-post regularly because I love them.

        1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

          I require very little urging to discuss my critters, haha. We haven’t had a Pets of AAM thread since I acquired the woofapotamus, but Elder Statesdog Gone Beyond and the Ambassador (no longer Junior) have both appeared in previous :)

    3. ThatGirl*

      We had our first/previous dog for almost 8 years, he passed in late 2021. When we adopted him it was almost a fluke – we’d submitted our application the day someone else took him home, but they kept our name on file and he was returned about a week later due to a severe allergy. (Surprising since he was a Maltese-poodle mix.) They brought him to our house to meet us and check the house and he walked in like he owned the place. We knew pretty fast he was Ours.

    4. Office Chinchilla*

      The last time I went to adopt cats it was during the pandemic and the whole process for acquiring animals had changed. I couldn’t go to a shelter and pick out a pair of cats anymore; all the rescues were using fosters. I used Petfinder to look for cats, and then would research the rescue as much as I reasonably could. I found one that seemed to have very little internet presence until I saw the reviews, which all had basically the same plot: The rescue is one woman. You will call this woman about a cat you saw on Petfinder and she will tell you that cat is gone but she is certain she has another cat for you and will talk with you a bit about what you’re looking for. A couple days later, without warning, she will show up at your door, foist a cat upon you and demand cash. (She’ll offer to drive you to the ATM if you don’t have cash.) And the cat will be perfect.

      I did not call that woman to get my cats, but she is definitely going to show up in one of my short stories at some point. (Happy Ending: My two girls are now sleeping on the back of the couch, patiently waiting for me to announce dinnertime. Their story is longer but also much less interesting.)

      1. Genevieve en Francais*

        That’s basically how we got our dog. All dogs we asked about were gone, she told us to pick one of three from the based on photos alone because she knew they would all be good for us, we got the dog as soon as she came into the rescue from another state and the rest is history. Still not sure how/if they knew she’d be a good fit but boy, she is. She’s the best girl ever.

    5. goddessoftransitory*

      We got our kitties from MEOW and it was fairly straightforward–but when we went in to do the paperwork I came within an inch of demanding we also adopt a truly majestic beast named Doorstop. He was a marvelous Dutch loaf of a kitty.

      1. Heffalump*

        Mercer Island-Eastside Orphans and Waifs? I adopted Sasha, my last cat, from them in March 1999. The shelter worker took him out of the cage and handed him to me, and he started nuzzling up to me and purring like THAT. He had me at hello.

        1. goddessoftransitory*

          It wasn’t the MI branch, but definitely the Seattle area–sorry, it was seventeen years ago so I’d have to find their newsletter to figure out which one it was. But man, Doorstop was the Cat, y’know?

    6. RLC*

      Over 30 years ago, at a cat show, spied a thin-but-gorgeous adult male Abyssinian cat offered for adoption by a local cat rescuer. Rescuer opened his crate so I could meet him, his response to slash my hand with his claws. Of course I adopted this terrified little creature who had spent the past few months apparently subsisting on insects and bits of food he begged from the kind humans who also lived on the streets of his city. Once home he relaxed, gained weight, and became the best snuggle buddy. Took years to stop grabbing food off our plates in hilarious “Mission Impossible” style raids. Ten years with him was far too little.

    7. Jay*

      Many years ago, when my family was going through a particularly chaotic and difficult time, my father suppressed us with a tiny, beautiful little Labrador puppy.
      She was the smallest thing!
      She looked more like a hamster with aspirations than a dog.
      He got her from a friend of his that was trying to breed miniature Labradors, buying and breeding the smallest he could find together.
      Her mother weighed about 25lbs and her about father 35.
      She was the runt of the litter by a long margin.
      Despite the fact that she had a beautiful golden coat we called her ‘Shadow’ because we didn’t even need a leash. She would always stay right beside you, never leaving your shadow when you walked around the yard.
      The breeder predicted that she would top out at about, maybe, 20lbs.
      Fast forward about 2 years or so and we hit her full adult size. 128lbs worth of size.
      Her head alone was bigger than her mothers entire body.
      She was still a sweet little puppy.
      She was just a sweet little puppy the size of a midsize sedan.
      I was once asked where we ever found an English Mastiff with such a beautiful golden coat?
      She was a wonderful, affectionate, tiny, little lapdog in the body of a Dogasaurus Rex.

      1. OtterB*

        She was just a sweet little puppy the size of a midsize sedan.

        Just admiring that sentence for the image it calls up.

      2. Reluctant Mezzo*

        Reminds me of a Great Pyrenees who thought he was a lapdog. My daughter tended to disappear when he was on top of her lap.

    8. Kyrielle*

      Many years ago, when I was pregnant with my oldest (who is now a teen), we went to adopt a cat. (We had just lost one, and had only one, and wanted her to have company.) Given that I was pregnant, one of my criteria was ‘good with small children’ and they told me Ray was perfect.

      Ray was 9 months old. I was dubious that any 9 month old kitten would be good with kids, or that you could know if they would later be good with them.

      So I grabbed him ’round the chest just behind his front legs, picked him up and dangled him. He hung there and tipped his head back and stared at me like “really?” and waited.

      I was not expecting that, and that plus that he’d been fostered with small kids…we took him home. My eldest at various young points (always with us intervening!) used him as a pillow, grabbed him, chased him…. The only time Ray ever scratched him, and that lightly, was when he got a lightning-quick grab of…the fur just under the tail base. Poor cat.

      He was a WONDERFUL cat, and he was great with small kids. And bigger kids.

    9. Ipsissima*

      We intended to adopt a dog. We adopted two cats instead.

      We meant to get a dog to keep me company while Mr. Ipsi worked 24h shifts. Nice big dog, good for cuddles and intimidating potential malefactors. Well, the empty-the-shelter event had been massively successful, and there were three dogs left: a puppy (pass), a beagle (hard pass), and an elderly chihuahua (definite pass). So, I decided, we should just go look at the cats so I could cuddle something fluffy.

      We were trying to get the attention of a big ginger tom (who wanted nothing to do with us) when we heard from behind us an imperious “mowww!” We turned to see an impossibly massive black cat … which opened a second pair of eyes, and we realized it was two cats in a cat-stack. They clearly had something to tell us, so we asked to “meet” them in the play area. They spent an hour rubbing their faces on us, nibbling my purse handles, and purring loud enough to vibrate the posters on the wall.

      We didn’t really have a choice after that, so I filled out the paperwork and got a crash course in cat ownership/servitude from the (very helpful and incredibly delighted) shelter staff while Mr. Ipsi (soon to be known as CatDad) raced around the pet store collecting food, beds, litter, and anything he thought might be useful (such as toys, which were ignored).

      They were the best and sweetest cats I have ever met, and we are now fully converted CatPeople (TM)

    10. Falling Diphthong*

      First dog. We found a great puppy at the local shelter. Agreed to take her, but tried to arrange to pick her up Sunday, since we were having a 5-year-old’s birthday party Saturday. No, you need to take her now.

      The puppy was thrilled to bits by the party, at which she was constantly admired by a dozen children and their parents and siblings. The next day she spent a lot of time trying to figure out where they had all gone.

      She was an absolutely lovely dog, gentle and sweet and loved everybody. Only ‘problem’ was that she genuinely did not understand growling from another dog as meaning she should not trot up to sniff.

      Also she once got stuck in the woods because she met another submissive dog and they wound up in play bows 20 yards apart, waiting for the other one to initiate chase.

      1. Genevieve en Francais*

        ROFL @ the two submissive dogs just play bowing ad infinitum. Full-on belly laugh, thank you.

    11. SparklingBlue*

      I tell people that Luna was “love at first leap”

      After a dramatic summer nine years ago, (won’t go into the details of that), a friend noticed that I was depressed, and we soon found ourselves at my local shelter.

      After spending a few minutes with all the kittens, I had my choices narrowed down to a grey bobtail Manx, or a black domestic short-haired.

      So we take them both to the acclimation room to see how they would react to a power wheelchair (mine)

      The bobtail kept running away, but the black shorthair bravely leaped into my lap and purred, unafaid of my chair. Luna and I have been together for almost ten years–and she still plays like a kitten!

    12. Arsloan*

      I went to check out a dog and had no idea how LARGE he was going to be in person (it turns out his DNA says he’s mostly newfoundland, to give you a sense of how large is large). I left thinking, “oh no, that’s dog is too big for me, I’ll have to keep looking.” But then the whole next week I kept thinking about how gentle and sweet he seemed (it actually turned out he was faking, haha). The following weekend I went back to get my giant boy and now I’ve had him for two years :D

    13. Genevieve en Francais*

      We had just finally bought a house and I was four months pregnant with our first kid, so we knew it was now or never for getting a dog. My husband grew up in a farm family that bred German Shepherds and I grew up with an unruly rescue mutt. I managed to convince him that a mutt would be fine and it didn’t have to be a puppy, but he still had a lot of ideas about the size and color of dog he wanted. The one non-negotiable for me was obviously that the dog be good with kids.

      Long story short(-ish), it took us forever to find a dog and there were a lot of false starts. Every dog we asked about was already spoken for (yay for high adoption rates!). Finally one of the rescues we were working with let us know there was a shipment of dogs coming north from Tennessee and that there were a couple “labs” on their website who had just been put up. They were all about a year, medium-sized, and okay with kids (although to this day we’re not really sure how they came to that conclusion). So we agreed to foster-to-adopt one based on essentially an eenie-meenie-minie-mo of the photos, which, again, was maybe a bit reckless given that we had a baby on the way in a matter of months. All we knew is that she’d been in the shelter about a month and had spent her first year of life outdoors, probably neglected to some extent and not well-socialized with people. We literally met the van as they were unloading the 20 dogs who had just been shipped up from the shelter in Tennessee – a day-long ride. Our precious girl was so traumatized from the overcrowded shelter and the ride that she had to be carried into our car. When we got home she immediately found the first corner she liked and stayed there until we moved her to her crate. She didn’t come out to eat or drink until three am that night. We had to carry her outside to use the potty for the first few days because she wouldn’t leave her crate (when she came out to eat she’d leave at least one foot inside the crate) and she was afraid of doorways (and basically everything else).

      I could write a whole book on Good Girl’s growth and development, but the quick and dirty version is that when we met her she didn’t wag her tail or play with toys. Six years later she runs around with her two human brothers, barks at the mail carrier, loves agility courses and sleeps in our bed. We probably will never adopt a dog sight-unseen again, but we’re so, so glad we did this time because she is my heart dog. Also she’s a pretty pretty princess and all the couches and blankets and beds are hers. We’re good with that, even my “dogs don’t belong in beds” husband.

      1. Cat and dog fosterer*

        Oh yes, I wouldn’t do an adoption without seeing them first. Another rescuer did that with a dog and was promised a perfect match, yet the dog had severe separation anxiety and chased her cats. Dog was fostered in a place with constant warm weather by someone who left it in her yard all the time, and living in a home with cats while my friend went to work was a disaster. Thank goodness the rescue quickly found it another foster.

        I have fostered dogs from Kentucky, Texas, Mexico, Caribbean, and other locations. They are almost always perfect dogs, although maybe not the right match for me, but it’s my job to find them their match. I would now struggle with a rescue that expects fosters to adopt (I’m supportive of rescues that have a lot of foster-to-adopt, but that’s different from expecting it).

        1. Genevieve en Francais*

          This rescue was good and didn’t necessarily expect us to foster – they offered to find her a foster while she acclimated so we could get to know her better once she was less traumatized. We just declined because…well, blind faith, really. It was probably dumb but it worked out really well for us. We do know about five other families who had had good adoption experiences with this rescue, so we had reason to think they knew what they were doing.

          My husband definitely had some “what the fuck did we just do?” moments when we realized just how scared our poor dog was and we worried that maybe she had been treated really poorly. And I had some moments where I was worried she wouldn’t be able to hack it with our big kid when he became mobile. Six years on, though, we feel pretty confident that she’s just a naturally more anxious dog thrives with stability. She definitely wasn’t given the best start in life but we have no reason to think she was irreparably harmed. And she’s never shown any aggression, except toward bunnies.

          We’ve learned a lot about managing kids and a dog and everyone has matured. At this point she’s a give-no-fucks middle-aged lady, just like me, and we love it. She could bark less, but oh well. We’re mostly just proud she’s found her voice. It took a few years!

          But yeah, never doing that again!

    14. RussianInTexas*

      Few years back, after our old Smoke passed away, we decided to get a pair of bonded siblings. Looked in various shelters and rescues but nothing clicked, until spotted a pair of 10 months old orange fuzzy boots in CAPS. Love at first sight!
      Went to CAPS to meet them, the staff brought them into the “meet” room, they both immediately claimed under the bench, not a peep. Took them home anyway, and that were “adopt one, get fees waived on the other”, because they were “adult cats”.
      6 year later, they are BIG orange fluffy boys, 14 and 16lb, and the smaller one NEVER STOPS TALKING. Seriously, he is the noisiest, most conversational cat ever. When he eats, sleeps, walkes, runs, plays, cuddles, etc.

    15. captain5xa*

      We were looking to adopt a Jack Russell Terrier (JRT) after our older JRT passed away. I was looking on the Texas Russell Rescue website and saw a picture of a little sweetie with the cutest little chin-hair beard.

      We applied to adopt her, and after passing a home inspection, having to list references (that were contacted) that attested to our reputation for excellent dog ownership and care, and demonstrating that – yes! – we did indeed know about the peculiarities of the breed and caring for one of them, we were approved for adoption.

      The lady fostering her was head of a chihuahua rescue group that was picking up a chihuahua at a local kill shelter when she saw our JRT in a crate, scheduled for euthanasia because she was snapping / biting and growling at everything / everybody. The lady sat by the crate and befriended her, realizing that she was scared out of her mind. She took her home to foster with her (and the new chihuahua). Never having been around JRTs before, it was quite the adjustment.

      The lady lived four hours from us, so we met halfway at a McDonalds parking lot. The lady let our JRT out of the travel crate on a leash. I had sat down on the nearest curb to look smaller and less scary. Our new JRT immediately ran over to me and got in my lap and put her head on my shoulder.

      She’s been with us for 11 years now and is a lap muffin. She sleeps with us and hogs the bed. And she keeps small animals out of the yard, catches mice if they get in the house, and warns us when our neighbor’s cows get out. And she still has a silly little chin beard.

    16. Generic Name*

      We live in the Denver area, and decided to adopt an Australian shepherd mix. Apparently Denver is a “net importer” of dogs, meaning that there is such a high demand for pet dogs that shelters and rescues from other areas send dogs to the area. And small to mid size dogs are in high demand. So I put in some search parameters into pet finder and set up an alert. Husband said that for the right dog, he was willing to drive any distance. Okay. So I set a nationwide search to email me when dogs matching my criteria became available. About a week later, I got an alert for a puppy in Kansas. We filled out the adoption application and drove to Kansas to meet/adopt her. It was April, and we drove through a freak snowstorm in eastern colorado to go get her. We spent the night in an iffy hotel and drove home with her the next day. She’s been with us for 6 years now, and she’s just amazing. She’s lying next to me in a cone because we just spent many thousands on knee surgery for her, but it’s totally worth it. I’ve never had a dog before (only cats), and I finally get what dog lovers are talking about.

    17. ElastiGirl*

      We were just home from our honeymoon when we noticed a feral cat hanging around our back door, meowing piteously. Neither of us had ever owned a cat, but she was clearly starving, so we gave her some tuna. She came back. We kept feeding her.

      She responded to “Kitty,” so that’s what we called her. She was very skittish. She was afraid of feet, and the sight of a broom made her flee in terror till the day she died. Clearly she had been abused.

      Gradually she came to trust us, and she especially bonded with my husband. She remained an outdoor cat (we were in a no-coyote area), but after a while, she came inside to sniff around and hang out.

      A year later, we moved, and we decided we had to take her with us so she could survive. We knew nothing. We just tossed Kitty in the car to make the 2-mile drive. She promptly climbed on my husband’s shoulders, dug in all her claws and started screaming. Oops

      Kitty became an indoor/outdoor girl at that point, sleeping on our bed, less afraid of feet but still shy. We had a loose screen in the back that she used as a cat door, but if she wanted to come in through the front door, she would meow and demand to be let in.

      One night, I was watching TV and heard the meow. I got up to open the door, still watching the TV. Half an hour later, I looked down and saw a completely different cat wandering around our house. A 6-week-old kitten, bold and unashamed, making himself completely at home. Of course he helped himself to Kitty’s food.

      We put him outside. But he wouldn’t leave. He just meowed and meowed to come back in. The next day, he found his way under the house and meowed incessantly. We thought we’d turn on the dishwasher to scare him out from under the house — and then we saw tiny paws reaching out from under the dishwasher. He had claimed this as his house, and he wasn’t going anywhere.

      He quickly found the loose screen/cat door and began to let himself in and out. Kitty wasn’t happy, but there were no overt hostilities. And the new kitten was delightful— affectionate and fun and trusting. Wherever you wanted to step, he wanted to be there first, so we called him Mr Underfoot.

      We really weren’t ready to make a commitment to a second feral cat. (We checked the neighborhood— he didn’t belong to anyone). And Kitty was a bit pissed off at my husband— she started sleeping on my feet instead of his to let him know she was mad. For about a week, we lived in an odd limbo where we didn’t know what to do about this kitten. We put food for him outside to protect Kitty’s bowl (he ate some of her food anyway).

      And then Kitty peed on the bed. I thought she was acting out, but my husband said, no, she would never do that. And he whisked her off to the vet.

      Kitty had a massive, sudden bladder infection. She was on heavy-duty antibiotics for 2 days, and then she died. We were devastated.

      But at home, we had a brand-new kitten ready to jump and leap and get under our feet and bring us an unending supply of living mice because of course we wanted to play with them as much as he did. Underfoot grew into a massive, huge cat and was the joy of our lives for the next 14 years or so. We figured God knew we were going to need a cat, and sent him meowing to our front door.

      And Kitty? The vet offered to do an autopsy for free. He didn’t find why she got so sick so fast, but he said in passing, “Oh, I found the bullet.”

      The what?

      Kitty had been more than abused before she found us. She had been shot. She had lived her whole life with a bullet embedded in her belly fat. No wonder she was so skittish!

      Between Kitty and Underfoot, we became dedicated cat people. And yes, we have a cat carrier now.

      1. MassChick*

        Omg what a story! And the twist at the end! How loud was Kitty when she died? I’m tearing up thinking of her living with a bullet in her..

    18. Stunt Apple Breeder*

      An older couple who had decided to retire from farming and move to town tried taking their redbone coonhound to their local humane society. The staff declined to take him because he was a hound. The couple then called around and got ahold of the humane society in my town, a 1.5 hr drive away.

      The volunteer who took their call told them she might know of someone who would be interested (me) and she would call them back. I agreed to an introduction with my dogs and cats. All the pets got along, so I said I would take him. I asked why they were rehoming him, I live in town too? They said he was very vocal and energetic. They were worried he wouldn’t adapt to an apartment.

      Red started getting antsy and moved to the front door, obviously wanting to leave. The couple quietly slipped out the back door. When Red saw them walk across the boulevard to their vehicle and drive away, his whole body just sagged with disbelief. You could see him thinking, “They left me.” He sniffed around the house, stopping at the back door, then laid down on the rug. He slept there for two days waiting for them to come back.

      Four years later, Red has decided that we are all right after all! He loves car rides, has claimed the bean bag chair and a fluffy blanket as his favorite bed, and is confident that we will always come back.

      Oh, and he only howls along with the fire siren. The only other sound he makes is a quiet chuckle when we give him hugs and tell him he is the perfect hound.

      1. Not a farmer*

        Oof. My in-laws are farm folk who have a similar relationship to their dogs (they haven’t rehomed any and they care for them well, but they do treat them more like livestock than companions). Given the realities of farm life, I get it, but also it breaks my and my partner’s hearts.

        All that to say, I’m so sorry Red had to go through that but I am so, so glad he has you and you have him.

        1. Stunt Apple Breeder*

          Thank you. Red really is such a great dog. We still can’t believe they gave him away!

    19. I'm A Little Teapot*

      After a long and involved cat history which involved putting down 4 cats in 4 years, I had a 15 year old male cat at home and I wanted a kitten. I figured the male would be good with a kitten, and I’d had a series of seniors and wanted a break from hospice. Well, because of that involved cat history, I have a relationship with the local shelter and became friends with one of the adoption counselors, we’ll call her Mary. Mary knew that I had recently lost another cat and that I was probably going to get a kitten, so she wasn’t surprised when I came in looking for a kitten.

      Mary asks what I’m looking for: female, short hair, and not black (the existing cat at home was black, I just don’t want two that look the same). She tells me there’s not a ton of kittens due to the time of year, but go look. So I walk into the cat room and there’s this tiny black kitten in the first cage on the bottom who just starts screaming at me. I look at the tag, see the name is Post It, and tell the kitten, sorry but I wasn’t going to get a black kitten because I already have a black cat at home. I start going along the wall, looking at all the cats, and every single one of them either hisses at me or completely ignores me. All of them. Even when I’m trying to engage one of the cats, they are having nothing to do with me. Except for that tiny black kitten, who was still screaming. I get down to the end of the room, accept that I have been chosen and go back to that black kitten. She’s rolling all over trying to get my attention, purring, all of it. I tell her, ok, I have to go do the paperwork.

      Walk out to the desk, see Mary, and tell her I found a kitten. Mary says wonderful, who? I reply, Post It. And Mary just starts laughing, because I wanted a female, short haired, not-black kitten, and here I am adopting a female, medium hair, black kitten. After I told her this story she laughed even harder.

      Post It is now Luthien. The adult male I had died unexpectedly about a week after I got Luthien, so I then got a brown tabby kitten and named her Beren. They’re now about a year and half old.

  4. Possum'smom*

    Thank you Alison, not just for fostering and adopting Hank ( and Laurie too, because they were bonded), but also for sharing him with us.

  5. Introverts outside*

    Fellow introverts or socially anxious people who (for the most part) like to be social, what’s your routine or go-to’s for prepping leaving your place? Any pep talks? I’m going to meet a relatively new group of people this weekend and while I am mostly looking forward to it, but I’ve got to fight myself every hour to not cancel and stay home to play cozy video games. I’m trying out a “getting ready” playlist but I think I need more ideas that will get me pumped to socialize.

    1. Mad Harry Crewe*

      Can you set yourself some very achievable goals/victories to celebrate, that also act as offramps if you need to escape? I’m thinking:

      – I want to stay for 15 min but I can leave any time after that. Just showing up is a victory.
      – Bonus points for saying hi to someone I met last time
      – Triple word score for having a conversation
      – Extra double bonus points for staying to the end (or staying two hours, or whatever)

      Optionally assign yourself rewards for different wins.

      1. beep beep*

        Seconding this. I’ve been doing this myself for the past couple months, and making goals (get one person’s contact info, talk to one person about a common topic, say goodbye to someone instead of just slipping out), however small, has been big for me. It’s good practice no matter if you’re awkward or don’t know what to say, and even if everything feels terrible, you can also make a goal about that- don’t guilt yourself into staying if it’s just not your day and you need to try again next time.

    2. Darn Cancer*

      I prepare stuff early: Get out all the clothes and accessories I want to wear, including socks, if needed, and footwear. Pack up my purse or bag. Because if I’m anxious and rushing, I may forgot to bring a jacket or sunglasses. I’m careful about what I eat because I get nauseated if I’m really really anxious (job interviews are the worst!). I mentally commit to going and set alarms to remind myself to eat, to get dressed, to leave, etc. If I have any doubts or wavering on this commitment then I will stay home, so I have to keep reminding myself that I’m going out and the alarms reminding me to prepare help with that.

    3. Cicely*

      Might sound counter-intuitive, but, when possible, I clean, tidy up, and then create coziness before leaving: make up my bed but then pull down one corner of the cover, leave flameless candles lit around my place, put a [cold beverage of choice] in the freezer, and otherwise arrange things so that when I get home, my surroundings are just so inviting.

      It’s what I look forward to coming home to when I’m out. Can’t say I’m socially anxious, and I love to socialize, but, ultimately, I am a loner for sure.

      I like Mad Harry Crewe’s suggestions below, too.

    4. NervousYolk*

      I’m so food motivated. I’ll look up the menu in advance for an allergy check but also to find something I can really look forward to trying. or if I’m not meeting people for a meal, I’ll look for a place for a treat near where I’m meeting them, invite them to go with me or stop by at the end to pat myself on the back. I might get a snack or drink to take home too and prepare myself for a cozy decompression time at home where I can be alone wrapped in a blanket and watch a comfort show

    5. Armchair Analyst*

      My anxiety is not exactly like yours, but I have accepted that I like to bring a tote bag of various coping mechanisms like phone charger and extension cord and also a book and also some knitting and snacks. Fortunately I’m a woman who can bring a big purse. Of course it also has ibuprofen in case carrying it hurts my shoulders. A backpack might also be appropriate if you are not a tote bag or purse carrier.

      I also acknowledge this bag: “oh I need a place to put my bag of coping mechanisms!” Even if I never need any of them, I am so glad they’re there.

      And yes there may be a small stuffed animal or some nice things to smell in the bag, too.

    6. Not A Manager*

      I remind myself that I can stay home any night, but I can only go to this event occasionally. And I set the bar for “a good time” as “was it more fun than staying home alone?” If it was, then it was a good night. If it wasn’t, then I get to stay home another night and have a better time.

      I also do the “you can leave after” game. After saying hi to 3 new people, after staying 30 minutes, whatever. I dislike new groups/events the most, so I try to get that under my belt. Once I’ve met one or two people that I know I’ll see in the future, I can look forward to saying hi to them if nothing else.

      1. AGD*

        I do this too – the first part, that is. I always want to stay home, but I remind myself that I’ll have distinctive fun memories from a party and probably not from another pleasant but unmemorable evening at my house. Time to go collect some memories!

    7. Releeh*

      Heading out earlier so I can chill out by myself Outside the house prior to socialising is one of my go-to options (ie have a solo soft drink or a coffee or hot chocolate or whatever, or even to just go for a chill walk/take the less efficient but more aesthetic route). Can also be nice to invite someone you do already know to join you for that bit and then go together to the main gathering.

    8. Arsloan*

      One thing I do is not start getting cozy. Don’t start the video games in the afternoon if you know you’re going out in the evening. Get dressed to go out early, perhaps meet up with someone else who is going before hand for drinks or dinner, or do something like a walk or a workout if you have to be home.

    9. vombatus ursinus*

      Can you arrange your day so that you’re already outside the house for something you need to do (e.g. shopping, class, appointment of some kind?) and go straight to the social event after? I find it so much easier to keep the momentum going if I’m already out.

    10. Busy Middle Manager*

      Pep talk: I don’t view the world as out there, the world is my living room. I can be as comfortable out there as I am on the couch.
      On the flip side playing video games to avoid living will make you feel bad at a certain age
      Prep a few stories or recent things to talk about or questions to ask people.

      Also longer term, it helps to be seen at the same places regularly so people approach YOU or are at least open when you finally talk to them. So if you can start going to the same starbucks or church or gym or whatever and just be seen. That is the very first step. Sounds dumb but when you hang out with super social people, you realize that this is why they put a super amount of effort into going to the same restaurants and vacation spots as other people. See the same person in five different places? Suddenly you’re effortlessly friends

    11. LizWings*

      This runs counter to your question, but I like the sound of cozy video games! What games do you recommend?

    12. NeutralJanet*

      I do my usual “managing anxiety” thing, which is asking myself what the worst thing that could happen would be. In the case of going to an event with relatively new people, worst case scenario would be feeling awkward and not having a great time for a few hours, which would be unpleasant, sure, but not a big deal in the long run (or even the medium run), and the possible benefit of having a good time and making a new friend or two way outweighs that risk.

    13. Shiny Penny*

      The night before, I put 6 or 7 alarms in my phone- a bunch of mini-deadlines to keep me on track so I walk out of the house on time.
      I start with “leave the house” and work backward. So, I’ve got a nudge to get in the shower, get dressed, start breakfast, go check outdoor critters, wake up, etc. This makes a weirdly huge amount of difference for me.
      Also I seriously dread being early to things, so my natural default is to be late, which feels awful too. So now I plan on leaving at least 15 minutes before I really think I need to, and it turns out that puts me there on time! (But I tell myself I’ll just relax in the car if I’m early.)

      1. Firebird*

        I do the same thing with alarms and it helps a lot. I also remind myself that I will know at least some of the people, they are nice people, and I will be doing something that I enjoy. Also, that the worst case scenario is that I will only be out 10 bucks, if I go home early.

    14. KR*

      I make sure I spend a lot of solo time to get ready, preferably with some sun. Smoke some devils lettuce and I try to get some physical activity in on the hard days even if it’s a quick jaunt around the block with my dog to get the jitters out and also so I feel like I’ve had some me time if the social activity takes all day.

    15. Lilysmama*

      Ive found that putting a lot more effort into my appearance (even stuff that might not show like toe nails) than normal helps to keep me from staying in. Like, “I just spent all this time and haven’t worn this outfit in forever. Let’s not waste it.” And I try to make sure the day leading up to the event as calm and quiet as possible. Keep that introvert battery full so it’s brimming when I leave.

    16. Quinalla*

      Have a plan for rest and relaxation after. And agreed with tidying up before you leave so you come home to peace.

      I also remind myself how much fun I had last time I went out, even acknowledging how tiring it was.

  6. California Dreamin'*

    We are headed to DC in a few weeks for east coast college visits… I’ve never been, and I’m really excited! I have a transportation question. How easy is it to get cabs in downtown DC? Is it like NYC where I can just hail a cab easily anywhere in Manhattan? For example, on one day we will be touring the Capitol and Supreme Court and then need to get over to Foggy Bottom for a college tour. Can I just walk out of the Supreme Court building and assume that there will be plentiful cabs, or would it work better to get an Uber from there? What about when leaving Foggy Bottom after the tour? There will be lots of other examples like getting to restaurants for dinner, but when starting at our hotel (Waldorf Astoria), I assume the doorman can help us, or getting an Uber would be very easy there, too. I just don’t know how it is out on the main streets in the touristy areas. Thanks!

    1. DC*

      I have noticed there are fewer taxis on the street after the rise of Uber. If you’re there on a weekday, I would take the metro to avoid traffic and because the metro usually functions well on weekdays. Your hotel is right by the Federal Triangle station on the blue/orange/silver line which goes both to the Capitol and to Foggy Bottom. If it is a weekend, check the wmata website to see if there is track work. Even without track work, trains are less frequent on weekends (maybe 10 minute wait). Combination of less traffic and less frequent trains means taxis/Ubers are often faster on weekends. And your kid will be using metro if they end up in DC so it’s good to try it at least once.

      1. CityMouse*

        Seconding all of this. Not like NYC. Definitely rare to see taxis just driving around (you can pick them up via app or at certain locations). It’s a simple metro ride (you can take any color train from Capitol South to Foggy Bottom) but check weekend track work. I’m on the fence about whether driving is faster, it really depends on metro schedule and how bad the traffic is downtown that day. I would take Metro myself.

        1. Grits McGee*

          Another pro-Metro vote here, especially after watching 2 guys unsuccessfully try to hail a cab for several minutes in front of Zatinya on Friday.

    2. DC*

      Oh one other note on taxis; taxis licensed in VA and MD can drop off a passenger in DC, but they cannot pick up a passenger in DC. Only DC taxis can pick up a passenger on the street in DC. So that is the reason an empty taxi may pass you by. If you fly into DCA, the taxi line attendant will ask where you are headed and assign you to a taxi from that jurisdiction.

    3. DC2*

      Cabs are not so ubiquitous here, although I recommend taking a cab from the airport into DC because Uber and Lyft have a ridiculous upcharge go from the airport, and cabs have more of a flat pricing structure. But other than to/from the airport, take Uber or Lyft. They tend to be available without excessive waits unless you’re leaving a major event like a sports game or it’s the middle of the night.

      But I also recommend our transit system! Traffic in DC can be pretty bad. Metro can be a bit long of a wait between trains on the weekends, but it can still be faster than driving. It’s an easy transit system to navigate, only six lines and every station is accessible with elevators/escalators–much simpler than the NYC subway. (Buses are more challenging to navigate, but if your kid moves to DC for school it will be worth it for them to learn). Most of the universities except Georgetown and Trinity are within a few blocks of a metro stop. DC is also very walkable and generally quite safe in all of the tourist areas, even at night, as long as you use some common sense. Downtown is a grid of numbered streets running N/S and lettered streets running E/W, which is easy to navigate with the help of Google maps.

    4. California Dreamin'*

      This is all very helpful, thanks! Even though I’m a SoCal native and drive myself everywhere, I’m comfortable using public transit in other big cities, so I’ll check to see when the Metro might be our fastest option. I’m glad I asked about the taxis… I will just plan to Uber when it’s called for instead. We are flying into DCA and will get a cab from there, though.

      1. Janet Pinkerton*

        Near the Capitol is the one place I feel like you’re guaranteed to find a taxi. But you would have to walk a few blocks from the Supreme Court, probably.

      2. CityMouse*

        You don’t really need a cab from DCA either. It’s very easy to get to the Metro, pretty much the same distance walk to the can stand, just take the Blue Line to Federal Triangle and it’s literally just across the street.

        1. California Dreamin’*

          I had thought about this but wasn’t sure about doing Metro with a bunch of luggage. Also seems like the Metro ride is actually longer than a car ride would be at that time (a Saturday afternoon)

          1. DC2*

            This is valid. I’ve done the metro to and from DCA with a carry-on sized rolling suitcase and a backpack before and it’s totally fine. If your child ends up going to college here, Foggy Bottom to DCA is an easy and inexpensive metro ride with no transfers. But if you have multiple people with multiple bags who just got off a transatlantic flight and have never used the metro before…that’s a lot to navigate at once. A cab is undoubtedly more expensive, but sometimes convenience is worth paying for.

            1. PubIntAtty*

              When I commuted on the Silver Line I became a strong proponent of Metro riders should be limited to 1 bag per person- people bringing while luggage sets on the train to avoid taxi’ing to Dulles during rush hour definitely got the glares of hate from regular riders.

      3. Reba*

        Actually, DCA is one of the easiest places to get to and from on Metro! And your hotel is *literally* next to a metro stop!

        You can also look at Curb (calls regular red taxis) and Empower (like Uber but more driver control). Curb is faster than Uber if I am downtown, less so in the residential areas. I don’t use the services often enough to compare, but I have heard that Empower is becoming more popular with drivers than the other services.

      4. DC*

        If you’re schlepping a bunch of suitcases for a whole family I can see why a taxi would be easier to navigate than the Metro from DCA. The taxi line can sometimes be long if a bunch of flights just came in, but it’s well managed and moves quickly. Just don’t be surprised if you are not assigned a cab in the exact order of the line; it depends on the jurisdiction of the taxis in the line.

    5. DC*

      Also, go to the wmata website and look under Fares. Each person (except very small children) needs a SmarTrip card. You can order SmarTrip cards online, or there are some mobile pay SmarTrip options. And fare cost varies by length of trip and time of day. So it takes a little advance planning. It’s not as visitor friendly as the NY subway where you can just tap your credit card in and out.

    6. DC*

      I realize my last comment may have implied that you need to order a SmarTrip card in advance. You don’t; you can buy one at any station. You just have to do a separate transaction for each SmarTrip card so it’s a bit annoying if you are buying several. The fare machines look like they are straight out of the 1970s because they are, literally; they have been upgraded to accept credit cards and that’s about it.

    7. CL*

      As a local resident, thank you for not driving. DC is not an easy place to navigate and it’s not uncommon to see non-locals turning where it’s not allowed and driving the wrong way on one way streets. Metro, Uber and Lyft are your best bets. You don’t mention which airport you are flying to be DCA and IAD both have Metro stations. The only “touristy” place you can’t get via Metro is Georgetown.

      1. California Dreamin’*

        Well… we do have to drive a little bit. On our last day we are picking up rental cars near our hotel and driving to our Georgetown tour before heading out of town to Virginia. But we live in Los Angeles, so driving is not something that we have any qualms about, even in an unfamiliar city. Give me my Waze and I’m good :)

        1. Grits McGee*

          Well, if you stop (and stay stopped) at a red light, you’ll be doing better than a lot of DMV drivers…

          Signed, a MD driver

  7. EA*

    I’m in a reading rut! Trying to read Piranesi but it just isn’t clicking. Any recommendations for fast, fun and engaging reads?
    (Already done Scalzi, Klune and Kingfisher, which seem like AAM go-tos)

    1. goddessoftransitory*

      Sara Gran’s Claire DeWitt novels. Fun, entrancing reads that pull and pull you along.

    2. Pam Adams*

      Seanan Mcguire- particularly the Wayward Children series.

      Jo Walton- most recent Or What You Will.

      Catherynne Valente, Naomi Kritzer- both have lots of short fiction.

    3. BookLovinRN*

      The Remarkable Retirement of Edna Fisher, E. M. Anderson – feisty white-haired, grandmotherly type named The Chosen One. Has a bit of magic, dragons, personal growth, love, heartache and more.

    4. AcademiaNut*

      The Greenwing and Dart books by Victoria Goddard. A fast read with quite a lot of plot, strongly character driven, and a favourite comfort re-read for me. The first, Stargazy Pie, is available for free on Amazon. as part of a volume called Sword & Magic: Eight Fantasy Novels. If you want to buy further books, I’d recommend buying directly off Goddard’s website (cheaper, multi-format and DRM free).

    5. KeinName*

      Kiley Reid‘s books! Very gripping, themes: wealth, racism, young women, sexism, care chains, USA, queerness, education…
      Lucy Caldwell‘s books, couldn’t put them down. Esp the Meeting Point, about a minister‘s wife from rural Ireland who accompanies him to Arab Emirates and weird things ensue.

      1. Clisby*

        Second this. I got it for my daughter this past Christmas, and then checked it out of the library to read.

    6. Freya's Cats*

      My favorite writer is Naomi Novik, she has a gift of creating worlds without getting wordy. I’d recommend Uprooted and the Scolomance series in particular. Terry Pratchett is unequalled imo.
      I enjoy many of the VE Schwab books, the Vicious/Vengeful duology especially. Can also recommend books by Alix E Harrow.

      1. IT Manager*

        The Temeraire series is one of my frequent re-reads… along with all Austen’s works and Collin’s Gregor the Overlander series and every Agatha Christie I’ve got.

        Not really sure what is the common thread there… but Novik is great!

    7. old curmudgeon*

      You might enjoy stuff by Mary Robinette Kowal. My absolute favorite of her work is the “Lady Astronaut” series, an alternate history/sci-fi mashup story arc that starts in the early 1950s, but really all her stuff is good.

    8. Red Sky*

      Murderbot Diaries by Martha Wells – a socially anxious cyborg struggles with free will and saves TSTL humans

    9. Falling Diphthong*

      Killers of a Certain Age, in which a team of female assassins originally overlooked by marks because they were young and pretty, now overlooked because they are of a certain age, are targeted for assassination by their international assassin league. The hit fails, and they’re out for revenge and figuring out who put the hit on them.

      1. Mephyle*

        Thanks for this recommendation! I couldn’t put it down. Now I’m checking out more of Raybourn’s books.

    10. GoryDetails*

      The Undetectables by Courtney Smyth, tag-line “Be gay. Solve crimes. Take naps.” It does get dark in places – after all, it involves a trio of witches (plus ghost) investigating arcane serial murders – but there are lots of fun friendship-bonding/squabbles scenes and an intriguing story arc.

    11. Texan In Exile*

      It’s not enough that Stacey Abrams is turning Georgia blue, she also writes really fun, smart legal thrillers. Try “While Justice Sleeps.”

    12. Annie Edison*

      How do you feel about romance? Jasmine Guillory writes smart, independent women and fun banter. The Wedding Date series is a delight.

      The Bromance Book Club series is another fun read- a group of professional sports players forms a secret book club to read regency romance novels together in order to address toxic masculinity and become better partners

      For non-romance, the Tia Rosa’s Kitchen books is a fun cozy mystery series with a side of delicious food descriptions throughout (it’s set in a restaurant). Each book has a bunch of recipes at the end

    13. Lizard*

      The Rook by Daniel O’Malley – Myfanwy Thomas wakes up in a park surrounded by dead bodies with no memory of what happened or who she is. In her pocket, she finds a note from her past self offering her a choice: she can assume a new identity and leave the country or she can take her place as one of the leaders of a supernatural organization and find out who is trying to kill her. She chooses the second.

      Mercy Thompson series by Patricia Briggs (#1: Moon Called): Mercy Thompson is a mechanic and a walker (she can turn into a coyote). If it were up to her, she would fix cars, run around as a coyote, and live a pretty chill life. But she’s friends with a vampire, her former boss, now friend, is one of the fae, and she’s neighbors with a pack of werewolves. All of which causes quite a bit of trouble for her.

    14. Mephyle*

      A series that I discovered when it was recommended here only a few weeks ago: The Chronicles of St. Mary’s by Jodi Taylor.

      It’s about a college of time-traveling historians and their adventures. Readers of Connie Willis’s time-traveling historians will surely be reminded of them, but these are similar without being derivative. A little less cozy, too.

    15. Mostly Managing*

      I just finished the Frugal Wizard’s Survival Guide to Medieval England, by Brandon Sanderson. Part fantasy, part science fiction, completely bonkers.

      Highly recommended!

    16. Lilysmama*

      Grey Sister/Red Sister/Holy Sister by Mark Lawrence. I guess the best description without spoiling is Ender’s Game with nuns and magic.

  8. Jackalope*

    Reading thread! Share what you’re reading, and give or request recs.

    I just finished the 4th book in Seanan McGuire’s Incryptid series. I enjoyed it a lot but was a big sad at the decision that the main character made, even if I support her choosing to do what she wants with her life.

    1. goddessoftransitory*

      Rereading some Ross MacDonald Lew Archer because I just watched the AMC streaming of Monsieur Spade and got in a very noir-y mood (it’s a great series.)

      Also just starting Wise Blood by Flannery O’Connor. I’ve tried her short stories in the past but wasn’t in the right place to appreciate them.

      1. Squirrel Nutkin (the teach, not the admin)*

        I never liked Flannery O’Connor stories when I was young either. I read that sad story about the kid who didn’t successfully get his mom her medicine and one about some dude who burned down a barn, and I was kind of done. A friend encouraged me to read her when I was a lot older, and I really liked her stories, especially “A Good Man Is Hard to Find.” Once I got into the groove that I wasn’t necessarily supposed to like the people in the story, it was easier to enjoy.

    2. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      Book 13 in the Incryptid series hit my kindle app at 10:30pm on Tuesday, I’d forgotten I preordered it. I made the mistake of reading just one chapter before going to bed. Two hours later the book was finished and I was gasping for breath.

      1. AcademiaNut*

        Ooh yeah. Time zones mean I get Amazon new releases at 4pm, which mean I can start reading a new book on the bus home. Fortunately, it was my husband’s night to cook. Definitely don’t start with this one, but for those who have read the first 12 books, there’s some resolutions of dangling plot threads, the world’s most chaotic family reunion, and at least three major disruptions, two of which are pretty heartbreaking (and the third is pretty horrifying).

        1. Jackalope*

          Looking forward to it! As you can see, I’ve just made it to book 5 so I’ve got a ways to go. I’m also working my way through her October Daye series, as well as other books, some of them even from other authors. Sometimes if I try to gulp a series down too quickly I burn out so I’m trying to avoid that. But I have been enjoying them a lot.

        2. Jackalope*

          I’ll add that I just started book 6 last night, which is Antimony’s first book. She’s made a lot of really obnoxious and snarky comments about Verity that are annoying and a bit of emotional whiplash given that I just spent so much time in Verity’s head, and it’s making me not want to like her. I kind of want to have a fight with her and tell her to grow up. Definitely going to keep going, but I was tempted to throw this book across the room.

          1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

            Antimony … is not my favorite of Seanan’s characters, I’ll just say. Heh.

    3. Squirrel Nutkin (the teach, not the admin)*

      Re-reading some *Rumpole of the Bailey*. Grouchy barrister defends folks in criminal court and opines on social issues of the day.

      1. ElsieD*

        Love Rumpole!
        I want to recommend Ben Aaronovitch’s Rivers of London series, which I only discovered two weeks ago, but really enjoy as I devour the books. So British! London, her rivers and architecture, as the setting for detective stories that include magic. The main character, a typical young black computer-savvy police constable, discovers a little known (and generally avoided) department of the police service when his murder witness turns out to be a ghost…

        1. GoryDetails*

          Oh, yes, the “Rivers of London” books – they’re awesome! I started reading them via audiobook (the narrator is excellent), and have enjoyed print volumes and some of the spin-off graphic-novel stories too.

          1. CityMouse*

            The one thing is they are a bit gory and involve children and babies getting hurt. I read the first one on maternity leave and, yikes.

        2. Mademoiselle Sugar Lump*

          I loved Rivers of London! I think I have one left that I’ve been saving, and there are standalone stories and graphic novels I haven’t read yet.

    4. Shiara*

      Reading Starter Villain by John Scalzi. It’s fun! It feels more polished than the Kaiju one to me.

      1. old curmudgeon*

        Agreed, plus what’s not to like about sentient cats, unionized (and profane) dolphins, and billionaires getting their richly deserved comeuppance?

    5. Nessness*

      Currently reading Skippy Dies by Paul Murray. I recently finished his newest book, The Bee Sting, and it’s one of the all-time best books I’ve ever read, so decided to try this one. It’s good too but I don’t love it like I did with The Bee Sting.

      1. KeinName*

        I find it horrible. Am halfway through and had to stop, can’t figure out what it is about. Lots of miserable characters.
        The Bee Sting was very enjoyable, though I also thought it needn’t have been as long as it was.

    6. Rara Avis*

      I’m rereading Laurie King’s Mary Russell series. Currently on a Locked Rooms side quest: reading The Maltese Falcon because Dashiell Hammett is a character in Locked Rooms. It’s not grabbing me.

      1. Blomma*

        You might enjoy Death and the Conqueror and The Murder Wheel by Tom Mead. Both are locked room mysteries written more recently but set in the past. I really enjoyed them.

      2. goddessoftransitory*

        Dashiell Hammett takes getting used to–you might want to start with some of his Continental Op stories to get the swing of his style, so to speak. But Maltese Falcon is a great read once you do!

    7. Freya's Cats*

      Just finished Fourth Wing. As with all hyped books, it is always a surprise if it will live up to that hype or not.
      For me personally, a fantasy needs to have good world building. This one, especially in the beginning, not very well put together to my taste and it took me a bit to get my disbelief sufficiently suspended, but it grew on me and I think I will be reading the next one. So, I’d rate it light entertainment, and entertained I was in the end. Sometimes all you want from a story is for the protagonist to fire their gun in the air and go ‘aaah’.*

      *disclaimer: Please note there are no actual guns in this story

    8. Richard Hershberger*

      I just finished A Memory Called Empire, by Arkady Martine, and which won the best novel Hugo in 2020. It starts off a bit slow. It is heavy on world building, presented with no hand holding so the reader has to work to keep up. The first quarter or so I wasn’t sure I was going to stick with it, but then I got sucked in and zipped through the rest. I will definitely be reading the sequel, which also won the Hugo.

      1. fallingleavesofnovember*

        Oh I looooved A Memory Called Empire. The sequel has a much more classic sci-fi setting but has just as interesting explorations of ideas. I wish Arkady Martine had more writing out there!

      2. Freya's Cats*

        That has been on my books to buy list for a while. I needed to order something so this gave me the push to add it to my order this time.

      3. Reluctant Mezzo*

        This was the first SF/fantasy that I’ve ever read where the culture seems derived from a toned-down Aztec base–sacrifices based on blood and the naming conventions feel very Mesoamerican to me.

        1. carcinization*

          It was so weird to me that none of the reviews I read picked up on that… but some of the comments about the reviews always did.

        2. Richard Hershberger*

          The names certainly, but the court read more Byzantine to me. Then I looked up Martine’s bio, and not at all to my surprise that is her academic specialty. So I take this as a conscious mix of Byzantine and Mesoamerican.

    9. fallingleavesofnovember*

      I read Migrations by Charlotte McConaghy this week (about a woman who decides to follow the migration path of Arctic Terns in a near-future where most non-domesticated animals are dying out) and it’s the first book in a while that has left me crying at the end…so much heartbreak and so much beauty. I would love to find people to talk to about it!

      1. Hibiscus*

        My niblet (13) read it, turned their dad onto it, and I bought a copy but haven’t cracked it open.

    10. word nerd*

      I read The Dark Lord’s Daughter by Patricia Wrede, a middle grade fantasy just published last year, Wrede’s first after a long break in writing. It’s not as good as the Enchanted Chronicles, but still a fun adventure. A teenager and her adoptive family in our modern world are transported to a magical fantasy world where she had originally been born to a dark lord.

      1. Thoughts*

        Just finished that too! Made me want to reread the Enchanted Forest Chronicles and maybe the first Kate and Cecy book.

    11. 248_Ballerinas*

      Just finished Troubled, by Rob Henderson. His memoir of a chaotic childhood with multiple foster-care placements. Kind of a West Coast version of Hillbilly Elegy. Sometimes lacerating view of the “non-elites.” No direct political commentary. Highly recommended.

    12. Falling Diphthong*

      The Children of Jocasta by Natalie Haynes. Retelling of the Oedipus myth from the alternating points of view of Jocasta (Oedipus’s mother/wife) and Ismene (their youngest child). It’s a very realistic telling–no magic, no gods, no convenient unimpeachable witnesses popping up a decade later to tie everything together with rock hard evidence. People, motivated by fear and love and revenge and power and other things.

      1. Nightengale*

        This is fascinating. I remember Ismene as the older sister. She was my favorite character in Antigone and I once got into an argument (in English) with my French teacher about her until we realized we were working from two different Greek to English translations. So now I am wondering if I misremember or if different translations differ in which they state or imply is older.

        1. Falling Diphthong*

          Not just different translations, but the story shows up in different ancient works in different ways. The author goes into this a bit more in Pandora’s Jar, nonfiction about how women are portrayed in Greek myth–I really enjoyed this, and her Stone Blind. (In the first book, Medusa is one of the most shocking “well actually….” pieces. She was cursed for being the victim of a crime, and then lived quietly in a cave so she wouldn’t hurt anyone.)

    13. Dwight Schrute*

      I’m making my way through Queen of Shadows in Throne of Glass! Looking forward to doing the tandem read next

    14. GoryDetails*

      Carrying-around book: A House at the Bottom of a Lake by Josh “Birdbox” Malerman, in which teens on a first date discover a two-story house, bizarrely intact, at the bottom of a hidden lake – and, against all sense, proceed to explore it without telling anyone else it’s there. Atmospheric/creepy so far.

      Nightstand book: The Echo of Old Books by Barbara Davis, in which a bookseller in the 1980s comes across an unusual bound volume that appears to be a personal letter/journal to an ex, written in the 1950s and describing events from the 1940s. The bookseller herself has a gift: touching certain books gives her insight into the emotions of the books’ last owners, hence the “echoes”. I like multi-time-stream stories when handled well, and so far this one’s intriguing – though I admit that the pair of diaries/letters/journals (yes, there’s a second one, apparently a rebuttal to the first) are striking me as rather self-indulgent. From what they tell of their respective writers so far, I don’t like either character very much, but the modern(-ish) character does interest me.

    15. Seashell*

      I started reading Day by Michael Cunningham. I’m only 7% into it, but it seems good so far.

    16. Sitting Pretty*

      I just finished Babel by R.F. Kuang. it was recommended here and I really enjoyed it! I read her book Yellow face first a few months ago (also from an AAM thread, I love this place) and it’s cool how she’s able to write great stories in very different genres.

        1. fallingleavesofnovember*

          I loved Babel too…as someone who went to Oxford at a time when the Rhodes Must Fall campaigning was just starting and was part of a very international segment of the student body, it reaaaaally captures the magic and enchantment of the place that can make it easy to try to smooth over the complicated histories…

    17. Jamie Starr*

      Identitti by Mithu Sanyal. The blurbs describe it as, “The Sellout meets Interior Chinatown in this satirical debut about a German Indian student whose world is upended when she discovers that her beloved professor who passed for Indian is, in fact, white.

      Nivedita (a.k.a. Identitti), a well-known blogger and doctoral student, is in awe of her supervisor—superstar postcolonial and race studies professor Saraswati. But her life and sense of self are turned upside down when it emerges that Saraswati is actually white. Nivedita’s praise of Saraswati during a radio interview just hours before the news breaks—and before she learns the truth—calls into question her own reputation as a young activist.”

      I’m about a quarter of the way in and don’t like it as much as I thought I would.

      1. Atheist Nun*

        I did not like it (I read the English language translation). The author poses an interesting question–can an individual choose, and change, their racial identity?–but fails to develop her arguments. It is apparent that she is a scholarly researcher who does not know how to write fiction: there is no plot progression, characters behave inconsistently, and conversations sound unnatural. One character often yells for no reason, while the professor alternates between extreme indignation, sarcasm, and seductive charm–all directed at her students, which felt wildly inappropriate and unsafe.

    18. AvocadoQueen*

      Just finished Tana French’s new mystery, The Hunter. It was fantastic; I read it in three days even though I was initially trying to pace it out. Her dialogue is perfection.

      1. goddessoftransitory*

        Ohhh, new Tana French! I especially love The Secret Place and The Trespasser. The latter has one of the best set up and reasoned revenge scenarios I’ve ever read.

    19. Nervous Nellie*

      A jackpot for me of library holds that all came in at once this week:

      How The Other Half Eats by Priya Fielding-Singh, about food scarcity & inequality in America. She interviewed 4 families in depth over the course of months. They range from below the poverty line to affluent. It’s infuriating and motivating, especially in an election year.

      Shyness: How Normal Behavior Became a Sickness by Christopher Lan, another infuriating read exploring how the rebuild of the psychiatric manual the DSM in the 1970s made disorders of many personality quirks that until this time, were not considered unhealthy. The psychiatrists who rebuilt the DSM also insisted during that rebuild that many of these ‘conditions’ require medication, so the pharma industry exploded along with the disorder list. A rewarding but maddening read.

      Simply West African by Pierre Thiam, which although it is a cookbook, is great bedtime reading. I read an interview with Pierre Thiam on the Esquire website and was dazzled by him. He has restaurants in New York, Nigeria and Senegal, and his recipes look ridiculously good. I am fortunate to live near a very well-stocked international world supermarket, so I can get red palm oil and fonio and such. Next week’s lunches are coming from this book! I will also order a copy at my local indie bookstore as I can see using this book a lot.

      Revolution From Within by Gloria Steinem. Yeah. In honor of her 90th (!) birthday this month, I ordered my favorite book of hers that I read in the 80s. Solid reminders of self and strength. She was also recently interviewed on the Esquire website – her interview and wonderful photos are worth a look.

    20. don'tbeadork*

      Rereading Wodehouse, specifically the Blandings Castle stories. May or may not do Jeeves and Wooster after.

    21. The Gollux, Not a Mere Device*

      Two that I just finished: _Demon Daughter_, by Lois McMaster Bujold, and _Dark and Magical Places: the neuroscience of navigation_, by Christopher Kemp.

      The Bujold is the newest novella in her Penric and Desdemona series: I like it, but it’s not a good place to start, because the worldbuilding and characterization depend on events in the previous.

      Kemp’s book is nonfiction, described well by the title, and the subjects include getting lost, and how much difference there is in people’s ability to navigate, and the different things navigation consists of, including knowing where you are.

    22. Lizard*

      Just finished A Prayer for the Crown-Shy by Becky Chambers. Almost finished with Tourist Season by Carl Hiaasen – very satirical, and I can’t decide how much I like it.

    23. Sparkly Librarian*

      If you haven’t started the Beekeeper’s Apprentice series, this may not interest you much…

      I read The Murder of Mary Russell, which isn’t much about Russell at all but really the backstory of Holmes’s housekeeper Mrs. Hudson! She lived quite a different life at one time, as has been hinted at in various versions of Sherlock stories. I liked reading something set in the late 1800s; my imagination ran up a lot of costumes similar to the TV series The Gilded Age, which I have also enjoyed recently.

      1. Pam Adams*

        For Holmes-adjacent, try The Angel of the Crows, by Katherine Addison (Sarah Monette).

    24. PhyllisB*

      Just finished Closed Casket by Sophie Hannah. It’s a Hercule Poriot mystery. It took me forever to finish it because of dealing with issues with my mother (details in an earlier post.) It was pretty good, but no one does Agatha Christie like Agatha Christie.

    25. anxiousGrad*

      I just started The Talented Mr. Ripley by Patricia Highsmith in preparation for the upcoming series with Andrew Scott. I’m about a quarter of the way in and enjoying it so far! It’s making me really want to go to Italy.

    26. Mephyle*

      “An Immense World” by Ed Yong. It’s about how animals sense the world (generally very, very differently from us). Give this book a try even if you’re not normally a non-fiction reader. Some of this is wilder and more unimaginable than the weirdest aliens dreamed up by science fiction authors.

      Also interesting are the creative ways scientists have dreamed up to measure ways that animals perceive things that we can’t perceive ourselves.

      Two memorable moments from the book: A scientist investigated scallop vision by designing a movie theatre for scallops (strapped into their little scallop seats, watching movies of particles drift across the screen the way tasty scallop food drifts through the water).

      Dolphin sonar: A dolphin was trained to tell scientists whether two hollow metal cylinders were identical or different, when the different ones differed in thickness by the width of a human hair, which she did with total accuracy. One time, she kept saying that two identical cylinders were different when they were supposed to be the same. When the scientists checked, they found that one of them was tapered to be 0.6 millimeters wider at one end than the other.

    27. Lemonwhirl*

      Finished “A Fire So Wild” by Sarah Ruiz-Grossman. It’s about an area in Berkley and what happens leading up to, during, and after a severe wildfire. It was good but a little slight? I dunno. It reminded me of “The Displacements” but not quite as textured or complex.

      Currently reading “The Glow” by Jessie Gaynor, which is about a young PR rep getting mixed up with a charismatic woman who might or might not be operating a cult. I’m loving the writing style and enjoying the story.

    28. Ali + Nino*

      I just finished Hey, Hun by Emily Lynn Paulson about her experience in an MLM, interwoven with facts about MLMs. it was good, a fast read, but I thought her claims about white supremacy were definitely a stretch. I guess she wanted to make her book feel more relevant? it wasn’t necessary. there was also a lot of cursing.
      Now I’m reading Lost in Shangri-La (nonfiction).

    29. Elizabeth West*

      I just finished Beautiful People: My Thirteen Truths About Disability by Melissa Blake. Loved it; love her. She’s not on Twitter very much now that Elmo Melonhead ruined it and I miss her.

  9. Jackalope*

    Gaming thread! Share what you’ve been playing and give or request recs. As always, all games are welcome, not just video games.

    My D&D group had what was supposed to be a boss fight this week that they just whipped right through. I was both proud of them and sad not to get to use some of the cool abilities my villains had. But they were very pleased, so that made it worth it.

    1. Vistaloopy*

      I just replayed FFVII remake and am currently playing InterMISSION for the first time. When. I finish that, I’m going to start FFVII Rebirth. So excited to be diving back into this universe!

    2. Trina*

      Five years after release date, I’m finally playing Octopath Traveler! I forget sometimes how wired my brain is to JRPGs – I think it’s the combination of clear progress in terms of power and abilities (without having to memorize arbitrary button combos) and how much story development you can fit into dozens of hours of playtime. I’m not very far in yet, but I love the game’s concept of each individual character having their own story arc and goals and just happening to cross each other’s path.

    3. Paralegal Part Deux*

      I got a PS5 the other day and am playing Legend of Dragoon for now but am not sure what games to play other than that. Anyone have any recommendations?

    4. Dwight Schrute*

      I’ve hit a rut in BG3. Im putting off playing because I don’t want to finish it so I’ve just taken a break. I hope to get back into it this week

    5. anon24*

      My life has completely fallen apart in the last 3 weeks, so I’ve gone back to the comfort games to cope. Last weekend I finally updated to the newest version of the Living Skyrim 4 mod pack and have been playing through that. I really enjoy the mod, there’s some things that are annoying and the first time I played it I had to tweak some settings and reconfigure some mod settings to make it more fun for me, but it’s a cool update to vanilla Skyrim. The creator just released “Silent Skyrim” which is a mod turning it into a more horror type game where the cities are full of undead and the only people are in small settlements hidden around the map, most quests are disabled, and you have to figure out how to complete the main quest yourself. I’m super curious to try it.

    6. SuprisinglyADHD*

      Been playing Escape Simulator with my mom, it’s a bunch of escape rooms but on the computer. We’re both very good at puzzles but she’s not great at game controls, she has trouble walking and turning at the same time. We are having so much fun!

    7. Lilith*

      For any Stardew Valley players, there’s a new update coming out in a few weeks! I’ve achieved perfection once, so I’m looking forward to starting a whole new farm and seeing what the new content is – it’s apparently going to be quite substantial

      1. ChaoticNeutral*

        I cannot WAIT for this update!! I have a pretty substantial farm going but have grown tired of this particular save file. Any tips for staying engaged enough to try and reach perfection? I’ve done like 5 save files and the furthest I’ve gotten is like 5 years in before I get bored lol.

    8. Lemonwhirl*

      To celebrate Mothers Day, we just played Wingspan with the Oceania expansion. It was our first time with the new player mats and the other changes in the Oceania expansion. I really enjoyed it.

    9. Quinalla*

      Enjoying play Last Epoch with my husband, best Diablo clone I’ve played. A ton of slow loading issues when it came out playing online, it’s still slow at time, but it’s playable now. Sometimes you just want to run around killing hoards of beasts and bad guys!

      Our 2 D&D games are still going strong – one for our normal adult group, one focused on our kids though we play too in that one.

      Haven’t had folks over for board games for a while, hopefully will do that again soon. Last time we played we switched from Friday night to Saturday early afternoon and it was much better for everyone. Kids weren’t so tired and wired and adults were much less sleepy and able to concentrate better :)

  10. beep beep*

    Does anyone have tips for finding a good hotel in NYC? My mom and I are looking for a place to stay for a week, hopefully nearish to Times Square, and we’d like it to have a fridge, as we both have small appetites and hate wasting food. My usual hotel-finding method is “cover my eyes and point to a Google result”, but that seems expensive to do in NYC…

    1. Turanga Leela*

      There are a bunch of mid-level chain hotels walking distance from Times Square. The last few times I needed a hotel, I put my dates in the Marriott website, pulled up the options, and looked for the least expensive choice. (You could look at each hotel’s features or call the front desk to make sure you get a fridge.) There’s a Fairfield Inn that’s completely fine and also a Moxy, which was a little more fun. You could do the same thing with other hotel umbrella brands; I had Marriott points, so that was all I looked at.

      1. CityMouse*

        I’ve stayed in a variety of Midtown Marriots for work and can attest they are all fine. Some have fridges but they are usually tiny (rooms are too, that’s just NYC).

        1. beep beep*

          Thanks for the recs! I don’t have a hotel chain of choice yet, so maybe I’ll pick one of these.

    2. OneSodaPlease*

      take advantage of hotel deals through your bank/credit card! even price matching and cash back helps.

    3. TPS Reporter*

      expedia has a good search function where you can filter by location, price, rating and whether they have a fridge. I’ve found the ratings to be generally trustworthy.

    4. Jay (no, the other one)*

      We love Homewood Suites (Hilton chain) and there’s one in the upper 30s on the West Side – not too far from Times Square (right across from MSG/Penn Station, if I remember correctly). Fridge, microwave, usually also a two-burner stove and bare-bones kitchen stuff (plates, glasses, flatware) which makes it easier to reheat and re-use leftovers. We like it because I eat one scrambled egg for breakfast and it’s much cheaper and easier to do that myself than pay someone else to do it.

      Pretty much anything is going to be expensive in NYC. I’ve had good results with the Hotel Tonight app, but I don’t know if you can filter for amenities like a fridge.

    5. ElastiGirl*

      If you care about room size, check out The Fifty. It’s a Sonesta hotel at 50th and Lexington, and our first choice when in the city. Yes, it could use some renovation and newer furniture, but the rooms are huge. We book a 500-sq-ft room or 750-sq-ft apartment for the price of a regular room elsewhere, and appreciate the ability to spread out and relax. Many rooms have mini kitchens. It’s an easy 1-mile walk to the Theater District, and the best bagel shop in town is across the street. They have buy-3-nights-get-4 deals and buy-7-get-8. But they do fill up, so don’t wait for the last minute.

    6. WestsideStory*

      Prepare for sticker shock – midtown is expensive! I’d suggest looking at a review/booking site such as Trip Advisor to get a good idea of how certain hotels are treating tourists these days.

      The various Hiltons are very reliable and you can often get deals on the midtown ones. Depending on your budget, we have steered friends to the following: Hotel Edison (near Times Square) and the Lucerne Hotel (upper West Side, 5 minutes from Times Square by subway and a nice neighborhood)

      1. Chocolate Teapot*

        No experience of NYC (or America for that matter) however I have found that signing up for a hotel loyalty card can often mean decent reductions and bonuses. I have one for the Accor Group (Novotel, Sofitel and Ibis amongst others) and the points I collected meant a free overnight stay!

  11. Arabesque*

    Does anyone have super super easy dinner recipe ideas? Like slow cooker dump recipes, or sheet pan dinners?

    1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      Slow cooker: two big cans diced stewed tomatoes, 2-3 rinsed cans of any kind of beans, chopped garlic, chopped onion, paprika, cumin, chili powder. Vegan bean chili as is. Add protein if you like – quite tasty with chickpeas and kidney beans, then about 20 min before serving throw in a big double handful of spinach, kale, green leafies of choice to wilt, and a handful of frozen pre-cooked salad shrimp. Also good with chicken, beef, or smoked sausage. (Probably pork too, but I’ve never tried.)

      Sheet pan dump: chunks of root veg (potatoes, sweet potato, carrot, turnip, squash) tossed with olive oil, garlic, s&p, a little Italian seasoning maybe, whack into the oven at 400 for 20 min, throw in a handful of sliced smoked sausage and shake it all up, 10-15 more minutes. (Also dirt easy and half the time to do in an air fryer.)

    2. Squirrel Nutkin (the teach, not the admin)*

      Chicken thigh in toaster oven on baking sheet for 1 to 1.25 hrs at 350 deg. with bbq sauce dumped on top. Not necessary, but extra points for waiting partway through cooking to dump the bbq sauce on. Double extra points for throwing some of those wee mini potatoes on the baking sheet too. Triple extra points for dumping some bagged salad on a plate or in a bowl and throwing dressing on top.

    3. Anono-me*

      1 or 2 cans of chili
      1 small corn muffin mix package + whatever it asks for (I like Jiffy.)
      1 cup or more of shredded cheese (I like chedder.)
      1. Preheat the oven as directed on the muffin mix.
      2. Mix up the corn muffins as directed and let rest.
      3. Dump the chili in a baking dish. (I use one can of chili and a 8×8 baking pan with high sides.)
      4. Sprinkle the cheese on top of the chili.
      5. Spread the corn muffin mixture on top of the chili and cheese.
      6. Bake until the muffin mix is cooked through (I bake as directed on the muffin mix box and five minutes more.)

    4. CityMouse*

      I’d also look up various Orzo dinners, usually one pan (but precooked chicken or shrimp and then adding in some veggie and the protein back in at various stages. Usually 1.5 cups orzo, 2.5 cups broth. Some garlic and spices of your choice sautéed before adding the orzo, mixing, then adding the broth. When it’s bubbling, turn to medium low and start the clock for 10 minutes. Some chopped veggie of your choice goes in at 5 minutes (asparagus, Zucchini), more delicate stuff (like chopped tomatoes) and the protein back in around 2 minutes. Timer off should be done. If it’s too watery or pasta not cook, keep cooking for a couple more minutes uncovered.

    5. NervousYolk*

      salmon with whatever veggies on hand! I like seasoning my salmon with salt, pepper, cayenne pepper and then putting pico de gallo on top to cook together with some olive oil. The salmon gets super moist and the roasted tomatoes and onions are super tasty. It also makes the salmon more forgiving to being overcooked. I like to throw in frozen broccoli, asparagus, or some taters if I have them too. Also great for leftovers to mix up with some rice!

      1. NervousYolk*

        I also usually throw on a sheet pan and cook in the oven for 375 for 20ish minutes and check occasionally or I throw it in the air fryer for 380 for 15 min, usually cooking for 1-2 portions. Time and temp may differ based on how many portions and your machinery!

    6. beep beep*

      A friend of mine sent me this recipe for congee a while ago and I’ve made it a couple times. It’s pretty good.

      “Use 1 cup white rice, about 2.5 cups of vegetable of choice, pureed (right now I have frozen peas so this is peas), uh…probably a cup of pureed caramelized onions, 1/3-ish cup of roasted garlic, a little olive oil, 6 cups water, a lot of boullion powder, ginger, pepper, red pepper flakes, Maggi, soy sauce, mustard powder (not sure why I did that), and one chicken thigh because that’s what was in the freezer. Combine in a slow cooker and leave alone on low, stirring occasionally, until the chicken literally disintegrates when you stir it. Anything even resembling a spice is added to taste, but you need enough soy sauce and Maggi to turn it some shade of brown to cover the vegetables.”

      Easy to vary the veggies and protein to taste or to what you have in your fridge. Maggi isn’t necessarily my thing, so I go heavier on the dark soy sauce and add some rice vinegar for flavor.

    7. sagewhiz*

      Go to the washingtonpost dot com, in the search field type “sheet pan recipes” and you’ll be thrilled with what comes up! Caveat: you can only read a few (not sure how many) articles each month before you hit the paywall if you’re not a subscriber. The number of recipes (and cooking tips) I collect from the site make that subscription fee worth it.

    8. Falling Diphthong*

      Rice Porridge with Chicken, from Christine Ha

      2 chicken breasts
      1 small onion, minced
      1 inch piece of ginger, minced

      Put in pot with 6 cups of water and some salt, bring to a simmer, and cook until chicken is done. Remove and shred. Add 1 cup jasmine rice to broth, return chicken, and cook until rice is done. (Will be soupy, like oatmeal consistency.)

      This was my introduction to not browning all your stuff beforehand–the taste is different, but equally good. It’s a delicious simple warming recipe, a hug in a bowl.

    9. Professor Plum*

      Plan for leftovers:
      *double a recipe and freeze portions
      *make extra meat and you’ve got protein to add to salads for a few days
      *cook meat without extra spices, then when you reheat it you can change the flavors with Italian seasoning one night, curry the next, Mexican another time

      Also I like to reheat my meat in an air fryer.

    10. Seashell*

      Slow cooker BBQ chicken – 1.5-2 lbs. boneless chicken (I use breasts, but I’m sure thighs would work too), 1 cup BBQ sauce, 1 cup tomato sauce. Cook on low for 8 hours, stir occasionally if you’re around. When finished, shred with two forks, serve on potato rolls or hamburger buns.

      Ravioli and roasted vegetables – chop up whatever vegetables you like (suggestions: bell peppers, broccoli, zucchini, yellow squash), coat with olive oil, add salt & pepper to taste, roast at 400 degrees F for 20-30 minutes, stirring occasionally, until some browning shows and soft enough to eat. In the meantime, boil water & cook ravioli. When everything is done, mix ravioli & veggies together and add sauce of your choice. (I like pesto.)

    11. Nervous Nellie*

      The Budget Bytes website has lots of sheet pan and slow cooker options, and their search function makes them easy to find. Bonus points for the mouthwatering photos!

    12. Pippa K*

      Rukmini Iyer’s The Roasting Tin is great for this sort of thing. She has lots of fairly simple recipes but also a sort of chart/template where you can put together one-pan meals based on what you have around and what you like. I bought it on the strength of someone’s recommendation here a while ago and really like it, even though I almost never use cookbooks any more.

    13. goddessoftransitory*

      Arrrgh, need to answer this at home with my recipe box at the ready!

      I am making Laurie Colwin’s jalepeno spinach casserole tonight–ridiculously easy and delicious, I’ve made it dozens of times. Link to follow:

    14. Girasol*

      Easy pot roast: Plop a beef roast in the slow cooker. Dust with salt, pepper, and garlic and pour a cup of coffee over it. Add chunky potatoes and carrots. At supper time, pour off the liquid, mix with milk and corn starch, and heat until it thickens into gravy.

    15. ChaoticNeutral*

      I absolutely love this one: https://www.thekitchn.com/beef-and-shells-22959477

      It’s basically homemade Hamburger Helper. I’m vegetarian so I use Beyond Beef or Gardein crumbles. It literally takes me less than 20 mins to make, no chopping needed, one pot meal that is soooooo good. I usually do a bagged salad or microwavable green beans/broccoli on the side to get my veg in.

  12. UdonForDinner*

    what covid/long covid precautions are people still taking nowadays? I’ve been masking religiously and have an air purifier running or open windows when I can, but it all seems like pouring water in a broken bucket when I pass by someone just hacking up their lungs without a mask or any effort to cough into their arm or anything like that and the new cdc guidelines don’t make me optimistic either

    1. WS*

      I mask whenever I am indoors somewhere other than my house, including work. I don’t eat out. I remind myself that I cannot control other people’s behaviour, only my own.

      1. Shiny Penny*

        My grandmother graduated from nursing school in the 1920’s. She was a serious hand washing advocate. She grew up in the days when infections could and did routinely kill people.
        As a child of the late antibiotic age, I was so cavalier about hand-washing! We had a lot of arguments about it. “But it’s just dirt, Gramma!” or “The cows are clean, why should I wash my hands?”
        I’ve been reflecting on what we should name that window of time when Americans really felt that antibiotics were the ultimate safety net. Did it even last 50 years?

      2. Sleep in on the weekends*

        Spread of COVID-19 occurs via airborne particles and droplets. Handwashing’s not going to do you much when you’re breathing it in.

        1. Infectious Disease Epi*

          Hand hygiene is still crucial for prevention of respiratory virus transmission. While inhalation of respiratory droplets containing viral particles is an important mode of transmission, those droplets do also drop on surfaces. If you touch those surfaces then touch your face, eyes, etc., you can become infected that way too. This is why hand hygiene has always been part of influenza prevention during flu season.

        2. Girasol*

          Handwashing is handy for norovirus, which isn’t as dangerous as covid because it only makes you want to die. Here where covid instance is low, I’ve only just quit masking in the grocery but I go at early low-traffic hours. Other than that, no unnecessary shopping, no eating out, no crowds, and every vaccine I’m eligible to get.

      3. goddessoftransitory*

        Auto handwashing seems to be a big takeaway from this, thank goodness. I have noticed a big downtick in getting any kind of cold since washing every time I come inside!

    2. Double A*

      I’m up to date on vaccinations (all of them) and make sure my family is too, including our young kids.

      1. goddessoftransitory*

        This is so important. When COVID finally snagged me late last year, it was a fairly mild case (thank God) and I’m sure being up to date on my shots is what made it inconvenient rather than a life upending problem.

        1. Double A*

          Yeah, my husband and I got Covid for the first time in August and between vaccines and Paxlovid I can say it wasn’t that much worse (and was shorter lasting) than the terrible cold I got in November. And the kids who had just gotten their shots in July didn’t get sick at all.

      2. The Other Dawn*

        Same. Husband and I make sure to get our COVID boosters. That’s about it. We wash our hands a lot more, especially having gone on a couple cruises (lots of germs there), but that’s for cold and things like that.

      3. WS*

        Current research is showing that any Covid vaccination lowers your risk of long Covid and three or more vaccinations drastically lowers the risk.

    3. matcha123*

      I live overseas and have been wearing a mask since the start. I still wear a mask wherever I go. If I’m outdoors or indoors, but not squished in with a ton of people, I’ll take the mask off for a bit.
      I grew up being told to wash my hands when I came in from the outside and to change out of my outdoor clothes, so that hasn’t changed. I do use more hand sanitizer than before and am careful about not touching my face when I’m out (or having tissues on hand if I need to wipe something out of my eye).
      I’ve gotten colds when I visit my family who (1) don’t seem to care as much and (2) have a small kid. Aside from those times, I am relatively cold-free, which I obviously prefer.
      I don’t care if people want to stare if I wear a mask.

      1. sockless in seattle*

        I’m curious about the change clothes: so in the morning you get dressed, then go outside. You come back and change clothes. If you go out again do you change back into the same clothes as before, or different outdoor clothes? Do you ever have days where you come and go several times? And do you change clothes at every iteration?

    4. Writerling*

      I’m also still masking indoors outside of my house (despite the at-risk roommates decidedly not masking, one a science person who couldn’t keep his eyes away from covid numbers when this started, I’m still baffled), also have indoor/outdoor clothes. I’m going to order some nasal sprays to use the rare few times I have to unmask indoors.

    5. RC*

      I’m so glad to find some other still-indoor-maskers are out there. I had a conference this week and at least 5 people were actively coughing/sniffling, probably after having gotten sick from the LAST conference… I was the only one masked.

      Always at least an N95 anywhere I’m indoors not my house. I’ll unmask for outdoor dining but it can be case by case re: people density. We’ve been lucky so far.

    6. Shiny Penny*

      I wear an N-95 if I’m indoors with people, or outdoors near people. I only go to medical appointments or essential places— no indoor socializing.
      If I’m outside in my yard or a friend’s yard, and we can easily be 6 or 8 feet apart, we don’t mask. When the vet came to do a farm call I did not wear a mask! Even tho I knew we’d end up standing close to each other at times to wrangle the critters. It felt pretty weird, but I didn’t catch anything. That was pretty out of character- it’s the only time I’ve actually done a risk calculation in my head and decided the risk was small. Usually I just stick to my protocol and don’t even think about the mask question, because that’s what I’m more comfortable with.
      Had a funny/bizarre conversation with a 5 year old in a waiting room. I kinda know the family in passing, but not well. She, in garbled ‘5 y/o speak,’ asked why I was wearing a mask because her mother says masks concentrate poisonous gasses and it might kill you? And I did a cheerful version of “Isn’t the wide world amazing!?!” mixed with “Definitely do what your Mom tells you to!” and quickly changed the subject. Still not 100% sure if that was a Covid anti-science thing, or an ACTUAL science thing, bc I know one parent works with chemicals that might require a specific type of respirator to handle— to avoid concentrating toxic gasses that might kill you! But also the family is really religious? Lolol. No telling these days! So I just quickly dodged the entire subject.
      I did have to have a phone company technician in my house last week. I asked him to wear a mask (which he did cheerfully with no weirdness). I opened all the windows and, after he left, had the fans going for a couple hours. It felt like an effective strategy.
      I’ve decided to schedule the little electrical and plumbing repairs that I’ve been putting off, before the weather gets hot. I’d rather have my house get really cold with the open windows, than hot or humid.
      For me the masking and other precautions are totally still worth it. The inconvenience is small, and the people who act like I’m over-reacting can just… stay in their own lane. My life works for me right now, and avoiding a serious illness is a crucial part of that.

      1. Firefighter (Metaphorical)*

        Our household is very similar (including asking tradies to wear a mask and running the fans/ opening all windows after they’re gone)! We have a simpler “masks on indoors [except at home], masks off outdoors” rule but we don’t go to crowded outdoor events. Vaccines and boosters as soon as we’re eligible, minimal time indoors with other people.

        Very similar cost/benefit analysis to you, too. This is fine, and so far we haven’t had COVID, totally worth not going out to dinner!

    7. Ipsissima*

      Vaccinate, vaccinate, vaccinate. Wash your hands. Stay home when sick. Try not to be around small children (this is difficult if you have small children, I admit). Mask (it will help even if other people don’t).

      Source: am microbiologist

      1. CityMouse*

        Yep. The only time I had COVID, my then three year old brought it home from school. You can’t isolate from a preschooler.

    8. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      Honestly, I don’t intentionally anymore, other than keeping up on my vaccinations the same way I do my flu shot. I wash my hands and stay home when I’m sick, but I did that before Covid too. I mostly do deliveries for my grocery shopping and eating out, but that’s because I’m a homebody and don’t like to leave my house. When I do leave my house I mostly don’t worry about it.

      1. Goldfeesh*

        That’s where I’m at. I do have all the Covid boosters and got my flu shot. I did mask at the first concert I went to in Oct. ’23. I am good on handwashing.

      1. Sloanicota*

        I’m really surprised so few people are getting the latest boosters! Even among my circle – all liberal, well educated people who took Covid seriously and got the early vaccines – they seem to think they’re “done” at this point, and didn’t get the booster. I assumed it was going to be more like the flu shot that you have to get every year if you want the benefit, but apparently not everyone has that framework in mind.

        1. CityMouse*

          I do have three family members in the medical field, one who, no joke, has an MPH with a focus on epidemiology.

          But I will say we don’t mask anymore. I 100% understand and support people who still do, my family has switched to “masking around vulnerable people and when we’re sick” model.

        2. Myrin*

          I contacted my GP last week because I was totally unclear on the booster situation (not in the US) and had assumed, like you, that it would be a recurring thing just like the flu shot. They said that I’m welcome to get a booster one year after infection (I had Covid for the first time last October) but they only recommend it for vulnerable people/people with pre-existing conditions. I’m still not sure why they wouldn’t recommend it for people without pre-existing conditions but I haven’t yet had time to get back to them.

          1. ThatGirl*

            I’m bewildered by this – even healthy people should get annual covid updates, the immune response fades just like with flu shots. And it’s not like there are any serious side effects for most people – I’d rather feel a little crappy for a day than get actual covid.

            1. Myrin*

              Yeah, that was my exact reaction! Thankfully my best friend is a doctor and speaks candidly about topics like this so I think I’ll pester her about this the next time I see her (or, even better, her husband, who co-owns her practice and likes to get lost in the minutiae of literally everything).

              1. Bird names*

                @Myrin
                I am fairly sure we are in the same country. I pretty much got the exact same answer from my GP when I asked. My impression was that they did not want to take the “risk” in case I got one of the more rare severe side effects of a vaccination now that it is no longer officially recommended for everyone. Sounds silly but there you are.
                Apparently select pharmacies still offer for pretty much everyone though they will ask you to state a reason for statistical purposes. I mentioned my very elderly grandparents who both have multiple health issues that put them at additional risk. Got my vaccination without issue and minimal side effects. Best of luck!

          2. VaccineRules*

            Are you sure they didn’t think you meant another shot after getting one in the fall? they are recommending annually for everyone but extra every 4-6 months shorts for elderly/folks with comorbid conditions, so vulnerable folks who got a booster with flu shot in Sept are getting another round of boosters now

            1. allathian*

              The rules are different in Europe. Only people over 60 and severely immunosuppressed were offered a shot in the fall. But shot uptake rates were much higher here than in the US, about 80 percent for the first shot and 70 for the second. I’m in Finland and the median age for the people who died from Covid is 84. We had wuite strict rules at the beginning of the pandemic, but our health authorities decided quite early that it was more important to protect the mental health of young people (elementary school kids returned to in person school in May 2020, older kids in 2022) and jobs over extending the lives of the sick and the old by a few months or years at most. I happen to agree with this assesment, especially given that vaccines give good protection against long covid.

              1. Retired Accountant*

                Actually 80% and 70% are also the percentage of Americans who got the first and second shots. It was with the bivalent booster that the rates fell off a cliff.

                1. allathian*

                  That’s interesting, thank you for that info. I had the impression that the vaccination rates were much lower there. I suppose that depended on the area, no doubt the vaccine uptake was better in some places than others.

                  I’ve had the shot and the two boosters that they offered me, and I’ve had Covid twice, in October 2022 and again in October 2023. Both cases were mild, although the exhaustion lasted for about a month after the first one. The second made me very tired while I had it but I recovered in about a week.

                  In my area, an officially diagnosed Covid infection counted as a vaccine. This has largely gone out the window because you can’t get an official diagnosis unless you’re hospitalized for any reason or work in healthcare. There are no quarantine requirements, you can return to in-person work as soon as you’re symptom-free. Obviously this means that asymptomatic people work while they’re sick because there are no testing requirements and no free tests available anywhere. But this is considered an acceptable risk here because ICUs aren’t overloaded with Covid patients. I think it’s unreasonable to expect to prevent all cases of Covid, the precautions were necessary to ensure that hospitals could deal with the patient load, especially before vaccines became available.

                2. Retired Accountant*

                  (reply to allathian)

                  It is certainly true that there are variances by region, there are also significant variances by age. Younger people have lower vaccination rates. They were also more likely to have significant side effects, and of course less chance of getting severe disease. I suspect there were a lot of under 40 year olds who didn’t go back for their second shot. Younger people are also more likely to be uninsured, and though the vaccine was at no charge for those who didn’t have health insurance, it still may have been a barrier for those people. In the U.S. 91% of people over 65 had at least one dose. They are obviously also at the highest risk, and (almost always) insured by Medicare.

                  There was certainly much publicized difference in vaccination rates by political affiliation, but there were other things going on too, and especially after it became less clear that vaccination prevented transmisson, younger people opted out in greater numbers.

    9. Jay (no, the other one)*

      I’m an MD in the US and I’ve pretty much resume my pre-pandemic life. Fully vaccinated including RSV (I’m over 60). Mask on public transit. And that’s about it. I’m not at high risk. The vaccine is very effective at preventing severe illness, hospitalization, and death and we have increasing evidence that it significantly reduces the risk of long COVID. I had to weigh the benefit of more stringent precautions against the impact on my mental health and this is where I came down.

      I also buy gold-plated travel insurance when I travel, which I never did before. So there’s that.

      1. anon24*

        I think the mental health aspect is so overlooked sometimes. I had covid twice, once 2 weeks before I was eligible to get vaccinated, and the second after I’d been vaccinated and boosted. The first time was awful, I couldn’t walk more than a few steps without getting extremely fatigued and out of breath, but as an EMS provider I knew I was “fine” and rode it out at home. It took me about 4 months to feel better. The second time was just a mild illness, with a few days of aches, cough, and sore throat. Not fun, but nothing concerning. I know that it’s not a guarantee that I’ll be fine if I get it again, but masking constantly was hell on my anxiety and claustrophobia so now I just only wear one if I’m feeling slightly under the weather (if I’m sick I still try to stay home) or if I have to be around someone I know is sick. And I always avoided crowds anyway whenever possible.

      2. Elizabeth West*

        This is pretty much where I’m at — and if they’re offering a vax, I’ll take it.

        Travel insurance is a good idea anyway. I got ticket insurance last time I bought a concert ticket pre-meniscus surgery, which I ended up using because I couldn’t stand for long. It was only $10 and paid back the ticket money in full (TicketBastard doesn’t do refunds). Worth it, imo.

    10. Elspeth McGillicuddy*

      Nada. Like, I don’t even think about Covid unless someone else mentions it.

      1. allathian*

        Same. I’ve had it twice and I’ve been sicker with strep throat. I’ve had all the shots I’ve been offered.

        My sister’s still masking indoors but my parents and in-laws aren’t. I’ll mask if asked, but not even doctor’s offices are requiring that unless you have respiratory symptoms.

        Here Covid’s been relegated to just another respiratory illness and I can live with that.

    11. Squirrel Nutkin (the teach, not the admin)*

      I always wear an N-95 or KN-95 everywhere that is not my apartment, my car, or my own office with the door shut.

      I keep the windows open and have a bunch of HEPA filters running in my apartment (which unfortunately shares air with a few neighboring apartments. Ugh.)

      I don’t eat with other people or go to parties, weddings, etc. Made an exception for my uncle’s outdoor funeral. I avoid in-person work meetings as much as feasible.

      I gave up my beloved hobby of playing trumpet in a musical group.

      I will dash into a restaurant (well-masked) occasionally to get takeout, but usually order delivery. Same with supermarkets — an occasional masked dash inside but usually get groceries delivered. I avoid taking the elevator or stairs in my big apartment building as much as I can, which means I usually send my laundry out rather than making a lot of trips up and down to do it in the basement. When I don’t *have* to go out, I stay in my apartment.

      A lifelong public transit devotee, I have switched to driving everywhere in my own car. I moved my car from a parking garage to the street so that I don’t always have to have someone else in it when they bring it up.

      I am vaxed to the max for someone my age. I am angry that I can’t get another covid booster after this fall’s booster because of my age. I wish I could get an RSV shot too, but I am a few years short.

      I sanitize and wash my hands like a crazy person.

      As a teacher, I try to get classrooms where I can open windows and have filters going and encourage students to stay home when sick.

      With all that, I STILL would up getting Covid for sure during the Omicron wave, and I have been constantly sick with respiratory crud, fatigue, fevers, etc. And I’m sure some of those illnesses were covid that the tests just didn’t pick up. I for sure feel like I have lost brain power and am stupider than before. The only thought that gives me comfort is that I might be way worse off or dead if I hadn’t tried to take precautions.

      I feel super-depressed that so few other people care to take precautions, allowing this virus to mutate further and keep circulating until heaven-knows-when.

    12. Texan In Exile*

      My husband has cardiac issues that we think are long covid, so we still mask everywhere indoors.

      It’s very lonely.

    13. Blomma*

      I’m still masking whenever I’m out and about. I’ve had every booster available to me. (I got the last booster about a week before someone in my household got covid. I managed not to get sick and I definitely think the booster helped!) I occasionally go to restaurants but put my mask back on when not eating. I do go swimming at least once a week so I obviously take my mask off then. I’ve not had covid and long covid terrifies me (already have about half the symptoms due to chronic illnesses) so I’m still fairly cautious.

    14. Bibliovore*

      I mask indoors/at the grocery store etc. If I am teaching and at a distance from the students (college and older) I will be unmasked.
      I recently went to a widows get together for the first time. NO ONE but me was masked. I am immune compromised yet I succumbed to peer pressure. I thought it would be okay because we were in a private room but it soon became a crowded bar situation loud, hard to hear.
      I succumbed to un-spoken peer pressure and took off my mask. I wish I had just left.
      I wont do that again.
      I am up to date on my vaccines and boosters.
      My physician recommends continued masking for me.
      I am going to play for the first time in four years this week.

      1. Texan In Exile*

        That peer pressure is hard! I have to steel myself and remind myself that my husband has spent a lot of time and money with physicians trying to figure out what’s going on with his heart and the last thing we need is for him to get covid again. (He’s never tested positive, but when we were in Spain in February 2020, he had some kind of cold and was furious that in his favorite place in the world to eat, he could neither taste nor smell food.)

        Have a good time at the play! We have a subscription to our local rep and we are usually the only ones masked. Hang in there.

    15. vombatus ursinus*

      I mask with N95 on planes and trains (and in airports), and try to carry a mask in all my bags to put on just in case I feel it’s prudent. Hand sanitiser always! Tend to stay away from crowded indoor places in general but I take the risk now and then.

      I would theoretically be interested in a booster vaccine (and flu vaccine, for that matter), but the country I live in makes them a bit hard to access for people under 60 and I haven’t really tried hard enough to get past that.

      If I’m feeling even a bit under the weather, I stay home until I’m feeling completely better, even if I have a negative antigen test. (And I definitely only cough or sneeze into my elbow or a tissue, I feel like that should almost go without saying!)

    16. Courageous cat*

      Now that it’s endemic, nothing but yearly boosters just like when I get my yearly flu shot.

      1. NervousYolk*

        I think the WHO still categorizes covid as a pandemic, just not a public emergency anymore.

        1. Courageous cat*

          There are a lot of varying takes on it, but a lot of experts agree it’s endemic, and regardless, my point is that it seems largely agreed upon that it’s not going to go anywhere.

          1. gray skies today*

            Endemic doesn’t mean safe. It’s a BSL 3 pathogen like TB. Being infected repeatedly with a BSL 3 pathogen has become normalized and is now socially acceptable. Super dystopian.

    17. Anon attorney*

      – mask on public transport and in crowded indoor places such as the theater
      – HEPA air filters where I choose not to mask eg indoor dining which I am now doing on the basis that I need to socialise for mental health reasons, and in work situations where masking would negatively affect my interactions given the total abandonment of precautions by virtually everyone in my country
      – take every vaccine offered
      – nasal and throat sprays

      I have been thinking that I actually need a reset to be a bit more stringent. I had COVID in January for the first time and since then I’ve been a little slack – part “it wasn’t that bad” (I know the issue is long term damage) and part fatalism. silly because doing the above is probably why I didn’t catch it until year 4. I think I succumbed at work because I later discovered that someone came to work while positive, which is legal. Knowing our sick pay or lack of it I don’t blame him but I wish we could collectively do better at that… but it’s never going to happen now.

    18. Chaordic One*

      Lots of handwashing and I’m still doing some voluntary self-isolating. Trying to avoid crowds. I feel self-conscious about masking. I’ve noticed that disposable face masks are harder to find now if you do want to wear one.

      1. Squirrel Nutkin (the teach, not the admin)*

        If you want to order N95 masks online, you can search Indiana Face Mask on Amazon.

    19. Beatrice Belladonna Eastwood*

      Still masking indoors, outdoors if it’s crowded or we’re with friends who always mask outside. Kiddo goes to outdoors Waldorf preschool. No indoor dining. Curbside pick-ups and meal deliveries. Finding local friends who still practice precautions has been a life saver for us.

      I’m so grateful to see others here still keeping it up.

    20. StillMostlyIsolated*

      I’m super high risk and medically unable to wear a mask, unable to drive so public transit or cab/rideshare for transportation, and have a few other wrinkles that have made everything harder (such as living in a big apartment building with 50 year old elevators). I am still working with my medical providers on a safe way to resume interacting with the world as it is clear things are not going to improve further in any major way. Everyone else’s insistence on not following the rules followed by people/public health mostly throwing up their hands and saying no one is going to listen anyway so we’re done has totally screwed me over.

      1. StillMostlyIsolated*

        I forgot to mention the allergies/asthma that cause me to semi-continuously cough and sneeze and other medical conditions that cause most of the other Covid symptoms regularly. So I have no way of being noticeably symptomatic. Soooooo much fun.

      2. The Gollux, Not a Mere Device*

        My sympathies. A lot of this would be easier if people hadn’t decided that the rules didn’t apply to them, because they didn’t want to mask/isolate/stay home/install better ventilation/etc. I don’t know what I would have done if I was unable to mask; I get out little enough as it is. (I don’t like masking, except when it’s cold enough outside that a quasi-muffler is useful, but I don’t like flossing my teeth or doing the dishes, either.)

    21. Busy Middle Manager*

      Most people, if not all people, that I know that got it after vaccines got it from a school event or after a party or crowded bar/concert event. Yes, I am not making a definitive comment about where people get it or what is possible, but it’s definitely a trend now. So I am going to try to stop going to extremely loud parties where people are on top of each other screaming over the music. Besides that I’ve been on planes, trains, restaurants, etc. and not gotten sick. Went to a bar in December and people were screaming over the music and drunkenly kissing you and such and I got the flu.

      On the flip side, there was a period there in 2022 when I felt extra tired after every time I was in a group, like I’d have a hangover every time I’d go out and do basically my daily routine pre-covid. I had been exercising a lot during the pandemic and lockdowns so it wasn’t me having gotten out of shape. I always wonder if it was my body getting exposed to a bunch of little things all at once, like my immune system was getting a backlog of work to do. So FOR ME I made a concerted effort to get and mix with people at least once per week, beyond grocery shopping, just because I realized the immunity system has to be something that needs a little practice

      Actually this leads to a question I had after this: for people who’ve lived very rurally, do you always find you get a cold or something when you go into your local town/city? I was wondering how the body handles people isolated and then being exposed to a bunch of people

    22. The Gollux, Not a Mere Device*

      Masking indoors (N-95) unless I’m at home, at the dentist, or doing a few other medical things that cannot be done with a mask on. We run an air purifier in the living room constantly, and I open bus windows for ventilation when possible.

      I’m also skipping activities that can’t be done in a mask: in particular, I’m only going to restaurants that have outdoor seating, which of course is seasonal.

      I miss the things I’m not doing, but I’m on immune-suppressing drugs and already have some kind of lung problem that seems to be a post-covid thing. I’m getting my vaccine boosters, even though I suspect they’re not doing me any good, because of the immune suppression.

      The new CDC guidelines don’t make me optimistic either. Yes, covid has become “endemic,” but that doesn’t mean it’s not dangerous: malaria is endemic in much of Africa.

    23. Derrygirl*

      I’m in Europe and I avoid public transit, keep a good distance from people when I can, shop at quieter times of the day and avoid group gatherings and sit-down eating out. I was very strict until probably earlier this year and there’s no real explanation for why I’ve loosened up on it, probably just laziness or complacency.

    24. goddessoftransitory*

      Wearing a mask on public transportation and when I go to the doctor/for any kind of medical stuff like picking up prescriptions; also staying religiously up to date on my vaccinations. When I’m out and about in general outside though, I generally leave the mask off unless there’s a specific reason (like I’m not feeling good but have to run an errand.)

      I’ve had coworkers routinely wear masks to the workplace, and I would if I thought I was getting sick (I have one in my purse and various coat pockets at all times.)

    25. Elastigirl*

      I am fully boosted and have all my vaccinations up to date (including RSV and flu). I mask in healthcare settings, and I doubt I will ever board an airplane unmasked again.

      But that’s about it. If I am ill, I stay home. I encourage my students to stay home at the hint of a respiratory illness, and I thank those students who come to class masked because they’ve been exposed to Covid. I want to help normalize mask-wearing for those who need it.

      I take medication for an autoimmune disease, and my rheumatologist tells me that medication actually helps keep my immune system highly functional. She told me if I got Covid, it would probably be fairly mild as a result — and that’s exactly what happened (I was sick for 5 days, 2 of which were yucky). So I now lead a pretty pre-pandemic-normal life but with a greater awareness of those who have not been able to return to normal.

    26. Llama face!*

      I’m masking with a well-fitting N95 or KN95 respirator in any place other than home and testing at least once a week (I currently still have access to free rapid tests in Canada, though that option looks to be ending soon). I avoid shopping during busy hours and skip any crowded non-essential activities. I meet my friends outside or virtually. I ask my cab drivers to mask (I carry extras if they don’t have one and have only rarely had people be jerks about it) and crack a window when I need to take a cab. I also use a CPC-containing mouthwash before and after needing to be in higher risk spaces. I run a HEPA air purifier 24/7 in my home and keep windows cracked and I used a personal air purifier along with other precautions when I did need to take a flight. Oh, and of course I get the newest vaccine available when it’s offered, which is not often enough.

      So far I have only had COVID once that I know of and that infection was from someone in my household, not from outside exposure. It is very difficult to go against the flow and not pretend COVID is over like the majority are but I remind myself that we are the adaptive ones who will benefit long-term from our acceptance of the reality of the world we now live in. It is very disheartening when even the agencies whose job it is to keep people safe are doing the opposite!

      1. Llama face!*

        I should add that even my one COVID infection did cause some long-term issues (brain fog, eyesight deterioration, fatigue) and it wasn’t a severe initial illness; I didn’t need to be hospitalized or anything. My dad lost a good part of his sense of taste and smell, also due to a “mild” case, and it hasn’t ever come back more than a year later. And those are only the mildest long term effects people are getting from this virus. The fact that the virus is being found to persist in multiple parts of the body (including the brain!!) is a pretty good indicator that this is not something I want to repeatedly expose myself to. Unfortunately many people are uninformed about the true risks and think that the initial infection is all they have to worry about. :'(

    27. Irish Teacher.*

      I’m up to date with vaccinations and I mask when I’m in busy places (public transport, theatres, etc) or places where there are likely to be a lot of vulnerable people (hospitals and at Mass, as there are a lot of elderly people at Mass). That’s about it.

    28. Reluctant Mezzo*

      Vitamin D supplementation, though at a reasonable level. I started taking 2000 IU a day over a decade ago and stopped hacking up my lungs from January to March each year. My doctor said, ‘isn’t that a bit much?’, ran a blood level and said, ‘never mind, carry on.’ Get tested first to see if you’re low before starting, though. You can overdo it.

      1. the cat's pajamas*

        I’m somewhat amused because I live somewhere where we get less sun, and my Dr. is always telling me to take more vitamin D. I feel like I can never take enough, it’s like we have opposite doctors, lol.

    29. nonprofit director*

      I am up to date on all COVID boosters. When my very vulnerable husband was alive and declining over the past few months, I wore a KN95 mask everywhere and pretty much avoided people as much as I could. Now that he has passed away, I am not wearing a mask anymore, but I may if I find myself in a very crowded indoor environment.

    30. Scientist*

      I stay home when I’m sick, and wear a mask if I need to briefly go somewhere out of my house when symptomatic with anything, or if I’m visiting a vulnerable person. I am fully vaccinated and get an annual Covid booster (have gotten and plan to continue.) Otherwise I don’t wear a mask and don’t do anything else. I’ve only had covid once since 2020, and it wasn’t bad. To me, as a healthy person without any vulnerabilities, I’m lucky to be in a position where the cost of wearing a mask daily and worrying about it constantly would be much much higher than the risk of feeling crappy and having to take off work and quarantine myself for five days once every couple years.

    31. Future*

      Making sure myself and my loved ones are up to date on vaccinations and I suppose a little more awareness of not going out while sick. Haven’t masked in over a year but I have a few handy in case I need them. Otherwise have pretty much resumed my normal work, travel, and social life as before.

    32. Nightengale*

      Still masking in stores, on the bus, at work except for briefly eating around definitely vaccinated colleagues. Not eating indoors in restaurants. The new CDC guidelines terrify me.

    33. Seashell*

      My family and I are fully vaccinated and boosted, and I stay away from anyone with a known case of Covid. I still work entirely remotely, which started due to Covid, but I am sticking with it more due to not wanting to commute and not really needing to go to the office instead of fear of illness.

      That’s it. I haven’t worn a mask in a while. I will see maybe 1 or 2 people masking if I go to a busy store.

    34. Subtle Tuba*

      I’m still masking indoors, including when I teach (adults). Avoiding indoor dining in restaurants, and avoiding crowds indoors when possible. I do shop in person with my KF94 on.

      I’m so glad to see all the people here still being careful, because while a few people are masking in my area — including some coworkers — we’re definitely in the minority.

      Flew for the first time recently, and was in a work situation on that trip where I did feel obligated to unmask while giving a presentation and to eat with the group in restaurants. I managed to avoid catching anything, but it was nerve-wracking!

      I’d like to stop masking someday, and I know things won’t really ever get any better than they are now, but I’m not psychologically ready yet…

    35. Science for the Win!*

      Seeing so many kind, caring, conscientious people masking, staying informed, and trying to prevent infection gives me hope! It’s astounding given the volume of scientific research we have access to now (published in main stream publications) how few people still seem to care and how few are unwilling to protect others by masking, especially given the statistics on long covid risk with repeat infection and asymptomatic transmission. It’s also disturbing how few people in the medical community mask while seeing patients. The stories I’ve heard from patients are appalling. Especially the stories from nursing homes. It’s such a shocking ethical and moral failure. We wear N95s, use mouthwashes and nasal sprays when potentially exposed, avoid crowded gatherings indoors, keep on top of research about supplements to take if we do test positive, we quarantine for 10 days if exposed and test with RAT tests three times to test out so we don’t give it to each other, use HEPA and Corsi-Rosenthal boxes, get mostly curb-side pick-ups, and we’re vaccinated. Waving an enthusiastic hello to everyone still masking and doing your part because Science! Thank you so much!

    36. TwentyHouseplants*

      I’ve watched several unvaccinated friends-of-friends (all mid-30s and previously healthy) die of covid via medical-turned-funeral-cost GoFundMe updates and several vaccinated coworkers/friends have bad luck and go through either absolutely miserable acute infections or lose all their PTO to months of sequelae after “just felt like a cold” initial infections so I’m still wearing an N-95 pretty much anywhere indoors when I’m at work/errands etc. and staying up-to-date with vaccines (and encouraging husband to do the same). I also bought a few air purifiers for the house for when family visits and was pleasantly surprised by how much they help with my allergies :)

      1. Science for the Win!*

        I think that’s what boggles me the most. So many people have died and so many are now disabled and suffering from Long Covid. How are people not altering their behavior to adjust responsibly and ethically to the new normal? I saw a medical professional recently finally say out loud that “brain fog” is brain damage. It’s not your mild initial symptoms that are the issue – it’s the short and long term internal damage you can’t see or feel. It’s like boiling the frog – people won’t realize what’s happening to them until it’s too late. It’s not like a cold at all, though it might feel like a cold. A friend lost a healthy good friend in their mid-30s to a post-covid stroke, another had a heart attack post-covid infection number two. A friend lost his father. A distant family member was improving in the hospital and on the way to recovery then caught Covid from unmasked medical staff and died. Another friend has hearing loss. Another has a teen daughter with Long Covid. So many people seem to be constantly sick right now and yet few people seem to be talking about the impact being infected with Covid has on your immune system. As the long term implications of allowing and encouraging so many people to become infected repeatedly continue to come to light, we’ll see if those who refer to it as airborne AIDS are right or not. Why wouldn’t you adhere to the precautionary principle and mask everywhere in public until we know more?

        1. Maggie*

          That’s a really awful way to talk about the seriousness of Covid. It’s very disparaging to people who live with HIV or AIDs, who btw no longer have a shorter live expectancy than an average person when they follow the standard of care for their disease.

          1. Science for the Win!*

            I certainly didn’t intend for it to come across that way. I apologize if I’ve been hurtful in any way. I first discovered that the comparison is part of the ongoing dialogue about Covid from someone I follow online who is intimately familiar with the personal and scientific stories around AIDS and HIV, and they are drawing parallels between the two based on how events are playing out with Covid and research related to how it impacts the immune system. They are deeply concerned that we are seeing a slow motion replay that is not a carbon copy exactly, but is eerily similar. There are certainly lots of people in on the discussion who are saying please don’t equate the two. There is ample evidence now that viral infections can have long term impacts, some of which don’t appear until many years later (i.e., the link between EBV and MS). I’ve seen discussions about potentially using the same meds for Long Covid. It’s too soon to tell how those who have been infected might be impacted ten or twenty years down the road. There does seem to be evidence that damage can be cumulative, and I’ve seen reports that the risk of Long Covid goes up with each subsequent infection. Given what we know about the potential long term impact of other viruses, it seems it would be wise from a public health perspective to take a cautious stance and encourage the prevention of infection.

    37. Elizabeth West*

      Still masking on public transit for the most part, although I finally got it. -_-

      I’m very happy that it happened after vaccines, though. I’ve been religious about my flu shot for a long time now and it’s not a big deal to add a Covid shot to that. So I’m all caught up and will get the new one as soon as I can.

      I feel like it was inevitable eventually but I guess it took longer since vax rates are much higher here than back in OldState. Paxlovid helped a lot even though it tastes awful.

    38. Kay*

      I always mask around others, including while working, hand sanitizers, not touching things if I can avoid it, not shaking hands, vaccinated but need the latest booster. I do eat at indoor restaurants, and have gone to concerts where I’ll unmask to take a drink, but I’ll do my best to do things outdoors or without crowds and mask when I’m the only other one doing it (so common). I’ve never gotten covid, that I know of, but have had some minorly odd symptoms over the last few years that gives me pause. I have some very young healthy friends with long covid (professional athlete, marathon runners) who have had their lives destroyed. I really really don’t want that. I feel like I’ve been less diligent lately but I need to get back with it I think. These last few years of not being sick has been nice.

    39. Quinalla*

      Keeping my family and me up to date on COVID vaccines. Masking in airports and on planes and masking in doctor offices – helps protect against other sicknesses too. We still (knock on wood) haven’t gotten any COVID in our household at least that we know of, I know a few who had COVID with no symptoms so can’t know 100% for sure.

  13. My Brain is Exploding*

    So a side thread this week was about how partnered people sleep – whether one of you always has the same side of the bed no matter what, or if you change, and why. So, answer up, people of AAM!

    1. My Brain is Exploding*

      1. I know someone who randomly switches sleeping positions with her partner, like after a few months they’ll switch sides of the bed. She thinks it’s good to change up what your body is becoming accustomed to.
      2. In our house (on vacation, or whatever), it depends on factors like: which side is closest to the bathroom? To the telephone (one of us used to get work-related calls at night)? To the closet (for the one who had to get up first and the closet light was very bright)?

    2. AcademiaNut*

      Same side of the bed, separate covers. Which side is mostly dependent on temperature (position of window, air conditioner). At hotels, we’ll pick a side, but it’s not necessarily the same side as at home.

    3. Just a name*

      We always have the same side of the bed no matter what. Except at his parent’s house for some reason, now that I think about it. But we are only there a few days each year. I used to ask him to switch up if something was bothering me (allergies, too hot/cold) but that fell away years ago. I think it started with my wanting to sleep furthest away from the bedroom door should intruders arrive. So, my anxiety probably has something to do with it.

    4. Rara Avis*

      We usually stick to our sides, except we reverse at my parents’ house, and I don’t why.

      1. Double A*

        I’d kind of like to switch sometimes but the stuff is too well embedded. I’d be lost.

      2. goddessoftransitory*

        Exactly. Our bedside tables are little colonies of our books, glasses, etc.

    5. California Dreamin’*

      We stay on the same side at home, but in hotels it’s totally random just depending on which side he sits down on, I guess (He’s always first to sit down on the bed… I like to kind of get stuff “situated” in a hotel room first.)

    6. Not A Manager*

      When I was partnered, we each had our own side of the bed. We are not heathens.

    7. Two cents*

      We have our designated sides of the bed at home, but that is because the mattress core is slightly different on each side. Slightly softer on my side, slightly harder on his. For vacations or anywhere else, we pick somehow, often just default or random, and then that’s how it stays for the duration of sleeping in that space. Unless there’s a reason to change, which has only really happened once or twice in all the years.

      We have two separate comforters as well because I steal blankets. But that’s also handy because I like a heavier blanket in winter.

    8. Helvetica*

      In my last relationship where we did not leave together, we switched sides in between the beds. So, at my place it was one order and his place, another. I guess we were both just used to prefer a side of “our” bed, so we went along with that. But I’d not switch sides if sleeping constantly in the same bed.
      Also – separate duvets/blankets are a must.

    9. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      Husband and I keep separate rooms now, which has been a dramatic improvement in quality of life for me at least. I am a morning person, early to bed, need warm, sleep lightly, difficulty falling asleep especially if woken, and he is night owl, wants it arctic, snores, can’t keep his CPAP on straight so it whistles, thrashes around, and can’t be quiet at night if his life depends on it. :-P but before that, and still in the king sized bed, I always sleep on the right side. (The whole left side of the king sized bed is empty, because the dog takes her half of the bed out of the middle of my half of the bed. :-P ) In hotels, if there is only one bed in the room, I sleep on the right, if there are two I sleep in the bed farthest from the door on the side closest to the middle of the room. I don’t even know.

      1. Bunny Girl*

        We are also separate rooms. Been together for ten years, living together for five. We have terrible sleep compatibility. I sleep like a brick but move around like I’m fighting a bear and he’s a very light sleeper. And I let our 85 pound dog sleep in my bed which adds to the chaos factor. It’s really nice actually. We both get good sleep and don’t hate each other all the time.

        1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

          Yep, I told him after the first couple weeks that “I don’t know about you, but I haven’t slept this well in ten years and I like you a lot more now.” When I’m traveling and he’s staying home with the dogs, he does sleep in my room instead of his, because the woofapotamus sleeps in a crate that’s too big to move, and my older dog loves it because she can take her half of the bed out of the middle of his half of the bed instead. But when we’re both home, my dogs sleep in my room with the door closed, and his cats sleep wherever because he doesn’t close his door. (I don’t let cats in my bedroom, which he always pouted about when it was our bedroom, so now he can let them into his all he wants.)

          1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

            And to bring it back to the point, when he is sleeping in my room while I’m gone, he still sleeps on “his” (left) side of the bed. But in his own room, where he has his own king-sized bed because he’s almost six and a half feet tall and bulky, he sleeps on the right side, same as I do. (The original king-sized bed only stayed in “my” room because it wouldn’t fit down the stairs to his, otherwise I’d have sent it with him and gotten a smaller one for myself. His current king-sized bed is actually two twins jacked together.)

    10. Falling Diphthong*

      When I had a mastectomy on the left, I switched to my husband’s side of the bed so I could get out of bed leaning on my right arm, which still worked. This was a source of great confusion to all the animals. Change! Is bad!

      We switched back once I could use both arms.

      Traveling we don’t have a consistent side. But the first night sets the unbreakable bed division for the duration of that stay.

      1. Generic Name*

        lol @ confusing the pets. Last time my husband went out of town, one of the cats slept on his side, leaving me with a tiny slice of bed.

    11. Jay (no, the other one)*

      Same side wherever we are. After decades of that I find I sleep on that side of the bed even when I’m traveling by myself. I’m conditioned to roll onto my left side to look for the time or reach for my glasses and I can’t deal with confusion when I’m not fully awake.

      Possible TMI: if we switched sides of the bed it would make physical intimacy – weird. Which hand do I use again?

    12. Anon. Scientist*

      He’s a ridiculously light sleeper so I get the one closest to the outside in all situations. We have totally different blankets and pillows (we have matching thin blankets on top for looks, but everything else is totally different) so it would be a logistical nightmare to switch sides.

    13. Generic Name*

      We pick a side. At hotels, it’s not necessarily the same side as at home, though. I usually pick the side by the night stand.

    14. RussianInTexas*

      Staying on the same sides of the bed including in hotels. Share the comforter.

    15. Dwight Schrute*

      same side of the bed but separate covers. we have two twin duvets for our king size bed

    16. Bibliovore*

      Mr. Bibliovore had always had the right side of the bed and I had the left. In hotel rooms the same. For about thirty years.
      In the most recent years, I would go to bed earlier and he would stay up late and that would disturb me, I would often go sleep in the guest room.
      Then I just ended up in the guest room for sleeping. We would snuggle, talk, and read together in the bedroom at night. In the morning I would go in and wake him, snuggle and talk.
      After he died, I just stayed in the guest room on the fold out.
      After about a year, a friend came and stayed and we moved his stuff out the bedroom.
      I am back in the bedroom in a queen sized bed. I still sleep on the left side. The dogs have the right.

    17. vombatus ursinus*

      We never switch sides in the same bed, but we don’t stay on the same side in every bed e.g. if travelling. I think we currently sleep on opposite sides from where we were in our previous house :D

    18. Zephy*

      I sleep on the right side of the bed (from the perspective of people laying in said bed – husband to the left of me, bed edge to the right), always at home and usually also when traveling. We each have our own blankets, too, because I am incapable of sharing. I must be the world’s coziest burrito at all times for sleeps. In hotels, one of us takes the flat sheet and the top quilt and the other takes the middle blanket.

    19. allathian*

      We sleep in separate rooms and have done since our son was a baby. I’m a very restless sleeper and he snores.

      When traveling, I always sleep on the left side of the bed because I mostly sleep on my left side and prefer to have my back turned to my husband when I can’t have the room to myself.

    20. don'tbeadork*

      We used to switch sides every few months, but the last few years we’ve stuck to the same side. Partly it’s because he sleeps on the very edge of the bed with his feet hanging over and he wants to lie on a specific side of his body.

      Mostly, though, I think it was because I respond to the alarm faster than he does. Now that we’re both retired, maybe we’ll switch sides from time to time again.

      When we’re away from home, the sides switch; I don’t know why.

    21. goddessoftransitory*

      Queen size bed, and we definitely have our own sides! Husband gets up earlier than I do, though, so I sprawl out for a couple hours every morning. We flip the mattress every couple months to keep lumps/sagging at bay.

      Peanut’s routine is: wait until we’re in bed. Climb on me. Climb on Husband and make biscuits. Lay down on my lap area (like, if I sat up, he’d be in my lap) and form a warm lump for a bit, then stroll over to Husband’s legs and settle down there for the night. He usually doesn’t move until morning/breakfast time, then comes back for tummy rubs until he decides to join Husband in the living room and nest in his lap.

    22. Reluctant Mezzo*

      When our first had colic, whoever had duty that night slept on the side closest to the door, while the other person whose night it was to get sleep slept away from the door. After the kids grew up, we settled down into fairly rigid sides.

    23. Wilde*

      We just switched because I saw a meme that made a comment about how her husband never heard the kids from his side of the bed. Well, it worked! After two nights they gave up trying to climb in with me (because it was now their dad) and have stayed in their own beds!

      Otherwise it’s been the same sides our whole marriage. Weirdly though we switch when we stay at my parents’ twice a year.

    24. HBJ*

      It depends on the houses we’ve lived in. It’s been roughly 50/50. My husband always sleeps closest to the door, and some rooms’ layouts have been conducive to his side being the left and some the right. Occasionally, it changes for convenience. After having our second child, it made more sense with the room layout for the crib to be on his side of the bed, but I was the one getting up to nurse. So I had his side for awhile.

    25. BlueCactus*

      Different rooms. My partner is a light sleeper and I am a toss-and-turn-er. Actual sleep >>> romance for us, lol.

    26. Quinalla*

      At home we have our designated sides we always sleep on, that way chargers, books, now my cpap, etc. are all where they need to be for the person.

      In hotels we pick a side and stick with it for the stay there. We used to do whichever side, but lately I’ve noticed we pick the same side as we sleep at home. I hadn’t thought about it, but it’s a thing, didn’t used to be like that :)

    27. ChaoticNeutral*

      We sleep in different beds on work nights–he snores, I kick in my sleep, it’s the only way we can actually get sleep!

      On the weekends, we always sleep on the same side. We carry this into hotel beds as well haha. I always sleep on the side closest to the bathroom

    28. Donkey Hotey*

      prior to meeting my spouse: I slept on the side farthest from the door.
      now: left side as you lay in bed, always.

  14. ShroomLog*

    TLDR: What can I do to stop the bunny breeding factory in my yard? Birth control in feed? Set traps?
    Full story: The neighbors gave us free bunny. it escaped multiple times from the house into the yard. The last time, we couldn’t catch it (bunnies are fast!). No problem. It seems happy in the yard. We still feed it, hoping to socialize it. A couple weeks later, another adult bunny appears in our yard. This one is brown. A couple months later we have baby bunnies. And then more baby bunnies. We found 3 dead. We caught one baby and gave it away. But there are now like 2 teenager bunnies and 4 tiny ones in the yard. This is not sustainable. Suggestions?
    And yes, I absolutely regret not listening to everyone who said not to get a bunny.

      1. goddessoftransitory*

        This–bunnies breed like…bunnies and can become real destructive forces to the local flora. They may recommend local humane groups to help you out.

        And if you have dogs and cats that go outside, keep an eye out; bunnies also attract predators like raptors and foxes who might target them.

    1. Shiny Penny*

      If you are lucky there might be a rabbit rescue group in your area that can advise, and maybe loan enough traps to catch them all at once?

    2. Shiny Penny*

      One way to catch semi-tame bunnies is by using a welded wire fence that you unroll into a big circle in your yard. Three foot high wire should work for rabbits (they might jump over 2 foot high wire) and shouldn’t be too tippy to stand on its own in a big curve, maybe with some temporary stakes in the middle. Fencing with 2×4 inch openings is cheapest and will catch the adults, tho little ones can crawl through if you aren’t fast. You need to use “hardware cloth” as fencing to catch those tinies.
      The theory is that you set up a semicircle with the ends not closed together. Put bait inside the circle (Romaine lettuce? Rabbit pellets? Timothy hay?) and then hide and wait til you see you have enough individuals inside. Then 2 people quickly head for the ends of the wire and pull the wire together to fully entrap the bunnies. (You have to approach via a path that will “push” them to the far side of the wire, not flush them out.) Then you have a chance to catch individuals in a way that avoids giving them a heart attack. But they will dig out quickly so it’s best to have all your cages ready.
      This is a pretty fun project with older kids. We used to catch semi-wild chickens this way, using 5 foot welded wire. It teaches you interesting things about how animals think, and how to move to help keep them calmer.

      1. Nancy Drew*

        Rabbits, even adults, can easily slip through a welded wire fence with 2X4″ openings running at top speed. Chicken wire at the bottom will prevent that.

    3. LGP*

      The Rabbit.org Foundation has a list of bunny rescue groups in each US state and some other countries. I would suggest finding the one closest to you and asking them for help. Even if you aren’t close to a rescue, I’m sure they can still offer some advice.

      https://rabbit.org/rescue/rabbit-rescue-groups/

      And just for future reference, pet bunnies are very different from wild bunnies and are not equipped to survive in the wild. They will die (from predators, being hit by cars, starvation, etc.), and any who don’t die soon will end up having babies, which will continue the cycle. Any domestic rabbit who has escaped or been “released” needs to be rescued as soon as possible, for their own safety and to prevent exactly the situation you have now.

    4. Lynn*

      Unless you catch them all and have them all neutered, you’re going to have more and more bunnies. They are fertile 29 days out of 30.

    5. Bunanon*

      A TOWN near me has this problem. The residents swayed by the cute are enabling the problem. The overpopulation has caused major issues like chewing foundations.
      Your problem is probably already your neighborhoods problem.

    6. I'm A Little Teapot*

      Get all of them spayed/neutered. Check with local rescues if there’s a low cost vet if money’s a problem.

    7. MissB*

      I agree that animal control would be the place to start.

      I remember this coast trip that we did when the kids were really young, like toddler age. We escaped the blazing heat of the city and headed to the coast along with much of the metro area. The only place we could find to stay was a private campground. It was charming, with a field of horses….and bunnies. Bunnies everywhere. You could hold out a carrot and be surrounded with them.

      Now, that town has a real bunny problem. It was cute back then but folks can’t grow plants because the bunnies mow down everything. Their population is so far out of control.

    8. Xanna*

      Yikes. Not to be a crazy rabbit-lady, or that person shouting to close the barn gates while the horse is running riot, but I really don’t think this is a “rabbits are bad pets” story?

      They’re a well known invasive species, with a near exponential ability to multiply, and very few defenses against predators. Just because they’re considered “less serious” pets than dogs for some reason, if you choose to have a domestic pet, letting it “get out” is just really incredibly negligent? Please think about how that happened, and if you choose to have other pets in the future, make a plan that this doesn’t happen again?

      Honestly, the best thing to do would be to humane trap as many bunnies as possible, then get in touch with a rabbit rescue and explain the whole situation, but at least where I am, rescues are wildly overrun and underresourced, and spays for rabbits are expensive, so I might think about if a donation is financially possible on your end.

      Again, not to be hateful, just this is really a serious thing, and I think realizing that this isn’t like an “oh shucks” mistake is pretty important, IMO.

  15. Super Zonked*

    If you left a toxic situation last week and are starting a new thing this coming week, how do you decompress over the weekend to avoid burnout? (Especially if you have a high energy toddler). Or am I meant to be perpetually burned out? (Seeking honest answers). We have minimal village and our usual sitter is awol, plus our friends live too far to help or are childfree and have (understandably) ghosted us.

    1. Freya's Cats*

      Is there any nature to go out into? Even just a park? Let the toddler run around collecting interesting sticks and stones and jump in puddles exhausting themselves while you inhale oxygen and look out for the signs of spring (if it is spring what you are, substitute for other if needed).

    2. Panda*

      Netflix marathon is my go-to. Sometimes that means it’s a Blippi marathon for my kids, but I do what I need to to take care of my mental health. If you need downtime, Melissa & Doug has some awesome find & seek sticker books.

    3. Falling Diphthong*

      This could be the weekend to dial everyone’s expectations to zero. Announce that you are going to stay in your pajamas and watch Disney and survive off cereal, frozen pizzas, pop tarts, and whatever else appeals as the lowest energy option. This is a time to celebrate that everyone is still alive on Monday morning and the weekend doesn’t need to hit any higher marks than that.

      (Slight exception–if you have good weather, it’s probably worth getting sufficiently dressed to run the toddler around outside.)

      My children (20s) have happy memories of when we would visit their grandparents, and they would get up early and watch Househunters all morning while eating mini frozen pizzas.

    4. Quinalla*

      Agree that getting outside if at all possible is huge for me.

      Can you and your husband each give each other an hour or two childfree while the other takes total responsibility. Maybe even each of you get out of the house with the toddler leaving other parent a chance to nap, watch TV, etc. in peace?

  16. JustAnon*

    I’m travelling to Montreal / Montréal for the ACLA conference next week. I’ll be spending most of my time in a conference center downtown and would be all the more grateful for restaurant recommendations for enjoyable dinners in the evenings. I like interesting food. (Google maps tells me there is a China town; is there a good Szechuan restaurant by any chance?)

    1. mreasy*

      I would look at Eater – Montreal has such a great and fast moving food scene. They have an essential restaurants list and specifically Chinatown-oriented lists. Joe Beef is a now-legendary and very influential spot worth checking out. Since it’s such a scene I would try to get reservations ASAP where you can!

      1. JustAnon*

        Thank you, this is really helpful!

        I feel the Chinatown comment may have been a bit misleading. I’m open to all kinds of recommendations! I live in a smallish town, so trips to large and international cities are a welcome opportunity to treat my tastebuds :)

    2. vombatus ursinus*

      I visited Montreal last year and honestly didn’t find the food all that memorable (maybe we just didn’t know where to go) … you should definitely try a freshly baked Montreal bagel, though. Fairmount and Saint-Viateur are the two big names. We also had some nice plant-based sushi at a place called Bloom.

    3. Anonymous Educator*

      Be sure to visit Schwartz’s Deli. I’m vegetarian, but my spouse assures me this is the best pastrami anywhere.

    4. The Gollux, Not a Mere Device*

      If your conference is at the Palais de Congress, you’re a short walk from Chinatown, or can get on the metro right outside the conference center and go to other neighborhoods for restaurants.

      Chinatown is good for Cantonese and I’m told Szechuan food, and for Vietnamese food. If you’re going to be there during the weekend and are comfortable eating in restaurants, Maison Kim Fung, a couple of blocks uphill from the Palais and Place d’Armes metro station, has very good dim sum.

      1. JustAnon*

        Thanks! I love dim sum, and this sounds lovely. We are indeed at the Palais de Congress, and I’ll make sure to check Maison Kim Fung out!

  17. M&M Mom*

    Hi, looking for recommendations for an app to learn conversational Japanese. Thanks.

    1. Treena*

      If you’re learning to write as well, my partner uses Anki flashcards on a tablet to practice writing. He finds it very helpful.

    2. acmx*

      Not an app, but NHK has language lessons online. Search NHK world Japan, scroll to the bottom to information and again at the bottom is Let’s Study Japanese.

    3. Anonymous Educator*

      Have a look at Mango Languages. You might even get free access to it through your local public library login.

    4. Cat*

      I’ve been using HeyJapan and I am enjoying it. I bought the no ad version but you can use it free if you are willing to sit though ads.

  18. Come On Eileen*

    I am at the tail end of a week-long cruise with my family, aboard a ship in the Caribbean. As much as I like to think that I pack smartly and am prepared for all my needs, I’m finding I didn’t think to pack a few things that would have been assets on this trip (a nice sweater for the dining room, since it gets chilly in there, a swim suit cover up, and water shoes). I was thinking I might start a packing list and leave it in my suit case for next time, so that I don’t forget again! What are your tips for packing for a trip to make sure you don’t forget the little things that end up meaning a lot?

    1. ShroomLog*

      I keep distant packing lists on my phone (Keep app). Make the list now, while you’re in the situation.

    2. Glomarization, Esq.*

      I have a checklist that I leave in my dopp kit. Every once in a while when I’m on a trip I’ll have to add or subtract something from the list, but for the most part there’s nothing on the list that I can’t obtain at my usual destination(s). As for the dopp kit itself, as soon as I get back home I “recharge” it with fresh quantities of whatever appears to be about to run out, e.g., toothpaste or band-aids or feminine hygiene items.

    3. Treena*

      I keep a massive spreadsheet of everything I could ever pack for any kind of trip. Each item is separated into sections in Column A, then Column B+ are each trip. So before I start packing, I go down the list and ask if I need this item for this trip, and if I do, I highlight the cell and/or put the number of those items I’ll need (5 pairs of socks, etc.)

      Obviously, there are the basic sections like clothes, toiletries, medications, shoes, etc. But I also have a section for suitcases (so I can think about which suitcase I’m going to use), an outerwear section (so I can pick which coat is best), trip-type sections like Plane (gum, headphone jack for my Bluetooth headphones so I can plug into the plane TV) and road trip (garbage bag for the car, charger just for the car, etc.) I have a swimming section with all kinds of water gear in it, I even have a specific section for our family’s vacation home because I like to bring certain things there that I wouldn’t bring anywhere else.

      For about 2-3 years I kept adding and adding until it felt super complete. Now I know I won’t forget anything.

      1. My Brain is Exploding*

        Mine is similar. I’ve tweaked it over the years, too. When I started it, I googled “packing lists,” and used the info as a basis. There are entire sections I might not use (like swimming or dressy clothes). I also have things like a car list and an airplane list. I usually print it before a trip and (1) black out what I don’t need to bring; (2) write in numbers of what I do need to bring (such as socks); and (3) write out specific items of clothing in their category. Over the past few years I’ve also written out the number of days I’ll be away and which clothes I’ll wear each day.

      2. California Dreamin’*

        Similar. Master family packing list in a spreadsheet that has everything we could ever need on any kind of trip we take (all the basic stuff but also things like beach towels/winter hats and gloves/dress shoes.) I make a copy of the spreadsheet for each new trip and go through and delete items that don’t apply to that trip and add if there’s anything really specific (for example, for upcoming trip I added “Easter brunch outfit.”)

      3. Rosey*

        I have a spreadsheet too. When I travel, it’s always by plane, and I always bring the same bags, so each gets a column on the spreadsheet: carry on bag, backpack, toiletry bag (which goes in the backpack). For clothing items, I write how many I need to bring.

        I started the spreadsheet several years ago, and add/delete stuff after each trip. Sometimes I write notes for next year (like, “bought a snack bag full of cough drops, but only used one on plane, so just bring a handful next time.)

      4. Freya's Cats*

        Mine is not that extensive, I’m in genuine awe and as a prolific excel user you have my admiration, but yeah, that is more or less how I do it. I started with a basic one from online somewhere and every time I go away and I forget something, I add it. It is in a cloud, so I can do that the moment I find out. In time, different versions have come into existence for hiking holidays, city trips, winter or summer. They are pretty much complete now. Packing takes me 10 minutes and I never forget anything of any importance.

    4. Jay (no, the other one)*

      My husband grew up camping and backpacking. He’s the eldest of three and his father never packed a suitcase in his life, so my MIL did everything. She had lists for every possible permutation of backpacking or car camping trip, and I found that completely ridiculous and over-the-top when I joined the family. Now I get it. Apology sent to the great beyond…now we have lists and I also try to keep things together so I pack them at the same time.

      My toilet kit is complete with everything I need except meds. I either fill my pillbox if it’s less than a week or toss bottles in a smaller bag if it’s longer than that. We also have a camping box with all the cooking gear and some stable spices and we have a list on ToDoIst of what to put in the car for a camping trip or long road trip where we’ll be cooking in an AirBnB.

      All the “outdoorsy” footwear is in the garage so we grab our hiking boots and water shoes from there if it’s that kind of a trip and I keep my cover-ups in the same drawer as my bathing suits. If we’re flying, I wear a lightweight sweater on the plane anyway and I choose a black or neutral one so I can wear it with whatever I’ve packed. I sort of have the opposite problem – I’m a terrible overpacker and I’m trying to cut back, so I talk myself through each day of the trip and any specific events and try to pack just what I need.

    5. Still*

      You’re smart to think about it now with everything still fresh in your mind. As you’re unpacking and doing the laundry back home, take a note of which things you’ve used multiple times and which you could have left at home.

    6. Josephine Beth*

      I keep a Google doc master packing list. It has a main section for all trips and then specific items we might need for other vacations we frequently take (camping, beach, etc). I can print it out before each trip and use it as a packing list and then edit anytime!

    7. Not A Manager*

      I keep desultory lists, which I sometimes forget to add to, and usually forget to check anyway.

      My method is to rigorously think through all upcoming experiences *in detail* and as I think, make a pile of whatever comes to mind that I might need. Hiking? Sometimes I have an allergic reaction, so I toss in OTC meds and a tiny zip top bag to hold meds. Going out for dinner in the city? I literally start with the base layer and work my way up, including a shawl or a wrap. Morning routine? Bring coffee setup. I think through my showers and my hair routine. I also have a backup bag of stuff I might need if something goes wrong – prescription meds in case of an infection, spare glasses, etc.

      Once I have that big Pile O’ Stuff, then I pare it down, think about redundancy, etc.

    8. The Gollux, Not a Mere Device*

      I have a few master packing lists that I revise as necessary, based on where I’m going and the time of year. When I’m planning for a specific trip, I make a copy of the list. The trip-specific one doesn’t just say “socks” but how many pairs.

      The night before I leave, I do most of the packing, then print a separate small list for things to grab or check in the morning, like “passport” and prescription drugs. Before leaving the house, I use that list to be sure I have the most essential items.

    9. tangerineRose*

      I have a “trip template” file that I copy and edit before I go on a trip. While I’m on the trip, if I think it would be useful to have additional stuff, I try to write it down and update the template later.

    10. Enoby*

      You could also make a list of everything you packed this time, then cross out everything you didn’t use or used less than you expected so you don’t bother next time but do remember all the things you did end up needing.

    11. Reluctant Mezzo*

      I actually keep a ‘pack for vacation’ spreadsheet! (accountants never die, they just run out of tabs…). This way I don’t forget the chargers, sandals, swimsuit, etc.

    12. Girasol*

      I’m planning my first overseas trip in about 20 years. A friend pointed me to Rick Steves’ packing advice. There’s bound to be something that he wouldn’t pack that I will wish I had thought of, but the list is very very helpful.

    13. Ellis Bell*

      When I’ve finished the packing list for a particular trip, I make sure to take it with me to check items off for packing to go home. That way I know I haven’t forgotten anything.

    14. Mademoiselle Sugar Lump*

      I use AnyList and have set up items that I can reuse. You can tag things with specific things like “overnight” or “necessary” or “Hawaii” and then see what favorite things you have in that category, and add them to the current list.
      I use it for shopping, keeping track of knitting needles, and other things.

  19. Anon for this*

    I’ve been thinking lately of how you figure out what is important to you in your life, and what you are envious of other peoples lives. I was recently having a conversation with my sister. I am in my mid 30s and she is in her late 20s. She went to school for art and has been doing art related things ever since. I’ve been really envious of her career in art, because it always seems so fun and interesting. She’s been talking about how doing art for work has made it less engaging her and she’s thinking of changing her career. And I mentioned that I was envious of her career in art and of her thinking to change jobs, because I have felt a little stuck in my job recently. She turned it around and said she was envious of me because I have a steadier job than her art career, a job that allows me paid time off and a decent enough paycheck to travel to interesting places. She also said that I have much more interesting personal life than her, because I have a core group of friends that I’ve known for years, and also volunteer with a unique charity. I countered back to her that her art career and ling relationship with her boyfriend led her to move to another country where she could see new things and meet new people.

    We had this back-and-forth for a while, before, realizing it was that we both had elements of in our lives with the other was envious of. When I was done with the conversation, I really did ponder on that. It’s true that I would like a career that was more interesting and fun to talk about, just being a regular old office worker. But I’m very grateful that I have a job that I don’t have to take home with me, and that allows me time to travel, because traveling and doing fun things with my friends really is my passion in life. my sister is a little more passionate about her career than I am, so that is why she was focused on that, but it is at the detriment of having money/energy to do things in her personal time. And then I have other friends and family I thought about, whose passions are their family, or a hobby, or learning, or helping the community. These are all things I of course knew about, that every person is different and al have different things in our lives that we prioritize. But it was the first time I really thought about my life. I was stuck on things of with other people in my life, and didn’t even think that my life was worth craving.

    I guess my question is just what do you prioritize in your life that’s making you the most happy that others might be jealous of, and what do you yearn for that you see in other people lives.

    1. generally happy*

      We moved around a lot, due to spouse in the military. I am in a licensed profession without reciprocity (required exams and practicals in each state and forget about overseas). I worked in that profession for about 10 years, but after we started moving I did volunteer work and stayed home with the kids. I don’t regret that – they are adults now and we have a great relationship and their growing-up years were fun (mostly) times that I know some working parents envied. But I see what others in my professional class have accomplished and I am jealous of that, and a little embarrassed, too.

    2. Arsloan*

      I do this with my sister, who is married with kids in the suburbs, while I’m single and childfree in the city. Both of us sometimes envy the other but ultimately I doubt either of us would switch permanently (she would probably like to switch with me for like one week). The grass is always greener. Everything involves tradeoffs. C’est la vie.

    3. Jay (no, the other one)*

      We’ll celebrate our 40th anniversary in December, and I know my brother (for one) is a bit jealous of that. We are financially secure and I was able to retire in my early 60s, so that too.

      What I yearn for is a close family beyond my marriage. My brother and I get along fine and rarely see each other – he’s always responsive when I reach out and never reaches out to me. I have cousins I haven’t spoken to in years. I see my friends who travel with their siblings and hang out with their cousins and have big family weddings and Memorial Day parties to go to and I wish I had that. We have a community and a chosen family and I am deeply grateful – and still….

    4. Frankie Bergstein*

      This is such a good question about what really matters to you, but also how what you pick comes with tradeoffs. I feel envy at:

      -people who have better mental health than me or more confidence. Mine aren’t terrible and could be worse, could be better. I am a ruminator and overthinker but working on it.
      -athletic people? When I hear about people going to the gym, teaching workout classes, or running marathons – I used to feel envy. Then I got to know people who did marathons. From talking with them, I realized it was like a part-time job.
      -I am jealous of conventionally attractive people, but there upsides to my very normal looks — no one will ever think “oh, Frankie just got that job or award because of her looks”. I am pretty invisible in public, which gives me safety.

      Probably more than anything is people with functional families that are not abusive. Like, people who say things like “family can be an engine of support and belonging”. My reaction to statements like that is: “what? People get support and belonging that they didn’t have to work their bippies off for then constantly maintain?”

      All in all, my life is good. Better than I’d imagined :)

    5. Squirrel Nutkin (the teach, not the admin)*

      I wish I’d been able to manage having a kid or two, and I wish I’d been able to still have a romantic relationship at this age, so I am a little envious of those things in others’ lives (even though I see that those situations are not always sunshine and lollipops).

      I also prospectively envy people with grandkids, knowing that I’m never going to get grandkids of my own. The grandparent-grandkid bond just looks like it can be such a great relationship when things go well.

      I wish I still had a job that I never took home with me, like my short stint being a reference librarian — it was awesome.

      On the other hand, I suppose people might envy the fact that I don’t have to arrange my life around kids or a spouse. They might envy my summers “off” — though there’s stuff I’m supposed to be doing then and I need that time to decompress from the school year.

    6. goddessoftransitory*

      I envy people who manage to have what I thought I wanted back in the day; I remember being really thrown a few years ago reading about a young happily married woman who was a successful playwright, for example.

      I went to school for theater arts, knowing it wasn’t practical, but also knowing it was really my only chance to perform regularly. I tried for long time after to make a go, but it’s just senseless to try to perform as a career unless you have the kind of ambition and drive that I lack.

      I’m also envious of good athletes and dancers–I’ve been clumsy and awkward all my life, and long to feel coordinated, graceful, and like I can make my body perform.

    7. Typing All The Time*

      I think it’s being able to not dread going to work anymore and being able to evolve and stay current or be confident to change direction if needed. I began working in journalism at a newspaper in the late nineties and had what my friends called a “fun job.” Since then, I’ve experienced layoffs and setbacks (I went from print to digital to going into other forms of writing) and I now worry about my future. When my friends and I were starting out, they were still trying to figure out what they wanted to do for a living and went through a series of jobs. They are in stable positions with good salaries and I now wish I changed my career path much earlier.

    8. Onwards and Forth*

      If you’re looking to explore this further, try the Designing Your Life book by Bill Burnett & Dave Evans. I also recommend A Million Miles in a Thousand Years (Donald Miller) as a less “practical” but very inspiring option.

  20. Sloanicota*

    Lately I have been flustered by online people’s wide range around “a lot of money.” I’ll put the links in my next comment, but three examples – the AAM post about someone making $140K who felt like it was too much – the general response is this “really isn’t that much in the Bay area” for tech, which, okay, I know that area’s pretty pricey. Then in Slate, a college student says they’ve inherited $800K and wants to donate it. The general comment response on Slate is this “isn’t really a lot of money” and they’d be better off just investing it for their retirement. $800K!! That’s ten years’ worth of pre-tax income! That’s at least two nice houses in cash worth! Am I way off? Are we all (except me) just temporarily embarrassed millionaires?

    1. TPS Reporter*

      I wonder if this has to do with age. I’m making twice as much now than 10 years ago but am way more anxious about money. in my 40s now I’m saving retirement, putting a lot into that account. also worrying about what healthcare options are going to be available for me as I age in the US given politics and the availability of social programs. everything seems so expensive now.

      1. goddessoftransitory*

        This is definitely part of it. The Slate letter was from a very young person who was just graduating and didn’t seem to be supporting themselves yet.

    2. mreasy*

      $140k is truly not very much in NYC, where I live. It is also my exact salary. Rent is quite high, as are taxes and health care costs. I take home about $7k/month after taxes, which is without insurance deduction, as I’m lucky to be covered on my spouse’s policy. Rent is about 22% of my take home, and we actually have a great deal on a place that’s big but has no amenities and is a 20 minute walk from the closest subway. If we had onsite laundry and/or a dishwasher near transit, our rent would close to double. Add $500 in monthly charitable donation, the high cost of utilities, groceries, gym membership. metrocard, etc – and my salary covers me with a little extra for a dinner out here and there, a little for savings, but not much more. I don’t have any student loan debt, which for many folks my age still takes $500+ out of their funds monthly. Folks with kids on this salary would be hard pressed to make it work.

      I am extremely lucky to have a stable job and a salary that covers my needs plus a little more. But in a high cost of living city, this salary is squarely just fine. And for a job as demanding as mine, it would be nice to feel a little farther above water.

      I have lived on MUCH less in NYC, but I’m in my 40s and have basically worked my ass off in an unforgiving industry to get to this point. $140 for entry level? Sure, that’s a lot. For 20+ years in at an executive level? Eh.

      1. Atheist Nun*

        “$140k is truly not very much in NYC.” Well, I am in my fifties, work in a director role position, and make $30K less than that and live in NYC, so… The salary depends on the industry. My field (librarianship) is I believe, systemically underpaid from a history of being considered a “feminine” profession that would have been the second, smaller income in a heterosexual marital relationship where the male partner earned much more. Obviously that is not the reality for many librarians today. I see no jobs in my field that pay $140K in NYC.

        As for the example of an $800K windfall, that is far more than–I am ashamed to admit–I have saved. I remember hearing that a general rule of thumb is to have saved 5 times your income by the time you turn 50, which panicked me because I had, maybe, 4 times saved… and then Fidelity increased that recommendation to 6 times your income. I save about 25% of my salary for retirement, and it still does not feel like enough.

        –A permanently embarrassed nonmillionaire

        1. Busy Middle Manager*

          While this can be sad from a certain perspective, I find this thread so refreshing. I’m so sick of everyone else exaggerating their salaries online. I used to job hop and knew what companies paid (at the time) and at the same time, everyone online would be adding 30K-50K to the salaries. And I’d get downvoted to hell when I said “I don’t think an Accountant in our area gets that much because that’s how much Directors at the adjacent big fortune 500 get paid.” Everyone on other sites is talking like 100K-150K jobs grow on trees

    3. mreasy*

      All of that said the $800K comments are weird. Yes it’s a lot of money and yes it’s worth donating to a local nonprofit – but also if you don’t have retirement maybe do that! (In NYC you could buy a tiny apartment in a far-flung neighborhood at best with $800k though.)

      1. RussianInTexas*

        The average price for an apartment in Boston ( I don’t live there but I looked it up for that Slate article) is $1.03mil.

        1. Sloanicota*

          I just looked it up and the median home price in the US this year seems to be $417,700.

          1. nnn*

            Right but the point is there’s wide variation. Where I live in the US $417,000 wouldn’t even buy you a one-bedroom condo.

      2. Patty Mayonnaise*

        Prices are going up A LOT but you can still get a two bedroom in some areas of NYC for a lot less than 800k – look at places in Queens that aren’t Astoria or LIC. Though the tiny aspect you might be right about :)

    4. Gyne*

      I have different categories of “a lot” of money. I make significantly more than 140k a year now, but when I was making about half that, I felt pretty solid at that stage of my life. I was saving some, paying rent and student loans, and putting some into retirement. I didn’t think I was making a lot but I felt like I was doing fine. Now that retirement is on the horizon, I’m looking at my portfolio and doing mental calculations of how many years it’ll last. 140k annually is a “good” salary for a single person, add a spouse and kids and it doesn’t go as far. an 800k windfall is “a lot” of money but you can’t stop working with that in your bank account. It would buy a modest house in a nice neighborhood where I live, but if I inherited that now it’d go straight into my retirement savings. For an amount of money to be truly life-changing to me, it’d have to be enough to enable me to quit my job and maintain my current lifestyle for the next 40-50 years.

      1. RussianInTexas*

        This. I am in my mid 40s, my partner is in his mid 50s. We would need the amount is few millions at least to quit working, and between us we have a very decent income for the area.

      2. sockless in seattle*

        For an amount of money to be truly life-changing to me, it’d have to be enough to enable me to quit my job and maintain my current lifestyle for the next 40-50 years.
        Yes, exactly this, and very well said.

        1. Angstrom*

          Agree. “A lot of money” makes me think “life-changing money” and that’d be enough to retire immediately and replace two incomes.

          1. goddessoftransitory*

            Yes, it’s the difference between “improve one area of my life (sometimes drastically with a positive ripple effect, of course) and “can utterly change how I live every aspect of it.”

          2. Still*

            I don’t know, I feel like “being able to immediately completely stop working” is a ridiculously high bar.

            Is “not having to worry about being able to retire at 60” not life-changing? Is “having the house and student debt paid off” not life-changing? Is “being able to regularly travel” not life-changing? Is “never having to worry about emergencies or medical bills” not life-changing?

            I guess maybe if you already have a ton of savings and live a pretty comfortable life.

      3. goddessoftransitory*

        One of my most distinct childhood memories was feeling rich; Midas-style, light cigars with hundreds, steak every meal stereotype rich, at about age 6. I had eleven dollars.

        That was more actual cash money then I had ever seen, let alone possessed, at that time, and I still remember that dizzy “the world is at my feet” delirium that I felt at having so much coin of the realm in my hot little hands.

        Then a family friend or relative took us to the dime store to shop–and I found that spending eleven dollars was an entirely different thing from HAVING the eleven dollars. Once you had to convert it into something specific it was a lot, lot less.

        That rollercoaster from “I HAS MONIES” to “Oh, sales tax too?” still is for me the perfect illustration of mental money vs. actual money.

    5. Falling Diphthong*

      Location has a lot to do with it. In the east coast cities, $800K is one average suburban house, nothing fancy.

      There’s a rule that I have found to hold pretty true, that people imagine that if they just earned 2 times what they do now, they would be set. That would be enough to live comfortably plus some extras. But when their income doubles over time, they actually find ways to spend it. They get a bigger house, a nicer car, eat out more often, buy that $100 sweater because why not. It’s very easy for the spending to increase until it uses up all the income.

      For example, a quick google says the median rent in San Francisco is $3267. Median home listing is $1.2 million. That will eat up your $140 K salary at a good clip.

      1. Arsloan*

        My personal bias is that most people compare their lifestyle with the next-richest person they know so they always feel they *aren’t doing that well* – and secondly, retirement/finance blogs will rarely tell anyone they can retire no matter how much they have.

        1. Busy Middle Manager*

          I see the exact opposite! The cost of so many big items like cars and housing is so ridiculously high all of a sudden that even when the #s look high, people are effectively lower middle class. I think too many people think that saying this is a political statement or they are just ignorant to the current cost of things so think you are exaggerating. Most people thought I was making up rents when I was trying to move last year and couldn’t afford anything because every place wanted around 3K. Everyone was telling me they “must” be 2K or 2500 at most. I kept telling a wide variety of people, nope, your numbers are out of date! I also noticed that so many people have no clue what taxes are, they always understate what they are for solidly middle class or upper middle class earners. So they’re telling you you have a lot of money because in their heads you’re bringing in an extra thousand or so per month

    6. Sloanicota*

      Here’s the 800K one: https://slate.com/business/2024/03/tax-help-money-financial-advice-irs.html
      Here’s the AAM one: https://www.askamanager.org/2024/03/can-i-ask-for-a-salary-cut-i-dont-want-to-share-a-bed-with-my-boss-and-more.html
      I also read a lot of Marketplace financial advice too (like “here’s my assets, can I retire?” or “Should we pay off our mortgage or buy a rental property?”) and I’m always surprised by the amounts we’re talking about. I guess I’ve been extremely poor without knowing it all my life …?

    7. Jay (no, the other one)*

      Depends on your background, your location, and – everything else. When my brother and I took over managing my mother’s affairs, he dealt with her money. She needed 24 hour care and I asked him if she had enough money. He said “No one has enough money except Warren Buffet.” That’s one way to look at it. (She did indeed have enough money, for which I will be eternally grateful)

      I read somewhere about a study that more money does make people happier up to a point – I think that was 70K in the US, on average – because it means security for food and housing. Beyond that more money doesn’t necessarily mean more happiness. Which isn’t exactly what you were asking. 800K is indeed a lot of money. When I was in my 20s it would have seemed like enough for the rest of my life. Now I’m in my 60s and while it is still a lot, if my kid inherited that amount I would encourage her to sock away at least a chunk of it.

      1. Big sigh*

        Between my parents and the in-laws husband and I inherited about $600,000. A good chunk of that went to our children’s college costs. Another chunk covered household costs till we could collect social security. (earlier retirement than planned on). What’s left we hope to hold on to so the kid’s will get something when we die.

    8. RussianInTexas*

      I was over of the people on Slate commenting that $800k is a significant chunk of money but nowhere near rich or won’t last you your life, especially if you give it all away.
      Context: my father has dementia. We can’t get him into care, because memory care costs $6000/month or more.
      I needed a root canal recently, and after the insurance, my portion was $1500.
      We needed the new HVAC system + duct work in the house two years ago, the old one was over 20 year old and dying. Total? $23k.
      Life is expensive, and I don’t live in one of the super high COL cities. But it does not seem this way from the age of day, 18, because you don’t think about retirement, healthcare, house maintenance, daycare, etc.

      1. Sloanicota*

        I’m just puzzled by the leap between $23,000, which is a lot of money for a regular person, and $800,000, which means you could pay for a new HVAC every single year for 35 years (before you start taking about earning interest!)

        1. RussianInTexas*

          Why is it puzzling? These things add-up.
          HVAC was $23k. Plumbing next year was almost $7k. Roof repairs over the last few years add-up to about $10k by now. There will be the driveway replacement soon.
          Things add up, and those $800k will go away faster than you think if you have various large experiences.
          It’s a big chunky of money, but it’s not “I can never work again, taken care forever” money.

        2. Busy Middle Manager*

          Agreed on the sentiment but also earning interest part. People always exaggerate in the “it’s not alot of money” direction online. Using this example, yeah, spending $23K would temporarily bring you down to $777K, but if you invested in some undervalued stocks, some dividend stocks, and CDs/treasuries (especially now, I have been getting bonds in the 4.2% – 4.7% range) then you’re getting a couple thousand some months + some growth. Personally I just made 10% since November on a chunk of money in utility stocks and they all are paying dividends in March, and I didn’t even buy the bottom. It would be pretty easy to replenish $10K or $20K or more very quickly if you ride waves as they happen like that, when you have that much principal to play with. all you need to do is not buy market tops. If I had 800K I would’ve invested half in the utility fund and made 50K b/t Oct and Dec and then cashed out. And that was a safe obvious play. Not a risky one like doing Nvidia and earning 80% YTD! This is how rich peoples’ wealth snow balls!

    9. fhqwhgads*

      It depends not just on the amount, but the context. $800k is not 2 nice houses in cash worth where I live. It’s one outdated but not in disrepair house in an okayish neighborhood – or one teeny tiny house in a nice neighborhood.
      That said, any amt that potentially = house, I’d say is a lot.

      Someone randomly hands you $140k in cash = a lot. $140k/yr for certain jobs in certain areas? Not a lot.

      $1000 ticket to a play? A lot.
      $1000 part to do a repair of something that takes 10 minutes. A lot.
      $1000 for a working car? Not a lot.
      etc

      1. Goldfeesh*

        $80,000 is what we’ve got in property in rural Iowa and we own 6 properties, our duplex we live in and other 4 rentals. The final place is a house that needs torn down but it was next to another property we owned.

        $800,000 is a lot of money. We wouldn’t have to worry about retirement for the most part. The interest on it would be crazy beneficial for us.

    10. Texan In Exile*

      I think $800k is a lot of money! And unless that college student is going to inherit a lot more in the future – maybe she has a trust with millions? – then she needs to find an investment advisor and plan for her future.

      (And I am wondering about the story behind this – is it dirty money, maybe? Because that’s the only other reason I can think of to get rid of it.)

      1. Reba*

        I don’t think it’s dirty based on anything in the original letter, except insofar as capitalism is generally bad and the heir-LW is uncomfortable with generational wealth on the basis of their political beliefs.

        I had similar feelings when I got a (way less significant) inheritance, which I ended up splitting into investment-fun money-donations.

        1. Texan In Exile*

          Oh interesting! Nine years ago, my husband’s nephew inherited $150K from his grandparents (my husband’s parents, who disinherited my husband).

          Thirty-year old nephew is very anti-The Man and very anti-Conformity but he has never once said anything about rejecting generational wealth! (And he has plenty to say so it’s not like I just didn’t hear it.)

      2. Observer*

        I think $800k is a lot of money! And unless that college student is going to inherit a lot more in the future – maybe she has a trust with millions? – then she needs to find an investment advisor and plan for her future.

        Exactly.

    11. Dark Macadamia*

      Generally when people say “that’s not a lot” they’re really saying “that’s not as much as you think.” Like the joke that $100 to an adult is only $20 (compared to a kid who could basically buy anything they want and more for that much).

      $800k is objectively a lot, but it feels different depending on your perspective. It makes sense that a college student would be like “I don’t need all that so I’ll just cover my current expenses and donate the rest” but someone older would think “dude even if you kept it all it wouldn’t support you long term.” In your area it would buy two nice houses and in mine it would buy one crappy one if you’re lucky!

      1. Observer*

        Generally when people say “that’s not a lot” they’re really saying “that’s not as much as you think.”

        That’s putting it very well.

        It really is not as much as this kid seems to think. But it would be very stupid to give it all away, because at the same time, it could be life changing in that it could provide the kind of cushion that allows someone to experiment with their career or walk away from a toxic situation in a way you can’t do when you only have 3-4 months of living expenses all told, never mind if you don’t have any savings at all.

    12. AvocadoQueen*

      In my area, a very small city that gained in popularity since the pandemic and where rents have grown to untenable amounts, the 800k is one nicer house (not the nicest by far). Maybe one house plus enough to renovate it a bit. It’s still a lot of money—I’d take a house for sure—but I’d also recommend someone either buy property or invest most of it. Seeing my older relatives trying to retire and knowing they, like my grandparents, could live into their late 90s, I see how expressive retirement and elder care is.

    13. Seashell*

      $800K is a lot of money, but not enough to live the rest of your life on if you’re in your 20’s or 30’s and don’t have a terminal illness.

      In my area, $800K will buy you one house.

    14. Bibliovore*

      It depends. In NYC after taxes, retirement savings AND working a part time job evenings and weekends with two salaries (combined 100,000) we were living paycheck to paycheck. Every emergency, every coop assessment, every health crises was extremely stressful. We weren’t living a fancy life- we had what we needed , had take out once a week, ate out a couple times a month, went to the movies a couple times a month etc. We could afford a dog and the vet bills and to give to charity.

      In Minnesota, we felt rich. A house. Dual incomes. Less money. Quit my freelance work. Could afford concerts, eating out, went to plays. Health care. Surprise house/car repairs/ medical bills didn’t throw us. I actually marveled that I could buy a whole tank of gas at once. He could retire and we could live on my income and his social security and pension.

      Now on one income, I am okay but had to make adjustments. The pension and the social security has disappeared. People wanted to know if I was moving back home (NYC) Not a chance. I appreciate the relief from constant stress of economic insecurity.

      1. Clisby*

        Locale makes SO much difference. Years ago, my husband’s nephew was engaged to marry a woman who was about to qualify as a middle-school teacher (this is in Appalachian Ohio). I was talking to my husband and a sister-in-law about this, and said something like, “Yeah, teaching doesn’t pay much but usually they get pretty good benefits.” Husband and sister-in-law looked at me like I had grown a 2nd head, and my husband said, “Teaching is one of the best-paying jobs anybody can get in this county.” Of course, at the time, you could still buy a perfectly decent small, 3-BR house for $50K, so earning $25K would put you at least in the lower middle class.

        1. goddessoftransitory*

          I’ll never forget going to visit my sister in Maryland last year. It’s basically a state and suburb of DC all at once, and prices can reflect that. Her house, for example, is a 4 bedroom 2 bath and is the dominant cost of living item for her, except college expenses for her three kids.

          But we went to my younger niece’s volleyball tournament, and I gave my nephew three dollars go buy a bottle of water from the concessions stand. He came back really fast and I assumed I hadn’t given him enough money, but he handed me the bottle of water and two dollars change. I remember thinking distinctly, “I live in an expensive town.”

    15. ThatGirl*

      I think the Slate columnist’s point was that you can’t retire on $800k. It is a lot of money, but it would also go faster than you might think. It’s hard for a 20something to think that way, though.

      1. Sloanicota*

        If the 20 year old invested part it would appreciate by the time they were ready to retire, surely

    16. Alex*

      I think context really matters. I didn’t see the slate article, but maybe what they meant by 800k wasn’t a lot of money is that in terms of donating something major, it isn’t going to completely fix the worlds problems. Like, you can’t open a wing of a hospital or something like that.

      And yeah, $140k doesn’t go super far in the bay area. I make more than half that in the Boston area and still struggled to find housing I could afford–and forget buying something! And I’m just a single person with no dependents. In a lot of areas around here I actually qualify for subsidized housing (which is very hard to get because so many people qualify).

      And 400k won’t buy you a nice house where I live! *Maybe* you can find a halfway decent condo–definitely nothing more than a 2 bed.

      But of course, in other areas and in other contexts, these amounts of money are a lot! Like if you are buying a car and it costs 140k, that is a freaking expensive car!

    17. sockless in seattle*

      In the city I live (not seattle), the cheapest detached single family house is about $1.3 Million. And you can be sure that house will need a lot of work. The cheapest liveable house (maybe only repaint, reno the kitchen and bath) will be around $1.6M. You cannot get any condo for as low as $400k. So, I’d say that you live in a rather low cost of living place. Rent on a 2-bed apt here is 2-3k per month. So, if you make about $120-140k/year, and after tax that’s $7k/month. So, rent/mortgage at 2.5k/month, food at 1.4k/month (what my area says is average food costs for a family), utilities+ internet +phone =$500/month. We pay a little over $500/month for kids’ activities x2. That leaves us with $1,500 /month = $18,000/year. So that’s for retirement savings, and vacation, and college, if we’re doing that. Note: I haven’t included transit costs, or healthcare, or ongoing costs – a computer every few years, etc. Hint: we don’t take a vacation every year.

    18. Anon for this*

      I make $160k and I’m lucky to be in a dual income household where I live (Seattle area). Rents are high and while I could afford them on my own, I’d have to cut back on maxing out my retirement contributions to do so. $800k wouldn’t buy a house here, let alone two.

      I always max retirement (401k and IRA), have a 6 month emergency fund, and invest a good chunk of my remaining income and I’m still worried about retirement with rising costs and the uncertainty of social security (I plan as if there will be none), as I don’t want to work forever.

      I didn’t read the Slate article, but I agree with putting the $800k into investments for retirement. Who knows what things will cost when it comes time to retire or what your medical needs will be. My in laws had to pay for my FIL’s mother’s care since she didn’t have enough money and it was expensive. They planned out their retirement and savings in such a way that they hope that burden won’t ever fall to their kids.

    19. Busy Middle Manager*

      So this thread made me check, I do max my retirement account, so while my gross pay was $132K my taxable income was $110K. Take home was $68K or $5600 a month. If I skipped retirement savings I guess I could get it up to $6500 a month but taxes get so high above $110K that it doesn’t make financial sense.

      I do save money and spent a few thousand on dental care last year. However I also did a staycation because money was tight * and drive a 14 year old car because I can’t afford a new car, and only ate out a handful of times, I do lots of bean and rice meals. Rent for me is $2K but if I move everything is looking to be much higher, so I am stuck. Yeah, add in utilities and car insurance and parking fee and Christmas presents and a small contribution to my neices’ and nephew’s 529 plans and 2K a year into an HSA and 7K into roth IRA and I’m already down into living like I am still poor on a daily basis (despite not being poor).
      I just wanted to objectively lay out the numbers and see others, I am not making a statement. Last time I wrote something like this on Reddit, a lot of people simultaneously told me I should be making more but also am being a victim saying I live like I am poor. I’m not saying that. But I will say, given the type of job I do, I do expect a better lifestyle. It’s also sad to be maxing retirement accounts and still be worried about not being able to afford retiring. That was a hard pill to swallow. I hope cost of living comes down

      I think this topic is so interesting because there has never been a bigger disconnect between how you live and how people think you should live based on your salary or job. People think I have all of this extra money, it’s like they have no clue how high taxes are. They think I can afford all of this stuff I objectively can’t. My monthly food budget is $1K for example. Most people say “shop budget.” I already got to the cheapest place. But for example, all I bought was ingredients for chicken piccata + extra mushrooms and a box of gluten free pasta and that came to $40 for one batch of cooking 3 meals. So cooking at home isn’t really the money saving trick it was even just five years ago.

      ‘* yes money is technically not tight if I “choose” to save for retirement and save for medical care, but I don’t think skipping on saving for retirement is an option!

      ‘* also to explain “money is tight but I’m saving.” I see that 120K – 140K jobs in corporate roles always have periods of layoff and unemployment so think people should factor it in. I am not going to live like this salary is guaranteed consistently. If I had absolutely job security, it would feel like more money because I wouldn’t be saving as much as possible to prep for the layoff periods that always come

    20. How's It Going?*

      800k is a lot to me. But I live in a very cheap part of the country and and have a relatively low paying job. If I had 800k to put in a high yeild savings account (with current interest rates, which I know you can’t 100% rely in), it would make me 35k in interest a year, without every touching the prinicpal. 35k is my current salary.

      1. Sloanicota*

        Thank you, this is how I feel! There are plenty of places you could almost live on this. And it’s not like the kid in the Slate article didn’t have the chance to earn more on top of the first inheritance.

    21. Myrin*

      I have to admit that I have to stop reading both letters and comments on any given American website whenever actual numbers come up.

      140k dollars! That’s 127k euros! That’s 10k euros a month! I’ve never known anyone personally who earned that much in my life! I currently earn about 3400€ a month, pre-tax, which gets me about 2100€ to take home (half of which is needed for my rent), and that’s the most money anyone in my family has ever earned, so you can imagine how my mind boggles whenever I read what people on this site call “low salary”.

      And I know, intellectually, that this depends on location (it does here, too) and that you guys in the US in particular have to deal with student debt and college funds and medical cost and whatnot, all things we don’t really have here, but man, it always makes me feel kinda shitty and kinda weird so I’d rather not read about it at all.

      All that is to say, yeah, I’m with you, though probably for different reasons.

      1. RussianInTexas*

        Between my partner and I, we make about $210k. His portion of it is about $170k. Because we aren’t married, we both get taxed high. We have a mortgage (although not a high one, it’s older). I have a car note. He was paying for his daughter’s college until this January. Between us, we pray about $2k/year in car insurance, $3k in medical premiums, and last year he had a health crisis that blew him right through his out of pocket max, $14k. I mentioned above that in 2022 the new HVAC system cost $23k at once. Annual property taxes are about $6k on a not expensive house, and house insurance is $1500/year.
        So while it’s a lot of money, we are not economizing or suffering, and saving well for retirement, but if he loses his job and can’t find a comparable one fast, things would get tight fast.

        1. RussianInTexas*

          I also posted above that the average cost for the memory care facilities in the US (like my dad will have to go soon, most likely) is $6500/month. That is to you, you pay that.

        2. Myrin*

          Like I said, I know all that, it’s just that by itself, it’s an obscene amount of money to me (and things like the HVAC system or the care facility actually have similar prices here, too).

      2. osmoglossom*

        Myrin, I find it helps to see actual numbers:

        Every year, 530,000 American families file for bankruptcy due to medical bills. (Nasdaq dot com) Imagine having health insurance and still going bankrupt because of medical bills. I have family and friends in Italy and France, this is unheard of there. I don’t know if it could happen in other EU countries.

        In the private sector, we don’t have guaranteed pensions — our 401k’s/403b’s (retirement savings accounts through employers) are invested in the stock market. And every so often the stock market crashes and we lose a significant amount of our retirement savings. Then we have to rebuild our retirement savings all over again. It can take decades and many people never recoup their losses. This is one of the reasons (other reasons include medical debt) why we have people in their 70s, 80s and 90s working for minimum wage ($7.25/hour — I’ll stay off my minimum wage soapbox). How does retirement work in your country?

        Cost of college: I was just talking to a friend and she and her husband pay $40,000/year (tuition, housing, food) to send their son to a public university in their state, so, one of the least expensive options. This is their third child they are sending to this university. After this one graduates, my friend will have spent approximately $400k to send her three kids to a public, in-state university. How much does university tuition cost in your country?

        As you may know, for the most part our vacation and sick time benefits are crap compared to most EU countries. Utter crap. So, while some here do earn a lot of money, they’re also working many more hours/days/weeks every year.

    22. goddessoftransitory*

      I remember the Slate letter: what struck me about it was the age of the writer, who was pre or in college and not supporting himself, as far as I could tell. Eight hundred grand is a lot in and of itself, but it’s certainly not “live on for the rest of one’s life” money, if you factor in things like retirement and illness.

      Where I live that amount could currently get you a nice condo or a small house at least a two hour commute from the city, without factoring in taxes, maintenance, and so on. It could pay for most of a college education unless it was something requiring a Ph.D or interning (like medicine or hard science.) In other words, it’s a nice setup and could prep someone for a life of hopeful savings and investing without having to pay off a lot of stuff like a mortgage, and put him pretty far ahead for his age, but it was in no way any kind of never have to work again amount.

    23. Wilde*

      Ooo this is interesting! In my country, $800k is a lot of money. It’s also the amount of money my spouse stands to receive if his family choose to sell a family farm (that nobody wants to work, but nostalgia…). This money would absolutely change our lives as we could use it to upgrade our home and purchase in a better area, and be mortgage free! It’s wild to me that they think it’s better to keep all that cash locked in asset nobody wants when instead it could free up $600 a week for the next 20 years. My spouse could pursue their passion work! Or work four days a week and be more present as a parent! We could own investment property! Shares! Kids could attend better schools! My brother in law and his wife could afford to have kids! I could do after school care for my niblings at no cost! We could take holidays to places other than my parents home! Save for retirement!

      Perhaps the way wealth is viewed varies by generation, even across the same class? We are early 30s and they are mid 60s. Maybe 800k is a drop in the bucket for them?

      Anyway, 800k would absolutely change my life. Can you tell I’ve thought about it? Signed, a millennial with little kids and a tight budget.

    24. LocationMatters*

      It’s not just SF, it’s any high cost of living area (Boston, NYC, and SF are consistently the three highest, but I’d bet 140k is still on the low side for next tier expensive places ie Seattle).

      1. goddessoftransitory*

        140 is DEFINITELY low side for Seattle. A co-worker sent me a link for a house on Capitol Hill selling for 2 million plus. It was a very nice, redone home with all the trimmings, but it was just a family home.

    25. Observer*

      $800K!! That’s ten years’ worth of pre-tax income! That’s at least two nice houses in cash worth!

      You’re probably right about salary, although a significant proportion of families can’t live on one salary. But not only is it not “2 nice houses” worth, it’s not close to one “nice” house in a city like NYC. Just for kicks I checked on Zillow in my zip code, and least expensive non-foreclosure house was $850 (and must have something wrong with it as it’s been on the market for 4.5 months.) Condos can be a bit less expensive, especially if you are willing to go small ($380 can get you 750 sq ft.) In another, much lower COL town, if you want a detached house, you’re starting at ~450K, while an attached townhouse can start at ~250K if you are willing to accept some compromises. (So, you could get two of them, but not so sure that they are “nice”.)

      $800K is significant money, no matter where you live. But in most of the country it’s not “mad money” or “millionaire” money. I’d be willing to bet that the people telling this college student to invest the money for retirement are the ones who are not close to being millionaires. For someone with millions in the bank and high 6 figure or more income, an $800K windfall is not that much. For people who are making $80k a year, it is probably the difference between worrying about retirement and not worrying. And in high COL areas, it’s the difference between worrying even though you’re cutting to the bone to try to save SOMETHING.

    26. Roland*

      I think the bar for “a lot” is very different for a yearly salary vs for a one time sum. 140k is just fine and dandy, but depending on where you live and plan to retire, you may or may not need to do strict planning to make sure you can retire and live the way you want to live. Which is something many people can’t do at all of course, not saying it’s as common as it should be sadly. While 800k is obviously a lot of money at one time, but it’s not enough to set you up for retirement (ie quit your job now) by itself. If you donate a significant portion then it’s also maybe not even enough to also buy a house.

      1. Roland*

        Also, in my neighborhood, you’re not even getting one nice house for 800, let alone two, so this is all very regional.

    27. Girasol*

      Those of us who are American and not named Bill Gates are often one medical disaster away from insolvency. Even for the well insured it’s just one “that procedure/medication not covered, didn’t you see the fine print?” to eat up tens or hundreds of thousands. $800K is indeed a lot, still, I wouldn’t go overboard on donations but set a good bit aside for emergencies like medical issues and layoffs, and for retirement and long term care.

  21. Paddy Lay Back*

    I have a long shot question, does anyone have recommendations for Renaissance Festival style music, especially if it’s available on Spotify? I’ve Been listening to the Pyrates Royale (a group local to my RenFest that I adore) and Blackmore’s Night (more modern but still have a great festival vibes). I have CDs from some other local groups, but would love to find more for my Spotify playlist. So any recommendations are welcome.

    1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      Owain Phyfe (and the New World Renaissance Band) – he was a treasure of Michigan Ren a million years ago, and he passed away years back, but his music is still listed on Spotify. (You might already know of him, he occasionally toured with the folks behind Blackmore’s Night.) I would start with the New World Renaissance Band’s album “Where Beauty Moves and Wit Delights” and Owain’s solo album “Poets, Bards, & Singers of Song”.

    2. Jay*

      It’s more ‘pirate’ than ‘knight’, but you could give Alestorm a try.
      Check out some Irish Celtic Punk bands. They will often have some takes on traditional folk tunes. For instance, the Dropkick Murphys have The Battle Rages On, Captain Kelly’s Kitchen, and Johnny We Hardly Knew You. You could also give the local Folk music seen a try.

      1. Paddy Lay Back*

        Pirates is also RenFest! The Pirates Royals I mentioned is purely pirates themed but they’re one of the biggest acts at our local festival, having a pub sing every evening and multiple shows through the day. The lead singer suffered a stroke recently so I’m not sure if they’ll ever perform again, though he’s slowly recovering. It got me thinking about finding other groups. Thanks for the suggestions!

    3. Generic Name*

      Check out Faun. They’re listed as “pagan mideval renaissance folk” music. I also really like Corvus Corax, but they’re less “folksy”.

    4. A Girl Named Fred*

      I’m not sure if this is what you’re looking for or if it’s on Spotify, but have you heard of The Dragonfather on YouTube? He makes tavern music ambiance to use as background for D&D games, so the music is also interspersed with a general murmur of talking and utensil clinking, etc., but the songs themselves are good. Might be worth checking into, at least?

    5. Fellow Traveller*

      I really like Owain Phyfe and the New World Renaissance Band.
      For more period authentic/ scholarly music- The Baltimore Consort and The Folger Consort and The Ensemble Galilei, though those are more rooted in classical music period performance traditions, so might seem a little sedate compared to what you might find at a Ren Faire.

    6. Bunny Girl*

      Celtic Women is exactly what it sounds like. It’s very Renfest. Heilung is very Viking sounding but might itch that scratch for you.

    7. OtterB*

      Maggie Sansone. She plays hammered dulcimer alone and in ensembles and I used to hear her at our local Renaissance festival. Really excellent.

    8. Accidental Itinerant Teacher*

      I second the reccomensations for bardcore and Hildegard von Blingin
      I’d also add – The Longest Johns, FullSet, The Brobdignagian Bards, Ed Miller, Heidi Talbot, Joni Minstral, Loreena McKennitt, Pentangle, Quilty, Sligo Rags, Stan Rogers, The Corsairs, The Dreadnoughts, The Poxy Boggards, The Rogues, The Town Pants, The Whiskey Bards, Trinity River Whalers, Vintage Wildflowers, and Bounding Main.

      There’s plenty more I could reccomend but I feel that’s a good start.

      1. YesImTheAskewPolice*

        I had to do a double take – Hildegard von Blingin’ is such a good play on her name for a band, and their avatar on youtube made me crack up!

      2. osmoglossom*

        My only addition to that list would be Fairport Convention, starting with the album Liege & Lief.

    9. noncommittal pseudonym*

      Check out Dead Can Dance, mostly more modern interpretations, but some is fairly accurate.

    10. Jackalope*

      The group Sirena is a Ren Faire group on Spotify. Their theme is mermaid and sea related songs, and it’s a lot of fun.

    11. Little John*

      I love the Pyrates Royale, and it’s such a pleasure to see other people appreciating them!

      “IS IT A NICE LITTLE SINGABLE CHORUS?!” “I especially love it when the children join in!”

  22. PhyllisB*

    We took my mother to my sister’s house this week, and I stayed until yesterday. The week had a mixture of funny and sad.
    Wednesday she woke up at 1:30 in the morning bright eyed and bushy tailed ready for coffee. So we had coffee and conversation at 1:30. (My sister said this happens every morning.) It was actually fun, it’s the first time the three of us have been together just us in years and we talked and carried on like old times.
    The next day she woke up and two GOT OUT OF THE BED and was trying to walk into the kitchen for a pan of warm water to soak a sore ankle. Luckily my sister woke in time to intercept her and we were trying to get her back to bed, and she wasn’t having it. She started swatting at us and waving her fists (didn’t try to make physical contact) and told us she WAS NOT getting back in that DAMN BED!! This was funny because my mother is a proper Southern lady whose idea of swearing is darn it.( where I get it from I guess.) I finally suggested an ice pack and she agreed to it and settled down.
    The next day she ruined her bed at 3am. My sister had just got her cleaned up and back in bed…when it happened again. That’s when I woke up and tried to help.
    Y’all, I’m going to be 73 in a couple of weeks and my sister will be 75. This is very taxing on our bodies. My shoulders and knees are killing me, and my sister is in worse physical shape than I am!!
    I don’t know how she’s going to cope by herself. Of course I will come often to help, but one of the problems is I have a hearing problem and I’m a deep sleeper so being in the other room I don’t always hear right away when things are going bad. I’m going to consult a doctor and see if there’s any help for me, but everything I read about tinnitus is not encouraging.
    The thing I’m REALLY worried about, my sister is having issues with her liver and needs to go to a clinic in a couple of weeks for testing. This means I’m going to have her by myself. I am terrified!! Coping during the day won’t be so bad except trying to lift her (who knew a 90 pound woman could feel so heavy!!??) But coping with the Sundowner stuff alone…of course I’ll sleep in the same room with her but what if she tries to get out of bed again and I don’t hear her in time?

    1. CityMouse*

      You need to reach out to your local elder care resources. Two people in their 70s absolutely can’t be expected to lift a 90 pound person. You need help.

      1. goddessoftransitory*

        Yes. This needs outside resources brought in at once. Even if you both were in your thirties you couldn’t do this alone.

      2. PhyllisB*

        I started a reply and it got eaten, so trying again. Sister is planning to hire some help.
        Before she moved her to her house she was paying for 24 hour sitters through an agency, (for the last 4 weeks.) But at $20,00 an hour that’s not sustainable. Plus she was in an assisted living apartment surrounded by strangers. My brother and I were coming by every day, but we couldn’t stay all the time.
        I thought this would be a good idea because even though she’s 150 miles away, she has other grandchildren there she will see some so thought she’d be happier. I had NO CLUE how much onhands physical care she required.
        As I said, my sister is a retired nurse practioner so I’m sure she knows how to “plug in” to the system to find care.
        She was assigned a social worker through hospice who has reached out to her, but sister told her she didn’t need a consultation right now.

        1. CityMouse*

          There’s a social stigma about putting a parent in assisted living but to be blunt your sister is 75 years old. Many many people her age are accepting care themselves. She really isn’t a place to be turning down a social worker consultation. It’s hard but she needs to be realistic because not accepting help, your sister could get seriously hurt.

    2. California Dreamin’*

      I’m so sorry. This doesn’t sound sustainable at all. Would an overnight caregiver be a possibility?

      1. PhyllisB*

        I don’t think she’s planning to use overnight help. This is what panics me about when I stay with her.

      1. PhyllisB*

        I asked her about bed rails, but sis turned them down. She said she doesn’t want Mom to feel like she’s in a cage.
        She can’t wear a diaper because she has an extremely painful place on her tailbone, (I know it’s got an official name, but I call it a bedsore.) Diapers make it hurt even worse. We have just pulled one up between her legs without fastening and that does help. We can get her up to sit on the potty chair, but in the middle of the night… by the way, if you’re ever in a position to use a potty chair, line it with a plastic bag. (knew all those Walmart bags would come in handy.) This makes cleanup SO MUCH EASIER!!

    3. AnonRN*

      Google “bed alarms”…you need either a pad-style that goes under her in bed (goes off when her weight leaves the pad, not great for really restless sleepers) or the kind that clips to her shirt and goes off when the cord pulls away from the base (clip it somewhere she can’t easily remove it). Walmart sells them, as do medical supply places. Also, she may or may not tolerate briefs (either the pull-up or the tabbed style; pull-up feels more like normal underwear and you can tear down the sides to remove) but they could be worth a try at night. If she’s awake, help her to the bathroom so *maybe* she won’t wake up needing to go and try to get out of bed quickly.

      I hate to say it, though, but this doesn’t sound sustainable. She needs more care than (one!) or even two sole people can provide. You and your sister need to start looking at alternatives. Start by talking with your Hospice providers (do I recall that she’s under Hospice care?). They may have other equipment options for you (commode, continence products); they may have medication adjustments to suggest. But you need to make it clear to them that this isn’t safe for you or for her. I’m so sorry.

      1. PhyllisB*

        Yes, she’s under hospice care and they have supplied a lot of things. I already replied about the diaper situation.
        I thought of alarms but sis hasn’t mentioned those. I have to tread carefully because she gets irritated when I make too many suggestions.

        1. Ellis Bell*

          You know best as to what makes the most productive conversation, but if you just need permission to irritate your sister, and if you want to, I think you can? This is about health and safety and what you can handle so if you need to push through some resistance, it is absolutely reasonable to, even if you do it cheerfully and gently, just do so as though you don’t notice the irritation.

    4. Alex*

      That has got to be so tough and stressful. I hope you can access some professional help at the very least–this does not sound like something two 70+ year old women with their own health issues should be handling on their own. It would be really taxing even for a young person with no health issues!

      1. PhyllisB*

        Yes, and I live 150 miles away. I plan to come often, but I know it won’t be enough.

    5. Jay (no, the other one)*

      This is so so so hard. If you haven’t already looked at the Alzheimer’s Association website, they have a lot of excellent resources for caregiver support.

      Agree with the suggestion below for a bed alarm. You can also make the bed up in layers – a waterproof mattress pad with two or three layers of pads and fitted sheets so you can pull off one layer without having to remake the whole bed.

      Depending on the severity of your hearing loss, a baby monitor may help you hear her.

      PT/OT evaluation to see if she’s eligible for equipment through insurance that might make things easier.

      A geriatrics consult to see if there’s anything that can help with the day/night confusion and delirium (there often isn’t).

      Respite care while your sister is away? Many assisted living facilities offer short-term stays. It’s not cheap. It might save your sanity and your back.

      1. PhyllisB*

        I wondered about respite care. I don’t live in her city so don’t know what’s available. Hospice provided a lot of equipment/supplies. We had already bought a potty chair before she went on Hospice but they’ve provided just about everything else.
        As I said in another comment, I have to be careful not to step on toes with my suggestions.

        1. Jay (no, the other one)*

          If she’s on hospice, they provide five days of respite care as part of the benefit (I’m a hospice doc). Please call them. They can work with your sister and might agree not to reveal it came from you.

    6. Indolent Libertine*

      I’m so sorry, this is A Lot.

      One thing I would really encourage you to consider is that, not only is it potentially injurious to you and your sister to push yourself beyond your physical capacities for caregiving, but it’s also potentially dangerous for your mom, because you might accidentally drop her. Don’t hesitate to look for outside help; it’s in the best interest of everyone concerned. Look for something like an Area Agency on Aging, or ask the doctor’s office for resource suggestions. Best of luck.

      1. PhyllisB*

        Yes, I worry about dropping her. In fact, that’s already happened once. My sister and her son were trying to move her to another bed when she twisted around (Mom said they bent her foot backwards) and my sister lost grip on her feet. She didn’t really drop her, just kind of lowered them. Scared me to death.
        I won’t write a saga every week, but I will update from time to time.
        Wish us luck!!

    7. PhyllisB*

      Thanks for the responses/suggestions. I’m going to try to answer each person individually unless I get too many. But before I do, I wish to say my sister is a retired nurse practioner (can’t remember if I mentioned this already.)
      And I want to tell y’all my sister said they had a really good night. The hospice nurse recommended a new med to help her sleep better and Mother agreed to it. Sister said when it came time to administer it, Mom fought her but finally took it and she said she was sweeter and seemed stronger today. Amazing what a good night’s sleep can do!! Now to respond to comments.

    8. Anono-me*

      Seconding the suggestions of additional help, bed alarms, and incontinence underwear (always has some nice ones).

      In addition to your local Alzhimers Organization and local government resources, please check with your local hospitals and faith organizations as often they have advice and resources.

      For bedwetting: I suggest getting a waterproof mattress cover or going to a moving supply company and purchasing a huge plastic bag designed for people to seal their mattress in when they move. Then go to the dollar stoe and get four of the rectangular plastic tableclothes with felt backing. And also get some cheap beach towels or small blankets.
      Put a regular fitted sheet on over the mattress cover/plastic bag. Cut the tablecloth in half to make two squares and use one half to cover the area where your Mom’s lower torso will be when she sleeps. Cover the 1/2 tablecloth with the beach towel. Add alternating layers of tablecloth and towel until you have one or two more layers than your mom usually has problems in the night. Remove layers as they become damp or soiled. Also, if you can, try to get your Mom to wear a loose night dress that buttons up all the way or add a velcro strip all the way up the front. It is easier undo enough buttons to step out of a damp nightie or open the velcro and remove it like a jaket than it is to pull it over the head.

      You might want to look into adaptive clothing if your Mom has arthritis.

      If your Mom might try to leave the house while confused, please consider a sturdy id bracelet with a difficult clasp that is engraved with your contact information.

      If you mom gets confused and anxious, it migh help to put a poster or whiteboard with her name and answers to her big worries in a place that she will see easily. ” JUDY – YOUR ROOM AND MEALS ARE PAID FOR. YOUR FAMILY ARE ALL OK. YOU ARE SAFE HERE.” A cuddly stuffed animal might be nice. Big laminated or fully plastic framed photos of her happy with loverd ones can also be reassuring. Whatever you do do not leave a TV on without anyone else there. Because there will always be something upsetting on eventually.

      But please try to get additional help. This is too much for you and your sister to do safely.

      1. PhyllisB*

        She just wears pj tops, nothing on the bottom. I already explained that in an earlier reply.
        Good suggestions about layered bed sheets. ( I did that when my children were babies.) If I can think of a good way to suggest it I will. Sis gets touchy when she thinks I’m infringing on her area of expertise.

        1. allathian*

          Sis may get touchy, but in this case, it’s essential. Even if she gets mad at you, talk to the elder care social worker about your options.

          I suspect that your sister is mad at herself because she can’t provide your mom with the help she needs and thinks that she should be able to do that because of her medical background, but really it’s time for her to face facts before she, your mom, or both get hurt. She’s also in denial about your mom’s health and her own ability to help your mom. It also sounds like she enjoys being a martyr.

          At the very least you need to be more insistent on that you don’t feel safe staying with your mom alone while your sister’s in treatment.

          The layered bed sheets are essential, though. If you do end up staying with your mom alone while your sister’s at the clinic, you can make the bed with multiple sheets without asking her. After that, your sister can do as she likes when you aren’t there, but you can set the multiple bed sheets as a condition for staying overnight at all. Your sister may be resistant, but I expect that once she realizes how labor saving those layered sheets are, she’ll adapt. You could remind her of your good experiences with layered bed sheets when your kids were babies.

          Respectfully, I think that you need a change of attitude, the time has come to stop suggesting and start insisting. It won’t do your mom any good if your sister injures herself (or your mom) while taking care of your mom’s needs.

          1. AnonRN*

            Agreed. If you’re going to be with your mom by yourself, you need solutions that you can safely use like the bed alarm and things that make care easier and safer for you both. If your sister wakes up at the drop of a pin that’s great for her, but she won’t be there!

            With all respect to NPs, most of them don’t do this type of bedside care. This work is usually done by aides and nurses in the hospital or other facilities. She may well be frustrated that she’s supposed to be the “expert” and she’s struggling, but it’s going to be very hard to help her if she shoots down all suggestions. She’s struggling because it’s hard–patients like this are hard to care for in the hospital too. She’s not struggling because she wasn’t a good NP. And again, at least for the nights you’ll be with her by yourself, you need things that work for you with your reduced hearing.

            1. AnonRN*

              Or as an alternate take: maybe your sister isn’t struggling at all, everything is going exactly as she expects etc* but she still doesn’t realize how foreign and difficult providing this kind of care is to someone who’s never done it. So she’s looking at you like you’re overreacting because she’s forgotten what it was like to learn these skills herself.

              *the incident of near-dropping makes me doubt this?

          2. goddessoftransitory*

            I have to agree. Medical professionals can be really hard to persuade to accept help (source: my late dad, a doctor and the stubbornest person alive,) especially when they’re used to being the “one who knows what to do.”

            But this situation has gone beyond untenable into active danger. Your mom isn’t going to get better, good nights nonwithstanding–every good day feels like it might “stop” here and not get worse, but it does. And your sister may be intelligent and competent, but she is also 75 years old. No one has the wherewithal to be able to lift, feed, dress, bathe and bed an Alzheimer’s patient by themselves with no breaks–even an Olympic athlete would break under the strain.

            Both of them are at serious risk for falls, fire (leaving a burner on or a fireplace) or broken bones; if your mother does wander off, your sister is not going to be able to find her on her own.

            You and your brother and other relatives need to hold a group meeting (including your sister, you don’t want her to feel like you’re ganging up on her) about the level of care your mom needs, how it’s paid for, and so on.

    9. allathian*

      Seconding everyone who says that you need help. Respite care while your sister is at the clinic at least.

      You also need your sleep. Adult diapers if your mom can adjust to using them, bed alarms to let you know if she gets out of bed. Ideally medication that would keep her unconscious all night.

      Talk to her healthcare providers and your own, taking care of your mom shouldn’t come at the cost of your own health.

    10. Ali + Nino*

      I’m so sorry you’re dealing with this, it is a really difficult situation. I won’t pile on but the only thing I could think of when reading your post was: This is madness! Someone is going to get hurt. I agree with everyone who has said you need to insist – not suggest – that your mom have 24-hour care. You tell your sister you aren’t comfortable being the only one there while she’s away – there must be an aid there. Please avail yourself of the resources mentioned here. I understand finances are a complicating factor but the setup as is is not working, full stop.

  23. Arsloan*

    I truly don’t mind the budget airline experience if I’m taking a short flight – I don’t mind playing games with carry-on, a smaller/less comfortable seat, or them charging for water. But what I do mind is that the budget carriers seem to cancel or dramatically reschedule my flight about half the time I use them. Still, I said this to my friend, and she says it’s not that much better on any other carrier. But I really do think Spirit and Frontier proactively cancel flights that aren’t full early enough, since the tickets were already cheap, and then you’re … screwed, right?

    1. Southern Girl*

      I will pay twice as much and take a trip requiring a stopover before I will ever fly on Frontier again. You get what you pay for.

      1. Jay (no, the other one)*

        Same. It’s one of the only options out of our local airport so I drive an hour. Totally worth it.

    2. Zephy*

      Delta will also seemingly-randomly reschedule flights, so it’s not just the budget airlines. I took a trip last June that I booked in February, and I got a notification in April that one of my flights had been changed. No reason given, and six weeks out is way too far in advance to be due to an unforeseen emergency or for insufficient ticket sales-type reasons, I should think.

      1. Retired Accountant*

        Yeah, this was pre-pandemic, but I was flying on a Delta flight at 11 am that had a lot of passengers from a 9 am flight that was cancelled due to mechanical difficulties. As the passengers were talking amongst themselves they found that the 9 am flight was frequently cancelled due to mechanical difficulties. (Delta seems to have significantly cut back their flight schedule post-pandemic and their flights seem to be fuller.)

        Flying Frontier is extremely unpleasant, but I’ve found that they are much more likely to have a lengthy delay than to cancel a flight. So you might have a six hour delay, but be on the same flight, where American or Delta might just cancel the flight and leave you to the vagaries of rebooking. Both situations suck in the their own ways.

      2. Elastigirl*

        See what kind of plane you were booked on. Airlines that fly Boeing MAX planes are pulling flights for safety reasons.

        Right now, I’m only booking flights if it’s on an Airbus. For me, that means Jet Blue — and I haven’t had any schedule changes.

      3. DistantAudacity*

        A couple of causes may be:
        When you book far in advance, this can be tied to «regular schedule maintenance», which happens about twice a year.
        In addition to that, the airline may get revisions to their airport landing/departure slots, which then leads to rescheduling and reshuffling.

    3. Maggie*

      I’ve never taken those airlines because the flights they give me are always insane by the time you factor in the inconvenience and all the up charges. A $200 spirit flight looks like a great deal until you realize they charge $100 for a carry on, it’s going to the ft Lauderdale airport instead of Miami (just an example) so there’s a $100 cab ride and a bunch of headache. Or, I recently was booking tickets to canada which are $$. I can pay $550 to just fly air canada for 6 hours and 2 flights or “save money” and pay $320 on Frontier for a 17 hour itinerary with 3 layovers and you have to pay for a carryon per plane. So I’d be losing money to be massively inconvenienced. I don’t really get who flys these because they’ve NEVER been cheaper for me when I actually did the math. And they always have insane aspects to them like a 12 hour layover in Vegas to fly from Chicago to phoenix.

    4. ronda*

      every flight I have had with delta over the past 5 years they have changed the flights multiple times after I booked, resulting in very long layovers. I chose that time for a reason delta!

  24. Madre del becchino*

    So sorry for your loss, Alison. Our furry companions are never forgotten.

  25. Trina*

    Me and my spouse are expecting, and we’ve mostly told everyone we wanted to tell in person, so I’ll be looking at making the Facebook post soon – what are your favorite/most creative pregnancy announcements you’ve seen? I was trying to figure out a way to make it eclipse themed, but we are also both gamers and handbell ringers so I might go one of those routes instead.

    1. Dark Macadamia*

      I think an eclipse one would be hilarious, although I guess for an announcement most people’s bellies aren’t big enough yet to really play up the “so big I’m blocking the sun” thing lol. But if you went that route I’d have the nonpregnant partner holding a sun poster or wearing a sun shirt with the pregnant person’s belly partially blocking them. A simpler thing would be an eclipse graphic with a line about the “forecast” being a baby.

      I’ve seen a lot of gamer ones along the lines of adding a Player 3. Image could be 2 regular controllers and a mini controller, your favorite characters and a cute/small character from the same game, gamer themed onesie, etc.

      Do handbells come in different sizes? That could be an easy one, 2 big bells and a little one with a caption about adding another note to the song or something?

    2. vombatus ursinus*

      Congratulations! I have no ideas, but please share an update if you figure out how to incorporate bell-ringing …

      1. Trina*

        My best bell idea so far is a picture of a bass bell and battery bell standing upright next to each other with a “swaddled” tiny treble bell lying in front of them

        1. Filosofickle*

          That lines up with my best example — totally not your themes but adorable. The dads are (in)famous among friends for their beach pics wearing speedos. So they announced their daughter’s impending arrival with a pick of the two of them lying on the sand with a tiny little bikini laid out between them.

    3. The Dude Abides*

      It’s a bit of a deep cut, but you could post a pic of the Magic card Splendid Genesis – the game’s creator had it commissioned to announce the birth of his first child.

  26. Falling Diphthong*

    What are you watching, and would you recommend it?

    On Britbox:
    The latest season of Death in Paradise, a show which is somehow much more than the sum of its parts. People get murdered in excellent weather. A series of fish-out-of-water British inspectors solve the crimes. (I really treasure the inspector introduction in which the locals asked if they should assemble the suspects at the scene of the crime, and the new guy was like “…. why would you do that?” and the locals were like “It’s our way; don’t argue.” And soon he was into it!)

    Murder is Easy, an Agatha Christie classic in which a man on a train chats with the woman sharing his car, who says she’s going to Scotland Yard to try to convince them that the bodies falling left and right in her quaint English village are the work of a serial killer. Then she is killed. And he decides to head off to the village to try and figure out why. Modern twist is that the man is Nigerian, and there’s more discussion of race, class, and imperialism than in the original. This is a good mystery, where the resolution makes sense but for quite a while you get removed from the suspect pool by getting murdered.

    1. YNWA*

      My mom got me hooked on Death in Paradise. It’s such a cheesy fun procedural crime drama. I like the variety in Detective Inspectors. Keeps it fresh.

      1. Chaordic One*

        I really like it, too. I’m glad you noted that it is “cheesy”. Sometimes cheesy is just what you need. I also like the supporting cast members, some of who’ve come and gone over the years, as well as the numerous guest stars (many of whom I recognize from other BBC/ITC shows).

    2. GoryDetails*

      A new season of “Blown Away” just dropped on Netflix. It’s a Canadian reality-show about glass-blowing, and I find it a delight to watch – though the inevitable last-minute breakages can be heart-wrenching. The different forms and textures that the artists can get from glass amaze me!

      1. Professor Plum*

        Thanks for mentioning this one—have watched it before and enjoyed it a lot!

      1. goddessoftransitory*

        Love Father Brown and Sister Boniface as well. Nice feel good mysteries with intelligent protagonists.

    3. RussianInTexas*

      New seasons of:
      Death in Paradise
      Vera
      Father Brown
      Will Trent
      The Rookie
      Shetlands
      The live action Avatar: The Last Airbender on Netflix made me happy, it’s good.
      Also started Resident Alien with Alan Tudyk on Netflix, it’s hilarious.
      For the fillers – rewatching Monk, and started Shakespeare and Hathaway.
      Started the anime called Delicious in Dungeon on Netflix and it’s…weird, lol.

      1. WellRed*

        I’ve been disappointed by the first couple of rookie episodes with the wedding and honeymoon. Too too silly and unbelievable! Though the garage bands reappearance was hilarious.

    4. allathian*

      Just finished the second season of World on Fire, set in WW2. Very good, even if sometimes upsetting. The storyline about the German teenagers who left school to have kids for Hitler was particularly tough to watch.

      The French crime show Haut Potentiel Intellectuel is much lighter fare, even if totally unrealistic. The main character is a single mom who works as a cleaner at a police station. She has an uncanny ability to notice details other people miss and she giver the cops a hint that lets them solve the crime. She gets hired as a consultant and solves one crime after another. I’m enjoying it so far.

    5. just here for the scripts*

      Never got into Death…Paradise, but fell heavily for Murdoch Mysteries (past seasons on Hulu, new seasons on Acorn TV). It’s a quaint and yet compelling crime show set in 1886-1897 in Toronto that both has of-the-time csi, interesting characters, and leans into topics of the era without becoming rants de jour a la the 1989s designing women.

    6. YesImTheAskewPolice*

      I started with “The Completely Made-Up Adventures of Dick Turpin” (silly and enjoyable; also it’s only about 30 minutes per episode) as well as “Shogun” (great cast and visually stunning, paired with an interesting setting and story), and continue to watch the new season of “Resident Alien” (quirky, wholesome, but can’t always keep the various plots neatly together and the humour is a bit hit and miss for me).

    7. Helvetica*

      I got Prime so have been going through the back catalogue and started watching “Cold Case” from the early 2000s, about a Philadelphia detective who chooses to work on cold cases, which fall into her lap. I didn’t like it at first, the style is a bit odd but I’ve gotten into it. The cases are relatively interesting and I do like the main character, so it is my “don’t need to follow too closely” kind of show of the moment.

      1. GoryDetails*

        I love “Cold Case”! Watched it faithfully when it first came out, and I often catch favorite episodes when they cycle on one of my cable’s “nostalgia” channels. The use of period music for each case adds atmosphere, I came to love the whole cast (even the prickly ones), and some of the cases and resolutions still make me teary. (A few even have surprisingly happy endings, though most of the time the best they can do is get answers.)

      2. Mimmy*

        My husband and I loved Cold Case, though I only remember the main investigator. The visual effects were kinda cool.

    8. goddessoftransitory*

      I love Death in Paradise! Especially because they’re giving the Commissioner more to do: I have a bit of a crush on him.

      I will say that the episode before last, with the celeb chef, was a tough watch, and I thought they handled the subject well while fitting the format of the show.

      I’m also going to check out Murder is Easy, it sounds great! Right now I’m between shows; I tried The Frankie Drake Mysteries but I don’t think it’s my thing, really. I just finished Monsieur Spade, based on the Sam Spade character from Maltese Falcon, and really liked it. You could tell the creators wanted to make a real Dashiell Hammett mystery in structure and form.

      1. allathian*

        I also enjoy Death in Paradise. So many shows are so dark, not only the script but also the cinematography. I love the bright, colorful cinematography and lighter stories of DiP.

        My Life is Murder, starring Lucy Lawless and set in Auckland, has a similar vibe.

    9. GoryDetails*

      Also had a Timothée Chalamet double-feature: Saw “Dune 2” in an IMAX theater a few days ago, and watched “Wonka” on cable today. Quite the contrast! Dune 2 was pretty awesome, though dark; Wonka was very goofy, and surprisingly dark in places itself. (I did think that Chalamet channeled a younger Gene-Wilder Wonka beautifully.)

  27. Questioner*

    I don’t know if this belongs here or if I should have posted in yesterday’s open thread… how long is long enough to wait to ask a question in the Friday open thread if we’ve sent it into Allison? It says not to ask questions there if we’ve sent them in recently, but how recently is recently?

    1. Past Lurker*

      I think she said a couple of months at one point, does anyone else remember that?

      1. Big sigh*

        A month or two. You can email and ask if your question is in the air and/or can you post it to the thread.

  28. RussianInTexas*

    Weird inside jokes:
    Some years back I read an article about how Switzerland occasionally invades Liechtenstein, totally accidentally, during military exercises, because the borders between the two are basically non existent.
    So now when one of us needs to go get ready before leaving house, we can it “occupy A Small County”. As in “I am going to occupy Nauru’.
    Do you have some inside jokes that would require some kind explanation?

    1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      I think inside jokes require explanation by definition – if everyone got them without the explanation, they wouldn’t be inside jokes :)

      But yes, one of my house rules is “Absolutely positively no making toast in the rice cooker.”

    2. vombatus ursinus*

      Yeah, like a million haha! One of my favourites is that my partner once misheard me referring to the “galaxy brain” meme as “garlic supreme”. So now we will say to each other, “that’s a garlic supreme idea”.

    3. Bibliovore*

      I do miss those inside jokes that no-one else will ever guess what was behind them.

      In Katherine Paterson’s book A Boy Named Jip, there is a letter from a parent to a child that states- someday we will be together, we can only hop.
      mispelling Hope as hop.
      Anytime we were wondering about something important or trivial, we would inevitably say “We can only hop.”
      Will the garbage be picked up tomorrow?
      We can only hop.
      Is cousin Joe’s plane landing on time?
      We can only hop.

      Someone asked me about something at work the other day and I said We can only hop.
      yikes.

    4. Freya's Cats*

      I may be ruining the joke, but Switzerland and Liechtenstein, though not in the EU, are both part of the Schengen Area. So each of these soldiers are individually and personally allowed to cross that border freely. I must confess iI do not know what the rules on a military unit as a whole are though.

      1. RussianInTexas*

        That was the issue! It was not a part of a tourism, but as a military unit, which is a whole other thing.
        Swiss government had to apologize for of times, oopsie, bad GPS.

    5. Elle Woods*

      Our inside joke goes back about 35 years ago when my parents ordered photo cards to send at Christmas. The photo shop accidentally included one card of a couple holding a toddler in our order; we had no idea who the people were. My parents named the family Bob, Karen, and Amy. Every so often, my brother and I will ask our parents if they’ve heard from Bob, Karen, and Amy lately.

    6. Zephy*

      My brain is trash and I live on the internet, so a significant part of my vocabulary at this point is memes, jokes, and inside references.

      My husband and I do have the words “boodle” and “bootle.”

      boodle (bu’dʌl), v. To engage in mischief; to exist as a cat (hyperbole). “The cats are boodling” can mean either “the cats are trying to get into the kitchen cabinets” or “the cats are just going about their normal day-to-day.” One who boodles is a boodler. I may be called “a boodler” for stealing a sip of my husband’s adult beverage when he’s not looking.

      bootle (bu’dʌl), n. A rear end.

    7. Jay (no, the other one)*

      We have several that reference people or stories from our shared past. My parents were driving somewhere in the late 60s and my mother noticed smoke coming from under the hood. My father said “it’s condensation, Susan” repeatedly until the car ground to a halt because there was no oil. Hubs and I say “it’s condensation, Susan” in various situations, including when it’s really condensation.

      We have a friend who epitomizes what my husband’s grad school friends called the “PhD moron type.” Academically brilliant and a bit short in the common-sense department. When he finally had to live on his own somewhere without urban takout options he struggled to feed himself (he was 30 at the time). I was on the phone with him once when he put me on hold to take a frozen pizza out of the oven. He apparently grabbed the first thing he saw for an oven mitt. It was aluminum foil. He picked up the phone and said “metal heated to 350 degrees is hot.” We call that Jack’s Law, and it has all kinds of corollaries.

    8. Texan In Exile*

      My college suitemate left a note to the rest of us, mispelling “Sweeties” as “Sweaties” and that has been our term of endearment for each other ever since.

    9. Cookies For Breakfast*

      My partner and I sometimes use the first name of a very famous actor from our home country as a substitute for the word “money”.

      The actor’s surname is pronounced the way people say “cash” in a certain dialect, so for a while we were using that. Then, somehow, using the first name became funnier.

      The easiest way I can translate it in English is as if we said “we don’t have the Johnnies” to mean “we don’t have the cash”.

    10. Inside jokes*

      When YOLO was a thing, I misheard it as YOLA and my husband and I decided that meant “You only live awhile” and used it for when we were doing responsible, adult things. Like, “I’m eating a second serving of vegetables–YOLA!” or “I’m contributing the max to my 401k–YOLA.” We still YOLA about things fairly often.

    11. Helvetica*

      My family has sooooo many inside jokes, many of which origin I have forgotten.
      But if someone is not listening/not paying attention, we say “Did the phone ring?” It’s from a comedy play where the main character was hard of hearing but wouldn’t amit it and there was a phone call he didn’t want to miss so he kept asking “Did the phone ring?” You were supposed to be paying attention but didn’t, so you didn’t hear, hence the phone might’ve rung. It is definitely funny in our own language – and thinking back to the play and the guy’s intonation and demeanor etc – but even typing this out, I feel it won’t make sense.

    12. goddessoftransitory*

      When my husband is annoying me, he’ll beam at me and say “remember, for the rest of your life!”

      And I reply, “No, darling; for the rest of YOUR life.”

    13. Rara Avis*

      In our house, grapevines think alike.

      Also, my husband Mark got Starbucked a few months back and received a drink labeled Bark. Now Bark is the evil twin who’s responsible for all mistakes.

    14. Frieda*

      If you run the microwave, electric kettle, and toaster oven at the same time in my kitchen, you trip a fuse and have to go to the box and reset it. We’ve only been in the house 2.5 years and got the toaster oven after we’d been there a while so it hasn’t been a lifelong problem or anything.

      Periodically I have to remind my college/young adult kids about this phenomenon, which I did at first by playing Meatloaf’s “Two Out of Three Ain’t Bad” to them in the kitchen any time they forgot. Now just saying or singing the one line “two out of three ain’t bad …” is enough of a reminder.

    15. RLC*

      When my husband and I are out and about, and one of us pushes a door labeled “pull”, the other one makes the comment “wow, you’re gifted!” Reference to long ago comic (The Far Side) of a student pushing a door labeled “pull” at the entrance to building labeled “Midvale School for the Gifted”
      We have so many references to The Far Side in everyday conversation it’s almost a private language for us.

    16. noncommittal pseudonym*

      Vulching.

      You see, vultures vulch. So, clearly, someone eying your french fries is vulching on them. Usually, this is voiced as, “Hey, are you vulching on my french fries? Hands off! They’re mine!”

      1. Subtle Tuba*

        Oh, me too! But we use it to mean discreetly (or, not-so?) keeping an eye on a desirable table in a cafe or similar, when the occupants look like they are starting to pack up their things.

      2. lina*

        We use the same term to describe a cat perched on a high place, usually in statue form (as opposed to loaf) and staring down at something beneath. Maybe he saw a mouse; maybe he also wants your french fries. Either way he is vulching.

        Also cat-related: toaster. Common usage: “Bring the cat, the toaster’s hot!”. Translated: the gas fireplace has been running long enough to warm up the hearth, and anyone who has a cat on their lap in another room should migrate both themselves and the cat to the room with the fireplace.

    17. Pippa K*

      From an episode of Yes, Prime Minister: if one of us says ‘I have an idea’ the other will reply ‘Minister!’ in a tone of condescending praise. (Sir Humphrey was a gem!)

      1. fposte*

        Oh, I know that exact tone you mean. With a friend I will also occasionally bust out “If you must do this damn silly thing, don’t do it in this damn silly way.”

  29. fposte*

    Sleep tests! Anybody done an in-lab one? I did the home test and struggled with sleeping and am concerned I’d just be spending a pointless night restlessly waiting until dawn at the hospital. Are the sensors wireless yet or do you have to unhook them if you need to get up?

      1. fposte*

        Yup, a polysomnogram. Did you get instructions yet? I haven’t, and the only ones that I can find online for my facility are ancient ones talking about their having VHS tapes to entertain patients.

    1. RagingADHD*

      Mine was a number of years ago, but they didn’t have to unhook each sensor. All the leads joined up at one plug, which was plugged in at the side or foot of the bed.

      They wired me up, I took the plug for one last bathroom visit, then they plugged it in. I had a call button if I needed to get up in the night.

    2. Questioner*

      I did an in lab one last summer. There were definitely wires! Lots of them. I had to have the tech come in twice, I think, to unhook me so I could use the bathroom.

      But somehow, I was able to sleep better than I did with the at home one. Partly, I think, because I’ve been able to fall asleep better over all, but I think partly too because I was more confident that the wires were well attached. The stuff they used to stick them on felt very secure. I didn’t feel as constricted to laying in one position and could turn from side to side as I usually do when I’m falling asleep. And they were able to get enough data in the first couple of hours, even though I didn’t feel like I was in a deep sleep.

      Oh, an also, despite feeling very sticky and secure, it was very easy to wash the stuff out of my hair the next day!

    3. Formerly in HR*

      I had that last year, 2 nights in a row (they thought it was better to catch all scenarios). With the caveat that it was done in Canada, the process was:
      – show up at clinic around 7 p.m. (I think)
      – taken to the assigned room
      – technician came by to check info, explain process and ask when would I want to get hooked (depending on my sleeping habits) – so I chose as close to time I normally go to bed as I could
      – tried to kill time until then. Preferable and recommended to brush teeth, take shower (if needed), get into PJs before technician would show up
      – technician came back for wiring. This took about 30 minutes, as it involved pasting a lot of electrodes to the head, face, chest and legs; a belt across chest; breathing mask (not CPAP – that can be used, this was the plastic thing with two prongs that goes just under nostrils). Had to actually go in bed to have some of the final things connected, including a pulsoxymeter on the finger.
      – technician left room and went to monitor, to ask me to perform things and check they were recording (e.g. hold breath, move arm, move leg etc). All these electrodes and wires were connected to a walkman size unit that had a strap through it. I could take that and place it over my neck, so I could use the bathroom (but I was also told to press the call button in case I needed her to come and remove stuff).
      I was told in the evening when they’d wake me up in the morning – they came to remove all the wires. I then needed to go clean myself – the paste used to get the electrodes affixed to the skin was easy to remove from skin, but was a lot of work to remove from hair without washing it (which I did not want to do at the hospital). For the second night, I was told to go back with clean hair and skin, no residue from previous night.
      Had to fill in a survey in the morning – how was the sleep etc.
      To me, it felt like I slept poorly – tried to minimise movement of arms or be very careful in turning to not get tangled in all the wires, there was noise from the corridor and other rooms plus a loud vent, it was chilly (and did not occur to me to call and ask for extra blanket), different bed and pillow. I was though told, when the results got interpreted (had that meeting about two months later) that I slept more hours than my own estimation, hit all the sleep cycles, sleep pattern looked normal etc. I kind of half believed that – it’s not that I don’t trust the technology, but I remembered that on the evening I felt cold I shivered for a long time before I was able to fall asleep but their numbers showed I felt asleep in 5 minutes (I think asleep = breath pattern and movement pattern not sure if they also checked the brain waves). They detected that I have apneas, which I kind of knew but thought to be once in a blue moon and apparently was frequent (still not clear if the # provided meant I had so many episodes every hour and the counting reset on the hour, or it was calculated as total number of episodes divided by total number of hours).
      I think I am glad I did this (had to wait for two years), so I know what it entails. I do not fully believe everything I was presented as a result. It did not in itself explain sleep problems or waking up tired, just eliminated possible causes.

    4. captain5xa*

      If you have to get up, you call out to the technician (there are microphones and cameras in the room along with being wired up) and s/he will come in and unhook you. After you are done, they hook you back up.

      It depends on the sleep lab as to whether or not some – not all – of the sensors are wireless. Many at this time cannot be.

      The lab I went to offered a sleeping tablet per my doctor. I refused it because I am a stubborn person and hate the way they make me feel the next day.

      Be aware that if you get to sleep and they get enough date to determine that yes! you are indeed having obstructive sleep apnea, they will wake you up, fit you with a CPAP mask and hope that you can go back to sleep so they can zero in your pressure.

      Your doctor probably won’t be your greatest help with questions about equipment (machines and masks) or getting used to CPAP, neither will the medical equipment facility you are likely to be referred to by doctor / insurance.

      For all other apnea / CPAP questions, I will refer you to http://www.cpaptalk.com, an apnea board for and run by patients.

      After my diagnosis, I spent three weeks reading up before I bought a machine / mask. I would not be a successful CPAP user today if not for this board. Every time I had a question, I could post it and someone would get back to me quickly, usually within a couple of hours or less.

    5. MissCoco*

      I had one many years ago, and everything was wired. I also got the central sleep apnea monitor which is inserted through your nose to monitor inside your throat. Un-fun to say the least. I anticipated not sleeping at all but slept some. Enough to rule out apnea and then stayed the next day for a multiple sleep latency test.
      I had to go to the bathroom once. I can’t remember if it was a call button or if I just called out. Someone came and helped unhook me. I also got woken up a couple times for moving into a position that was messing up the monitors. I did bring my own pillow and insist on using it, which they didn’t like, but I am not sure I would have slept at all without it (I am very weird about pillows)

    6. OtterB*

      It’s been probably 6 years since I did it. It was as others have described. I did one night, slept restlessly but okay, was chilly but didn’t quite wake up enough to ask for a blanket. I discussed the results with the doctor a week or two later, I have severe apnea (based on number of episodes per hour). They scheduled me for another overnight. I selected from a couple of mask types for the CPAP and they hooked me up to get data while using it. The first choice worked fine for me and I have been using it ever since; if it hadn’t been comfortable or hadn’t improved the episodes I would have tried another the same night. They did, however, set my machine up for a 45-minute “ramp up” period between starting it and coming to full pressure, because that’s how long it took me to fall asleep in the lab with the machine. That was not normal, but I could adjust it myself later.

      I sleep so much better with the CPAP.

    7. fposte*

      Thanks for the info, all! I had easily normal results at home but they say the results weeen’t clear enough. It doesn’t sound like the in-lab version will go well for me but at least the information means I can be grimly resigned to it.

    8. Dwight Schrute*

      not to sound like an ad, but some facilities do indeed use a wireless system! I know because my partner travels to install the systems. so you can search around and see if there is a location close to you with the wireless system! people do seem to sleep better with it compared to the traditional style.

  30. vombatus ursinus*

    My partner and I (early 30s) are visiting Berlin for a few days with my parents (early 60s) this spring. We’ve already booked a tour of the Boros Collection — any other recommendations to throw our way?? :)

    Some general likes and interests:
    – me: visual art, dance, history, science
    – partner: nature, science, photography
    – mum: music, design
    – dad: history, architecture

    Partner and I eat vegetarian; parents and I all have varying levels of rusty high school German.

    Thank you!!

    1. Freya's Cats*

      The Pergamon Museum is unmissable if you like history. Berlin’s museums are excellent, look up Staatliche Museen zu Berlin.

      1. vombatus ursinus*

        Thank you — unfortunately it looks like the Pergamon is currently closed due to construction and will be for the next few years :( But I’ll check out the other Staatliche Museum places.

        1. Freya's Cats*

          Oh that is a shame, but there are many good museums in Berlin! Another personal favorite are the various Royal Palaces in Potsdam. If the weather is nice, the parks around them and their follies are nice in and of themselves, but the palaces are interesting too, especially Sanssouci.

    2. vombatus ursinus*

      Oops, my dad is actually no longer in his “early” 60s but would be delighted by this mistake XD

    3. Weekend Warrior*

      Berlin is a great city and very easy to get around by transit. We were there for 4 days last Spring. There are lots of Top 10 type of lists for what to see so I’ll mention 2 things we didn’t do and wish we had. :) Take a river tour on the Spree and go up the Radio Tower. Berlin is a city of rivers and canals and a water view of a city is always great. A bird’s eye view is also always worth doing. We did go to the top of the Reichstag dome but wish we’d done the Tower too. Many people speak English but a few polite phrases in German are welcomed. And the hotel breakfasts! Yum! Still dreaming about the choice of little buns and cheeses.

      1. Zephy*

        Oh yeah, a view of Berlin from above is amazing. We walked from Brandenburg Gate to the Victory Column, climbed to the top and marveled at the distance – it’s certainly good cardio if nothing else! It was also nearly sunset (which, in January, means 4 PM lmao), so the sky and the view were just gorgeous.

    4. Zephy*

      My husband and I (early 30s) visited Berlin around Christmas/New Years 2022-23 and it was awesome. My preferred vacation mode is largely ~vibes based~, so other than one dinner we booked in advance, we just woke up every morning and opened up Google Maps to find interesting stuff nearby. We stayed close to a metro stop so getting around was very easy. My only guiding principal when deciding what to do was that I was Not Interested in any WW2/Holocaust stuff, so we didn’t seek out e.g. Bookplatz, Checkpoint Charlie, any of that (though we did inadvertently end up at the McDonald’s by Checkpoint Charlie for dinner on our last night – and of course there is a McDonald’s there, it has a sign on the door that says “YOU ARE NOW ENTERING THE AMERICAN SECTOR,” which will never not be funny to me.)

      You can’t hardly throw a rock without hitting a museum of something or other in Berlin. Your mom will probably love the Museum der Dinge: Werkbundarchiv (museumderdinge.org), highly recommend checking it out if it’s open by the time you’re there. They recently moved locations and are opening a new exhibition in late May.

      1. Zephy*

        Oh right, I wanted to talk about the dinner we booked. Dining in the Dark – there are other restaurants in other countries that do this, but I’d heard about the one in Berlin when I was younger and really wanted to check it out. The experience of dining in complete darkness was incredible but I think if I do it again I’ll do it in a country where I’m more fluent in the language, LMAO – we were two of about 10 people who didn’t speak German at that service.

        You can indicate when you check in whether you want a vegan meal, fish, or “surprise” (which turned out to be grilled chicken and vegetables for us but I’m sure the menu varies). They take you down to the dining room, let you get your bearings by the light of about a thousand little electric tealight candles, and then the waitstaff collect the candles from each table and you’re plunged into full darkness. They do not tell you what the menu consists of until after you have eaten the entire meal, and they encourage you to talk to your dining companions to try to figure it out. You’re served four courses: soup, salad, main, and dessert (and bread to start). You can pay a little extra to get a small glass of wine to accompany each course. I think it came out to $90 each for two of us, which honestly is not a bad price. The food was really good, the experience was amazing.

        1. vombatus ursinus*

          Wow, the dining in the dark sounds fascinating! I don’t think my parents would really go for it, but it seems like the city I live in also has some similar things, so I’m making a note.

    5. Cookies For Breakfast*

      Zeit Für Brot for fantastic morning buns (their bread is pretty good too). I recommend the maple and pecan one if you can find it.

      1. Aniima*

        Berlin has a Stasi museum?!? I’ve only ever been to the one in Leipzig! And I’m German (living in Germany), that’s a shame.
        Putting it on my list.

    6. Bearlin*

      Loved this restaurant when I was there: Repke Spätzlerei & Flammkuchen. Doner kebabs are a big street food in Berlin and worth looking for if you can find vegetarian ones.

      KaDeWe department store has some interesting history and a cool floor near the top with food products from around the world which was very helpful as a grad student who wanted to bake her roommates chocolate chip cookies.

      The Wall Museum is not for everyone (read the Google reviews) but thinking about it as a time capsule as exhibits seemed to have been created over many many decades and then not updated, I found it super interesting.

      The memorial to the murdered Jews of Europe had an interesting small museum under it. The Resistance museum was also well done. If you walks a certain way through the Tiergarten you can get glimpses of the zoo without going in.

      If you have time for a half day trip, Peacock Island is maybe 40 minutes or so via public transit and feels like another world (I was reminded of Maine honestly). You take a brief ferry ride to it and there are lovely walks and views and little fancy structures as it was a retreat for nobility at some point. Potsdam is also a great day trip — I didn’t go in any of the palaces but just enjoyed wandering the grounds, but I’ve heard the palaces are great.

      If you’re into walking tours, I enjoyed ours, and even a bus tour was a nice way to get a sense of the city when a family member with mobility issues visited. The public transit is amazing and clean. Lots of folks do speak English (on my first day I of course encountered multiple who didn’t, while trying to get paperwork printed).

      Have such a great time! I had no idea what to expect when I arrived and it quickly became one of my favorite cities.

  31. the cat's ass*

    Hiya folks,
    I’m headed to Boston/Cambridge with the fam is early April. Side trips to the suburb i grew up in and a side trip to Salem. And suggestions for can’t miss experiences/restaurants? Thank you!

    1. Anonymous Educator*

      I don’t think it’s too hot in April, so I’d recommend grabbing some hot chocolate at LA Burdick. I think they have two locations—one in Boston and one in Cambridge.

      If you’re in the North End, you’ll see a ton of people with Mike’s Pastry boxes, but I’d recommend taking the side streets to get to Bova’s Bakery.

      Another good bakery to check out is Clear Flour Bakery (in Allston).

      For general restaurants, I’d recommend:
      * Geppetto
      * Mr. Bartley’s Burger Cottage
      * Cutty’s
      * The Diner at 11 North Beacon
      * Eastern Standard Kitchen and Drinks

      1. Falling Diphthong*

        To continue the chocolate theme, Kakawa Chocolate has a store next to the Peabody Essex Museum in Salem. Great hot chocolate.

        In Cambridge, I really like Moona Mediterranean and Oleana.

    2. Anonymous Educator*

      Also would recommend going to the Museum of Fine Arts, especially in the evening. And, yes, their courtyard cafe is pretty good, too.

    3. Squirrel Nutkin (the teach, not the admin)*

      I always liked the brunches at Zaftig’s Deli in Brookline. Maybe grab an espresso and pastry somewhere in the North End?

    4. Jay*

      Kelly’s Roast Beef (any location), J&M Italian Specialty and Kane’s Donuts in Saugus. Stop by the Ironworks for a tour while you’re there!

    5. Rebecca*

      April will be gray and yucky, but there will be bulbs starting to come up. Either bring your umbrella or be prepared to buy one once you arrive.
      Check out the glass flower exhibit in one of the Harvard museums (I’ve forgotten which one, but Google can tell you). The MIT museum is also great.
      I used to really enjoy wandering the Boston common and the boneyard nearby. Wandering by Quincy Market is also fun. There’s a freedom trail that you can follow and see Revolutionary War era sites along, like the Old North Church, in the North End.
      While you’re in the North End, have dinner at an Italian place. Mike’s Pastry and the bakery across from it have a little competition going on who has the best cannoli, but they are both good. TBH, though, there are so many more treats than just cannoli. Get a box of a dozen assorted cookies instead/in addition.
      Double yes to LA Burdock’s hot chocolate. Get some chocolate mice, too. Expect a line and no available seats. You could stop here before or after catching the glass flowers.

      1. the cat's ass*

        Hiya again folks and thank you so much for the great suggestions! this is my first trip back in close to 30 years, so i expect things will be very different!

    6. Reba*

      What’s taking you to Salem? If the weather is clear, strolling in the historic district (Chestnut street) is nice. For food, A&J King bakery, and Flying Saucer Pizza. The Peabody Essex Museum is truly special and the mural collection in El Punto is cool.

      1. the cat's ass*

        Kids specified going to Salem, so we are going. Thanks for the tips because i havent been to salem since highschool!

        1. Reba*

          Ok, my recommendations are to avoid the witch “museums”/tourist attractions (unless you can enjoy them in a campy spirit, they are extremely dated) but some of the walking tours are supposed to be good. The historic sites (Hawthorne house, Witch house) are legit. There is also a replica sailing ship at the wharf historic site, you can go on the ship during certain hours, if that would appeal to your kiddos. Have fun!

    7. Bluebell*

      If you haven’t been to Boston in 30 years, definitely check out the Seaport area- it’s way more than parking lots now! Visit the new ICA and stop by Trillium if you like good beer, or maybe Committee for fun atmosphere and good Greek food. The Gardner museums new addition is quite nice, and the MFA has doubled in size.

  32. The Other Dawn*

    Has anyone tried Merinos shoes? What was your experience with them? I’m thinking of buying a pair. They look really comfortable and I like that they’re washable.

    How about Ondo socks? They’re no-show socks that supposedly don’t slip off the heel. The video on their website seems like they won’t slip, and they have a “No Slip Guarantee,” but I’m still skeptical. I’ve yet to find a pair that don’t slip off my heel. I wear a lot of Toms shoes and although I’m fine wearing them without socks, it would be nice if I could wear some no-show socks with them occasionally. I ordered already, but thought I’d ask about them here.

    1. Indolent Libertine*

      I have IDEGG no show socks that I ordered from The Evil Bezos Empire. Wirecutter raved about them and I love them. They’re cushiony enough and absolutely 100% Do Not Slip on me. They’ve got 3 bands of silicone in the heel. Wirecutter liked a couple of others also.

      1. The Other Dawn*

        Thank you! I’ll check them out. I haven’t heard of those before. Although, I haven’t heard of Ondo either. I found them through an Instagram ad.

    2. B*

      I have a wide forefoot and narrow heel and really like Sheec no show active x socks. the only other low cut socks that don’t crawl down into my shoes are the retro pompom at ankle tennis type.

    3. litprof*

      I have Ondo socks, and I can verify that they do not slip at all. I do have one issue with them, which is that the toes are reinforced with a second layer of fabric. This is good for preventing your toenails from eventually poking holes in the socks, but I found that it made my toes a bit sweaty (the second layer is synthetic, while the sock is made of cotton or wool, depending on which ones you purchase). I also found that the reinforced toe had less give than the rest of the sock, which meant that the socks felt uncomfortably tight by the end of the day. That said, take my experience with a grain of salt – I have unusually sensitive feet compared to most people. Aside from this one issue, I like my Ondos. They are the best no-show socks I’ve tried. If you want to try another brand for comparison, I’ve also heard good things about Bombas.

      1. The Other Dawn*

        Thanks! I almost tried Bombas, but I noticed mixed reviews on whether they slip or not. I found Ondo socks through an Instagram ad. Hopefully they work! And hopefully the reinforced toe doesn’t bug me. They’re really for the work day and probably not for all day wear, like on a weekend. I own a lot of Toms shoes, and I’m looking to wear them with those. I typically go without socks when I wear Toms, but it would be nice to be able to wear socks with them sometimes.

  33. Liminality*

    Best electric toothbrush?
    My old Sonicare officially bit the dust.
    What are the most useful newfangled features now, and where do you get one for a good price?
    Thanks!

    1. bassclefchick*

      I like my Colgate Hum. The app tells you how well you brushed and it gives you challenges. I got mine at Amazon, but you can get it directly at Colgate. Charge lasts at least a week and it’s inexpensive. Ticked all the boxes I was looking for. It brushes my teeth, pulses when it’s time to switch areas, and doesn’t have too many bells and whistles.

      1. Liminality*

        Thanks for the ideas. I’ll admit I thought the circle/spin brushes were kindof gimmicky. I’ll deficient have to check them out.

    2. Dannie*

      My orthodontist is brand-agnostic, but insists on a circular spin style of brush. Apparently the sawing back and forth motion (like Sonicare) is awful for gum recession. I personally use an Oral B and am satisfied with it, but I have heard online grumbling that the battery life is subpar.

      1. tomorrow*

        I have an oral B. Charge lasts about 3 or 4 days for 2 of us, and 2 or 3 days for 3 of us. It’s >10 years old, though, and the charge lasted longer the first few years.

      2. A313*

        I have an Oral B and it’s great. I’ve had it for 5+ years now, and I always put it right back on the charger, so I don’t know if battery life has been affected beyond my twice-a-day use.

    3. Maryn*

      My dentist likes a rotating brush, which limits choices. I bought an Oral B iO-3, which has only the features I’ll actually use and nothing else. (It doesn’t connect to Wi-Fi, for instance.)

      It times four thirty-second intervals, tells when I’m pressing too hard or too lightly, and gives me a little “light show” if I brush the full two minutes. It’s only me using it, and I get a good three weeks out of a single charge.

      Watch for sales at discounters like Target and WalMart. It lists for $79.99 but I got mine for $49.99.

  34. not ready to go grey*

    Has anyone found a way to blend greying hair so it doesn’t look like grey hair, and is easier to maintain? I’m in my early 40s and have brunette hair that, over the last several years, is going more and more grey. I think it’s probably about 50% grey now, and I don’t like the way it looks naturally.

    So I color my roots fairly often. To save money I buy kits and do it at home, but I really like the way my hair looks when professionally done. I just can’t afford how expensive it is to do professionally every 6 weeks. I’m also not very good at doing it by myself in the back.

    So I’ve heard of grey blending. Is that something where you can somehow blend your greys in to look more like highlights? Does that allow you to go longer between? Has anyone done something like this with brunette/grey blend? How often do you have to go back to the salon?

    1. Sophe*

      I did this when I was starting to go grey in earnest about 15 years ago. I didn’t want all the grey covered (just enough for some gravitas LOL), and my stylist suggested essentially what you described – just highlighting/lowlighting some of the grey. At the time I got a cut every 6-8 weeks and we did the color every other time.

    2. Dannie*

      I have my (Level 3 brunette) single-process color done at a beauty school. Professional products for $30 a pop. See if there are any in your area. The only drawback is they are SO SLOW because they are still learning the process, so you’re going to be there 4+ hours.

    3. wkfauna*

      I use demi-permanent blonde kits (Natural Instincts 8G is my go-to). The tint gets into the grey but doesn’t stick onto the brunette. Weirdly the tint lasts a really long time on the grey even though it’s supposed to be a demi-perm. It works pretty well! Though lately I’ve had some trouble getting allllll my roots to take. Maybe I shouldn’t wait as long as I have been in between colorings…

    4. Writerling*

      I really want to try henna again (cheaper, healthier alternative than regular coloring) but need to read up more on the potential side effects of using an anti-dandruff shampoo with it…

    5. sara*

      I did a variety of semi-perm highlights in blonde/light brown/auburn over the years, at a salon. Mostly it was because the uneven grey was really streaky and mousy with my brown hair. I did that for around 10 years from 25-35ish, with varying levels of frequency depending on what I could afford. They always grew/faded in a way that looked decent enough – like the grey would fade in but I didn’t get a super obvious stripe of my roots.

      Now that the grey’s more all-over I’ve had my natural colour for about 8 years now and I really love it, but it’s taken a while to get used to having relatively light hair… It’s about 70% grey now I’d guess.

      I also sometimes dye with at-home temporary purple that lasts for 3-4 shampoos and it’s been very fun to have purple highlights basically.

    6. Tx_Trucker*

      Gray blending is usually more expensive at the salon than just all over color. But you can go much longer between touch up, so it may cost about the same overall. sometimes I will buy a home kit in blond or red and apply all over, for less time than suggested on the box. It does not color the existing dark hair and “softens” the gray and gives it more of a highlight look.

    7. Elastigirl*

      I do highlights/lowlights in multiple colors that have silver undertones (rather than gold, which just makes the grey stand out). As the grey grows in, it’s hard to tell it apart from the highlights. I spend a fortune to have it done at a salon, but I only have it done 3x a year. I also have very curly hair, which helps as well.

      I say this with a caveat: I have grey streaks but I’m not all over grey. Ymmv.

  35. Elle Woods*

    I’m struggling with my feelings of anger toward my mom right now.

    She has done a lousy job of taking care of herself–especially physically–over the years, and it’s now starting to show up in spades. There are things that are truly out of her control (arthritis in her hands, bunions) but there are other things that she could’ve done something to help ameliorate and didn’t; she hasn’t gotten any regular physical activity in years. In the last three months alone she’s had multiple trips to doctors for knee, hip, back, shoulder, and diabetic issues. My dad has taken her to all these appointments and gone in with her to meet with the docs. He said he’s asked the docs about what sort of physical activity she should be getting and they just tell her “regular activity.” The trouble is my mother’s idea of “regular activity” is getting up from her recliner occasionally and going to the kitchen to get more snacks–usually cookies or chips, never fruit or veggies. As a result, her weight has gone up in the past few months and her doctor has increased the dosages of her diabetic meds.

    I’ve been trying to pinpoint the thing that makes the most angry about all this. What I’ve come to realize is that at the core of it, she’s lazy and her laziness is starting to impact others–especially my dad. If there is a good thing to come out of all of this is that I am more motivated than ever to take better care of myself as I want to do what I can to not end up like her. I also started seeing a therapist to help me deal with these feelings.

    Has anyone else dealt with this kind of thing with their parents? If so, what worked for you? Any advice on encouraging her to take better care of herself?

    1. Generic Name*

      Unfortunately, you cannot make another adult do something that they don’t want to do. I think you could have one loving conversation where you lay out your concerns and what you hope she will do. Then I think you need to be able to accept that you can’t control your mom and that someone who has never exercised or eaten healthy is unlikely to change that late in life. I’m dealing with something somewhat similar with my mom as well. My parents, mid-70s, still live in the house I grew up in. It’s 100 years old and multiple stories. My mom insists that she will live in the house until her death. She says the “house’s soul speaks to her”. Unfortunately, she is starting to have trouble lifting her legs above a certain amount. She cannot use the shower/tub combo in the upstairs bathroom because she cannot physically step high enough to get into the tub. So she showers in the basement bathroom. She says that she’ll just install a chair lift when she can’t go upstairs any longer. I understand that she doesn’t want or need to go into managed care, but I really wish she’d downsize to a smaller house with no stairs, but she refuses to even talk about it. So I don’t mention it. Sooner or later, she will either decide to move on her own, or there will be some “precipitating event” that takes the choice from her. (My dad, for his part says he doesn’t really care where he lives and just wants someone else to do the work/make the decisions. I said, “can I get that in writing?” Which fortunately Dad found hilarious. :). I’m their medical power of attorney and all that stuff, so hopefully it’s taken care of.)

      1. Squirrel Nutkin (the teach, not the admin)*

        Chair lifts can be amazing, and they can fit in stairways where you might think they wouldn’t. My big regret for my mom when she was sick with cancer was that we didn’t get chair lifts put in and she wound up unnecessarily trapped on the top floor of the house for much of her last weeks. By the time we started the process to get the chair lifts, she was dying, and she never got to use them. With my dad, when he had an amputation, we got them earlier, and he really liked the chair lifts.

        1. Generic Name*

          That’s good to hear that they’re versatile. The stairs are narrow with a landing and a turn. And the basement stairs aren’t any better.

    2. The Dude Abides*

      I have the perspective of someone who has a parent at a supportive living facility because of a similar issue and cannot be trusted to live independently and drive on their own.

      If she won’t take ownership of the situation, then you and your dad can only do so much. It sucks given your proximity to the situation, but at some point your mom has to decide to make the changes before it gets better.

    3. A313*

      I found it helpful to take a step back. If there were things I couldn’t do or be there for, so be it. I would do what I could and the rest was up to them and God or fate. It’s easier said than done, of course, but in the process of doing it, it gets a little easier. Your mom has a lifetime of unhealthy habits; even if she completely changed them now at your request, there’s still likely way too much to overcome. Could she be depressed? A referral to a therapist, if she’d go, might clarify the likely consequences of her choices and help her take some responsibility. I totally get why you’re angry — you have every right to be, but a big part of it is how much you feel responsible for, and actually, you’re not. She’s an adult who has made choices with negative consequences, and that’s her right. It’s your right not to turn yourself into a pretzel trying to fix the unfixable. Your dad has his own choices to make over what and how much he is willing and able to do. I’ve been there; it’s not easy, but your therapist should be able to help frame what you can do and what you might be willing to do and not get completely pulled in.

    4. My Brain is Exploding*

      It sounds like it might be painful for her to do things, so she doesn’t, which makes it harder for her to do things, etc. It’s hard to do things when it hurts and especially if you think doing them will make it hurt more. Do you live close enough that you could start something with her – like chair yoga – or is there something your dad could do with her? Could you call her doctor and ask them to give her some specific movement recommendations? How about some visits with a physical therapist? Does she do the grocery shopping? If not, who is buying the stuff? How about seeing a dietician? Is there someone she really respects that she would listen to about these types of things?

      I get the anger part – I’m angry with my in-laws (and one of them is dead) for being so disorganized and saving so much paperwork crap. We have been sorting and tossing but…ugh. And gathering up all their important info (accounts, contacts, etc.) before one of them died was so difficult; I was angry they hadn’t thought to do it themselves.

    5. SuprisinglyADHD*

      I read something once that changed my worldview: There’s no such thing as laziness. If someone isn’t doing (insert thing here), there is a reason. In your case, there is something stopping your mom from exercising; it could be physical pain, lack of a clear plan on what to do (“regular activity” is NOT an exercise plan), emotional turmoil (self-blame and guilt for not acting sooner can be paralyzing), mental struggles (depression is one of the shittiest disorders I’ve dealt with because it makes you feel like nothing can change so there’s no point struggling), or neurological issues (look up “executive dysfunction”, it’s really hard to describe the feeling of sitting there bored, WANTING to do something, and not be ABLE to force yourself to move).
      She might benifit from seeing a physical therapist to get an assessment of what physical issues she has and what exercises can help without causing more pain and damage. She might also need to talk to a nutritionist about creating a meal and snack plan that includes food she enjoys and also meets her nutritional needs and is easy to prepare (if she’s already struggling to do life tasks then adding cooking on top might be overwhelming for her).
      None of this helps the impact on her family however. Of course you’re feeling overwhelmed and resentful, it’s more work and worry on your shoulders, and it’s natural to blame your mother (because she is the cause). Sometimes it’s impossible to get the people close to us to change, and that hurts. Seeing a therapist is a good thing for you, hopefully they can help you find coping methods that help. Try to be gentle to yourself, everyone needs breaks, especially emotionally.

      1. Shiny Penny*

        Yes, this. It has been so helpful to me, to accept that this other person is truly OTHER. We are different in many mysterious and unfathomable ways. When I make the decision to assume they are actually doing what they NEED to do, it really simplifies my interior life.
        Then I’m more free to just be kind, to let go of my frustration, to offer the help that will actually feel like help to them.
        It’s not like the alternative is to actually make them change,! So there’s no downside to deciding to respect that they are where they are for unknown but legitimate reasons.
        (When it’s your parent or your adult child, that’s hardest for sure. But the payoff is higher, too, even if the outcome is that once you accept them you realize you don’t want to be around them anymore.)

      2. Rachel*

        I think this is certainly true some of the time.

        As an all encompassing Life Rule…cannot get behind it. I think it assumes people have some really deep reason behind doing what they are doing and man, that has not been the case in my life or people I know.

        Sometimes people do things because it feels good. They don’t do things because it doesn’t feel good/it is hard. It’s not some deep psychological thing.

        1. allathian*

          Indeed. And sometimes they self-sabotage because they want to die before their spouse does.

        2. Reasoning*

          Reasons don’t have to be “deep”. What you describe are still reasons. Sounds like maybe you could also use some therapy to learn how to handle difficult emotional situations without judgement, maybe.

          1. fhqwhgads*

            I donno. The whole “there is no such thing as laziness, there is a reason” thing sure seems like it implies “I just don’t want to” or “that amount of effort isn’t worth it to me isn’t a real reason. Especially if there’s someone on the other side arguing “that amount of effort” is actually very small. Like, this seems like a sort of pie in the sky optimistic ethos “there’s always a reason” that leads to an infinite “why”. Like if you give a shallow reason, someone’s going to show up saying “but why ?” until they find the “real reason”.

    6. sockless in seattle*

      To answer your question: yes, I have dealt with it.

      Before we get to my story, would you be less angry if your mother said: “it really hurts to move, and cookies are the only pleasurable thing in my day”. If she said that, would you have more compassion for her?

      My story: my mother was similar, starting from her 50’s, she barely moved from her chair, wasn’t great at walking, clearly had arthritis in her hands. She was overweight, but didn’t really eat a lot of junk food. She died in her 70’s. My dad was always active. I stayed active through my 20’s, 30’s, 40’s. Come to my 50’s, I have arthritis in my hands, hips and knees. I spend most of my free time lying on the couch, because sitting is actually painful. I do my best to work out and eat well, but I do eat a cookie or three most days. I am technically obese, by about 2 pounds. (I also swam 1500m yesterday, so f*** the BMI chart). My arthritis has robbed me of running, hiking, skiing, and knitting. Between hot flashes and pain, I rarely sleep more than 3 or 4 hours in a row. My hips and knees are at a constant low-level pain. I have to watch how I’m sitting right now due to sharp pain.

      If you were my kid, you probably wouldn’t judge me so harshly, but I totally respect someone else’s decision to not be in as much pain as I am.

    7. RagingADHD*

      Yes, I felt this way about my mom at one time, and eventually resigned myself that she had just become elderly way too young and I had to think of her that way.

      After she passed, I found one of her journals and talked to some of her friends. I found out she’d had major depression for at least 20 years that she refused to treat (she would change doctors anytime one suggested depression screening). In her journal I discovered that she was having suicidal ideation frequently and was basically white – knuckling her way through life until it was over. The day we told her the doctor suggested Hospice was the happiest I’d seen her in a long time.

      Depression is now known to be a significant comorbidity with diabetes and other chronic illnesses. If your mom is still gojng to the doctor, see if you can convince her to get screened / treated.

      Happy people don’t choose to be in pain and sit in a chair all day for fun. If she can get some help with her brain chemistry, she might be able to take an interest in her quality of life.

      Emphasize that being depressed isn’t a character flaw. It’s treatable, and she could really start to feel better.

    8. Ochre*

      I think you know this, but you’re not going to help her by being angry at her. Working on that with your therapist so it doesn’t fly out at her is a good idea. Also, can you try to dis-associate “health” from “virtue” in your mind? Yes, maybe your Mom is the laziest person who ever lazed…but there are plenty of people who do everything “right” and have poor health and others who treat their bodies like an open sewer and live long lives with (seemingly) nary a headache. Some things are truly just not fair. And even if every thing that’s bothering her *now* could have been prevented by lifestyle changes *then,* the only choice we have is to start with where someone is now and work forward.

      As another poster said, you’re also not going to be able to force her to change. You might, however, be able to help her want to change and support her in making different choices. One technique is help her identify a goal and then work backwards from the goal to identify things she can actually (and will actually) do to get there. The goal needs to be specific, like “I’d like to be able to walk around the block 3 days a week.” The steps to get there might be everything from “get some better shoes for walking” “use my back pain patch 30 minutes before going out” “walk to the end of the drive to get the mail every day” “call up a neighbor to walk with me” “see a PT about this knee pain” etc… The goal needs to be reasonable (so it’s achievable) but meaningful (so it helps her see that she can actually make important changes). It will take a lot of patience…she’s in pain, she may be afraid of failing and letting people down, honestly I would eat all cookies and no veggies given the choice too, etc… Being her life coach may be incompatible with being her loving kid, so keep an eye on how you’re both doing even if she’s open to the idea at first.

    9. Dannie*

      There’s nothing to be done unless you forcibly have her declared incompetent, which doesn’t sound relevant based on your description. My FIL ate nothing but greasy fast food, pounded beers, and refused to do any financial/estate planning (to the point that he started screaming that we were trying to steal his money and throwing punches when we tried to sit him down with a lawyer). We had to constantly clean up the disasters he caused, including the legal nightmare of his state-ordered eldercare. All we could do is follow in his wake with a fire extinguisher. He was a selfish ass and I’m glad he’s gone.

    10. I'm A Little Teapot*

      I have a good friend who’s mother was like this, only worse. The mother didn’t go to the doctor for about 20 years, until she was taken to the hospital via ambulance and ended up in ICU due to diagnosed diabetes. After that, the mother actively fought any efforts to improve her health. Didn’t do the PT exercises, didn’t want to change her diet, didn’t try to move around more, etc. This lasted for about 10 years, then last year the mother had a heart attack, ended up in a coma and on ventilator, eventually woke up but never got off the vent, and ended up dying after about 3 months. I really think it was passive suicide.

      My friend struggled, hard. Anger, guilt, grief, rebelling against religion (mother was very Catholic), etc. I encouraged her to find grief support or therapist, to help her untangle her emotions. She finally did take steps to see a therapist, and it seems to be helping. She certainly seems less strained.

      As for what you can do – very little. You can ask her to go for a walk with you, or do something with you, but after that, its beyond your control.

    11. Busy Middle Manager*

      Are you one of my siblings? Well you can scare her with my mom’s story: same sort of lifestyle, was just never motivated to do a lot of physical stuff. On a side note this was always weird to us growing up because we grew up in one of those areas after the suburbs and before the real country and there were loads of roads with no traffic to bike on, or go on long walks, there were places to swim, we had a pool, but she liked to sit inside. There would be a full farm field of flowers that looked like a painting a 1/3 down the road and she’d act like it was too far to go to. We’re all wired differently I guess. She wasn’t lazy in other ways, I saw her settle family estates with phone book sized stacks of papers and do other difficult tasks like that, but nothing to benefit her body. We were telling my mom for years “how do you know your pain is x or y, most people get back pain or stuff joints if they are sedentary, it doesn’t have to be a specific disease.”

      We all had the same frustration when the doctor told her to eat “normally” or “healthy” because they did not grasp that my mom does not know what these words mean. I’ve commented here about food hoarding before so won’t repeat it all and bore y’all. But I will say, I’m go between thin and a few pounds to lose and always hated how her and her sisters who were the same way made constant comments about me being “too thin” and that we just “naturally” have round faces and I must be starving myself to have cheekbones, and stuff like that. But if you go back in family photos, no your grandparents were thin and athletic looking, it’s not genetic, it’s you overeating and not exercising and then shaming people who try to be healthy.

      Then last year she just went downhill one two three very quickly, a few years before we thought it would happen or where it’s common to happen (she’s early boomer, almost everyone in the home looks to be silent generation) and now she’s in a rehab she hates because, well, it’s not enjoyable, but – and this woman never complains (unlike me lol) but she is stressed out in there with all of the half deaf patients blasting TVs constantly, no set schedule, nurses coming in in the middle of the night to poke and prod as if it’s normal, lack of schedule so we spends alot of time sitting and waiting for therapists to show up (or not), bad food, etc. (Which TBF the food does look especially cheap/low effort, I almost wonder if it’s on purpose to make patients lose weight? )

      I don’t want to give specifics, to maintain some anonymity, but my mom would’ve died from just general organ failure, if not for a great amount of medical intervention.

      We’re hoping she can get out of the rehab after five months, come April. I feel bad she’d been in there and can’t get a break or a day trip out, but I hope it’s a huge wake up call and I hope they can get her body working so she can enjoy life on the outside

    12. Rachel*

      I have experienced this.

      What you need to do is decide what you can do any communicate that clearly. For example:

      Mom and Dad, I can go to 2 doctors appointments a year with Mom.

      Mom and Dad, I can pick up a grocery order and restock the kitchen once a week.

      There are examples, but you get the drift. Figure out what you can do, say that, stick to it, and let the chips fall.

    13. Emma*

      We’ve had relatives self sabotage their health (things like diabetics eating large bags of candy and drinking full sugar soda everyday). It’s frustrating, but they’re adults and didn’t change until they died, despite us asking them to.

      I would basically try to accept it – you don’t have to like it, but it’s not something you can change, if the person doesn’t want to change.

      We’ve let these relatives inform our own decisions – when you’re in poor health, whether or not it’s your own fault, it’s a truly miserable way to live for any period of time. We’re trying to basically do the opposite of what they did (regulate blood sugar, go to physical therapy, be physically active), in our own lives, so we can enjoy old age, to the extent it’s possible!

      1. goddessoftransitory*

        With things like diet self-sabotage, I’ve found a lot of the unconscious “reasoning” (as far as that word can go) behind it runs “the only thing I’ve been allowed to have/been able to control is my food, and I am NOT giving that up.”

        For too many people, the idea of not eating sugar or [fill in food here] is, to them, a fate worse than death. Because sometimes their only real pleasure in life, one that’s just for them, that they don’t have to compromise on, or ask permission for, or justify, is that food.

        They don’t see it as trading a bag of marshmallow Peeps for a longer, happier life. They see it as being told that the one and only thing they can see staying alive for is being taken from them.

    14. Maggie*

      I saw this happen with my my mom and grandpa . Unfortunately there’s not a lot you can do to get other people to change. It was hard for her. He lived until his 80s though without needing in home help

    15. Morning Reading*

      I wonder if the anger is a form of early grieving. You are realizing that your mother may not live much longer. Even if you don’t get along much with her, the loss will be a blow. Those grieving stages don’t always come in order and sometimes they start before the actual death.

    16. The Other Dawn*

      We’re going through this with my father-in-law.

      Years ago–maybe 20?–he was in a car accident and did a small amount of chiropractic care. He was good for a while, but as he started aging, his back and neck started declining. He wouldn’t go back to the chiropractor or see an orthopedic doctor. Fast forward. He’s developed some concerning problems: one leg swells up really big and we don’t know why; urinary and bowel incontinence that started about five years ago and has become severe; he now walks hunched over, can barely walk, loses his balance, and can’t turn his head far; and now he’s developing memory issues (this could be standard old age forgetfulness). The fact that he does absolutely nothing doesn’t help. Even before these issues, his routine was sitting/laying on the couch all day watching TV and reading the newspaper. That’s literally it. The only “exercise” he gets is to use the bathroom. He’s also never been someone to help himself. He always relied on MIL to give him the insulin shots, remind him of an appointment, etc. And if something doesn’t get done, he’d rather complain that do it himself. He’s never made a meal for himself or done his own laundry.

      When my husband talks to FIL on the phone, he will ask about the issues and what he and his doctor are doing about them. “What did your doctor say?” “Did you check with an orthorpedic doctor about the neck and back, losing your balance, and needing a cane or walker to walk?” FIL’s always responds that his doctor didn’t say anything about the issues. He sees his regular doctor and thinks she’s the best thing ever because she was able to get him off insulin shots (he became diabetic around 15 years ago), so he won’t go anywhere else. Husband offers to get him an appointment with our orthopedic doctor and go with him (we’re both convinved that the incontinence issue comes from nerve damage in the back or maybe a disc pressing on the nerves). FIL won’t do it. We asked if MIL goes with him to his appointments other than driving him (he hasn’t driven in years). She goes…and sits in the parking lot waiting for him to come out. She doesn’t even go in with him, so we